Released: 2009, Twilight-Vertrieb
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
Whoever thought that cover art alone would entice me to buy a CD? After reading Luxi’s review of this album on the site, I was so confounded by the image of a maniacal, spikes-&-armor-clad duck on the cover of a metal album that I felt compelled to check out Norwegian folk-metal act TrollfesT.
By their name alone, I had a vague idea of what VILLANDEN would sound like. There would be a (hopefully) clever meld of acoustic & metal instruments, some polka beats, some evil pagan riffs, and lyrics in a foreign language about trolls, Christian priests being cooked in a stew, and/or reckless alcohol consumption. For all these expectations, TrollfesT delivers in spades, but not quite in the way one might expect.
First of all, TrollfesT is NOT a Finntroll knockoff. While they have the troll theme in common and are based on folk metal, the musical vibe and structure the respective bands use couldn’t be more different. Finntroll goes for a more epic, distinctly evil vibe – their songs have some darkly thematic links between them that gives the listener a glimpse into their chaotic trollish world. TrollfesT is more like what you’d want to hear at an alcohol-drenched “frat party” for more hedonistic trolls – after just a casual listen, you can tell that these guys had far too much fun recording this album and were probably falling-down drunk half the time. Despite the doubtlessly overwhelming influence of alcohol, the musicianship and production is stellar on this recording throughout. Also, whereas Finntroll relies mainly on keyboards for providing some of their folkish touches, TrollfesT employs acoustic instruments for everything except guitar/bass.
No two songs really sound alike on this album – VILLANDEN effortlessly transitions between grooving folk instrumentals to uptempo, almost danceable blackened metal, with the acoustic instruments doing most of the melodic heavy lifting. Despite the seemingly harsh contrast of blastbeats propelling the momentum of a polka-ish accordion riff, TrollfesT somehow mixes all these disparate elements into an addictive, easily consumed musical beverage.
The uniqueness of this album mostly originates in the spectacularly frantic performance of vocalist Trollmannen – the maniacal energy in his voice is stellar. He shouts, gurgles, burps, and yes, QUACKS with the fury of a thousand lunatic ducks. While quite comedic in his delivery, thankfully his performance never turns to the reckless camp of bands like Rhapsody or Gwar. I’ve understood that lyrically, TrollfesT focuses on alcohol related themes, but one wouldn’t know it from their invented language that combines Norwegian, German, and some others. Which brings me to TrollfesT’s utterly bizarre sense of humor – what is it with the ducks? VILLANDEN apparently translates to “wild duck” in Norwegian, and Trollmannen can be heard rhythmically QUACKING in several tracks. It’s pretty darn hilarious though, perhaps due to the mystery of it. Somehow, I can imagine Daffy Duck moshing to this album with reckless abandon.
What a strange and wonderful gem this album is. I have yet to hear a band as exciting, puzzling, or addicting as TrollfesT. Anybody looking for a truly unique metal experience owes themselves to check out the drunken carousings of these Norwegian madmen.