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Korpiklaani’s sophomore album is something quite amazing. While “Spirit of the Forest” sure as hell wasn’t a bad album, but it lacked variety, musically speaking. And while “Voice of Wilderness” doesn’t do much to change that, it does do something, and that is, it changes the atmosphere on some songs a little bit, never dropping the happiness, but rather, adding to it. But the biggest reason “Voice of Wilderness” is better than “Spirit of the Forest” is that the overall execution, the overall metallic ness, and the overall folkiness is far superior and it seems as though these guys have found their voice.
The album, much like “Spirit of the Forest”, starts of with (and again, thank Odin for this, no Thordamned intro) “Cottages and Saunas”, which, like “Wooden Pints” on “Spirit of the Forest”, sets the mood for what’s to follow, however, most of what is to follow is highly unpredictable, yet it all seems to fit somehow. It’s weird, but that’s how it is. And this is where “Voice of Wilderness” excels at. While all the songs are uplifting, the merge happiness with other feelings and atmospheres, from epic battles, to nationalism (not NS, mind you) to all other sorts of crazy combinations, but all the songs are, at the core, happy songs.
Lyrically, “Voice of Wilderness” is just as varied as “Spirit of the Forest”, with songs about hunting (Hunting Song), patriotism (Native Land) and some are just there to entertain (Cottages and Saunas) and of course, its Korpiklaani, so there had to be something about alcohol in there, so there’s the song “Beer Beer” (whose title gives it away).
Overall, Korpiklaani’s sophomore effort under the name and for Napalm Records, is a great piece of folk metal, building up on the foundations laid on the album “Spirit of the Forest”, and both are very similar, however, at the same time, you can tell these guys progressed from that sound, thus rewarding people who liked the first album with something that will definitely appeal to them, but also attracting people who want a different sound from the first one. Korpiklaani really showed their prowess on this album, and whether or not it’s the best they can do remains to be heard, however, at least, in my honest opinion, I think Korpiklaani have enough creative power to compete with and become legends in their own right.
Korpiklaani's first album, "Spirit of the Forest", was pretty awesome. It had wonderful folk melodies fused with some metal, and the result was a very fun, good sounding album. However it was also a bit inconsistent. This album is not drastically different, however you can definitely make out a few differences. It still has crazy and fast folk melodies, but it sounds much more organized and structured while still being fun. The album is much more consistent in that you still have standout tracks, but nothing really that bores you.
The lyrics are still funny as hell, here are two examples, both from the song "Cottages and Saunas".
"We eat iron, we shit the chain,
we never let them live."
"And horses' carcasses among with the bodies,
and everywhere they're burnt. "
Now to get more into the actual music. It is chaotic, filled with all sorts of folk instruments like violins, flutes, and accordions. There is lots of shouting as well. The instruments blend very well however to get more of a folk feeling, the violins and accordions are often heard over the guitars. This is not a bad thing, but gives the music a much heavier folk influence than other bands of this genre like Finntroll.
Korpiklaani are definitely unique as they have a pretty thick sound, and a very unique folk influence unlike anything I've heard before. You honestly wonder sometimes how drunk the band members must have been to come up with some of this awesome material.
Let me start off with two highlights, "Cottages and Saunas" and "Journey Man". Both of those songs are awesome primarily because of how fast and chaotic they sound. "Cottages and Saunas" features a terrific and melodic violin intro before the song explodes and "Journey Man" has a great and rather heavy drum intro. The melodies on here are spectacular. Very thick, heavy, but melodic at the same time. I think those are the perfect ingredients for that chaotic feel. Both songs do for the most part put folk instruments above the guitars so some may not like that, but I think Korpiklaani makes it work.
"Pine Woods" and "Ryyppäjäiset" are both instrumentals and I love both, which says a lot because I find instrumentals boring and bland a lot of the time. "Pine Woods" starts off rather calmly and with a big flute sound. The song gradually builds up in both power and speed. About halfway through you get a drum transition into the second half which is definitely more heavy with a great and rather folky sounding guitar solo that is backed by some dark and heavier guitar riffs. "Ryyppäjäiset" is the more "grim" (if you can call it that) of the two instrumentals. It has more of a violin than flute/accordion influence, and has a very pleasant but low pitched melody. It definitely shows more emotion than "Pine Woods".
