Since Ur Jordens Djupp, Finntroll have felt it appropriate to drop the largely successful “fun and entertaining” feel of their material that was starting to get them such high acknowledgements in the metal community. Gone are the days where their music was once a CD that you could throw in with your friends and crack open some liquor and have a good time. Now, like many bands in the Folk Metal genre, Finntroll has become a rather serious act, and while it’s not the bad compared to their highly acclaimed Nattfod, Nifelvind is in a whole other world it’s self, and is their most mature piece to date.
One look at Finntroll now, and even on listen to some of the material on Nifelvind, will tell you that this is no longer a band all about trolls and humorous yet still heavy as hell Humppa fused Metal. Basically, the band now looks like something you would see out of a high school Social Studies text book, adorning clothes that look more like what would have been worn when railroads were the new thing, and the rich wore top hats with gold plated watched attached to their coat strings by a chain with mafia ties through backwater family members. Odd, right? Yes, and their music can often work with this newly discovered image of technologically advancing redneck elves. Take “Ett Norrskensdåd” for example, which has less of a folk feel to it, and more of a downhome feel that you would expect to hear banjo’s playing. If that’s not enough, you also get “Galgasång” which does feature banjos, and sounds more like some ballad you would hear in some Western. Even “I Trädens Sång” has a bit of a dark carnival, turn of the era feel to it thanks to some of the instruments utilized in the background, as does the closing track “Dråp”, which ultimately is just really bland.
While Nifelvind is a dramatic departure from the band’s roots, though not too shocking considering there are no more founding members of the band since the passing of Somnium [R.I.P.: March 16th of 2003], it is still a heavy hitting release that is highly enjoyable. While “Bloodmarsch” has a clearly blatent studio hiccup in the harmonizing vocals where you hear some editing done thanks to, on the third line of harmonization, having it cut in layered atop the present singing/chant, but rather abruptly as if the start of it was cut off by a second or two. It’s very hard to miss as you hear a click when it happens, which will make you wonder how it is that the band, producer, and even label execs missed this one and didn’t call for some sort of mulligan on the openning track. Even with this issue, the intro sets up the mood of the album well for the track “Solsagan”, which is as much fun as you’ll get on this album, having an off-beat, more serious feel of the band’s successful single “Trollhammaren”.
After the track “Galgasång”, the rest of the album goes back to the kind of material that made the band known, sounding as if it came off Nattfod or their second release Jaktens Tid. While this would be a welcome move by the band, the problem here is that it feels extremely watered down and insanely boring with each track you get further in. The mood of the album shifts horribly that you don’t even get the whole turn of an era railroads are introduced start-of-technology modern-day progressing backwoods elves that you get from practically every track on this album. Instead, it’s just music, closing with the aforementioned “Dråp” which is highly disappointing as it just feels drawn out, as well as tacked on.
So, as you can see, this new era of Finntroll is not exactly the kind of era one would hope for. To sit down and say anything so negative about these once giants in their field is greatly disheartening, but sadly must be done. Nifelvind is still a very powerful and impressive album, but the more serious overtone of the music greatly diminishes what made the band so great in the first place. Some of the material on here sounds rather repetative and just flat out boring with the speed and humor of the band’s past. While still worth a listen, it’s important to walk into this release as a whole new entity, otherwise the replay value of this release will be lower then it does deserve.