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One of the best first albums - 88%

Zeltria, July 9th, 2012

Korpiklaani's first album is surprisingly good. No matter how great a band is, the first album does not really seem to capture the voice that you come to recognize in their later ones. Yet somehow Korpiklaani's sound had already been established by the deep love and attachment that all the members feel for their home land. That pride and patriotism has always been the driving force behind each and every album. Disregarding the quality of the production of the album, which is so and so, it would be difficult to place it as their first.

If you are searching for a serious album with meaningful lyrics, this album is not for you. It does contain some moving songs such as Crows Bring the Spring, With Trees and the very beautiful instrumental Mother Earth that is a perfect and a bit surprising ending of the album. Personally, these songs are proof that Korpiklaani is capable of being poetic, so to speak, contrary to many who believe that their limits are restricted to drinking.

The album is meant make you happy. It wants to make you get up and dance to songs such as Pellonpekko and Pixie Dance. It wants to make you laugh when you hear the lyrics of You Looked into My Eyes. And of course no one, and I mean no one, can help shaking their heads (and their butt as well) to Wooden Pints. The albums kicks out with this track and pretty much sets the pace for the rest of the album. The one track on the album that I didn't like is Man Can Go Through the Grey Stone. It was a bit monotonous and boring. The highlights are Wooden Pints and Crows Bring the Spring. The two songs reflect the two faces of Korpiklaani; one is the partying and drinking while the other shows the deep love and appreciation for their heritage.

Part of the criticism of the album comes from the fact that all the tracks but one are in English and there is no joiking which takes away from the authenticity of the band as folk. I'm probably not the right person to talk about it since I have only been listening for folk for a short time, but I think that is a bit harsh. As I have mentioned before, the entire album is deeply rooted in the Finnish folklore and they use authentic instruments.

I am a very big fan of Korpiklaani and this album. These guys pour their heart and souls in their music and are constantly touring and recording. For all fans of folk metal, you cannot go wrong with this one. It's what got me into folk.

Their Best (Don’t Judge the Shaman by His Drum) - 75%

Sean16, September 5th, 2009

After all, the concept of mixing humppa/polka with metal isn’t per se more stupid than any other. Finntroll, who if they might not be the very first to have introduced said concept are at least the ones who popularized it, are for instance a band I used to greatly enjoy; but now so many followers have jumped in the bandwagon the not-that-old horse already looks pretty tired. So here it is, the infamous Korpiklaani, the band churning out one album per year with pretty much the same eternal songs, titles as thoughtful as Happy Little Boozer or Bring Us Pints of Beer (which if they’re not the majority are usually the ones most people will remember) and an obvious incapacity for the musicians to properly play their instruments probably due to advanced inebriation. Now all this shouldn’t occult the fact their debut Spirit of the Forest is actually a good album.

Before Korpiklaani, there was Shaman. Hearing this old, now defunct band listeners familiar with recent Korpiklanni (the whole content I’ve summed up in the first paragraph) would be at least surprised, if not stunned. With lyrics exclusively in Finnish, an overall slower tempo, more complex songs and a large amount of yoik-singing Shaman appeared as pretty subtle, something its progeny has long ceased to be. I’m not pretending Shaman would be anything grand while Korpiklaani would be worthless, as the latter in spite of its inherent mediocrity is still good fun to listen to and the former sometimes happens to sound rather boring; it’s just Spirit of the Forest can’t be fully understood without knowing what it’s coming from. No longer Shaman, still not fully Korpiklaani: the relative strength of this album may reside in its hybrid nature.

The Shaman influences are indeed obvious in the several folk-ish instrumental songs (this is the Korpiklaani album featuring the highest number of instrumentals, by far) or in slow tracks like Crows Bring the Spring or With Trees. You read well, our drunkards once wrote an EIGHT MINUTES song which is more than some mindless instrumental jam (like Korven Kuningas will be), a semi-ballad with a nice melancholic atmosphere and a great flute/violin intro backed by the ominous sound of the shaman drum – to sum up a song giving the impression of having been actually written. Working as the perfect counterpoint are tracks far more in the lines of what’s usually associated with the band, fast-paced electrified humppa moments with goofy lyrics like God of the Wind or You Looked Into my Eyes. Again there’s nothing intrinsically bad with such songs provided they don’t constitute ninety percent of a release. Here they’re heartily welcomed, as a full album of With Trees clones would have been rapidly sleep-inducing.