To sum it up, in this release Korpiklaani really got their act together and produced more serious and structured music while not losing the fun aspect of it. You still feel like going to the woods and drinking with your friends in this album as much as you did in the last one. It is just noticeably more consistent.
Raise up your flask to Korpiklaani, who specialty is metal tinged music which is deeply based in traditional Finnish folk melodies, their music being a raucous forest camp soundtrack which provides listeners with a modern day take on those customary melodies. Standout track “Journey Man” is sure to get your blood pumping with its up-tempo feel and adventurous theme. “Fields In Flames” is delivered with a measure of fervor, it’s scalar harmonies remaining bright considering the somewhat dismal subject matter, just as these types of songs have been for hundreds of years.
Rich textures are provided by violin and ringing acoustic guitars that heighten the past harkening credibility of the group. The rolling flute sounds which grace “Pine Woods” provide a pleasant ambiance, while the insertion of electric guitar in this type of melody further enhances the dynamic impact, by and large. The harmonies you will find on “Voice Of Wilderness” are oftentimes distinctly rooted in the aforementioned Finnish folk melodies, and it is these tones which manufacture the spine of Korpiklanni’s sound.
The subtle nuances the group scatters through exceedingly listenable songs like “Spirit Of The Forest” are of great importance in taking the band’s music to a different level. More varied in style than bands like Finntroll, Korpiklaanl deliver fantastic performances all the way through the record, while these performances are backed by an unyielding production that is temperate and effervescent. “Hunting Song” delivers all of the sentiment you would expect from a song titled as such, a galloping adventure punctuated by well placed solo and given life with impassioned, powerful vocal chants.
An album that will have you primed for fighting, feasting and other testosterone associated activities; “Voice Of Wilderness” is an aptly monikered foray into the grand sounds of folk metal that comes off as a determinedly striving, gripping aural experience.
There are few albums which got me hooked immediately, and this is one of them. You just want to dance all time while listening to it!
The album itself has a top-notch production. Every instrument is audible, and there are lots of them! Beside your usual metal equipment we've got almost ten folk instruments! This defines the album's style quiet well: it's more folk than metal. But it has it's charm, it may be a strange fact I like this more than let's say... Finntroll? They claim the album to be a "100% synth free natural album" themselves. It's a good thing you can hear this!
To the songs: Cottages And Saunas starts of with their fiddle and soon turns into a driving, fast and catchy monster of a song! You may notice that the lyrics aren't some kind of a masterpiece, and they don't hide their accent, but for it is one funny thing about them. I personally think you feel a bit closer to the band and Finland with this. Journey Man, though the shortest song on here, convinces with a thrashy riff and those lovely fiddles. Fields In Flames delivers pure metal power. It is indeed one of the more metal-ish songs of the album. The next track, Pine Woods, is purely instrumental. Like the first songs, it's very driving and never gets boring. The first half is played with folk instruments, the metal part follows in the second. Don't be outside at cold night with a beer in your hand without it. The next one, titled after their debut, is a bit special. Jonne is yoiking on here, which can sound strange for your usual ears. Despite the chorus is well-made, it can hold up to the other songs on here. Native Land is sung mostly in long shouts. It is up to you if you like that or not...
The second half: The Hunting Song is another standout on here. It's basically a fast, catchy song about the joys of hunting! No wonder they made a video of it, which you can luckily find on the cd. Hunting is going on, we are a part of the wilderness! Ryyppäjäiset is again an instrumental. Though different, it's very compareable to their first one. Let me know: if you name a track "Beer Beer", do you really have to explain it? Great for any metal party. You can sing those chorus no matter how drunk you are. Old Tale is the album's most progressive track. Great tune, despite being not that much of a singalong-tune than others here. They also made a video for this song, which you can download at their web site. The last track, Kädet Siipinä (=Hands as their wings), calms everything down, in a melancholic way. They are supported by the "Wesilahti Wiking Choir" on here, which does some background chanting. Nice way to end this piece of art.
Highly recommended. Only the most grim people may don't like this.
In deed Voices of Wilderness sound very Finnish. But then folks - this is folk metal. Now all clichés are massing to make me say "at its finest". But I'll refrain from doing so. Sure this is incredibly folksy, using the humpa rhythms, this is incredibly catchy, although there's no substance to back it up. Also, for what it's worth, this album claims to be a "100% synth free natural album".
