You gotta give credit to FINNTROLL – what started out as a drunken joke among a few friends has developed into a Metal band with decent chops, a touch of aggression, and a knack for creating some pretty cool songs. Irreverent? Yes. Fun? Definitely.
The band received a bit of crap from some quarters after the release of their last album, “Ur Jordens Djup.” That album was decidedly darker than its more rollicking predecessor, and was the first to feature new vocalist Vreth. Those who disliked that album may not find anything here to to bring them back into the fold, as “Nifelvind” does not fully return to the bouncier melodies of “Jaktens Tid” and “Nattfödd.” Instead, it moves in a more majestic direction.
Intro track “Blodmarsch” starts things off with a martial rhythm and a horn melody. And while following track “Solsagan” eventually takes on a hummpa rhythm complemented by group vocals singing a hoedown melody, it is the aforementioned intro that really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The band experiment here with orchestration, with brass instruments making frequent appearances. The resulting sound is more bombastic by FINNTROLL standards, and one gets the impression that the members have recently discovered how much they love the music of fellow countrymen TURISAS and (?) NIGHTWISH.
The compositional experiments do not end there. Three tracks at the end of the album include a theramin, which, though back in the mix, is still noticeable and gives the music a creepy edge. Even one of the songs that is truly folk in its foundation is confounding, as “Den Frusna Munnen” either demonstrates my limited knowledge of Scandinavian and Baltic folk music (more likely), or it is rooted in something that sounds more West African in origin.
One should not interpret this to mean that the band have sacrificed their signature sound. Hummpa rhythms are still prevalent, and all of the music is recognizably FINNTROLL. Likewise, frequent use of a tuba sound conjures the image of trolls lumbering about in their habitat. Anyone who enjoyed the change in direction represented by the last album will still find in this the band that they have come to like. However, “Nifelvind” is more than just “Ur Jordens Djup Part 2,” and does represent a progression. This album is recommended, but fans of the older material should be forewarned that it is a release by a band that continues to chart its course, and is not bound by the decisions it has made in the past.
(Online June 27, 2010)