Finntroll was born by half-accident at a Helsinki-based rehearsal room in 1997, when two drunken friends, guitarist Somnium (1977–2003) and vocalist Katla, started experimenting with an alluring fusion of black metal riffs and Finnish “humppa” rhythms. With an added boost of folk melodies, fierce drumming, and poetic Swedish lyrics, they quickly managed to create their own unique musical style and antichristian trollish folklore.
Their highly original debut album “Midnattens Widunder” (1999), featuring a full line-up of Teemu “Somnium” Raimoranta, Jan “Katla” Jämsén, Samuli “Skrymer” Ponsimaa (guitar), Trollhorn (keyboards), Samu “Beast Dominator” Ruotsalainen (drums) and Sami “Tundra” Uusitalo (bass), was an underground hit, which paved the way to the future success. Its manhunt-themed successor “Jaktens Tid” (2001) took things several steps further. With catchier songs, clearer production, and exquisite, parallel artwork, executed by guitarist Skrymer, the trolls were ready to take over the world.
At the height of their newfound international fame, the band was struck with two major tragedies. Firstly, Katla lost his voice due to a tumor in his throat. He had to go through a series of operations forcing him to quit the band that he had co-founded. Secondly, the other founding member, Somnium, fell off a bridge and died tragically. Their last works as members of Finntroll were captured on the acoustic EP “Visor om Slutet” (2003). The EP also introduced Katla’s successor, Tapio Wilska, a scene veteran with numerous albums under his belt.
Wilska’s first full-length Finntroll album “Nattfödd” was a huge success, catapulting the band to new heights in album sales as well as festival billings and tours around the world. The upbeat troll anthem “Trollhammaren” was a bonafide hit single by any and all standards, but the band chose to cast aside fortune and fame, and take a completely different approach on their next album. The pitch-black and austere “Ur Jordens Djup” saw yet another crucial line-up change, as Wilska stepped down and handed his mic to Vreth, a versatile prodigy of Swedish-speaking decent, as was Katla, who was rehired as the band’s freestanding lyricist. Despite the more underground and black metalish approach, the band toured relentlessly around the world, broadening their popularity.
“Nifelvind” took the band’s cinematic elements to the next level and introduced an even wider spectrum of folk influences from different parts of the globe. The highly unusual “mariachi band from hell” mixture, spiced up with a steampunk meets troll ears visual image, hit the bull’s eye: The album charted #8 in Finland and #31 in Germany. “Blodsvept” continued where “Nifelvind” left off with a slightly more aggressive and carnevalistic approach with unpredictable twists and turns that vary from Danny Elfman-esque trickery to swing music and everything in between.
The band had cemented their position early on at the very top of their game, often regarded as one of the pioneers and leaders of the folk metal scene, but it’s not an easy task to reinvent oneself with every single release. It took seven years, but Finntroll is back with yet another vastly innovative jaw-dropper!
“We must have written an album’s worth of material, but we decided to put the songs on hold and write new ones. Now, with ‘Vredesvävd,’ I have zero regrets. It has the best and most aggressive vocal performances that I’ve ever heard from Vreth”, says Trollhorn.
With another milestone on their hands, the first with drummer Heikki “mörkÖ” Saari who joined the ranks in 2014, Finntroll are sharpening their teeth and grinding their axes for the next attack over mankind. One cannot but marvel the endless spring of creativity of these fine Finnish musical anarchists.
“We are really looking forward to getting back to touring full time again, even though we never completely left the road at any point. Right now extensive plans to tour all over the globe are being forged!” Vreth declares.