Finntroll

Live at the House of Blues

Hollywood, California

April 25, 2010

Finntroll first caught my attention in 2004 with the release of the “Trollhammaren” EP. They had garnered quite a bit of worldwide attention from this release due to the unusual mix of traditional Finnish folk music and heavy metal. While only a handful of bands dabbled in this concoction at that time, it has now exploded in popularity with Viking Metal and other subgenres of Neo-Folk Metal blossoming into special festival tours dedicated to this style of music.

A number of line up changes have occurred in Finntroll over the years, from the tragic death of founding guitarist, Somnium in 2003 to having gone through two prior vocalists before Vreth came on board, they have since stabilized and had a consistent roster for the last four years. With their current stage presence they have gathered an increasing number of fans through their frenetic performances.

The backdrop and side banners depicted dark troll imagery in the same style as their album artwork which is executed by their guitarist, Skrymer. Virta, the live keyboardist and Beast Dominator, the drummer were first on the stage. The keyboards take on an important and epic role in Finntroll’s music and tonight the mood was set with a fittingly epic intro, “Blodmarsch”.

Skrymer and Routa handle the dual guitar duties and Tundra joined them on stage with his bass. Finally Vreth took the stage and they blasted into their first song, "Nedgang" followed by “Dråp”. Several of the members had similar facial paint depicting a large branch or vein running down through their right eye, across the face and neck and onto the torso.

They are extremely intense live with constant movement and hair whipping everywhere. The keyboardist and drummer, being the only ones locked down to one position on stage, were still constantly moving despite being tethered to their immobile instruments.

The new album, “Nifelvind” is literally full of amazing songs so it was a pleasure to hear them delve into some of my new favorites but they did plenty off their other albums too with songs like “Slaget Vid Blodsälv”, “Korpens Saga”, “Nattfödd”, and the excitement rippled through the crowd when they did “Trollhammaren”, the entire audience singing along and fists in the air for the chorus.

They played about 15 songs for their main set, the last being “Solsagan”, which is also off of “Nifelvind”, and it was awesome live. After a short break they came back out for the encore which consisted of an old favorite “Jaktens Tid” and then finally “Segersang”.

Very impressive to see them live and play such a long set. Even though it seemed like they went on early, the show was extensive and very rewarding for long-time fans like myself and it felt quite late as we departed the venue.

It was a really good show, very moody and dark in visual atmosphere and fitting for the mental imagery a name like Finntroll brings to mind. While their music is very heavy and dark, there is always that interesting and uplifting folk element with its festive qualities that brings a smile to my face and makes me mentally dance a jig if not outright.

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