Now though the instrumentals aren’t the most original ever their regular appearances nonetheless serve to introduce some extra variety to an album which is eventually all but linear, what can’t be said of its successors. Besides, there could hardly have been a better closer than the haunting Mother Earth with the return of both the flute and shaman drum as the logical continuation of the nice mid-tempo track called, precisely, Shaman Drum – all the true spirit of the forest is here. Believe it or not, though it’s a Korpiklaani album on not less than fourteen tracks – some of them being very short I’ll admit – only one is weak, the as repetitive as obnoxious Man Can Go Even Through the Grey Stone. Of course there’s no masterpiece either, but it wasn’t expected to find any.

The instrumentation is poor, but this isn’t particularly unpleasant. You surely wouldn’t want crazy shredding solos or riffing madness on an album called Spirit of the Forest as it would sound as misplaced as tasteless. Of course this prevents our present release from having an endless replay value, as there isn’t much to go in-depth and Jonne’s harsh half-drunken voice becomes quickly annoying. His fellow-musicians aren’t particularly better in performing their respective duties – if you want to hear an accordion carrying a genuine feeling you’d better check the Russian Svarga – but again, this adds to the rough, unpolished side of the work.

To sum up, if there’s a Korpiklaani album to go with it’s this one. The popularity of a band which doesn’t seem to deserve it shouldn’t prevent an objective overview of its productions and, to this respect, Spirit of the Forest is undoubtedly a solid folk metal album; the fact the guys ran out of ideas once it’s been finished is a totally different problem. And yes, I’m sober.

Highlights: Wooden Pints, God of Wind, With Trees, Shaman Drum/Mother Earth

An Excellent Debut Album - 89%

isabiggles, October 30th, 2008

In this album Korpiklaani have revived the spirit of classic folk metal. Ridiculously catchy tunes, guitar solos and alcohol can be found throughout the album and at times you ask yourself whether or not you are listening to Skyclad.

The album starts off with what is probably Korpiklaani's most well known song that most people will occasionally listen to but completely forget the rest of the album. Wooden Pints is an extremely fun and catchy song. Nothing to complicated but more than your standard power chord after power chord after power chord. It continues for two more equally memorable songs (Before the Morning Sun and God of Wind) that will stay stuck in your head for days on end. By now i was starting to become slightly worried as there was no way i could take ten more songs like this and it was becoming slightly tedious. I was shocked (in a good way) at 'With Trees' because it showed a side of Korpiklaani that most people have no idea exists. It isn't catchy and it isn't about alcohol. The acoustic opening is mellow and calming. It is followed by an array of woodwind and string instruments joining in and floating around each other. The piece builds up with strong guitar solos coming in to the mix until everything comes together making it an epic. Korpiklaani have truly put a lot of thought into this song as many a time taking a walk in a field or wood you can really start to feel the chills that occasionally pop up during your metal life.

Unfortunately, from here on the album returns to the standard Korpiklaani stuff that is terribly uninteresting. Luckily, they end on a high note with 'Mother Earth' which is an extremely interesting piece about, you guessed it, nature. Korpiklaani have created some excellent melodies in this one and the two electric guitars weave around each other nicely towards the end.

The albums shows Korpiklaani's true potential and show that they can write some seriously world class songs, hence why i gave it such a high score, but they really ruin in by putting in some tedious, unoriginal songs that have no real purpose. It truly is such a shame that they've continued this way and just release albums every year full of cheap, catchy songs that continue to make people happy rather than reach their true musical potential which i'm sure everyone wants to see.

The lyrics are, put frankly, shit. But what can we expect from Korpiklaani? They don't make sense but neither do most people when they're totally drunk. They do write some moving lyrics for 'With Trees' but most of it is a load of rubbish.

Korpiklaani have showed that they are a skilled band but refuse to show it and this is a shame. Nevertheless, their songs are great for certain occasions and are great for a live show but lacks something to make it into the ninetees.

Fun, if a bit flawed. - 76%

666head, January 8th, 2008

Korpiklaani are an interesting folk metal band. While many bands focus more on an epic sound and more serious subject matter, Korpiklaani preferred to focus more on a happy, partying sound rather than an epic one.

The album (and thank Odin for this, with no useless intro) starts of with Wooden Pints, a song that’s great for setting a good mood, and it’s about beer (something Korpiklaani are famous for talking about). With Wooden Pints, however, you get pretty much the formula for the whole album. The good mood, letting the violin sound as loud as the guitars, happy lyrics and so on. The partying mood however, is abandoned on certain songs, like God of Wind and With Trees. Speaking of which, while most songs barely reach the 4 minute mark, there is one epic in this album, which is With Trees, and also the most interesting, since it’s a change of pace. It also reeks of Bathory influence, which is good, especially if you’re a fan of Bathory’s folk metal output.

