"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Trollband - "In The Shadow Of A Mountain" (CD)

Trollband - "In The Shadow Of A Mountain" CD cover image

"In The Shadow Of A Mountain" track listing:

1. Fire and Ash (4:20)
2. Nidhoggr (4:41)
3. Heathen Blood (3:52)
4. In the Shadow of a Mountain (5:40)
5. Warhellride (5:11)
6. Regicide (5:01)
7. The Return (5:07)
8. We Live (5:42)
9. (untitled) (12:00)

Reviewed by on June 28, 2011

"...brings all the elements together with a solid mix of clean vocals, hellish screams, dark guitar segments, and epic symphonics to create a package tailored to those underground metal fans who wish Dimmu Borgir was more legit these days."

With a name like Trollband it should be fairly obvious where this group is going musically and where its influences are coming from, but oddly the act hails from Canada rather than Finland. Combining several different styles ranging from folk metal to full-on black metal, Trollband’s debut album “In the Shadow of a Mountain” is a triumph for the Canadian scene and a testament to what sort of music can be produced by the underground.

The base of Trollband’s music is built on folk influenced metal along the lines of Finntroll or Equilibrium, although it tends to be less upbeat, with the symphonic elements taking an evil bent. Harsh and abrasive screams on the black metal end make up the brunt of the vocals, bringing to mind some of the more extreme and underground acts in that genre. Deep, clean male singing pops in every now and again for a Viking or folk feel, depending on whichever direction the music is going. As would be expected, words like “fjords” get thrown around and the lyrics generally revolve around battle. Most of the time it works out exceedingly well, with the only miss showing up on the title track, when the Viking style takes itself just slightly too seriously and comes off more cheesy than poignant.

Stepping above what the average underground band has to offer, each of the tracks has enough twists and changes so the formula is constantly getting refreshed. The guitar work veers out of black metal for long periods of time, instrumental sections come up to vary the sound, and interesting sound effects frequently round out the package. “Nidhogger” in particular brings all the elements together with a solid mix of clean vocals, hellish screams, dark guitar segments, and epic symphonics to create a package tailored to those underground metal fans who wish Dimmu Borgir was more legit these days.

Unfortunately the sound quality is a bit rough and faded, which is the only serious problem to be found on the album. It’s a shame Trollband doesn’t have a major label giving the group access to a well known producer, because the quality of the music deserves a better production. The artwork, on the other hand, is already at a professional level and wouldn’t be at all out of place on the cover of a graphic novel or comic book. A gate inscribed with mystic runes sitting in the middle of a snow-covered forest pretty well sums up the feel of the music.

“In the Shadow of a Mountain” is a fantastically arranged album with a wide range of sounds that will easily please fans who have already heard all the big name folk/black metal acts. The release is also currently available as a free download, so there’s nothing to lose in giving the album a few listens through.

Highs: Some Fintroll mixed with a litle Dimmu Borgir and a dash of Emperor makes one tasty folk/black metal combination.

Lows: The sound quality isn't horrendous, but it does need to be taken up a notch

Bottom line: An underground folk/black metal album well suited for fans of Finntroll or similar acts.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)