Korpiklaani - Kulkija review



Reviewer:
7.7

42 users:
6.93
Band: Korpiklaani
Album: Kulkija
Release date: September 2018


01. Neito
02. Korpikuusen Kyynel
03. Aallon Alla
04. Harmaja
05. Kotikonnut
06. Korppikalliota
07. Kallon Malja
08. Sillanrakentaja
09. Henkselipoika
10. Pellervoinen
11. Riemu
12. Kuin Korpi Nukkuva
13. Juomamaa
14. Tuttu On Tie


"Harmaja" had me excited about the possibility of a middle-aged Korpiklaani album; the morose, acoustic single suggested with its downtrodden sulk that some purer traditional pieces might be found on Kulkija. In part, the album follows through on its foreshadowing, but perhaps not quite enough to convince most folks that this is different from a typical Korpiklaani album.

A more serious tone grasps Kulkija; in a small way, it sounds like Korpiklaani trying its hand at aging gracefully - certainly the usual musk of frivolity and savagery has been subordinated to darker, more conservative melodies - and I can not only endorse that trajectory, I can get out of the wagon and push to make sure they get where they're going. "Harmaja" set the stage with its uncharacteristic sobriety, but unfortunately that feeling is not embraced as effectively everywhere. The modest and sunny "Riemu" is too friendly for my tastes, the lumbering "Kallon Malja" much too long; even the solid tracks of the album's first half lack the hooks that pounce on listeners like "Kunnia" or "Vodka" or "Cottages & Saunas," which makes our introduction to this greying aesthetic a little awkward. Parts of the album are tamer-than-usual retreads of middling Korpiklaani-brand folk metal insert muzak, leaving Kulkija stuck halfway between new ideas and old ones - and all this confict happens under the surface. At first blush, there really isn't a lot to set Kulkija apart other than the lack of immediately punchy singles.

The more I return to the album, however, the further I find I can settle into the grizzled-and-gloomy feel of "Neito," "Korpikuusen Kyynel," and "Aallon Alla." Kulkija does have its proper highlights, too, ferreted away in the album's midsection between the most egregiously unnecessary inclusions. The doom-tinged "Sillanrakentaja" picks up the mood of "Harmaja" in a heavier format; "Henkselipoika" and "Pellervoinen" keep the creativity flowing for a bit longer in its wake. The final track, "Tuttu On Tie," fittingly recapitulates what I had most hoped to find on this album. I'll probably revisit these songs as often as I revisit my other Korpiklaani favorites - but for an album that isn't as rambunctious, folk-heavy, or regular heavy as previous releases, the length is excessive, perhaps prohibitive. Kulkija is 72 minutes long. No Korpiklaani album needs to be 72 minutes long. Korpiklaani's Greatest Hits doesn't need to be 72 minutes long. Chop out "Kallon Malja," "Riemu," and "Kuin Korpi Nukkuva" and, baby, you got a stew going.

This album has thrown me for a loop, which is something I never thought I'd say about a Korpiklaani album. I sat down with Kulkija five times and wrote a different review each time. It's certainly not as accessible as usual, but neither is it all that esoteric, and I hesitate to call this substantially different from the norm for fear of being taken to task over that by other listeners. Still, viewing their discography from the bleachers, it's clear that Korpiklaani have been changing and evolving over time, whatever stereotypes to the contrary have dogged them, and I'm interested to see if the band goes further down this particular path, even if I can't imagine anyone aside from the most dedicated fans sitting through all of Kulkija more than once.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 8


 



Written on 06.09.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 101 users
07.09.2018 - 06:26
Rulatore
Sorry, but I dont know how I feel about this review, I feel like I couldnt get a feel of what this album sounds like. For a person that didnt like their last 3 offerings (I'm more familiar with their older albums), what should I expect ?
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07.09.2018 - 07:21
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Rulatore on 07.09.2018 at 06:26

Sorry, but I dont know how I feel about this review, I feel like I couldnt get a feel of what this album sounds like. For a person that didnt like their last 3 offerings (I'm more familiar with their older albums), what should I expect ?

I'd say that not liking the last three doesn't necessarily mean you won't like Kulkija, but it's certainly a long way from their older material. It has a greater proportion of acoustic or low-energy tracks and the production is rather subdued; there are still some good fast-paced and heavy tracks, but they aren't as upbeat or raw or loud as something from, say, Voice Of Wilderness or Tales Along This Road. It sounds like the vocals and traditional instruments are slightly more prominent in the mix while the rest of the band is tighter, and the overall approach is rather somber. It sounds like Korpiklaani is aiming to mature and lean more heavily into their serious, more atmospheric side; I like what they've done, but the songwriting is somewhat uneven and the album is too long for its own good.

If you haven't listened to "Harmaja" already, I'd say go and check that out; it is the quietest piece on the album for sure, but it sets the mood pretty well. Otherwise, I might recommend "Aallon Alla" and "Henkselipoika" to get a sense for what the album is like. If you're aiming for cheap, fast, folk metal fun like Korpiklaani's earlier albums, you'll definitely be disappointed, but I think Kulkija is well worth a try.
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Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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08.09.2018 - 04:06
Rulatore
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 07.09.2018 at 07:21

reply

Thank you for the clarification, I'll check these songs later

Cheers
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12.09.2018 - 00:00
Iceland_Norway
I like everything composed by Korpiklaani since Shamaani Duo. I'm listening now Jonne solo albums to understand better Finnish history.
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16.09.2018 - 23:18
JealousDurian
Written by Rulatore on 07.09.2018 at 06:26

Sorry, but I dont know how I feel about this review, I feel like I couldnt get a feel of what this album sounds like. For a person that didnt like their last 3 offerings (I'm more familiar with their older albums), what should I expect ?


It's darker, "sober Korpiklaani" (which is disturbing), if you like the mood of their older albums you're going to be dissapointed. To be honest I miss their older stuff too but I like the 3 last releases better than Kulkija. That doesn't mean it's a bad album but you can feel the band is aging.
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16.09.2018 - 23:55
Iceland_Norway
As I loved Korven Kuningas I can love Kulkija. These 2 albums have a lot in common with the midtempo songs and sad songs. Also Kadet Siipina from Voice Of Wilderness has the same midtempo and is a funeral song also.

Vote 10 for sure.
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17.09.2018 - 16:54
Iceland_Norway
I like a lot Kulkija. Pellervoinen is my fave of the entire album. I love the other songs too. :beer2::beer::banger:
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