I haven’t decided how I’ll do album reviews so I’m just kind of winging it here.
The first track on this album is Viinamäen Mies (or the Vineyard Man, for people unfamiliar with Finnish) has that very familiar polka-type Korpiklaani feel to it. It really makes you want to dance with a wooden tankard full of ale in the forest with some friends. This is a feeling many Korpiklaani songs bring and is very familiar and comforting for a new album from them. I always describe this band to people have never heard of them as “a folk-metal band that makes you want to drink and have a good time” and so far, this album reinforces that feeling. We hear the very crowd friendly “Hey! Hey! Hey!” embedded in the song so I would imagine that this song would be killer to hear live. Really looking forward to hearing this one.
The second track is titled Pilli On Pajusta Tehty (Whistle made of Willow). Ironically… there’s absolutely zero wind instruments in this song. I’m sure this was a joke in the studio whilst putting this one together. The song is pretty much a rock song with the violin and accordion taking a role in the backdrop of the song, which was something we saw on the album Manala more so than the others, which was actually a nice change. Again, more crowd friendly chanting, making for a really great rock song that you can get into.
Third track, Lempo (the Finnish god of fertility). Again we have the folk instruments taking more of the backdrop than the forefront. Some nice rock power chords again with an intro a crowd can take part in (sensing the trend?). This song is slower and more heavy. Jonne’s voice in this song is definitely something that draws attention, he almost sounds as if he’s pleading or praising. Shiver worthy, that’s for sure. The accordion plays actually sounds more Irish/Celtic in melody. Not a bad thing, it’s rather pleasing to tell it true. Towards the end of the song there’s a change in melody where there’s a fiddle solo followed by an accordion solo. Not as fast paced as most other instances in other Korpiklaani songs, but then again this song is heavier and slower as a whole.
Track four, Sahti (home-brewed beer). There’s that folk feel we know and love from Korpiklaani. The first verse (maybe call it the first beer for this one?) is mostly Jonne singing with the instruments coming in for a small bridge leading to the chorus. This album makes it apparent so far that Jonne has come a long way as a singer (compared to the earlier albums). One thing I picked up on going through this song is that the guitar tuning and tone almost has a sort of classic rock feel to it. There’s a bit where there’s some really impressive accordion work in this song and when you think about how fast that guys fingers are having to move, you can’t help but be impressed. Towards the end we have the classic Finnish singing of “Lai Lai” and I LOVE IT!
Track five, Luontoni (My Nature). This one comes out swinging with some faster guitar chord progressions with the accordion running a nice little almost pirate sounding melody (which is a little out of character but good nonetheless). The chorus in this song is really heabang worthy, what a catchy tune. Overall a rather one dimensional song but till very enjoyable.
Track six, Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon (I Saw a Maiden in the Water). The intro of this song reminds me of Synkkä from Manala, which very much pleases me. It almost sounds a little more ethereal, almost like a hymn or something. The guitars through the intro of the song are acoustic with some background singing to Jonne’s story telling. The chorus is HEAVY! Man, there’s a quick build up for the first one that prepares you for it before it smacks you in the face with some GREAT and simple distorted guitar riffs. A screeching fiddle solo in the middle of the song really gives it this sense of urgency, a nice touch right before a tempo change for the drums in the chorus to follow.
Track seven, Jouni Jouni (John John). This sounds like an 80s rock song to me, not a Korpiklaani one. The track starts with a chugging palm muted guitar riff but a light hearted sound to it. I’m no expert Finnish speaker but this song seems to be about a drunk guy that likes to burn down Saunas and gets arrested for it. Interesting. Maybe this is why it sounds like a classic rock song? Sound like something that would happen to Mötley Crüe. There’s some nods to some iconic guitar riffs from the American music scene in here and it’s kind of funny. The overall feeling of the song reminds me of a Bar scene in a movie or something, bunch of tough guys hanging around playing pool and smoking cigarettes indoors. Ooh, how badass.
Edit: It hit me like a brick wall after i posted this. The song is a nod to Mony Mony by Billy Idol. Wow.
Track eight, Kylästä Keväinen Kehto (A Springlike Cradle form the Village). Again, I can’t help but get this like classic rock/80s feel from this. I don’t really have much to say about this one besides that it doesn’t feel like Korpiklaani to me. If you take the song as it is, it’s really not bad but simply not what I crave when listening to this band. There is a break mid-song with a nice accordion bit but then shortly after I’m greeted by this 80s tough guy sound again. One thing I can speak for again is Jonne showing off his voice for the chorus, a very big strong point of the album thus far. Overall, I didn’t really care for this song.
Track nine, Ämmänhauta (Witch’s Tomb). The start of this song is some nature sounds, with a crow cawing occasionally, though it only lasts for a few seconds before we’re greeted by a flowing fiddle melody with an electric guitar following in not long after. Very nice. Then, we slink into a rock guitar riff that I’m not very impressed by. The chorus has a nice flow to it and an overall enjoyable ambiance to it. After the first chorus, there’s only a slight difference in guitar riff but it changes to a sound that is a lot more palatable to me. Overall as another slower/heavier rock tone, it’s enjoyable as the song goes on.
Track ten, Sen Verran Minäkin Noita (There’s Some Witch in me too). Double bass and some tremolo picking, interesting start. I open a beer to enjoy with this tune. Still a heavy rock presence felt for this tune leaning more towards heavy metal, but in a way that I’m very much enjoying so far. As the title suggests, this song has a darker sound to it but not so dark as to impeach on Korpiklaani’s style. This is about as close to angry as this band has gotten by my memory but man, do I like it! About 2 mins in there’s some joik singing in the background which I have always liked about Korpiklaani, but you have to be paying attention or you won’t hear it. Only just paying attention, this is a long one at 6 minutes 37 seconds. There’s a big atmosphere change halfway through, slows way down and heads deeper into the heavy territory. Lot’s of accordion and fiddle diddling around towards the end of the heavier bit, makes for an interesting medley of sounds. A hard strum of a guitar chord takes us to the conclusion of this song as it fades out and we are greeted by the joik we so know and love.
Track eleven, a bonus track, Antaja (Giver). Now THIS is the Korpiklaani sound I’ve been wanting from this album! Some very nice folk sounds in the start of this song, though slow and not much polka-style as a lot of their other music. Well… I spoke too soon. There’s the rock again. Though not bad, just very generic. The chorus on this one keeps with the heavier trend of the album with some big sounding power chords but is a good break from the rather pressing chorus. As this song goes on, and even as the rock elements present themselves again, I find myself enjoying this song immensely. There’s a break towards the end where all instruments rest while the bass plays a segment of the verse riff that catches me off guard but makes me smile.
So here’s my final thoughts:
This album is a far cry from what I know and love about Korpiklaani. The previous albums Manala, Ukon Wacka and Karkelo did hint at more of a rock direction from this band, but Noita took that and ran to the other side of the hall. The first four tracks had me very excited for the rest of the album but I soon was disappointed. I wouldn’t consider Noita a bad album but not so much a Korpiklaani album that I would prefer, I’d rather listen to Korven Kunnigas or Voice of the Wilderness. However, this will not deter me from actually purchcasing this album. A poisitive point on this album is that Jonne was able to branch out vocally, while the music took more of the background. The last two tracks did grab my attention as much as the first two as far as atmosphere, simply because it was a linear story and I do enjoy when bands do that. In conclusion; If you like a rock sound, then reach for this album. If you expect this to be like the older Korpiklaani, maybe give it a try but be warned. Do I like this album? Yes, because it’s Korpiklaani.
Stay Metal! \m/