by: Korpiklaani

Finnish folk-metal group (you read that right) Korpiklaani's greatest feat is to prove once and for all that there are still uncharted genres out there. This is not to say that there is anything tongue-in-cheek about what they do, and Tervaskanto is a really enjoyable, if sometimes cryptic, album. Korpiklaani ("woodland or forest clan" in Finnish) used to record as Shaman before 2002 and back then offered vocals primarily in the ancient Sami tongue. In recent years, they've taken a few steps toward accessibility by recording in a mixture of Finnish and English. The metal side of the group isn't too dire and a bit misleading (no "doom" or "death" here, despite their Arctic Circle pedigree). It primarily consists of chunky guitar chords welded to genuine and nimble Finnish folk, while the themes tend toward the rustic and debauched. The opener of this album is the fun, upbeat accordion-fueled romp "Let's Drink" (which is perhaps a sequel to the previous album's opener, "Happy Little Boozer," or maybe it's the final flourish in a triptych begun with "Beer Beer," from 2005's Voice of Wilderness). "Running with the Wolves" is actually a very restrained, string-folk tune at times, before it explodes off into a galloping romp (and, no, it's not a feminist tract, but a beer-hall instrumental). The title track of this album is a bit more metal in intention, but there's even more of an argument for punk, and overall Korpiklaani seem to be evolving in a more clearly folk-rock and less metal direction than on previous albums. They also seemed to be paralleling groups from other cultures that have plied rock (or punk) against Celtic or Gaelic strains. All of which is to say this is a lively and upbeat affair and one that should be noted for its top-notch, tight musicianship and engaging arrangements -- not for the novel genre tag. It wouldn't even be outlandish to assert that the group is doing the something for Finnish folk music akin to what Fairport Convention once did for the folk music of the British Isles. ~ Erik Hage

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