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Trollband - "Samsara" (CD)

Trollband - "Samsara" CD cover image

"Samsara" track listing:

1. Blood to the Heartwood 02:58
2. Ravenous 05:52
3. River 05:26
4. Cavern 05:12
5. Wither 04:24
6. Throat of the World 04:30
7. Centuries of Sand 02:10
8. Roots of the Earth 05:49
9. Mortal Soul of Man 04:33

Reviewed by on January 9, 2014

"There’s a wide range of sounds present on the album hitting all the requisite bases and then some, from the upbeat 'humppa' style of earlier Finntroll to much darker atmospheric black metal."

Following Trollband’s debut full-length “In The Shadow of the Mountain” comes sophomore album “Samsara,” which exudes an old school aesthetic with early black metal meeting folk and symphonic elements. There’s a wide range of sounds present on the album hitting all the requisite bases and then some, from the upbeat “humppa” style of earlier Finntroll to much darker atmospheric black metal.

“Samsara” gets right into the mix of folk and black metal from the first moment without the need of any introduction, and ends the same way. Some of the flutes and accordion-style sounds get overly upbeat and clash a bit with the guitars and vocals, but overall Trollband has a solid grasp on the arrangements. The band injects acoustic segments and backing keyboards effectively, like the piano playing underneath the guitars on “Ravenous.” Sound effects also make contributions to the overall atmosphere, such as the dripping water on “Cavern.”

As with the previous album, the sound quality isn’t perfectly crisp or clear, which is a downside for some but increases the aesthetic for those who like their metal more in the style of ‘90s black metal. Similarly the wet, shrieking vocals (is that an effect applied or does front man Sam Levitt’s voice really reverberate like that?) are bizarre, but they fit the music, and if you can handle the upper register of black metal howls this won’t be anything too difficult to get into.

The only old school offering that didn’t work well for this reviewer are the slow downs and dramatic whispered voiceovers. They do at least change up the formula and offer a varied sound, but they end up fairly underwhelming. Rounding out the album are tracks like “River” with its melancholy acoustic strumming and “Centuries of Sand,” which is more energetic and throws in some thrash-band riffing.

Flawed or not, Trollband is still one of the better underground folk bands, and “Samasra” has a strong appeal for fans of early Finntroll or those who dig the symphonic leaning black metal bands from the days of yore like Ancient and Hecate Enthroned.

Highs: Early black metal collides with folk and symphonic elements.

Lows: The sound quality is "old school," and the voiceovers don't make much of an impact.

Bottom line: Trollband is one to look out for if you want your folk metal firmly in the underground realm.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)