Korpiklaani - Noita (2015)
Year & Label: 2015, Nuclear Blast Records GmbH/King Records, Japan | CD#: KICP-1732
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Japanese edition with bonus track
It may have been 2 years since Finland's finest folk export released "Manala", but they make it seem like an absence measuring less than 5 minutes! With the heralding chant of "Hey! Hey! Hey!" - we, the humble listener, are instantly thrown back into Korpiklaani's folkloric world of trees, flutes, beer and huumpaa madness. Their approach to this new full-length is certainly one of more poignancy, and less goofing around with antlers and ale. This is due to the subject matter - the titular "Noita" - being something particularly personal and special to the band's culture.
"Noita" explores ye olde pagan culture of Finland; the society of witches and magic that the ancient Finns held so dear. The band bring this to the very forefront of this album in multiple ways. Firstly, the lyrics are all in their mother tongue, adding to the authentic atmosphere. Secondly, the colour-scheme of the packaging is decidedly more blue and melancholy than previous releases - highly appropriate for the beautiful, graven image that graces the cover. Most importantly, the songs themselves have become unmistakably moodier. The happy-go-lucky jigs of previous hits like "Juodaan Viinaa" and "Vodka" are not entirely absent, but their melody lines are more often in a minor key, adding a dramatic touch to even the most up-tempo folk metal sing-alongs.
The merry galloping is still present in tracks like "Luontoni" and "Sahti" - the latter of which deals with beer, so don't panic yourselves die-hards! "Sahti" in particular is incredibly memorable and will definitely be an absolute joy in live situations. Opener "Viinamaen Mies" and "Jouni Jouni" carry with them the same atmosphere of fun, jollity and sincerity - something sorely missing from many folk metal acts. However, the contrasting tracks like "Lempo" and "Mina Nain Vedessa Neidon" contain a dreamlike quality which is reminiscent of some of their earlier material like "With Trees". The sheer variety of moods the band cover is highly entrancing and cradles the listener within its soft canopy.
All band members are en pointe throughout "Noita". They are aided by a superb production job - but not even Andy Sneap could affect the sheer brilliance of Tuomas Rounakari's fiddle and Sami Perttula's accordion. These authentic folk instruments are an accepted staple of Koripklaani's sound, but they absolutely steal the show in tracks like "Pilli On Pajusta Tehty" and "Kylasta Kevainen Kehto" where they are simply allowed to break loose and...dare I say it...shred! Not since Turisas' "The Varangian Way" has an accordion sounded so metal! Good old Jonne's vocals haven't budged - still the same ol' raspy hoiking! Though it's clear he can pack much more emotion into his lyrics when they're in his native language.
Since "Ukon Wacka" - the band have noticeably stepped up the heaviness in their sound. The riffs that permeate some of these anthems are quite crushing, especially in the slower numbers. Thankfully, the guitars and bass don't overshadow the brilliant flute/fiddle/accordion performances - but they still remind the listener that this is a folk METAL album, and not some poncy Peruvian flute band.
I seriously hope the kings of folk metal continue in this vein - with their sense of sombre sobriety piercing the veil of festivity. Despite having been around for more than a decade, it's refreshing to hear the band truly maturing. "Noita" is simultaneously beautiful and fun. At just the right length, it's as honest as it is metal. Highly recommend for all folk metal fans, though that should be a given! If not for the music, purchase it for the stunning album art.
Vocals, guitars : Jonne Järvelä
Guitars : Cane
Violin : Tuomas Rounakari
Bass : Jarkko Aaltonen
Drums : Matson
Accordion : Sami Perttula
Recorded at Petrax Studio, Hollola, Finland , Wave Studio, Lahti, Finland & Villvox Studio, Nastola, Finland
Mastered at Chartmakers Oy
01. Viinamäen Mies [2:58]
02. Pilli On Pagusta Tehty [2:43]
03. Lempo [5:35]
04. Sahti [3:28]
05. Luontoni [3:01]
06. Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon [6:09]
07. Jouni Jouni [4:52]
08. Kylästä Keväinen Kehto [4:42]
09. Ämmänhauta [5:17]
10. Sen Verran Minäkin Noita [6:37]
11. Antaja (Japanese Bonus Track) [5:13]
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