Written by: EW on 17/01/2010 16:00:03

The world of folk metal has changed in a dramatic way since Finntroll gave it a major kick in the arse in the early half of what is now the last decade with 2001's "Jaktens Tid" and 2004's "Nattfödd", and as we now enter the tensies (has anyone reached a consensus on this yet?) we see the band on album no.5 looking to define a new sound for both themselves and the genre at large. Most well-known for the bouncy good-time humppa of songs like "Trollhammaren" the beast that is Finntroll nowadays have taken on an interesting symphonic film-like, carnivalesque feel across much of "Nifelvind", a sound that could perhaps be said to be as close a match as possible to the style of the new official band shot currently doing the rounds.

Picking the bones out of this multi-layered and phantasmagoric opus is certainly going to require one to give it some repeated and careful listening, and I have done my best to award "Nifelvind" such attention in the last few weeks but even now I feel like my brain is struggling to comprehend the humppa-meets-carnival bizarre lunacy of "Under Bergets Rot" and "Fornfamnad", serving as two noteworthy examples of many. Short of you listening for yourself, the best simile I can imagine for describing some of the madcap moments here is this: you know the kind of music that theme parks play when you're queuing ages for some extravagant and other-worldly ride, well mix that with a dash of humppa and just a smattering of pure Scandinavian folk metal and you're close to the sound on offer on here. Unusual, huh?

Every song is built around it's own dynamic and while the overall album retains a consistent feel no song could be said to sound exactly like any other. Opener "Blodmarsch" builds the foundations of a symphonic fantasy world before leading into "Solsagan", one of the albums fastest songs and that most guaranteed to be played live with it's chorus of "hei hei yah hei hei hei yah!" (or something to that effect). "Den Frusna Munnen" opens like it might be an excerpt from 'The Jungle Book' (or Exodus' "Low Rider" cover if you fancy a more metal comparator), however it's latter stages do reveal the band aiming to keep at least a toe in folk metal territory with a collection of chord-based riffs exploited by the likes of Turisas in recent times. This toehold however is barely increased throughout the rest of the album where it seems Finntroll's tactic to retaliate against the influx of folk metal bands in recent years has been to depart from the arena altogether. "I Trädens Sång" is a symphonic black metal tune while "Galgasång", replete with acoustic guitar and banjo hoists the flag of songs to be sung round the rural campfire, mates and beers in tow.

It is interesting that Finntroll are releasing this album in the opening two months of the decade for they are one of the defining bands who ushered in the lasts' obsession of all things folk metal, and with this purposeful change in direction we could well be seeing a sign of things to come. "Nifelvind" emerges from the carnivalesque smoke to finish off as a successful and valiant attempt at pushing the genre into new territories and mark my words, if we see more bands following Finntoll's lead and pursuing a similar style in the coming decade away from the standard folk metal template, you'll know where it all began.


Download: Solsagan, Under Bergens Rot, Fornfamnad
For The Fans Of: Turisas, Ensiferum, Moonsorrow
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 17.02.2010
Century Media Records

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