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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Korpiklaani- Voice of the Wilderness

The artwork for Voice of the Wilderness
Source:  Wikipedia

Album:  Voice of the Wilderness

Artist:  Korpiklaani

Year:  2005

Score:  9.4/10

“Too Fun Not to Love”

Finding a band that you love mostly because they’re fun isn’t a hard thing to do.  This is the way I feel about a lot of folk metal bands.  None of them wear the fun tag like Korpiklaani do.  Nearly everything about this band is fun; the metal parts are on the happier side of the spectrum, and the folk parts are merry and exotic sounding.  However, there is more to this release than just a fun album to listen to when there’s nothing else to do.  Though I have yet to hear their complete discography, I think that “Voice of the Wilderness” will end up as one of my favorites from the band.

One of the things the immediate stand outs about Korpiklaani is the vocals; Jonne Jarvela is one of the most unique folk metal vocalists.  His voice is very rough sounding, but not what I would consider harsh.  Had the vocals been any harsher, the mood of this particular album would have been ruined.  It would have lost the wild, carefree atmosphere that most of the songs portray.  Luckily, the vocals are as they are and the album keeps that carefree and untamed feeling.  The only time I thought the vocals were a little iffy was on the intro to “Spirit of the Forest”.  I believe some people like this style of vocalization, but it’s just not for me.
Something that really impressed me about “Voice of the Wilderness” is the diversity between the songs.  They are all quite distinguishable from one another.  There are faster songs and there are slower songs, which really helps the album out.  I also absolutely adore the instrumentals.  Even though the vocals are a signature part of Korpiklaani’s sound, their instrumentals are great (not just on this release, but on all of them).  “Pine Woods” is a brilliant song, with an excellent guitar solo.

The overall sound of “Voice of the Wilderness” is powerful and charging.  It’s not bombastic or over the top, but it’s powerful nonetheless.  Another great thing is that most of the songs get to the point rather quickly.  There’s no hiding behind meandering guitar riffs or boring intros (not all intros are boring, though); the songs know exactly what they’re about.  I’m also really impressed with the folk instrumentation.  The melodies presented are quite compelling and don’t turn me away from the song.  The metal parts of the album are also really good.  Some folk metal bands tend to sacrifice the metal riffs for the folk melodies on their albums.  Thankfully, Korpiklaani have avoided this.  The guitars sound very good and there are many stand out guitar parts.  The drums are also done well on “Voice of the Wilderness”, I love the intro to “Journey Man”; it’s one of the best moments on the album.  The bass is not really loud but, it’s given a respectable place in the mix.  With so many other instruments, there is nothing wrong with this.  Speaking of the many other instruments, they’re all remarkably audible.  The folk instruments are not all one giant blur, each one stands out.

Ok, now onto the actual songs.  “Cottages and Saunas”, the opener, was an early favorite for me.  It’s got a great chorus, and a cool little intro.  “Journey Man” also got me hooked on the first listen; it’s a wonderful song that displays the best the album has to offer.  I’ve already mentioned that it has a great drum intro, but it’s also one of the faster songs on the album.  I’m always one for speedy songs, and this is no exception.  “Pine Woods” is a great instrumental.  Even being an instrumental, it’s one of the greatest songs on the whole album.  It’s dynamic and has many changes throughout its duration.  “Fields in Flames” is a great piece of folk metal, everything in this song is very well done.  “Ryyppajaiset” is the other fantastic instrumental.  The folk instruments provide the main melody for this song, and it’s an addictive melody.  “Old Tale” is a song that starts out entirely with folk instruments, but it builds into a metal song.  It’s also very good, like the most others.  “Kadet Siipina” is the only slower, ballad type song on the album.  It’s solid, showing the band doing something a little different.  Truthfully, it feels more like an outro than anything else (a very good outro).  “Spirit of the Forest” has one of the oddest and most unique choruses that I’ve ever heard.  I like it less than some of the others, but it’s notable for being slower and for that awesome chorus.

Overall, this is a surprisingly good album.  I would suggest a listen for anyone who is into folk metal.  It’s an essential album for anyone who is already a fan of Korpiklaani to listen to.  The first four songs are nearly flawless.  Though the second half is lacking, there are still many gems to be found.  No song is outright bad, and every single one is worth a good listen.  The folk instruments are outstanding, as well as the metal instrumentation.  The vocals are unique and epic.  The tone of the album is wild and carefree, and the songs are very well composed.  Only people with no room for fun in their lives won’t find something enjoyable here.  A great release that I overlooked for much too long!

Best songs:  “Cottages and Saunas”, “Journey Man”, “Fields in Flames”, “Pine Woods”, and “Hunting Song”.

Negatives/Worst songs:  The second half drags a little bit.  The vocals at the beginning of “Spirit of the Forest” sound really strange to my ears, though I’ve heard a lot of praise for this vocal style.

Thanks for reading!  Comment and tell me what you think of this great release!

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