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Regarded as pioneers of the folk-metal movement, Finntroll emerged in the late 1990s with a sound that combined the extreme elements of death metal with traditional Finnish folk melodies. In the 2000s and beyond, the band found international success with albums like Ur Jordens Djup (2007), Blodsvept (2013), and Vredesvävd (2020), which saw them move deeper into the realm of ancient music, incorporating joik (a shamanistic chant that is believed to be one of the oldest-known musical forms in Northern Europe) into their death metal maelstrom. Founded in Helsinki, Finntroll's distinct sound was born one drunken night in 1997 when founding members Teemu "Somnium" Raimoranta (ex-Thy Serpent and Impaled Nazarene) and Jan "Katla" Jämsen decided to add the de-tuned guitars and brutal vocals of black metal to regional folk melodies played in the humppa style (a form of polka) on the keyboard. The duo recruited guitarist Samuli "Skrymer" Ponsimaa, drummer Samu "Beast Dominator" Ruotsalainen, keyboardist Henri "Trollhorn" Sorvali, and bassist Sami "Tundra" Uusitalo and recorded the demo Rivfader the following year. Its lineup intact, Finntroll released a debut album, 1999's Midnattens Widunder, on Spikefarm Records. For their follow-up, Jaktens Tid, the band moved deeper into the realm of Finnish folk music. Entering the Finnish charts at number 20, Jaktens Tid was a surprise success in 2001, resulting in Century Media picking up the album for international distribution. In 2003, during the recording of the acoustic EP Visor Om Slutet, guitarist Teemu Raimoranta was killed after falling from a bridge in Hakaniemi, and vocalist Jämsen, suffering from a viral-based tumor in his vocal cords, was forced to take a leave of absence from the group that he and Raimoranta had co-founded. Heartbroken but undeterred, Finntroll brought in vocalist Tapio Wilska (Sethian, Lyijykomppania) to complete the project, which was released in 2003. Guitarist Mikael Karlbom joined the group in 2004 and made his studio debut on the Trollhammaren EP. Two years later, Jämsen was let go and replaced by Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns, who made his recorded debut on 2007's epic Ur Jordens Djup -- Jämsen retained a presence in the band as the primary lyricist. The album saw Finntroll taking a heavier, more black metal-forward approach to their craft, a style that was carried over to 2010's acclaimed Nifelvind. Blodsvept, the group's sixth full-length effort, arrived in 2013 and would be the last outing for longtime drummer Samu Ruotsalainen, who left the fold amicably the following year. The band later recruited Heikki "Mörkö" Saari (Norther), who sat behind the kit for 2020's blackened folk-metal opus Vredesvävd.
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo


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