Lyrically, the album is more varied, talking about mythical encounters (God of Wind, Hengettömiltä (From the Dead People’s Spirit)) alcohol (Wooden Pints) nature (With Trees) love (You Looked Into My Eyes) and some are about hope (Shaman Drum). Indeed, you can see these guys can definitely come up with interesting lyrics that go well with the music, and are very fun to listen to and analyze and by inspired by them and what not. Other folk metal bands should take notice of this and learn from them.

Overall, Korpiklaani’s debut under the name and with Napalm Records is a nice effort, but you kind of wish the band would’ve at least diversified a bit more on more songs, not just on songs like Hullunhumppa, and a it would’ve helped out a lot if the vocalist (Jonne Järvelä) would’ve sang a bit more clearly, hell, on the song God of Wind, there’s a part that sounds like he’s saying “if you wanna be a battle figure” instead of saying “ if you want to be a God of Wind, You…”, and I’m not the only one I know that hears that. But even with all of its flaws, the good things, like for example, the fact that there are no weak songs and the fact that the album is nicely paced, giving you a fast song, then two more mid paced compositions, is great. If you like folk metal (or Viking metal, call it what you will) you can’t go wrong with Korpiklaani’s Spirit of the Forest, just don’t expect a whole lot of variety.

Gut Appeal - 80%

kapitankraut, September 28th, 2007

Korpiklaani's debut (under their current name) "Spirit of the Forest" is an infectious little album which is a lot of fun to listen to - and even more fun to sing along to, which is something it cries out for you to do.

Essentially, this is the sort of folk metal which is good for drinking to or dancing some kind of rambunctious folk dance to. Indeed, an argument could be made for doing both at the same time, since the band almost sounds like they are at points. Where a lot of folk metal features carefully thought-out lyrics either of a protest or consciously folkloric nature, Korpiklaani comes across as having simply thrown everything together as quickly as possible and hoped that it would sound good. Of course, it need hardly be said that this demonstrates the considerable skill of everyone involved, since nothing this successful could have been thrown together all in one go.

The first track here is the utterly fantastic "Wooden Pints", which is about drinking, joiking and fighting. Needless to say, every time I even think of the song, I want to do the first and third things in that list, and I'd probably want to joik if I knew what on earth it was. From that point on, we're galloping through the album at a generally fast pace, although not so fast that we can't pause for a drink or two.

Korpiklaani's sound is very muscular, but without the big guitar solos a muscular sound often produces. Rather, the lead is frequently taken by the fiddle, which is a clear nod to the folk influence which is very much just below the surface here. There's even a jaw harp which appears out of nowhere every so often, a very nice touch. Vocally, Jonne generally has a sort of sing-shout sound, which works very well when he's backed by the full band and going full tilt. The slower and more introspective tracks often come across as being a bit forced - particularly the 8-minute "With Trees", at least until he gets to sing with guitars backing him. This is a bit of a shame, since the band is clearly capable of holding a slower instrumental together, and it would have been nice to have something vocal of that nature just for variation.

Ultimately, though, a great many of the tracks blend into each other a bit much. There's no denying the skill on show here and the general "boys' night out" sense to some of the lyrics, but nothing really has the immediately apparent hook that "Wooden Pints" does.

This isn't entirely a bad thing, strangely enough. Whereas on a great many albums a lack of variation is a risk, Korpiklaani don't seem to require it too much. The bottom line is that any of these tracks taken by itself represents a terrific slab of fun, straight-down-the-line folk metal which appeals to the gut and the feet much more than the head. Over an entire album, this is also not a major problem. It's not an album to think about, but an album to enjoy heartily.

Good Enjoyable Folk - 78%

ict1523, May 25th, 2006

Korpiklaani are definitely a fun and enjoyable band to listen to. The songs make for good drinking music as well.

There are 14 songs on here total. Most of them are short however, and there are quite a few instrumentals. The songs all feature a combination of tons of folk instruments such as violins and fiddles, as well as guitars and drums. We even get a violin solo here in the song "Wooden Pints". The vocals on here are also pretty good. Some of the lyrics on here are funny as hell. This one verse comes to my mind especially, since it is both funny and doesn't make sense:

"We are here alone
Only the moon
And wolves are with us
Fire swallowed
You and your hair were ablazed
But you still laughed loud
I'm alone again
And old pine tree
Asked me, where's your woman?
I said: Shut up
Or I make of you another

These lyrics are from the song, "You Looked Into My Eyes".

