Finntroll

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Midnattens Widunder

Finntroll - Midnattens Widunder ©1999 Spikefarm
1. Intro
2. Svartberg
3. RivFader
4. Vatteända
5. Bastuvisan
6. Blodnatt
7. Midnattens Widunder
8. Segersång
9. Svampfest

With the influx of Finnish bands such as ...And Oceans and Finntroll into the somewhat stagnant waters of black metal, the creativity quotient has certainly been bumped up a notch or two. Both bands have been offering music that revisits the old concepts of the style and have reinvigorated them with skewed new influences and injections of creative touches that have been completely bypassed by more orthodox black metal bands. Finntroll's major contribution and identifying signature style is the carefully measured blend of classical backwashes, groove laden metal crunch and polka time signatures. In fact, this is a band that could easily ditch their bass player for a tuba section, lending proof that Bloom County's satirical band, Billy & the Boingers, were onto something with Opus and his brass instrument. At the very least, Finntroll could throw in a sousaphone.

Midnattens Widunder, the band's debut, is a blistering, yet entirely catchy and energetic romp through darkened pastures of dead flowers and babies. The band's "troll" metal influence is wisely countered with the aforementioned polka-ish rhythms. While the band is entirely capable of unleashing an entirely harsh and heavy conventional black metal attack, the other influences help make this record a rollicking good time. Too many other Scandanavian metal bands are far too concerned with the "No Fun" aspect of black metal and end up coming across as overtly bloated caricatures of themselves. Finntroll sounds like they're having an incredibly good time writing, making and playing their music and completely leave behind the more grim, posturing neighbors of their northern region. Midnattens Widunder is the black metal album you can recommend to friends who just can't take the glowering, grouchy curmudgeons who take themselves far too seriously for their own good. With the "oom-pah" moments, powerful black metal riffs and harsh vocals all working together to create a stunningly engaging sounds, Finntroll has unleashed one of the better debuts to come along in awhile.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2001

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Jaktens Tid

Finntroll - Jaktens Tid ©2001 Spikefarm/Century Media
1. Krig
2. Födosagan
3. Slaget Vid Blodsälv
4. Skogens Hämnd
5. Jaktens Tid
6. Bakom Varje Fura
7. Kitteldags
8. Krigsmjöd
9. VargTimmen
10. Kyrkovisan
11. Den Hornkrönte Konungen
12. Aldhissla
13. Tomhet Och Tystnad Härska

Continuing on in the vein of Finn-fun music displayed on their debut Midnattens Widunder, Finntroll's second album, Jaktens Tid is essentially more of the same. The album is perhaps a bit less polka oriented and more hyperkinetic and speed drenched, but regardless, Jaktens Tid is another great outing of some of the most fun hybrid extreme metal around. The only true complaint you will find from me is that the album is far too short and ends far too early for my liking. However, it's nice to know in this age of seventy-five minute CDs that some bands have the good sense to leave their audience longing for more rather than wearing them out after four epic tracks in a row.

While the waltzing and polka dance numbers are still present, much of the music tends to be more of a frantic speed variety. But unlike some band who blur and mesh together their fast parts, Finntroll remembers this thing called groove that incites the listener to move their body along with the music. There's a lot of sense in capturing your audience by enticing the body to take over. The hyper polka bits only further that. The intro and outro pieces show off a classical music sense while other tracks cultivate an epic feeling that reminds the listener one part of Wagner and one part of Bathory, who ironically are one part Wagner. Either way, the result is some largescale songs compacted into a brief album.

If these two initial releases from Finntroll are any indication, this band has proven they are one of the best new contenders in the cluttered field of hybrid black metal today. Both releases have provided me with much enjoyment and if you have any sense, you will do what it takes to find both of them.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2001

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Visor Om Slutet

Finntroll - Visor Om Slutet ©2003 Spinefarm
1. Suohengen Sija
2. Asfågelns Död
3. Försvinn Du Som Lyser
4. Veripuu
5. Under Varje Rot och Sten
6. När Allt Blir Is
7. Den Sista Runans Dans
8. Rov
9. Madon Laulu
10. Svart Djup
11. Avgrunden Öppnas

Released after the tragic death of guitarist Teemu Raimoranta, Visor Om Slutet is an unexpected diversion for Finntroll. The album was conceived as an acoustic experiment (in the words of the band) and finds Finntroll giving the ol' college try to acoustic and ambient based music. The half-hour EP alternates between familiar territory ("Försvinn Du Som Lyser" sounds like one of the band's traditional black folka -- that's folk and polka to you, pal -- romps, except performed with acoustic instruments) and nature-infused ambience. At times Finntroll sounds like they gathered around a campfire, drank a bit too much Finnish vodka and wrote an appropriate tune with demented muttering ("Madon Laulu" comes to mind). "Den Sista Runans Dans" is a somber folk-ish tune that almost sounds like sad reminiscing of a lost friend, although obviously I don't speak their language. I just report what I hear.

Taken as a tangent to the band's usual festive, fun-filled material, Visor Om Slutet is a good divergent release, allowing the band to explore some new territory. The band's talent is formidable and they tackle the new ideas with aplomb and vigor. A worthy addition to the band's catalogue.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

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Trollhammaren EP

Finntroll - Trollhammaren EP ©2004 Spikefarm
1. Trollhammaren
2. Hemkomst
3. Skog
4. Försvinn Du Som Lyser
5. Hel Vete

Released alongside Nattfödd, the Trollhammaren EP is a brief, but ripping affair that ranks right up with the best of Finntroll's output over the years. The band had previously released a moody, acoustic and darkwave-ish EP called Visor Om Slutet in 2003, so Trollhammaren is a good reminder that Finntroll is still a speedy, fun-filled heavy metal band with plenty of energy. The first two tracks both zip along with some sheer velocity to kick listeners in the pants. "Hemkomst" in particular is the type of song that, if played in your car, will result in speeding tickets. "Försvinn Du Som Lyser", which was done up in acoustic form on Visor Om Slutet, is given a full-on metal makeover for the EP. The final track, "Hel Vete", actually swings.

