The trolls have returned from the depths of the Finnish swamps, releasing their most wicked and whimsical offering yet. Nifelvind surely packs in more variety and pure insanity into their clearly defined and positively infecting sound. Since their debut, Finntroll has always cleared their own path in the realm of the vast folk metal scene, incorporating their native style of Humppa music into the brutality of heavy metal. Nifelvind continues this sound, but begins to expand more boundaries than any of its predecessors.
On Nifelvind, we begin to hear sounds and influences rarely present on past releases. After a familiar and epic orchestral introduction, the album kicks into the start of the first metal track, ‘Solsagan.’ Immediately, a darker and more death metal influence is obvious, letting the keyboards and catchy sing-along melodies drop out completely. But devoted fans of the old Finntroll need not fret, for as soon as they are missed, the keyboards enter right back in with a bouncy, brass and string filled accompaniment. Once the chorus enters, the classic and contagious melodies of the Finntroll we love are recalled.
Finntroll began to explore the darker side of their music on their previous release, Ur Jordens Djup, and this exploration is continued and expanded on Nifelvind. As keyboardist and lead composer Henri ‘Trollhorn’ Sorvali states: ‘It’s probably the heaviest album we’ve done… I could pretty much safely say this sounds like a meaner and more wicked version of Ur Jordens Djup with an occasional hint of the first album.’ From the furious blast beats of ‘Fornfamnad’ to the pounding double bass of ‘I Tradens Sang,’ Finntroll’s black and death metal influences have never been more prominent.
It’s not only the guitars and drums that lend themselves to the darkness of Nifelvind. The variety of instrumentation is more eclectic than any other Finntroll release. Banjos, marimbas, fiddles, and a collection of various percussion instruments are just a few of the instruments that intertwine themselves inside Finntroll’s wild compositions. Just listen to the spastic ‘Under Bergets Rot’ to hear an incredibly vast array of sound experimentation, and a simply brilliant use of a theremin. It’s tunes like these that prove that Finntroll is able to move out of the all-too-familiar realm of the current folk metal scene, and set themselves apart as an ever-changing and daring act.
This is not to say that the classic Finntroll sound is gone. Just listen to the folky ‘Ett Norrskensdad,’ which recalls the catchy, upbeat tunes from their previous releases ‘Nattfodd’ and ‘Jaktens Tid.’ With their newfound experimentation and improved production, these memorable tunes feel fresh and lively. They even have the guts to strip everything down to Scandinavian-tinged acoustic folk on the evocative ‘Galgasang.’
Nifelvind comes to a close with the epic and truly wicked ‘Drap’ (the Finnish word for ‘Manslaughter’) leaving a cold and twisted feeling in the listener as the album fades out on one of Finntroll’s eeriest riffs. The frivolous and fun atmosphere of Finntroll is certainly still present on Nifelvind, but with an even more devilish and evil atmosphere than ever before. This contrast of light and dark is what makes Nifelvind Finntroll’s most daring and gripping album to date – a disc that sucks its listeners deep into the dark depths of its wickedness.