Other good songs on here include "Before The Morning Sun" and "God of Wind". They both have a very folky feel and are pretty fast paced. "Shaman Drum" is another classic although it isn't fast paced. The song was stuck in my head for weeks. I also like the vocals on here, they are a bit higher pitched and not as growly. "With Trees" is also a good song, although it is much longer than your typical Korpiklaani song and it is also less heavy and has a very long acoustic intro so it has the tendency to get a bit boring. "Pixies Dance" is another great song, it is one of the instrumentals, and the violins on here are extremely catchy.

The one downside to this album however is that it is a bit inconsistent. "Hullunhumppa" is another instrumental, but the violins on here are just annoying. And the song "Man Can Go Even Through The Grey Stone" is just silly, the music isn't that great, and the lyrics suck.

A great and enjoyable album, although the next one is even better.

Note: If you get a chance, watch the video for "Wooden Pints". It is arguably one of the funniest metal videos ever produced.

Grab a beer and sing out loud! - 80%

Adamas, May 20th, 2005

With the name change from Shaman to Korpiklaani and the serious revolution in the band’s line-up, Jonne changed a hell of a lot more when recording Spirit of the Forest. Some changes were good, others… not so good.
Starting with the less popular ones, with the choice of English as primary language, which benefited the sing-a-long potential of the band but depleted its cultural identity, yoiking also took a very secondary role in this debut album under the banner of Korpiklaani, which took away some, if not most, of the band’s uniqueness. Also, this change in vocal “strategy” implied that Jonne had to sing a lot more, and in English. However, even though I was quite taken aback when I first heard this new ragged, and quite often out-of-tune, vocal approach, I honestly came around to actually liking Jonne’s hoarse and out of control singing. Still, the yoiking is severely missed.
Nevertheless, with the creation of Korpiklaani, which translates into something like Clan of the Woods, came the introduction of real live folk instruments, namely the violin, the whistle, the accordion and the jouhikko, thus replacing the often annoying and awkward synth samples/sounds in Shamániac. This simple evolution, backed up by Hittavainen’s undoubted skills as a folk instrumentist, brought a whole new dimension to Korpiklaani, making it even more organic and genuine, and somewhat compensating the wont in yoiking.
In terms of composition, it is not so radically different from Shamániac, except for the afore mentioned introduction of real folk instruments, the absence of yoiking and a much stronger inclination towards the exciting humppa beats by session drummer Samu Ruotsalainen. The opening track Wooden Pints, which even had a video clip, is a true drunken hymn, which immediately compels you to sing the chorus from the top of your lungs with a beer in your hand every single time it’s played. Other great tunes are Before The Morning Sun, Hullunhumppa, Pixies Dance and Juokse Sinä Humma, and the very quiet and touching With Trees, which is strongly reminiscent of the Shaman era, but with real flutes!
Despite the bizarre vocals, the very simple (often grammatically incorrect) and candid lyrics and the lack of Jonne’s yoiking; Spirit of the Forest is still an excellent album which deserves all credit, specially due to the great use of true violins, flutes and other instruments. Some more yoiking in this album, and it would probably be absolutely extraordinary.

Korpiklaani! Woo! - 89%

TritherionHellraiser, August 22nd, 2004

As both previous reviewers noticed, the vocals are more extreme for Korpiklaani than most folk bands, some songs sounding almost like In Extremo.. so this is going to be a strange review. Anyways, to the songs..

Wooden Pints starts off with drums and violin, then the song gets almost quiet sounding with the drums standing out, and the vocalist comes in. Very well done vocals, sometimes going almost clean. The chorus hits very suddenly, the drums becoming a part of the rest once more, and the way the vocals are sung, it sounds like you're in a tavern somewhere in a small town of shacks and businesses with the local drunks attempting a song, and succeeding. Immediately after that, a part similar to the first vocal piece comes in, with the drums standing out. I can hear once again the almost clean side of these vocals, and I like it. Back to the chorus, and another pint of good ale! Another quieter piece, but this time the guitar dominates it, this time it sounds like the vocalist is trying to sing while taking a shit, not in a bad way though. And once again to the chorus, and by this time you're so goddamn drunk you don't care if the vocalist is good or not. Then a solo... hey, is that the guitar or violin..? Either way, good stuff. Now everything drops out but drums, and some quiet guitar. (Is that bass? I can't tell the difference, to be honest :)) Then the violins kick in, and you can hear a raspy whisper, and you imagine some drunk guy coming over to you, whispering a bad joke in your ear, then going back to finish the song off with the chorus once more, and now, you're too drunk to notice music at all.

