I say Finland, you say FINNTROLL, a metal act that is perhaps one of the most iconic folk metal bands the land of a thousand lakes has ever produced. Mixing in different styles such as folk metal, black metal, and even humppa music, FINNTROLL has been drifting between folky and blackened soundscapes since their inception. After the release of “Blodsvept” in 2013, they’ve been surprisingly quiet. While time moved ahead slowly ahead and COVID-19 threw even more cogs into the gears of the music industry, the wait is finally over… 7 years later, the band is now ready to release their seventh full-length studio album, “Vredesvävd.” This highly anticipated release will be out on 14 August 2020 through Century Media Records.
If you have been following FINNTROLL, you surely already know that these guys have straight-up been composing magnificent opening tracks on almost every album, creating an intense, almost magical atmosphere. “Vredesvävd” is no different, as it starts off with an incredible intro “Väktaren,” reminiscent of the “Isengard” theme in the original soundtrack of the iconic “Lord of the Rings” movies. In the beginning, it paints a dark, grim, industrial-like picture, with low brass instruments. With its epic choirs, it softens up a bit mid-way and gets a more hopeful, fantastic sound. It’s the kind of song that, when you close your eyes, you’ll be able to picture yourself within a cinematic experience, most likely involving trolls of some kind. This song bleeds nicely into “Att Dödä Med En Sten,” which is launched into a blast beat -fueled fifth gear by its keyboard melodies before taking off. Once launched, the song continues in an intriguing, fun way and proves itself to be a great opener.
With a sound that’s clearly a little bit more dark and grim, the band continues with the lead single, “Ormfolk.” The song is a little bit folkier than the previous track and includes an excellent chorus with great folk melodies and a top-notch atmosphere. The band didn’t hold back on their trademark blackened humppa sound in “Ormfolk,” making this an excellent choice of a first single. “Gränars Väg” starts with a beautiful, more mellow folk intro, after which it picks up its pace again, with bouncy rhythms and a more laid-back chorus. The song feels a little bit more epic than the two previous, including epic gang vocals and beautifully arranged folky melody lines in between the verses and the chorus.
From there on, the album gets a little bit grimmer. “Forsen” is definitely more heavy and aggressive, but it’s lightened up with some great folky interludes that offer a little bit of a break in between the heavier sections. “Vid Häxans Härd” has an enchanting acoustic intro that puts you in a trance, before the song wakes you up again with razor-sharp blast beats and incredible melodies. The song is perhaps the best example of how the addition of Heikki Saari in the lineup provided the band with some excellent clear-cut drumming, varying from impressive blast beats, to groovier rhythms and creative drum fills.
If you were wondering what the best party song on the album is, “Myren,” is a good candidate for unleashing the beast inside you during a vile yet friendly mosh pit. Mathias “Vred” Lillmåns’ gnarly vocals sound very aggressive, while the underlying music, orchestrations, and melodies are some of the happiest tunes written in minor that I’ve ever encountered, providing a stark contrast to the music. With “Stjänornas Mjöd,” the first drinking song, the feast continues with a more classic FINNTROLL sound. The song is less intense and has beautiful and subtle orchestrations included, as well as some epic gang vocals.
We have arrived at the last two songs of the album. The duo sets off with the epic “Mask,” which starts off with a slightly positive-sounding melody, but then turns into a heavy, dark song with trademark dark and folky guitar riffs, humppa rhythms, and great interludes to break the intense and grim atmosphere. The rule of thumb in heavy metal is to not save the best for last, but the longest for last. This is also the case in “Vredesvävd,” which ends with the epic “Ylaren,” clocking in at a bit over 5 minutes. A more laid-back riffing pattern starts a somewhat peculiar song for the likes of FINNTROLL. With a slightly groovier approach and an impressive vocal performance by Lillmåns, the song sticks out in between the rest of the tracks on the album. With its shifting time signatures, the song twists and turns. The “Outro” blends in nicely with the track and turns out to be an excellent choice to end the album with on a high note in what turned out to be an immersive listening experience.
From the first second of “Vredesvävd,” FINNTROLL takes you on a journey through various blackened and folk-inspired soundscapes. The material is darker and heavier than ever, leaning more towards the blackened side of the band, reminiscent of the band’s older work. Overall, the album reminded me quite much of “Jaktens Tid” and “Ur Jordens Djup,” with the difference that it has mixed in the band’s older style with their newer material very well. The sonic folk references are bountiful in the album’s sound and lighten up the overall dark atmosphere. Except for the somewhat slower and groovier “Ylaren,” FINNTROLL doesn’t slow down on this album. The band had promised “Vredesvävd” to be a combination of something old, something new, and a ton of something black, and I’m glad to say that the trolls, after 7 years, have managed to keep their promise and returned with an album as monstrous as the seven trolls behind it.
2. Att Döda Med En Sten
4. Gränars Väg
6. Vid Häxans Härd
8. Stjärnornas Mjöd
Vreth – Vocals
Routa – Guitars
Skrymer – Guitars
Trollhorn – Keyboards, Guitar
Virta – Keyboards
Tundra – Bass
MörkÖ – Drums
Century Media Records