Korpiklaani are back to bless the folk metal hordes with their drunken mix of folk, rock, punk and metal. Often considered one of the greatest folk metal bands of all time, the high-spirited finns have added yet another gem to their career.
To some extent, Korpiklaani have always been under fire, often being criticized for what some would call a very low degree of creativity. In fact, their albums are considerably homogeneous and formulaic, and “Kulkija”, to some extent, is no exception. However, this does not mean that innovation is entirely absent from their most recent LP, quite the contrary! “Kulkija” is probably one of Korpiklaani’s most experimental exploits to date.
The overall atmosphere of the album is in perfect harmony with the lyrical theme, being a reflection on what it means to be a wanderer and to yearn for your home and your loved one. You get a little bit of the wanderer experience in each song, ranging from ecstatic Korpiklaani-classic bangers such as Neito to romantic, sad and wistful songs such as Harmaja or Tuttu On Tie. A feel good and nostalgic atmosphere dominates the entire piece, as Jonne Järvelä guides the listener through what is possibly the band’s most faithful audio-rendition of the iconic and mystical landscapes of Finnish folklore to date. A good deal of sonic surprises can be found on this album, such as the drum solo in “Korpikuusen Kyynel” or the dramatic turn of events in “Sillanrakentaja” where Korpiklaani grant a strange yet highly entertaining wink to Candlemass, only to swiftly return to the general feelgood atmosphere for the duration of the song’s refrain.
Production value on this record is high, even higher than Korpiklaani’s previous works, being perfectly in sync with the album’s theme and overall sonic landscape. Overall, Kulkija is a very enjoyable listening experience that just might the breath of fresh air that Korpiklaani needed, owning the potential of doing more than pleasing fans of the genre.