BraveWords Interview: METSATÖLL – Be Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolves

By Carl Begai

Every so often an album comes along that forces you to give your head a shake and re-evaluate your opinions. Folk metal bands in 2014 are a dime a dozen; some are good, some not so much, and very little new ground has been broken since Moonsorrow kicked things off way back when Finntroll, Ensiferum and Korpiklaani clawed their respective ways to join them at the top of the heap. Long-time Estonian headcrushers Metsatöll – an ancient Estonian euphemism for “wolf” – have been plying their trade since 1999 and remained under the radar for most of the journey to all but the diehard folk metal fans. Their new outing Karjajuht is bound to change that if and when it reaches the ears of the right people; basically, anyone that gets off on crushing tribal-assault violence in their music.

Metsatöll 1

It’s been a long trip getting to where they are now, but the Metsatöll quartet are anything but frustrated at not having become a bigger deal sooner.

“Everything happened naturally for us, almost by itself,” says Lauri “Varulven” Õunapuu, sporting what can only be classified as a booming Viking-esque voice. “And I can’t say that it is only because we worked hard. Sometimes it was because somebody said to somebody ‘I know a band that uses Estonian bagpipes…’ and that would get us the attention. People had never heard of such a thing and wanted to hear and see it for themselves. The music that we’re making, when we use traditional Estonian instruments and making metal music, it’s interesting almost by itself even for the innocent bystander (laughs).”

Interesting isn’t the half of it. When the band pull out all the stops on Karjajuht it’s an ominous display of power. If anything, the folk metal label Metsatöll has been stamped with offers up a false sense of security, suggesting a certain elvish elegance that only exists in (very short) fits and bursts on the new record. Nope, Karjajuht is more like the soundtrack to a high-spirited barroom brawl started by Amon Amarth. Continue reading BraveWords Interview: METSATÖLL – Be Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolves

BW&BK Interview: FINNTROLL – New Blood For Old F(r)iends

By Carl Begai

Finntroll have seemingly been on a mission to tear folk metal as a genre a new one since 2007.

The Finnish septet rose to popularity amongst pagan/folk metal fans over the course of three albums – Midnattens Widunder (’99), Jaktens Tid (’01), Nattfödd (’04) – but chose to adopt a much darker and heavier black metal-influenced sound when they returned in ’07 with the Ur Jordens Jup album and new singer Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns. Call it a reaction to the folk metal bands that were cropping up at every turn trying to cash in on a trend. It was a move that didn’t hurt Finntroll nearly as much as some fans and media people expected, which led to the even heavier and uglier Nifelvind record three years later. The ‘Trolls showed no signs or intentions of pulling back the violence for the future, which makes their new album Blodsvept a bigger surprise than any black/death/doom metal flavoured platter they could have come up with.

Finntroll 2

“People have said this is the most diverse Finntroll album so far, and I think so too,” says Lillmåns. “We made some good choices when we did the pre-production for this album.”

When it came down to the actual recordings, however, there were moments when Blodsvept was on its way to blowing apart at the seams. The band documented their studio adventures via an online blog (found here), and there was a fair bit of kicking and screaming going on during the recording sessions thanks to some nightmarish technical glitches.

“It was a total horror show this time,” Lillmåns confirms. “They say we have this Finntroll studio curse because usually somebody has a close relative that dies when we’re recording, but this time nobody died. There must be some sort of equilibrium, though, because we had eight tracks of guitars that died in the middle of the whole thing.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: FINNTROLL – New Blood For Old F(r)iends