Since I first made the acquaintance of the disparate group of drunkards and psyche ward escapees that make up the bumbling ball of anarchy that is Trollfest, my life has always been made just that little bit brighter. Making Korpiklaani look like Sargeist our happy bunch of Trolls take various strains of folk metal, thrash, brass bands, Mexican cantina refugees and an oompa swing, hand it to a bunch of kittens on a sugar rush along with a lit match and let them loose in a firework factory. The result is… ah…the appropriately named Kaptein Kaos.
The thing about Trollfest is that, as well as being deceptively heavy in places, they pack so much into each song. Take ‘Solskinnsmedisin’ where we start with a tricky, jittery little vocal and piano dance of no little emotion (these trolls wear their oft-broke hearts on their grubby sleeves) and pass through a bit of Gallic accordion into a riff driven black metal samba and end up in a cabana party. The awesome ‘Kinesisk Alkymi’ even takes a punt into Tengger Cavalry territory with far Eastern melodies combined with a superbly catchy chorus (which oddly reminds me of their supremely sarcastic/cynical song ‘Sellout ‘ on previous album ‘Brumlebassen’ but without the satirical edge.) No; it makes no sense. But they move so well between these sounds that you get a superb single song. And they follow it up with ‘Troll Gegen Mann’ which bangs a bit of punk in there too. Yeah, it’s all kinds of mad. We get spoken passages that sound like the wide eyed ramblings of that tramp on the end of your road (hey, there’s no translation here, it could be nuclear physics for all I know…), manic scrambling notes like a merry-go-round about to fall over and often the underlying presence of what can only be described as alcoholic melancholy lurking in the fine melodies they weave. Special mention should also be given to the splendid ‘Ave Maria’ and it’s great pounding rhythm that kind of stomps a ‘Rasputin’ feel into the ground with their great gang vocals, the urgent, driving guitar and, of course, that beautiful rich brass section.
Kaptein Kaos is no huge departure, nor a great stride of progression in their sound. What it is, though, is mostly more of the same but with a real edge over the last two albums in terms of songwriting quality and even performance. See? Even drunken trolls practice and improve. Six albums in they have their sound nailed but it’s such a varied one that just pushing various corners with more emphasis gives each album its own flavour.
Why Trollfest aren’t bigger, particularly on the festival circuit, is beyond me. Perhaps it is the ‘trollspeak’ language thing (part German part Norwegian, minus grammar….), with precious little ever being in English, perhaps it’s because for all their truly excellent songwriting and always danceable rhythms they never go for the easy singalong. Whatever, the world still has Trollfest and that’s all that matters. Once again kudos to the unruly trollkin for another album of serious musical quality that just makes you want to smile and dance. Do not underestimate their talent for doing this: Smiling is good, even for metalheads and we need to thank them just for walking their own good natured path.
I should also add that I believe this album has magical powers. Every time I listened to it on the move, travel got screwed up. Captain Kaos indeed.
Happy smiley trollkin face 🙂