Verikalpa – Tunturihauta
Release Date: 21/01/2022
Running Time: 47:14
Review by Rory Bentley
There’s a scene in the extended Lord of The Rings where Legolas and Gimli are on the sesh after a victorious battle and they get into a drinking contest in a rowdy tavern environment. The dashing elf comes out on top after necking 20 pints, only feeling a slight tingle in his fingers. His gregarious dwarf wingman survives with a little less dignity and starts going off on one about swimming with hairy women before collapsing from the heroic volume of grog he’s ingested at the end of this bizarre pissing contest. This album is the perfect soundtrack to this situation, and by the end of it I felt as merry and belligerent as our diminutive hero, but without the presumably Balrog-sized hangover.
In 2020 we all did things we never thought we were capable of under the dark clouds of uncertainty and fear that gripped the world, and I was no different. Rather than bake banana bread, or developing a sudden interest in jigsaw puzzles, I decided to eschew all my metallic hardcore credibility and dive straight into the accordion-driven nonsensical void of Folk Metal. It is a bizarre world; it is a flamboyant world, and it is a very silly world.
I think the thing that appeals to me apart from the fantastic jaunty melodies over scything Nordic blasts is the balance between Black Metal intensity and an infectious sense of fun. Unlike a lot of the more pastoral Black Metal I listen to, there’s a palpable self-awareness from Folk Metal bands that undercuts the brooding pomposity that sometimes sees more ‘evil’ bands coming across as even more ridiculous than their hurdy-gurdy worshipping counterparts. Enter Verikalpa.
Hailing from the land of a thousand lakes, and almost as many Lordi albums, these self-described ‘Finnish Folk Metal crazy drunken warriors’ leave no ambiguity as to what’s in store for the listener in their refreshingly humorous press release; where they proclaim, ‘Winter is coming, the dead rise to greet it, and damn, they are thirsty!’. But am I thirsty for the folk?
Opening cut ‘Verikauhu’ wastes no time initiating the listener into this raucous winter jamboree, going full tilt with blast beats, tremolo guitars, and the piercing shriek of vocalist Jani Ikonen. As your head is blown back by this metallic onslaught the song segues into jaunty Folk melodies that evoke the might of Finntroll. Catchy, uplifting but still carrying a level of aggression, this sets the template for an exhilarating booze-fuelled dash though the snow like a half-cut Father Christmas. This chaotic momentum is carried forward over similarly fired-up tracks like single, ‘Riitti’, with its accordion-led flourishes, and ‘Raivokansa’ which has an almost dungeon-synth style intro that once again gives way to more high-octane partying.
Thankfully, the band knows just the right time to introduce a change of pace with the stomping waltz of ‘Tunturihauta’, which provides much needed variety at the point where these deranged hoe-downs begin to blend into one another. The slight changes in tempo continue for the rest of the album and are integral to keeping the party going as we get deep into the latter parts of this debauchery. Just before the finale I was starting to flag a little but closing number ‘Talven varjot’ changes the formula with a more grandiose arrangement, dripping with bombast and searing black metal malice. The choral chants and gang vocals, which have thus far been used more sparingly, really bolster the band’s sound and add a more epic, mythical dimension to proceedings to the point where I’d like to see them utilised more on future releases.
At just over 47 minutes I did have a creeping urge to slip away from the revels and retreat to my bed with some ibuprofen and a bottle of Lucozade and the feeling that this could have lost a few tracks to retain maximum impact; however, this is a minor criticism from someone who thinks most records are too long. I also would have liked a little more variety to the keyboard tone as there’s only so much accordion one man can take when it’s so high in the mix, but again this is a rather minor gripe.
Overall, this is an absolute riot of intensely delivered, fun-loving Metal to glug a tankard of ale to, and if you felt the last few Korpiklaani releases were lacking in urgency (I did), or that the last Ensiferum album was a little too heavy on the power metal (I didn’t- I loved it!), then this could be the bonkers wintry tonic you need to soothe those January blues. Just like the lad in the helmet and his orc mate crawling through the snow towards a frothy pint on the cover, I was hankering for a swig and “Tunturihauta” more than quenched my thirst. I don’t even know what the fuck I’m writing anymore.
05. Rautanen Herra
10. Suohon Suotu
11. Talven Varjot
Jani Ikonen – vocals
Sami Ikonen – guitar
Jussi Heikkilä – guitar
Sami Knuutinen – bass
Jussi Sauvola – keyboards
Jari Huttunen – drums
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