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Album Review: Kalmah "They Will Return"

Updated on May 29, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

An image of the CD called They Will Return

An Introduction to Kalmah and who plays on the album "They Will Return"

Finnish melodic death metal veterans Kalmah returned to the studio to record another album following their debut release Swamplord which was released in 2000. This album called They Will Return though has a few lineup changes. Pasi Hiltula handles the keyboard duties and Janne Kusmin plays the drums on this album. Timo Lehtinen plays the bass guitar. Vocalist and guitarist Pekka Kokko still has that raspy vocal style. But unlike Jeff Walker, you cannot really understand what he is saying. That kind of vocal style differs greatly from the guttural vocal style that Ken of the band Serpent uses. Pekka and Antti Kokko are brothers and they are the ones who founded this band. Kalmah started under the name of Ancestor back in 1992, so this album came out ten years after the formation of Ancestor. Not only did Kalmah return after their awesome debut album but they returned and proved that they would become one of the finest melodic death metal bands ever!

"They Will Return" Songs List

  1. Hollow Heart
  2. Swamphell
  3. Principle Hero
  4. Human Fates
  5. They Will Return
  6. Kill The Idealist
  7. The Blind Leader
  8. My Nation
  9. Skin of My Teeth (Originally written and performed by Megadeth)

Kalmah Has Melody, Great Guitar Work and Outstanding Keyboard Usage

They Will Return is an improvement musically over their debut. In the first song Hollow Heart, we begin to hear a guitar part that resembles the kind of melody that bands such as In Flames would use in their music. An outstanding song on this album is called "Principle Hero" and at about the 1 minute and 46 second mark is a really catchy part along with the drums playing. One aspect of this album that is really notable is the keyboard use and orchestration. These guys do not just play straight ahead death metal. So if you are looking for a Deicide or some other death metal clone, Kalmah will not fit your needs. If on the other hand, you are looking for death metal music infused with lots of melody and keyboard play, Kalmah is an awesome example. Although Kalmah is often compared to Finnish melodic death metal bands such as Norther and Children of Bodom, these guys are superior to those two mentioned bands. I found out about Kalmah several years ago when I was looking through the catalog listing of products offered by Century Media Records. We start to see some rough vocal growls in the album that would be more common in the band’s later musical works.

I cannot say enough about the song "Principle Hero" as it is one of the most well written and melodic songs of any genre as the keyboard also sets the stage for the fast lead guitars you hear! The keyboard part before the solo even works here! Utter perfection can describe the song Principle Hero.

What is One Musical Quality That Makes Kalmah Unique and Interesting?

However, the song Hollow Heart begins with the slow stepping of the feet through a swampy kind of area. It is just that noise that the listener hears which is designed to surprise the listener and not make the songs predictable.

"Kill the Idealist"

Kalmah They Will Return: Album Cover

The front album cover depicts a warrior with a pitchfork ready to start his journey.
The front album cover depicts a warrior with a pitchfork ready to start his journey.

The second half of the album "They Will Return" is evidence that Kalmah are one of the leading bands of the melodic death metal genre

"Kill the Idealist" is another brilliantly written song that starts out with some beautiful guitar work. It makes me want to cry sometimes because it is just so beautiful. Where do these guys get such creative ideas for songs from? The album also has a cover of Megadeth's Skin of my Teeth. The cover is not performed well at all and I don't even understand why they even put it on the album. This is the only blemish to an otherwise solid and outstanding album. Unlike bands such as Amorphis that started out as a death metal band and then changed to a more progressive sound, Kalmah have always stayed as a melodic death metal band. However, in their later releases such as The Black Waltz, Pekka Kokko would change to much rougher and harsher vocal style. Whatever these guys have done, it has worked out well and I have not heard a bad album from them. There is not much to complain about as far as They Will Return is concerned.

For those of you that love Finnish metal bands, you can check out heavy rock band Lullacry or the mentioned Amorphis. Eternal Tears of Sorrow is another melodic death metal band worthy of mention. The first real use of the rough vocals by Pekka are in the songs Principle Hero, Human Fates, and My Nation. The song "Human Fates" has an Iron Maiden influence in it as well as an atmospheric style keyboard part which is beautiful. These guys cannot do much wrong. "My Nation" has spoken soft dialogue as well.

"Principle Hero"

How Good of An Album Is "They Will Return?"

They Will Return gets a very solid score of 95 out of 100. For fans of melodic death metal, this album is a really great one to have. Following the release of They Will Return, Kalmah’s musical style would get rougher. Pekka Kokko would switch to a rougher vocal style and we would see a style of drumming known as blast beats. Unlike bands such as Pantera, Kalmah’s switch in vocal style would not hurt the band musically. It in fact would help establish them as one of the leading bands of the melodic death metal genre.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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