12 Gauge

by: Kalmah

As one of heavy metal's most popular subgenres, melodic death metal has seemingly had every possible angle covered, but Finland's Kalmah have arguably challenged that assumption with their late-‘00s efforts, after striking upon a style enhanced by an unconventional blend of serrated thrash riffing and swirling synthesizers. This blend is once again showcased in impressive fashion by the group's sixth full-length, 12 Gauge, which, if anything, is even more aggressive than its immediate predecessors, on the strength of raging moshers like "Bullets Are Blind," "Hook the Monster" and "Godeye." Yes, those aforementioned keyboards continuously shadow the frenzied guitar action (notably on "One of Fail"), and Antti Kokko' s inspired solos and occasional acoustic intros see ("Rust Never Sleeps," the title track) bring frequent melodic contrasts to the table, but brutality ultimately reigns supreme as the dominating emotion here. Actually, even vocalist Pekka Kokko seems to put a little more "GRRR" into his growls this time around, and he certainly digs deeper in his bowels than on Kalmah' s most recent release, 2008's For the Revolution, to help give the band's more extreme-minded supporters exactly what they wish for with this excellent album. [The Japanese edition of 12 Gauge also featured a cover of Thin Lizzy' s "Cold Sweat."] ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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