Review: Trollheims Grott – Aligned With The True Death
If you really wanna get psyched-up the industrial way, you better get aligned with the true death, kid
It’s been many years since I last heard the name Trollheims Grott, so many I never expected to hear it again – and I reckon many or most of you never have. Found in 1997 in in Kuopio, Trollheims Grott proceeded to release a fair handful of demos and two full-length’s, Bizarre Troll Technology (2001) and Bloodsoaked and Ill-fated (2003) before fading into seeming obscurity. Through the years it’s core remained brothers sg.7 and LRH, and up until their debut their style remained fairly usual, more-or-less symphonic black metal. Bizarre Troll Technology closed with “Chased By Trolls” that first introduced electronic beats into their music, and Bloodsoaked and Ill-Fated – featuring the likes of Aleksi Munter (Swallow the Sun) and Thomas Corpse (JATAO) – continued this experimentation, further honing the industrial edge of their music. Although it still wasn’t overabundantly mechanic in the vein of Fear Factory and their ilk but electronics, samples and an machine-like approach to drumming defined the record. “Operation: Lick The Fungus” and “Syndicate Haunts You Down” remain the best examples of how little the bands core sound changed in between the records – as opposed to the complete loss of identity of, say, The Kovenant – and how naturally their symphonic influence had turned into industrial one, whereas the stomp-riffing “Exact Answers and Syndicate Solutions” and the purely electronic “Addicted To Lethal Injections” expressed the groups growing ambition outside their pen.
But then, nothing. The potential that had existed went unharnessed, and the members were separated. sg.7 went on to join Baptism and the dance-metal band Turmion Kätilöt and LRH would continue in Deathchain and eventually join Demilich and Baptism as well. Though the brothers managed to stay busy, both separately and together, and eventually the idea of a third record crystallized and after some internal re-casting the lineup of LRH on drums and guitars and sg.7 on vocals and electronics was rounded out with a fellow Baptism axe-man TG on bass (and live guitars). The inspiration behind the record is the usual – anger, even hatred. But not the most usual kind, behind individual songs may lie visions of humanity’s self-inflicted doom, Lucifer and other less-than-left-field topics, but behind the resurrection of Trollheims Grott lies a loathing towards hordes and swathes of newcomers without a single idea, much less one to call their own. An endless amount of bands with little skill and no vision, resorting to inane ramblings about primitiveness to hide this deficiency.
While the electronics, samples and synths do aid in the mechanization of Trollheims Grott’s sound, much of the industrial influence actually comes from the organic elements of the band. For example the opening title-track’s sharp precision-riffing, manic but calculated drumming and deranged vocals together create the impression that the band cleverly emphasizes by having the more traditionally riffing “Deathless Form” follow it up. Already these two songs go through various tempo changes, riffs and ideas to almost justify an EP on their own – yet they are kept consistent, well structured and fairly concise, a monument to the strength of their vision, and songwriting. Even “Twilight”, a relatively short, martial instrumental never feels like it’s just an interlude, but every bit as crucial as the rest. Though I hesitate to call this industrial black metal, because despite the influences presence, it doesn’t seem to thoroughly permeate the songs and more often than not the electronics lend the album a psychedelic vibe instead – most obvious in “Holy Black Sun” and “LXFR”.
Putting vision back in black metal, as their mission statement reads, is not a simple task, but Aligned With the True Death doesn’t even struggle with it. It’s loaded with riffs, even when the mood shifts and the band takes a more atmospheric approach, the riffs never stop, they only morph to accommodate to the new goal. Trollheims Grott isn’t stuck on an ancient ideal of black metal either, there’s a fair bit of outsider influence on the record that works purely in it’s favour. The industrial and psychedelic influences, occasional death metal reminiscence and underlying, subtle sense of melody all work to make Aligned With the True Death even more memorable and imposing.
One of it’s strengths would appear to be it’s collective nature – Aligned With the True Death is a collaborative work between each of the three members. While each song was composed by LRH, lyrics and electronics fell purely into sg.7’s hands and TG was responsible for the (audible) bass arrangements. If being guided by one vision – collective in nature, but one man’s responsibility in execution – has lent AWtTD visceral unity, then surely having every member participate on a deeper level is responsible for the passion that it oozes.
Quite a few have seemed to lament the fact that AWtTD doesn’t sound like Trollheims Grott, and in some ways this is very true. The years of absence, and revolving line-ups have made their mark on the band’s face. Gone are the symphonic stylings of the debut, and even at it’s most industrial, AWtTD doesn’t sound like it could have been composed of outtakes from the Bloodsoaked and Ill-Fated sessions. But a certain sense of foundation seems unaltered – I’ve this word a fair bit too much in his review already, but the band’s vision hasn’t really changed. The core of the band’s sound, the construct of their riffs and songs, hasn’t undergone great changes Trollheims Grott of old is still recognizable under it’s new clothes. Something that was well demonstrated on their comeback show, of all the older songs performed only the previously mentioned “Exact Answers and Syndicate Solutions” stood out as truly different – and it did so at the time of it’s release.
Aligned With the True Death is not only an excellent record, it is – without much of a challenge – the year’s best record as well and well worthy of
5/5 FLAMING TOILETS OV HELL