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Kalmankantaja – Second Death

kalmankantaja – second death


About four months have passed since the most recent Kalmankantaja album ‘Waienut’ was released, and the Finnish band revolving around the creative mastermind Grim666 is back with another full-length. Despite numerous releases every year, the music appears quite diverse, staying within the frame of atmospheric Black Metal but often changing the approach to the genre with each release. And that is certainly the case on the latest album, ‘Second Death’.

The band already indicates that ‘Second Death’ is a little bit different, stating that “we took a few steps further away from black metal (and closer to depression) with vocalist Narqath & drummer J. Wirtanen”. Narqath is a veteran of the Finnish Black Metal scene, most known for founding and leading the cult act Azaghal, but has also contributed or led bands like Vultyr, Wyrd and quite a few more during the last decades. Of J. Wirtanen’s contribution in other Black Metal bands not much is known, and I guess in the end it’s somewhat irrelevant. Because ‘Second Death’ indeed turns out to stretch the boundaries of Black Metal quite a bit.

The music presented on this latest Kalmankantaja record indeed strips Black Metal to its naked core and only takes the depressive side of some of the band’s previous work. Musically however, apart from a slight Black Metal tone to the guitars the record is much closer to a Doom Metal sound or whatever you want to call it. Sometimes genre names are more limiting than direct comparisons to other bands, and in this case, there is a very clear comparison. ‘Second Death’ has great overlap with the sound of the earliest days of Katatonia. A comparison with the ‘Jhva Elohim Meth’ demo and debut album ‘Dance of December Souls’ is very much in place, as these have a similar Black Metal ring to the guitars and vocals. But certainly, overlap with ‘Brave Murder Day’ and even ‘Discouraged Ones’ is just as obvious. That means a heavy emphasis on slower to midpaced sections with strong and leading catchy guitar melodies. The vocals on ‘Second Death’ range from hoarse Black Metal cries to clean vocals, making the resemblance with the transitioning early sound of Katatonia even more accurate. These clean vocals are sometimes a tad shaky and might not be to every Kalmankantaja’s fan’s liking and that’s okay, but I personally find them matching well with the sound and they certainly add to the bleak nature of the music. In addition, the majority of the vocals on ‘Second Death’ are of the harsher kind so even if those clean vocals are a thing, they are far from the dominating vocal style.

Although this may be a bit further from the atmospheric Black Metal Kalmankantaja normally produces, it’s immediately clear how gifted a songwriter Grim666 is. The music on ‘Second Death’ is phenomenal, and you could easily be fooled to think the band has spent their entire career honing this particular sound. In reality, only the ‘Uniani’ 7″ EP released by the band in 2021 comes close to this style. Regardless, once again Kalmankantaja manages to stretch the boundaries of their sound in an unexpected direction without losing touch of that deep sense of melancholy and bleakness that so typifies the band. And while at it, I can totally imagine that this will strongly appeal to fans of melodic Doom/Death Metal who don’t mind a Black Metal edge as well.