When you've sobered up, Before the Morning Sun is on. Starts out with blasting guitars, then leads into drums. If you ask me, thats an awesome classic metal riff. When the riff is done, the whole song pauses, then goes into an extremely fast part, introducing the folk part of the song. Then the vocals come, sounding like extremely raspy power metal. After the vocals finish, a short instrumental part starts. When its over, the vocals kick back in, then back to that riff used in the last insturmental part. No, its not abused... :/ Then, a different riff, actually I think a solo of some sort... switching between guitar and violin constantly. It ends too, replaced by a new riff, with awesome drumwork. This is soon replaced by the riff which started out the first vocal part... repeat the last verse... and then that same instrumental riff-- NOW its being abused-- then to a nice, speedy, very folkish closing riff(?).

God of Wind! Yay! I think that 'cept With Trees, this is the best song on the album. Starts out with the chorus riffs, then pauses for a second, before leading into the song. Almost whispering vocals, sounds kinda like you met a bard on the road, and he's now singing you a story, though quietly to avoid attention. A pause, then the chorus leads in with a very large voice. Its supposed to be the voice of a large black bear, and it fits the bill perfectly. The opening riff set comes in after the bear's done roaring his lines out. Then the song repeats. No changes I can notice, but they're there somewhere, cause it isn't boring to me. The bear seems to repeat himself this time around, instead of the song starting all over. Whoo. He draws out his last word, ending the song.

Okay, you can calm down now, the bear is gone, and now you're With Trees.
Very quiet beginning, very folky. You can clearly hear the flute when it comes in, and you're likely to space out too. When the violin is creating the main rhythm is when the song is at its loudest so far, and when its at its most calming, all through.
The guitar kicks in soon after, creating a shimmery atmosphere with its distortion.
Before the vocals comes a pure folk part, very calming, and kind of alienating at the same time.. sort of like Dante's limbo.. a place of mournful peace. The vocals kick in, and I honestly can't see where the hell the last reviewer got grunge vocals through this song. This song has almost-clean vocals the almost the whole way through (except for the end of the first and second verses..), sort of a power-metaller-with-a-sore-throat sound. After the first line, comes a VERY melodic repitition of it, then comes the second line.. same sort of uber-melodic repitition.. then the third line sounds almost like death or black metal. A short, much louder part, then back to that calming yet sad folk part. Forgive me for sounding like a little kid, but the next verse sounds exactly like Invader Zim's voice. Oh, and the guitar is here, too. Then.. PURE death metal growl. A short instrumental piece, WITH guitar. Then, an AWESOME vocal job in the chorus, I mean the best I have ever heard from ANY band! The echoey melodic repititions complete the picture perfectly, and the last line is perfectly growled, reminding of Finntroll's Visor Om Slutet's vocal work. Easy to understand without looking at the lyrics, and yet growly enough to take a couple listens. Back to Dante's limbo, peace and sorrow... It grows on you, really, the way the feel is of the music at these parts, the way you feel sad yourself everytime one pops up. The guitar hits again, and the chorus is back. The song ends with the flute.

Pellonpeiko is on now. I mistook those violins for bagpipes before. Be careful. Instrumental, simple but good drumming, makes you think of a solemn march down a dirt road in the thickest fog imaginable. Guitar is awesome, once it appears. More instruments make their appearances, as time wears on, the guitar dropping out once or twice to make room. Rhythms change, the song gets more and more complex until the very end.

Third best song! You Looked Into My Eyes is awesome. Speedy folk metal, there's no way I'm going to waste time picking this work of art apart, its not good enough to waste my time praising it, nor is it so bad that I need to pick out single details which are horrible.

The rest of the songs never really stood out to me, to be perfectly honest. All of em are average, unmemorable songs, nothing I have the time to deal with. Someone with more paitence and more time can do a complete song by song review. But I do know one thing. If you like Finntroll or Elvenking or any other remotely folkish band, grab this album and whatever else these awesome bastards can churn out, and go nuts. With squirrels, so you'll be With Trees, and so the God of Wind can blow his winds nearby. Have fun drinking Wooden Pints and waking up Before the Morning Sun. And goddamn it, listen to the album!