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Finntroll - Blodsvept

[25th March 2013]
[Century Media]

01. Blodsvept
02. Ett Folk Förbannat
03. När Jättar Marschera
04. Mordminnen
05. Rösets Kung
06. Skövlarens Död
07. Skogsdotter
08. Häxbrygd
09. Två Ormar
10. Fanskapsfylld
11. Midvinterdraken

For their sixth album, Finland’s bizarre but lovable Finntroll have served up another satisfying slab of blackened folk metal with Blodsvept (or ‘Shrouded in Blood’). Following the semi-serious tone of 2010′s Nifelvind, the band decided to reconnect with their “humppa” (traditional Finnish folk/jazz) roots. At first, this was a jarring shift as Nifelvind was one of the stronger albums from that year and it embraced a relatively straight forward musical style; one that listeners may have become more comfortable with.

Initially, it’s a disappointing start due to that very different stylistic approach, although eventually Blodsvept manages to lay enough earworms to lure you into its loving embrace. The opening title track prefaces the album with a vicious troll growl, before prominently surging into a catchy humppa riff which is then broken up by a staccato drum and guitar sequence. This heavy metal passage is accompanied by a keyboard and breaks into a mellow acoustic passage before concluding in a flurry of double-bass kicks and heavy guitar riffs. This opening fair blend of polka-meets-metal sets an accurate precedence for the rest of the album.

The subsequent tracks all follow this style, with heavy verses opening into epic folk choruses. While many folk metal bands employ a galloping drum technique in their music, the traditional time signature of the humppa lends some odd sense of authenticity to Finntroll’s music. This traditional styling is rather prominent throughout the duration of this album, allowing the band to carve an original sound for themselves within the folk metal subgenre.

The two tracks that best exemplify their unique identity are “Mordminnen” which opens with a jazzy swing hit, and “Tva Ormar” that swings in with a brassy folk accompaniment, complete with thumping tuba. While this outlandish foundation of jazzy folk music may alienate some; there is a lot to enjoy here.

Evident by the quirky nature of the album - Finntroll is just one of those bands that you’re not meant to take seriously, and they know it. The whole aura and nature of the band is centred around trolls which have historically embodied mischief and mayhem in Scandinavian cultures; which the band have done a wonderful job of conveying the boorish and comedic nature of trolls through their music.

While Finntroll has a rather deep discography this is easily one of the stronger efforts of their career, due to the seamless integration of traditional folk music into their own brand of blackened folk metal. Having the ability to transition from a catchy folk sequence into an equally catchy black metal riff (like in the concluding track “Midvinterdraken”) is something worth applauding, as it is no easy feat.

Fans of metal often lament that their favourite bands have drifted away from they original styling, whether it is because of new record deals, or artistic exhaustion. What is special in Finntroll’s case is that rather than drifting away from their roots as was the case (to an extent) with Nifelvind, they have come back revitalized, and now quirkier and more engaging than ever. While this album is not everyone’s cup of tea (or goblet of blood) you have to keep in mind that this sort of music is meant to be fun, and in terms of those goals, Finntroll have achieved exactly that. This is a must have for fans of the genre and the band. Welcome back Finntroll, with Blodsvept you have reclaimed the folk metal (troll) crown.