Released: 2003, Spikefarm
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
The mighty Trolls from Finland are back with a new album, a new vocalist, and a new sound. VISOR OM SLUTET (translated as, “Songs of the End”) was originally intended as an experimental, acoustic EP in anticipation of the band’s next full-length, but according to Finntroll’s new singer, Tapio Wilska (who provided guest vocals on Finntroll’s previous albums, as well as with many other Finnish bands), the band, “had too much fun” in the process and decided to record additional tracks for VISOR OM SLUTET. The end result is 11 tracks clocking in at nearly 33 minutes, making this “EP” longer than Finntroll’s 28-minute “full-length” debut, MIDNATTENS WIDUNDER. Unfortunately, after the recording of this EP, Finntroll was struck another blow by the tragic death of guitarist Teemu “Somnium” Raimoranta in March, 2003.
The experiment of VISOR OM SLUTET is a drastic change of sound for Finntroll. In addition to being entirely acoustic, the tone of the album moves away from the blackened sound of the previous Finntroll offerings, bringing a lighter sound rich that is richer in folk elements. All in all, we have 11 tracks on the EP, 5 of which are instrumentals. Though the electric guitars are gone, the qualities that make Finntroll great still remain. “Suohengen Sija” is the typical Finntroll opener; light keys tinkle out the melody with ominous undertones running beneath as a chorus of frogs and night creatures set the backdrop for the swampfest to come. New vocalist Tapio Wilska croaks out his first sickened, throaty growls on the next track “Asfågelns Död (The Death of the Carrion Bird),” which has a swarthy, maritime sound to it. The best track on the album comes early with “Försvinn Du Som Lyser (Begone You Who Shine).” This raucous track captures the spontanaity of Finntroll’s musical personality. Harmonica, mouth harp, handclaps, and the classic sousaphone-synth come together in this piece of Trollish levity. If I ever get the opportunity to see Finntroll in concert, they had better play this track live onstage! “Under Varje Rot Och Sten (Under Every Root and Stone)” must be the soundtrack to the Trollish Renaissance Faire, first with its wandering landscape of synths before closing out with a tambourine/flute/kazoo and handclap dance of some chanting trolls, probably around some ghastly version of a May Pole. Finntroll even make their attempt at a ballad with “Den Sista Runans Dans (The Dance of the Last Rune).” Closing out the album is “Avgrunden Öppnas (The Abyss Opens)” which is as grand and sweeping an epic as any Bathory track could be, the majestic soundtrack to the north.
If you plan on picking up VISOR OM SLUTET, be sure to score the limited edition of the EP, which includes a sticker and pretty cool Finntroll patch (I just need to find a place to stick mine). The album is also specially priced at 11 bucks or so, making it a good deal for any die-hard Finntroll fan.
Listeners may be taken aback initially by VISOR OM SLUTET’s departure in style. In all, however, this EP is a collection of tracks that could serve as interludes, instrumentals, or Trollish-folk-party tracks on any Finntroll release. In memory of their fallen member Somnium, Finntroll are not about to call it a rest. Their touring plans are still in effect, and plans for a new album in late 2003 still hold. VISOR OM SLUTET may have been meant to satisfy the appetites of Finntroll fans worldwide, but it has only whetted the appetite of this fan. I eagerly anticipate the time when Rivfader, Lord of the Trolls shall issue forth from his great Northern Troll-cave and lead the armies of the night again.
(Reviewer’s note: tracklist translations thanks to http://www.proserpine.de