They’re a frankly freaky bunch of folk-inspired legend-obsessed Finns but Finntroll have emerged as one of rushonrock‘s favourite new bands (new to us, anyway).

Why? Next month’s new album Nifelvind marries black metal with traditional Scandinavian sounds and the unmistakable growl of frontman Vreth. It’s a winner on all fronts.

We caught up with the man who’s fronted Finntroll on their last two records and it’s a case of don’t judge a book by its cover. If you know what we mean… rushonrock: What’s the story behind Nifelvind?

Vreth: It’s not actually a concept album but the songs are linked together by similar themes. We focus on old legends and sagas which repeat themselves through time. They appear in different eras and all over the world. Many are urban legends and some could be more than 1,000 years old.

rushonrock: What attracted you to the urban legends?

Vreth: One day we sat down and talked about how these legends have a habit of repeating themselves. And in Scandinavia we have all these creatures which live under rocks and in the forests – people are afraid of these creatures and always have been. This particular urban legend reared its head in New York in the 80s with stories of giant crocodiles in the sewers. We’re all interested in how these legends prey on the minds of everyday people and they’re a rich source of material for Finntroll.

rushonrock: Have you always taken a personal interest in Scandinavian folklore?

Vreth: I remember seeing these Swedish children’s stories when I was a kid but I can’t really take the credit for the themes surrounding Nifelvind as I don’t write the lyrics. Having said that I love the history of legends and the old religions which still impact upon Scandinavian life.

rushonrock: Has Finntroll’s image changed since you came on board?

Vreth: Yes you could say it’s changed a bit. I think the band has grown up in a way. The older albums were – lyrically at least – based more on religion and were more politically motivated than they are now. Now we’re more committed to story telling without any overly political message. We’ve moved away from the past – it was kind of a trend in the 90s to attack the church and our lyrics reflected that. We’re a lot less radical now but I’m not sure what motivated some of the band before I came on board. Right now we all share the same outlook.

rushonrock: Are Finntroll more of a mainstream metal act in 2010?

Vreth: I think you could say that. We’re not exactly commercial but more and more people all over the world want to watch us play. So I guess that makes us more mainstream. It’s reflected in album sales too and hopefully that will be the case with Nifelvind. There’s been a lot more media interest around the new album too but let’s face it – Finntroll will never be mainstream metal as such.

rushonrock: Why do you think you’re suddenly generating all of this extra interest?

Vreth: I don’t have a clue! I don’t know why people suddenly find us interesting. I never pictured the band doing headlining shows across America and singing in Swedish. I never thought Finntroll would get this big.

rushonrock: Have you considered writing an album in English?

Vreth: Of course it’s something we’ve talked about but I can’t see it happening. I think singing in Swedish is part of our charm – that’s what makes us unique. We’re a Finnish band but singing in our native tongue has never been an option either. When people in our own country don’t know what we’re singing about it doesn’t seem so strange taking the band abroad. We look at bands like Rammstein – and the success they’ve had in spite of singing in German – and see no reason to start singing in another language.

rushonrock: Where do you hope to make an impact in 2010?

Vreth: Well the last record started to make an impression in Norway and we got a few gigs there. Hopefully Nifelvind will continue that trend. It seems we have a fresh appeal to Norwegians which is very nice! Of course we’re still hoping for more Swedish gigs and we’d like to get to the UK and I think there’s a London date on the Pegasus tour later in 2010.