Home > Polka Black Metal > Finntroll – Finnish Polka Black Metal

Finntroll – Finnish Polka Black Metal


Cover of Finntroll's 2004 album "Nattfodd"

Finntroll – “Nattfodd” (Spinefarm Records, 2004)

This is Pitch Black Brigade’s first review, a review of Finntroll’s disc “Nattfodd.” But, honestly, how can anyone be cogent or insightful when they are writing about a Finnish polka Black Metal band that pretends they are trolls and sings their songs in Swedish? As our friends in the great band Corrosion of Conformity would say, “I’m at a loss for words” for how to describe polka- and foxtrot-inflected metal.

Here is what I can piece together about Finntroll (given the fact that my Swedish is about as good as the Swedish chef spoke on “The Muppet Show”): They started playing together in 1997 in Helsinki. The impetus for the group came “during a night of alcoholic carnage in Finland,” when “Teemu ‘Somnium’ Raimoranta (guitar) and Jan ‘Katla’ Jämsen (vocals) conceived of a band that fused the darkness and grandeur of black metal with the traditional Finnish hoedown-music.”* The band coined its odd name from “an old Finnish legend where Swedish priests coming to Finland encountered a wild-looking man who killed most of their party. The survivors went back [to Sweden] bearing the tale of the Finntroll.”* And, by the way, I’m not making any of this up. Today Finntroll play as a septet, featuring a lead singer, two guitar players, two “trolls” on keyboards, one on bass, and a drummer. “Nattfodd” – or “Nightborn” in English – is the band’s fourth album.

So what does the fusion of the “darkness and grandeur of black metal with the traditional Finnish hoedown-music” sound like? It is an incongruous melding of Black Metal, folk metal and Finnish humppa. What is humppa, you ask? It is a style of Finnish dance hall music from the 1950s that reinterpreted the old foxtrots of the 1930s into a new context. Humppa‘s tempo is hyperkinetic – two beats to a bar or approximately 220-260 beats per minute.  As you might imagine, the keyboards carry the burden of creating Finntroll’s distinctive humppa sound.

What do you get when you throw it all together?

Finntroll – “Eliytres” from “Nattfodd“:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa1k1iBtGTE

Sometimes they sound like a Black Metal band and sometimes they shuffle like a ska band that chased four shots of espresso with Red Bull.  It is, you’ll have to admit, an incongruous but fun mixture.

Korpiklaani, a Finntroll-inspired Finnish band, describes their music as “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars.”  And while Korpiklaani sound different than Finntroll, I think this description provides a good description of “Nattfodd” and polka Black Metal in general – “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars” and blackened Black Metal vocals.

That’s enough about Finntroll from me; you’ll just have to decided yourself.  Let me know what you think.

Finntroll – “Trollhammeren” from the album “Nattfodd“:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGywo81G6lk

Finntroll – “Nedgand” from the album “Ur Jordens Djup“:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2HMWBsgURs&feature=channel

*http://www.myspace.com/officialfinntroll, accessed 10.18.10 5:46 p.m.

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  1. TheWife
    October 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I was so entranced by the visuals in the Nedgang video (link #2) – which appears to be some mash-up of “The Ring” meets “Princess Bride” – that I’ll have to click the link again, but minimize the screen to hide the video so I can enjoy the music. I really enjoy the fact that the singer is also turning into a tree while belting this one out.

  2. October 23, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I watched both videos, and all I kept thinking was “Wow, that’s some goofy stuff there!” Then again, I don’t know a whole lot about Black Metal, so it’s funny/creepy to me.

  3. October 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Rachel, I don’t know that much about Black Metal either – I’m learning as I go – but you identified exactly what interested me in it: the “what the hell?” factor. I had no idea so much weirdness (both funny and creepy) could exist in one (rather fluid) genre of music. It is a weird world out there. And it gets even weirder: there are Black Metal bands that sings the praises of Satan, Thor, trees, and all kinds of other things, but my next post is going to be about “space Black Metal.”

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