Trollgrad – ‘Tales of Gold Fever’ (2023)
Release: 1 February 2023
Label: Mors Lucerna Records
Imagine a mixture of Korpiklaani, telling us about the American gold rush migration in the 19th century, all sung in Russian, French and English, mixed and mastered in Finland in 50th minutes of folk metal. If you got this far and can’t believe what you’ve read then get ready for the latest folk metal album called “Tales of the Gold Fever” by an American project called Trollgrad. There’s just too much to tell about this album, besides the fact that the band hasn’t published anything out of this new work since the distant 2009 when they first formed this folk / black metal project. Now we get this album in our hands and it’s quite hard to define it as a whole so I’ll describe the most important points.
The album is opened by a first track “Trollhalla” and by the name you can already imagine what you’re getting into. The track clocks in at more than 6 minutes so a very long track for more trollish folk metal standards. The track’s made by a constant rhythm and a prevalence of harsh vocals with some female vocals reminding of popular Slavic folk chants. Not bad but maybe a higher amount of clean vocals would have kept the interest higher.
The language matter has to be one of the strongest points of this work. Not for nothing the two tracks Чёрный Ворон and La Holerie Trollesque distinguish from the others both for the language and musically, jumping to the eye at first sight and actually are among the best tracks in my opinion. The Russian one is the “blackest” of the album but still keeping the right folk components in it, made by the female Slavic vocals. The French one is different than other songs because of a slower tempo than the average rhythm of other songs, and a good amount of acoustic passages where the band shows a new aspect of their music.
After a lot of screams and fast tempos it’s finally time to slow down and I’ve enjoyed both this choice and the music so much to consider this my favorite track of the album. There is the tale of a drunken bandits’ gang that also fits the album’s theme despite the language used.
Not all the tracks are as interesting as they should be, though. Unfortunately there’s just too much
repetition in such songs like Бабка or I’m a Survivor where the main melody is reiterated again and again… and that gets even worse in the case of an 8-minute track. That’s the biggest problem of such an album, and sadly the majority of the tracks is affected by this flaw. A good mixing and an original theme choice could not be saved by an arid songwriting, especially when going through a nonstop listen and not just judging the single songs. An album with a higher amount of shorter tracks would’ve definitely been better for the listener’s attention: you can’t just repeat the same riffs for too long.
The common motif of the Gold Rush is what connects this eclectic artistic roster ranging between more trollish metal in the style of Korpiklaani like “Бабка” and fast rhythm black metal as Черный Ворон. If you’re flexible musically or you’re just keen on all the genres touched you’ll dig the majority of the songs here without problems. Otherwise you may find yourself skipping more than one track and selecting just a few for your listens. Overall that’s not the first album I’d recommend, yet a strange but fine listen for all lovers of folk metal.
- Trollhalla 06:29
- Бабка [Grandma] 03:39
- Mother Winter 05:25
- Чёрный Ворон [Black Raven] 05:34
- I’m a Survivor 07:42
- Hail to Thee Fallen Miners 06:37
- La Holerie Trollesque 06:42
- Moonlight Spell 08:47