• Where the merriful meets the sorrowful - A review of Korpiklaani's Live at Masters of Rock

    Korpiklaani - Wayfarers Live (2018)

    The thing that has always fascinated me about Korpiklaani is how easily the band combine melancholic and uplifting soundscapes. This can happen in separate songs that complement one another perfectly but also in single tracks with concise and fluid song writing. Other genre veterans like Turisas experiment aimlessly, Ensiferum often lose themselves in endless epics and Eluveitie seem to repeat themselves despite significant line-up changes. Korpiklaani have found their very own style combining sorrowful and joyful sounds but keep things interesting with minor experiments. In addition to this, the Finnish folk metal sextet are particularly entertaining on stage.

    This exclusive extended play with a charismatic cover artwork underlines the band's unique combination of soundscapes, showcases their strong and vibrant live performances and promotes the group's tenth studio record in only fifteen years. The first four live tracks are all taken from studio record Kulkija, the band's longest and probably most diverisfied and epic release to date. The final two tracks are classics that fans have adored dancing, drinking and singing along to for about a whole decade.

    A perfect example for the band's capacity to shift soundscapes within one single song is the instrumental "Pellervoinen". The track starts in mid-pcaed melancholy that slowly but steadily evolves into a danceable and merriful folk song. The lack of vocals showcases a flexible rhythm section, energetic guitar play and a clever use of harmonious accordion and violin sounds. The band should write more instrumental tracks in my book.

    Other songs show the band's opposite soundscapes separately. "Aallon Alla" is a mid-paced track with an almost ominous atmosphere. The guitar sound is surprisingly raw as if it came from an underground extreme metal band. The folk melodies however are performed smoothly and contrast the guitar work cleverly. The rhythm section is gentle, combining melodic folk sounds and harsh guitar tones accurately. Despite its brief length, the song is detailed, epic and intelligent. Similar artists like Wintersun would have taken at least twice the time to combine all those ideas but Korpiklaani manage to keep things short, focused and balanced without ever sounding rushed.

    On the other side, the band classic "Happy Little Boozer" is fast, joyful and simplistic. It's a song to bang your head, yell along and raise your drinking horn filled with mead to. It's a relentless party anthem that is still somewhat charming in its sheer simplicity. It's also one of the very few tracks with English lyrics which is celebrated by fans from all around the world.

    Even though Korpiklaani have just released an extensive live record with Live at Masters of Rock one year ago, Wayfarers Live has its reasons to be because four tracks are brand new and weren't included on the previous release. All six tracks are as a matter of fact exclusive recordings that were played during three different Festival appearances this past summer. The band's ability to combine melancholic and merriful soundscapes never fails to impress. The new tracks are equally vibrant as the classics from the early years. The band have astonishing chemistry on stage and are obviously enjoying themselves to the fullest. Folk metal fans should certainly get their hands on this highly entertaining compilation of diversified live tracks that represent the band's potential accurately.

    Final rating: 80%

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