Games Meet Metal: Poser or Powerhouse?: Fintroll - Nifelvind

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Poser or Powerhouse?: Fintroll - Nifelvind

Let's get this out of the way: I am a huge fan of weird shit. My main gripe with the past two albums I've reviewed was that they don't branch out from their tried and true formulas enough, despite the fact I think those bands (Dark Tranquility, 3 Inches of Blood) execute them extremely well. While Finntroll may have a formula, it's so far out there it doesn't matter, cause every song on this album stands out on its own. Phil Anselmo recently pointed out that bands rip the hell off of their 2 favorite bands, whereas they need to be ripping the hell off their ten favorite bands. With a sonic attack that reminds me of everything from Children of Bodom lead singer's Finnish punk side band Kylahullut to the symphonic textures of Nightwish, or the happy drinking music of Flogging Molly, Finntroll is certainly no slouch when it comes to mixmatching styles.

Right off the bat, "Blodmarsch"'s neanderthal chorus and horn section let you know this band is out to appease fans of music, not fans of gothic t-shirts. It has a comical, energetic, and sometimes epic style. It can even sound like what Tim Burton would do if he was allowed to remake a classic animated Disney soundtrack, or if back in time somewhere he decided Nightmare Before Christmas should be influenced by Finnish metal.

Songs like "Solsagan" and "Ett Norrskensdad" make you want to grab a drink and party with some friends, while tracks like "Mot Skuggornas Varld" use symphonic textures to graft an intense, epic sound. "Galgasang" is a welcome traditional guitar driven acoustic number, and stuff like "Drap" has an almost Banjo Kazooie soundtrack feel to it thanks to use of xylophones and other wacky instruments, while never losing its metal edge.

My only complaint is that the vocals aren't quite as original as the instrumental, as aside from the lyrics all being in Finnish and sung by a Finnish singer, it's a pretty typical growl through most of the tracks, with the exception of "Galgasang". Still, it's certainly nothing distracting and the singer is good at what he does, so the only real reason it's an issue is because it's not as distinct a voice as say Kylahullut's frontman.

Overall: The mixture of symphonic textures, comical instrumentals, traditional acoustic numbers, and high energy drinking songs make this one of the most exciting and original things I've heard out of the metal underground in a while. The only thing not extraordinarily original are the vocals, but even those are good. Absolutely Slaytanic for a metal head with an open mind. 5/5

Pros: Refreshingly original and exciting tracks means nary a dull moment throughout
Cons: Definitely weird, so some metal fans may scoff it off, vocals not as fresh as instrumental

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