The combination of traditional Sami folk music and Scandinavian metal may seem like an odd one, but just one song from Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani (Forest Clan) should be enough to convince of its validity as a genre. The unbridled energy of their music is infectious; with a collection of rowdy drinking songs (Vodka, Beer Beer, and Bring Us Pints of Beer) that sound suitable for the drinking halls of Valhalla.
Korpiklaani played the Button Factory on Sunday night with support from Estonian folk metalers Metsatöll (the name “Metsatöll” is an ancient Estonian euphemism for wolf). Like Korpiklaani, Metsatöll have combined a conventional heavy metal sound with a variety of traditional instruments and sound patterns to great effect. Their set consisted of a combination of chucking riffs and frenzied solos, interspersed with flutes and bagpipes.
The gathered audience were already in the spirit of the music. A select few even went as far as donning Viking helmets or chainmail.
Korpiklaani opened their show with Kunnia (Honour), a more standard power metal song than some of their worldlier repertoire. Although not too many power metal bands could so skilfully weave a fiddle and accordion in among the more standard guitars and drums.
It would be hard to say who was enjoying themselves more, the band or the audience. The six members of the bad, led by spirited lead singer Jonne Järvelä (distinctive with his blonde dreadlocks) bounded around the stage cheeky rowdiness of a good folk tune.
The eclectic set moved from style to style just as quickly as the band itself. A ten minute version of Sumussa Hämärän Aamun marked the most straight up metal moment of the night, with doom laden, Black Sabbath riffs and the stage bathed entirely in hellish red light. This was followed immediately by a quite interlude with a fiddle solo leading into a rousing polka – the most distinctly folky and un-metal song of the night. But this didn’t stop the mosh pits forming up and letting loose.
As the show neared its end, Korpiklaani finally let rip with their rowdy drinking songs. Audience favourite Vodka (with the chorus “drinking is good for you, you will become awesome”) ensured that not a single person remained standing still, and few if any remained sober. The smoking ban was flagrantly ignored as Jonne Järvelä lit up a cigarette onstage, prompting a few in the audience to covertly do likewise. The band finished off the night at breakneck pace, with a cover of Motörhead’s Iron Fist, and their own Tequila. Their hellacious energy was more than a match for the Motörhead number, and all the more impressive because Korpiklaani never lost the traditional folk essence that runs through all their music.