Aah, my favourite Finnish Folk Metaller are back: KORPIKLAANI! With their fourth album in five years my worry had been that they might run out of ideas to keep their energetic sound fresh and would begin to copy themselves or staying too close to the previous outings, taking away from the freshness and original. Well, “Tervaskanto” (“Resinous Stump”) shows the band in a slightly different light, but still sounding like KORPIKLAANI, so I think they manage to evade the dreaded standstill.
So where are the differences? For one the new album is not immediately catchy from the beginning on, but some songs take a few more spins to reveal their qualities. Then the overall atmosphere seems darker than before, not a blatant change, but just enough to give it that slightly different touch, even in the sing along songs this is evident and what is the best thing about it, it still works! So Jonne and consorts saw the potential danger and did what they had to do, kudos to that!
The album is kicked off in fashion by “Let’s Drink” and while it does not have the same explosive quickness to it as, say, “Beer, Beer” (to stay in topic), it sounds energetic and infused with Juho Kauppinen’s accordion and Hittavainen’s flute it is a winner from the get-go! The title track also hits into the old curb, up-tempo with accordion and flute and tons of energy, but the darker atmosphere comes through first in “Viima” (“Icy Wind”), which has a great sing along chorus, but can’t conceal a gloomier feeling to it, on the other hand the mandolin that had already been used to outstanding results on previous albums celebrates a welcome comeback.
What also strikes in the course of the album is that the Finns seem to put more emphasis on more intricate arrangements, especially in the acoustic guitars, slow-paced “Palovana” (“Inner Fire”) is an excellent example for this. But they have not forgotten how to truly Humppa, the short, but sweet “Karhunkaatolaulu” (“Bear Hunt Song”) takes care of this and as almost complete contrast we have the more melancholic and intense “Vesilahden Veräjillä” (“At The Gates Of Vesilahti”), which also contains some bagpipes for good measure, so variety is not an issue with KORPIKLAANI anno 2007. And another novelty is the presence of two instrumentals, the fast and energetic “Running With The Wolves” and the more introverted “Nordic Feast”, which also shows a good swing, but definitely is more melancholic than the previous one.
If you now have some doubts, if you will still be able to sing along with “Tervaskanto”, even after a dozen pints (then the Finnish lyrics might even just roll off your tongue), and if the party will still get even more merrier and rowdier, forget them, KORPIKLAANI might sound a little more differentiated and all, but party is still what they are about, HUMPPA!
(Online August 2, 2007)