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Finland's Kalmah brews a decidedly European blend of classically tinged, cinematic death metal on Swamplord. Atmospheric keyboard washes heighten the drama, while adding texture to the quintet's crushing twin-guitar foundation. The opener, "Evil in You," starts things off at a blinding clip, but resolves to a military funeral march fadeout, where the post-Iron Maiden dual-guitar harmonies give way to a mournful pipe organ. The savage vocals should appeal to fans of At the Gates and Emperor; allowing the guitars to carry the songs' melodic content, the "singing" is a rabid howl of death metal aggression -- white noise converted into vowel sounds. Kalmah also use tempo variations effectively; while many of the songs race along like machine-gun fire, "Dance of the Water" chugs with an effective mid-tempo simplicity. For fans of the genre, Swamplord is well worth investigating.

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