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A 'Nordic Feast' of Finnish Oompah-Metal

Listening to one of Finnish metal band Korpiklaani's frantic songs is like being tackled by a frisky Finnish Lapphund — it's not subtle, but it sure is likable. The band's music fuses humppa (a Finnish variant of German oompah music) and heavy metal with surprisingly few seams. Korpiklaani's lyrics convey wryly stoic wilderness paeans in Finnish and English, while the band's instrumentation boosts the energy of accordion, fiddle and wood flute with power chords, electric bass and a drummer who should have a rotating drum stand and fireworks exploding as he plays.

On every Korpiklaani disc, a few instrumentals show its skills as a traditional folk-dance band, and the latest, Tervaskanto ("Napalm"), is no exception. "Nordic Feast" opens with a grinding, turgid theme that might lead into an even more lumbering metal epic, or maybe a frantic hardcore piece, but instead launches into an uncomplicated dance melody, suitable for home polka dancing. The arrangement adds flute and gains speed with each repetition, egged on by the rock rhythm section. Then, that lumbering intro theme reappears, but this time it's welcome: It gives listeners a chance to catch their breath for the ending.

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This column originally ran on Sept. 18, 2007.

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Cecile Cloutier