Label: Century Media
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Folk metal is a huge and diverse genre, full of bands that manage to sound completely different, while still remaining part of the same family. Folk metal easily straddles the line of traditional or power metal, with more melodies and hooks seemingly worthy of dancing rather than headbanging. It also lies on the complete opposite end of the spectrum straddling the lines of black metal and death metal, full of dark themes, and even heavier tunes. Either way, it brings together fans of folklore from all across the world, and thanks to Finnish pioneers, Finntroll, the genre has exploded into being one of the largest and most diverse subcultures in metal.
Finntroll has always managed to release fantastically dark albums, full of mythological creatures, Finnish folklore, and even anti-religious messages. Forming in 1997, they have yet to release a failure of an album, or even a “so-so” release. Their sixth studio album, “Blodsvept“, is another promising and powerful addition to their already impressive discography. One warning to the listener however, don’t let the name fool you. “Blodsvept” is likely one of the most lighthearted and playful releases to date from this band.
Vader himself would likely say “the folk is strong in this one…” as throughout the entire album, there is constant folk elements in the music. The lead patterns in the guitar, moments of trombones and brass instruments, and superbly orchestrated keyboard presence makes for some happy sounding music, despite Vreth screaming his lyrics in Swedish at you. Finntroll absolutely turned the folk up to 11 in this release. In tracks like “Ett Folk Förbannat”, “Skogsdotter”, and “Två Ormar” a beer is practically a necessity, or some form of drink to put in a stein and swing along. The musical arrangement and instrumentality is more dance-like than metal, but with the heavy guitar, bass, and drum presence, it makes for a fabulously original sound, reminiscent of Jaktens Tid just a bit more polished.
Skrymer, Trollhorn, and Routa on guitar have a phenomenal balance of rhythm and lead focus, a true art in folk metal that many take for granted. This can truly be found on the last song on the album “Midvinterdraken” which is a more finn-traditional sounding tune. This song, like many albums in the past, is dark and gloomy, and almost seems to pull you in with its minor key and driving, yet slower tempo bass and drum lines. After an album full of the near cheerful tunes, this track is a definite breath of fresh air, but in a classical reminiscent sort of way.
The album as a whole maintains that typical Finntroll aggression, especially in the title track, but a lot of the heavier more black metal like elements are lost. A step in the more melodic direction may not necessarily be a bad thing for the band, as even though this album is very contrastive to any in the past, it’s an outstanding release and something to be proud of. A few classic Finntroll fans may be lost, but this is opening a door to an entirely new group of fans, those of us who enjoy the folkiest of the folk metal, rather than the black metal dipped in a light folk metal batter. Face it, most of us don’t understand the lyrics, and have to use Wikipedia to track down what an album is even referencing. So listen to the album expecting these happier sounding tracks, some even bordering silliness, grab a beer and enjoy… as that is definitely the point of the album.
“Blodsvept” is a strong release, worthy of a toast, so cheers Finntroll, to another amazing album.