In 2004, the combination of mead, beer, and FINNTROLL led four young Norwegians to put on their best wolfskins and record their own Troll Metal material under the moniker TROLLFEST. The next year they released their full-length debut, “Wilkommen Folk Tell Drekka Fest!!” with Solitium Records. It was a chaotic and awesome album that combined raw Black Metal with FINNTROLL-style histrionics. Also, one song featured the band barking a verse. How can you not love that?
A year later and “Brakebein” drops, this time with Omvina. They trolls are back and in fine form, showing palpable growth in their year off. They’re slightly more serious—no more barking—but there’s no shortage of wackiness and humour, especially when you realize that they’re playing tremolo riffs on a ukulele or using a banjo in the rhythm section. Plus, lots of accordion. “Yameeka” even has some Ska-meets-Black Metal parts! The guitar distortion is still harsher than you normally get from FINNTROLL or other Folk Metal bands, while vocalist Trollmannen is as caustic as ever.
I should mention that “Brakebein” is a concept album and a lot of times the sound is really tied in to the story. The booklet has a nifty comic in it that tells us the story, so fortunately I could figure it out despite not speaking Norwegian. A bunch of trolls were sitting around drinking when the old patriarch, Brakebein, decides to go on a quest for some legendary booze. They fight with pirates, steal their ship, fight and eat a sea serpent, cook some Christians, get high off of a peace pipe, and finally realize the legendary booze as there the whole time. So there’s a lot of material, either in singalongs (as in “Essenfest”) or in riffs (“Der MeerUngeheuer”), that imply that we’re on the ocean. There’s a nice when the pirates disturb the trolls singing “...Nå må DU drikka mest!!” from the previous album. Then there’s the crazy children’s march-thing in “Skogsgiensyn” that I can’t really begin to describe. Oh yeah, and I should mention the vaguely Country interlude in “Utmarschen.”
TROLLFEST is a worthy contemporary for FINNTROLL and any fans of the Finns would do well to check them out. At the same time, they’re not as attached to humppa as the basis for their sound—a lot of this is just their own insanity—so people driven away by that may also want to check them out. The growth from the first record to “Brakebein” is remarkable and the diffuse influences and stylings, though skilfully brought under one umbrella, almost make me want to call this Progressive Troll Metal.
Also, because I haven’t said it enough in this review: troll.
(Online December 27, 2006)