Korpiklaani- Tales Along This Road (Album Review)
Album: Tales Along This Road
“Signature Korpiklaani Album”
Folk metal has more than its fair share of silly bands, but none epitomize the more ridiculous form of folk metal than Korpiklaani. Does this make them a bad band? Not in any way… they have had their fair share of very good albums. Tales Along This Road is the third Korpiklaani release, which is very appropriate because this is my third Korpiklaani review. It also happens to be the first album I ever heard from the band, and one of my Korpiklaani favorites. This being said, I do think that it was kind of the beginning of the end for the band. That is, Tales Along This Road is where they started becoming more and more monotonous and mediocre.
The instrumental, "Spring Dance".
Something noticeable right off the bat is that the songs are pretty much just like what Korpiklaani had done before. However, there is not as much variation as on the first two albums. Most of the songs are rather speedy in tempo, and they do not linger before getting to the point. The production is surprisingly good with the drums unusually prominent in the songs. The folk instruments are, as usual, cranked up in the mix. They provide the main melodies for the songs, just like almost everything that Korpiklaani does. Unfortunately, at this point in the band’s career, the folk melodies have already become more and more generic. Another interesting thing is that the album contains several songs in Finnish, the most they had done in their own language up to the point that Tales Along This Road was released (they would later use Finnish as the predominant language in their music). The songs are not very emotional, and they aren’t that artistic either. So those who are looking for ultra-meaningful music should look elsewhere.
The cool song "Midsummer Night".
The two most important aspects to the album are the folk instruments and Jonne Jarvela’s unique voice. The folk instruments are very well executed, the performers are obviously talented. As mentioned previously, the melodies they play are pretty generic. Sort of like anyone could come up with them, or at least something similar. This doesn’t detract from the album as much as one might think, but it’s a notable flaw. I’ve already said that Jarvela’s voice is unique, but it really suits the music and takes it from being painfully mediocre to being good. Aside from the folk instrumentation and vocals, the drums are actually the instrument that stands out to me. I’ve already mentioned that they are oddly prominent in the music, but it’s true. The guitars are highly rhythmic and basically exist to play support to the folk instruments. There are no lead guitar lines at all on the album, but there are a few moments where the guitar stands alone as the prominent instrument (see the intros to “Vakirauta” and “Hide Your Riches”). Additionally, there are no guitar solos on Tales Along This Road. A few solos would have really brought the album score up, as some of their older (better) songs had solos. The bass is, essentially, masked by the other instruments. It’s barely audible.
The awesome song "Hide Your Riches".
The album begins with the hilarious “Happy Little Boozer”, which is a fast song with (obviously) some completely ridiculous lyrics. It ends up being a highlight of the album. “Vakirauta” follows and it’s very similar, though a bit more aggressive. The third song, “Midsummer Night”, easily surpasses the first two with a great chorus and a bit more variation within the song itself. I think “Midsummer Night” is my favorite from the album, and one of my favorites from the band. "Tuli Kokko" is another good one with a notably slower pace. “Spring Dance” is a typical Korpiklaani instrumental. This time, it’s well-placed and fun to listen to. “Under the Sun” has some of the most interesting folk instrumentation in the album, but it’s marred by a weak chorus. It’s not a bad song, but it’s easily one of my least favorite on the album.
The song "Korpiklaani".
The Songs (Continued)
The second half of Tales Along This Road begins with the band’s self titled song, “Korpiklaani”. It’s a solid listen and one of the highlights of the album. “Rise” is even better with an insanely catchy chorus, and some of the best guitars on the album. “Kirki” is a song in the vein of “Vakirauta”, a good track but not my favorite. The closing song is “Hide Your Riches” and is notable for having some opening guitars that are a bit more melodic. It ends up being another favorite on the album, and is one of the songs I listen to more often.
Whats the best song from Tales Along This Road?
Tales Along This Road is not the best from the band, nor is it a classic of the genre. It’s fun for those who like folk metal, but it’s just fun and barely anything more. There are not any weighty emotions, nor are there complex musical passages. The songwriting has also taken a dip in quality; fantastic songs like “Pine Woods” and “With Trees” from earlier albums are a lot different than the songs presented here. However, Korpiklaani fans will love this album. It’s got most of what people have come to expect from the band and it’s better than their later albums. Folk metal fans should enjoy it, but they will probably see it in the same way that I do. For these two groups of metalheads, the album is recommended. For everyone else, I would suggest hearing Voice of the Wilderness and Spirit of the Forest first. Both are superior albums, especially the former.
Best songs: “Vakirauta”, “Midsummer Night”, “Spring Dance”, “Korpiklaani”, “Rise”, and “Hide Your Riches”.