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Monday 19 November 2018

Reviews: Korpiklaani, Divine Ascension, Eluveitie, Sirenia (Reviews By Stief)

Korpiklaani: Kulkija (Nuclear Blast)

The 10th release from Finnish Folk legends Korpiklaani and they just seem to be getting better with age. As soon as Jonne Järvelä’s distinct gravel-gargling vocals kick in during opening song Neito, it’s obvious there’s a definite polish added to the band’s sound, the use of the current tour rig being a major player in the more live sounding album.

It’s a brilliant journey, and although it retains the heaviness of previous albums, the band seem to definitely take time to focus on the folk side, Harmaja being a good example, a slow acoustic piece lead by violin and steady, slow drum beats. However the band pick up again with Kotikonnut and Korppikalliota. There’s even a small dose of doom injected in the shape of Sillanrakentaja.

It’s a great album, but the band also seem to be slowing down a little. There’s the odd burst of energy in Henkselipoika and Juomamaa, but overall it’s definitely a much calmer affair from previous albums like Of Tales Along This Road. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all, it’s just a different approach, and after 10 albums, Korpiklaani are more than welcome to do what they want with their music. 8/10

Divine Ascension: The Uncovering (ViciSolum Productions)

It’s been 4 years since Australian quartet Divine Ascension released a new album, and The Uncovering is a very welcome return. Right from the outset, the band make no qualms of their technical guitar work, the speed of Karl Szulik’s fretwork rivalling that of the likes of Dragonforce's Herman Li and Sam Totman. However, there’s definitely enough to separate Szulik from his peers, with solos, harmonising and generally great riffage all strings on his bow.

The heavy beats laid down by Luke Wenczel along with the chugging bass of Jason Meracis all work with the soaring voice of Jennifer Borg, whose vocals sit comfortably on the border of operatic and heavy metal. It’s a fast paced album, with plenty of heavy breakdowns scattered throughout, from the uplifting Bittersweet Divide to the heavier Beyond The Line, there’s even a guest appearance from Evergrey’s Tom S. Englund on Pursuit Of Desire, a wonderful duet between him and Jennifer, their voices complementing each other brilliantly. Definitely one to check out if you love your power metal with extra riffs on the side 8/10

Eluveitie: Slania -10 Year Release (Nuclear Blast)

10 years ago, a lesser known folk metal band released a small album called Slania. While not their debut, it was this album that propelled Eluveitie into the mainstream of folk metal. From the heavy, slow chugging riffs mixed with the lilting pipes of Samon to the closing chants of Elembivos, this album shows the groundwork Eluveitie were laying to make themselves more than another folk metal band. With an interesting mixture of clean vocals, vicious growls, heavy, pounding drums, with riffs bordering on the Amon Amarth side of melodic metal, it’s easy to see how the band become one of the main names in folk metal.

The 10 year anniversary release includes some goodies, including an acoustic version of Samon as well as original demos of quite a few songs, including Inis Mona, Primordial Breath and Tarvos. With a new album in the works, this is a great chance for those of you who maybe didn’t catch it first time to pick up a defining album in the band’s history, and even if you’re a diehard fan, the extras are worth adding to your collection. 8/10

Sirenia: Arcane Astral Aeons (Napalm Records)

The 9th full-length release from Norway’s Sirenia and they do not hold back! As soon as the album starts, you’re thrown into an epic mixture of operatic vocals, dramatic choirs, heavy metal and harsh growls and it really works. Be it the heavy bass of Morten Veland, who triples his contribution with harsh vocals and keyboards, or the deft fingers of Nils Courbaron on guitar along with Jan Erik Soltvedt, all work together to make an extremely tight sound.

This is only Emmanuelle Zoldan’s second full length album with the band, but she definitely belongs with them, her lofty operatic vocals sail and weave through each song, intermingling with and playing off Morten’s harsh growls. From start to finish, the album is hard hitting, with the band rarely letting down, each song a fast paced mixture of heavy power metal and symphonic synth-laced opera, melding into an almost industrial hybrid of the two. Definitely check this one out, even if you’re not normally a fan of the symphonic genre. 8/10

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