Review Summary: Finntroll, now with 100% more folk and even less of a sense of direction. No, that is actually not a bad thing
There are two types of folk metal. One is the somber, often acoustics-driven blend of folky melancholy and organic metal courtesy of bands such as Agalloch and October Falls. The other is a joyous and buoyant brand of music that thrives on infectious melodies and its main purpose is seldom other than to simply amuse the listener. Finntroll belongs to the latter group, being one of its most noteworthy acts. One of the pioneering forces behind this brand, Finntroll have paved the way for groups such as Ensiferum, Turisas and Korpiklaani, yet they’re different from all of them. Compared to other bands playing this style, Finntroll have dug deeper into the world of Scandinavian folklore, which has resulted in them having a more ingrained folk sound as well. It doesn’t necessarily make them better than Ensiferum, for example, but it does make them more unique.
, the group’s sixth full-length album, is their most lighthearted and unorthodox effort to date. One wouldn’t predict that based on the album’s cover and title track, both sufficiently repugnant, but Blodsvept
is actually a playful affair that depicts these trolls as whimsical, rather than menacing. While Finntroll have never been the most extreme of folk metal bands, despite the evident black metal influence in their music, on Blodsvept
the focus has decisively shifted in favor of a more dancy style, driven by Humppa – the Finnish version of polka. Mind you, there are still sections dominated by heavier riffage and pummeling double-bass, but they’re presented in a way which makes them excellent recurring characters rather than stars of the show. The songwriting on Blodsvept
is varied and the tracks carry with them a silly folk aura, making them wholly unique. By all accounts, the album is an ode to the village gatherings of old and when it comes to delivery, there isn’t another band like Finntroll out there. They haven’t just added some flutes and bagpipes to complement the metal, they’ve managed to grasp the whole idea of folk metal and have truly integrated the two.
The album starts in a slightly misleading fashion as the title track gets things going in typical Finntroll fashion. "Blodsvept" features crunchy, aggressive guitars and bloodthirsty shouts over a brash, trumpeting backing. It’s a big ol’ village party from there on, though, as the metal largely takes on a supporting role and Finntroll’s love of dance is brought to the forefront. The guitars are ever-present and give all of the songs a much needed punch so that they wouldn’t become sterile, but in Finntroll’s case there is much more going on than a simple juxtaposition of metal and folk elements. The band has fused the two together in such a fluid way that it’s hard to envision one without the other – something rarely seen in folk metal. The Humppa and metal have formed a cohesive body of work that functions like a living, breathing organism and all the glitter on top (trumpets, flutes etc.) is just an added bonus. This is perfectly exhibited in the highlight of the album, "Skogsdotter", where Finntroll unleash an all-out folky bombardment on the listener. Duelling banjos, triumphant trumpets, ravaging drums, drunken shouts, vibrant flutes – the song has it all.
is an odd one though, and not nearly as straightforward as its exterior would lead you to believe. On one hand it is a conceptually aggressive, anti-humanist work, on the other the music itself is flippant and upbeat most of the time. There’s no denying that Blodsvept
is unique and enjoyable, but there seems to be a contradiction in the very core of the album itself that can easily leave one shrugging. The concept strives to be meaningful (humans vs. nature, with Finntroll’s own twist to it), but the music invites us to a dance. Maybe that’s exactly what Finntroll wanted to do, though – create a stark contrast because they can (all of the songs on Blodsvept
are in Swedish, meaning most aren’t able to decipher them anyway). It’s no secret Finntroll’s lyrics have always been controversial and anti-Christian much like their music has always been silly and lunatic – aberration is the band’s "thing". Add to that the fact the guys in Finntroll are pretty crazy, and it becomes clear the record was going to end up wacky one way or another. Therefore, without sowing further confusion, Blodsvept
can be summed up as a lively and unique piece of Finnish folk metal that just so happens to be carrying a thought-provoking concept that 99% of the listeners will not be able to understand. Classic Finntroll.