Trollfest - Brakebein 2.5/5
1. Legendarisk ol
5. Den apne sjo
6. Das meerungeheuer
8. Inni den grotte
13. Egen mjod, heidunder mjod!
I generally try to keep it clean in these reviews, but the word that immediately and consistently springs to mind when reflecting on 'Brakebein' begins with "cluster" and ends with "uck". The 2nd CD from Norwegian pranksters Trollfest, it is a jumbled and almost completely disjointed mix of black metal and 'wacky' folk melodies.
From the band's name you can probably guess that Finntroll are an influence, but the 2 bands do not actually sound very much alike – Trollfest create far less of an ambience in their songs, and their attempts to sound oh-so-hilarious are right at the forefront. The CD tells the story of a group of trolls that go looking for some legendary beer, get in a few fights, then get bored and go home. Are your sides splitting yet?
Folk metal can be a funny old genre right enough, but for the music to hold together properly the writing has to be approached with a certain degree of seriousness. A great deal of Trollfest's songs merely seem like part of a blasty, 1349-style black metal song slung together with one or 2 segments of absurd folk tunes. Some of the time this works reasonably well, but on other occasions the songs are just too incoherent, or the attempts at hilarity go too far (the CD is replete with a variety of irksome sound bites) and the music becomes at worst an unlistenable irritation.
The song that sounds most like a direct Finntroll cloning operation, with the same giddy fast-paced rhythms, is "Den apne sjo", and it is one of the up points on the CD. The acoustic track "Inni den grotte" is also very agreeable and in fact commendably restrained. When it comes to this song it's probably for the best that the lyrics are all delivered in the German/Norwegian hybrid "Trollsprak" as I can only imagine how 'hysterical' this part of the story is.
When things get bad, though, they get bloody excruciating. The 11th and 12th tracks, "Yameeka" and "Skogsgjensyn", thoroughly trample any goodwill left for the CD as it reaches its conclusion with their lurching discordance and exasperating sound effects. The fairly pleasant closing track is something of a moot point by the time its 2 predecessors are done with the listener.
The thing that really emphasises the overall failure of this CD is that, for something that sets out to be so funny, it is actually a great effort to listen to from one end to the other despite the modest 45 minute running time. Some of the songs (or at least parts of them) are certainly good folk/black offerings, but on the whole are not enough to merit repeated listens. Simply being off-the-wall and zany isn't enough if the end result is such a directionless sprawl, and Trollfest will need to realise that they need to put more work into the basics of writing complete songs before thinking about anything else.
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