Monday, February 13, 2012

Kalmen: Kalmen (Demo 2011)


I don't use illegal drugs. Never have. This gives me a leg up in life, avoiding legal trouble and keeping a sharper mind. Some branches of Satanism see it about the same way I do: If you do partake, they make you that much easier to rule.

By that observation, Kalmen look like they would be easily dominated. Kalmen's 2011 demo is one perfect example. A quick glance at their most widely-known band photo is enough to advertise their love of marijuana, with all members sitting on the floor, looking hazily at the camera with heads lolling to one side. But a listen to their music is just as convincing. At first blush, the music based around the cold, apocalyptic mood of bands like Unearthly Trance. But extra emphasis is placed on being indistinct and trance-inducing, so they sound a little bit like Unearthly Trance if they had a drug habit the equal of Electric Wizard.

To use a cliche, the bass is drenched in reverb, and to use another cliche, "Spiritual Black" at least is feedback-laden. The vocals are gruff, more befitting of a darkened outlook. But the personality of the music is not so seriously apocalyptic as that, tending more toward the Wizard's wink-wink nudge-nudge kind of occultism, replete with voice samples referencing death, rebirth, and eternal life. The demo begins on a six and a half minute ominous, droning intro, then goes on into a droning, trance-inducing riff for the first proper song. Their songwriting is not premised on constantly crushing heaviness, but instead they build tension with one or two layers of sound, and then bring all their weight to bear in releasing that tension. And the riff to "Those About to Die" would do EW proud.

The Verdict: As demos go, it's pretty solid. Sonically, the mix is balanced, but it could use a heavier production. Stylistically, their ideas are good, but could be fleshed out. Electric Wizard and Unearthly Trance may be drug bands, but they write music that works even on the sober. Although if you're into the same sorts of recreation as the band you probably won't notice. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. It's a good start.

[this review originally appeared on]

No comments:

Post a Comment