Review: Korpiklaani - Manala

Band: Korpiklaani
Album: "Manala"
Style: Folk metal
Release date: 2012-08-03
Origin: Finland

1. Kunnia
2. Tuonelan Tuvilla
3. Rauta
4. Ruumiinmultaa
5. Petoeläimen Kuola
6. Synkkä
7. Ievan Polkka
8. Husky-Sledge
9. Dolorous
10. Uni
11. Metsälle
12. Sumussa Hämärän Aamun

So here we have some folk metal from Finland, usually this is the type of folk metal that I really don't like. But I am willing to give this an honest chance and I really, really want these Finnish guys to change my mind. Though I must say, they don't make things easy for me when I take a look at the cover. Honestly, there's a swan swimming in a river of lava and an old guy with a helmet that has elk-horns on it! Okay, I don't know what drugs these guys were on when choosing this as a cover for their latest album. But when I look through their discography, I see that basically all of their covers comes with an elk-horned guy. Consistency is a good thing, even when your album covers look like shit.

On to the actual music then. When I look at the tracklist of "Manala", I see that most of the songs are quite short and that is a positive thing right there. This sort of music would suffer immensely with 5+ songs (even though there's actually three of those here).
The first song starts with what basically is punk rock with an accordion and vocalist Jonne Järvelä sort of yoiking on top of it. To me, there's no folk metal present anywhere. Folk metal for me is melodies, melodies and once more melodies that has that certain folk-ish feeling. I hear none of that here. Think Storm, Isengard and Otyg - which in my opinion - perhaps along with Skyclad - were the originators of folk metal as we know it today. Is it qualified as folk metal when there's just folk instruments added over music that could be everything from death metal (*cough cough* Eluveitie) or as it is in this case - punk rock? I guess so...

Korpiklaani 2012. I wonder how old that guy
(2nd from the right) really is? About 150?
Anyway, after a while, Jonne starts to sing with a voice that's also reminiscent to a few punk bands that I know of - further adding to the mystery as to why this is called folk metal. Okay, there's some riffs that are more straight heavy metal and the chorus even gives us some of those tough-male-choirs that I really cannot stand. The yoiking comes again and then the travesty it's over.
The next track starts a little bit heavier and has less of that ridiculous punk and more metal to it. Vocalist Jonne also sings with a lower tone in his voice here which suits the music much better than his punk-vocals would have. Oh, but they obviously enter the soundscape once it's time for a chorus. Even though this is nothing that I'd normally listen to, I can appreciate the instrumental parts and stomp my foot along to the music. It's also, thankfully, about a 1000 times better than the first track.
I'm assuming that the music present on third track "Rauta" is why this band is labelled as folk metal. Because here you actually have a real folk melody. Too bad it sounds like a nursery rhyme that most definitely never should have been played by an electric guitar. I just realized that I'm only at the third track and I'm already more than tired of this sort of music.

Well, I'm grinding my teeth in despair and let the fourth track sink in. As soon as Jonne sings a bit darker, it gets infinitely better. Too bad that usually only lasts a few seconds. A violin enters the soundscape and it's a joy to be rid of that ludicrous accordion for some time and to listen to an instrument that I really enjoy. This is easily the best song so far with some good ideas, riffs and melodies.
Then we get some more punk rock, combined with thrash metal and folk instruments. On "Petoeläimen Kuola" mr. vocalist actually sounds as if he's really drunk. Next.
The sixth track is one of those longer songs and it begins beautifully with acoustic guitars, violins and percussion. Not metal so far, but now we're talking folk music at least. Then the vocals come in and absolutely destroy everything that was good with the song. This is a good demonstration of how to effectively rape what could have been a damn good song.
When I get to the embarrassingly titled "Husky-Sledge" I can't take it any longer. Seriously, what the fuck is going on? Husky-sledge!? Are you kidding with me? It's an instrumental track that's absolutely crap, but couldn't they come up with something better than "Husky-Sledge"!? I guess not...
But then the band surprise me positively with "Dolorous" which is an instrumental slow song with a great use of the violin. Honestly, this alone I could almost give like 6 out of 10. But I don't grade songs individually here.

Then there's more punk rock, pop melodies, thrash metal, heavy metal and polka all thrown into a soup that most definitely doesn't taste good at all.
I think I get why people like this sort of music. Good for them and all, but this is most certainly not anything that I can take seriously and sit down and enjoy. Sure, there are some good ideas and cool melodies here and there, but on the whole, this album is nothing I ever will listen to again. And no, those melodies, ideas and riffs is not enough to get a higher score.



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