It’s hard to believe that the members of Korpikaani have been gracing us with their brand of Finnish folk-metal for over 10 years now (counting the Shaman
days, of course). Time flies when you’re wasted and having fun. Maintaining a release schedule reminiscent of the ’80s metal days (really, how many bands actually put albums out almost every year anymore?), Ukon Wacka
serves as the forest tribe’s 7th full length, and helps cement their reign as one of the top folk-metal bands on the scene.
While Ukon Wacka
is far from a stylistic departure for Korpiklaani
, it packs enough punch and originality to break the somewhat “been there heard that” sound that the last couple albums carried. Perhaps the unusual two-year break from 2009’s Karkelo
gave the band some time to refine their songs and escape the monotony.
While there truly isn’t a throwaway track on the album, there are a couple of standout highlights. Opener “Louhen Yhdeksäs Poika” mixes in an almost country feel to the usual Korp
fair, and features and excellent fiddle solo. The rapid fire vocals, sung in Finnish (as if that wasn’t clear from the title), sound great, but ensure most non-Finns will stand nary a chance of actually learning the words.
“Tuoppi Oltta” boasts a flute solo that far outdoes Helloween
’s recent flute experiment (see “Raise the Noise” from 7 Sinners) and proves that flutes aren’t exclusively made cool by Ian
Anderson. On that note, how cool would a Korpiklaani
/Jethro Tull crossover be? “Songs From the Wood” + the Forest
Tribe = the greatest medieval rock/metal ever.
“Tequila” stands out as the most interesting track here, blending Latin rhythms with the Finnish polka and creating an even more bizarre—yet extremely effective—party metal hybrid. It seems there would be a huge number of fanbases this might appeal to, but then again, maybe the mix is too much for most people.
Title track “Ukon Wacka
” slows things down a bit, with vocals that invoke images of Korpiklaani
’s cover-art mascot traipsing through the forest singing of his surroundings. He seems to act as some sort of heavy metal Yoda, providing guidance and insight to his bretheren. Perhaps he will one day become the “Eddie” of folk metal.
only features a single instrumental, the fast-paced “Vaarinpolkka.” Lead by Juho Kauppinen’s accordion, the song is as close to a dictionary definition of polka metal as one will likely get.
So to reiterate, Ukon Wacka
may not be a breakthrough record for the genre it falls into, or for metal in general; Korpiklaani
already carved that niche years ago. For a band churning records out at the frequency Korpiklaani
does, though, it is still an excellent piece of danceable metal. Like it or not, this is full-on party metal, and should be treated as such. Does it border on the cheesy at times? Sure, but every metal band tends to do that at some point. What makes Korpiklaani
so great is that they embrace it and deliver.