Released on 3 August 2012, ‘Manala’ is the eighth studio album from Finnish pagan folk metallers Korpiklaani. It also sees a change in line up with Tuonas Rounakari on fiddle replacing Jaakko Lemmetty’s violin. The artwork for the album works well with the concept which is itself a very interesting choice. As vocalist Jonne Järvelä says, “`Manala´ is the realm of the dead – the underworld in Finnish mythology. This place is best known for its appearance in the Finnish national epic Kalevala, on which many of our new songs are based. In the 16th poem of Kalevala, Väinämöinen, a shamanistic hero travels to Manala in search for knowledge about the dead. On his journey he meets the ferrywoman – a girl, Tuonen tytti, or Tuonen piika (Death’s maid), who takes him across the river of Tuoni. However, on the isle of Tuoni he is not given the spells he was originally looking for and he barely manages to escape the place. After his return he curses anyone trying to enter the place alive.”
For those that have heard their previous offerings you will no doubt have high expectations of this album producing some high energy tracks done in their own unique way. Well, I can say straight off that you will not be disappointed in this album one bit.
They say the beginning is a very good place to start and for those first time listeners the first song on this album is a fantastic place to start. It’s straight in there with an upbeat, ‘you will dance like an idiot to this’ tune. I first heard this on the tube and it is probably a good job we were squashed in like sardines as otherwise I would have been jumping around like a mad thing, throwing my arms about (though it would certainly have given me more standing room). You will very quickly be shouting along to the song, as well as repeating ‘Kunnia, Kunnia, Kunnia’ during the chorus. In a nutshell this song is three minutes of happy!
Second up is ‘Tuonelan Tuvilla’ which keeps the upbeat vibe but with a harsher more steady undercurrent of rhythm which is maintained throughout. This is a great choice as a second song and combined with ‘Rauta’ and ‘Ruumiinmultaa’ will have you reaching to those closest to you to link arms and jump around. I would love to hear these songs played live especially at a festival as there would be one hell of a party pit at the front.
For those of you looking for a heavier rhythm then ‘Petoeläimen Kuola’ will satisfy those feelings for you and have you moving your head in time. ‘Synkkä’ slows things down to a much gentler pace with some beautiful fiddle work that contrasts wonderfully with Jonne’s gruff vocals. There is something quite haunting about the melody; it feels as if you are at the end of journey with both a sense of despair but also a will to carry on. Which you will! Just as the previous song had been gentle, the next, ‘Ievan Polkka’ is anything but as it jumps right in there so suddenly and doesn’t just pull you right back up onto your feet, but literally throws you into the air, shaking off any feelings of gloom. This is possibly my favourite track as it combines many elements of its predecessors with the sheer happiness of the song and the fast and steady rhythm that I defy anyone not to be dancing and jumping around to within seconds.
This is followed by ‘Husky Sledge’ (a short interlude) which is all kinds of interesting and acts as a means of transporting you into the next stage of the album, and with the commencement of ‘Dolorous’ it really does feel like you have been taken on a journey and are now approaching the end somewhat world weary. Neither of these tracks has any vocals and to be honest they don’t need them as it just adds to the sense of journey that the album concept suggests.
The last few tracks ‘Uni’ and ‘Metsälle’ bring things full circle by reflecting the two different sides to the album; the more aggressive, empowering dance side and the more melodic and (yes even slightly brooding) feel. However there is a nice addition from Jonne’s vocals in ‘Uni’ which sounds as if they are challenging the listener to bring it on. In addition, though ‘Metsälle starts in a gentle, beatific way it transforms and builds in the ‘jumping about’ element of the more upbeat songs, but with a more tempered feel which would have you linking arms with those nearest to you and drunkenly singing along.
Finally, ‘Sumussa Hämärän Aamun’ has a deliciously dark, brooding beginning that would make a good soundtrack for the approach of a dark villain. Now did I say finally? Oh, silly me, nope that’s not the end as there is an additional bonus track, and bonus it is indeed. The final (yes definitely final this time) track ’Soil of the corpse’ bears a striking resemblance to ‘Ruumiinmultaa’, hmm I wonder why, oh yeah, it’s in English this time. I love the upbeat nature of this song a lot, and am happy with either version, however, if you prefer your songs in English you can buy ‘Manala’ as a special edition with an English version or the album on a bonus CD.
Whatever language you prefer, if this is your type of metal then get your butts down to the shops on 3 August and buy this album, and if it isn’t your bag then one listen will have you changing your mind. Why? Because it’s a fucking good album that packs a punch!
2. Tuonelan Tuvilla
5. Petoeläimen Kuola
7. Ievan Polkka
8. Husky Sledge
12. Sumussa Hämärän Aamun
13. Soil of the corpse (Bonus Track)