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Despite basically all Korpiklaani albums sounding oddly similar for the last 5 years, this one stands above. One thing you have to give Korpiklaani is how consistent they sound and stay true to their genre. I find their style of folk metal is a ton more "folkier" than anyone else. While their lyrics may not represent it as much, their sound itself exceeds expectations of what I thought folk metal would ever sound like. Korpiklaani was the first folk metal band I ever listened to, right around when they released Tervaskanto. I fell in love instantly and it was the only album I listened to from them for a long time until I saw them live. Holy hell they can put on a show. Anyways, back to this album.
Compared to Ukon Wacka, I think Manala crushes it on every level. Each song is your standard Korpiklaani song, fast paced instruments and singing transitioning into a quick little medley with some sort of flute or accordion added and onto a riffy catchy chorus. I think this is their best and most complete sounding release since Tervaskanto. The small solo's they place in every few songs on this album are unbelievable and every song drives you to sing along although you probably can't because it's all in Finnish. Another point there, I think Korpiklaani produces much better songs when they sing in their native tongue. Anything they do in English sounds almost too mainstream or something like that, it just isn't them.
All the tracks are wonderful, there are two instrumentals about 3/4 of the way through and they serve as a great mark in the album that tells you things slow down for the rest of the album. Which is completely okay, you gotta' have at least one ballad!
There are a mere two flaws on this album that I could find, just a tad repetitive on your first listen through. When you listen to the title track all you remember back is Jonne singing Kunnia, Kunnia, Kunnia! The rest of the song is wonderful, just the chorus has this little bit of annoyance to it. The same goes with track three, where he repeats Iske literally over 30 times in a row. I thought the album was scratched or stuck on repeat or some weird thing when I first listened to it. After the chants of Iske the song goes into a classic heavy metal Korpiklaani mode and will leave you wanting more and more and more by the time it's over.
I think the instruments sounds magnificent on this album. The fact Korpiklaani can pump out an album nearly every year is just mind boggling and to keep them not sounding like complete shit is just another feather in their cap. Seriously one of the best metal bands to date, these guys never fail to impress me even with their last few releases lacking some in my eye. Forever and always a fan, I listen to this album more than any other I have bought this year. One of the best of 2012 for sure.