Friday, April 30, 2010

Finntroll: Nifelvind (2010) Review

Finally, a band which bridges the gap between what I listen to and what my great-grandmother used to listen to.

If you're familiar with Finntroll, you know they are one of the best folk metal outfits around. They combine black metal with Finnish humppa music (like German oompah music, and not too far from my great-grandmother's polka). I already had their 2007 release, Ur Jordens Djup, and I really liked it. But I had no idea how good Nifelvind would be.

Except for the mellow "Galgasång," and the bonus track "Under Dvärgens Fot," these Finns do not let up. The album is blisteringly aggressive. Yet it's extremely bouncy and accessible due to the two-beat writing style dictated by humppa tradition. Several tracks also include a complete orchestra, giving them a highly dramatic element. Throw in the drinking song "Under Bergets Rot" and the aforementioned "Galgasång," and you've got a well-balanced, highly listenable, aggressive, and entertaining album, which runs the gamut from mellow, to drinking song, to fighting song, to epic.

The Verdict: While many in the US may still think folk metal is a curiosity, a gimmick, or a fad, people in Scandinavia (and other Germanic countries) and Finland are not joking. Finntroll has set out to prove their seriousness. They've catapulted themselves past their countrymen Korpiklaani (who seem too focused on drinking songs) and the Swiss Eluveitie (who failed to experiment on their last album) to firmly establish themselves at the top of the folk metal game. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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