Album review: Korpiklaani – Jylhä

Another chance to pretend you’re downing ale in a Nordic forest alongside folk metal veterans Korpiklaani…

The title of Finnish band Korpiklaanis eleventh album has no direct English translation. Jylhä describes a scene of natural majesty, but alludes also to the emotions evoked. While every word of this band’s lyrics is sung in their native tongue, the music at least translates more easily. Like every previous Korpiklaani release, this is reeling, hard spun folk metal, a familiar format done here with an authentic native zeal.

It’s full of rugged hooks, accordion-led stomp and satisfyingly heavy riffs. With words written by poet and author Tuomas Keskimäki (not a band member) this is music that speaks of the arcane and the atavistic. First track Verikoira – and, indeed, the equally epic closer Juuret – offer multiple set pieces, each segment indicative of what can be enjoyed on the album elsewhere. When engaging in heads-down metal, Verikoira salutes Judas Priests classic Painkiller, something the band has raised its hand and acknowledged. Similarly, though less officially, Nightwish fans will find elements of 2007’s Amaranth weaving in and out of Korpiklaani’s tuneful, folk-led Sanaton Maa.

These days the band resemble the cast of actors who didn’t quite get the part of Gimli in Lord Of The Rings. They’re a swampy, dreadlocked assembly going hell for leather in forest settings. That said, when delivering fast-reeling jigs like Leväluhta and the celebratory Huolettomat, there’s enough crunch and power to keep matters not just alive, but interesting as well. There may not be enough for non-Finnish speakers to identify with when it comes to the slower material, but the rich timelessness of it all, the sense of a lost art being rejuvenated, makes Jylhä an engaging mystery.

Verdict: 3/5

For Fans Of: Eluveitie, Turisas, Leaves Eyes 

Jylhä is released on February 5 via Nuclear Blast.

READ THIS: How Tribulation are bringing magic and folklore back to heavy metal

Posted on February 3rd 2021, 11:37a.m.
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