Kalevala - Tow of Snow-white Flax

Kalevala - Tow of Snow-white Flax (translated title) – 5/5

It took me a few listens to really get into this album, listening intently at the parts to see how they fit in, paying attention the guitars when focus wasn’t on them, to how the drums create a framework and so on, and it all initially came off as rather bland. It wasn’t until I left playing in the background that I realised how it was meant to be heard. Technically, this band is nothing to shout about, but once I’d stopped over-thinking it, I quickly realised that this is possibly the ‘bounciest’ folk albums I’ve ever heard.

The accordion plays a large role, fulfilling a duty often performed by the guitars, and it’s inevitable that some form of Korpiklaani comparison needs to be made, both featuring the accordion, and both producing folk-filled fun and boisterous music, so let’s keep it simple. This is the band Korpiklaani wishes they could ever be.

Now, if I were to tackle this from my normal stand-point, id refer to the drums as rather basic, the guitars whilst providing some excellent riffs at times, feel a little too subdued for the majority of songs (track six remains an exception) and the vocals are not as soft or emotional as many others. But none of this is important, as the jolly atmosphere from the vocalist, who may as well be dancing whilst singing, the accordion player who in my mind is too doing some form of jig, bounding from side to side as the drums pound away and the guitars work the rhythm takes any of this off my mind. The atmosphere, and the tone presented comes so thick that technical abilities become less important.

But what’s even greater than this, is the manner in which it grows on you. Rather than becoming less interesting with each listen, you pick up on something new, something you missed before that draws you right back in. This album actually improves with each listen, and there aren’t many albums around that I could say the same about.

If you’re after something deep and meaningful, or with clever and intricate musicianship, well you’re really barking up the wrong tree with this release. If you want something intended to be listened to with a skip in your step and a beer in your hand, this is one group of crazy Russians who will not disappoint.

Highlights: Track 3, Track 6, Track 10