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2012: The Year Of The Fiddle/Violin/String Thingy - 90%

andrewarchav, August 4th, 2013

So yeah, I love everything related to folk music. Yet Korpiklaani always seemed as one of the weakest of the bunch. Do not get me wrong, their songs were still pretty fun to listen, and some were even great (Vodka, Tequila and Hunting Song mainly). Yet their polka theme were off pretty fast because they only knew three or four guitar riffs, and the drummer only played two beats (that were pretty similar (and 90% of the song was the classic kick-snare-double kick-snare)) made listening to KK an impossible feat. They were unoriginal, boring, dull and most important of all, uncreative (with a majority of the songs simply saying “Hey, drink (insert famous alcoholic beverage here)”) But in 2012 this all changed, when they released a masterpiece by the name of Manala.

First of all, the cover art just amazes me. The previous releases featured: an old man standing in front of a fire; an old man sitting in a snowy field; an old man standing on a river; an old man walking a snowy road. These are not all of their albums, but the point still remains. Their covers were wearying. This one, on the other hand, features an old man in front of a FUCKING RIVER OF LAVA, WHILE A SWAN PASSES BY HIM, SWIMMING IN THAT RIVER. Okay, it is no Amon Amarth, but it still is awesome.

The first song, Kunnia, starts with Jonne giving us a loud and uplifting scream while the band quickly joins after him. Right off the bat, one of the main problems with the album appears. The drums are too loud. Yes, metal has to be heavy, and I understand the need of weight, considering that this is KK we are talking about, but the fact is that the drums are higher than other instruments; specially the bass and the accordion. They probably thought “hey, we want a heavy album, so let’s tune that drums so high so that louder than all instruments around it! Hey, it worked on Kingdom of Conspiracy and St. Anger. It can not fail!”. Well, it did. It is strange to say this, because in some songs (Tuonelan Tuvilla, Metsälle, Petoeläimen Kuola) it works. Perhaps because these are the heaviest songs (as heavy as KK can be, the guitars in Tuonelan Tuvilla and Petoeläimen Kuola are very similar sounding) and songs like Kunnia, Ievan Polkka and Rauta, which are lighter tracks, it fails completely.

Oh, I have not talked about Rauta yet? Well, get ready to skip songs in your iPod/radio, because Rauta is the worst song on the album. It is repetitive, and the drum patterns do not ever change, there is no time to the instruments to set an atmosphere, and the vocalists never shuts up. "Rauta" is also infamous for the fact that they repeat the word “iske” about sixteen thousand times at one point of the song. The fact that this is the one they advertised with a video clip just does not make sense.

The guitars, while not having much variety in notes (the aforementioned Ievan Polkka feels that the guitars have only two riffs, used over and over with no change of tone, tune or sound) are certainly better than past releases, now having more range structure-wise. The drummer finally learned how to play the drums (seriously, check Metsälle. In the intro of the song (when Jonne starts singing), listen to that drum roll. That is fucking amazing). I have no comments on the accordion. It is what it always has been. It is just a little folk notch that was never outstanding, nor amazing, yet never felt flat or monotonous. The bass... Oh, the bass… Seriously, listen to the beginning of Rauta just to listen to that music. It is just the sound I wanted to hear from KK. Best bass sound of the world, hands down. Cliff Burton, you can eat your heart out.

Now, I have said in the title “Year of the Fiddle/Violin”. I say that because, just like Elvenking found a place to put their fiddler so that he is not just one more dead weight in the raft, Korpi did the same in the same year. Though I give him all this praise because finally I can hear him, it is not that much amazing. It comes off as the same as the as the accordion, never dull, but never outstanding.

There is a nice variety of songs, with different tones and (sometimes) structures. Kunnia is a more happy and joyful, with a more light-centered sound for the guitars. The vocals are in a high note all the way. On the other hand, Tuonelan Tuvilla is a much heavy song, with (forced) harsh vocals and pounding drums. Uni is an uplifting song, with one of the few spotlights for the accordion, with simple vocal and drum patterns, whereas Dolorous is a much more… well, dolorous song. It is darker, and it does not seem forced. Yes, Korpiklaani did dark and dismal instrumental, that did not appear forced. Suck on that “Rise of the Pentagram”. Synkka is what I can only describe as a dark, acoustic, folk and emotional song. It is hard to put on words, but I strongly suggest checking this one out. It has a beautiful atmosphere and feeling to it.

In a nutshell, this album has everything it should have, even a release of songs dubbed in English. My favorite songs go as follow: Kunnia, Tuonelan Tuvilla, Metsälle, Sumussa Hämärän Aamun and Synkka. If you were like me, and had a rejection for Klaani; check this. You might be surprised and impressed with what you will find.

(P.S.: This is the only KK album that does not feature song about drinking. Something tells me that Bodom should learn from this guys).

Orignally written for my blog: