For those inclined to embrace the dark, Finntroll have always been the greatest of folk metal’s many and varied offspring. Other bands have taken the genre to greater commercial heights and some have made grand creative contributions, too. But still, seven years on from the sturdy, spiky Blodsvept, Finntroll return sounding as unique, instantly recognisable and, despite that familiarity, as absurdly entertaining and endearingly twisted as ever. You simply can’t fuck with the O.G. troll crew.
Safe in the knowledge that their mischievous, malevolent formula has never been adequately copied or bettered, Finntroll have simply made another great album here. As is traditional, Vredesvävd is bookended by eerie, moonlit ambient, but the meat of the campfire feast is firmly in the band’s long-established wheelhouse. But while many comparable bands repeat themselves to no great effect, Finntroll’s brutal, earthy attack has lost none of its initial allure.
Opener proper Att Döda Med En Sten plunges the listener back into Finntroll’s swivel-eyed waking dream with full force; those trademark twinkling keyboard motifs and frontman Vreth’s barbarous rasp swirling around an urgent, priapic barrage of riffs. Elsewhere, recent single Ormfolk is a nailed-on crowd-pleaser in fine Trollhammaren tradition, while both Myren and Mask pump up the humppa with short, sharp and riotous results. For deeper, darker forest hues, both Vid Häxans Härd and album closer Ylaren are as epic and exhilarating as anything in the Finntroll canon.
It’s all textbook stuff to a great extent, but that long hiatus from the studio has given the band a renewed sense of grim abandon. The result is a snappy, immersive and addictive 40-minute riot, with everything from the strident Grenars Väg to Forsen’s demonic sea shanty hammering home the enduring potency of these forest-dwelling diehards’ crazed vision. It’s a genuine relief to have them back. To the forest!