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Ukon Wacka - 70%

KonradKantor, April 28th, 2012

Yes, that's right, that crazy old Finnish guy on the cover of all the Korpiklaani albums since Tales Along This Road is back to encourage you to buy some very strong beer and follow him into the forest to dance along to a brand new set of darkened folk tales. If you're new to the crazed drinking fest that is Korpiklaani, you're in for one hell of a fun ride. So find a dancing partner, link your arms together and skank around until you get dizzy. If you're already a few albums in, chances are you're probably throwing up all over the place and wishing the party would come to an end already. But these Finnish folk metal warriors aren't slowing down anytime soon and neither should you, so wipe the disgusting chunks of raw deer meat you just hurled up off your chest and re-join the party that never seems to end...

Ukon Wacka is Korpiklaani's tenth full-length, and it shows no signs of deterioration or regression. Although many would say that the current six-piece is past its prime, some of the tracks prove that the band keeps getting better with age and experience. The main thing that hinders Korpiklaani is the same thing that sets it apart, namely the folk metal gimmick the members have chosen for themselves in a world of extreme metal. As it stands, fans of metal haven't yet grown to completely accept a bunch of guys whose band photos appear as if they were taken on the set of an old John Wayne film. That fact, as unfortunate it may be, is what hinders Korpiklaani in what its capabilities have been since its breakthrough albums, Spirit of the Forest and Voice of Wilderness in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Surely every band has its motifs, and few bands change drastically over time for the sake of being able to come up with fresh, original material, but Finnish folk metal is so narrow a style that I'm surprised that Korpiklaani continues to release albums at the same rate that they did five years ago. This, along with the fact that none of the band's songs come close to reaching the length of a Moonsorrow or Ensiferum song, is why the band's songwriting has become formulaic to a fault.

Looking back to 2007, which might have been the most important year for folk metal to date (Primordial's To The Nameless Dead, Arkona's Ot Serdca K Nebu, Moonsorrow's V: Hävitetty, Ensiferum's Victory Songs, Finntroll's Ur Jordens Djup and of course, Korpiklaani's very best Tervaskanto, just to name a few), it's easy to see which band is the fun-loving one of the bunch. What sets the band apart most is that its folk instrumentation and songwriting far supercedes its actual-metal compositions. Korpiklaani is still trying to cater to a crowd that already limits itself, and much like its Swiss counterparts Eluveitie, the actual "metal" does no justice to the wonderful folk passages that the band delivers time and time again. Perhaps it would be best if Korpiklaani took a time out and released an all-folk non-metal album just so it could broaden its fanbase.

Ukon Wacka is a fun record. Although it's going to sound a bit redundant if you're already familiar with a few of the band's other records, fun songs like "Tequila" make it all worthwhile. (And yes, they actually sing in fucking Spanish.) Although the latest album lacks some of the spirituality of Voice of Wilderness or some of the over-the-top debauchery of songs featured on some of their more recent albums, Ukon Wacka is a fun listen and free of any weird surprises. Korpiklaani has grown to be great metal musicians, and even better folk musicians. To the soulless metalheads out there who somehow think that what they listen to is so much more mature than what seems to be mere drinking songs: There is some beautiful and fun music to be heard from these guys, so why don't you smile for once in your life and come join the eternal party.

Originally written for MetalReview.com

Korpiklaani At Their Prime - 95%

MelodicStorm, April 27th, 2011

Korpiklaani, the Folk Humpaa style metal band, of which keeps churning out these fascinating and brilliant albums. In this album, they take a lot of developments from their last and push the button on variety, music contemporise writing and sing along attributes. Although, not as good as their earlier albums such as Voice of Wilderness (2005) and Spirit of the Forest (2003), it beggars belief that some can call this a step away from Korpiklaani.

It has been apparent since early 2007, that Korpiklaani were on and upwards to their music style, incorporating a lot of traditional musical instruments such as the Finnish hand pipe, accordion, Brazilian bongos and the like. This push to incorporate such different cultures is commendable on the writing side and the music organisation side of composition. As such it was great when Tervaskanto (2007) came out with its story and concept of new, frontline compositions. However, since then they have seemed to carry on in the vain of which some failed, Korven Kuningas (2008), but others progressed further on the party (Karkelo, 2009).

