Finntroll - Nifelvind
3. Den Frusna Munnen
4. Ett Norrskensdåd
5. I Trädens Sång
6. Tiden Utan Tid
8. Mot Skuggornas Värld
9. Under Bergets Rot
Finntroll are an extreme metal band from Finland with strong influences from black metal, humppa, and folk music. Amongst the metal scene they are categorised under the unofficial but accurate sub-genre 'folk metal' and this album brings no exception to their tried and true formula. Everything good about Finntroll is brought to new extreme levels in this fantastic album. The black is more black, the folk is more folk, the humour is more humorous.
The album strongly shines their influences to light by bringing both songs consisting of a blend of their influences, as well as songs expressing just one. This brings out a very welcome variety, allowing a start to finish listen without inducing boredom, which is a trap a lot of metal bands fall into. It's crazy to think that this band could be very successful even if they indulged in just one of their influences. For exmple, black metal fans are usually the elitist type, only listening to black metal with low quality production, low quality sound, and judging the band hugely in favour of instrument tones over song writing ability. But there are also those who welcome good quality black metal with impressive composition, and the song solsagen is for you. Minor keys, blast beats, powerful accents, the lot.
For those of you more interested in the folk influence, Ett Norrskensdåd should tickle your fancy, opening with a strong, catchy and exciting violin and tin-whistle melody that's returned to throughout the song just enough to rebuild strength without sacrificing the excitement of the melody. The song is built up of keys and scales typical to Scandinavian folk music and heavy metal and is simply just a fun song to listen to.
Galgasång is another of the folk influenced songs but not as you might expect from the band. The metal is put aside for this piece which not only adds to the overall variety of the album but gives a welcome break from the powerful and heavy sound. The song consists of dramatic banjo melody, backed up by acoustic guitar folk rhythm 101 which is more typical of Irish folk music but is still a treat to listen to. The song then introduces a Viking-esque slow paced vocal harmony (another Scandinavian folk influence) typical of folk metal but not typical of Finntroll. And you know what? It really works.
The humour factor of the band comes mainly from the Humppa influence that's unique to Finntroll and it's what gives them their edge. Unlike the preceding album, Nifelvind doesn't include a song of direct Hummppa sound, but it's most present in Dråp which is the song that most stands out to me and is probably the most enjoyable to listen to. With varying tempos, varying styles, varying instrumentation, it's difficult to summarise this song. It has everything. And better yet, half way through the song you are treated to an aspect of the band that everybody loves and enjoys. A sound that can only be described with the word "swamp". It's present in a hell of a lot of the band's music but it's never been done quite so well. It's easily my favourite and most memorable 20 seconds of the album. If I've convinced you to listen to just one song from the album, make it this one.
Enough about individual songs. Let's have a go at summarising the instrumentation. On top of the obvious rock n' roll line up providing black & death metal (as well as adding to the uncommon influences), you are presented with violin and tin whistle Scandinavian folk sections, Banjo and acoustic guitar Irish folk sections, Accompanying Xylophone sections not tied to any specific influence (even occasionally joining in with the metal), swamp-life samples, trumpets... the list goes on. I would love to provide you with more details but I just haven't put a die-hard amount of time into instrumentation analysis. All that needs to be said is there's a hell of a lot of it and it keeps the album exciting.
As for the studio production and quality, you couldn't ask for more. The levels are very well balanced, allowing the listener to pick out individual instruments if they so choose. The performance is perfect with no errors becoming immediately present. The guitars are doubled up to create that room filling guitar power that all metal fans know and love. The budget is high enough to make this album sound completely professional from start to finish, all the while avoiding the common high-budget mistake of all instruments sounding isolated from each other. It's brought together magnificently and is the cherry on top of a huge, delicious, extreme metal cake.
Nifelvind is a huge improvement to what already made Finntroll amazing. It's new. It's exciting. It's unique. And it's SWAMPTASTIC!
Make sure you give it a listen.
- Nivag the Owl
P.S. Just for credibility, this review is coming from someone who's otherwise not a huge fan of the band.