Finntroll and Korpiklaani are the two prime contenders for the throne as "kings of Finnish folk metal." They both do more or less the same thing, combining death metal guitars with the rhythms and melodies of humppa, a Finnish style of polka; both groups incorporate native instruments, though Finntroll get by with more synthesized sounds than Korpiklaani. On this album, Finntroll are also heavier than their countrymen, assaulting the listener with some surprisingly brutal riffing on "Solsagan" before the accordions and keyboards come in. Songs like "Ett Norrskensdåd," which feature a bigger dose of fiddles, flutes, and such, are clearly superior -- and much more fun -- than the more straight-ahead metallic stuff. On a few tracks ("Mot Skuggornas Värld" and "Fornfamnad") they also bring in the sounds of an orchestra, which grants their work an epic dimension not found in that of Korpiklaani -- or, indeed, in Finntroll's own earlier work. The group takes what might seem on the surface like a fairly limited sonic palette and, through the judicious importation of unexpected instruments (including theremin), makes it into something special.
by Phil Freeman