Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Ukon Wacka" by Korpiklaani - Serious Review

Originally Written Saturday, February 12, 2011

So yeah, I'm bored and just downloaded the latest album of a band I like, so I decided what better way to entertain myself than to shamelessly spread my uninformed opinion across the interwebs? I'm going to do a track-by-track review/breakdown of the latest Korpiklaani album "Ukon Wacka" and I'm sure nobody will actually care. :D

Track 1: Louhen Yhdeksäs Poika
So yeah, the titles and lyrics are in Finnish, and as I rarely take lyrical content into consideration, I'm not translating them. I'll just be going my own impressions of the songs.
Louhen Yhdeksäs Poika does its job of opening the album VERY well. From the opening fiddle to it's close Louhen  really starts getting you pumped for what's ahead. It's fast-paced, with Jonne Järvelä barely taking a breath between verses, and the drums smashing out a furious, almost tribal beat that always reminds me these guys used to be named Shaman

Track 2: Päät Pois Tai Hirteen
The second track slows things down a bit, opening with a guitar-accordion combination that's become a staple of Korpiklaani's folk-metal sound. While the song is enjoyable, and I get the feeling it would be fun as hell to sing along with in Finnish, it feels kind of lackluster compared to the opening track. I think my problem comes with how sort of one-note it feels until the end.

Track 3: Tuoppi Oltta
This song is very much a call-back to the folk music origins of the band. This is evidenced by the fact that the melody isn't set by the guitars, vocals, bass, or drums. It's set by the violins and flutes that dominate the first third of the song. The whole thing sounds like a reminder to their long-time fans that while they've gone from straight Folk to Folk Metal, at the core their music's unchanged.

Track 4: Lonkkaluut
This is the first track on the album I debated on skipping when I was re-listening. It's not that the song's bad, but it's very average. There's nothing very memorable about it, with the melody feeling very much like other metal songs I've listened to, and nothing that attention-grabbing about it. As I'm a completionist when it comes to things that aren't school work, I decided to listen to it anyway, and while I can't say I'm sorry I did, it's still nothing that really sticks with me afterward.

Track 5: Tequila
This was the first song I heard off of Ukon Wacka and you can bet it got me pumped for the album. The song brings back the high energy of Louhen Yhdeksäs Poika and acts as sort of a spiritual Sequel song to the lead single Vodka from their previous album Karkelo, which happened to be the first Korpiklaani song I ever heard. It's the second shortest song on the album, clocking in at 2:42, but it packs a lot into it, with drum beats that sound more like a drum circle than something produced in a studio, a loud call for more alcohol from the singer, and a healthy dose of accordion thrown in for good measure. Definitely a song to play at a party

Track 6: Ukon Wacka
This is one of the more interesting tracks. It's a slower pace, which usually works as a detriment for this band, and it has elements of metalcore in it, which usually works as a detriment to anything ever. And yet, while I wouldn't say this is my favorite songs on the album, it definitely catches my interest for the entire length of the song. It's a bit heavier than those preceding it, and sounds a lot more despondent (there's a section about 3 minutes in that's reminiscent of a funeral march), the song never gets depressing. Of all things, by the end it comes off sounding happy.

Track 7: Korvesta Liha
Here we meet another song that I'm tempted to skip during re-listens. It's fairly generic in the beginning, taking nearly half its time to get to anything musically interesting. The middle minute is pretty fun, with nice dash of flute thrown in that I appreciated, but it's over pretty quick back to a very familiar guitar melody. I again can't say it's a bad track, but it's painfully average, to the point that I find myself skipping the first 45 seconds to get to something more enjoyable.

Track 8: Koivu Ja Tähti
The first minute of Koivu Ja Tähti reminds me of a song you'd hear in an old Scandinavian bar...only distorted and warped to the point it sounds foreboding. The song, while good, sounds very strange from these guys. There's a section of the track that I actually thought was from a Blind Guardian song. There's nothing wrong with it, and It's a marked improvement from Korvesta Liha, but a bit off-putting this late into the album. I can't really put down exactly what my problem with it is.

Track 9: Vaarinpolkka
If Google Translator is to be trusted (up for debate) the title of this song translates to "Grandfather's Polka" but it's anything but your grandpa's music. It's the shortest track on the album, and an instrumental. Now I usually dislike instrumentals, since they're usually just a place for the guitarists to show off, but amazingly enough I think Vaarinpolkka may be my favorite song off of Ukno Wacka. It's got tons of energy and fun packed into it, staying just long enough to get the blood pumping without over staying its welcome.

Track 10: Surma
The final song on the album proper, as well as the longest track at 6:20, Surma closes out the album in true Metal fashion. It's starts off slow and folksy, with a wooden flute playing a tune, a fiddle joining in, the drums starting up, and finally all 3 guitars kicking in. With the intro fading out, Järvelä bursts in with the vocals at a break-neck speed that makes the opening track sound like a ballad, followed by a scream to the heavens. It's powerful, epic, and comes off sounding like an old warrior regaling us with an old battle Tale that you know isn't true but still sounds amazing. (Okay I have no clue where that little bought of waxing poetic came from) The song fades out, and the album's over with.

Bonus Track: Iron Fist
...Until the bonus track, a Motorhead cover no-less, comes in. And boy does it break the mood. Again I'm not saying it's a bad song, it's problem is inherited by virtue of being a cover, and a cover of an English-speaking band. I can understand wanting to do tribute to a famous Metal band, but it doesn't mesh with the overall feel of the album, and really feels like something to put on with a single or EP. Still, it IS a bonus track, so I guess I can't complain too much.

Overall, Ukon Wacka is a good album, but it's nothing game-changing. It's more of what Korpiklaani have made in the past, but I certainly can't call that a bad thing.

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