Korpiklaani – “Jylhä” (Nuclear Blast)
Battle Helm Rating
Meaning ‘the backwoods clan’ in their native Finnish, the roots of Korpiklaani go back to the early 90s, when founder guitarist vocalist Jonne Järvelä formed a Sami folk music group called Shamaani Duo, later becoming Shaman, that was even more rooted in Sami music and culture, as well as using traditional Sami instruments. Incorporating rock and metal into the folk to create Korpiklaani in 2003, Järvelä expanded the line-up as well as shifted the approach of the material to make it more jovial and singalong, with a view to taking on a more knees up approach especially in the live setting thanks to the greater role of violins and accordions. “Jylhä” is the band’s 11th release and is a collection of 13 tales covering folklore, nature, celebration and murder, including the infamous Lake Bodom cases. As such the variety of the songs reflects their subjects, with some being deeper, whilst others darker, covering a range of tempos as well as the underlying emotions they convey from happiness to sadness and anger. Compared to their earlier work like “Korven Kuningas”, “Jylhä” is decidedly more mature, as one might expect from the band’s increased experience, with the compositions being more complex, and in some cases, outrightly epic. Led by Tuomas Rounakari’s singing fiddle on ‘Sanaton maa’, the dense guitars of Järvelä and Kalle Savijärvi definitely add a heavy backbone to the song, although the signature sound of Sami Perttula’s dancing accordion together with the native Finnish singalong chorus definitely make it unmistakeable that you’re listening to one of the top folk metal bands in the world – bar none! Power riffing slowly into ‘Miero’, there’s still a hint of the old days in the Shamanic like throat singing, while the embracing violin backed by accordion harmonies prove to be all embracing, not to mention overpowering even in the face of the heavy guitars and hard-hitting drums! Definitely bringing in the jolliness on the rustic ‘Pohja’ as the violin melodies heap in with those of the accordion, the raucous singing and chundering guitars only seem to add more enjoyment to the song as it builds into a magical folk culmination taking all your pains away. If you’re a fan of hurdy gurdy, then Korpiklaani show you why they’re up there with the best on ‘Huolettomat’, as a driving double bass pedal sets the beat to an incredible mix of irresistible violin and accordion melodies, not to mention a massive singalong chorus that will set any festival crowd afire, as does this superb album which gets the heart racing and blood flowing in no small measure!!!