Kalmah is a melodic death metal band from Pudasjärvi, Finland that formed in 1998. In less than a year after its formation, Kalmah was signed by Spinefarm Records, a Finnish record label. "Kalmah" is Karelian and could be translated as "to the grave" or "to the death". The band is often termed "Swamp Metal" after their album cover themes.
Kalmah began in 1991 when Pekka Kokko and Petri Sankala founded the band Ancestor which originally played thrash metal, speed metal and death metal. After Ancestor had recorded two demos, Antti Kokko joined the band as lead guitarist. In 1998, after having recorded five demos and going through five different bassists whose names are unknown, Ancestor disbanded, and was refounded as Kalmah. The new band consisted of Pekka Kokko (vocals, guitar), Antti Kokko (lead guitar), Pasi Hiltula (keyboards), Altti Veteläinen (bass), and Petri Sankala (drums) and converted to melodic death metal, but still incorporating their original styles.
The newly formed Kalmah then began to write new songs for a promotional CD entitled Svieri Obraza. With this demo, they acquired a recording contract with Spinefarm Records. The band then headed to Tico-Tico Studios to record their debut album.
Their debut album, Swamplord, was released in 2000. The band had dozens of interviews and played a few shows in Finland before heading back to their rehearsal place to write the follow-up to Swamplord.
By November 2001, the band had returned to Tico-Tico Studios to record their second studio album, They Will Return. However, the line-up had changed due to the departure of Altti Veteläinen and Petri Sankala. They were replaced by Timo Lehtinen on bass and Janne Kusmin on drums.
In 2002, Kalmah played a couple of shows in Finland and played at Wacken Open Air. Late in 2002, the band began to write new songs for their third studio album. In February 2003, Kalmah once again returned to Tico-Tico Studios with ten new songs for their third studio album entitled Swampsong. In 2004, keyboardist Pasi Hiltula decided to leave the band. Marco Sneck later joined the band as the new keyboardist.
In November 2005, the band once again returned to Tico-Tico Studios to record their fourth studio album, The Black Waltz. The new album which consisted of eleven new songs was recorded and mixed at Tico-Tico Studios, and mastered by Mika Jusilla at Finnvox.
Kalmah went back to the studio in October 2007. Produced by Ahti Kortelainen, For The Revolution was released on April 23, 2008. Kalmah toured in Canada and Finland to promote the album.
On Kalmah's official forum, lead guitarist Antti, said that their new album has no name. "12 Gauge" is just their work title. They are recording in studio as of May 2009.
Kalmah's musical style is largely influenced by death metal, thrash metal, and speed metal. Kalmah is often compared to other metal bands from Finland such as Children of Bodom and Norther, possessing a heavy yet powerfully melodic sound. Like Children of Bodom and Norther, Kalmah exhibits some neo-classical metal elements in their music along with prominent keyboard melodies. The 2006 album The Black Waltz also shows symphonic elements.
Kalmah's first three albums relied more on higher pitched, screamed vocals but on The Black Waltz album, they have opted for lower death growl style vocals, while retaining elements from their previous albums. On their most recent album, For the Revolution, they have mixed both styles of vocals from their previous albums.
Kalmah has changed their tuning from a half-step down [E flat] (used in their first two albums, Swamplord and They Will Return) to a full step down [D] (used in their third and fourth albums, Swampsong and The Black Waltz) and finally to one and a half step down [D flat] (used in their latest release, For The Revolution) moving towards a lower yet melodic sound as they advance.
- Pekka Kokko – singer, guitar (1998–present)
- Antti Kokko – lead guitar (1998–present)
- Marco Sneck – keyboards (2004–present)
- Timo Lehtinen – bass guitar (2001–present)
- Janne Kusmin – drums (2001–present)
- Anssi Seppänen – guitar (1992−1993)
- Altti Veteläinen – bass guitar (1998–2001)
- Petri Sankala – drums (1998–2001)
- Pasi Hiltula – keyboards (1999–2004)
- Antti-Matti Talala – keyboards
- Swamplord (2000)
- They Will Return (2002)
- Swampsong (2003)
- The Black Waltz (2006)
- For the Revolution (2008)
- "Withering Away" (2000)
- "The Groan of Wind" (2006)