Finntroll – Vredesvävd Review

Finntroll‘s role in the development of modern folk metal cannot be overstated. Re-visiting classics like Jakens tid and Nattfödd often leads me to wonder how these guys managed to rip off my favorite folk albums before they were written. The unabashed and upfront nature of their folk qualities changed the game. That said, it’s amazing that Finntroll are still relevant. 21 years into the game, the newer blood in the genre reasonably should have surpassed them by now. Instead, acts like Korpiklaani and Turisas have all but burned themselves out while Finntroll is still gleaming as bright as ever. Finally awoken from their seven-year siesta, Finntroll come alive wielding Vredesvävd, as good a comeback as anyone could have asked for.

Finntroll‘s melodies have always had a special sauce to them—sinister and convivial, smoldering and carnivalesque, all at the same time. “Foreboding” and “flourish” don’t pair well unless it’s a Finntroll joint, and that’s certainly describes “Att Döda Med En Sten.” This opener proper is more a declaration of will than long-time-no-see. 10 seconds is all it takes for the Finns to leave a Kool-Aid Troll-shaped hole in your wall. Epic swells, drop-out double-bass fills, a bubbling melody that you can’t get out of your head; Finntroll put everyone from Svartsot and Equilibrium to Wintersun and Dissection on notice within minutes. Trollhorn’s bouncing keys jazz up the black metal charge, even more unforgiving than years past, with a dungeon-synth-on-speed feel. Routa and Skrymer’s riffs slot in underneath, providing the structural yin to Trollhorn and vocalist Vreth’s expressive yang. It’s superlative writing hardened only through time and experience. The whole song–better, the whole record oozes an ultimate cohesion, a complete-package feeling. Every puzzle piece fits perfectly, both internally and across tracks.

From the simmering riffs of “Gränars Väg” to “Myren” and its hopping beat, the dazzling array of Finntroll‘s abilities shine through. In exchange, however, is the sense that the band intentionally eased themselves back into the shallow end. Vredesvävd features little experimentation, despite its variety. Finntroll have long demonstrated extensive compositional capabilities and sonic range, but Vredesvävd only flexes the first muscle. This robs the record of stand-out material as it fails to exploit the stranger elements of the band’s repertoire. Nothing here scratches the itch created by “Mordminnen,” “En Mäktig Här,” or “Under Bergets Rot.” Vredesvävd focuses instead on polishing mechanics and laying a solid foundation, rather than moonshotting out-of-left-field ideas over the fences. There’s a very brief, very raw moment on the back half of utter jam “Vid Häxans Härd” (let’s be real, they’re nearly all utter jams) that almost sounds like the ‘troll is going first-wave. This is a core melody bent in every way Finntroll can imagine, twisted to its final form—and it’s fan-fucking-tastic. Unfortunately, it reverts to the norm too quickly, unwilling to indulge in the strange. Worse, the best of songs still find themselves dependent on one or two ideas to work; great when great, right until it’s not. The flip side sees “Mask” simply ask “you enjoy of deep polka?” and dump it down your head-flaps in the most blatant earwvrm pattern possible. But hey, as long as the hump pas, am I right?

Vredesvävd‘s sub-40 minutes leave no time to stop and smell the muck, either. Half the reason the record blasts by so easily is that it never gives you time to think. Ripping every song by as fast and in as short a time as possible patches over the lack of a clean, individual identities inherent to each track. None sticks their head out over the rest; there’s no “Trollhammaren” or “Solsagan” that decimates the competition. Rather, the entirety of Vredesvävd fits into a neat package. The thick guitars, the invigorating keys and epic orchestration, the good-enough production, it all completes one of the easiest listens of the year, though perhaps one that glides by a bit too easily. It’s easy to forget which track is which when they all tumble head-over-heels into one another. Not the end of the world though, as jumps like the one from “Myren” to “Stjärnors Mjöd” still light my tits on fire.

Finntroll has historically been a band I’ve underrated, even as I’ve sung their praises. They’re responsible, in one way or another, for so many of the records I’ve blasted into oblivion over the last decade that I was uneasy when I saw Vredesvävd on the promo schedule. So many other folk acts have seen their fortunes dramatically decline since Finntroll‘s last performance that it seemed inevitable for 2020 to extend its apocalyptic fingers toward the last act standing. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Vredesvävd is more than down to clown, and Finntroll still know how to deliver the goods.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: trollhorde.com | facebook.com/officialfinntroll
Releases Worldwide: September 18th, 2020

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