Korpiklaani - Korven kuningas 3.5/5
3. Keep on galloping
4. Northern fall
5. Shall we take a turn?
6. Paljon on koskessa kivii
7. Ali jiisten vetten
8. Gods on fire
11. Suden joiku
13. Syntykoski syimmehessiin
14. Korven kuningas
A lot of the early reviews for Korpiklaani's 5th CD, 'Korven kuningas' (that's 'King of the woods'), have been making a point of saying that, while not necessarily being a bad thing, the music is essentially more of the same from their first 4 releases. But it seems obvious to these ears at least that, while the music is unmistakably Korpiklaani, the forest clan have taken a slightly different approach this time around, with a little less manic speed and a touch more contemplation to their tunes than in the past.
After the thrashy – and surprisingly guitar-driven - opener, "Tapporauta" charges out of the traps, things often settle down to more of a sedate pace than what has gone before. Jonne Järvelä and company are of course still making almost relentlessly upbeat folk metal, but the pogo stick has been put away for a reasonable percentage of the recordings, with the bouncy 2-note bass lines that usually propel a lot of the songs forward utilised far less than on past CDs. Even the 'crowd pleaser' on the CD, "Keep on galloping" is more placid than previous efforts like "Let's drink" and "Happy little boozer".
The extended running time (Korpiklaani's longest CD yet at over 50 minutes of actual music before an unbelievably long outro) means there is also a little more audible variety on this CD – the songs with the lower pace allow the multitude of folk instruments (mostly played by violinist Hittavainen) a little more time to come to the fore and the acoustic guitars – less numerable than you would think across Korpiklaani's growing discography – are broken out a little more often. Particularly effective is their use on the sombre ballad "Gods on fire" which sits perfectly in the middle of the CD.
Fortunately one thing that has not changed is the level of quality – overall 'Korven kuningas' may not prove quite as strong as the band's best work, but the music here is still unmistakeably top-tier stuff. Fans of the more hyperactive songs from the Finns need not despair either, as there are still surely enough songs in this mould – "Kantaiso" and "Runamoine" being 2 of the best examples - to keep them satisfied
It's difficult to decide whether or not it was a conscious decision by Korpiklaani to try something a little different with this release or whether this is just the order the songs happened to come out in this time around. Since the CD was released a scant 9 months after 'Tervaskanto' the latter may be more likely, and who is to say that when they somehow find the time to record the follow-up between their relentless touring that the music to fall out of Järvelä's head isn't going to be stacked more in favour of a higher overall tempo?
On the whole, CD number 5 doesn't quite match up to Korpiklanni's previous work, but it is encouraging to see a band with such a successful formula daring to try something even a little different. Fans of a band often tend to be disappointed when they step even a little out of their established niche, but for a group as prolific as Korpiklaani there should be little need to worry – at the rate they knock CDs together they are bound to release something to satisfy any of their fans sooner or later.
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