Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Troll - Trollstorm over Nidingjuv (1995)

As my introduction to the band, Troll's debut album left a bad taste in my mouth. Drep de kristne did not make a good impression, at all. Even worse, I knew of Nagash's involvement in horrible bands like Dimmu Borgir and Covenant, so I completely wrote this project off, for quite some time. Years later, I was urged to check out the first demo from this Norwegian Black Metal act, being assured that it was better than what I'd previously heard. So, with some hesitancy, I gave a listen to the 1995 demo, Trollstorm over Nidingjuv

The first minute or so of "Når natten endelig er her" only confirmed my concern that this was to be a waste of time. The synth intro isn't nearly as bad as the goth-like spoken word part that accompanies it. Nonetheless, from the moment that the guitars erupt from the relative silence, the entire complexion of the release changes. The first thing worth noting is the superior quality, compared to the first L.P. This was clearly recorded in a proper studio, instead of in a garage (though how a high school kid could afford this, I cannot say). Rather than the weak and soft sound of Drep de kristne, here the guitar tone is sharp and helps to give a harsher feel to the music. Even the mid-paced section of the title track maintains a respectable level of strength, compared to the utterly limp feeling of the material Troll offered up the following year. 

Overall, the material is much more solid than on the full-length. However, Nagash certainly takes some liberties with the songwriting, heavily influenced by his predecessors in the Norwegian scene. In particular, Satyricon and Darkthrone seem to have been favourites of his. Of course, no one really comes into a Norwegian Black Metal release from the mid-'90s expecting too much originality; the template had pretty much been established by '92/'93. That said, Nagash basically lifted riffs, note-by-note, with no shame whatsoever. While the Satyricon influence is quite obvious from the intro and the second half of the title track, the riff around the middle of "Over daudens kolde mark" is really leaning more toward plagiarism. Elsewhere, the inspirations are a bit more general, with cold tremolo riffs that call to mind classic Mayhem, as well as the vocals that are reminiscent of Ihsahn's early work with Emperor. The compositions are fairly straightforward, possessing rather natural transitions that flow in a natural manner (as opposed to Satyr's back and forth, manic songwriting). The CD version, released a year later, contains the most damning evidence of plagiarism. On "I et hedensk land", this guy just outright lifted Darkthrone riffs (from "Slottet i det fjerne") and passed them off as his own. Sure, it sounds good, but that is because Fenriz was a master of creating dark and dreary Black Metal riffs, back then. 

In the end, Trollstorm over Nidingjuv stands as the best release to ever come from Troll, by far. If one can overlook the riff thievery (and to be fair, the worst offense was only a bonus track on the re-release, not included on the original tape), this isn't a bad recording. It's pretty standard Norwegian Black Metal from this period, which was filled with a lot of kids that wanted to follow in the footsteps of the masters. It's certainly worth fifteen minutes of your time.