On a cold Thursday evening, when it seemed to be very difficult to convince people to get out of their houses, the Norwegian band Trollfest, pioneers of True Norwegian Black Balkan Metal (or a combination of these words) had a live performance at the RockIn club in Oslo. Prior to the live show, we had the chance to listen to their new album — it's not out for sale yet, but they have finished the recording and mastering.
So, among a handful of people sitting at their tables with their beers, I closed my eyes and tried to pay attention to the music. The album actually started with spoken stories about the band's history, previous albums and tiny bits from them and then the music kicks in, giving you a totally Trollfest-ish feeling, but more Oriental than the Eastern European rhythms previously used. I heard a lot of melodies making me think of Greece for example, and one instrumental was totally Spanish for a change. I did love most of the intros for the songs. The first song had a bunch of “serious” choirs, while on another song I noticed very deep growls completing the vocalist's insane screaming. So altogether the music is very serious. Fast, slow, melodic, mean, each instrument plays its own role and they sound really good blended together. I'm really looking forward to get to play the songs in my headset and hear more details (and those lovely intros) than I noticed at the listening session. The only thing that “ruins” the seriousness are the lyrics, which, of course you can't really understand. At least I can't, apart from an occasional “Jegermeister”, “SkÃ¥l”, words sounding German but resembling English or Norwegian. So, they probably kept the silliness in this aspect and I don't mind that at all.
Now, for the live part. The stage at RockIn is big enough to fit all 7 members, but small enough to hardly allow them to move. The singer had to step quite forward and lean on the fences that got quite shaken by the crowd. Actually the crowd got so warmed up towards the end that they started pushing the fences more and more forward and even got to lift them, making the singer stop for a while and ask for a less scary approach. They blended music from their previous albums and some of the people seemed to know a lot of the lyrics or song moments, since they were screaming along and at the right time. The vocalist is a good showman, he continuously talks to the crowd in between songs, makes jokes, drinks beer if anyone offers it. The outfit is trollish enough: white tops (which I'd call underwear as I lack the correct term in English for them, but look at the photos or google for some photos or videos and you might understand what I mean) for most of the members, a hat for the drummer, a big fur for the bassist. Black face and body paint (black stripes actually). A t-shirt on the singer saying that fat people are hard to kidnap. Trolls…
The guitarists and bassist took their turns playing solos and going in the middle of the stage for some small duets, as much as the stage allowed. Unfortunately, the saxophone and the accordion players were “punished” to stay a bit behind, so it was rather hard to see them. Yet, it was entertaining to look at them, since they're pretty strange appearances for a metal concert. Especially when the accordion was replaced with a banjo for some of the songs.
They're great fun to watch. Really. They are all mainly laughing and having a good time on stage and even if the blend of Balkan and metal is not your cup of tea, the entertainment should be your first reason to attend a Trollfest concert.
A photo gallery can be found here: http://trollfest.andreutza.biz/#107.0
by Andrea Chirulescu