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Korpiklaani’s Jarkko Aaltonen Wants You to Call Their Music ‘Pagan Metal’

Harri Hinkka

The fusing of heavy metal with traditional folk music, isn’t necessarily a new thing, but there isn’t anyone on the planet doing it better than Korpiklanni. The Finnish sextet’s roots can be traced back to 1993 and a band called Shaman the would eventually evolve into Korpiklaani in 2003.

Beginning with 2003′s Spirit of the Wilderness album, Korpiklanni have been bringing their unique take on the folk metal sound to packed crowds all over the globe, inspiring a wave of imitators in the process.

On Aug. 14, Korpiklanni will be releasing Manala, their eighth studio album. Noisecreep recently spoke with bassist Jarkko Aaltonen as the group was wrapping up a European tour (in anticipation of a major U.S. run later this fall).

Jarkko, the term “folk metal” seems to be everywhere these days, but you guys have been there for quite some time now.

I think the terms gets thrown around a lot in ways that are not fully accurate. I actually like the term “Pagan metal” better as to what we do. For me, it’s not a musical term but more of a lyrical term. There are so many different kinds of musical within what many call folk metal, it’s not just one thing. It sort of depends on your origin.

What music influenced you growing up? Did you get a chance to see much live music there?

Back then, hardly anybody toured Finland. It was just such a small market. Back then it was much different than today when most major bands come through. Of course I listened to Black Sabbath like everybody, But it was Motörhead that really turned me on. And I saw them play in 1988 and it really did change my life. It was just so powerful.

Watch a Manala Track by Track Song Breakdown

Do you find much difference in European versus American audiences today?

Not really. They both seem to appreciate what we do and understand the music and react to it very positively. But I will tell you, it’s the South American audiences that seem the craziest. Beyond anything else.

You’re gearing up for a U.S. tour this September. Do you have a favorite places to play in the States?

The Hawthorne Theater in Portland, Oregon. It’s a wonderful venue. But the surrounding area is amazing. Very green and kind of like where we come from so it’s a place we like to visit.

And what are your thoughts on the new album? It’s interesting how you turned to your national book of folklore, the Kalevala, for inspiration. Are you happy with the fan’s reaction to it so far?

Very much. It’s a little heavier than our usual music but we love how it turned out and so far. the fans seem really pleased and we are anxious to play it for fans. The darker, heavier songs seem to be going over the best.

Nuclear Blast

Manala will hit stores on Aug. 14 via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order the album at this link. Catch the band in the U.S. on tour with Moonsorrow, Týr and Metsatöll starting later this month.

Tour dates:
Aug 28 – Quebec City, QC – Imperial Theatre
Aug 29 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
Aug 30 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Aug 31 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
Sep 1 – Joliet, IL – Mojoe’s
Sep 2 – St Paul, MN – Station-4
Sep 3 – Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
Sep 4 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theater
Sep 5 – Billings, MT – Manny’s
Sep 6 – Salt Lake City, UT – TBA
Sep 8 – Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
Sep 9 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater
Sep 10 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
Sep 11 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge
Sep 12 – Hollywood, CA – The Whisky
Sep 13 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
Sep 14 – Ramona, CA – Ramona Mainstage
Sep 15 – Tempe, AZ – Rocky Point
Sep 18 – Detroit, MI – Harpo’s
Sep 19 – Buffalo, NY – Club Infinity
Sep 20 – Reading, PA – Reverb
Sep 21 – Springfield, VA – Empire
Sep 22 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theater

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