Home > Folk Metal > Korpiklaani – More Songs about Saunas and Drinking

Korpiklaani – More Songs about Saunas and Drinking


Korpiklaani - "Karkelo"

Korpiklaani – “Karkelo” (Nuclear Blast, 2009)

In order to celebrate the release of Korpiklanni’s new album next week, I am reviewing their last long player, “Karkelo” (“Party”). Why? Because my brother-in-law, Joe, recently brought this CD back all the way from Finland for me. Thanks, Joe!

Korpiklaani’s story is pretty well known. They started as a house band at a restaurant playing traditional folk music that featured yoik singing in the Sami language and synthesizers churning out relentless hummpa-based rhythms. They were getting by but there was no danger of them turning into rock stars or even making a decent living doing it.  Then one day, Finntroll came to town and the rest, as they say, is history: The dudes chucked the yoik-ing, traded the synthesizers for accordion and fiddle, threw down some cash for a couple of Marshall stacks, changed their name to Korpiklaani, or “Forest Clan,” and became a folk metal band. “Karkelo” is their sixth album.

You can still hear the influence of humppa in their music. Humppa, a style of Finnish dance hall music from the 1950s, reinterpreted the old foxtrots and polkas from the 1920s and 1930s into a new hyperkinetic context. The tempo of humppa songs is fast – as fast as thrash – two beats per bar or approximately 220-260 beats per minute. Humppa is the reason why Korpiklaani are more successful outside of their home country. Outside of Finland they are thought of as almost a thrash folk metal band. Inside Finland, though, they know the truth – the tempos aren’t thrash; they are foxtrots revved up to warp speed. In fact, Korpiklaani are considered “old peoples’ music with heavy metal guitars” in Finland.*

The chorus of the album’s second song, “Eramaan Arjyt,” is the closest they get to hummpa hyperactive madness on “Karkelo”

Lyrically, Korpiklaani sing the praises of drinking, drinking some more, saunas and humppa. Here is the liner note description of “Eramaan Arjyt”: “This song describes what is best for a Finnish man in the style of a newer folk song. And what can be better than forest, sauna, lovely girls, humppa and more sahti than you can ever drink. Sahti is a strong Finnish beer made in the province of Hame. Lyrics contain many words and structures from the Western Finnish dialects.” This description summarizes Korpiklaani’s entire oeuvre; they don’t stray from these themes.

The song, “Vodka,” will give you a pretty good introduction to their body of work

Several reviewers saw “Karkelo” as some kind of departure from Korpiklaani’s previous work because of some of the slower more folk influenced like “Mettanpeiton Valtiaalle.” But, remember, they started as a folks band so how can folk songs be a surprising and unnerving departure?

Korpiklaani are the AC/DC of folk metal: they know what they are good at and they don’t stray from that formula. Pick up “Karkelo” and join the party.

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