I write reviews for musical albums. My main genre is metal, but I will probably do some hard rock as well. Any reviews other than the two most recent are shown on the right hand side under the "Blog Archive" tab. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Korpiklaani- Spirit of the Forest

The artwork for Spirit of the Forest
Source:  Wikipedia
Artist:  Korpiklaani

Album:  Spirit of the Forest

Year:  2003

Score:  85/100

“A Good Folk Metal Album”

Korpiklaani have always been one of those bands that are generally loved for their fun music and good songwriting.  They do have a layer of depth, however, mainly because of the excellent musicianship and cool atmosphere on their albums.  If you’ve read my review for “Voice of the Wilderness”, then you know how much I liked that one.  “Spirit of the Forest” is the band’s debut album, and seems to be widely regarded as one of their better releases.  It’s moderately long, with 14 individual songs across the span of the album.

Instrumentally, the album is good.  It’s not technical or anything, but the guitars are prominent and driving.  Something that I was particularly surprised about was that there were several guitar solos, and good riffs as well.  Even though the songs are comprised around the folk elements (which are very good, despite being a little cliché), the guitars are still a powerful and prominent part of the music.  The songs themselves don’t rely on good folk melodies.  Many would still be fine with just guitars.  Speaking of the folk portions, they’re very good.  At times, the melodies do come across as lacking or unoriginal but this is not a huge problem.  The individual instruments are not as audible (from a production standpoint) as on the release that would follow and they do seem blurred at times.  Nevertheless, they’re an integral and enjoyable part of “Spirit of the Forest”.  There’s not much to say about the bass and drums, because neither is flashy or extremely impressive.  I can’t, however, detract this from the music in general.  Maybe if they had been stronger I would have given this a higher score, but they’re just fine as they are.  Like on many of Korpiklaani’s releases, the vocals are really good.  They rest on the line between a true harsh vocal and a true clean voice.  I can’t really complain about the vocals at all.  There are some awkward sounding vocal passages on the album, but it doesn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the release overall.

The atmosphere of the album isn’t nearly as impressive as the one that came afterwards.  Despite the less clear production, the album doesn’t give off much of a mood at all.  It doesn’t feel wild or raw or anything that I’d expect from Korpiklaani.  It’s generally a happy sounding album, but many of the songs simply lack a great emotional mood.  Luckily, this issue was corrected with the second album.  The only song that really conjures up a good atmosphere is “With Trees”.

The songs don’t feel extremely diverse.  Most of them are moderately fast and feature similar types of guitar riffing.  Though this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, I can’t help but feel that the album would have benefitted from a more diverse collection of faster and slower songs.  Diversity was what impressed me about “Voice of the Wilderness”, and I’m pretty disappointed to find that it wasn’t nearly as present on this debut album.

Something else notable about the album is that there is an abundance of instrumental tracks.  I think instrumental tracks can really mar a lot of folk metal albums (cough…cough…Eluveitie), but Korpiklaani’s instrumentals are generally quite enjoyable. There are five on the whole album, and all of them are at least decent.  I do, however, think it’s odd that the band placed two instrumentals back to back in the middle of the album.  It’s almost like listening to one song.  Despite this, I do really like “Pixies Dance” which is the first song in the pair.  Additionally, the closing instrumental “Mother Earth” goes on for far too long.

“Wooden Pints” is easily a folk metal classic.  The lyrics are quite dumb, but the song is just so catchy!  It’s an example of a great folk metal song.  “Before the Morning Sun” is a more aggressive track, and it’s excellent as well.  The guitars at the beginning are fantastic.  “With Trees” is one of the most serious songs that the band has ever made.  The folk instruments in this one sound great.  It’s almost a ballad at some points, though I still find it really enjoyable.  “With Trees” is also one of the greatest from the album, and one of the most creative and interesting from the band in general.  “God of Wind” is decent, but the chorus is very repetitive and makes the song stand out less than some of the others on the album.  It is a faster sort of track, which is always good to hear from Korpiklaani.  Their fast tracks are always good in some regard.  “Man Can Go Even through the Gray Stone” is ridiculous.  I’ve always found the vocals on the song to be irritating; they ruin the song as a whole.  It’s rather disappointing, because the guitars and folk instruments are great.  I do like the drums in it.  “Pixies Dance” is my favorite of the instrumental tracks.  It never fails to put a smile on my face, and I can’t complain about that at all.  The rest of the songs are really quite mediocre.  I don’t mind “Crows Bring the Spring” or “Shaman Drum”, but they don’t really stay with me either.  “Mother Earth” is an instrumental that drags on for way too long.

Upon completion of the album, I can’t help but feel that the band has left something out here.  It seems that so many of the songs are pointless and lacking a little substance.  I still say that “Spirit of the Forest” is a good release, but I’m a little disappointed since I had high hopes from listening to “Voice of the Wilderness”.  The album gets an 85/100 because it’s definitely a great one, but it lacks in some areas.  There are many pointless short tracks like “Hengettomilta Hengilta” and “Man Can Go Even through the Gray Stone”.  There are also a few too many instrumentals.  Some of these are really good, and yet others are either boring or too short.  I think folk metal fans will find something to like on this release.  There’s some good stuff to be found.  I would recommend listening to “Wooden Pints” for people who don’t want to go for listening to the whole thing.  It’s one of the best and most famous folk metal songs out there.

Best songs:  “Wooden Pints”, “Before the Morning Sun”, “With Trees”, “Pixies Dance”.

Worst songs:  “Man Can Go Even through the Gray Stone”, “Hengettomilta Hengilta”,  and “Mother Earth”.

Thanks for reading!  Feel free to leave a comment!

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