Finntroll – Blodsvept by Rhiannon Marley

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/Label: Century Media
Released: March 2013
Band Website: www.finntroll.net

Band line-up:
Mathias Lillmåns a.k.a. Vreth – Vocals
Mikael Karlbom a.k.a Routa – Guitars
Samuli Ponsimaa a.k.a. Skrymer – Guitars
Henri Sorvali a.k.a.Trollhorn – Keyboards, Guitar
Aleksi Virta a.k.a. Virta – Keyboards
Sami Uusitalo a.k.a. Tundra – Bass
Samuel Ruotsalainen a.k.a Beast Dominator – Drums

Tracklisting:
1. Blodsvept
2. Ett Folk Förbannat
3. När Jättar Marschera
4. Mordminnen
5. Rösets Kung
6. Skövlarens Död
7. Skogsdotter
8. Häxbrygd
9. Tva Ormar
10. Fanskapsfylld
11. Midvinterdraken

Review:
With comparisons to “a video game with folk music”, a “flying spaghetti monster” and “Beetlejuice on crack” already in the ether, I’m unsure what to expect from Nordic folkers Finntroll’s latest offering. After myriad personnel changes and five dark-fantasy-infused releases, the gents are back with more than a touch of steampunk to their look, and more than a hint of their roots to their sound. The experimentation and bounciness are still there, but they’re tied to a slightly tamer mast than they were during the previous Nifelvind – which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Riffs and hooks are still flammable and catchy, and the Moonsorrow-drenched keys, howling wind effects and choirs are indicative of main composer Trollhorn’s prismatic influence and craftsmanship. But despite lacking the unrestrained randomness of their fifth full-lengther, Blodsvept is still as crunchy, pacing and infectious as each and every one of Finntroll’s other releases.

One of the record’s greatest achievements is showcasing the ensemble’s terrific knack of peppering their folky roots and blackened metal cloak with a thousand other genres – and doing so completely seamlessly. Klezmer melds into thrashier waters, with bombastic jazzy interludes and orchestral snippets, sprinkled with salsa and gypsy swing, all without the bumps and grinds that you would expect to accompany such a bolshy recipe. Yet Finntroll’s constancy in delivery a sonic pastiche which nevertheless retains its loyalty to its folklore origins and is more than capable of pulling out the big metal guns when necessary, is testament to their credibility and musicality, even when returning to a more uniform and possibly ‘safer’ sound in Blodsvept than in recent times.

While keeping their lyrics in Swedish allows them to get away with many controversial realms of anti-religiosity and general brutality, there’s also a cultural pedestal being maintained that, unless you specifically look for lyrical translations (which are interesting, but not essential), allows you to simply get swept up into the essence of the music itself. And Finntroll’s balance of joviality and seriousness never errs too far into either side to lose their place in the hall of commendable folk metallers, or their undoubted status as providers of an exhilarating, feel-good listen.

Perhaps this isn’t their most varied or daring creation to date. But Blodsvept has certified that Finntroll’s delivery of melody that seizes your tendons and nerves and moves them for you, packaged in an unshakeable blackened metal integrity, is as strong and convincing as ever. A very good effort.

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