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Monday, July 16, 2012

REVIEW: Korpiklaani - "Manala"

Alcohol! – Arguably the best thing that has happened to man! It makes you “feel stronger”, doesn’t let you “feel bad”, makes your “eyes shine” and you become “a real man”. And nobody can explain this better than the happy little Finnish boozers, Korpiklaani. Formed back in 1993, under the name ‘Shamaani Duo’ (basically an in-house restaurant band) in Lahti, Finland, these folk metal pioneers sure know how to hit ye olde forest and chill out with a beer. They are known for their renowned folk sound tinged with violin and accordion and a dose of distorted guitars and blastbeats. The frontman, Jonne Järvelä, describes the band’s music as “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars”, the lyrical themes of most of the songs being about alcohol or old Finnish folklore.

Korpiklaani has an inimitable yet very beguiling sound that simply makes your body and soul dance with its enthusiastic and lively sensation. Songs like “Beer Beer”’, “Wooden Pints”, “Tervaskanto” etc. are happy-go-lucky tracks, so perfectly crafted and so damn catchy that they grasp one’s attention instantaneously. The band’s last album, released in February 2011, Ukon Wacka, consisting of 12 tremendous tracks, was well received by fans and critics. After just a year and a half, Korpiklaani is back with a new album titled Manala.
Lyrically, Manala is based on the famous Finnish national epic, Kalevala. Most of the lyrics have been taken from this book and are in Finnish. But Korpiklaani has something more for the fans around the world. All the songs have also been recorded in English which are included in the bonus disc. Unfortunately; the album features no song about any kind of alcohol; a little sad for the drinking crowd. The album art represents the band’s mascot ‘Vaari’ portrayed as Väinämöinen, one of the main characters of the Kalevala.

Talking about the musical aspects of the record, the album has a very assorted and mature sound. It features characteristic use of fiddle, which is much more prominent in comparison to previous albums. Songs like “Synkkä” and “Dolorus” and the intro on the track “Metsälle” feature some heart-pricking melancholic melodies played beautifully on fiddle; these fragile mood pieces take you down to the memory lane with their elegant sound. While “Husky Sledge” is another slow tempo instrumental track (other being “Dolorus”) which contains ethnic display of scraping violin along with some folk percussion. The fiddle solo in “Ruumiinmultaa” tells us how simply marvelous Tuomas Rounakari is.

The record is balanced perfectly by equally splendid high-spirit sing-along tracks like “Rauta”, “Ruumiinmultaa” and “Ievan Polkka” and other fast-paced classic Korpiklaani signature style songs like “Kunnia” and “Tuonelan Tuvilla”. These songs, though not about alcohol, create the “Karkelo” feeling which gives one an urge to go partying, i.e. drink and dance and go crazy. The tracks have been founded on impeccable accordion progressions, supported by flawlessly heavy work on distorted guitars. Talking about heavy, “Petoeläimen Kuola” and “Sumussa Hämärän Aamun” are the headbangable tracks of the album. The songs contain some amazing guitar riffs accompanied by incredible bass lines and solid drumming.

One must really appreciate the variety offered by the band in the album. “Uni” and “Metsälle” are two songs which are tailored with all kinds of emotions; all stitched perfectly with sound transitions.

Manala has all sorts of emotions flowing through every bit of it. The vocals have been nicely laid on the rhythm and exhibit the sentiments perfectly. Summing up, the album is a gold medal performance and is totally worth waiting for. Highly recommended for all heavy listeners.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewed By,
Varun Khatri