FINNTROLL is an extreme
metal & folk metal band from Helsinki, Finland. They combine elements of
black metal, death metal, and folk metal with a type of Finnish folk
music called Humppa. Finntroll's lyrics are mostly in Swedish, the only
exception being the song "Madon Laulu" on Visor Om Slutet. Finntroll's
first singer Katla decided to use Swedish over Finnish since he was part
of a Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and the sound of the language
seemed to better suit the band's "trollish" outfit. Despite several
vocalist changes, this tradition has since been continued.
Up till now, the band's discography includes four
full-length albums and two EPs, a sixth album is finished and waiting
for its release in a couple of weeks. The new album, entitled ‘Nifelvind’
(English: Wind of Hell/Underworld) and was recorded at Sonic Pump
Studios (Apocalyptica, Amorphis, Ensiferum) in Helsinki, Finland and
mastered by Mika Jussila (Children Of Bodom, Sonata Arctica, Him) at
Finnvox Studios. The album cover artwork was done again by the band's
own guitarist Skrymer and visually captures the true FINNTROLL spirit
perfectly. With their new album the band has spawned an entire new
genre that successfully blends black metal darkness with folkloristic
melodies, in 2010 FINNTROLL shall proudly reclaim the folk metal throne
and leave myriads of copycats crushed to pieces… And on top of that the
band will be headlining the 2010 edition of the Paganfest tour to
properly celebrate the release of the new album.
So, it appears there is much to talk about and vocalist
Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns was available to answer some questions.
Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of
First of all I would like to
congratulate you on your new album Nifelvind which will be released next
month. We’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it.
How did you guys launch into
writing material for Nifelvind and how much time did you spend on the
Well, the process started in the
spring actually with Tollhorn doing some demos of some of the songs.
Then we started to collect ideas from different people in the band and
talking about how to build up new songs. He just made preproductions of
them and we started learning them and came into the studio. That’s how
we also did it the last time, doing a preproduction of them first.
Which approach did you choose to
make this album? Did you go for a more raw composition or something more
like your previous other works, or something different altogether?
We didn’t really plan what sort of
album we were going to make. We had the songs and then we went to the
studio where we actually really started changing a lot, using different
sounds on them and adding a lot more to spice up the songs, more
details. We changed the arrangements of the songs and stuff like that
but the basic idea of the songs stayed the same as on the preproductions.
Is this a typical writing process
Did ideas come easily so that you
just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
No, when the ideas start coming,
especially when you’re working with Trollhorn, when you go away into the
studio he’ll go, oh, I have an idea and he records it immediately
otherwise he forgets them.
Did you have any goals in mind when
you started to record Nifelvind? Were there any elements you definitely
wanted on the album?
Eeehm.. not really, actually. We
didn’t really talk about it that way but of course we wanted to have the
basic parts on it like the black metal and the death metal and we also
wanted a little bit of the folky parts. When we were in the studio we
tried out some funny orchestras and it sounded so cool that we really
went all the way and put them in lots of the songs.
Did you use any special instruments
for this album? You’re known for doing this!
Yes there’s quite a few of those
special instruments there. We have two guest musicians on the album.
This time we have a real violin on the album. And one of our friends is
from Iran and he came over to play Daf (?) it’s like a percussion
instrument. And of course we had the real accordion and banjos on this
one and we have shitloads of acoustic string instruments like the Greek
bouzouki and some strange Bulgarian guitar, a mandolin and we have
terraminz and casous (??). It’s a bit of a mess, this album. In a good
Are you going to be able to pull
this off live with all these instruments?
I think we’re going to make it sound
really good. And we’re fortunate to have Virta playing the keyboards
because he’s really good when it comes to programming sounds. Basically,
most of it is going to come from his keyboard.
So the guest musicians that play on
the album won’t be joining you on stage to play these things live?
Of course we can’t actually bring
them, and it’s just a couple of songs they play on. One of them has his
own band which he has to play with. It’s not really possible.
Did you guys spend a lot of time on
the recording of this album?
Altogether we were in the studio for
five weeks. Three weeks of recording and two weeks of mixing. Usually we
are quite fast. If we could have had one more week or three days more
even, it wouldn’t have been that stressful. We got everything that we
wanted on the album though.
