Thursday, 5 February 2009

CD Review: The Black Waltz, by Kalmah (2006)

For their 4th CD, the long-haired melodic metal masters of the Finnish swamps return on The Black Waltz. Kalmah arrive with a new bassist and a new keyboardist and deliver a solid and confident collection of 11 songs to add to their already impressive repertoire.

Continuing to grow and mature musically, Kalmah now introduce more pace changes, complex compositions, impressively confident staccato passages and memorable melodies without losing their powerful edge. Kalmah's music continues to be underpinned by Antti Kokko's lead guitar with new keyboardist Marco Sneck the most prominent architect of the foundation beneath. Pekka Kokko growls away in a low and restrained voice, providing vocals that appropriately back the music rather than lead it.

The CD opens with Defeat, and Kalmah have never sounded tighter than on this galloping epic, which combines the best of Antti Kokko's lead guitar charging from the front with the band in hot pursuit. Bitter Melodic Side is a good follow-up, before Time Takes Us All and To The Gallows introduce a double-dose of chunky, mid-tempo metal.

After the short instrumental Svieri Doroga, title track The Black Waltz blasts in like winter knocking down the door of the cottage and demanding centre stage with a tortured and sinuous lead riff, followed with the properly titled With Terminal Intensity, which would make both a great title and a great song for a grittier James Bond movie.

Man Of The King features an unmistakable light and twirly riff overlaid on a thundering bass and drums multi-level basement. The Groan Of Wind is an epic featuring another Antti Kokko way-out-in-front lead guitar melody, with the band and vocals happy to play catch up. Mindrust is both faster and more laid-back, but is also a bit repetitive and features an unattractive 4-note descending chorus. The CD ends with One From The Stands, and another simple, effective and haunting little riff.

Kalmah produced The Black Waltz themselves and made it sound great, proving that they are taking more control of their sound. And finally, the ancient bald guy with an enormous beard on the cover is just a legend.


Lede - Bass
Antti Kokko - Lead Guitar
Pekka Kokko - Guitar and Vocals
Marco Sneck - Keyboards
Janne Kusmin - Drums

Songlist (Ratings out of 10):

1. Defeat - 10
2. Bitter Metallic Side - 8
3. Time Takes Us All - 9
4. To The Gallows - 9
5. Svieri Doroga - short instrumental
6. The Black Waltz - 8
7. With Terminal Intensity - 8
8. Man Of The King - 9
9. The Groan Of Wind - 9 *See video below*
10. Mindrust - 7
11. One From The Stands - 9

Average: 8.60

Produced by Kalmah.
Recorded by Ahti Kortelainen.
Mastered by Mika Jussila.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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