Album Review: Korpiklaani -Manala
Manala is a decided improvement from Korpiklaani’s previous releases, which were too asinine to even qualify as guilty pleasures. I also appreciate the fact that Jonne Jarvela sings in his native tongue. Finnish is a very harsh language to begin with, but Jarvela’s raspy voice contributes immensely to the album’s distinct flavor. Unfortunately, the English translations are awkward and don’t flow well with the natural Finnish rhythm of the songs. Seriously, don’t even waste your time with the English version of the album. I know they had good intentions, but it sounds forced and tacky.
However, the orginal version of Manala is proper drinking music. The throaty, gruff vocals blend seamlessly with the folk elements of fiddles and accordions, as well as the metal style drumming and distorted guitars. Fill your goblets, chalices, and steins with mead and enjoy this record. The music isn’t especially heavy, but it is very fun and energetic. Who doesn’t love a triumphant anthem praising the glory of battle, and honoring the heroes of legend? Although the lyrics pertain to violent battles and death, there is a certain lighthearted quality to the music. Death is not morbid but rather a thing of glory, just another rite of passage for true warriors.
Few songs stand out, and there is a lot of mediocre filler, as well as some tracks that are just plain awful. Husky Sledge, for instance, has the most grating violin screeches I have ever heard. What a terrible idea for an instrumental. These undesirable tracks are countered by the get-stuck-in-your-head catchiness of songs like Ruumiinmultaa and Ievan Polkka. Strangely, most of the good tracks are clustered in the middle of the album. The beginning and ending tracks are both quite forgettable.
Manala is a valiant if sophomoric effort on Korpiklaani’s part. They are still on shaky ground, but it’s a vital first step on the road to being taken seriously, both by fans and themselves. Three stars out of five.