Friday, January 21, 2011


Korpiklaani is a Finnish folk metal band, unique in the fact that they were first a folk music band but later turned metal. Known for their happy danceable folk metal tunes and their lyrical themes of beer and partying, Korpiklaani's music makes you feel like you are out in the woods partying with bears. In sum, Korpiklaani's music is very lively and fun.
Korpiklaani is impressive in their use of a variety of folk instruments, as they not only have guitars, bass, and drums, but also an accordion, violin, jouhikko (2-string bowed lyre), tin whistle, recorder, mandolin, bagpipes, and mouth harp. The singer is unique in his use of traditional yoik vocals. In addition to their authenticity, Korpiklaani also has an exceptionally clear and crisp recording quality of their folk instruments.
Their violinist is Jaakko "Hittavainen" Lemmetty (usually referred to as Hittavainen). He plays both acoustic and electric violins. At one point he played a Yamaha SV 120 or 130 (as seen in the "Happy Little Boozer" live video), but now it looks like he plays an NS Design violin (seen in the "Vodka" music video and live). The violin parts are of a fast folky fiddle style, which uses many double-stops and often doubles with the accordion. Sometimes there are even distorted violin solos, such as in "Wooden Pints."

Recommended Songs: "Hide Your Riches," "Wooden Pints," "Happy Little Boozer," "Fields in Flame," "Spring Dance" (Inst.), "Vodka," "You Looked Into My Eyes"

Official Site:

"Hide Your Riches":

"Wooden Pints" live, solo @ 2:24:

(Watch the music video for "Wooden Pints" if you're in the mood for hilarity)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Embers (viola)

Embers is an ambient black metal band from Oakland, California who uses their music to address the social issue of humanity's toll on the environment. Their atmospheric guitars and down-tempo drums provide for a gloomy yet relaxing kind of background music - until the blood-chilling vocals come in. The screams and growls of their male and female vocalists immediately convey the violence inherent in their message, while the organic sound of the acoustic viola and the melodic keyboards add a touch of beauty to their music. Their songs are constantly developing and changing, grabbing and swaying your emotions along with the rhythmic and tempo changes. Their music is powerful in its subtlety, and strangely addicting!
Their violist, Nine Katechis, has had over 15 years of experience playing viola, and has played in other Bay Area bands before. She plays a 5-string viola, with the highest string tuned to the E of the violin. The viola parts are very melodic and often eerie, using lots of reverb and playing softly in the background. Because of the ambient nature of the music, the viola has a lot of freedom in what it is able to play without interfering with the other instruments, allowing for interesting viola parts.

Unfortunately, Embers has lost both their violist and keyboardist, and is looking for people to take their place. If any of you are in the Bay Area and interested in joining Embers, go to their website and write them!

Recommended Songs: "The Reprise," "Suicide," "Corruption," "Awakening" (solo in middle)

(Listen to the songs HERE)

Official Site:

"The Reprise" and "Corruption":

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stream of Passion

Stream of Passion was originally intended to be a one-time side project of Dutch composer Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One). But under the direction of Mexican-born singer and violinist Marcela Bovio, Stream of Passion has taken flight as an independent and ongoing band. This Holland-based band plays gothic metal with strong progressive influences, featuring heavy use of piano and piano keyboard sounds, as well as syncopated guitar riffs. Marcela's vocals are the main attraction of Stream of Passion, however - her sweet and haunting voice coupled with unconventional vocal melodies makes her singing unique and memorable.
Marcela also plays violin for the band. "My favorite is the violin," she says, "even though I’m not a very skilled violinist. I just love this instrument’s sound." The violin parts mostly play softly in the background, adding a subtle but beautiful effect, but sometimes it can play the lead melody, and sometimes it even doubles with guitar. On their first album Embrace the Storm, Marcela played a Yamaha SV-100, but now she has a 5-string Yamaha EV (pictured). There is an additional string quartet on their second album, The Flame Within: Ben Mathot and Judith van Driel (violin), Mark Mulder (viola), and David Faber (cello). As both the singer and violinist, Marcela cannot play all the violin parts live, but she does play an occasional intro or interlude on the violin in concert.

Recommended Songs: "This Endless Night," "Embrace the Storm," "Now or Never," "Out in the Real World," "Street Spirit" (Radiohead cover), "Passion"

Official Site:

"Out in the Real World" (Embrace the Storm), with Arjen Lucassen and Lori Linstruth on guitar:

"This Endless Night" (The Flame Within) live, with Marcela on violin for the intro:

Resources: [1] [2] [3]