(2003) Finntroll – Visor om slutet: Anniversary Special

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Sometimes a band releases something that’s really hit-or-miss with fans. For FINNTROLL, this was “Visor om slutet,” the 2003 all-acoustic EP, which is comprised of eleven tracks but still only clocking in at just over 30 minutes in runtime. The EP is also noteworthy for being the first inclusion of Tapio Wilska on vocals and the last to feature Katla, due to the tumor on his vocal chords making it impossible to continue. The album was also dedicated to the memory of the late guitarist Teemu Raimoranta. Since today is the album’s 20th anniversary, we thought we’d give it a spin and see how the album resonates 20 years later!

As someone who has always had a special love for this album (as a fantasy writer who loves ambient mood music to fit weird scenarios, nothing is better to write creepy swamp scenes to than this album), the stories I’ve heard about other people’s reactions to this album never fail to amuse. A dear friend of mine said that he and a friend got really into FINNTROLL after hearing “Jaktens tid,” so they rushed out to get the next possible album, which was “Visor om slutet.” They listened to about half of the EP before his friend declared, “what is this shit!?” and threw it out the car window. Alas, I’m sorry to have not been there to save the poor, wonderful EP from such treatment.

The album opens with “Suohengen sija,” which is noteworthy for being in Finnish and not the band’s standard Swedish. It’s also noteworthy for being almost all ambient music and swamp sounds. The first official song is “Asfågelns död,” which is a murky, lurking song that feels like trolls sitting around and plotting your demise. I’ve always had a soft spot for this song for writing swampy scenes, but I can also see why people who want FINNTROLL to be heavy and black metal would not be on board. This album seems to have been far before its time, prior to the emergence of other paganic bands, like HEILUNG.

“Försvinn du som lyser” is probably one of my all-time favorite FINNTROLL songs, because I simply love these guys when they’re being bouncy and funky and this song sounds like… you know the party scene in the castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? It’s like that, but again, in a swamp with trolls grunting and partying and dancing. It’s perfect. The album then spends “Veripuu” (another Finnish title, meaning “bloodtree”) back in ambient territory, sounding less like a song from a metal band and more like music from a movie OST. Then we go to another song that I simply love because it sets a good scene for fantasy writing: “Under varje rot och sten,” which is another instrumental, but feels more regal, like this is the party song from the kings in their castles and not of the peasants in their swamps. I particularly love how it kicks up and the energetic vibe increases in the second half.

Then it’s back to the dank swamp again for “När allt blir is,” another ambient piece with birds crowing and not a whole lot else. “Den sista runans dans” includes some mouth organ and strumming acoustic guitar and soothing, slightly solemn vocals. Then, we go to “Rov,” which is basically just 2 minutes of the sharpening of a blade and the grunting of some monster, with creepy chewing sounds. “Madon laulu,” or “worm’s song” (again, in Finnish) sounds like an early morning on the moors, without much embellishment as the acoustic music very slowly sets in, with the drums leaving the most impact. However, the chanting vocals sound very raw and it feels as though you were wandering through the woods and came upon some sort of dawn-time ritual that perhaps you would have been safer to avoid.

Then we hit “Svart djup,” with the sound of an owl hooting, which is quickly followed by strumming guitars. There are few words to express how much I love this song. Something about it – I believe the name relates to “dark depths,” or something to that effect – is just immaculate. There’s something chilling to the sound, something magical to it. It’s the kind of song I’d love to have played at my funeral someday, as it has a darkness but not much in the way of melancholy. It’s got a rather hopeful vibe, really, almost as if it was the final song at the end of a horror movie, when someone escapes to the light. It’s hard to explain, but somehow this track has always resonated very deeply with me. The album then winds down with “Avgrunden öppnas,” which has a regal quality and an ending-vibe, again feeling very cinematic.

Overall, this EP might certainly not be what you expected from FINNTROLL, but if you like ambient, swampy, paganic music, there’s definitely something to be said for the organic quality of the mood this release evokes. For me, who loves ambient mood music for any kind of setting, this release certainly allows for something a little unusual every once in a while. Though the album is all-pagan, no-metal, there’s definitely a certain kind of ritualistic magic to be found in the atmosphere.

Tracklist

  1. Suohengen sija
  2. Asfågelns död
  3. Försvinn du som lyser
  4. Veripuu
  5. Under varje rot och sten
  6. När allt blir is
  7. Den sista runans dans
  8. Rov
  9. Madon laulu
  10. Svart djup
  11. Avgrunden öppnas