One opinion that likely isn’t up for much debate is that Korpiklaani is one of the top folk metal acts of all time. When most of the world was busy with Grunge and the hey-day of alternative rock, this Finnish outfit managed to write the first chapter of their musical story in the early 90s, when they were formerly known as Shamaani Duo.
This project was a departure from metal and focused mostly on folk music. The project underwent further changes and changed its name to Shaman, before eventually rebranding the band as Korpiklaani and spreading like wildfire in the metal community, mostly due to their seminal album “Spirit of The Forest.” This full-length went on to become notably influential, laying out a template of sorts for what would become a “classic” folk metal sound – not unlike the work of other pioneers such as Skyclad and Cruachan
Korpiklaani managed to dish out consistently well-received albums and singles throughout the years, and they also set out to kick start 2021 with a huge bang. Their recent studio album, “Jylhä,” features some of the band’s most energetic and inspiring songs in decades. The group announced the release of a full-length album titled “Jylhä,” which is coming out on February 5th via Nuclear Blast Records.
The big opening toms of Verikoira immediately signal the magnitude of this release, which is unapologetically epic and grandiose in scale. This is the sound of a band reaching for the stars, but it’s also the sharp-edged tone of a band that hasn’t forgotten what it means to get together in a garage and crank up their amps to the max.
The polished sound of the production meets the band’s raw energy halfway through, and the result is more organic and authentic than a lot of over-produced albums out there. Each of these 13 songs has something quite special to offer. One of my personal favorites is definitely Miero, a song that takes no prisoners from the moment you hit the play button.
The guitar sound is full and anthemic, and the hypnotic rhythm of the drums makes for a great folk-metal ballad. The song Pidot is another highlight, it dives deeper into blues-rock influences, and it is kind of a surprising addition to the album, a nice breather that highlights the band’s incredible versatility. Another great highlight of the track is that Jack Gibson of the legendary thrash metal act Exodus, is on banjo! This song is going to be a true crowd shaker live, whenever we can all enjoy going to concerts again.
A lot of this album feels like great gig material, and these past few months in lockdown might have inspired the band to take a more organic approach to their compositions. Each song feels very well-rehearsed and something that could definitely work on stage, just as well as it does in the studio.
The fact that the band has also pulled from various influences such as punk and reggae while simultaneously staying true to their folk metal roots, exhibits just how innovative Korpiklaani has become in recent years.
Jylhä is an innovative album with great storytelling and excellent musicianship. The Finnish Kings of Folk Metal have never sounded better.