I’ve always said there can never be enough folka/polka humppa drinking metal from Finland. Go ahead, ask my friends, I’ve always said that! Thankfully Korpiklaani feels much the same way so they keep churning out albums at a highly dependable rate (seven albums in seven years). If you heard any of the previous albums you know what to expect here on Ukon Wacka. If not, imagine a far less serious and way more drunken Finntroll. This is filled to the brim with ridiculously catchy humppa/polka styled folk metal meant to be played whilst hoisting huge frothy mugs of foaming ale. That’s entirely appropriate since Ukon Wacka was an ancient pagan festival where the beer flowed muchly. If such beer soaked party music from 1099 doesn’t sound appealing to you, go home and tell your mom you’re a loser not a boozer.
We can dispense with an elaborate exposition on the different moods, vibes and tempos on display on Ukon Wacken. This is another Korpiklaani soundtrack for dancing through the forest with liquored up gnomes and stoned dwarves and as such it’s fast paced, energetic, thumping and pumping folk metal. As usual, the combination of metal riffing and semi-harsh barking vocals blends well with the violin, flute and other woodland instruments and don’t forget that accordion! Throughout all the festive mayhem, Korpiklaani always weaves their country’s traditional sounds into the party metal mix flawlessly. There are some new elements that stand out though. Unlike past albums, Ukon Wacka is sung entirely in Finnish. That doesn’t lower the fun factor one bit (for me at least) and if anything it makes their whole sound and style more authentic and folky. Additionally, main vocalist Jonne Jarvela seems to have a little more edge and power in his delivery and the slightly tougher style really adds something to the mix. Most importantly, a few of the early songs may be some of the strongest Korpiklaani have ever written. “Louhen Yhdeksas Poika,” “Tuoppi Oltta” and “Lonkkaluut” all attack the ear on the first listen and demand repeated spins. Elsewhere, “Paat Pois Tai Hirteen” is a cover from Peer Grunt, a famous Finnish band and this track is also extremely catchy and infectious. On the title track, Jonne is joined by famous Finnish singer Toumari Nurmio and their dueling vocals are very enjoyable. Lastly, we get the expected alcohol themed song with “Tequila,” which also gets stuck in your head with its silly, rowdy charm.
Are there any regrets after all that drunken Humppa? Well, for those that appreciate more diverse pacing, there isn’t much of that here. It’s full throttle polka metal straight through Ukon Wacka with only the title track and “Surma” dialing back to more sedate tempos. Some may find this a bit repetitive at times. I however, am not among them and I found all the songs fun, lively and very well done. The only minor disappointment for me personally is the lack of more extensive accordion soloing since it always amuses me when they let Juho Kauppinen run amok with his piano sac.
If you liked the past Korpiklaani albums, this is a total no brainer and it may be one of their best releases overall. If you never heard these guys, just imagine a big, rowdy party in a can. Just open and let all your troubles drain away. Meade I say more? Humppa humppa!! [Gah! My brain! It’s bleeding! PUN OVERLOAD! – AMG] Chill out AMG, way less than my ususal pun total here.