Korpiklaani – “Live at Masters of Rock” 2CD/DVD/Blu-Ray (Nuclear Blast)
For anyone who’s witness the hurdy gurdy folk rock antics of Finland’s Korpiklaani, I’m sure you’ll agree its an unforgettable experience, both sound wise having a particularly catchy knees up energy that makes it irresistible not to join in along with a strong visual aspect of having the stage filled with jovial musicians playing folk instruments and making merry. That said, there’s plenty of metal to back it at times coming across like a rampaging forest beast heh heh! Formed by guitarist / vocalist Jonne Järvelä in 1993 who was as inspired by shamanism as the music of the Sami people, Korpiklaani went through several evolutions before today’s blend of native and Finnish folk propelled by metal. Given all this, a live release has been long overdue, but thankfully this double offering doesn’t disappoint and more than makes up for the wait! Combining not one, but both sets at the Czech Republic’s premier Masters of Rock festival in 2014 and 2016, this 38 track monster is definitive of Korpiklaani’s live show, which intentionally places more priority on musicians than pyro, along with no samples, choirs or backing tracks. Indeed, if you couldn’t cram anymore musicians onstage then in last year’s special performance Tero Hyväluoma (second fiddle) and Toni Perttula (second accordion and identical twin of Sami Perttula) joined the band onstage! With no overdubs but Järvelä instead going for a mix to actually make the listener feel they were in the crowd I have to say that listening to “Live at Masters of Rock” pretty much accomplishes that such as on ‘Man With A Plan’ and ‘Kantaiso’, with a surround sound of the instruments popping out all over the speakers and the crowd very much omnipresent on ‘Pilli On Pajusta Tehty’. With the band keeping it (just) on the rails on the hyper speed ‘Journey Man’ I did wonder if the accordions were smoking after all the polka madness although the slow but hugely passionate ‘Aemmaenhauta’ soon brought it all back to mother earth. Of the two performances I’d say the 2016 set is definitely the more natural, being a warts n all take but if you want something more polished, then the 2014 performance should more than suffice. Either way, this is a great live release that will garner Korpiklaani even more respect, if anything for the honest approach by Järvelä and his merry crew in putting their fans first before any superstar egos.