Album Review: Korpiklaani – Noita

NoitaIt’s always a good day when a band like Korpiklaani releases a new album. Noita is the bands ninth studio album and we already know it’s going to make us want to get drunk in a forest in Finland.

With no big build up or time wasting, Viinamäen Mies kicks off the album and heads straight down the bouncy folk metal path we know and love. You’ll notice early on that the album is performed in Finnish. While Manala had English versions of the songs, we’re fully in Finnish territory with Noita. There’s something about this that makes me happy, while I’d like something to sing along with, not being able to understand them almost makes it more “authentic,” you’re drawn into the songs and scenes as a whole rather than listening to the lyrics. All of this is of course nonsense if you speak Finnish already though.

Despite the language barrier, there is still plenty for non-Finnish audiences to join in with; Viinamäen Mies has “hey’s”, Pillo On Pajusta Tehty has “Oi’s” and frankly, if you’re at a Korpiklaani show you’ll probably be drunk enough to make up your own words anyway.

Lempo finds the pace slowed from the upbeat speed of the opening two tracks for a traditional slow Korpiklaani track. Along with Ämmänhauta and Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon, the heavy use of the folk instruments give the slower tracks a much grander sound. Instead of being typical slow metal tunes, they transform into something more powerful, even epic to use the most overused word on the internet.

A Korpiklaani album isn’t complete without at least one drinking song. We’ve had Vodka, Tequila and more beer than a brewery through the bands history, now we have Sahti (a traditional Finnish beer according to Google). Yet another drink to add to the bar order pre-Korpiklaani concert. While it might not be as catchy in a sing along sense as its predecessors, it will no doubt inspire mass drunken dancing live.

Official video for Pillo On Pajusta Tehty

Jouni Jouni drove me half mad trying to figure out why I knew the song until it eventually clicked a shameful amount of time into the song. Eventually it became apparent it was a metalled, folked and Finned up version of Mony Mony by Tommy James & The Shondells.

Tracks like Luontoni have Jonne spitting out the lyrics, but Korpiklaani are very much an ensemble band; everyone gets a chance to shine but no one in particular stands out, instead they work for the collective good of a song in seemingly equal measure. This means that there is often a lot going on, which in turn means the album has excellent replay value as you’re going to miss something first time

Sen Verran Minäkin Noita brings the album to an end and as if to shake off any misconceptions about folk metal not being “true,” it’s a riff driven, drum pounding affair. Still, I’m reminded of the words Turisas once said when I saw them live; fuck the guitar solo. Sen Verran Minäkin Noita’s closing minutes are one big solo, minus the guitar. It’s differences like this that separate Korpiklaani from the folk metal pack, instead of having a shred solo from out of nowhere, they commit to the folk influence.

While I do miss the days of Happy Little Boozer and songs I can get drunk and sing along to, a band has to change and evolve to stay relevant. If this is Korpiklaani’s current form, I’m more than happy with it. It has a strong air of the upbeat party atmosphere of their earlier albums while the more serious tones of the recent couple of albums persist. Always a band who you feel could easily ditch the metal and survive as an excellent folk band, I for one am happy they’re sticking with the metal.

Noita follows the Korpiklaani recipe but alters it enough so it doesn’t become bland. As a fan of the band, this might be a bit of a biased review, but for me, Noita is the strongest Korpiklaani album in a number of years and any of the faster songs will be more than welcome in the set on a long term basis.

Four Wickstrom Moustaches out of Five

Noita is out now via Nuclear Blast, like the band on Facebook to stay updated

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