When you think of the original Finnish trolls of pagan/folk metal, fewer names will come to mind before that of FINNTROLL, who gained international fame sometime around the release of “Trollhammaren” from 2004’s “Nättfödd.” Pretty consistently balanced between extreme and folk elements throughout their career, this meant that 2013’s “Blodsvept” – where the band took a visual 180 into steampunk and used brass in most tracks – was hugely polarizing for fans. Today marks the album’s 10th anniversary, so we decided to give it a spin and see how it holds up after all this time.
Say what you will about it, but I absolutely love this album. It very arguably could be my favorite FINNTROLL album, as extreme metal has never enticed me deeply, though my musical history includes a long obsession with folk metal for 5-8 years. This means that albums like “Nifelvind” and “Blodsvept” – being among the band’s more lively and bouncy albums – were among the most joy-inducing for me. This remains completely true 10 years later, despite the delight I get from listening to folk metal lessening significantly over the years. The first FINNTROLL song I fell in love with was “En Mäktig Har,” which is an extremely lively, upbeat, and positive track about a battle. This vibe, with high-energy, bouncy, danceable-yet-moshable material, is ever-present throughout “Blodsvept,” which is from whence most of its charm is derived.
Following a somewhat familiar pattern, the album opens with two extremely upbeat bangers before entering slightly danker territory. Truly, how can anyone listen to the intro to “Mordminnen” and not get excited? This album boasts some of the band’s funkiest, catchiest riffs. The consistent presence of a delightful melody keeps “Rösets Kung” going with the same excellent feel.
The swampier troll sound is best heard in “Skövlarens Död,” which has some exploratory riffing that really grooves its way into your ear after a while, while the sound from “Skogsdotter” is reminiscent of the banjo sound in some SONATA ARCTICA songs, weirdly enough… and it still rules. “Häxbrygd” has a bit of a more rockin’ feel to it in the guitar sound, a bit unusual for FINNTROLL, yet with the fun brass and a good mood, it still works delightfully.
“Två Ormar” has always been a personal favorite for its quirky trolly vibes, creepy carnival bounciness, and weird-ass vocals. It went immediately on all my Best-Of Finntroll playlists when I first heard it and it has never left. There’s definitely some remnant of “Nifelvind” in the haunted-house sound. They kick the trolls-having-a-party vibe up once more with “Fanskapsfylld” before they go into a somewhat more straightforward pagan black metal sound with “Midvinterdraken” (aside: guess what that translates to, I dare you). While I do still really enjoy this song, with its creeping through the woods intro, on these more recent listens-through, I realized that fans of that more straightforward black sound would surely find that brass to be a little irritating, almost as though the band wasn’t taking what they were doing in their woody, pagan-y sound seriously. With that in mind, I challenge, why so serious? Let ’em have a little fun and play steampunk for a while! After all, they did go back to the swamp after their touring of the brass world.
Perhaps the thing this album lacks, which makes those brass-haters all the more testy, is to be found im the significant reduction of black metal elements. While Vreth‘s vocals are ever-drenched in dark and dank swampy growls, the melodic style is pretty different from what one might have expected from the trolls. Considering FINNTROLL took an extremely long break after the release of this album, with only one new release in 2020 since it came out 10 years ago, it leads one to wonder what the band felt, after such a drastic stylistic change, especially considering that “Vredesvävd“ was a return to form for them. Personally, as a big fan of this album, its very late followup was a bit of a letdown, feeling like it was somewhat uninspired despite having had 7 years to brew, and perhaps sticking a little too close to things they’ve always done. Taking a big swing is always a risky move for a band, and while I can surely understand why this album may not sit well with some, I’ll still happily give it a spin anytime!
- Ett Folk Förbannat
- När Jättar Marschera
- Rösets Kung
- Skövlarens Död
- Två Ormar