KORPIKLAANI - Kulkija
Released September 7/18 (Nuclear Blast)
Over their fifteen-year existence Korpiklaani have managed to attain the title of 'best-polka-metal-band' in the business. This was earned through a series of high energy albums and endless touring that evoked much partying.
After listening to the first half of unlucky album number thirteen it seems like the constant recording and touring may have finally caught up to them. The overall tempoes and aggression on this are not only decreased, but downright sedate at times. It isn't until track seven ('Kallon Malja') that you really hear anything approaching heavy metal aggression status. Not sure if this is a case of a band wanting to get back to its roots (they morphed from the folk band Shaman) or writer's block, but this is not what polka metal fans are expecting. They want up-tempo ditties which evoke jigging and ligging (drinking for those not knowledgeable of the term), not introspective reflection.
Luckily things do pick up somewhat on the second half of the disc, both in terms of aggression and song writing quality. However, it is a case of too little, too late to save the day, unfortunately.
Upon reflection, it is clear the main issue here is the overlong fourteen-song, hundred & fourteen-minute playlist. What they should have done is packaged the sedate/folky portion under the Shaman banner instead, leaving the balance of the material to make up this release. Perhaps it's time for the band to take a leave-of-absence for a few years to recharge their batteries and decide their next move. Disappointing.
Tracks worth extracting: 'Henkselipoika', 'Juomama', the radio-friendly 'Reimu', the instrumental bliss of 'Pellervoinen' and the nine-plus minute epic 'Kallon Malja'.