(Nuclear Blast)

01. Viinamäen Mies
02. Pilli On Pajusta Tehty
03. Lempo
04. Sahti
05. Luontoni
06. Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon
07. Jouni Jouni
08. Kylästä Keväinen Kehto
09. Ämmänhauta
10. Sen Verran Minäkin Noita
11. Antaja

RATING: 9/10

Finnish folk metal favorites KORPIKLAANI are back with their ninth album, "Noita", which is, according to the traditional connotation, a shamanistic healer versus the witchcraft tag forced upon it by pious delusion. Being the upbeat band KORPILAANI is, they celebrate the original inference by embracing their folk elements to the hilt. Thus "Noita" pushes violin and accordion (the latter played now by new addition Sami Perttula) to the front, along with trad power metal modes, and creates an even more buoyant feeling to their slap-happy brand of metal.

"Viinamäen Mies" springs like a mosher's polka as KORPIKLAANI rips away with glee. No matter if you speak Finnish or not, it's easy to shout "hey hey hey!" along with Jonne Jarvela on the peppy choruses, the same with the intro chants on the next track, "Pilli On Pajusta Tehty". Jarvela sounds giddy as hell on the latter song, which hops about in tempo and has a kickass, beat-only break from Matti "Matson" Johansson, who's a beast all over this album. KORPIKLAANI gives Sami Perttula and violinist Tuomas Rounakari tons of room to chime and fiddle to their hearts' content. Both instruments are allowed to solo exclusively, which is, according to Rounakari, "just as Jonne originally intended it to be."

The decision to relegate Jonne Jarvela, Kalle "Cane" Savijärvi and Jarkko Aaltonen more to rhythm components is bold for metal music, which lives by the sword on guitar solos. It makes a slower track like "Lempo" more powerful and entertaining, as groove is stressed and the solos are deferred to Perttula and Rounakari. Guitar fret slides as accents in transition instead of shredding actually does "Lempo" a great favor. Tuomas Rounakari is the master shredder this time and that speaks much about checked egos in this band.

"Sahti" couldn't kick more ass with its traded power metal grooves and speed blasts, ringing on the verses like a folked-up ACCEPT track. Then the velocity spikes even more on "Luontoni", as KORPIKLAANI drops killer power riffs into the song's wild sprints. Again there's a feeling of Eighties power metal lurking behind the plugging bass of the ballad "Minä Näin Vedessä Neidon", a track that thrusts its choruses skyward like a national anthem.

The nuttiest moment on "Noita" comes with KORPIKLAANI's Finnish-translated cover of Tommy James & THE SHONDELLS' party standard "Mony Mony", "Jouni Jouni". Thankfully it's a hoot and not the shit storm Billy Idol's cover was, though style points go to the first one to shout "Hey, everybody, get laid, get fucked!" if KORPIKLAANI plays "Jouni Jouni" during their live sets.

Raging like maniacs on the bursting verses of "Kylästä Keväinen Kehto" (a song finding the band taking a brief but cool sojourn into pop) ushers "Noita" home on the same joyous course it begins with, hitting a slower ode with "Ämmänhauta" along the way and landing into an unremitting 6:37 power fest, "Sen Verran Minäkin Noita".

KORPIKLAANI has always been one of the most fun metal acts on the planet, and even through their first eight albums, they've had their shtick down to perfection. If it was any possible way to one-up themselves, they've done it with "Noita".


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