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February 2010
Released: 2010, Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Hanntu

It’s been three years since UR JORDENS DJUP, and while folk metal fans have had plenty to savour between then and now (the invasion of various pirate bands, the rise to prominence of Eluveitie and Negura Bunget, the ravenous productivity of Korpiklaani), still there seemed to be a little gnawing hunger pang in the tummies of these aforementioned fans. You know, the ones who dress up in fur and battle paint and carry plastic swords and drinking horns to Paganfest…I think it’s because Finntroll have gone slightly AWOL. Well, still thy bleeding hearts and welcome NIFELVIND, Finntroll’s fifth full-length album.

To me, NIFELVIND strikes the correct balance between the fun-loving troll-stalking drunken Finntroll of JAKTENS TID and NATTFODD, and the downbeat black-metal-leaning UR JORDENS DJUP. The latter was criticised by many Finntroll fans for being too serious, losing the happy humppa of their previous albums. To be fair to the band, there were already signs of moving in that direction on NATTFODD itself, but they were hidden under a flurry of breathlessly compelling anthems like ‘Eliytres’ (!) which placated fans. To also be fair to the fans of the band, many of them have come round from their initial scepticism of UR JORDENS DJUP to recognise the album as a positive development in Finntroll’s songwriting and continuing maturity as composers and musicians, if not lyric-writers…

The mandatory Finntroll intro kicks off NIFELVIND, and, strike me dead with a furry fart! Would you believe it: trolls, growling or chanting, to a distinctly ‘Pirates of the Carribbean’ drum background…’Solsagan’ is a folk/black metal anthem if I’ve ever heard one, and this is one for the tour. An infectious drum beat, “Lai lai hei”-type chorus, a catchy riff at a distinctly dance-along-able pace; this will be an instant classic, and I will eat an entire raw moose if this doesn’t get metal audiences linking arms and shaking legs all over Europe within a year. ‘Solsagan’ really sets the tone for the album as a whole: the drumming is fantastically catchy, the riffs are simple but powerful and with decent variation, the keyboards are pleasantly intrusive (yes, that’s right – a major part of Finntroll has always been its use of keyboards, and on NIFELVIND, Moonsorrow’s Henri Sorvali does not disappoint), and Vreth is in fine snarling voice. The only complaint a Finntroll fan may have is the decreased use of ‘folky’ instruments; where previous albums would have been flowing at the brim with accordions, fiddles and various unpronounceable Finnish folk instruments (Skwisgard: “granny guitars”), NIFELVIND is strangely stripped of such frivolities. There’s a fiddle on ‘Ett Norrskensdad’ though, I’m sure of it…

I don’t think fans of the band will be disappointed the way they were over UR JORDENS DJUP. In fact, I think most will be quite delighted at the progress the band has made, and with definite winners in the ‘live show singalong’ department, the fans who are still sceptical may want to catch them on tour – I think they are already confirmed to headline Paganfest 2010.
Track Listing

1. Blodmarsch (intro)
2. Solsagan
3. Den Frusna Munnen
4. Ett Norrskensdåd
5. I Trädens Sång
6. Tiden Utan Tid
7. Galgasång
8. Mot Skuggornas Värld
9. Under Bergets Rot
10. Fornfamnad
11. Dråp


Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns : Vocals
Mikael "Routa" Karlbom : Guitars
Samuli "Skrymer" Ponsimaa : Guitars
Sami "Tundra" Uusitalo : Bass
Henri "Trollhorn" Sorvali : Keyboards
Samu "Beast Dominator" Ruotsalainen : Drums

Next review: » Finntroll - Nifelvind
Previous review: » Finntroll - Nattfodd

March 2010
Released: 2010, Century Media
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus

Finntroll is one of those musical entities that consistently defies all rational thought; how can their eclectic sound, not even considering their outlandish shtick, manage to be so darn accessible and catchy at the same time? I first got into them around the early days of JAKTENS TID, and was stunned that some tracks made me want to get up and DANCE like a possessed animal, instead of just headbanging. Finntroll’s inimitable sound hails from their melding of traditional Finnish humppa (a form of polka) with blackened folk metal, enabling them with a degree of musical creativity rarely seen in metal’s “stay true” culture. While the humppa blend still forms the core of Finntroll’s sound, their newest effort NIFELVIND showcases how the band is now able to incorporate more diverse forms of music without relying exclusively on the bouncy backbeat that is their trademark.

