Review: Kansakunnan Ylpeys – Self-Titled
Written by Gary Hernandez
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way. Kansakunnan Ylpeys is a three-piece punk band from Finland. The name translates to Pride of the Nation, which I am pretty sure is meant ironically. This is their debut full-length album, though in true punk fashion even with nine songs that’s only about 22 minutes of tunage.
A friend of mine describes to me a Venn diagram. In the left sphere are heavy metal bands beginning with Black Sabbath and reaching into all the current day sub-genres of symphonic metal, death metal, black metal, etc. In the right sphere are punk bands beginning with the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and progressing right up to today through hardcore, riot grrrl, skate, etc. And in the middle section, where the left sphere overlaps the right, are all the bands that are common to both metal and punk. Here you might find Corrosion of Conformity, the Misfits, Minor Threat. These are bands that any self-respecting metal head and punk rocker would be proud to have in their vinyl collection.
The point is metal and punk are more closely related than most people think. And when you consider those two distinct tribes as maybe one big dysfunctional tribe, the Kansakunnan Ylpeys, well, these boys might be those second cousins that show up late to the family reunion with a warm six-pack of cheap beer and a half-eaten bag of Doritos.
I don’t usually give song-by-song reviews, but I’m going to break my rule because punk is all about breaking rules and because I can.
The first song is ‘Kalajuttu.’ Google translate tells me that’s “Fish Story,” but Google also autocorrects “animal” to “anal,” so who the hell knows. This song is 55 seconds of feedback-ridden garage angst and it is glorious. ‘Kalajuttu’ then flows seamlessly into ‘Nuolen Katua’ (“The Arrow Street” maybe?). So seamlessly, in fact, I actually thought it was still track one. By the end of track two we are 2:29 into the album and so far no regrets.
The third song is the title track, which I am confident translates to ‘Pride of the Nation.’ I have no idea what this song is about, or any of the songs for that matter. I’m guessing it isn’t a love song.
‘Puhe Vapaudesta,’ track four, is ‘Freedom of Speech.’ Now that seems right. I mean, punk band, freedom of speech. It fits. ‘Puhe’ has a Dead Kennedy’s vibe to it—actually all the songs do, but this one especially.
Next up is ‘Tapaa Hyöntesiä.’ “Tapaa” features a saxophone. Saxophones in metal and punk are never a good a sign—except for that one song by Fear, ‘New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones.’ But the bad saxophone in that song was kind of the point, and maybe it is in this one too. Anyway, Google tells me this song title translates to “Meet the Gentlemen” and given that the next song is “Gent” and remembering the saxophone, maybe Google got it right.
After the gentlemanly duo comes ‘Kuulen Rummut Mutten Rummutusta,’ which translates pretty evenly to “I Do Not Hear the Drums Drumming.” Okay, I’m cool with that. Maybe it’s the Finnish take on “Out of Step,” lyrically that is. The song has a stomp inciting riff and plenty of shouting, which, I am learning, is Kansakunnan’s trademark vocal style. That isn’t a bad thing.
Track eight is ‘Kaivossa,’ which maybe means “In the Well.” Japanese horror or a metaphor for socio-economic despair, take your pick. This is the first song on the album that breaks three minutes. It seems to have some musical mood swings. I like it.
The final track, ‘Tuore Veri,’ translates to “Fresh Blood.” “Toure” starts with a meandering bass line and solid guitar riff that after a bit of shouting devolves/crescendos into a punk noise blender. Along with the first two songs, this track is one of my favorites.
Final verdict. I’d place Kansakunnan Ylpeys squarely in the center of the right sphere on our Venn. This isn’t metal by any stretch of the imagination. It is mid-road, straight up punk. I like this album. If I was in Finland and they were doing a gig, I would go. Musically, they don’t set any new standards and, even if I could understand the lyrics, I doubt they have anything to say that hasn’t been said before. But so what? Apparently there is a punk scene in Finland and, by the sounds of it, it rocks. 6/10