Finntroll - Ur jordens djup 3/5
3. Korpens saga
5. Ur djupet
7. En mäktig här
9. Maktens spira
10. Under två runor
Back after another 3-year gap, Finntroll have finally released 'Ur jordens djup', their 4th proper full-length CD and the first with new vocalist Vreth, who replaced Tapio Wilska in early 2006. While on the surface everything you would expect from Finntroll appears to be all present and correct – simplistic, punchy guitars, guttural vocals delivered in Swedish, and keyboard-played folk melodies – it becomes apparent from the offset that something is different than before, and unfortunately there appears to be something lacking.
Even though the symphonic folk elements are still present, for the first 5 full songs on 'Ur jordens djup' they are given a far less prominent role than before. The following track, "En mäktig här" is started with acoustics and odd percussion before going into one of Finntroll's more expected 'party' songs, and is the first on the CD that is seriously fun to listen to. From then on for the last 3 songs things feel far more familiar, and unsurprisingly, sound a hell of a lot better and more interesting than the more serious first half of the CD.
It would seem Finntroll have attempted to at least slightly shake off their tag as the clowns of the folk metal genre with this release, but unfortunately the songs that have toned down the more theatrical aspects of their sound are the weakest and serve to highlight what most listeners would have known all along - the biggest draw for the band was always their somewhat lunatic edge. The uncomplicated and only moderately-impressive guitar playing and vocals combined well with the crazy humppa melodies and cinematic sounds created by keyboard player Trollhorn, and with these elements far less prevalent than before, the metal side to their sound simply doesn't pick up the slack.
Credit has to be given for the uncharacteristic melodic lead guitar playing on the final track before the outro, "Under två runor", and more of this sort of thing would have greatly improved the CD as a whole – simply stripping back a large aspect of your sound without adding anything knew to the mix is never going to be enough to create quality songs, and effort has to be made to add something fresh to the mix.
It may be that Finntroll felt the need to try something a little more sober with 'Ur jordens djup', but the fact is that it stands as their weakest release to date, and if they don't want to fully return to what they are best known for (and can still obviously do, based on the quality of the few songs that conform to that style) with the follow-up CD, a lot more work has to go into rebuilding their sound than they have shown here.
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