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Finntroll – Finnish Polka Black Metal in Atlanta

Finntroll - “Nifelvind”

That’s right – I just found out that the mighty Finntroll, Finland’s uber purveyor of polka- and foxtrot-inflected Black Metal, will be in Atlanta at Masquerade on February 1, 2011 with Finnish “heroic folk metal” legends, Ensiferum.  Tickets are on sale now. I will be there. You have been warned.

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Finntroll – Finnish Polka Black Metal

October 19, 2010 3 comments

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.