Trollfest - En Kvest For Den Hellige Gral – 3.5/5
Trollfest are a band I'd long since known about, liked, but then largely ignored as in many sense they are a band that never really should have been, seeming to rely more on gimmicks than their music; offering barbecue at some gigs only to arrive too drunk to really play for example. More than that is the question of their music, and if a less serious band exists on this planet someone tell me, but given that this band of Norwegians came up with the concept of Trollfest whilst heavily drunk and listening to Finntroll (what they consider “drinking music,” though I think Finntroll might think of their music a little more highly), intentionally copying another artist's style hardly seems like a great start. Since then in their alcohol fuelled states they've come up with the concept of “Trollspråk;” a hodgepodge of German words and Norwegian with all the grammatical accuracy of – actually there is no grammar – the language of Trolls, singing about their exploits which I have a sneaking suspicion usually consist of “we were going to do this, but then this dude right here brought the mead, and it kinda all went downhill from there.” And somehow on their last release a duck dressed as a gimp got mixed up in it all. It's perhaps a good thing the lyrics are nonsensical as I'm not sure I want to know what they were planning on doing to that bondage duck.
But what drew me into this release is the new additions to the line-up; an accordion/banjo player in particular, adding a greater emphasis on the Balkan folk influences their sound derives from, the only Folk Metal band to my knowledge that takes influences from this particular style (though it certainly does share many similarities to “Sevdah,” as used by Emir Hot). These flavourings are sprinkled on top of a rather basic blackened format; rough and hoarse growls drunkenly slur and bark their nonsensical lines whilst the drums play the same repeated beat pattern (often repeated between tracks) and the guitars crunch away at their chords. When you look past the banjo's and accordion lines it's often not that impressive, largely chugging and fairly bland, but what it does succeed in doing is keeping things simple. It never gets too complicated for a drunken mind and maintains a boisterous atmosphere that is suited to partying and getting drunk. With this release it finally feels as though Trollfest are beginning to step into their own, their differing folk influences allowing them to create a tone that can finally be said to sound somewhat distinct from their Finnish brethren. They wanted to create music you can drink to, and they've succeeded in doing that. Just try not to listen to carefully else you might realise that in many other respects, it's not particularly good. Here's to hoping they continue to use their folk instruments more in future releases.