Release: 2 June 2023
This review took me longer than I expected for multiple reasons. Firstly because it’s Trollwald and at times I still can’t believe to have this very very long-awaited album in front of me. Secondly, the sound of this album is very different from the previous EP and I don’t want this review to be just a comparison between old and new Trollwald. Seven years has been the time to make this release so I won’t complain about their choice to give up a mixing which in my opinion was not bad at all. But despite all it’s still Trollwald – the debut album the whole Belarus has been waiting for; so what can we say about it?
Firstly, I don’t know if there is still somebody unknown to Trollwald, and if you’re among them it’s time for you to catch up with a small but important slice of folk metal scenario made of Belarusian bands. Starting as Litvintroll back in 2005, the band has been one of those “trustworthy” projects you’d never expect a musical misstep from, working very hard on each release and foregrounding songs quality rather than the quantity of albums released. This formula applies now more than ever as we’ve now been seven years without their music. This is considered as a debut album for the project Trollwald but keep in mind that most of its members were been involved in the creation of what probably are the musical milestones of Belarusian folklore (guess who still listens to Rock’n’Troll today!). That’s why my expectations couldn’t help to be high in this case.
So let’s have a trip into the long-awaited album of Trollwald, and the first thing you can notice is the different sound mastering their EP/promo tracks used to have. I have to be honest, this difference felt strange at the very first listen, especially seeing the EP didn’t have this type of problem. Just to make things clear, seven years ago you’d deal with solid guitars and drums as well as Andrej Apanovic ‘s very loud voice, whereas this time there are more keyboards/atmospheres and the popular dudas have a clearer sound too.
The second thing is that half of the tracks were already published before the full length, which kinda deluded me at first. Actually all of the tracks were performed live before the album came out, but the band has shown its ability to make vocals and instrumental lines that do not just copy each other in terms of notes. An example could be the chorus of “Nie huliajcie dzieŭki ŭ liesie” or “Miortvym nie balić” but honestly there is more than just one track where you can find such good calibrations, which is why I’d recommend everyone to go and listen to the album with your own ears. In general the band managed to avoid folk metal clichés again and to stay grounded on their musical identity they have been defined since the times of “Czornaja Panna”.
A Trollwald’s song usually follows a common structure, with two choruses and a bridge made of one or two solos. Just as an example, the song “Miortvym nie balić” starts with the deep voice of Andrey, and in the first part the listener is still skeptical about how the song is going to taste. And in fact, after a fast guitar riff in the background, the chorus the voice gets more serious with a bagpipe background which turns the atmosphere of the song much sadder than the first part. After the end of the second chorus there are no more vocals and a short solo of piano plays before getting into a bridge with a very good voices choir and a guitar solo before eventually closing the song. These all are Trollwald’s songs: something neither too hilarious, nor too depressive. The meeting point of trolls and seriousness.
One thing I’m appreciating about this new album is the major role the keyboard has this time, compared to the old EP. Not only it makes a pleasant background during the main lines (check the songs “Trol bajstruk” or “Spyniŭsia čas” just to make examples), but this time there’s also a couple of solos of piano, connecting the first part of the song to the rest. That’s the case of “Spyniŭsia čas” and “Miortvym nie balić”. I think keys and dudas give Trollwald a very personal sound we rarely find nowadays in the folk metal pot, making albums like this very hard to find nowadays.
Spending two or three weeks to understand what happened to the new sound quality eventually got me used to it. We cannot tell it’s bad although it’s clear there’s been a deep change of course from this point of view. But despite this, Trollwald’s music is still fitting the theme of its ensemble – forests, trolls and wilderness are the fundamental part of this album even though there’s always the more serious part, either the thoughtful lyrics or just that one guitar solo, making Trollwald’s material different than the other Troll-named bands.
In conclusion, although Trollwald’s debut album was not exactly what I expected from them, I cannot say this is disappointing at all. Maybe I just need more time to appreciate it more and more: such albums need more than just one or two listens to understand and enjoy properly. For now I’ll just sit and enjoy Andrey’s beautiful voice without too much thought, as the long-awaited debut from Trollwald is finally real…
- Nie huliajcie dzieŭki ŭ liesie 05:38 Show lyrics
- Spyniŭsia čas
- Miortvym nie balić
- Dva troli
- U huščarach
- U kišeniach nuĺ