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Trollfest - Helluva album review

A new definition of underground folk metal

Trollfest's HELLUVA album art

If you’ve ever gone to a Devin Townsend concert and found yourself happily jutting your head as Vengaboys plays over the PA, then you’ll know that, as a proud metalhead, you have capital to spend, and dammit, it’s all going to go on the gaudiest trinket you can find.

Even if you find the majority of folk metal to be self-satisfied frippery, these renegades from Norway’s black metal scene overshoot absurdity to end up at a place where normal rules don’t apply and resistance is an alien, non-applicable concept. Coming across like a moonshine-crazed gypsy clan fighting over their VHS tape of Looney Tunes cartoons, their helter-skelter, accordion-pumped rampage through tangled Balkan rhythms, tip-toeing-past-the-traps grooves and fiendishly well-thought-out dynamics is mercifully free of any claims to valour.

Instead, Helluva’s loose theme of intrepid underground explorers who are clearly ignorant of any potential geological peril for the most part carries the bewildering thrill of their live shows into its own, sonic territory. The ribald tribal interlude of Trollachen showcases all the subtly observed anthropological accuracy of a 1930s Hollywood movie, the pounding rhythm drilled through Gigantic Cave resonates deep in your funny bone and Helluva bounds joyfully past the wooden sign pointing to taste and restraint in the opposite direction.