If you then put all these elements together you get the picture, just a touch of what the band was feeling and picturing whilst writing this new album. Ukon Wacka, has progressed from the English with native languages to a native humpaa folk fest, the way korpiklaani should delve more in my honest opinion. All these songs on this album cannot be faulted in their promise to their fans of an upbeat occasion, some even promise new directions such as “Surma” and the title track. The quick fun tracks of “Tequila” and “Yaarinpolka” keeping natives to Finland and South Americans happy alike. This album also offers the English a welcome break from the, often hard to translate and hear, foreign language with “Iron Fist” reminding certainly of Black Sabbath (Ozzy Osbourne era), Skyclad and Rob Zombie (circa Iron Head), again stamping in the new direction that Korpiklaani could go.

I really hope that Korpiklaani continue their career and give us another welcomed studio album next year. If not, the next, I am eagerly awaiting a tour around the known world. A truly great band and bunch of musicians with another fantastic album.

Originally written for http://www.last.fm/user/TheArtistBox/journal/2011/04/27/4conam_korpiklaani_-_artist_profile_-_folk_metal

Testament to Their Continued Viability - 80%

FullMetalAttorney, April 21st, 2011

Ukon Wacka is Korpiklaani's seventh studio album. They are probably the best known folk metal band out there, and they're from Finland, probably the country best known for making folk metal. Combining the polka-like Finnish humppa music with metal, the band creates drinking music that's as perfect as it gets. The metal side of it mostly provides the backbone, generally playing polka-like rhythms, while the folk instruments (accordion, violin, bagpipes, flute, etc.) tend to provide the leads. And Jonne Järvelä's grizzled clean vocals fit the mood perfectly, sounding like a boastful warrior celebrating a good pillage. The vocals are only enhanced by keeping the lyrics in Finnish, leaving the actual topics up to the imagination.

If you've followed the band for any length of time, you probably know they've been extremely prolific, releasing albums every year since 2005. After 2006's high-watermark Tales Along This Road the quality dropped somewhat. I'm happy to say that taking 2010 off (from full-length releases, anyway) has yielded an album that stands up to the quality of their early material. Case in point: the extremely catchy, bouncy "Tuoppi Oltta" or the excellent instrumental "Vaarinpolkka". They also cover some unusual ground, taking a Latin America-via-Finland approach on "Tequila" and bringing the accordions to southern rock with "Korvesta Liha". In fact, the only low point is the downbeat "Lonkkaluut", which seems to drag on a bit longer than it should.

If you're lucky enough to get the digipak version, you'll also be treated to a great cover of Motörhead's "Iron Fist", displaying some non-obvious similarities to that legendary band.

The Verdict: Korpiklaani deserve to be the best-known folk metal band, and Ukon Wacka testifies to their continued viability.

originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/

Korpiklaani - Ukon Wacka - 60%

ThrashManiacAYD, March 20th, 2011

Now surely of the biggest metal bands currently going, a new Korpiklaani album manages to be a big deal despite the frequency with which we have been granted them since the alcohol-obsessed Finns first brought their humppa folky tidings to the world. "Ukon Wacka" (which I keep thinking is a tribute to Wacken festival, but is apparently not) is the 7th full length since 2003's "Spirit of the Forest" debut and a fitting tribute to the phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

I don't feel it's worth yours nor my time to explain in detail any developments to the Korpiklaani sound as "Ukon Wacka" is the same festival-friendly, drinks-in-the-air folk metal that has been refined but never equalled to since 2006’ "Tales Along This Road", for my money the best of Korpiklaani's career. Underground purists will argue that this style is contrary to the real feelings of folk-inspired metal (an argument in which I sit somewhere on the fence) as songs like "Tequila" (a tribute to the band's South American fanbase) and highlight "Lonkkaluut" are the closest the genre gets to pop music, being full of bounce and summery energy all the while lacking in a real emotional depth. True charges though they are I find it hard to deny the jovial spirit of the band and throughout this effort there is no let up in the passion or energy of "Surma" and "Vaarinpolkka", and even through the slower moments to be found in the title track and elsewhere.

