My Humppas

Finnish cheese-metal outfit gets jiggy with it

Falling somewhere between Harry Potter's huffy, kid-eating trolls and your local apothecary's tricked-out collector doll trolls, Finland's Finntroll smoked and snarled and Cookie Monstered per the black-metal stereotype—then, polka time! "Humppa"—cheery Scandinavian folk melodies fit more for jigs than headbangs—figured prominently into the band's otherwise swampy grinds. At best it lent Finntroll's "alcohol psychosis" (their words) national flavor and irony-free cheer: In "F Du Som Lyser," keyboardist Trollhorn derailed the band's monotone stomp with a chirpy line that flitted about like a firefly, the audience flashing devil horns in return. Clean, well-behaved, probably still satanic but the lyrics are Swedish so who could know for sure—this was your mama's metal show, no slag.

At worst: Woof, some songs sure sounded like " 'Carol of the Bells' . . . with guitars!" or Mozart Meets Metal or the Bachstreet Boys. One routine called "Trollhammeren" involved lead Finn Wilska making gorilla noises into the mic, guitarist Skrymer mouthing along, and Trollhorn doing abstract impersonations of Anton Maiden (who unfamously found MIDI versions of Iron Maiden songs on a website, then sang over them in proudly off-key falsetto; he's been missing since November 2003). These were the moments I'd try to drink my beer, only to see that all of it had been soaked up by the man in front of me's frizzy ponytail.

German thrash trio Sodom headlined—no pomp, no makeup, just the efficient proto-black riffs and messy punk aggression they've worked since 1984's In the Sign of Evil debut. Must be frustrating for bands around for so long: People came for Evil songs and got them without much arm-twisting. "Blasphemer" sounded nimble as ever, more deranged with age, and I could have sworn leadman Tom Angelripper, his onyx bass hoisted up like He-Man's sword, said "black saber" during the chorus, at least accidentally. Sodom's firecracker start for "Outbreak of Evil" incited a malevolent mosh and crowd-surfing frenzy, certainly the first I've ever seen at BB's, and one that went immediately punished by the club's unimpressed bouncers. Carpe diem, I guess, baby.

 
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