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Korpiklaani - "Karkelo" (CD)

Korpiklaani - "Karkelo" CD cover image

"Karkelo" track listing:

1. Vodka (3:00)
2. Erämaan Ärjyt (2:57)
3. Isku Pitkästä Ilosta (4:11)
4. Mettänpeiton Valtiaalle (6:41)
5. Juodaan Viinaa (3:15)
6. Uniaika (4:22)
7. Kultanainen (6:16)
8. Bring Us Pints Of Beer (2:49)
9. Huppiaan Aarre (5:13)
10. Könnin Kuokkamies (3:04)
11. Vesaisen Sota (3:40)
12. Sulasilmä (5:37)
13. Kohmelo (3:28)

Reviewed by on August 17, 2009

"The Finnish drunkards have returned to provide another highly satisfying trip into accordion and violin-tinged metal. "

For those who didn’t know, drinking vodka is good for you. Or at least that’s the message of Korpiklaani’s latest booze-soaked folk-metal extravaganza “Karkelo” (meaning something along the lines of “Party”). The Finnish drunkards have returned to provide another highly satisfying trip into accordion and violin-tinged metal. Fans of the earlier work will have plenty to love, and anyone not familiar with the band should find “Karkelo” to be a great jumping off point to discover if they want more.

Echoing bands like Finntroll and even Hardingrock, Korpiklaani is a band that roots its sound in folk music and happens to also have some heavy metal in there. The band has described their output as folk music for the more traditional older crowd that has guitars thrown in for good measure, and it’s surprising how accurate that statement is. If the volume of the guitars and drums were turned down, most of Korpiklaani’s songs could pass as old jigs and songs played in small town gatherings.

Where many metal albums with a folksy or symphonic bent dwell in dark and hate filled places, “Karkelo” is much more upbeat and focused on having a good time. There are a few notable exceptions for those metal fans who want a more brutal approach. “Isku Pitkästä Ilosta” is more guitar-driven than the other tracks, and the vocals even go down into a semi-growl. “Huppiaan Aaare” is almost completely devoid of the folk elements, with the accordion only heard in the background from time to time. “Kultanainen” and Vesaisen Sota” have the best blend of all-out metal and symphonic folk elements. Both of the tracks combine the accordion with the guitars for some segments and then alternate between the two for a more balanced approach.

The vocal quality of the front man is very different than what would be expected on any other metal album. Some may find that the tone is a bit of an acquired taste. It’s not a growl, but also not exactly clean singing. The vocals are also frequently delivered in a slightly off base way, as though there may have been alcohol involved prior to the performance. The sound fits the themes of the music perfectly, however, and it still has a vaguely mysterious and esoteric air that works for a band so heavily rooted in nature and myth. Most of the vocals are in Finnish, which unfortunately makes it a little harder to sing along too for the English speakers. The two booze drinking anthems “Vokda” and “Bring Us Pints Of Beer” are helpfully in English though, for all those hard partying nights when the crowd wants to get involved in the music.

Korpiklaani realizes that there are two sides to the folk coin, and they don’t dwell solely on drinking themes. “Mettänpeiton Valtiaalle” features acoustic passages and has a solemn and somewhat sad tune that brings to mind loved ones lost and opportunities untaken. The atmospheric and contemplative mood of the track fades away as “Juodaan Viinaa” starts, which changes back into a tankard raising, beer drinking, back slapping good time. It’s the sort of song meant to be played while sharing good times with old companions and fellow warriors.

While “Karkelo” has its more somber moments, the disc is very much focused on getting people in the mood to imbibe a never ending stream of intoxicating liquid. In the words of Korpiklaani: “If you don’t drink, you can leave.” Those drinkers who like folk in their metal should enjoy the album from start to finish.

Highs: Good blend of folk instruments with heavy metal, drinking anthems that you can sing along to.

Lows: Vocals are a bit of an acquired taste.

Bottom line: An upbeat and catchy folk metal album with heavy alcohol themes.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)