Sound — 8
Kalmah are melodic/speed death metal, but their songs are also folk-like, with amazingly catchy leads, non-stop guitar/keyboard solos and great drums (that are usually more of a background noise in folky, melodic bands). Kalmah are melodic, yes, but they don't let other instruments get outshined by the heavy symphonic sounds and harmonies. Well, the base isn't exactly in your face but every once in a while Timo gets a nice jazzy transition. The drumming is by no means simple, and will often change from a catchy tempo to a fast-paced technical fill. You can't say Kalmah are instrumentally sloppy, you just can't. They Will Return is Kalmah's second album, and like all of their music, it is pretty impressive.
Lyrics — 7
Ok, so I went on about great music, but what about the lyrics? Well, they're crap. I wish I could say Kalmah are great lyricists, but they're not. Not at all: "See him on the tv-screen doing the rightest thing". Those are the first words from "Principle Hero", one of several political rants Kalmah throws together on "They Will Return". The anti-establishment idea Kalmah inject into their music isn't hard to find, although I am surprised they don't develop the whole "swamp" mythology into something of their own, which would be cool. Anyways, the band is from Finland, so I can't say they're a disgrace to their own language, and this is a pretty typical case as far as finnish and swedish bands are concerned. Pekka Kokko, one of my guitar idols, has a pretty good death growl going, something between Alexi Laiho and Johan Begg. Not too high or low pitched, however I'm glad he changed it for The Black Waltz because it was that kind of grating vocal style that gave Katla from Finntroll throat cancer and to metal singers in general. His range doesn't cover any clean vocal parts but as far as growling the job gets done.
Overall Impression — 8
Kalmah is comparable to Children of Bodom but you'll see lots of differences in the drum department, in which Kalmah is superior. The music is also a lot darker and borders sometimes on black metal if you listen closely enough. Usually Kalmah take the main melody of each song and tremolo it right before the main lead, or after, or anywhere, really, but you'd be hard pressed to miss it. They Will return is a little more "dramatic" overall and especially in songs that use a lot of keyboards. The pirate-like "Kill The Idealist" is the best song on They Will Return, with a great clean intro, two catchy verses, chorus, and an amazing solo. They Will Return is not Kalmah's best album; it's probably their worst, but opinions vary quite a bit on that so I won't get into it. What I dislike is the unoriginal usage of Megadeth's "Skin o' my teeth" as the last track on the album. What's the point? At this point in their career Kalmah weren't exactly exploding with popularity, so why fool around with Megadeth's songs? It's a good cover, but it just wasn't necessary. Despite being ridiculously negative I like this album a lot. There aren't too many songs you feel like skipping, and without it Kalmah wouldn't have progressed to the masters of melodic metal they are today.