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Korpiklaani - Korven Kuningas

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: The Goat

For those of you who don't know, Korpiklaani is Finnish for “Forest Clan.” Now, understandably, one may be worried about what kind of music would a band play with a name that smacks of New Age-y treehugging and non-meat or dairy products eating foolishness. The worries may intensify, when the band's name is in their almost unpronounceable native tongue - especially if you are unaccustomed to speaking Finnish - and let's not even go there about the title of the album. It just sounds like a dirty activity between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes.
So, noble reader, I am here to dispel all xenophobic tendencies and introduce you to the wonderful world of fine Finnish Folk Metal.

Let's begin with a little background. Let's trek back to a fine Finnish band called Finntroll and their magnificent metal album, “Jaktens Tid.” If you are at all familiar with this album or the band, you will be well aware of the mashing of Finnish Folk music and Black Metal. “Jaktens Tid” is certainly one of the best examples of this. Now, for those unfamiliar, Fintroll mix Black metal with a fast Finnish version of polka called the Humpaa. In addition, Finntroll use a lot of folk instruments in their songs to compliment the whole humpaa sound. On “Jaktens Tid” in particular, there are moments of a particular clean singing that sound almost American Indian-like with that characteristic warble. This is a traditional style of singing called 'joik' which originates in Lapland among the Sami people. The joik singer on “Jaktens Tid” is Jonne, the driving force behind Korpiklaani.

At the time of his participation with Finntroll, Jonne was well known in Finland as having a folk rock band called Shaman. Shaman used several different folk instrument and Jonne's joik style of singing was prominently displayed. On one album, Shaman entered the metal scene. The album was called “Shamaniac” and as for its sound - think of Iron Maiden meets the war woops and chants of American Indian music and you'll have a pretty accurate idea. As far as I am aware, Shaman only released a few albums and they are only available in Finland.

Obviously, Jonne was determined to continue to bridge the gap between the metal world and the folk world. Thus, Korpiklaani arrived. In 2003, Korpiklaani released “Spirit of the Forest.” While an excellent amalgam of folk and metal, “Spirit” is still a roughly hewn block of wood, like the initial attempt of a woodcarver just learning the trade. “Voice of the Wilderness” arrived in 2005. Korpiklaani had begun to perfect their sound and style, yet “Voice” was still a little rough, not quite there. Some of the elements of Jonne's voice and the song structures did not flow quite as well as one would hope. “Tales Along This Road” was a marked improvement in 2006. Korpiklaani had begun to craft a fine form and style. The elements of their folk metal style that they were creating really had settled into place. “Tervaskanto” was delivered in 2007 and demonstrated a very confident band and established Korpiklaani's placement withing the burdgeoning folk metal scene.

Now, in 2008, Korpiklaani has released “Korven Kuningas” (go ahead chuckle). “Korven” is a much darker and faster beast of an album. It has a much more serious tone about it. It is almost as if Korpiklaani want to conquer the world their folk metal. If it is even possible, “Korven” is almost a thrash Folk metal album. It tears through the listener. The first track alone, “Tapparouta (Killing Iron),” is a careening mosh anthem, a fine opening to demonstrate that these Finns aren't Vegans.

“Korven Kuningas” (its okay, you can chuckle some more) is chock full of songs that will either make you want to drink out of a big stein, fight the biggest dude you can find, drink some more, beat up some Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons (or whatever other missionaries trying to push their monotheistic dogma), chop down a bunch of trees, sit in sauna, or all of the above. Also, it should be noted, that the songs are intensely melodic and rhythmically enticing so you will be singing along and you might even learn some very important Finnish phrases about lumberjacks and drinking. Guaranteed.
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