"Ukon Wacka"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It is not possible to dislike these guys. Just. Not. Possible. I know, because I tried. I got worked up into a grim kult black metal kind of fit, but I smiled anyway after hearing "Ukon Wacka". Just that album title alone was almost enough to break me down. Five minutes into the album, it was everything I could do to keep from dancing a jig while hoisting a jug of glogg.

Despite the goofiness of the "polka metal" concept and the way that trend-hoppers have murdered the idea, Korpiklaani does everything right on "Ukon Wacka". This is their most irresistably catchy album yet. Every tune is metal to the core, with the guitars crunching away deep into the red zone, but it's also full of sprightly, bouncy folk melodies. When these guys talk about "old school", they mean something like 900 A.D., not the 1980's! The accordions, flutes, fiddles, etc weave their magic spell over simple, powerful riffs while gruff Finnish vocals unfold tales of drinking and foolish pleasure. Yes, I know the lyrics are all in Finnish, but you can just TELL!

A great thing about the album is that it seems to race by. Nothing's worse than a folk metal album that drags. Nothing drags here. Tunes like "Paat Pois Tai Hirteen", the dedicated-to-Mexico "Tequila" and the really fast ""Vaarinpolkka" are full of energy. Only the title track and six-minute plus "Suma" slow down for a bit. The latter also contains the fastest and thrashiest parts of the album while I do feel the title track suffers a bit from the wheezy guest vocals of Finnish folk singer Tuomari Nurmio, who sounds a bit like an elderly Mongolian yak herder. But the very next cut "Korvesta Liha" is the album's best, starting with an irresistably cool guitar lick.

Nope, it just ain't possible to not smile after hearing "Ukon Wacka". In fact, there ought to be a law against not smiling after hearing it!