By Ola Mazzuca
You can always count on Korpiklaani for up-tempo folk metal to keep things light, while, on the contrary, celebrating consumption of heavy ales and hungover mornings. The Finnish kings of “Humppa”, the Polka scene of the Scandinavian north, release Manala, an optimistic ode that’s concise and fun.
The album commences with “Kunnia”, a circle-pit worthy track that has elements of thrash and undertones of post-hardcore. It’s as if Cancer Bats wore leather vests and flowy peasant shirts, before the traditional “Rauta,” with Jonne Järvelä rolling his Rs in native pronunciation like it’s his job. Tuomas Rounakari shines on “Ruumiinmultaa”, bowing violin strings with precision during an ethnically stunning solo, contrasting with the heavy death-laden “Petoeläimen Kuola.”
Like previous Korpiklaani records, instrumentation is vital on Manala. “Husky Sledge” is a brief interlude that’s atmospheric and peculiar, its rustic violin and sleigh bells depict a wintery scene. “Dolorous” is crisp with deep basslines, a comfortable lull before Juho Kauppinen’s sanguine accordion kicks in on “Uni.”
What follows is a track that exudes influence of classic metal, but considering 80 per cent of the elements in Korpiklaani’s blend, they never change for a vast audience. From headlining album tours to playing intercontinental Paganfest shows with fellow folk connoisseurs, they stick to roots and do it well. Hell, their name even means “Wildnerness Clan” in Finnish! And they truly live up to its definition, for Korpiklaani are a band of the wild that produce music far from an animal call, but a signature sound that summons fans – those who appreciate progenitors shaping the credibility of a once scoffed metal sub-genre through an innovative tribute to culture.