What’s the most important
ingredient for a Finntroll song?
I think it is to have the right
members. We were talking about that in the studio because Trollhorn
could easily play all the instruments himself, like the guitars and the
bass and probably also the drums but then it wouldn’t be a Finntroll
song because it wouldn’t have the sound that happens when the
guitarplayers pull out their guitars and play. So I think it is the
combination of the people in the band that makes it a Finntroll song.
Could you describe the implications
of the title ‘Nifelvind’?
Do you know the term Nivelheim? It’s
like the kingdom of death, a really cold and dark place. I guess it’s a
cold breeze from the kingdom of death.
Why did you choose this particular
word for the title?
We actually had another title for the
album at first, it was %$#@#$%$$#@&?? (sorry, couldn’t understand this
one at all!-MetalExperience) but we found out that this was very
complicated to pronounce. As the title of our last album was already
quite hard for some people to pronounce, we went for something
different. ‘Nifelvind’ was taken from the chorus of one of the songs. We
also thought it would be suitable for how the music on the album sounds
and for the lyrical themes on the album.
Can you tell us a little about
those lyrical themes?
The basic idea is that there are
different stories for different songs, they are based on myths and urban
legends. They describe the bestiality in humanity. Myths and legends
have been around for ages and they come in different forms over and over
again, they repeat themselves in different cultures. They are a way to
explain life and death, different aspects of humanity, that’s the basic
idea of them. We have written them in a Finntroll way, a Nordic
mythology based legend. Although there is quite a similar theme for the
whole album, it’s not a concept album, the stories are different.
I was told that the first Finntroll
singer, Katla, is part of a Swedish speaking minority in Finland and he
started writing his lyrics in Swedish. Why?
He belongs to that minority, as do I
and he is interested in the old Scandinavian folklore. He has read lots
of Swedish folklore, he grew up with it which has an impact. Swedish is
a really nice language to sing in and it is a really good language to
tell stories in.
Katla still writes the Finntroll
lyrics, do you join him in the writing process?
He has got a free hand to do whatever
he wants. We discuss the lyrics a lot, we back and forth what to do and
we try to lay down a line that we both can agree on. Sometimes I have to
change the lyrics a little to get them to fit the songs, you know with
the rhythm and stuff like that. Of course I always contact him whenever
I want to change anything, it’s teamwork.
Do the other bandmembers actually
know what you are singing?
A couple of guys don’t speak Swedish
at all but some of them do understand what the lyrics are about because
they know a little bit of Swedish although they don’t speak it.
There is one Finntroll song which
was written in Finnish: “Madon Laulu”. Why was this particular song
written in Finnish?
I can’t say actually, I haven’t asked
How important is it to you that
people actually listen to the lyrics, apart from listening to your
I think it’s nice when people get the
idea of what we are singing about because there are so many people that
think we just sing about trolls drinking in the forest. I get a little
disappointed with them because they haven’t taken the time to look at
the lyrics or the translations. I know this band has had a trolldrinking
forest era but on the last albums the lyrics are not about that.
‘Nifelvind’ seems to be a darker
and faster album than the previous ones, is there a reason for this?
I don’t really think that this album
is much darker than the last one. Some of the songs are a bit darker I
guess but we also have more of the “happier” songs on this album. This
is an album that is easy to like, I think this album is a combination of
all our albums, spiced up with something new and fresh.
What are the main differences
between your last album ‘Ur Jordens Djup’ and ‘Nifelvind’?
In my opinion, ‘Nifelvind’ is a more
versatile album, there’s so much variety in the song material on this
one, from classic death metal to soundtrack music. It has more sides to
it than the last album.
So what are your thoughts on the
next statement: “Ur Jordens Djup was already a step forward, but
Nifelvind is actually the first album on which Finntroll shows its full
Yes, that is what I mean. It is a 100%
Finntroll album. It shows off what we are capable of. The guitars play a
really big role on this album, there’s more complex guitarwork and
melodies on it. We also removed a lot of strings and pads from the
keyboard, just to make room for the guitars. It is more of a metal album
than ever before, I think.
“Solsagan”, the first song on the
album (besides the intro), is really dark, fast and raw. Is this an
influence which you would like to develop more in the future?
You shouldn’t expect anything really,
anything can happen!
