Tales Along This Road (Napalm)
by Martin Popoff
First off, I’ve played this album more than any o’er the last two weeks. Second, I love it. I recall getting infected by the Finntroll bug for a spell, but this oompa metal classic takes the keg. I dare you to play opener “Happy Little Boozer” and not want to play it again while cracking that first beer of the day, no matter what the hour. It polkas along and then pow!: The chorus hits and it’s heavier and (in my imagination) faster, with nothing but that title refrain hollered by Vikings over and over until all are happy. The accordion all over and the fiddle is a blast, the production killer and hi-fi, and the songs sequenced for maximum enjoyment, despite a bit of Finnish mixed in with the hoary English. Velocities are all about energy, but grooves break out like a pit. “Korpiklaani” is a stirring, singalongjohns, late in the party highlight, but then “Rise” breaks the pattern, offering, after a typically Skyclad intro piece, an exquisite Accept meets “Symphony of Destruction” metal cruncher. Somehow, Korpiklaani build an austere Northern cool like Immortal, despite this record just being really, really funny. Figure that one out. It’s all arranged sorta the same, and the oompa beat permeates most of it, but man, this is a beer-bonged blast.