Finnish folk metal masters Korpiklaani
returns in 2009 with their highly nationalistic LP release “Karkelo”. What makes this record different and perhaps a little special is the non-sequential trilogy of drinking songs that appear here. Of the three, two of them are written and sung in English with the third being the only cover track. What seems like a departure from the typical characteristics of the rest of “Karkelo” is really a reaching out to a now broader audience in lieu of their recent success. It also helps that they are really fun songs borne out of the very barrels of alcohol the band prides in drinking from with lyrics that just scream for a good time. “Juodaan Viinaa” is the greatest of the three with a rare double – two tantalizing sing along parts found in the chorus and the introduction.
What defines Korpiklaani
as a band is found on the rest of “Karkelo”. The tracks are not only sung in the native Finnish dialect, but are written as modern tunes based on old native Finnish folk. It should be noted that all of the songs are original compositions and not new versions of old arrangements. Not to be left out in the cold, an English subtext describing what each song is about is found in the pages of the accompanying inlet. It’s a great idea, really, because it keeps the songs authentic without having to compromise their integrity.
The music at its base level is two equal parts of accordion and rhythm guitar: there is no lead guitar tracks save for the rock lead intro on “Sulasilma”. Any soloing to be found comes from the accordion or fiddle. “Eramaan Arjyt” is one great example of this alternating yet constant aspect the band’s sound dynamic. As for variation, there is a mix of fast (“Isku Pitkasta Ilosta”) and slow (“Huppiaan Aarre”) tempos, but not so much from a musical standpoint. Two
exceptional songs are “Mettanpeiton Valtiaalle” (featuring an acoustic guitar bookend, some fiddle, and tribal drumming) and “Kultanainen” (featuring the most prominent bass line on the album).
Regardless, the defining nature of folk is intact with these metal songs maintaining its true function of storytelling and myth building by way of singing and dancing along. Korpiklaani
achieves this very, very well. Rhythm oriented, the riffs found throughout are heavy with a full bodied sound, thus also serving to keep “Karkelo” well in the range of legitimate heavy metal. No doubt, this album speaks to the natives, but for those outside of Finland, Korpiklaani
’s “Karkelo” is too strong of a work not to be appreciated by the average metal fan.