Who produced the album and can you
tell me something about him/her?
We don’t let in any outside people to
produce anything. We don’t really want anyone touching Finntroll. It’s
mainly produced by Trollhorn. The last one was produced by Tundra and
now it was time for Trollhorn to step in as the producer. Skrymer
actually doesn’t let anyone touch the artwork either.
Which element of the new album are
you the most proud of?
Ehm.. I was actually quite surprised
about the way the acoustic vocals on the album sound. That is something
I am really proud of as it turned out so well.
So will you be doing this sort of
thing more often then?
Maybe haha! As I said, expect nothing
because with Finntroll anything can happen. But I wouldn’t be surprised
if there would be more clean vocal parts in the future.
What have been the highlights and
low points in your career with Finntroll up ‘til now?
Oh, shit. Of course there have been
lots of high points, we are on an especially good path now. With a new
record deal and real good management. We started from scratch in the
spring, updating everything and that was a very smart thing to do
because now everybody is feeling more into it, the band is now better
than ever. This is a really high point in this career so far. When it
comes to low points, 2008 was a really hard year for the whole band. We
didn’t really feel that we were going anywhere. It was really hard to
get the inspiration to do anything. Right now we can actually see the
light at the end of the tunnel again and I think this year is going to
be really kick-ass!
Which song is your favourite one to
I really like the song “Svartberg” off
the first album. That’s a good song to play live. It’s a big song with
really cool riffs in it. There’s not much for me to do in it because it
doesn’t have much vocals but I really like it. It’s one of the best
Finntroll songs, I think.
Which song do you find the most
challenging to play live?
We’ve played one of the songs off the
new album about ten times now, I mean at ten concerts and it’s really
challenging. It’s hard to keep the same tempo during the whole song
because you want to speed up or slow down in certain parts but it’s the
same tempo throughout the song. That’s probably one of the most
challenging ones right now but we know that we will have a hard time
with the new album so we’re going to start rehearsing those songs to get
them to sound the way they should.
You guys have done a lot of touring
and you have over six albums under your belt, how far has Finntroll
surpassed your original dreams?
I think the original dream is still in
tact. The whole point behind Finntroll is and was to have a good time.
If we would not have a good time anymore then we would quit.
What would you say is the most
rewarding part of being in the band?
It is really rewarding when people
come up to you and have honest critcism, you know when people can
actually tell you what they like and what they don’t like.
Have you received any feedback on
the album yet from critics or fans?
There hasn’t been that much, I think
there was one review that said the album was ok.
Are third party opinions (like
press and fans) important to you, or are the band and your music the
only things that matter?
We do whatever we want. It’s nice to
read the opinions of the fans. But if they would say, for instance, we
would really like you to sound the way you did on the ‘Jaktens Tid’
album, we wouldn’t want to do that because we have our own ideas and we
will stick to them whatever.
What would you say makes Finntroll
different from all the other bands out there?
We don’t really put any label on the
music we play. We don’t limit ourselves to only black metal or only
pagan or whatever and we are open to any source of inspiration you could
You probably won’t answer this one,
but what can we expect from Finntroll in the future music wise?
In the near future there are going to
be lots of concerts. Apart from that, I have no idea what the future
will bring. Let’s see what happens.
Will you play any summer festivals?
I don’t really know which ones, but
We’re just about to run out of
interview time, Is there a last statement you would like to make?
I would like to say to the fans that
we will be releasing music on our myspace this Friday! Also go check the
“Solsagan” video out!
Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns – Vocals (2006–present)
Samuli "Skrymer" Ponsimaa – Guitar (1998–present)
Mikael "Routa" Karlbom – Guitar (2003–present)
Sami "Tundra" Uusitalo – Bass (1998–present)
Samu "Beast Dominator" Ruotsalainen – Drums
Henri "Trollhorn" Sorvali – Keyboards (1998–present)
Aleksi "Virta" Virta - live Keyboards (2005-present)
Katla – vocals and lyrics (1997-2002)
Teemu "Somnium" Raimoranta – guitar (1997–2003) (deceased)
Tapio Wilska – Vocals (2002–2006)
(1999) Midnattens Widunder
(2001) Jaktens Tid
(2007) Ur Jordens Djup
(2003) Visor Om Slutet