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Midnattens Widunder. Interesting and unique style this band made with this release. Black metal combined with folk music is what you can best label this.
The album starts with the intro, which sounds like some magic fantasy film soundtrack. And then, at the beginning of the second song, the drums set in, followed by keyboard notes and guitars. Svartberg is just a preview of what the album contains. Harsh, high and insane vocals, double bass and blastbeats, guitars, and of course, the keyboards. The keyboards gives an epic feel to the songs, and carry most of the melody. The guitars on the other hand sound like they are used to fill in the blank spots, with nice riffs and heavy, harsh tones that actually fit very well here.
Katla is one of the best extreme vocalist in my list, shrieks with maniacal power that is unbelievable, but his throat tumor that came after this album could be expected I think. I mean, just listen to the guy, it's not like you couldn't see that coming. He was the best vocalist of Finntroll in my opinion, because with his voice he had the whole troll imagine within reach.
But, back to the music.
The songs are well varied, mostly because of the melody from the keyboards, though the drums are well varied too. Song structure changes is also a good talent of the band, listen to Rivfader for example, the middle part blew me away with it's vocals when I first heard it.
Lyrically, the songs are about a war between trolls and the Christian tribe. Of course the trolls win, resulting in the song Segersång, which is the most fun song to listen to on this album.
This album is easy to listen to for a black metal or a folk metal fan, both styles are evident here. But, under 30 minutes, the album may be a bit short. On the other hand, for some it might sound a bit monotonous at times.
With Finntroll being so well-known as it is right now, I'm surprised at the rather low number of reviews present here. So I thought this would be a good place to start reviewing.
To be honest, this album doesn't quite sound like what one would come to expect from Finntroll, and it's a shame. Not that what they're now is bad, but they went somewhat far from what this album represents. Like it has already been pointed, one could consider the band's goal to make fun but catchy music. However, that doesn't quite happen here.
What is presented to us in Midnattens Widunder is a small (only half an hour) but definitely strong pack of material. Most of the songs are based on simple formula: intro; verse; different verse; interlude; breakdown; interlude; verse, and whatever happens from there. And what strikes as the most odd thing (for metalheads, at least), is the lack of guitar solos. Now, don't get me wrong, in this albums the guitars actually did something worthwhile, but it's mostly (if not all) rythm. Where a solo would normally go, we get into an atmospheric breakdown with folk instruments, and after a while the song bursts again. This is what happens in Svartberg, Rivfader and Vätteanda. Since these three are one after the other in the album, it gets pretty old once you notice it.
What makes this album so good then? For one, the riffs. They aren't the most elaborate work of shredtastic composition, but they are presented in a very strong manner. For example, the main riff in Svartberg kicks ass because of how the guitar kicks in backing up the keyboard. Another example of great coordination between guitar and keyboard is the intro riff to the title track, where the keyboard misses a beat that's filled in with a guitar chord. There are several other things that evidence that there was in fact some thought put into this album, like the keyboard intro/outro tracks (which have an odd time signature, by the way), the classy accordion solo in the title track or the little "break" from pretty much everything that is Bastuvisan, a short, simple and fast-paced little song which shows the band's sense of humor. Well, at least I think they weren't serious singing about two priests in a sauna...
Which takes us to the lyrics. It's a bunch of trolls rambling about how much they like to kick Christian ass, but obviously being told in a serious and story-like way. I've even read that some of the characters used by Finntroll (such as RivFader, or Aldhissla) were nothing less than creations of Katla, the main man along with Somnium. They are sang with high pitched, gutural vocals, also delivered by Katla, with the ocasional clean, deep voice, which I can only assume is Somnium or Trollhorn.
In conclusion, this is worth at least a listen from any folk metal fan, or even some black metal fans. Listening to it makes my day, any day, anytime.
Highlights: Midnattens Widunder, Svartberg, RivFader.
This album showcases possibly the strangest melting pot of genres I've ever heard. There are polka influences, metal influences and other things that can't even be indentified. The intro and the outro (Svampfest) are both really interesting to listen to, and I feel as if I have heard them somewhere before. The vocals are growled, which sounds strange with the backing music but fits it nonetheless. The production for the album is fairly good, especially in the instrumental tracks. Not much bass present, but we can overlook that for now. The guitar does an excellent job of harmonizing the keyboards in songs such as the title track and Rivfader. There are also a few good riffs to be found, although a lot of this album is based on keyboard work and chord changes. Svartberg starts off with a really nice riff and progresses into a great song, probably the most riff-filled one on the album. However, my favourite track on here is Rivfader for sure, and I would bet that most would agree with me on it's ownage. It is very hard to explain, but it has a very bona-fide polka beat with the distorted guitars and a nice keyboard melody. The song stops the heaviness at around 2 minutes and turns slow and melodic, then back heavy again. A true keeper of a song.
The rest of the album is decent, and even at 30 or so minutes it can drag at times due to the lack of real riffs.
How could you possibly go wrong with "polka," metal, and growling vocals? The answer is you can't. Finntroll is a great band that doing a damn fine job of being different, while still creating music that is entertaining to listen to as well as heavy as all hell. Most the songs on this album are of medium speed with a very heavy rhythm guitar and keyboards / lead guitars creating some crazy elements over the heavy riffage. Throughout a lot of the songs breakdowns insue where the keyboards will take over for the most part to create a more folky / polka sound. The vocals throughout the album seem to follow the general feel of the music (growly at the heavy / distorted parts, clean during the folk / polka / keyboard parts) and the vocalist shows he has the ability to go from throaty growls to booming talking / singing. As a sidenote, the lyrics are in Swedish (I know for some reason this bothers some people) but it fits the music quite well. The album as a whole is strong, having a variety of songs; two short but speedy songs, two instrumentals, and 5 normal medium paced songs. The only reason that this album is docked some points is the length of the album; clocking in just under 30 minutes with 9 tracks is a little bit disappointing, the album ends just after you're really getting into the atmosphere of the music, but if you enjoy the 'troll's crazy style, then definitely pick it up.
Suggested sampling: RivFader and Midnattens Widunder.