Nuclear Blast Records
August 13th, 2012
Release length: 49:24
The audio to Manala is pretty standard, but still sounds really good. The accordian is picked up quite well in the mix, just shining slightly over the guitars so that it feels more like a pivotol instrument instead of a gimmick or crutch, while the mid-pitched guitars are a little more blunt. It’s the bass, however, that really sticks out in the recording, having a much louder presence with a deeper tone that can easily be picked up due to how obvious it becomes in the mix. While there’s nothing too grand or technical with it, this instrument does end up contributing more than just a lower toned support, doing a superb job at maintaining the rhythm, as well as being one of the more important reasons your head will bang along to nearly every song. The drums find a nice crispness to the cymbals that comes through loudly, and the same can be said with the booming snares and nice clicks of the bass kick. Of course the vocals are the same harsher tone full of enthusiasm throughout many of the songs, leveled nicely so that it stands out amid the music without burdening it.
While this is another album on the more serious side of things, it’s far from a complete downer. Manala actually brings back some of the more light hearted material than they have as of late. “Kunnia” makes this known right away with a clean harmonized chant against infectious accordian driven Folk Metal that is rather fun and even with a slight rebellious Thrash tone to the music. The chorus is where you’ll find most of the energy and gang chants that pushes it to the forefront, as the main riffs are a lot tamer and restrained, but still catchy and well suiting to the flow of the song, making this one of many memorable songs off the album. “Ruuminmultaa” is a largely standard Korpiklaani offering that finds the accordian really pushing it forward, especially during the solo the latter instrument has. The song sticks to a medium pace with plenty of galloping section that revive a bit of the jovial atmosphre once more. The second it all starts up, you will find your head banging right along.
But, the songs that will ecause that to happen the most will always be the heavier ones. “Tuonelan Tuvilla” utilizes the bass a lot more to create a crushing tone to many of the riffs, though the passage prior to the bridge ends up a little lighter, focusing more on the guitars and accordian. “Rauta” spends over a minute of the start building up the tension slowly, introducing other Folk oriented instruments and some gang chants. This gives a bit of a tribal ritualistic vibe to the largely bass only verses before finally erupting into the chorus with plenty of energy for only a brief time where everything plays a large role. It doesn’t sound like much, but given how tightly wound the song will have you prior to the chorus, it’s hard to deny how strong an impact it will make, especially live on stage.
These aren’t the only types of songs you’ll happen across, but they are the most memorable in many cases. “Synkka” is one of the longer one, and for good reason. It’s a slower acoustic piece that just sounds beautiful, keeping to a strict serious performance that doesn’t build up into a faster chorus of lighthearted material. The gristled vocals still work well against it, making things more unique than had someone just done clean singing in their place. This marks the point where the tone of the album changes a bit. “Husky-Sledge” finds the ringing of bells and a small drum being played, signifying a tribal ritual, which sounds almost Native American surprisingly, against a really creepy and desolate accordian performance prior to “Dolorous,” another instrumental with a bit of a sad, but glorious tone that doesn’t quite hit hard enough to establish that memorable an atmosphere. “Metsalle” would have made a stronger instrumental than either of these, and in a way it does as there’s some rather limited singing. The tone is very sober and often at a slower pace, but it has ways of throwing epic bridges your way while quickly building up the tension to a chorus that does feel a little out of place due to how light hearted it sounds compared to the rest of the song. Other than that, this is one of the most memorble and emotional tracks offered on the album.
The North American version of this album comes with a bonus track titled “Soil of the Corpse.” This will actually fool some people at first, as it is simply “Ruuminmultaa” in English, retaining that harmonized ritual chanting, but mid-paced material kicks in once more with a slight jovial, fun-loving environment that usually comes with the band’s alcohol-related songs. So, it’s a nice touch for North American fans, but unless you care that much to hear an English version, it’s not really worth going out of your way to have this imported to your neck of the woods.
Malaka is another superb Korpiklaani offering, but one that tries to branch out a bit too much. The album starts out great with hard hitting mixtures of serious and upbeat tracks to bang your head along to, or loosen up to with some of your favorite hard liquors. However, when the shift changes, so will how you feel about the album. There are some moving moments on the latter half of the album, and some typical Korpiklaani style material that doesn’t quite have the same enthusiastic impact as the others, if not a little worse. But, at the end of the day there’s no reason you won’t go back to this recording for a little fun and even some sorrow. Malaka is well worth grabbing if you’re a Folk Metal fan, especially one of this group. This won’t really win over any new fans, but it’s still a fine album amid their discography.
01. Kunnia – 3:25
02. Tuonelan Tuvilla – 3:10
03. Rauta – 3:06
04. Ruuminmultaa – 3:37
05. PetoelÃ¤imen Kuola – 3:15
06. SynkkÃ¤ – 5:25
07. Ievan Polkka – 3:08
08. Husky-Sledge – 1:48
09. Dolorous – 3:05
10. Uni – 3:45
11. MetsÃ¤lle – 5:40
12. Sumussa HÃ¤mÃ¤rÃ¤n Aamun – 6:19
13. Soil Of The Corpse (bonus track) – 3:37
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.