One of the most entertaining bands ever to come out of Finland is back: KORPIKLAANI. It still amazes me how they manage to churn out album after album and while staying true to their style, still do not just copy what they’ve done before. “Korven Kuningas” (“King Of The Woods”) is the fifth album since 2003, and we still are treated to the Folk Metal these guys have been known ever since their inception, with accordion and violin and a lot of good mood and energy, so it’s safe to say that if you loved them in the past, you will also love them with this album, if ou hated them so far, well, rest assured, you will still hate them.
Opener “Tapporauta” (“Killing Iron”) is the perfect example for the sound of the Finns, upbeat, with accordion and violin, Jonne’s trademark gruff vocals, shout vocals in the chorus and just tons of energy, if this doesn’t get you moving, you’re dead, it’s as simple as that. But they do not only go full speed, but shake things up, yet do not fret, they haven’t gone modern or progressive on us, this still is as straight and direct as it gets, this is not thinking music, this is get up and have fun music. There are four tracks with English lyrics and while former creations went as deep as “Happy Little Boozer” or “Beer, Beer”, we do not get a full fledged drinking song (at least lyrically), unless the Finnish titles are misleading and they sneak something like that in there as well.
What has stayed the same, though, is the immediate catchiness of their songs, which you will be able to sing along quickly, take “Keep On Galloping” as example, you just have to hear the chorus once or twice and you’re good to go, the song itself is more a stomper, but no less fun. Overall the Folk element has been raised a little compared to the previous effort “Tervaskanto”, and “Northern Fall” even brings back some of the Yoik singing, which Jonne had started out with back in the SHAMAN days, which is a very welcome addition to the album! Same goes for the purely instrumental “Shall We Take A Turn?”, which live will surely get the crowd jigging in no time, haha.
Jonne’s voice is pretty characteristic and whenever he uses it in more upbeat or heavier tracks, it lends character to the respective song, but when it comes down to a ballad, that’s a completely different story... “Gods On Fire” per se is a pretty good song, but here it really comes out badly that he just can’t sing and that really hurts the song more than just a bit, sad to say... But “Kantaiso” (“Ancestor”) more than makes up for that, with some speed mandolin, irresistible melodies and energy, I love it! Just one thing, do not let the overall playing time fool you, because the closing title track has about 18 minutes of strangely droning drums at the end, was that really necessary???
So as said, they are not copying themselves, but still do not sound uniform and boring, but deliver the goods in old KORPIKLAANI tradition, they really are unique and you’ll probably either love or hate them, I love them and there are not many bands out there that can match this wild troop in terms of energy!
(Online August 23, 2008)