I fully support the cause of stopping the synthetic harryings but an instrument should only be removed / replaced / whatever when it fits. Korpiklaani seem to be of a more radical view. They do, as a lot of Nordic ethno-pop bands think that if you use a fiddle, mouth harp, Jew’s harp, Estonian bagpipe or some other instrument no one have heard of or is taking seriously, the audience will forgive everything and overlook the (many) weak spots in the music.
For instance Korpiklaani's main vocalist has a real, real, real thick Finnish accent. Not that he’s alone about having such an accent, no; he's just taking it to new extremes. It's charming at places, but can't make me forget that this man seriously lacks some range. He takes that to its extremes in Native Land, an ovation hymn to the spirit of Finland, when he sings'
"O my native land, stand proud, facing the future
You were never broken down, banished into the night"
He sings it with a cracking voice. Cracking from time to time is more or less ok, especially if it's caused of emotions that need an outlet. Here he does it multiple times, repeats the line multiple times, and cracks more because of lacking range than emotional reasons. He even yoiks monotonously. Sure it's melancholic, but it's very monotonous.
Other than that, well Korpiklaani isn't the first band writing songs like if they've been cast in the same mould. The songs start calmly, with an intro from one of the folk instruments (except from the time when the instrument is an acoustic guitar). Wait ten seconds and the sound will be enriched by drums and the other gear.
What's interesting is that the folk influences, with few exceptions (like Old Tale) seem to be taken from the same melody. Another interesting thing is that the short lines and short bars give the impression of "chunky" choruses. You get a lot here, there and some more now. And as sure as there's a slower fiddle interlude in the middle of the song, the lines in the chorus (or other lines) are repeated as well as the melody and rhythms before we can move on to the next three-words line.
What more can I say? It's cute, it's sweet, annoying as fuck at times (the way the chorus of Spirit of the Forest is done, first a shout "Spirit" then a whisper "spirit of the forest"). When the crunchy guitars and bass surface, it's always, immer, toujours, a pleasure. Sadly it doesn't happen very often.
Korpiklaani should go for more serious and constructive music. We really don't need another beer praising hymn now, no matter how Finnish the rhythms are. They should consider not writing music for all of their instruments, but to choose instruments after the music they've written. The instrumentals are better in this respect, of course they aren't as catchy but they feel freer, not restricted by the limits of the standard Korpiklaani sound in the same way. There are other compositions, more elements - not just more instruments. Also Korpiklaani should, if they don't consider themselves a solo project, share the song writing workload more fairly. Now Jonne has written or co-written the music for ten out of eleven tracks - he just did the lyrics for the last one. One songwriter = one taste = conformism in the musical output.
Not everything's bad with some folksy, Finnish cheese though. There should be more lyrics around the sauna theme. Simplicity and catchiness aren't bad things either, but there must be some balance. Voices of Wilderness is an entertaining album, no masterpiece.
In all honesty, I didn't expect this album to be very good. While I am a fan of folk metal, I was worried that Korpiklaani would be merely a run of the mill pretender in the expanding roster of the genre. However, I was pleasantly surprised; this band have taken folk melodies and infused them with metal power in such a delightful way that I couldn't help but be impressed by what is a thoroughly enjoyable album.
Album openers Cottages and Saunas and Journey Man provide a solid introduction to the band's style (for those who haven't heard their earlier works), and the catchy rythms and and growling vocals create an absorbing musical atmosphere. Subsequent tracks such as Fields in Flames, Native Land (definately one of my favorites) and Old Tale show off the true potential of the band, with tight riffing and evocative, sometimes haunting, violin work, courtesy of Hittavainen. Nonetheless, it is on the instrumental track Pine Woods that I felt Korpiklaani really hit their stride. For an instrummental to have such an impact on an album full of excellent songs is testament to the ability of the band to create such a powerful and exciting sound.
For me, Korpiklaani's real strength lies in their capacity to create an entrancing ambience that leaves the listener spellbound. So why the score of 80? Well, even though I enjoyed this album, I feel that this band have yet to peak and that there is potential for even better music. I recommend this album to anybody interested in the genre and look forward to future releases from the band.