KORPIKLAANI are a polarizing band. They play a special brand of humpaa-infused Metal (or, perhaps more accurately, Metal-infused humpaa) that has made them almost into a genre all their own. They are not the most technically proficient band in the world, and their music can be a bit happy and uncomplicated, which can turn away some fans, but they sure are fun.
And so here it is that the band delivers its sixth release (or eighth if you count the two albums recorded under the moniker SHAMAN). Those familiar with the band know what to expect, and while this is not an album that will make new fans out of skeptics, it does tweak the signature sound a bit, giving it just enough difference (dare I say, evolution) to delight and surprise the existing fans.
“Karkelo” is a much heavier, somewhat Thrashier release than its two predecessors, “Tervaskanto” and “Korven Kuningas.” The volume was turned all the way up during recording, and the reverb in the production is noticeable. While normally this would cost the album some points in the review for poor production quality, (depending on the genre, of course), here this phenomenon is like a shot fired across the bow of those who claim that the band is not “Metal” enough, and sends the message that KORPIKLAANI's music not only has bounce, it has balls as well. “Kultanainen” and “Sulasilmä” both contain some chunky, palm-muted Thrash riffing that takes center stage away from the Folk elements. Likewise, “Huppiaan Aarre” has some slow-tempo 5th and 6th string picking, punctuated by appropriately timed rests and some bends low on the neck to give the main rhythm a kind of BLACK SABBATH or CANDLEMASS feel (two bands I would never, ever expected to mention in a KORPIKLAANI review).
Yet long-time fans need fear not, for the Folk-dance rhythms that have always formed the core of the KORPIKLAANI sound are still present. “Isku Pitkästä Ilosta” contains a yoik chorus and a pretty cool accordion solo. “Mettänpeiton Valtiaalle” contains a strong fiddle melody supported by and acoustic guitar, with a humpaa chorus. And of course, no KORPIKLAANI album would be complete without drinking songs, and here we get three: “Vodka”, “Bring Us Pints Of Beer,” and a rocking cover of Finnish musician Hector's “Juodaan Viinaa” (“Let's Drink Booze”), by far the bounciest track on the album.
As already mentioned, this is not an album that will win any converts, but KORPIKLAANI are one of those love 'em-or-hate 'em kind of bands. Long-time fans will love the increased heaviness, and will enjoy this very much.
(Online September 2, 2009)