FINNTROLL - 05/02/2010

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 Metal-Experience.com

 

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.

 

Of course!

 

How did you guys launch into writing material for Nifelvind and how much time did you spend on the songs?

 

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 for Finntroll?

 

Oh yeah.

 

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 way though!

 

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 why!

 

How important is it to you that people actually listen to the lyrics, apart from listening to your music?

 

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 capabilities”.

 

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 play live?

 

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 have music-wise.

 

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 yes, definitely!

 

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!

 

Thank you!

 

You’re welcome!

 

 

Current members

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 (1998–present)

Henri "Trollhorn" Sorvali – Keyboards (1998–present)

Aleksi "Virta" Virta - live Keyboards (2005-present)

 

Former members

Katla – vocals and lyrics (1997-2002)

Teemu "Somnium" Raimoranta – guitar (1997–2003) (deceased)

Tapio Wilska – Vocals (2002–2006)

 

Studio albums:

(1999) Midnattens Widunder 

(2001) Jaktens Tid

(2004) Nattfödd 

(2007) Ur Jordens Djup 

(2009) Nifelvind 

 

EP’s:

(2003) Visor Om Slutet

(2004) Trollhammaren