Released: 2012, Nuclear Blast Records
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
This is the first Korpiklaani album since the band perfected their signature sound back in 2006 with TALES ALONG THIS ROAD, that has shown any real change. Many of the non-musical things about the band are still very much the same. The sextet is on Nuclear Blast, they recorded with Aksu Hanttu in Petrax Studios again, and experienced no significant line-up changes exception for the departure of violinist, Jaakko Lemmetty who was replaced with Tuomas Rounakari. One would expect more of the same, but that is not the case.
MANALA means underworld, and it is the darkest, heaviest album in a long time for the band. The guitar tone is a shade darker, and they have moved away from the whirling jigs and reels of former albums. The lyrics are darker as well. No more do we hear songs of Vodka, Beer and Tequila, but now the band weaves tales of the hunt, (Metsalle), honor (Kunnia) and steel (Rauta). Jonne delivers the words in a much more aggressive fashion, a deeper tone and although it is hard to describe, he offers a different intonation and pronunciation. The backing gang vocals are also more intense this time as well.
One could say the band may not be as ‘fun’ on this record, but perhaps after years of touring, drinking, recording and drinking, they have, dare I say, matured? I hope not but there is a certain gravitas on MANALA that the other albums did not carry. There isn’t even a novelty cover tune on this album, like the past several albums. In the past the folk fun came first and the Metal came second. Now, it is reversed, the Metal is first and the folk elements stepping back, just ever so slightly. ‘Petoelaimen Kuola’ (Predators Saliva) could be one of the heaviest cuts the band has ever done. It is followed by ‘Synkka’ (Dismal), one of the most somber and effective ballads they have ever done, with a simple acoustic guitar line and tribal style drumming. MANALA is one of the most diverse albums they have done.
I think maybe the band needed a bit of a break and, as of time of writing in September 2014, they are on the verge of the longest break between albums in their career, over two years. By the time the new album is out, it will be closer to three years. Perhaps the band needs to take a break from the punishing schedule of global touring and release a good Double Live album, they are well overdue. With MANALA the band have not necessarily reinvented themselves but added a bit of variety and showed more depth than on many of their last several albums. I’m curious is this is a one time deviation or a clue as to the future direction of the band. Either way, several years and album for now fans of Korpiklaani will point to MANALA as an album that stands out from their already deep catalogue.