Folk Metal is somewhat a “new” genre in the scene, and I think that the recent explosion and success of the style is because people are tired of listening the same repetitive bands over and over again, like many other Metalheads, I find Folk Metal refreshing and very original, with bands like CRUACHAN, ELVENKING, SKYCLAD and TUATHA DE DANANN stealing the spotlight, it was a matter of time until new bands show up.
Recently, Napalm Records from Austria is supporting a lot this type of Metal, spawning new records of many Folk Metal bands, one of them is KORPLIKLAANI, (translated: “Forest Clan”), these guys hail from the forests of Finland (they used to be called SHAMAN) and they play a somewhat “polkish” Folk Metal.
The violin has a lot of prominence here, and is used in almost all the songs, also, the album, entitled “Spirit Of The Forest”, contains a lot of instrumental songs, other instruments used in this album besides the violin, are flutes, kettledrums and if I’m not mistaken... bongos!
Most of the songs have that “happy” feeling, and a lot of songs are inspired in the traditional Finnish rhythm Humppa (is very alike to Polka, for those who doesn’t know what I’m talking about).
The album starts with “Wooden Prints” a catchy up-tempo song, with fantastic violin lines all over, and that’s the beginning of the violin, because like I said before, the violin plays a major role in this record. “Before The Morning Sun” starts like a plain Power Metal song, just to become this danceable Folk tune! “God Of Wind” is more up-tempo than the previous songs, has good rhythm and the catchiest chorus of the album, I can’t stop singing it!
The longer song of the record is “Within Trees”, clocking 8 minutes; this song has great acoustic moments accompanied with an enchanting flute. “”Pellonpekko” is the first instrumental song of many in the album, and it has an Scottish feel to it. “You Looked Into My Eyes” is where the band just went TOO folky, but this doesn’t stop, because in “Man Can Go Even Through The Grey Stone” they use bongos! (or at least I think they are).
Two instrumentals that blend into each other follow (“Pixies Dance” and “Juokse Sinä Humma”) just to give room to “Crows Bring The Spring” a fantastic mid-paced song with great duet between the guitar and the flute.
This album got it all, great and catchy songs, some weird and odd, and an overall “Finnish Woods” feel to it. If you’re apt for some over the top Folk Metal get this “Spirit Of the Forest”, as a fan of Folk Metal, I must say that this is a really excellent release, and I know of this, I’ve been listening Folk Metal for years now, and kinda know what’s the formula to win: Avoid the same formulas! And these guys put a dose of originality in a growing genre. My bet goes to KORPIKLAANI and I’ll be waiting for their comeback, so they can prove that they can repeat this great piece of work twice. (Online April 5, 2004)