Album Review: Finntroll’s ‘Nifelvind’

It’s a bad habit of mine that when I listen to music, I envision locations and scenarios in which the music I’m listening to might take place. Well, maybe it isn’t a bad habit, but it certainly is a habit that affects how I listen to music. I can’t help it, certain tones or sounds immediately conjure up a setting and then I’m stuck. Such is the case with ‘Nifelvind’, the sixth studio album from Finntroll. A few songs into the album and I was convinced that I was listening to the soundtrack of a twisted medieval carnival. This image stuck with me through the entire album and gave me some interesting mental imagery to say the least. 
To those of you who haven’t listened to Finntroll yet, these Finnish metallers combine extreme/black metal with traditional folk progressions and instruments. This makes for some very unique rhythms and melodies that one would not normally associate with the metal genre. ‘Nifelvind’ is never lacking in either of these. 
Nifelvind

‘Nifelvind’ is an incredibly interesting album to listen to. The mixture of folk with metal is unmistakable and sometimes, though the track is extremely heavy, it feels like a folk song with the distortion turned up (check out ‘Ett Norrskensdad’ for a good example of this). There are almost always huge symphonic melodies being played behind the metal. However, because there is so much going on at once, the production suffers a bit in that it can get somewhat muddy and hard to distinguish one instrument from another. 
Now, don’t get me wrong, the playing is tight and the overall sound quality is very high. The instruments are crisp and direct without being overbearing or piercing. It’s a joy to hear some of the more “traditional” instruments blending in with the electric guitars, such as in the acoustic ‘Galgasang’. But, in many of the other tracks, there is almost always layer after layer of instrumentation going on at once that becomes very tiring to try and dissect. 
Overall, ‘Nifelvind’ is fun, frenzied album that will satisfy the needs of someone who loves mixing their metal with a Renaissance festival. 
4 out of 5 skulls