Monday, March 14, 2011

Korpiklaani: Ukon Wacka (2011)

Folk Metal Week: Part 1


The idea of folk metal would likely be seen as a goofy gimmick by most Americans outside of the metal community. That is, at least until they find out just how many bands are doing it and taking it seriously. This week is a theme week here at Full Metal Attorney. It's all about the folk metal.

Ukon WackaUkon Wacka is Korpiklaani's seventh studio album. They are probably the best known folk metal band out there, and they're from Finland, probably the country best known for making folk metal. Combining the polka-like Finnish humppa music with metal, the band creates drinking music that's as perfect as it gets. The metal side of it mostly provides the backbone, generally playing polka-like rhythms, while the folk instruments (accordion, violin, bagpipes, flute, etc.) tend to provide the leads. And Jonne Järvelä's grizzled clean vocals fit the mood perfectly, sounding like a boastful warrior celebrating a good pillage. The vocals are only enhanced by keeping the lyrics in Finnish, leaving the actual topics up to the imagination.

If you've followed the band for any length of time, you probably know they've been extremely prolific, releasing albums every year since 2005. After 2006's high-watermark Tales Along This Road the quality dropped somewhat. I'm happy to say that taking 2010 off (from full-length releases, anyway) has yielded an album that stands up to the quality of their early material. Case in point: the extremely catchy, bouncy "Tuoppi Oltta" or the excellent instrumental "Vaarinpolkka". They also cover some unusual ground, taking a Latin America-via-Finland approach on "Tequila" and bringing the accordions to southern rock with "Korvesta Liha". In fact, the only low point is the downbeat "Lonkkaluut", which seems to drag on a bit longer than it should.

If you're lucky enough to get the digipak version, you'll also be treated to a great cover of Motörhead's "Iron Fist", displaying some non-obvious similarities to that legendary band.

The Verdict: Korpiklaani deserve to be the best-known folk metal band, and Ukon Wacka testifies to their continued viability. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. We're in for a rough week at Full Metal Attorney!

    I kid, I kid :D

    I'll be awaiting the week's content with the greatest of morbid curiosity.

  2. I don't know if you should be kidding, entirely. Folk metal is about 95% God-awful, 5% awesome. This IS a rough week here.

  3. I don't really listen to much folk metal myself, with a few exceptions, but I will be interested in the posts this week.