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Drunk off Darker Liquors - 80%

doomknocker, May 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2012, 2CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

What can be said about Korpiklaani? Fun, energetic, party-hearty…and pretty prolific. Yes, many could see the end result as simplistic and damn-near stoooopid sounding, for folk for the sake of it has its place within this placid heart’o mine, and there will always be a time and a place to satisfy it. It’s the more fun-loving part of me that resonates to brightly with this, so sprightly in this day and age, and hopefully will be something to hold onto to in my waning years. And they’re a’comin’, they’re a’comin’. But anyway…

So let’s see how this album came out, for folk’s sake…

And oh, like the mighty Mega Man before them, Korpiklaani’s whole “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to their folk metal tandems is something to admire, and the way that they keep the flames burning with that high amount of righteous energy is just as admirable. Nothing’s really changed all that much, but that’s not entirely a bad thing, and if nothing else, all these years of being amongst the top of the Finn Metal heap has increased the professionalism placed within the production and performance parts. Things seemed more tempered with “Korvus Kuningas” and slowly mushroomed from a concrete foundation into a larger, fiercer, and dare I say, darker beast. It’s still bouncy and happy in its delivery, but for “Manala”, there’s a heavier, more thrash-born side that’s always been truncated in earlier albums in favor of the fiddle/accordion-led moments. That end has caused night to fall upon the forest, shrouding it in seemingly threatening shadows. But that can only cause the bonfire to be lit even more, leading to more dances under the stars. So the end result is actually better than one would expect.

For a group of their caliber, I found “Manala” to be a strangely more guitar-driven affair, something that always seemed to threaten leaving the music thin upon my ears. When you have fancy instrumentation like fiddles, accordions, hurdy gurdies and whatnot in your group, chances are you’d let the more traditional metal instruments take a backseat breather, causing a loss in that kind of musical vision. But in this case, with a influx of stronger songwriting, including some slightly Arabian influence in certain parts (that I can hear…maybe you can hear something else?), the music itself is still as fine and fun as before, both the dancey and dramatic moments. Those who’ve been kickin’ their fur-clad kilts in the air to these guys won’t be hard-pressed to find any lack of doing so with this, although a bit more head-banging may end up in order during the fiercer riffs and movements. And let’s not forget those quieter moments, where at times the band really shines the brightest (the lushness of the strings, acoustics, bass, and gentle choirs always get me *right here*), even though the more distorted moments are the ones best remembered (sometimes sad to say).

So all in all, “Manala” still shows that Korpiklaani can continue knocking one out of the park with their blend of seemingly unstoppable prowess. While they may be considered the most cliché in the folk metal scene, it’s not simple two-dimensionality; there’s always more going on than you’d think, and the past few albums have helped prove that, like the wine they guzzle amongst the trees, they can get better with age. Two drinking horns up!