In "Koivu Ja Tähti" an effort to incorporate small nuances of differentiation to at least the background percussion represents as much experimentation as you are likely to find in a Korpiklaani record these days and a few listens to "Ukon Wacka" is ample enough to justifiably declare it a guaranteed pleasure for any fan of festival folk metal, though I hasten to add we are unlikely to see anything groundbreaking from this troupe again. Worry not, there's plenty to keep the drunken Wacken hordes happy with this one…

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net

The booze ain't dry yet! - 80%

doomknocker, February 8th, 2011

In a move that was quite uncharacteristic of them, Korpiklaani made us sit at the edge of our seats for a good two years before unveiling their latest recorded work. Strange, considering these Finnish goons have been pretty prolific from their humble beginnings to now, and I guess I was a little spoiled on it until I realized that 2010 came and went without a single new ‘Klaani recording (that I’m aware of). Nevertheless, they don’t seem the type to make us wait long before we pick up our steins and prepare to bash them over our stunned, vodka-swilled skulls when the new record is thrown our way.

And it’s with that anticipation that I grabbed this new piece with open, gauntlet-clad arms…

What’s always made Korpiklaani the wunderkind it is, on my end, is their ability to keep their musical craft sounding fresh with each successive album, and “Ukon Wacka” is no exception. With no too-long song lengths, no dramatics, and, above all else, no bullshit, the ‘Klaani klan kicks everything into high gear from first track to last, giving the listener a two-fisted barrage of heavy thrash riffs, accordion/fiddle tandems, savage percussion and raspy chants that have been the general scheme of things since their inception, albeit continuing a nice, upward trend since hitting a bit of a snag with 2008’s “Korvus Kuningans”. Going in, I sorta knew what to expect, but what struck me with this new album is that there’s an extra bout of aggression mixed into the bouncy, Finnish-as-hell melodies, making the overall product a heavier affair of the dancy kind and eschewing some of the happier elements heard on the preceding “Karkelo”. That’s not a bad thing, the way I see it, as it makes for a better listen, a new side of the group that we haven’t really noticed before (or, at least, I haven’t…) and adding the enjoyability factor. As before, the central compositional themes are based primarily on the stringed instruments’ melodies, with the electric riffs adding that extra bout of tasty augmentation all their own, where songs like “Paat Pois Tai Hirteen”, “Tequila” and “Ukon
Wacka” display in such bright shades and colors. There’s not much more to be said, really…just grab yourself a drink, dive in and let it all wash over you.

In the end, Korpiklaanio once again gets a big-ass thumbs up on my end. Again this listener is reminded of their ability to remain at the top of the folk metal heap, and I plan on enjoying this little wonder for as long as I damn well like. Cheers!

There's No Hope Left, So Just Give Up Already - 35%

zaebangad, February 7th, 2011

Sometimes I like to play Magic: The Gathering. More specifically, I am the archetypal red mage, spamming tiny, stupid and retarded Goblins until the stench of comically disgusting mythical morons fills the nostrils of the entire game store, which, quite ironically, is named Goblin. There are two reasons why I am sharing this useless fact on a Korpiklaani review, the first, is that one 1/1 Goblin that sacrifices other Goblins to create one red mana has more creativity than all the people involved with Korpiklaani put in the same room with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The second is that Korpiklaani are just like Squee – they are expendable and impossible to get rid of. At the same time. I mean, honestly, this is just ridiculous. Korpiklaani haven’t had a good idea since, well, let’s say Tervaskanto had one single good idea. But, here they are again, two years (it’s more like year and a half actually) after the splendidly horrid Karkelo, which is like the longest time the guys have gone without publishing a new album. Must have been a very bad existential crisis.

Perhaps if Korpiklaani would’ve spent a few more years working on improving their song-writing skills (most of the year is probably spent in pointless drinking anyway), perhaps they could come up with an ok song idea once in a while, but evolution and improvement is something Korpiklaani have been avoiding for the greater part of their eight years of careering, a fact that is both inexcusable and somewhat sad at the same time. Sad because the signs are there, hell, ever since Karkelo it seems they’ve been trying to reinvent themselves, but ultimately fail, maybe from fear to get out of their comfort zone, or maybe because they just can’t.

Now that I’ve spent two paragraphs ranting, let’s talk what little we can of the music itself. For a band of 5 people, their music is strikingly one-layered, over-simplistic and generally not that impressive. I wouldn’t even have known they actually use two guitars if I hadn’t read it in their line-up, I mean, fuck, what in the name of Mother fucking Nature is that second guitar for? It’s not like there are two lines! In fact, four members of the band serve only as a simplistic backing track for the folk instruments, which after 8 years sound so repetitive I can barely hide my lack of interest. Remember that “rebirth” they’ve been trying? It mostly includes trying to incorporate some sort of rock sound in their music which just makes it sound more annoying and unoriginal with the one or two rock’n’roll solos they failed to incorporate in their songs. Hell, why the fuck am I even describing what Korpiklaani sound like? You know what they sound like! And fret not, you still know what they sound like for even today they sound the fucking same! They have for 7 albums now and it’s not like it’s about to change. So yes, if you want to listen to your old Korpiklaani records you can go ahead and pat yourself on the shoulder because you’re just the kind of dude Korpiklaani need to sell their new album to, but if you expected anything out of them, then you are a fool. So grab a beer and leave your brain at the door for this stupid cesspool of a polkafest! I am afraid I won’t be joining you, I have been sober for almost two years now. You see, I can’t afford to pay for my fucking exam applications, let alone a beer. Also I’d hate to mix alcohol with the huge dosage of diazepam I stole from the pharmacy to battle the big fucking migraine Ukon Wacka gave me.

Perkele, tämä on hieno levy! - 90%

burnoutfool, February 5th, 2011

Ahh, yes, polka folk metal, the metal that makes you want to just go to the nearest bar and drink till you're so shitfaced that you either wake up next to a donkey or find yourself in the bathroom the next morning. Now that may sound like an insult, but it's meant in the best way possible. I love polka folk. Finntroll and Korpiklaani (both from Finland...they seem to know their polka...) are two of the most famous and best in this genre. I first got into them at a friend's party when they were being played and needless to say, we were drinking...heavily. In fact, that's really all I can recall from the party. They've been with me ever since, and it's been a journey filled with drinks from every country of every liquor.

When I first heard the announcement of the new record, I was excited, especially since the last record was mediocre in my opinion, and I really wanted an epic album like Spirit of The Forest. Whilst I didn't quite get that, I was still much happier with Ukon Wacka then I was with Karkelo. This record has sounds from pretty much every record post Spirit of The Forest. I do also like how most of this record was done in their native tongue as well. I've always liked how the Finnish language has sounded (primarily the reason I learned some phrases was because of Korpiklaani). It was a great turn around for them. The music itself was very stereotypical of Korpiklaani, but not in a bad way. This band has always pretty much followed the same style, much like Amon Amarth from Sweden and every thrash metal band out there. The cool thing is they sound good doing so.

Vocally, this album wasn't that great - minus the background vocals, which were flawless. Jonne Jarvela isn't really a great singer, however his vocals do fit the style they are in. He's nothing great, but he can hold a tune, carry his melody and at least sound good doing so. He's also not trying to be Hansi Kurch (Blind Guardian), which is good, because folk metal bands like Tyr piss me off.

And finally I get to the part we all listened to this album for - their instruments. Seeing as how they have 8 instruments in their band, Korpiklaani is all about having a huge band sound. Anyone who has listened to them knows how great their musicians are, and how well they play with one another. This album was great for that. You got to hear the band play slow and fast, but they were never off. The violin, flute and accordion were just so flawless. This is one of the few bands in metal that use these instruments as the lead sounds (most use a second guitar or a keyboard). Their drummer even got really fast and started playing faster double bass notes. I was damn impressed with the funky bass lines too, especially in the title track, where every once in a while, you'd hear an eight or six note fill.

I think this album would sound about 500 times better with a beer, so next time I listen to it, I'll try to have a few friends over and we'll bring the beer. Oh, and before I forget, for all you non-Finnish speakers, the title means "Goddamn, this is a great album"