If I had to name one band to go see live at the moment it would be the folk metal / traditional / pagan / ritual music group, Kallomäki. They released their first album Roka Ukri earlier 2018. It is a good album but Kallomäki is very much a live band. I captured them live the third time in October 21, 2018 at Bar Rock Bear, Vantaa.
The biggest difference between Kallomäki and all other metal bands is that they have no guitars. Guitars have been replaced by jouhikko, a three stringed bowed-lyre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jouhikko).
Musically Kallomäki is pretty much folk metal, but as a live band they are very ritualistic. Most members of Kallomäki are very experienced metal musicians from multitude of projects, it is still damn surprising how convincing their take in folk metal is. This no kids light-hearted folk here. It is filled with interplay between brutal and beautiful parts. There’s a vast amount of historical mana channeled in the music.
The album Roka Ukri is fairly straight-forward, but in a live setting the tracks have considerable alterations. The title track Ukrijuhla and Kalmankehto are close resemblance of their live sound. Both very hypnotic tracks.
For example the end of Ukrijuhla has a short snippet of a live track chant “se sielusi vie ja mielesi murtaa, rakkaasi raiskaa ja lapsesi surmaa”. This has been extended as a long shamanistic track, a fan recorded version can be found from youtube.
The stage-presence is also very dramatic! Non-album shamanistic chant “Herramme roka, tämä lapsi ota” saw a female singer being “sacrified”, after which she seemed to be reborn as a white hooded smaller figure, as the vocal duties were changed to her. So what happened to the blood from the sacrifice? It was collected in a wooden cup and painted to foreheads of audience! Sinister figure moved quietly in the audience and stopped before everyone to paint their forehead, if they allowed. I even glimpsed a bartender running away laughing from this figure :D.
Roka Ukri album review
Roka Ukri (2018) is dark folk metal with a lot of traditional music influences paired with some catchiness and surprising amount of brutality. Kunnes Katoan and Suruton Saattaja balance beautifully between pretty parts and very harsh musicianship. Great interplay between clean male and female vocals and growling. Ikiaikaisille is a power ballad. Previously mentoned Ukrijuhla and Kalmankehto are very atmospheric and quite brutal ritualistic tracks, my favourites of the album at the moment.
Most of the rest of the album is more on the harsh side, some being more straightforward (Jouhien Herra, Nahkavitsa, Kuoleman Renki), some even doomy (Ajastaika, Halla). Among these these tracks are the most stale ones too. Jouhien Herra is an unfortunate single-track. Lukewarm, soft and too simple a-b-a-b-c track. Does not represent the album’s dark, historical, smoky log house (savupirtti, is there an English translation to it?) atmosphere as a single track well.
Kuoleman Renki is tastefully grim about death ruling the lands but tastes like a filler lament, not bad though. Halla goes by leaving no memory of its presence except that it’s slow and heavy. The spoken-word vocals are so melodramatic it unfortunately reminds of humor band Suamenleijona and Roudasta Rospuuttoon sketch by Studio Julmahuvi. Very harsh black metal screeching. It is not an epic final track.
Lyrics draw notable influence from Finnish pagan past, there’s a lot of old feel in the Finnish phrasing and the lyrics are very mythical with a lot of supernatural subjects that revolve around beliefs, day-to-day life, agriculture and especially hardships of life.
Kallomäki’s lyrical content and themes come from an age before christianity was dominant as a religion. An age where the difference between supernatural and natural didn’t yet exist in the minds of ordinary folk as the knowledge of science was in it’s infancy. Sometimes the lyrics cross the borders of cliche content but in general they bring a ton of magical mana (väki) to the music, it’s like a glimpse from a long gone era.
Kallomäki has been gigging with Nest a lot. Nest is a two man Neofolk/ambient project that’s based on the use of Finnish traditional instrument kantele. They have released not less than one of the best Finnish ambient albums of all time Trail of the Unwary (2007). The previous album Woodsmoke (2003) is more straight-forward and song based and also very much recommended.
In live setting Nest is just a man and kantele. It is a very relaxing experience, solid Nest melodies and improvising on them a lot. Here’s a fan captured version of Summer storm (Original track is from 2003, Woodsmoke): https://www.facebook.com/nestfinland/videos/320633115391873/