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Technical Difficulties Don't Greatly Inhibit A Solid Performance From Kalmah And Talamyus

Photo of Kalmah

Band Photo: Kalmah (?)

Although it’s a decent, smaller venue, something was clearly wrong with the sound quality at the Théatre Plaza on April 28, when Kalmah, Talamyus and WarCall came on Kalmah’s first-ever tour for this continent.

I’m not a sound technician, yet this is a problem I’m not as willing to attribute to the bands, as to the location, the equipment, the set-up, or something of that nature. The middle of Kalmah’s show offers an example of this issue, as the bass started producing an annoying, droning feedback – quite noticeable as I was stationed in front of Timo Lehtinen. Pekka Kokko had to stop the show and call for assistance, leading the audience into a shout of his new favorite curse word, “tabarnak!”

WarCall, a local band (from Montreal), opened the night and they were definitely sub-par, at least compared with the headliner. Their music was of a progressive nature that caused the mind to wander, and I ended up getting sucked into the saga of a large, drunk man harassing the bartender who waved water in his face, in vain.

Another Montreal act, Talamyus, picked up the crowd and got everyone thrashing about and ready for Kalmah. Even from closer to the back of the venue, where the sound is typically of a better grade, something was a little off in the performance of Talamyus, who did not manage to achieve their studio-quality sound. I don’t really enjoy admitting that, as I find this to be a talented and innovative group. They tackle Viking themes from a more brutal perspective than fans commonly see, tossing in old-school death metal growls more suggestive of earlier Amon Amarth work than melodic, folk-driven music.

The most recent release, “In These Days of Violence,” got a good deal of attention, and “God Of War” and “Conviction” were my favorite songs from their setlist.

The members of Kalmah strode on to the stage and kicked off the night with a fun rendition of “Defeat”. I was curious to see which material they would select for their show, especially in light of the brand-new “For The Revolution” release.

In my review of their latest album, I noted that Kalmah’s recent work is more akin to “They Will Return” in its technical, thoughtful construction, and not at all like their frenzied swamp metal or “The Black Waltz,” its powerful precursor. My speculations were largely justified, as this may as well have been “The Black Waltz” CD release tour; “For The Revolution” was the only new track to get played live.

The keyboard was lost in the fray, and thus the melodious nature of many of their songs suffered a great deal. Some of their most awe-inspiring work like “Groan Of The Wind” and “To The Gallows,” fell short in the live environment without strong backing from Marco Sneck. That isn’t meant to be a dig against Sneck’s ability, just a statement of the simple fact that metal tends to drown out the keyboards. “The Black Waltz” wasn’t the greatest choice for the environment, either, apart from showcasing Kokko’s magnificent voice.

On the other hand, several of the choices which normally would have seemed a little misplaced, worked quite well with the chaotic sound that Kalmah was delivering, such as “Bitter Metallic Side” and “Heritance of Berija”.

“Burbot’s Revenge” gets an honorable mention for being quite excellent live, as does “Heroes To Us”. I mentioned a bit of disappointment in the venue, yet I don’t wish to imply that everyone was yawning through set! On the contrary, a relatively lax security led to a great deal of crowd-surfing and people having their friends launch them on-stage so they could windmill alongside the band for a few moments. Apart from the aforementioned drunkard stage-diving onto my head towards the end of the show, this provided a great deal of amusement and an old-school feel to the show, in which metalheads could really let loose and be ridiculous.

We demanded an encore, which Kalmah was happy to play, and satisfied the screams for “Hades” by ending the night on that most satisfying note. For the most part, they offered an intelligent range of their music, satiating old fans with that sinister swamp metal and giving “The Black Waltz” a great deal of attention, as it rightly deserves. I’m sure that the show would have been much improved in a better venue.

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