They'Re Back
CoC interviews Antti Kokko of Kalmah
by: Adrian Bromley
Finnish act Kalmah's debut disc _Swamplord_ was an eloquent album, doused with a flare of creativity and folk elements, yet offering up a sinister melodic death metal vibe. The band's new album, _They Will Return_, is much more expansive and dynamic than the debut, changes no doubt brought about by internal conflicts and the musical growth by these Finnish lads.

"There were a lot of problems that we were facing going into the recording of the new album. There were some problems in the band and we needed to get things straightened away and quick", reveals guitarist Antti Kokko to Chronicles of Chaos. "My brother [guitarist/vocalist Pekka Kokko] said that we needed to make changes within the band if we wanted good results with the new album. Our drummer had left and the bass player quit and we had very little time to get someone new into the band and get them prepared for studio work. The new musicians play a bit differently from the past members, but it all worked out in the end for us and we consider ourselves lucky."

About the new record and the sound of the band -- which is rounded out by drummer Janne Kusmin, keyboardist Pasi Hiltula and bassist Timo Lehtinen -- Kokko says, "Keyboards have a different role on this album, they are acting a lot more as support for some of the melodies going on now. It was weird, because when we were having all of these band problems, I was worried how the album would turn out, but I think with all of these problems it turned into something good and we have new members who are bringing new ideas and talents into the band. The new blood has made this very exciting."

He continues, "We tried a lot of new things with this record. New vocal styles and a couple of other tricks in the studio, but at the same time we didn't want to change the music of Kalmah too much. I mean, we do this pretty well and we didn't want to change too much."

Does Kokko hear a difference between _Swamplord_ and _They Will Return_?

"Yeah", he says. "I think there is a much more powerful sound within the production on the new album. The drums are have this intense sound. Our new drummer really knows how to move his bass pedals fast and furious. <laughs> The first album was good, but you can hear how much better we sound with _They Will Return_."

"When I listen back to the new album, I can't believe how good this album turned out", says Kokko. "I think of all the hassles and changes that occurred I am amazed that the record came out great. We worked hard to make this come out good. Nothing was going right, but we pulled through somehow. It was a relief to finish this album and I am very satisfied, as are the rest of the band members, with _They Will Return_."

Seeing how Kalmah managed to change their sound and style a bit with the new offering (some were brought on unwillingly), does Kokko think most bands should evolve with each record or does he think it is OK for bands to stay the same with each release?

"I think it depends on the band, really. I think if you find your own style, then why change it?", he points out. "But to keep it interesting you need to do something new with each album. I am not saying a metal band has to go from metal band to gothic band with an album, but slowly bring in some of those gothic elements into the metal band and incorporate the ideas and see how they work. Take your time with the music, don't rush it. That is how good bands get ruined, they change too fast."

Like Metallica?

"Yeah, that is a good example. Like I said, bands who change too much risk losing fans. Some change because of money, you know..."

Not Kalmah?

"Oh no", he responds defiantly. "We are in this for the love of music for sure. We put a lot of hard work into Kalmah and I think it shows. We just want to be satisfied with our music and get it out to those fans who want to buy. We aren't asking for much, really."

"When I started playing music at the age of eleven, I always wanted to do this. To be in a band and record albums and tour. I always wanted to do that and now it has come true and I couldn't be happier with the way things have turned out", he says gleefully. "I'm just excited that Kalmah has fans too. I always wanted fans to enjoy what I do musically. It makes it all worthwhile."

When Kalmah surfaced with _Swamplord_ a while back, the press and music fans alike were all over what Kalmah was doing. It was fresh, exciting and offered up something intriguing to the metal music scene. How did the band react to being in the spotlight?

"That is a tough question", he comments with a chuckle. "When we found out the first album was going to be released in North America, we couldn't believe it [the band is signed to Spikefarm, licensed through Century Media -- Adrian]. It was a huge dream to get an album released over there and it was happening. The feedback for _Swamplord_ was great and we didn't know whether to believe it or not. <laughs> It felt great."

And was there pressure for the sophomore release? "None at all. I think we know exactly who we are as a band and what we play and we just went in to record the album that we felt needed to be done."

Kokko ends off, "We have fans out there, around the world, who love what we do and we knew the album would turn out great and it did. If fans of the band don't like the new album, then that is OK too. I'm just glad we got to make a sophomore record."

(article submitted 3/7/2002)

3/13/2001 A Bromley Kalmah: Warriors on the Metal Path
5/29/2010 M Dolson 10 Kalmah - 12 Gauge
12/5/2003 Q Kalis 8 Kalmah - Swampsong
1/10/2001 A Bromley 8 Kalmah - Swamplord
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