Alcohol has been deeply intertwined with Korpiklaani in the past, but much like alcohol does, the band has matured. The process that seemed to start with the band’s previous release, Kulkija, now continues with Jylhä, although it’d be hard to say it continues on in the same vein. An album full of different kinds of stories that seem joined together by the title – Jylhä – a fairly untranslatable phrase that comes closest to “majestic.” In a dark and awe-inspiring sort of way.
Immediately, a darker presence can be felt on the album’s opener, “Verikoira.” The folky tunes are still there, of course, but they’re wrapped in more somber and serious tones than in the past. Jonne Järvelä, the band’s vocalist has a strong beginning with this song, experimenting somewhat with a thrashy style of vocals in the middle. As the song is about bloodhounds, there are also some dogs taking part with a few barks and growls sprinkled throughout, which is an interesting addition. Korpiklaani do a really cool passage towards the end that manages to create a sense of prowling – much like a bloodhound would do.
The band’s fourth single, “Niemi,” is a story about the famous lake Bodom murders. There seems to be far more experimentation on this album than there ever was before from Korpiklaani as almost every song features a unique influence. “Niemi” plays a bit with power metal in the beginning and the new drummer, Samuli Mikkonen sounds great throughout the song and really manages to keep the strong intensity of it. “Leväluhta” is the song that reminds me most of older Korpiklaani, and it’s absolutely fantastic. It has a slight reggae touch and a lovely intro that keeps building and ends with a very dancey chorus. It’s an incredibly fun track and probably one of my all time favourites from Korpiklaani.
Mylly, and especially Tuuleton, take the album into softer waters, a style perhaps more reminiscent of Kulkija. That familiar farmy feeling definitely returns with the latter of the two, a track that essentially starts out as a ballad, and acts as a bit of a bridge in the middle of the album. It’s also a good reminder of Korpiklaani’s trajectory and them trying to be more complex with their music and moving away from songs that, while extremely fun, tended to be rather simple and unimpressive musically.
Heaviness comes back at the start of “Kiuru,” which quickly transitions into a folky tune. This part of the album, however, suffers a bit from a lack of very interesting songs as both “Kiuru” and “Miero” afterwards are quite tame and don’t really offer much to the album. “Pohja” brings back some of the older Korpiklaani feeling with its speed and violin. It’s possibly the most energetic song on the album and one of my favourites as well, which is in big part because of how well Jonne’s vocals work with those of guitarist Cane, who joins him in this track. “Huoletomatt” is suspiciously Alestorm-like at the start and continues its fun and party vibe until the end.
Much like the rest of the album, there is no sound theme in the last few songs either. “Pidot” is a straight up country tune, which I’m not entirely sure how I feel about, but can anyone say they’re surprised Korpiklaani have done a country song? Finishing off the album is another fairly layered and modern piece from the Finns – Juuret. It’s an engaging and energetic way to finish off the albums, which has been a real journey and a great selection of stories from the folk metal stars.
It’s quite hard to sum up this album in a few sentences. There is an abundance of different styles on it, and this might genuinely, musically be the best album Korpiklaani have ever done. It won’t, however, be to everyone’s taste, and if you’re stuck in the humppa-drinking-songs days of the band you probably won’t love this record. There’s a clear path to maturity that the band is taking though – the songs seems to deal with heavier topics and in general don’t have that feeling of frivolity that a lot of the most loved songs from Korpiklaani do. There is a slight issue of length and I do think one or two songs could be left out as they’re not particularly great and act more as filler material and push the album’s length towards the hour mark. Overall, however, the record is really solid, full of interesting and fun songs, it has enough catchy choruses to draw you in and a good amount of great musicianship, which is capped off by the production that’s really well done as well.
– Didrik Mešiček