Album Review-Korpiklaani-Ukon Wacka
Posted by RiffRaff
I don’t know how Korpiklaani does it. Since their first album “Spirit of the Forest” was released in 2003, they’ve been able to release 6 more albums. All of those albums, including the first one, are usually quality releases. You would think that on the 7th album in 7 years(I can help not to think of “7th Son of a 7th Son” right now, lol) the bands sound would start to get diluted, but no, Ukon Wacka is hands down one of the best Korpiklaani albums by far. When I hit the end of the album I was pleasantly surprised how each song on this album really stands out from the others on the album. Each song is unique, catchy, and most important of all, fun. I think that the blurb on the promo sticker on the front of the cd hit the nail on the head, “Made me wanna drink Moonshine and dance butt naked in the moonlight.”(Inferno, Fin)
If you’re not familiar with Korpiklaani, let me give you a brief introduction. Korpiklaani started off as traditional folk music duo called Shamaani Duo that would play in pubs and restaurants in Finland. Later in time singer/songwriter Jonne Järvelä broke away from Shamaani Duo to form Shaman in which he added a little of a heavier edge to the music of his previous band. And then, after doing some vocal work on the album “Jarkens Tid” by folk metal legends Finntroll, he was inspired to take Shaman into an even more metal orientated direction. The new band name Shaman took to signify their change in style was “Korpiklaani”(Clan of the Forest). So, unlike many folk metal bands out today, Korpiklaani’s roots come from traditional Finnish folk music instead of metal. Also unlike many folk metal bands which rely heavily on keyboards and synthesizers for the sounds of folk instruments, Korpiklaani uses the real thing in studio and live. And that is what really make these guys stand out.
The album title, Ukon Wacka, is inspired by a Finnish pagan feast in which a special brew of beer was brewed and drunken heavily. And when the first track, “Louhen yhdeksäs poika”, starts up you’ll be wanting to headbang around the maypole with one of those special brews in hand and belly. Violinist Hittavainen really gets off to a great start on this song with a great violin solo that really sets the mood for the rest of the album. Up next is “Päät pois tai hirteen”, and boy is this a fun song. I love how the drums work with the accordion and really give it an upbeat, bouncy feeling and the simple, yet effective guitar riffs really keep the song jogging along.
You know when your out drinking some beers, those first few gulps are refreshing and tasty, but when the alcohol starts to sink into your brain, that’s when the beer become absolutely delicious. Well, on the third song on Ukon Wacka, “Tuoppi oltta”(“Bring Us a Pint of Beer”), is when this album starts to become an all out party in my ears. “Tuoppi oltta” is one of Korpiklaani’s most fun, drink-alongable, and catchiest songs ever written. Between the oldschool metal guitar riffing and bright woodwind sounds, this is a song that just screams “have some brews and have a good time”. The fun continues through “Sonkkaluut” and on the next song the boys of Korpiklaani decide to break out something a little foreign to their Finnish tongues, “Tequila”!!!!
“Tequila” is Korpiklaani’s way of saying thanks to the great hospitality that South America has shown them whenever they went to visit. “Tequila” is peppered with Latin American percussion instruments and has a speedy, party hard pace, like when you down a few shots of some good tequila. After the “Tequila”, it’s time to slow it down for a bit for the drunken sing-along of the title track “Ukon Wacka”. On this song Jonne Järvelä does a duet with Finnish folk star Tuomari Nurmio. I love how Tuomari’s somber verse singing works in contrast with Jonne’s upbeat chorus singing and how well Jonnes yoiking fits underneath Tuomari’s voice.
After the sing-along, Kopriklaani kicks it back into fourth gear with “Korvesta liha”. This one has Kiss inspired guitars and vocals and great energy. Next up is “Koivu ja tähti” which has a nice nature feel to it and really gives a sense of being in Finland’s wood during Midsummer’s Night’s celebrations. Following is “Vaarinpolkka” an instrumental metal polka song that is just great fun to listen to.
Closing off Ukon Wacka is “Surma”. It starts of with a beautiful woodwind intro that makes you feel as if your floating down a tranquil river. But when the guitars and drums kick in your treated to a fun thrashy ride down white water rapids and as “Surma” comes to a close everything slows back down and you’re back home getting some much needed rest after one hell of a party. And as a bonus, if you pick up the limited edition of Ukon Wacka, you can go to sleep listening to a great folk metal cover of Judas Priests classic song “Iron Fist”.
In closing, Ukon Wacka is an amazing album and was much better than I thought it was going to be. I was expecting it to be a good album, but not as great as it turned out. If you were afraid that Korpiklaani was going to churn out a samey folk metal album, let me reassure you that Ukon Wacka is fresh and full of new sounds and ideas from Korpiklaani. If you’ve never heard these guys before, this is a great place to start. So, grab a nice cold brew and rock out to some Ukon Wacka, it’s one hell of a party. Peace, Love, and Metal!!!!
Official Video for “Tequila”
Korpiklaani in the studio with “Tuoppi oltta” playing