Verikalpa – Tuoppitanssi [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Positioning one’s music is important in the cut-throat world of music promotion. Promoters often position bands by giving potential listeners comparisons. As I read the comps for Verikalpa, I was curious but worried. The smattering of bands were the ones that one might expect for a Finnish folk metal band; among others, bands like Korpiklaani and Turisas. Yet, when I popped Tuoppitanssi into my headphones, I was reminded of an important lesson: sometimes what isn’t said is as important as that which is said. Verikalpa and Scarlet Records, by not including Finntroll in that list, had tipped their hand. Everyone knows this band sounds like those lovable Finnoswedes Finntroll. So, why deny it? It’s been seven years since Blodsvept, and in this time of crisis, the world needs the things that Finntroll does so well. And while, unfortunately for Verikalpa, the actual Finntroll put out an album that was pretty darned good, Verikalpa doesn’t suck. So, if you’re into stuff that doesn’t suck, look no further than Tuoppitanssi, which was released in February of this year by Scarlet Records. Some disgruntled fans may even like this better…

Verikalpa at its core is akin to a blend of melodic death and black metal. Laden with keys that sound like accordions and a logo that looks straight off of Ensiferum‘s merch table, Tuoppitanssi could have fallen with ease into the “been done before” bin without much effort from the listener. Yet, Tuoppitanssi is a fun album to listen to. The songs are short and sweet and the melodies are hummable. The intro track “Naulattujen vaellus” really does set the stage for what the listener gets throughout the album. Each melody is razor sharp, the vocals are raspy and rhythmic, the gang chants are plentiful and the song crests into blast beats that take me back to Jaktens tid. And it’s a great sound that they execute with aplomb.

As a whole, the album deftly executes a sound that is hard for me not to love; it’s fast and furious, it’s accessible and memorable. Tuoppitanssi has the added benefit of being in Finnish, so I don’t actually have to listen to people opining about “Wooden Pints” or regaling me with their imagined drinking escapades.1 Rather, I just get the raw oompah shot right into my veins for a vinyl-and-boredom-safe 47 minutes. And that pacing is important. If I have a complaint about Verikalpa‘s sound, it’s that when they slow things down—like in “Tuonen miekka”—things can drag a little. For me, these guys are at their best when they are leaning towards the blackened side of their sound rather than the mid-paced stuff.

Does Verikalpa sound like Finntroll? Yes. Is that bad? No. Not every band can be expected to break barriers with their sound and Finntroll is a great band. Verikalpa does us all a service by showing up here on the day of your daughter’s wedding with energetic and fun music to drink to. They avoid the pitfalls of bands like Korpiklaani, whose silliness and lack of imagination outweigh their talent, and they are making music that almost exists in a vacuum in 2020. Following the explosion of folk metal in the 2000s, the genre has gotten stale, for sure. But Verikalpa‘s contribution is to carry the accordion of tradition to the sauna of the metal gods, so that we might have something new to listen to while we drink. And isn’t that all a folk metal band really wants?

Songs to Check: “Naulattujen vaellus,” “Talonväen teuraat”, “Peikon Kieli,” “Mettäväinö”
DR: 6 | Media Reviewed: V4 mp32 | PCM procured from Bandcamp

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Though, given what I’ve heard about Finland, I guess I should assume that said drinking escapades are very much real…
  2. Wow, Scarlet records, you should be ashamed of yourselves for sending a V4 mp3!
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