Korpiklaani Spirit of the Forest

There’s folk metal, and then there’s Korpiklaani, so folk that metal’s nearly an afterthought. The name means "Forest Clan” and the band formed out of an earlier group known as Shaman. A little Finntroll-ish, Korpiklaani rely heavily on authentic violin, accordion, flute and a bowed lyre called the jouhikko, as well as delving into the traditional Finnish folk repertoire. Despite the determined back-woodsy approach on Spirit of the Forest the band went for lyrical accessibility, sticking for the most part to English. The album’s an unpredictable ride, working incredibly well on high velocity opener "Wooden Pints” or the more brooding "With Trees,” but also encompassing bizarre side trips that make questionable sense as part of the whole. Despite the odd iffy moment Spirit of the Forest is fun and ballsy, if not really all that metal. (Napalm)