Finntroll - Nifelvind (2010)

 



Created in the midst of an alcohol fueled tirade, Finntroll have lay claim to the pagan metal crown. Their mission was to fuse the raw, larger than life sounds of black metal with traditional Finnish music (which could be called "Hoedown"). Over a decade and six full albums later, you think you have this band figured out. On  2010's "Nifelvind," Finntroll are here to tell you to sit back, and enjoy musical fusion at its finest.

A strong tribal drum beat builds into chanting and orchestrated strings and horns in the intro track, "Blodmarsch." But calm gives way to calamity, and "Solsagan" is unleashed. A flurry of kick drums and a deafening growl give you a taste of what is to come, a battering array of blast beats and high speed chugging. Background chanting keeps the aura of pagan folk metal intact, but only as support. The screams are powerful and, at times, tense. This creates the darkest of imagery for the album.

A set of toms with varying tones helps to pave the way for distortion and dismay. "Den Frusna Munnen" pairs hypnotic keyboard melodies with flowing, yet crunchy, guitar work. Vocals are coarse, demanding attention amidst the well timed snare/cymbal punch. The outro portion is a head bobbing success. Ethnic strings introduce you to a blood curdling scream in "Ett Norrskensdad," a track that is equal parts playful and painful. Even with instrumentation that seems upbeat, the vocals delivered are gritty. Is it possible to dance and swing your hair at the same time? "I Tradens Sang," on the other hand, leaves no room for celebration. The brutal double kicks are ever present, with lyrics pelting you in a harsh manner. Guitars take the fore, beating you down with distorted riff after distorted riff.

With a taste for the epic, Finntroll carve out the down tempo hammer of "Tiden Utan Tid." Rolling thunder and chants kick things off, with a constant chugging guitar emerges, only deviating to throw in a partial scale. The drum rolls are slow, in comparison to the previous tracks, but no less damaging. Things get violent as the track draws to its end, highlighted by the presence of tormenting keys and chants. "Galgasang" steps away from the bloodshed long enough to deliver a folk acoustic ballad, of sorts. Beautiful vocal melodies emerge for the first, and last, time. Don't get too comfortable, though, as "Mot Skuggornas Varld" returns the band to the heavier comfort zone. Synthesizers play the lead through most of the song, with a jaunty bass line cropping up at opportune times.

The musical carnival of "Under Bergets Rot" is as amusing as it is enjoyable. So many instruments, so many happy little notes emanating from your speakers, but only three minutes to catch them all. "Fornfamnad" seems to be a continuation, before it breaks away from the happy and dips into the harder side of life. Back and forth it goes, trampling the line between somber and sublime. The seven minute closer, "Drap" ties the album up in a dirty, choking knot, taking the chugging and slashing guitars and giving them a full two minutes to fade away into silence.

Finntroll manage to, once again, deliver an album worthy of the pagan metal moniker. Combining the raw with the refined, they have written, and subsequently rewritten, the text book on the genre. They have succeeded in their goal of combining two styles that would seem to be at odds with one another, and creating something that is mysterious, yet somehow soothing. Though, at album's end, you may also be telling the tale of the Finntroll.

8.5/10