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I’ve never been a big Korpiklaani fan. I thought they were lame and gimmicky since the first time my friend sent me the Wooden Pints video. I’d come across songs I’d enjoy here and there, but for the most part they never did anything for me. Then I saw them live. And loved it. They were so much fun, as could be expected by a band that was known for catchy drinking songs, and I bought their newest album on the way out. Some bands you need to see live to understand, and some bands are just more entertaining live than in the studio. This was one of those cases. Since, I’ve revisited many of their past albums, and while maybe I can still work on it, I’m still not feeling for their albums anything like I felt live. Except this one. I don’t know what it is about this album that keeps me interested, but there seems to be more depth and musical evolution. Maybe they put more effort into the songwriting. Or maybe there’s just some intangible factor I’ll never really understand. But for once I actually find a band that made a career being fun and campy more fun than campy.
Kunnia kicks the album off in a fun, upbeat, almost punky fashion. It’s a little bit what you’d expect from Korpiklaani, except I prefer it to most of their other music, for whatever reason. It’s catchy and its simple chorus of simply “HEY-EY-EY-EY-EY-EY” is fun live, along with the “ISKE!” chant from Rauta, which is a very entertaining song with a cool bass-driven intro. Tuonelan Tuvilla fucking crushes everything, and I’ll be damned if Peroelaimen Kuola isn’t one of the best fucking folk metal songs ever, with riffing that would do 80’s thrash proud.
Synkka starts off with some kind awesome steel-sounding drum, but not the kind that makes you think of the Caribbean. With the droning note in the background it sounds dark and hellish as fuck, before going into something almost unfittingly soft, but still somewhat melancholy. This is where one of the major issues with Korpiklaani rears its head: Jonne apparently can’t sing clean to save his life. This song would probably be done so much more justice with a good cleaner singer, but I feel like the execution here is awkward, in part to the somewhat unfitting gravelly vocals. It’s like Lemmy singing an acoustic ballad, except that Lemmy has already proven he CAN sing an acoustic ballad… Still the song is alright in and of itself.
Another positive is that even though catchy upbeat songs are present, such as Kunnia, Ievan Polkka and Uni, it never becomes the empty, mindless goofiness I’ve always felt Happy Little Boozer and Wooden Pints were. Still, these songs aren’t necessarily the ones I feel are the main attractions. It’s the musical evolution and maturation that I’ve fallen in love with on this album. It feels as though the folk has been toned down to accent the metal, which is a little more prominent on this album.
Or maybe I’m wrong. I can admit most Korpiklanni albums turn me off 2 or 3 songs in. I keep trying to delve deeper, and see what gems might be hiding, but I only find a handful of songs I come back to, and a whole bunch that disinterest or even annoy me enough to want to stop and put on something else.. Aside from this entire album, that is.
The bottom line is that this album features higher quality riffing than I’ve come to expect from these guys, as well as choruses that are fun in a metal way, and not fun in a gimmicky folk way. This is a band that has always had talent, and I’ve never felt were using it well, and It’s good that I can finally support one of their albums. I’m not saying liking earlier Korpiklaani is a crime, but what I am saying is even if you don’t like their earlier work, you might want to check this album out. And I certainly hope they continue to grow and evolve and mature, so I can love their studio work as much as I loved their live show.