"Exactly how you’d hope Korpiklaani to sound in 2024 if your expectations revolve around zippy, accordion-driven tavern metal.": Folk metal's biggest party band have found the sweet spot on new album Rankarumpu

Fiddle-loving Finns Korpiklaani offer a massive knees-up folk metal party with album #12, Rankarumpu

(Image: © Press/Nuclear Blast)

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Korpiklaani have long blended spirited folk metal with an authenticity that clings to the roots of Finnish folklore and the country’s unspoiled nature. Once the go-to band for alcohol-based anthems and impromptu festival conga lines, the drinking content has dimmed over the years, but their tenacity has not. 

While it could be said that Korpiklaani lack in the ingenuity department, the last couple of albums saw these restless Finns slow down their jam. On 2021’s Jylhä, their normally brisk jaunt through accordion-and-fiddle-flecked landscapes evoking forest scenes and rustic boozers took on a jazzy aspect, plucking sounds from Dream Theater rather than their usual rulebook. 

Lyrically too, the album deviated from the usual folkloric narrative, with topics including the 1960 Lake Bodom killings. For fans yearning for another Vodka, Jylhä was a gamble. It’s easy to imagine that Korpiklaani don’t give a crap about what other people think, but Rankarumpu has something to prove. 

Fulfilling its billing as a “bit like the old Korpiklaani”, the band’s 12th studio album has its pedal to the metal from the first chanty strains of opener Kotomaa. In quick succession, Tapa Sen Kun Kerkeet sees Jonne Järvelä gruffly spitting lyrics atop a flurry of rabid riffs and accordion, and Aita is a circle-pit-baiting ditty chock-full of beer-sloshing chants. So far, so Korpiklaani. 

In fact, Rankarumpu is exactly how you’d hope Korpiklaani to sound in 2024 if your expectations revolve around zippy, accordion-driven tavern metal. The addition of ex-Turisas violinist Olli Vänskä is undoubtedly a coup for this troupe. He displays incredible talent from the off, ‘riffing’ with accordionist Sami Perttula in only ways that a true master of their craft can muster. 

The breakneck, guitar-addled Mettään is a perfect example of the pair’s synergy, while the violin and accordion solos on No Perkele show the wealth of tools Korpiklaani have on offer to make their songs shine. There’s a sense of rejuvenation and togetherness on Rankarumpu. The title track - a chugging, toe-tapping midpoint to the album - is a “fully conscious tribute to the band”. 

On Saunaan – the band’s ode to Finland’s enduring obsession for steaming oneself in the buff – Jonne, the band’s dreadlocked captain, is bolstered by the songwriting and lyrical contribution of the violinist and drummer Samuli Mikkonen respectively. If there’s one song that signals that Korpiklaani discovered a niche and stuck with it, it’s this one. Soaked in foot-tapping, pub-chanty spirit, it’s Korpiklaani at their best. 

Reinvigorated by fresh blood and with Jonne back on lyrical duties after many years of handing the baton to renowned Finnish poet Tuomas Keskimäki, Rankarumpu is a two-pints-in kind of record, full of energy and backslapping. Careful not to let either the guitars or the folk instruments overwhelm the record, it appropriately balances the two, resulting in a hard-rocking record oozing with character. 

That said, by track 10, Rankarumpu starts to plateau. True, there is something stirring about Olli’s mournful strokes that guide Oraakkelit’s Rammstein-like gallop, but this penultimate track feels unwieldy, while Jonne’s vocals on the ballady outro Harhainen Höyhen are delivered with all the finesse of Father Jack. Regardless, Rankarumpu is one of Korpiklaani’s better latter-day albums that continues their legacy of authentic, Finnish revelry.

Rankarumpu is out April 5 via Nuclear Blast. The band play Bloodstock Festival in August.  

Holly Wright

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.