Sound — 9
Kalmah is one of those bands that just keep getting better and better. They're latest album '12 Gauge' blends the previous well loved Kalmah sound further and marries it to a new traditional sound. On tracks such as Rust Never Sleeps and on the title track, acoustic instruments are introduced. These and some of the guitar riffs couple together to produce a more traditional Finnish sound. Antti Kokko (leads) is truly a genius. His guitar passages just leave your jaw hanging. I thought it was impossible but he got even better, adding tonnes more feel to his already soulful licks and unbelievable solos, both fast and moving. Something that I found irritating on some of the previous albums was that A. Kokko' s guitar sort of dominated the song. You couldn't hear the rest of the instruments properly. That problem has been rectified here; the mixing is way better. Kalmah' s aggression has been progressed even further. Marco Sneck' s (Keyboards) sound hasn't been allowed to make the sound mellow, if aything, the keyboards make the songs more aggressive. Thankfully, Kalmah has also fixed the older problem of some tracks in the album sounding similar. Theres a quirky Thin Lizzy cover in the Japanese version. Overall, the album sounds beautiful. Amazingly done and with very few faults.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics in this album are typical Kalmah, personal struggles, politics, addiction and swamps. Songs such as '12 Gauge' deal with suicidal tendencies, alcohol and drugs. 'Godeye' and 'Sacramentum' relate to personal loss. Most of the songs are infused with 'swampy' lyrics, marshes and wet stuff basically. The song 'Hook the Monster' carries slightly comical lyrics. Like all of Kalmah' s previous albums, the lyrical content is still the weakest part of every song. To be honest, these guys need to improve their English. But I'm happy to see that they've made an improvement with '12 Gauge'; the grammar is much better. The lyrics, if read, look as if a story is being told. And combined with the semi-traditional music, this makes the music more intense and identifiable. Unfortunately like all harsh vocals, unless you're a seasoned metal listener, you will find the lyrics hard to get and will need written material. Pekka Kokko has made a marked improvement with his voice, he has coupled the growling in 'Black Waltz' and 'For the Revolution' with the screaming of previous albums. I have to say though that his vocals still need more work. Though his screaming is near perfect, the growling that he does still sounds a bit like a hippo giving birth. This album also includes the grouped choruses used in FTR. They make the album sound still more traditional and to be honest, the group choruses are better than the ones that Pekka manages. Overall though, Kalmah has to be given credit for making an effort in improving the lyrical content of their songs. Considering that theyre Finnish and they're English isn't too good, its an excellent effort.
Overall Impression — 9
Kalmah is undoubtedly one of the best bands out there in my opinion and are easily my favorite band. But of coarse everyone cannot share my opinions. However, I'm sure that hardcore Kalmah fan or not, if you like metal, then your going to dig this album. I recommend every single one of the songs on this album. Everyone is extremely well done. I found each one as impressive as the next. However, if specifics are to be stated then, Sacramentum, Godeye and Hook the Monster are musts. Musically, this album is insurmountable in my view. The licks and riffs including the rhythm work is bombastic. However, as stated I'd like to see more improvement done on the vocals and lyrics. Not a chance of this thing getting lost.