I've read the great epic of Finnish folk poetry, the Kalevala… or at least, I started to, before being distracted by something shiny. Yet at no point did I notice the practice of the copious drinking of vodka to make a 'real man'. Indeed, not much can prepare you for the sheer energy of Korpiklaani's barnstorming/beer-swilling/breakneck folk metal. Unless you've heard any of their previous work that is.
The opener "Vodka" is so puerile it ought to offend the intelligence, but somehow manages to be a wonderfully raucous ode to drunkenness. "Juodaan Viinaa" is similarly entertaining with its ferociously high-tempo polka feel, as is "Isku Pitkästä Ilosta", which features a brilliant evocative folk breakdown.
"Mettänpeiton Valtiaalle" and "Kultanainen" offer a more considered variations on the theme. Mixing traditional Finnish melodies with hard guitars with good success. Korpiklaani are clearly followers of metal of the older school. Despite having just the right level of rugged charm, the vocals are clear and audible, and the mix provies space for all the instruments. Those looking for the bleak landscapes of the likes of Bathory, or the guttural assault of Nile ought to look elsewhere; at heart this is a rock and roll act that happen to be, well, quite Finnish.
Good fun though it is, Karkelo doesn't really provide much musical sustenance. There are brief hints that the band could inject a greater depth and variation into their formula, specifically during "Mettänpeiton Valtiaalle", but these moments are all too fleeting. The attempt to create a more evocative mood in "Uniaika" by slowing the pace only partially succeeds, and the track quickly becomes a trudging dirge.
For the most part though, Korpiklaani appear content to stick with what they know, after all, they are on their fourth album. Whilst the rabble rousing is very entertaining at times, it does all feel a little safe. It is also best to avoid the bonus tracks, as it goes on far too long with them included. Nonetheless, Karkelo is still an enjoyable romp.
2. Erämaan Ärjyt
3. Isku Pitkästä Ilosta
4. Mettänpeiton Valtiaalle
5. Juodaan Viinaa
8. Bring Us Pints Of Beer
9. Huppiaan Aarre
Digipack Bonus Tracks
10. Vesaisen Sota