Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trollfest - Brumlebassen

Folk metal has been making a huge comeback lately. Bands like Eluveitie, Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, Tyr, Moonsorrow, Alestorm, and Turisas have been getting a lot of attention with the albums they’ve been putting out. Among these bands (almost all being from Europe) is the mighty (but lesser-known) Trollfest. Those that are familiar with the folk metal genre knows that it can come in two basic variations. There are the more melodic, slower, darker, and more epic bands like Eluveitie, Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, and Heidevolk. And there are also the bands that are completely energetic and up-beat, often times being all about drinking (Alestorm, Korpiklaani, Turisas). Although there are numerous folk metal bands that don’t exclusively fit into one of these categories (Tyr, Finntroll, Equilibrium, etc.), but we can all see that the majority of the folk metal genre is divided into these two sounds. Trollfest, like Korpiklaani, is one of the craziest, most fun, most party-appropriate folk metal bands ever. The difference, though? Trollfest is heavy as....something extremely heavy.

Trollfest implements a lot of thrash black and melodic death into their music. The different variations of arpeggios that the accordion and lead guitars play are not extremely common in heavy metal, which is good because it brings in some outside flavor. As far as the arrangements of each song go, they’re pretty good, but there can be times where the sound gets undefined and unorganized. Although I will be addressing each individual member’s performance on this album in my review, I would like to mention that this is one of those bands that sound better as a whole than individually. Let’s talk about the vocals on Brumlebassen first.

The vocals are almost exclusively high-pitched screams similar to that of Children of Bodom. But unlike Children of Bodom, the vocalist keeps things interesting by throwing in some growls here in there, especially in the song Finsken, Norsken og Presten. On top of that, there are several tracks (mainly the interludes) that contain singing. As far as the vocals go, Brublebassen is the Trollfest album with the best vocals because some of the other Trollfest albums have vocals that, well, aren’t exactly something that one would consider better than average. Those of you that are like me and enjoy the various lyrical themes that folk metal has to offer, when you listen to the older Trollfest albums, the mood is much more serious and the songs follow basic stories based on Norwegian mythology. Now, their music is guessed it, trolls, trolls, beer, trolls, and more TROLLS!

Besides their odd obsession with trolls, Trollfest is unique because of something even more interesting: their speed. Listen to the first song off the album (also the title track) titled Brumlebassen. It’s not too often that you blast beats that are THAT ridiculous on a folk metal album. The utter chaos that the insane speed of the blast beats and the whole music itself creates within the listener can make me only imagine what their live shows must be like. The way the drums are mixed is okay, it sounds good with the rest of the band’s sound, but it would help it they were less mushy because the blast beats blend in with the rest of the band too much. The drummer’s style is that of an insane black metal drummer. He plays pretty much all of the traditional folk metal patterns, and then some more interesting beats of his own. But the most notable thing about his skill is his ability to play some of the fastest blast beats I’ve ever heard outside of technical death and brutal death.

There isn’t anything outstanding about the accordion player other than that he also plays a banjo and that he’s in a metal band (yes, I know that Stolen Babies, Korpiklaani, and other metal bands have accordion players in them). I really wish that we could hear more from the saxophonist because the few parts that he has are great. No, they’re not outstanding, if you want outstanding sax shit, go listen to some of the contemporary jazz that’s out there. But although his creativity lacks some, he definitely expresses some intense instrumental skill.

The guitars are great, but they’re way too overpowering. The bass can rarely be heard, which is disappointing because he’s probably playing some interesting shit behind the wall of guitar distortion. So because of the guitars, I unfortunately can’t make any comments on the bassist until I see them live this April at Paganfest 2013. Anyways, both guitarists do an exceptional job of keeping up with the drums, following along with the accordion, and a good sense of variety in both styles and tempo. The distortion is good, but everything else is mixed in a way that it all blends in with the guitar distortion to create a slightly less-than-enjoyable sound where nothing is easily distinguishable.

Brumlebassen has a sound that is not only unique, but also fun, engaging, energetic, chaotic, and original. Trollfest is a band that every fan of folk metal should look up, because there’s a very tiny chance (if any at all) that you’ve heard something like this before. Although I am currently undecided as to which Trollfest album is my personal favorite, Brumlebassen isn’t a bad place at all to start. Brumlebassen is a record for people looking for something new, especially if they’re fans of folk metal and Norwegian metal bands. Look this album up. I would give this album a score of 15/20.