After the mandatory intro, NIFELVIND opens with what may be the strongest song in Finntroll history; “Solsagen” is a thrashing, rollicking slice of masterfully orchestrated black metal featuring one of the most murderously catchy, growl-along choruses yet heard. This will undoubtedly become a concert favorite, since they’ve already released a suitably disturbing video accompaniment. Older fans will recall the giddy infectiousness of “Trollhammaren” from NATTFODD, but “Solsagen” showcases a great deal more maturity and discipline in both songwriting and production. With this track, Finntroll is clearly vested in the business of skullcrushing black metal, with a lot of other elements flavoring the mix. “Solsagen” is such a strong track that the rest of the album almost doesn’t match up to its thunderous, cinematic fury. That’s not to say that NIFELVIND is only good for one song; thankfully, there isn’t a single mediocre track on the album, but “Solsagen” is so damn good that it overshadows everything that follows.

Past Finntroll albums have always kept a very even blend between the metal and folk elements. NIFELVIND is an atypical case because it sometimes separates the core elements of Finntroll’s classic sound into distinct, non-interacting parts. For example, opener “Solsagen” centers around a very traditionalist black metal riff with an underpinning blastbeat, with the expected trollish chants and beats being delegated into the chorus. But the next song “Den Frusna Munnen” is far more eclectic, featuring a Turok-esque South American tribal intro before launching into a poppier variant on the standard Finntroll dirge; the outro throws us another curveball in the form of a gorgeous keyboard progression that sounds almost “happy” for a band of miscreant, Christian-eating trolls. The disconnect between these two songs is representative of how several cuts on NIFELVIND seem to have little to do with each other musically, even with some basic trollish elements still held in common.

Here’s where things get a little weird; listening to each song in succession is almost like getting a concentrated taste of whatever the band was listening to at the moment. “Ett Norrskensdåd” opens up like an Irish reel dance, and follows variations on the opening fiddle & flute melody. Immediately afterwards on “I Trädens Sång,” we return to the brutal black metal stylings of “Solsagen,” but with the prominent return of the trademark humppa accordion backbeat. “Galgasång” is a throwback to Finntroll’s marvelous all-acoustic folk album VISOR OM SLUTET, featuring the campfire side of Vreth’s vocals. Followup “Mot Skuggornas Värld” sounds like it was composed while the band was listening to Nightwish’s “Dark Passion Play”; huge choral chants and bombastic orchestras fly around in the mix atop a chuggingly trollish guitar riff.

“Under Bergets Rot” is the most bizarre, contagious track of the lot, combining space-age instrumentation with a gallingly bouncy, danceable series of banjo-led riffs that really shows off Fintroll’s experimental side. “Fornfamnad” marks Finntroll’s first real dabbling in symphonic black metal, featuring voracious blastbeats and manic tremolo riffing fueled by an overpowering orchestral horn section à la Dimmu Borgir; since I greatly dislike that particular band, I’m surprised by how much I enjoy this particular song. Vreth’s vocals really shine here, and I suspect he attempted to alter his voice to suit the more “necro” feel of the track. The longer outro “Dråp” is perhaps the most traditional Finntroll song to be found yet, with plenty of trollish riffing, swampy keyboards, and extensive acoustic twanging.

My only real gripe with NIFELVIND is the addition of a sampled orchestra. It’s not that it sounds bad or fake; at first, I assumed the boys had hustled up a real live orchestra for the album. But this being their first experiment with this kind of sound, the orchestral parts seem just a little out of place at times. I imagine that time and experience will temper this new weapon appropriately, but in the interim it doesn’t quite meld with the naturalistic, folkish sonic approach so masterfully taken on most of this album.

Overall, this may be Finntroll’s best record yet. The band has expanded far beyond the limits of their past works, incorporating a vast array of sonic intrigue into their already-lush soundscape. Therein perhaps lies NIFELVIND’S greatest strength; each listening reveals layer after layer of intriguing detail that keeps things fresh. A basic guitar riff may have beneath it a tuba, marimbas, banjo, theremin, upright bass, crumhorn, and a staggering number of miscellaneous percussion rattling along underneath. Finntroll have become the unquestioned masters of acoustic orchestration, and I sincerely hope they keep pursuing this level of sonic creativity in future albums; it adds a vitally tribal, shamanistic vibe that is central to the band’s theme and shtick. If you’re new to Finntroll, then NIFELVIND is an amazing place to start.
Track Listing

1.Blodmarsch (intro)
3.Den Frusna Munnen
4.Ett Norrskensdåd
5.I Trädens Sång
6.Tiden Utan Tid
8.Mot Skuggornas Värld
9.Under Bergets Rot


Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns : Vocals
Mikael "Routa" Karlbom : Guitars
Samuli "Skrymer" Ponsimaa : Guitars
Sami "Tundra" Uusitalo : Bass
Henri "Trollhorn" Sorvali : Keyboards
Samu "Beast Dominator" Ruotsalainen : Drums

Next review: » Finntroll - Trollhammaren
Previous review: » Finntroll - Nattfodd

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