Kalmah

They Will Return

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Like the Finnish strain of Scandinavian metal that Kalmah practices, the band has consistently refined itself (and its music) into a shining emblem of the genre. By the time of They Will Return's 2002 release, the group, and its small but respectable movement, was crafting a unique amalgam that was at once listenable and uncompromising. The addition of new drummer Janne Kusmin and bassist Timo Lehtinen broadened this ambitious band's already wide musical horizons, and Kalmah, also including guitarist/vocalist Pekka Kokko, guitarist Antti Kokko, and keyboardist Pasi Hitula, sent its hyper-metal beyond all reasonable technical and melodic limits on this, the group's second full-length release. The excessiveness associated with death metal in all its forms isn't set aside on They Will Return, it's simply channeled into melodic and lyrical invention. Highlights like the amped-up "Principle Hero" and the title track -- with its fine solo section -- showcase Kalmah's terrifying dexterity, but there is a purpose to the polyphony, a meaning to the melody; it isn't just about showing off. This purpose seems to stem from the appreciation of music past, present, and (most rarely) future, as demonstrated by a forward-thinking approach to a form that is nearly archaic in modern terms. Kalmah has a talent for avoiding redundancy, so while They Will Return doesn't expand the vocabulary of metal, each track does manage to achieve a stunning kind of freshness that can only be attributed to commitment and artistry. Not just for death/Scandinavian metal fans, this recording should interest anyone who openly embraces real metal in all its varieties.

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