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Finntroll - "Ur Jordens Djup" (CD)

Finntroll - "Ur Jordens Djup" CD cover image

"Ur Jordens Djup" track listing:

1. Gryning 03:33
2. Sång (4:40)
3. Korpens Saga (3:26)
4. Nedgång (3:44)
5. Ur Djupet (4:59)
6. Slagbröder (4:31)
7. En Mäktig Här (4:19)
8. Ormhäxan (4:39)
9. Maktens Spira (3:28)
10. Under Två Runor (5:36)
11. Kvällning/Trollvisan (13:01)

Reviewed by on September 25, 2008

"with clear production, melodic and diverse instrumentation, and vocals that remain on the heavier side, it can hardly be said to be holding fast to an old-school black approach."

The boys of Finntroll are nigh unrecognizable from the “Visor Om Slutet” days, when they were heavy on the folk and troll-like elements, stressing chanting and unusual instruments, almost avant-garde in their approach, with an Ensiferum “Iron” quality to their work. Their instruments and goofily upbeat nature were carried over from "Jaktens Tid," which forged an engrossing dance metal as they incorporated a bass and a great deal more rapidity, and of course, a death metal voice. Then "Nattfodd" was released as metal with a folk basis and pagan church-mockery, which became renowned for unforgettable tracks like “Trollhammeren” and queer compositions of trolls grunting, sounding nearly like a movie soundtrack at points.

The cinematic theming is carried through on "Ur Jordens Djupp," with the opener “Gryning” sounding like the brainchild of Danny Elfman and Tim Burton on another creepy, money-making venture. It transitions seamlessly into “Sång,” a percussion-driven merging of the eerie and powerful, punctuated with a keyboard that develops into a haunted sea-shanty melody reminiscent of their prior release. The new vocalist, Vreth, performs perfectly within the vein of his predecessors, powerful and throaty, and the accordion adds the folk flavor that Turisas tends to flaunt. Trollhorn is phenomenal from start to finish, stealing the show as keyboardists often do, flawlessly delivering solos and the programmed sounds of woodwinds.

“Korpens Saga” begins with a heavily-influenced folk rhythm and the accordion keeps the track light and more uplifting. The keyboard steals in from time to time to lay down a “traditional” sound, but it never dominates the clashing of guitars. “Nedgång” is brooding and laden with Ensiferum-styled background chanting; quite dramatic, to be frank. “Ur Djupet” slides back into the songs of the long sea voyage and “Slagbroder” is sure to please with a progression more linear and identifiable to older fans, the guitars sounding off after the light, fairy keys. Keep your ears pricked, because this is the first track to display the characteristic Finntrollian energy, and its successor, “En Mäktig Här,” will put your feet to the floor for certain in a crazed metal dance worthy of their posterity. The joyousness of it, start to finish, is quite a contrast the brooding work carefully laid down until this point, perhaps a bit disjointed in its attempt to satiate older listeners. “Ormhäxan” is simply familiar, sounding like it might have been held off of “Nattfodd” for the next album, featuring that goofy percussion work and strident guitars.

“Under Två Runor” assumes a “Nattfodd” approach of a thoughtful track near the end, not quite so woodsy as last time, but involving acoustic work and rather emotional drums. “Kvällning” is the signature instrumental closer, followed by a secret song at 1:57 of drunken bandmates singing in what is presumably Finnish, accompanied fittingly by kazoo.

Talented, enchanting, and forward-looking, “Ur Jordens Djup” is yet striking for the pointed absence of drinking metal, party metal, polka metal, whatever label that can be appended to this signature style. Finntroll honestly doesn’t bother with the humppa until the album is halfway through. Expect dark and mid-tempo songs coming one after the other, an atmospheric quality permeating the earliest offerings of this album. If you’re a “Jaktens Tid” die-hard, well, you’ve been warned.

Metalheads tend to stress the black metal influences that Finntroll has absorbed and exhibit in their style, yet sometimes this black label seems to extend too far. This album merely exudes a darker and more atmospheric style than has ever been seen from the crew, and with clear production, melodic and diverse instrumentation, and vocals that remain on the heavier side, it can hardly be said to be holding fast to an old-school black approach. Say, then, that this is more the approach of aging, seafaring pirates than that of ale-soaked Korpiklaani fans banging around the beer halls - an approach with the potential to please newcomers to this style, or old fanatics whetting their appetites for oddball metal.

Keep holding it down in Suomi, troll brothers!

Highs: The progression is fair, considering the constant switch-up of band members, and called for, because they can’t pump out jigs endlessly.

Lows: A few continuity issues need to be worked out. Folks are harder on Henry Sorvali than is likely necessary, but there is something to be said for a dark Moonsorrow approach that melds into familiar Finntroll.

Bottom line: "Ur Jordens Djup" is a fascinating new perspective on Finntroll, who are exhibiting a maturity and movement without plunging into an identity crisis.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)