When: Sun., Nov. 27, 6 p.m. 2011
Sad that the World Music Festival won't come around again for ten more months? Or wishing that when it did, it'd book some real shit-kicking heavy metal? The two fine bands at the top of this bill work exotic-to-our-ears traditional elements into their fierce headbanging music. Finnish sextet Korpiklaani ("wilderness clan"), successor to late-90s group Shaman, have just released their seventh album, Ukon Wacka (Nuclear Blast), and it's a joy all the way through—they write their lyrics in the poetic meter used in Finland's wonderfully weird national folk epic, the Kalevala, and it's so well-suited for singing over frenzied riffs and pumping, danceable one-two drumbeats that these rabble rousers might have been able to turn even Professor Tolkien into a metalhead for a night. Nature, wilderness, and forest spirits figure heavily in the songs, which Korpiklaani fill out with violin, accordion, and folk instruments; most of their album covers (including the new one) feature an antler-headed wood-wizard character, a sort of pagan answer to Iron Maiden's Eddie. They also make a good-natured effort to be accessible to their audiences abroad: they have a few song titles not in Finnish, like "Vodka" and "Tequila."
Moscow's Arkona is a reconstructionist-pagan Russian-language outfit fronted by Maria "Masha Scream" Arhipova, one of the rare women who's mastered death-metal vocals. They're also supporting their seventh album, Slovo (Napalm), which uses synths, choirs, and ethnic instruments to drive epic, romantic songs that tell tales of wild spirits, historic battles, and ancient gods. Their arabesque riffing gallops with the frenzy of the possessed, especially when Arhipova abandons her lovely clean singing for a death growl, or for a sort of eerie hybrid of the two—she starts to sound like an avenging force of nature, like the howl of the winter wind through the taiga. —Monica Kendrick Korpiklaani headlines; Arkona, Polkadot Cadaver, and Forged in Flame open.