Finntroll - Nattfödd

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8177-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 36:30:00

Sometimes, if you are lover of music - any music - you want to explore something new. Maybe it's simply "hmm, I wonder what all the fuss is about?" or simply to hear something out of your "comfort zone." Of course, for music itself to progress, it needs to explore something new rather than rehash the same ideas over and over again, so it is with listeners. If nothing else, you come to appreciate your favored genre all the more; hopefully your taste pallet expands. So, it was with this mindset - and the fact that the band was slated for some festival or another (I forget now which) - that I dug out the promo copy of Finntroll's Nattfödd to give it a few listens; it's been in rotation off and on since.

Well, firstly, I should let you know that I'm one of those who don't find much appeal in the "screaming winds from hell" style of vocals, and that's what you get with Finntroll, a band classified as a pagan folk metal band. This is not their latest CD, as it came out in the spring of 2004, which tells you how long it's been in the queue. Not that I've been playing it since then, but when their name came up on that festival bill this year (or last?!), I thought I'd better give this a listen, see if it's an overlooked treasure or? not.

What I can say is this: aside from the vocals? well, vocalizations, though I think there are lyrics -- maybe not in English, but he just as easily could be just growling "musically." Upon further listening, this very well could be a collection of Klingon drinking and fighting songs. Too much aggression to be Klingon love-- no, I take that back; Klingons are reported to be aggressive there, too. (Sometimes I think it's English, catching a word here and there? but it's not; and there are lyrics).

Anyway, all snarkiness aside: aside from the vocals, Finntroll are a high energy group - imagine Celtic prog rock band Tempest on speed. Or, as with the case of "Eliytres," there comes a point where I thought of ? well, what would accompany Keystone Cops scrambling about as if they were in a Three Stooges skit on speed? It actually recalls some classic piece that I can't quite name, but it also reminds me of "Sabre Dance." Keyboards give a richer orchestral atmosphere to the music, like the best symphonic prog metal. I don't know that we can say Wakeman-esque or even Norlander-esque (the latter's CD is also current in rotation at present), but certainly it fall into that style. It creates a nice atmosphere.

Speaking of dancing, you verily could do that with the (sometimes) reel that is "Trollhammaren." It is Irish dancing meets mosh pit body slams. Go on, try NOT to dance when this comes on. Well, it's not an Irish tradition that Finntroll have incorporated but a Finnish folk style called "humppa" or polka. Yes, I said polka. Don't laugh. This is nothing but serious, intense metal ? that you can dance to. Okay, maybe I was amused by the rhythms of "Eliytres," but that was because there was a playfulness about them, even if that wasn't the intention. These are not happy tales being told here - lots of blood and death going on, mostly, I gather, trolls ridding the world of man, made evident in the very first track. So there's nothing intentionally funny about this release -- unless there's some joke I'm not getting in the lyrics? We're not talking Spinal Tap or anything. Rather, in this melding of metal and polka, it's sort of progressive. At least no less in concept than ELP transfering classical music into a rock context or Yes writing rock as if it were classical music.

Finntroll are Finnish, as you might have guessed if you didn't know (I don't think they're actual trolls, however? then again?). That brings forth images of a very cold and snowy land, and the opening part of "Vindfard / Manniskopesten" very much sets a frigid scene (in English, the first part of the title is "Wind Journey" and it does sound windy). But after that ("The Plague Of Mankind" part - as I said it's trolls versus man), we get high energy folk metal, and it's the music that I quite dig. Well, more precisely, the parts of the music that occur between the vocal sections, because I find the majority of the backing music then is bash-bash thump-thump lope-lope, as is so typical of this style of metal (in my opinion) - in the broader sense, not just the pagan folk sub-genre. But when Wilska steps aside? things become more appealing for me. I think Blind Guardian get across the warrior metal feel more effectively with less gravely vocals, but I like what Finntroll are doing.

The title track ("Nightborn" in English) is mid-tempo, starting out with a strident and confident sing-songy rhythm, before settling in to a marching pace. A middle section - for the track only lasts 4:51 - tempers things back, sounding very "old world" (a touch of Italy, but I think that's just because of the violin-like elements).

The odd track here is "Marknadsvisan" ("Story Of The Market"), which is like a tw-minute play - lots of sound effects -- birds chriping; sounds of footsteps, wheels of carts, the clang of smithing? and then a mighty growl before all hell breaks loose with a mighty clash and crash. It's a brutal vignette that, as you might expect, has trollfolk extinquishing humanfolk (and in this case two priests - and I'd say most cases, Christians).

"Det Iskalla Trollblod" ("The Ice Cold Troll Blood") is, comparatively speaking, the darkest musically of the album's tracks; even as is gallops wildly as the other tracks. Its folkiness is more restrained, and, well, comes closer to the metal of Iron Maiden in a way; but again I also think of Blind Guardian. Just to name some of my points of reference.

"Grottans Barn" is slower paced, and while Wilska is still sound gruff and like "hell winds," it's tempered enough that I rather like the gravelly rumble here. In English, the song is "Children Of The Cave" and I thought of the part of Plato's Republic where the postulates about people chained in cave, left facing a wall, seeing only shadows cast by a fire. This song isn't about that, nor is actually making reference to it, but my thought was? and what would happen when those imprisoned in the cave came out. Nevermind the perception versus reality question of Plato? one might also think they'd be pretty pissed about being chained up. Maybe not in Plato's mind, but certainly here. The children have emerged, hungry?

Brutal, yes, I suppose, with all the killing that goes on here. But you know, actually, not bad at all. Oh sure, if your grandparents are big into polkas, they'd run screaming from the room. But don't dismiss this just because of the vocals; hear past them to find some pretty interesting music going on.

Vindfard/Manniskopesten (5:36) / Eliytres (3:46) / Fiskarens Fiende (3:47) / Trollhammeren (3:32) / Nattf?dd (4:51) / Ursvamp (2:03) / Marknadsvisan (2:00) / Det Iskalla Trollblod (3:53) / Grottans Barn (4:36) / Routas Vaggavisa (2:23)

Wilska - vocals
Routa - guitars
Skrymer - guitars
Tundra - bass
B. Dominator - drums
Trollhorn - keyboards

Rivfader (demo) (1997)
Midnattens Widunder (1999)
Jaktens Tid (2001)
Visor Om Slutet (EP) (2003)
Trollhammaren (EP) (2004)
Nattf?dd (2004)
Ur Jordens Djup (2007)
Nifelvind (2010)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin FI

Added: August 23rd 2010
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 957
Language: english


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