REVIEW: Verikalpa – Tunturihauta

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The year 2022 seems to be off to a good start, as VERIKALPA will release their third album, entitled “Tunturihauta,” which will be released by Scarlet Records on January 21st. If you haven’t heard of these guys but you’re a fan of bands like KORPIKLAANI, ALESTORM, TURISAS, ELUVEITIE, or FINNTROLL, you will feel silly for not adding VERIKALPA to your playlists sooner! VERIKALPA sounds like vintage FINNTROLL singing in the Oulu dialect (as opposed to the trolls’ Swedish). The band’s last album, “Tuoppitanssi,” was exceptional, so I have been looking forward to “Tunturihauta.

VERKIKALPA states that the concept of “Tunturihauta” is based on classical Finnish pagan folklore, war tales, frozen landscapes, and rivers of beer. The concept doesn’t seem different from their last two albums, but no complaints from me, as it’s a winning formula for them! That being said, the album art by Sakari Forstadius is very fitting for the album’s theme, depicting two zombies (one regular zombie, and one Viking zombie) rising from graves on a mountain, both reaching for the same beer. The caption provided by the band says, “Winter is coming, the dead rise to greet it and, damn, are they thirsty!” This perfectly describes the album cover and the mood to expect while listening to the album.

The album starts with the song “Verikauhu”; VERIKALPA certainly doesn’t shy away from showing us what they are about in the first few seconds. The song starts with a nice scream from vocalist Jani Ikonen while the guitars and drums accompany fiercely, and soon after, the accordion (on the keyboards) joins in.  I can picture this song being popular live, as the beat makes it easy to bang your head to. After a strong start, the next two songs are “Kalmoarmeija” and “Riitti.” This album has more accordion music than on past albums, and these two songs are particularly heavy on accordion. This does a great job at making the heavy music more “dance-y,” but if it’s used any more, they might start to sound like ALESTORM (which wouldn’t be the worst thing).

I enjoyed the medieval themed intro to “Raivokansa,” as it sounds different from their usual style. “Raivokansa” sticks out as being another great addition to their future live shows, as the chorus seems easily chant-able and easy for English speakers to pick up as well. The energy continues into the next song, “Rautanen herra,” which is also their first music video track from the album. I can understand why they chose this song as a single, as it showcases their signature sound well and I love the accordion and drums playing together in the folky intro. This is another song that will translate nicely on stage, as it’s easy to imagine a circle pit forming while listening.

During the next songs, “Tunturihauta” and “Jotunimmalja,” we finally hear them slow down for the first time since the music started. I really wouldn’t call the tempo slow, but it is the biggest break you can give your neck on the album. The change of tempo was nice to have in the middle of the album, as it gave some variation. The following track is the first single, “Taisto,” which jumps straight into their dance-y and headbang-able rhythms, with just the right amount of accordion being used for the optimal mix of heavy and folk. The next song is “Hurmos,” whose intro sounds like trolls sailing the seas again, but it has some fun catchy and heavy elements as well.

With the album nearing a close, we reach “Suohon suotu.” This song has more of a blackened style of vocals throughout the song, which is always nice to hear. The chorus vocals and guitars are simple, but effective. There is definitely some good windmilling and dancing potential for this song. The last song is “Talven varjot” and, to my surprise, the song does not start off folky! The synth and the bass at the beginning definitely bring an interesting mood to the song, then Jani Ikonen kicks the song into gear with one of his classic screams. I would say this song is one of the strongest on the albums, apart from the singles.

In conclusion, this album delivers on bringing an impressive mix of death, black, and folk metal elements to create heavy, yet upbeat songs. It is easy to see the unique talents of each member of the band and how they come together to create very solid, cohesive songs every time. At a time where there is not a lot of optimism in the world, “Tunturihauta” gives us a nice break to escape reality for a while. I’m not entirely convinced this was as good as or better than their last two albums, as those albums were outstanding. Regardless, I can’t wait to hear the album played live, hopefully soon. I can confidently say that this is the best album of the year so far. Although there are still another 11 more months for a different band to take the album of the year title, VERIKALPA has set the bar extremely high.

TRACKLIST:

  1. Verikauhu                  
  2. Kalmoarmeija            
  3. Riitti               
  4. Raivokansa                 
  5. Rautanen herra                      
  6. Tunturihauta              
  7. Jotunimmalja 
  8. Taisto 
  9. Hurmos          
  10. Suohon suotu 
  11. Talven varjot

LINEUP:

Jani Ikonen – vocals

Sami Ikonen – guitar

Jussi Heikkilä – guitar

Sami Knuutinen – bass

Jussi Sauvola – keyboards

Jari Huttunen – drums

LABEL:

Scarlet Records

LINKS:

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