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Korpiklaani has undoubtedly carved its name as the grand master of Finnish folk metal.
Now with their tenth album Kulkija, Korpiklaani has offered its longest and most profound album to date. Woven through the fourteen tracks and seventy-two mintutes of Kulkija is a powerful, strikingly human narrative of ‘the Wanderer’ and his passage through life’s rugged terrain.
Stylistically Kulkija retains Korpiklaani’s signature exclusive use of Finnish language and folk-infused instrumentation but demonstrates by far the most comfortable mix of ‘folk’ and ‘metal’ to date. This is perhaps due to the darker, more wistful themes of Kulkija, which depart somewhat from the folky-tavern-booze-swilling frivolity often associated with Korpiklaani. Inherently, the Wanderer exists in a liminal space, neither able to be settled, nor entirely fulfilled as an eternal traveller. Even tracks such as Riemu [‘Joy’] and Juomamaa [‘Drinker’s Land’] are double-edged swords, both merry but melancholy. This tension is perhaps most apparent in the closing track Tuttu On Tie [‘The Road is Familiar’] in which the Wanderer, at home on the road, greets the nightfall with the pangs of longing and nostalgia for his loved ones.
Korpiklaani’s musicianship is impeccable and the layering of folk and metal composition is captivating
While the narrative of Kulkija is painfully human, there remains a strong element of the otherworldly. Some of the most musically exquisite tracks on Kulkija depict the intrusion of the mythological realm into human experiences. Two examples of this are Korppikalliota [‘The Raven’s Rock’], depicting the song of the raven that announces the deaths that occurred under its tree, and Kallon Malja [Chalice of the Skull], which as the longest song Korpiklaani have produced showcases a vibrant series of movements, which resituates the Man as part of an animalistic natural cycle in the frozen Lapland wilderness.
Overall, Kulkija is in itself a musical journey. Korpiklaani’s musicianship is impeccable and the layering of folk and metal composition is captivating, Kulkija best immersed in as a whole, for it is a mournfully beautiful tale borne of the sombre Finnish twilight.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Kallon Malja, Korppikalliota, Harmaja
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