“Korven Kuningas” by Korpiklaani

Artist: Korpiklaani
Title: “Korven Kuningas”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 3/25/2008
Genre: Pagan Folk Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

The opening riffs of this CD might deceive the listener into thinking that they are in store for a Thrashing experience but be aware that once that passes by a decidedly different ride comes into play care of Finland’s masters of Folk Metal – Korpiklaani. The bands name is translated into “Forest Clan” and personally I have been a fan of these guys since their second album “Voice Of Wilderness” and have followed them into their continued work all of which was available on Napalm Records. With this in mind it was to be expected that higher levels of enjoyment would be mine for the taking when I played their newest album “Korven Kunigas” – a release which comes to the world care of their new label Nuclear Blast Records. If you are a fan of this type of Metal already then you should know full well about these guys since this is album number five but if you are a newbie here is the whole folking background for reference sake. The band has origins in the band Shaman, but their desire for change led them to Kopiklaani where they would direct their Finnish Folklore styles into a highly entertaining and energetic aspect of Metal music. While they perform songs in English there is a good majority of their material sung in their native Finnish so there will be times that you will not actually catch what he is singing about and yet the energy level of the music will allow this to not bother you at all.

The thing that I noticed about “Korven Kuningas” was that it was not much of a deviation from the formula that they have worked with for the last couple of years and in some cases that is just what you expect in a band of this type. There is a strong Polka feel to them that will find the audience or at home listener rising to their feet and dancing without abandon and perhaps even raising a rapidly emptying pint of their favorite beverage while they do it. Fans of Finntroll can easily relate to what Korpiklaani is all about and so will those who lean to a little Eluveitie, but the one main difference is that Korpiklaani is a lot more fun to listen to when the bands are compared side by side. It’s not a slight to either of the other groups, but Finntroll is more of a crushing Black Metal band with Polka elements while Eluveitie is more Melodic Death Metal with a Celtic flair. The reader is encouraged to look into those bands whenever time allows. With Korpiklaani keeping a lot of the feel and vibe to that which they had done in the past one might think that they are risking listeners but this is really not the case when one examines the album. Let’s review a couple of my favored tracks to show what I mean.

The opener is “Tapperauta” and this sets you off right away with its raspy vocals and super high speed chorus and since this song is sung in Finnish, unless you know the language the lyric book will surely come in handy as you seek a few lines that you can belt out when you listen. “Metsamies” has a really strong dance hall Polka feel to it and it’s the type of track that you expect to find the band playing in front of a really happy and drunk crowd of friends. Everyone is dancing and smiling and just living life without care is what this one brought to my mind as I heard it. It’s actually a song about a lumberjack. “Northern Fall” is in English and more of a solid Rock track that has an almost Indian chorus to it. The guys get their instrumental on for “Shall We Take A Turn” and it’s almost like a Polka band is battling with a Hard Rock band at the same time and it was really an interesting track for me to listen to. Skipping around a bit we end up at the ballad of the album which is “Gods On Fire”, and while it’s a solid number, Jonne’s voice is a little gruff for a soft tune. Overall the album is rather upbeat and keeps your feet tapping as it plays along. Tracks like “Kantaiso” can be likened to the recordings closest thing to a head banging number as during it there are moments when you can feel a little bit of a circle pit forming.

The lineup for Korpiklaani is understandably much larger than your conventional band as they are another act that uses traditional instrumentation as well as classic folk ones as well. From top to bottom we have Jonne Jarvela (vocals, guitar), Jaakko “Hittavainen” Lemmetty (violin, jouhikko, and woodwinds), Kalle “Cane” Savijarvi (guitar), Matti “Mattson” Johansson (drums), Jarkko Aaltonen (bass), and Juho Kauppinen (accordion). Given the truly strong and detectable Folk vibe happening in the band all around the CD, members Jaakko and Juho have a lot of work to do and are not just coming into play every once in awhile. The bands momentum doesn’t seem to slow down for the entire release until the very closing track which is a seemingly epic number that runs some twenty four minutes. It’s a little deceiving because the song itself is only a couple of minutes and then the rest is a solid bass or tribal drum pattern which I guess is done to leave you with a closing mood. To be honest, this could have been left to three minutes and found the band adding even more of the entertaining jams. I know I would have liked that a lot more. This is an easy album to jump on board with for any fan of adrenaline pumping fun music that is sure to get you out of your seat and onto your feet. Young musicians who once found themselves dreading their violin, accordion or flute lessons will gain a new appreciation for their instruments as they see how well they all apply to a Metal band. The booklet included features translations of all of the Finnish tunes and I really liked that they did this since it gives you a better understanding of what the band is delivering.

Track Listing:
1. Tapperauta
2. Metsamies
3. Keep On Galloping
4. Northern Fall
5. Shall We Take A Turn?
6. Paljon On Koskessa Kivia
7. Ali Jaisten Vetten
8. Gods On Fire
9. Nuolet Nomalan
10. Kantaiso
11. Kipumylly
12. Suden Jioku
13. Runamoine
14. Syntykoski Syommehessain
15. Korven Kuningas

Official Website: www.korpiklaani.fi

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