Every party needs a good soundtrack to be a success and here we have the perfect one from Norwegian band Trollfest. Of course, that party would have to be the darkest, most excess filled, and beer flowing orgy to merit such a stunning backdrop of sound as on ‘En Kvest For Den Hellige Gral’ but if it can live up to this, then I want an invite.
Trollfest are classed as folk metal but they utilise much more to be easily reach beyond such labelling, sitting somewhere between that, black metal and the most direct and relentless metal any genre can throw up. They fuse it with their uniqueness, into what they call ‘True Norwegian Balkans Black Metal’ but whatever you call it only the word enjoyable should be the tag. The 6-piece take no prisoners with their thick wall of sound, slamming it home hard and fast whilst infusing some of the best melodic ethnic sounds from not only their homeland but further afield. Combining the best sounds of instruments like the banjo, accordion and saxophone from band member Per Spelemann. At times it is chaos but it is glorious calculated chaos.
The album starts off with ‘Die Verdammte Hungersnot’, an onslaught of epic proportions driving and melting all before with its intensity. It leaves one breathless with its rocket pace, and impressed with the ingenuity of the wrapping of great melodic traditional Slavic and Arabic swirls to the noise without losing their beauty or diluting the energy of the crushing metal. The track is so good that even if the rest of the release had been below par I would have rated it highly, thankfully what follows is easily at the same level.
Next up bounces in ‘Karve’, again with that neat fusion of ethnic touches and the darkest of metal sounds. The black metal vocals of Jostein (Trollmannen) growl hungrily here and throughout the whole album perfectly, but what is a great addition is the chorus of melodic voices as the track switches midway to bring in a kind of Greek/Latin American groove. Jostein and the band do not sing in English, so it is just your imagination that pictures what each track is about, but rather they employ their own “Troll-Språk”. A mix of languages, though mainly German and Norwegian, which for me adds to the joy and fantasy one conjures in thought as each track passes through. Their lyrical theme is mainly trolls and drinking… and really there is not much more needed to envisage scenes suitable for each creation.
‘Gjetord’ is the top masterpiece on ‘En Kvest For Den Hellige Gral’, an intense metalcore blast of noise as the guitars of John Espen (Mr. Seidel) and Manskow surge and melt the surroundings around the black and death metal vocals while the grooving dark pulses of Martin (Psychotroll) and his bass drive the track forth through the wrappings of ethnic melodies. The drums of Eirik (Trollbank) beat down continuously as the backdrop to the accordion bliss and again Trollfest makes some think work that really should not.
The production keeps everything vibrant and clear within the ‘amalgam’ of sound but retains that chaotic maelstrom of energy too. Resisting the urge to go track by track waxing lyrical about the album I must mention the tracks ‘Der Sündenbock Gegalte’ with its mariachi feel and brief though it is, lays as a good contrast and break for the unrelenting attack elsewhere and ‘Undermålere’ with its great intro and riff throughout, even if it is a little too close to the one on Killing Joke’s ‘The Death & Resurrection Show’ to resist a knowing wink.
Trollfest might be classed as folk metal by those that like to tag bands but this is no Korpiklaani and though they share the same fun and humour to their music the Norwegians are far darker, harder and dare I say unique, like Guinness to the Finns milk stout. ‘En Kvest For Den Hellige Gral’ is a giant sound feast of debauchery, loose women, long tables, and incessant gratification, well that is the image in my head, all you need to know is it is a must listen for 2011.