Released: 2003, Napalm Records
“Folk metal from the forest of Finland” was the first thing I read about this band before listening to the album. This is exactly what you get from Korpiklaani whose name translates to “Forest Clan”. This is the band’s first release as Korpiklaani with previous works with different members and a slightly different style being carried out under the name Shamen.
Sometimes when you hear something new and original you love it, at least until you eventually return to what you love the most...straight up heavy metal. At least, that's the way it usually is with me. When I first heard Korpiklaani I immediately liked it and found it to be very fresh. After several listens I did lose a little of my initial interest in the prominence of the violin. The folk melodies are very cool but the more I listen to the album the more some of the songs blend together. Anyone from my area might have heard the folk/rock band Great Big Sea. If you have, then imagine them possessed, and on a really bad trip, and you have a slight idea of what to expect. Fans of Fintroll are perhaps the most likely to like Korpiklaani but I also got off on the album when listened to in small doses, so who knows!
The forest spirits are first set free with the catchy track “Wooden Pints”. Right away I knew this was not going to be a "normal" CD. The song begins with violin and drums prominent, but once the guitars come in the song takes on new life. The vocals are rough but are not at all abrasive. This track is currently my favorite on the album. There is a video for this song as well, which is quite amusing to watch with the band’s style of dress and the dude pounding what looks like a kettledrum is insane! Following the opening track is "Before The Morning Sun" which surprisingly starts out like it could be from some 80's hard rock song...for the first 20 seconds. Then the tempo picks up and the violin chirps back in. With the vocal style of the band, no one will mistake this for Dokken though! Ha! Then the band again offers another side of their style with "God of Wind". This begins with double kicks and sounds almost like it could be a power metal song except for the accordion playing...and then the vocals of course! When "Pellonpekko" begins you might wonder if it's not some lost theme music to Highlander. This is an instrumental that later in the song has what sounds to me like a kazoo. Of all the tracks on here, "You Looking Into My Eyes" sounds most like Great Big Sea with heavy guitars/vocals. With a title like "Hullunhumppa" you wonder if this is not some perverted song. The violin in this one sounds like it's ready to fall apart like it is being played with a totally scratchy rusty string...too grating. Thankfully this instrumental is only 1:29 long. "Man Can Go Even Through Grey Stone" is a return to some semblance of normality....and WTF?!…is that bongos I hear in the background here? The only problem with this song is the repeating of the song title over and over. "Pixies Dance" is a bit similar to "You Looking Into My Eyes" in that both are short folk metal ditties…Die dee dee da diddle dum....etc..and at an insane tempo. "Juokse Sinä Humma " is also another short instrumental at just over 1min. "Crows Bring The Spring" is mid tempo with a neat trade off solo section between flute and guitar. The vocals are less abrasive here making this one of the more accessible songs. This is followed by the oddball "Hengettömiltä Hengiltä " which is not a song...just someone mumbling over a drum. "Shaman Drum" has the bongo sounding drums in the background again; also this has less abrasive vocals like "Crows..." The vocals were a small bit like modern day Amorphis. The album closer is entitled “Mother Earth". It is like a long intro with the guitar/flute doubled. It's not a standard song as such, but moreso a drawn out interlude.
If you like folk metal at all, then you absolutely have to try out some Korpiklaani. I’m not a huge folk metal freak, but Korpiklaani were a breath of fresh air and are one of the best bands I’ve heard from this style of metal.