Without a doubt, Finntroll has the folka-metal field in the bag. Trollhammaren, while less than twenty minutes long, is a perfect example of the band hitting on all cylinders and tearing things up in the process. The EP was coupled with Nattfödd in some limited edition format, but no matter how you get this EP, you need to get ahold of it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

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Nattfödd

Finntroll - Nattfödd ©2004 Century Media
1. Vindfard / Manniskipesten
2. Eliytres
3. Fiskarens Fiende
4. Trollhammaren
5. Nattfödd
6. Ursvamp
7. Marknadsvisan
8. Det Iskalla Trollblod
9. Grottans Barn
10. Routas Vaggvisa

It's ironic that extreme metal's most fun-loving, bouncy band of merry Finnish men has been through some rather unmerry events since their last studio effort, Jaktens Tid. Vocalist Katla came down with throat problems that forced his departure from the band. Then, worse, guitarist Teemu Raimoranta died in a fall. Yet, the band has persevered and despite all the unfortunate changes since their last album, has stayed their musical course with nary a deviation from what made Finntroll fun in the first place.

Granted, an album like Nattfödd makes it easy for someone lazy like myself. I can quickly write, "If you liked the first two Finntroll albums, you'll love Nattfödd. Go, buy, etc!" I should also point out that those who aren't so enamored with the good time folka and waltzing about music of Finntroll won't be necessarily swayed by Nattfödd. But that's their problem to deal with and surely it'll result in the need for expensive therapy in the far future. Perhaps they'll be lucky enough to live in a nation that actually provides health care for its citizens. Anyhow, back to Nattfödd. If nothing else, the band seems more pronounced in their approach. At times, I feel like they've incorporated a rendition of a movie's take on Russian folk music into their own. In other words, it's probably not terribly authentic, but good fun nonetheless. And unlike many lesser bands who attempt throwing in the folksy elements, Finntroll manages to make it ear bending and immensely catchy. The band doesn't seem quite as off kilter or careening towards insanity as they did on Midnattens Widunder but a firmly-in-control Finntroll is not to be feared either.

As I said before, if you're a fan of Finntroll already, this album will just enhance your impression of the band. They have figured out what works for their approach and are obviously quite content to stick with it. Since their songwriting is just as chewy as saltwater taffy, this is far from a bad thing.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2004

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Ur Jordens Djup

Finntroll - Ur Jordens Djup ©2007 Spikefarm
1. Gryning
2. Sång
3. Korpens Saga
4. Nedgång
5. Ur Djupet
6. Slagbröder
7. En Mäktig Här
8. Ormhäxan
9. Maktens Spira
10. Under Två Runor
11. Kvällning/Trollvisan

After a bit of a layoff, Finntroll reemerged in 2007, armed with a new vocalist (Mathias Lillmåns) but shooting the same ammunition as their previous efforts. This, it must be immediately be noted, is a very good thing. Although Ur Jordens Djup sticks to what brought notoriety to Finntroll, the band's formula for music making is as rock solid as nearly any band in metal. The bouncing, folk and "polka" tempos intertwine with a solid metal foundation. The anthemic quality, as well as epic nature (an oddity, considering the band keeps their songs under five minutes in length), infuses the songs with more triumph and conquest than any Viking horde of a thousand years ago.

Despite the various lineup changes over the years, Finntroll remains consistent and still sporting great songwriting. They also stand as one of the few bands associated with black or extreme metal that can put on a live show that makes even the most grim, misanthropic hater of humanity grin from ear to ear. Ur Jordens Djup isn't quite the best this band has ever put out, but still is head and shoulders above most of their contemporaries. The album is enjoyable from beginning to end and provides yet another platter of great metal from one of the few truly remarkable bands in the genre.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2009

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Nifelvind

Finntroll - Nifelvind ©2010 Century Media
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
12. Under Dvärgens Fot

Finntroll has become the folk-black metal equivalent of AC/DC as their records very much stick a basic songwriting formula and Nifelvind is no exception to this rule. Sure, you could kvetch and moan and complain about it if you want, but you'd be overlooking a very fundamental quality of Finntroll's music: it rocks. While Nifelvind varies little from any of its predecessors, their sense of fun and energy is prevalent throughout. If, for some inexplicable reason, you are unfamiliar with Finntroll at this late date, we can run down the basics. They play a form of black metal that incorporates folk elements via acoustic guitar and apparently banjo, if their inlay photo is to be believed. Why, I think I hear it right now in "Galgasång"! Much like any of their previous releases, the upbeat songs are bouncy, flouncy, pouncy, making them the Tiggers of extreme metal. That's right, they're a wonderful thing.

For the most part, Finntroll seems to be in that career path of making records as an excuse to go on tour. The past couple of albums have been pretty good, although not mindblowing, but still great fun nonetheless. Having seen Finntroll on their 2008 tour, I can safely say they're one of the most enjoyable live acts in the metal world these days. I can't picture any other band bringing smiles to the typical frowny-faced black metal crowd. But they accomplished just that. Ironically, Finntroll's drummer is the most stoned faced, but utterly entertaining live performer. It's worth going to a show just to see his bizarre robotic playing style and emotionless poker face.

To summarize, which is what my third paragraphs are almost always for, Nifelvind is a predictable yet entirely enjoyable romp. Longtime fans of Finntroll will get a kick out of it and hopefully it will entice them out their concerts.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2010

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