Korpiklaani - Tervaskanto
Napalm Records
Folk Metal
11 songs (42:31)
Release year: 2007
Korpiklaani, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Kayla
Album of the year

Once when I was on a long car trip with one of my friends, I took it upon myself to give her a crash course in metal. She was nice enough to show genuine curiosity as I tried to explain the differences between the seemingly endless list of subgenres, fortunately aided by my music collection – it’s hard, after all, to explain to someone just what black metal vocals entail without having them listen to Emperor or Immortal. When I reached folk metal, I played her a song by Korpiklaani – I think Rise, if my memory serves. Her only comment was, “That’s a bitchin’ accordion.” I was tickled, since an accordion is the last musical instrument one would expect to be given the designation of “bitchin’”, but that’s precisely what Korpiklaani manage to do.

It seems as though Tervaskanto was composed with exactly that goal in mind. Compared to the rest of their catalogue, it’s much more straightforwardly aggressive, with no quiet instrumentals (there are instrumentals, but the accordion is still in full-steam bitchin’ mode for them) or moodier pieces, at least when it comes to the instrumentation. The lyrics which accompany some of these uptempo songs are fairly dark and brutal; Veriset äpärät references the old practice of killing and abandoning unwanted children in the forest, and Vesilahden veräjillä tells the story of a historical event near Vesilahti in which a Christian missionary was hacked to pieces (while my pride wishes I could assert that this knowledge comes from my Finnish-speaking ability, alas, they have helpfully provided translations and explanations in the album packet).

There aren’t any solely acoustic songs either, for a change, although as always, there’s plenty of acoustic instrumentation woven in. Interestingly enough, the violin, which provided the bulk of the folk components for their first two albums, and was made into only one of a whole range of acoustic instruments on Tales Along This Road, is nearly absent from Tervaskanto. In its place of ascendancy, of course, is that bitchin’ accordion. There’s no objective difference except in the kind of sound the two instruments lend to any given song; any qualitative differences are due entirely to the taste of the listener. The accordion gives a much “dirtier” sound, especially to metal (which might, in fact, be why there’s mostly accordion instead of violin on Rise), and sharpens the song into a serrated instead of a smooth edge.

Underneath this edge is a great lot of polka. Instead of the more flowing folk melodies found on previous albums, Tervaskanto is burgeoning with the bounciness of polka. This, of course, accounts for much of the bright energy of the album, and makes it seem to flow past very quickly, propelled as it is on its own frenetic momentum.

Given the intensity of the vast majority of the album, the penultimate track, Vesilahden veräjillä, and the beginning of the closing track, Nordic Feast, afford the listener some welcome variety. These are the two slowest passages on the album, and in the case of Vesilahden veräjillä, the most varied as well. The tempo is slowed to a strong, deliberate beating, overlayed by a mournful, squalling acoustic melody. At the end, Jonne’s vocals are first put through a distorter to deepen them, a trick used in theater and low-budget film to give the speaker a demonic aspect, then the music slowly dies away until he’s left simply speaking (his voice, at this point, undistorted).

As a final, perhaps insignificant observation, I find it interesting that three out of Korpiklaani’s four albums open with a song about drinking; Wooden Pints on Spirit Of The Forest, Happy Little Boozer on Tales Along This Road, and now Let’s Drink on Tervaskanto. I think it’s safe to say that Korpiklaani want their music to be enjoyed with a certain amount of levity. Certainly, I don’t think it would be possible to be sad while listening to something like Tervaskanto; it compels a smile to your face and your feet to dance (even if, like me, dancing is something you really should never do in public).

Killing Songs :
Tervaskanto, Liekkiön isku, Palovana, Vesilahden veräjillä
Kayla quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Korpiklaani that we have reviewed:
Korpiklaani - Noita reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Korpiklaani - Manala reviewed by Olivier and quoted 78 / 100
Korpiklaani - Ukon Wacka reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
Korpiklaani - Karkelo reviewed by Kyle and quoted 64 / 100
Korpiklaani - Korven Kuningas reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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