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I am amazed to realise it is three years since Finntroll's previous album, "Nifelvind" came out - an album I quickly declared my appreciation of back then, and still do so now - in which time I have caught them live four times and have pondered why the prevailing underground consensus on these wacky Finns has slid into levels of mediocrity, even disinterest. They certainly were at the head of the folk metal craze, which has notably died down in the last year or two, but to level blame at Finntroll for this gimmicky trend would be unjust, especially considering how their music sounds so utterly unique in comparison to the warpaint-clad plagiarists out there. The live show has begun to feel stale, yes, but will new LP "Blodsvept" do much to dissuade any doubters out there? The answer is yes and no.
As the title track kicks the album into life it quickly becomes apparent the basic formula has not changed, but why should it considering no band sounds at all akin? Don't go thinking this is a mere repeat of "Nifelvind" though - the keyboard passages sound even more juicy and carnivalesque than last time around - "Ett Folk Förbannat" and "När Jättar Marschera" will tell you that - and the overall atmosphere more cartoonish and jovial, which considering I said "Nifelvind" resembled theme park music meets The Jungle Book meets humppa is quite an achievement. The gang vocals of "Rösets Kung" and the banjo-lead manic riffing in "Skogsdotter" lend them the air of a couple of sea shanties; the trumpet accompaniment to "Häxbrygd" provides backing to a punky chorus and a collection of spooky synths not ill-fitting to Scooby Doo or Ghostbusters. "Fanskapsfylld" is more of the same fast-paced funky material that is de rigueur for the band while album closer "Midvinterdraken" slowly comes to life with a broad range of synth interjections of sweeping backing atmosphere alongside those punchy chords that always help reduce any extremity coursing through blackened guitar riffs and hammering drum beats to easily digestible bursts of chaotic humour in Finntroll's sound.
Noting that alongside other bands like Turisas where the synth has assumed an even greater role in the lead aspects of the songs than the guitars, the direction and structure of these eleven songs doesn't deviate greatly from "Nifelvind", however the execution of the contrasting humppa beats and stricter guitar work rarely sounds forced or unnatural, a point which is arguably Finntroll's strength. With Vreth's unchanging blackened vocal howls and the clean yet gritty production doing nothing to harm the band's underground status, it is very much a case of 'if ain't broke' on "Blodsvept" as the album manages to reach the heights of their excellent last outing.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net