Finntroll // Blodsvept 
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — A workin’ troll’s music
Label: Century Media
Websites: |
Release Dates: FI: 2013.03.22 | EU: 2013.03.25 | US: 04.02.2013

Finntroll - Blodsvept 2013I sometimes have wondered whether or not Finntroll is proof that we live in someone’s hypothetical universe. This smarmy imagineer in a banal universe somewhere may have constructed an elaborate The Producers-like scheme to produce a flop that makes him money. “How about,” he says to himself, “a group of Finns, speaking in a minor dialect of Swedish, dressed up as characters from the LARP version of Changeling: The Dreamingwho make folk-influenced heavy metal, complete with a screaming madman instead of a singer! Who on earth would buy that?” Were this hypothetical businessman able to see into our not-so-hypothetical universe he would most certainly be surprised to see that this motley menagerie of Österbottningar that fits his description are releasing their 6th full-length record in just a few days time — and it’s their second on one of metal’s premier labels.

Finntroll‘s path, since adding new vocalist Vreth in 2006, has been one of remarkable consistency. In 2007, three years off the band’s breakthrough record NattföddFinntroll released Ur jordens djup, a dark, but serious statement of intent. This was followed up three years later by Nifelvind, a record “oozes excellence,” as one smitten reviewer put it. Now in 2013 Blodsvept has landed, and while it is its own very special sort of troll, it shares some consistencies with the band’s previous releases – short songs, bubbling energy, copious amounts of keyboard and an almost [Luca Turilli‘s] Rhapsody [of Fire] consistency in terms of song writing. A workman-like dependability that guarantees similar results every time one purchases a batch of Finntroll compositions.

There is no shame in consistency, and Finntroll does a great job of drawing together the disparate bands of their sound – the black metal, the orchestral influences and the big band jazz stuff that inches them closer to Diablo Swing Orchestra with every record – and making them work together. While “Midvinterdraken,” “Fanskapsfylld” and “Blodsvept” all scream Jaktens tid and Nattfödd, songs like “Skogsdotter,” and “Mordminnen” both push the band further away from that old school Thyrfing and Moonsorrow sound and into a more whimsical place. This sense of whimsy and playfulness is what made Nifelvind such a shining moment, but Blodsvept feels a bit more ‘traditional’ and a bit less experimental. As a whole the record is more uniform in its feel and execution.

Finntroll 2413

It can be safely said, though, that my desire for a more rambunctious adventure into the blending of Finnish oompah humppa and heavy metal infused swing beats, hardly disqualifies the fact that Blodsvept is chalk full of solid songs and imaginative melodies. Tracks like “När jättar marschera,” or the pirate metal track “Rösets kung” still serenade listeners with addictive hooks, laced with troll choirs, banjos and assorted weirdnesses that make this me giggle like an Angry Metal School Girl. The latter track “Rösets kung,” for example, features what sounds like someone humming in a bath while a choir of goblins and a stand-up bass accompany him. This evocative imagery fits perfectly for Finntroll; but that’s just the icing on the cake of slick hooks, speed, intensity and crunch that keeps listeners coming back.

It’s true that Blodsvept isn’t as exciting as Nifelvind before it, which felt more varied and experimental than the band’s current offering. But other than the record feeling a little laggy on the back end because of pacing considerations, I have no real substantive critiques. Finntroll continue to prove that consistency is a virtue, even among Swedish-speaking Finnish trolls from a distant futures past.

  • I love this band. LOVE them. I expect to think this album is awesome – though my incredible fondness for Nifelvind (and Nattfödd) does give me pause, given this review. Honestly, though, I’ll be buying it no matter what, and hoping beyond hope they’ll come back to this stupidly far away and so regularly irrelevant country* just so I can get my Finnhappies.

    *Australia. Goddammit.

  • I love this band. LOVE them. I expect to think this album is awesome – though my incredible fondness for Nifelvind (and Nattfödd) does give me pause, given this review. Honestly, though, I’ll be buying it no matter what, and hoping beyond hope they’ll come back to this stupidly far away and so regularly irrelevant country* just so I can get my Finnhappies.

    *Australia. Goddammit.

    • Yeah, While it’s a step down I don’t think you should hesitate to buy it. I really am enjoying it. And a 3.5/5.0 is a really good score here. So, you know, buy away!

  • I agree with your last paragraph, but really, I still think this is bloody excellent! It seems the only ‘problem’ is that it isn’t a far departure from Nifelvind, but goddamn it I don’t care. From the tracks I managed to hear online, I was just blown away (especially by the title track, when it went from raging madness to acoustic). I might even like it as much as Nattfödd, once I buy it and give it a few more listens.

    • Nifelvind I liked _more_ than Nattfödd – though one can’t take anything away from Nattfödd. Seriously, these guys have a great discography. The only record I don’t have a lot of love for is Ur jordens djup, but I’ve never given it repeated listens either.

      • That’s odd, because I rather enjoyed Ur Jordens Djup, being much better than Jakten’s Tid. But Nifelvind does seem to be the magnum opus of their sound thus far, and if Blodsvept follows in that vein, I’ll be as happy as a drunk village troll. (Uh… If that’s a worthy comparison)

        • Jaktens Tid was my gateway to Finntroll, so it still is very near and dear my heart.

  • Shahir pretty much nailed it on the head for me. I agree with the review, with the lone caveat that Finntroll going about business as usual, for me, is still better than most bands out there. If I were scoring this, it would at least be a 4.0, possibly a 4.5 if it really grows on me like Nifelvind did. As it stands, this is probably a top 2 album for me this year, behind only Clutch at this point.

    • I gave Nifelvind a 4.5 and it ended up #4 on my year end list. It was a really spectacular record. This one doesn’t live up to that, and as of this moment I don’t expect it to land in my top 15. It’s really good, but it’s a down record by their standards and I’m more likely to go back and listen to Nattfödd or Nifelvind than this one. Though, there are some really great moments on here… so who knows, maybe it’ll grow?

  • Interesting that you namedrop Diablo Swing Orchestra since I think these are two of the bands with more crossover appeal for non-metalheads out there. The quality of their music and their very solid songwriting chops is undeniable even for the most acerbic detractors of anything metal-labeled. And this one may feel like a “by-the-numbers” for them but I think their style is still unique enough to be able to get away with it relatively unscathed.

    • Well, they’re both doing things that are actually really cool and novel, in my opinion. Metal has always had a great deal of excellent musicianship, but with budgets and samples being what they are these days, bands can do it in a way we simply couldn’t do a few decades ago. I think its one of the reasons that this kind of stuff is so impressive. They’re taking big band infusing it with groove: how can one not enjoy that?

  • This is one I surelly don’t want to miss.

  • It is always a pleasure to listen to this guys.

  • Eryops

    Finnish polka is _humppa_ not _oompah_.

  • Nice review! Looking forward to this one. Finntroll is a good time.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    I couldn’t agree more. Even when “Blodsvept” it’s a very good album, it doesn’t stand to the marvel “Nifelvind” was. Nevertheless, “Jaktens Tid” it’s still my favourite.

    Finntroll has such a rich discography. I love the childish feeling coming out of their folk melodies combined with the rawness of harsh metal. Many songs have melodies that could be soundtracks to any cartoon.

  • sathriel

    CtD Reference? You have scored some geek points with that one AMG. Goood work