Verikalpa are a fun troll themed folk metal band hailing from Oulu, Finland. Rapidly making their way up the ranks in their respective genre, the act is the creation of Jani Ikonen (vocalist) & Sami Knuutinen (bassist) in 2006, the ensemble was soon expanded with Jussi Sauvola (keys), Aleksi Heiskanen (drummer), with Jussi Heikkilä & Janne Niva (guitarists). The release I have the pleasure of reviewing is ‘Taistelutahto’, their official debut album to be released on the 16th of February 2018. Let’s get into the tracks!!
The very first track of the album is Viimiseen Asti, kick-starting with a heavy beat in augmented by a fun ditty-like intro reminiscent of an Alestorm tune, soon complimented by vocals whilst brutal as hell, certain fit the tone of the song. This fast-paced song bring the album to life immediately with an attitude that doesn’t hold back, a theme held throughout the entire works.
Tyrmä is next up, just as in your face and lively if not moreso with brilliantly melodic guitar-work, a song easy to drink to as well as dance to, I couldn’t keep myself in my chair, certainly the kind of song you’d find creating a circle pit at any show!!
Neidonryöstäjä begins with a fantastic feel, & I mean that quite literally, the fantasy theme of the band comes to a more obvious light with this upbeat track, showcasing how well synchronised and truly tight the band is on both a musical & spirit level. The song’s outro is fairly epic in nature, slowing down to end the song in an exquisitely satisfying manner.
Kuoppajaiset is a little more solid in nature, for lack of a better term, harder with a more consistent driving pulse to it, regardless of it being the shortest song on the album it certainly packs a punch with less going on in comparison to the rest of the album without sacrificing the feel of the piece.
Next track Pahan Laulu was initially released as a teaser single in November of last year, the song comes in with slow low harmonic vocals, accented by the odd drum & key insert, this song bring a bit of a harsher feel with it, showing a slightly more barbaric side to the album, it’s an incredibly powerful number and doesn’t shy away from displaying it.
Verijuhula shows a lot of residual brutish aura, focusing a little more on the vocal work than previous tracks. A sidenote I’d like to add is the way the band doesn’t lean towards merely one instrument to bring the atmosphere desired, but utilises the entire ensemble to get the feel across, highly commendable as you see so many bands of the genre making that mistake. Back to the song, it truly brings a raw brilliance to the tracklist, whilst not deviating so far as to make the contrast unsettling or out of character for the tone already created.
Taistelutahto is possibly the track that made me want to learn Finnish the most, by this point in the album I was so immersed in the sound I was having a hard time even reviewing it, rather opting for rocking out, took me several tries to get through the entire album whilst writing!! The song brings the album back to a high energy danceable domain, very well crafted in regards to shifting song feel without the jarring transition you’ll find elsewhere.
Viinapiru begins with a classic folk tune closely chased by an accelerated intensity appropriate to the established sound Verikalpa bring to the table, utilizing a more traditionally Finnish approach to the styling as demonstrated in the first few tracks of the album. With drum & key work to die for this addition to the release gives one the overwhelming urge to link arms and dance with the nearest person to you. An incredible bouncing, bounding & genuinely enjoyable tune.
Kuoleman Suo brings back the ditty-esque feel and an almost symphonic sense in the beginning that reminds me of Fleshgod Apocalypse for a moment there, not in complete sound but symphonic quality. The heroic & cheery groove whilst maintaining the savagely brutal metal element is a well-balanced feat in the track.
Last but certainly not least we have Rautatammi, this is the long number on the album at over 6 minutes long, the lead in is that of a driving folkesque drumming accompanied by slow rising keys, soon joined by an unforgettable riff to suit, eventually joined by the rest of the band in a serenade of merciless wonder. This track is an assemblage of almost black, folk, death, & symphonic elements combined, but never straying so far out of the established genre to feel out of place for the album leaving you with an outro that somehow both satisfies but leaves you wanting more simultaneously. Truly the perfect song to polish of the ecstatic journey this entire collection has been. All in all I have been left in awe by the quality & atmosphere conveyed with ‘Taistelutahto’, & am certainly left with a new folk favourite right up there with the best of them. I look forward to seeing more from them in the future, certainly a group to keep your eye on in the years to come!!