Reviews for March 29th, 2013

Finntroll – Blodsvept

Finnish folk metal band Finntroll have returned with sixth album, “Blodsvept.”

Back in the day I never listened to much Finntroll because they didn’t sing in English. I can enjoy albums that are not in English, but I don’t generally seek them out on my own. Then my sister, who was into the band, gave me a Finntroll album. I may not have understood what they were saying, but damn if they weren’t playing some killer metal. So grudgingly I was forced to admit that Finntroll was a band worth following.

I have continued to listen to the band over the years and I have never been disappointed in any of their material. I still haven’t the slightest clue as to what they’ve been saying in all these songs, but I have enjoyed them regardless. They certainly look like a fun and quirky bunch of guys. I wonder what they are actually singing about; looking at the band promo photos for “Blodsvept” it seems like it could go in a number of different directions. Maybe I’ll find some lyrics and a Finnish-to-English translation website and have a go at finding out.

Whatever you say about Finntroll, you can’t say they don’t stand out from a crowd. Their metal is heavy, yet it is infused with things one normally does not come across in metal. My favorite example is the track “Mordminnen” where the band rocks out with what sounds like a big band horn section. Maybe Finntroll accidentally swallowed the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies? Who knows, but again, it’s so great who really cares? In “Rösets Kung” the band takes a little break where some dude starts mumbling and grumbling like a Finnish Tom Waits. You gotta love it.

Finntroll are anything but bland or boring. If you haven’t yet had the chance to hear the band, now is the time. Listen below to hear the title track from “Blodsvept.”

Wardruna – Yggdrasil

Wardruna is a Norwegian ambient/folk band and “Yggdrasil” is their second album.

One could question me as to how I figured Wardruna belongs on a metal site and I wouldn’t really have a strong answer to defend the decision. There is absolutely nothing metal about Wardruna in the most technical sense. There are no distorted guitars or screaming harsh vocals. In fact there are no instruments considered “traditional” to metal at all. The band uses mostly traditional folk instruments and they even make some of the instruments themselves. The words, of course, are not in English.

So how did I come to the decision to include the band? Well, first of all, one of the band’s members is none other than the mighty Gaahl, formerly of Gorgoroth and currently of God Seed. That alone is enough for me; the man’s metal pedigree is without question. But the other reason is that Nordic and Viking mythology is highly regarded in metal circles and more than a few metal-heads probably dress up in furs and leathers and run around the forest with swords whooping it up before settling down to a nice fire and a horn of mead. Knowing this, I cannot help but think such traditional sounding music would hold a great deal of appeal to such metal fans. It certainly does for me. The third reason is simply that this music may not be metal in the traditional sense, but it definitely exhibits the spirit of metal.

The music on “Yggdrasil” is (for one who normally listens to extreme metal) fairly calm and relaxing. Listening to the album at length without performing any other tasks put me into a dreamy trance-like state that I quite enjoyed given all the craziness that has been going on lately. I highly recommend the album for its medicinal uses alone lol.

Perhaps you’ve seen or heard of the new History Channel TV show “Vikings”? I’ve only watched the first couple episodes so far myself, but you can hear some of the band’s music on the show. For some reason that makes me proud for metal, even though this music is not metal. I don’t know why, but it just does.

Anyway, Wardruna is something I can highly recommend for those who are open to this sort of thing.

Cnoc An Tursa – The Giants of Auld

Cnoc An Tursa are a Scottish folk metal band and “The Giants of Auld” is their first album.

With Cnoc An Tursa we are sticking with the folk metal theme, and finally I get lyrics I can understand. The music falls somewhere in the territory of black metal in style but augmented with various folk elements. The vocals are harsh and screamy.

I think my favorite part of “The Giants of Auld” is definitely the music. The distorted guitars form sort of a droning wall of sound while the keyboards provide embellishment with a Scottish feel. I could listen to these songs without vocals and still be perfectly happy. Not that the vocals are bad, just saying the music is really good. The vocals aren’t bad, but they are a little generic sounding in their execution. They serve their purpose well, but they could be more exciting, or at least more dynamic.

On the whole I like this album quite a bit. Kind of makes me think of a Scottish Children of Bodom. Definitely worth a listen.

Check out the track “The Lion of Scotland.”

Russkaja – Energia!

…And we are back to non-English lyrics. Russkaja is a Russian thrash/jazz/polka metal band and “Energia!” is their third album.

At first I thought there was no fucking way I was going to put this band on the site. But how often do you get to hear something billed as polka metal? So I started listening to it out of sheer morbid curiosity. This is not one of those situations where it turns out that by the end of the album I have been converted to a fan. There is just too much working against this album to win me over. However, this is not due to anything that is lacking in talent or execution; this is simply a matter of personal taste.

I’m assuming the lyrics are in Russian, so that is strike one. There is polka on this album, and that is most definitely strike two. While they call their music polka metal, there is actually very little on “Energia!” that would classify as metal. Strike three.

That said it is kind of interesting to listen through the album once. It’s kind of like a Russian version of Mighty Mighty Bosstones: spunky music with horns and the occasional heavy guitar riff. But honestly, the polka style music is really the most prevalent sound on the album, so I got bored pretty quick. If the lyrics were at least in English it might have engaged me more, but as it stands this was merely a pleasant diversion.

Have a listen below and see what you think.