Reviewed: May 2022
Released: 2022, Iron Bonehead Productions
Reviewer: The Flâneur
Let me begin by saying: “cold damn”.
Swartadauþuz, the man behind Trolldom, needs no introduction. He truly is a master of his craft. He runs Ancient Records and Mysticism Productions, and is the virtuoso behind so many projects that one wonders how does he not lose track of them. He certainly keeps himself busy, releasing six new albums in the first half of 2022 only. All six are top quality too, but the debut Trolldom epics I Nattens Sken and Av gudars ätt… seem like the most polished ones, perhaps because they’re released through Iron Bonehead Productions. Last year he unleashed five, one of which was an excellent split between his project Gnipahålan and Polish master of the keys Evilfeast.
I Nattens Sken is the second of the two full-lengths to which Trolldom is treating us concurrently. These are, in fact, Trolldom’s debut albums, though a brilliant demo, Av gudablod röd…, was released via the prolific Greek label Arcane Angels in 2016. This demo is very different from the material on I Nattens Sken. It’s more of a Lustre meets symphonic black metal persuasion than of a celestial black metal one. It’s markedly slower, more explicitly atmospheric, warmer.
On the other hand, I Nattens Sken is celestial black metal through and through. But here you won’t find the beautiful – nay picturesque – passages of Alrakis, or the electronic twists and turns of Mesarthim. No, this is supreme Darkspace worship and I love it – and so will you. The same speed and celestial electronics (from Darkspace III I) have been employed all throughout. The only major difference is the quality, which in I Nattens Sken is levels higher that that of any Darkspace release; and the absence of ambient interludes. While listening to Darkspace one feels like they have mysteriously found themself in open space, witnessing its birth and rebirth. With Trolldom it rather feels like they have been kicked into space by the blast beats of an impossibly large drum kit (or machine?), and are now witnessing the explosions of a billion supernovas. The speed and violence of the music is just utterly unrelenting. And yet, there is also masterfully crafted melodicism, and very intelligent song-writing, all in good measure. They say that in space no one can hear you scream. However, in Trolldom’s cosmos there is an unlimited amount of screams – and they only fit in so well.
There is only one thing this record lacks in my opinion, and that is slower atmospheric passages. It seems like a bit of a missed opportunity as they add so much to the musical dynamic and replay value of records of this kind. It could be argued that track five, Nattmorkrets Svarta Skugga, is the slower piece of the record. And, in general, I Nattens Sken slows down a bit in its second part. It is highly possible that Swartadauþuz didn’t include more ambient interludes on purpose so as to not sound hyper-Darkspace-esque. And besides, what’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold – and fast. Possibly, there will be more such moments in Av Gudars Ät though, judging from the promo piece Avtryck i tiden, vävens sista stycke.
Curiously, the titles of Trolldom’s albums and tracks say nothing about celestial bodies and forces, which begs the question: is the Darkspace association deliberate, or is it assumed? While a deliberate association is a tempting prospect, there is nothing that points in this direction other than the music itself. Nonetheless, the music is too similar for this association to be strictly assumed. While the answer alludes me, I Nattens Sken has the promise to make many people happy – as already established, fans of Darkspace and celestial black metal, fans of symphonic black metal, fans of atmospheric black metal, and, in general, fans of black metal. It definitely has the speed to impress even the most casual listener, and the riffage to make one replay it again and again.
And, for anyone who might ask: “but where are the trolls?”. The answer is “Trolldom” means “Magic” in Swedish. And so is this delightfully fast paced piece of black metal space cake, which will definitely go down in history as one of the greats of the genre.