posted on 2/2011 By:
Yes, that's right, that crazy old Finnish guy on the cover of all the Korpiklaani albums since Tales Along This Road is back to encourage you to buy some very strong beer and follow him into the forest to dance along to a brand new set of darkened folk tales. If you're new to the crazed drinking fest that is Korpiklaani, you're in for one hell of a fun ride. So find a dancing partner, link your arms together and skank around until you get dizzy. If you're already a few albums in, chances are you're probably throwing up all over the place and wishing the party would come to an end already. But these Finnish folk metal warriors aren't slowing down anytime soon and neither should you, so wipe the disgusting chunks of raw deer meat you just hurled up off your chest and re-join the party that never seems to end...
Ukon Wacka is Korpiklaani's tenth full-length, and it shows no signs of deterioration or regression. Although many would say that the current six-piece is past its prime, some of the tracks prove that the band keeps getting better with age and experience. The main thing that hinders Korpiklaani is the same thing that sets it apart, namely the folk metal gimmick the members have chosen for themselves in a world of extreme metal. As it stands, fans of metal haven't yet grown to completely accept a bunch of guys whose band photos appear as if they were taken on the set of an old John Wayne film. That fact, as unfortunate it may be, is what hinders Korpiklaani in what its capabilities have been since its breakthrough albums, Spirit of the Forest and Voice of Wilderness in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Surely every band has its motifs, and few bands change drastically over time for the sake of being able to come up with fresh, original material, but Finnish folk metal is so narrow a style that I'm surprised that Korpiklaani continues to release albums at the same rate that they did five years ago. This, along with the fact that none of the band's songs come close to reaching the length of a Moonsorrow or Ensiferum song, is why the band's songwriting has become formulaic to a fault.
Looking back to 2007, which might have been the most important year for folk metal to date (Primordial's To The Nameless Dead, Arkona's Ot Serdca K Nebu, Moonsorrow's V: Hävitetty, Ensiferum's Victory Songs, Finntroll's Ur Jordens Djup and of course, Korpiklaani's very best Tervaskanto, just to name a few), it's easy to see which band is the fun-loving one of the bunch. What sets the band apart most is that its folk instrumentation and songwriting far supercedes its actual-metal compositions. Korpiklaani is still trying to cater to a crowd that already limits itself, and much like its Swiss counterparts Eluveitie, the actual "metal" does no justice to the wonderful folk passages that the band delivers time and time again. Perhaps it would be best if Korpiklaani took a time out and released an all-folk non-metal album just so it could broaden its fanbase.
Ukon Wacka is a fun record. Although it's going to sound a bit redundant if you're already familiar with a few of the band's other records, fun songs like "Tequila" make it all worthwhile. (And yes, they actually sing in fucking Spanish.) Although the latest album lacks some of the spirituality of Voice of Wilderness or some of the over-the-top debauchery of songs featured on some of their more recent albums, Ukon Wacka is a fun listen and free of any weird surprises. Korpiklaani has grown to be great metal musicians, and even better folk musicians. To the soulless metalheads out there who somehow think that what they listen to is so much more mature than what seems to be mere drinking songs: There is some beautiful and fun music to be heard from these guys, so why don't you smile for once in your life and come join the eternal party.
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Tales Along This Road
Voice Of Wilderness