As the summer moved steadily towards a close and the cooler North winds prepared us for their yearly visit it would prove to be the perfect time for a Finnish Troll invasion once again. The band had been here once before as direct support for Germany's Sodom, and to be brutally honest the Trolls would blow them off the stage with the combination of Humppa melodies blended skillfully into Dark Pagan Metal. The show that night was an alcohol-fueled display of Metal might that not only proved that this was a band of headlining capacity, but also one that would be the cause of hundreds of head banger hangovers the following day. To quote a friend of mine after this show, it felt like someone had opened my brain with a can opener and I was hard pressed to disagree. It's safe to say that once you have heard or seen them live that you will not soon forget them.
This is a very good thing as it has been awhile since we last heard from the guys who were supporting the album "Nattfodd" at the time of that tour with Sodom. Now they would return with not only a new album "Ur Jurdens Djup", but also with a new singer because it was not long after that NYC apearance in 2006 that the band would part ways with singer Tapio Wilska. It would be pressing business to find a suitable replacement in order to continue their unique brand of Folk Metal mayhem and it wasn't long before they found a like minded maniac to continue the pillaging. The new Troll would be Mathias Lillmans who in appearance was the polar opposite of Wilska in terms of appearance. Tapio was a giant of a man and he seemed quite perfect for the job based on this and while Mathias would show as a slimmer and shorter gent, he was no different in terms of his Folk Metal energy and drive for this band. Tonight along with semi-local Black Metalists Nethereal, Finntroll had indeed come to lay waste to New York.
Nethereal: It's not usually my practice to talk about the up and comers that often appear on these multi-band bills based on my generally having to worry about too many signed acts to document and photograph. Tonight this band would be the only supporting act so I was able to make an exception. Nethereal was an unsigned band from the Connecticut region that played Black Metal that had some definite Progressive overtones to its content and style. There was no typical Black Metal "look" to them in terms of corpse paint or any stage decoration to speak of to enhance the gig but these guys were still young and showed that they could play which to me is the most important thing. Performance is what is most paramount to a bands success and while I did enjoy some of what they were doing nothing truly grabbed my attention during their set. It might have been more based on my not having much background in them as opposed to anything else. They used the symphonic elements to some success based on their keyboardist being hard at work and by my recollection both guitar players offered up some vocals. Of the members I felt the main guitarist/vocalist and their drummer were the most impressive of the lot and am sure that a talented bunch of guys like this can go far if they upgrade their image and stage presence just a little bit more. I am sure we shall hear from them again.
Finntroll: The new CD from the Trolls had hit the shops a few months previous and those who owned it could tell that it was not as Folkish as its predecessor "Natfodd" had been. The disk begins with a long lead in track that was so mood inducing that I felt it was best suited to be used at the live shows as opposed to being a mere intro to the bands new music. Luckily, it was as I had expected and tonight they would use this for the opening of the show. They would hit the stage in as animated a fashion as they had done that previous tour and that is one of the best things about Finntroll in concert that I could take away with me. Their intensity and driving energy just pours out of them and into the crowd and the audience returns it in kind. I am sure there was a lot of drinking going on backstage because that is part of the bands Folkish appeal, but be aware that even if I am correct this never takes away from the performance. The set was loaded with music and ran some twenty one tunes in length so all who were in attendance were clearly getting their money's worth from the Finns. They would pay attention to quite a few of their albums but begin nights focus with the newer material. I can't blame the band for trying to sell their new stuff and had to thank them for keeping the visit to it short even though I am enjoying it quite a bit. Their new singer was a large part of my focus tonight because I had enjoyed Wilska's level of performance very much and carefully examined how Mathias was doing his thing up there. Needless to say he was all over the stage and climbing over the monitors to reach out to the crowd who was going crazy every time he did this. He was definitely a lot more energetic than Wilska had been and he seemed to be winning over even the most difficult of the bands older fans. My view was being kept in a non judgmental manner but you know those hard core fans are just looking for something to say the minute the show ends. They would be left with nothing to say but good things and in the end that works for the bands continued growth. As many fans of theirs already know, they are singing completely in Swedish even though they are Finnish in origin, so unless you speak the language it makes singing along rather difficult. All around me the fans were repeating the grunts and growls that they were able to decipher. I admit to being at a bit of a loss, but did manage to hold my own during my favorite song "Trollhammeren". I had to say that all of the material performed tonight was going over well. There was hummpa dancing in many sections of the venue and the beer was certainly flowing in the area that I had been observing and taking part in. This is really heavy and good time Metal music that more fans should be sinking their teeth into.
This show did not run late since it started on the early side and had only the one opener. I believed there was something happening at the venue immediately after so that made sense. The set itself ran close to two hours and while I had a great time along with the few hundred crazy Metal heads around me this show was not a complete sell out and I found that a bit of a disappointment. I know that the fans cannot hit every show that happens but it is smarter if they choose the groups that don't get over this way as often as some of the other ones do. It was over a year and a half since the last Troll invasion and who knows how long before we see one again. I also think that keeping the show to Finntroll and the unsigned opener had something to do with it. The ticket price was still normal and outside of the trolls we had an opening group that was rather unknown. Fans might have been hesitant because of this as well and now remain hopeful for a return visit with a better known support act. If you were there with me you know what fun this was and if you missed it, well, you very simply missed it. See you next time perhaps.
3. Korpens Saga
4. Fiskarens Fiende
5. Jaktens Tid
14. Slagel Vrd Blodalv
18. En Maktiq Bar
19. Det Iskalla Trollbloder
20. Forsvin Du Som Lyser
Official Web site: www.finntroll.net
Official Web site: www.nethereal.com