posted on 1/2008 By:
For those who don’t know (a number that included me until about six months ago), Trelldom is a longstanding Norwegian act that happens to include Gaahl of Gorgoroth/internet video fame on vocals. With Gorgoroth tied up by the messy and very public legal dispute between guitarist Infernus and the other band members, it seems that Gaahl has elected to emerge from his creepy foresty lair and crank out another album with his longtime side project. Though I had no familiarity with Trelldom until recently, I knew what to expect from Til Minne… and got it: solid, po-faced, second wave style black metal. This shit is almost pure Darkthrone worship, and while it’s well executed enough to be entertaining, it’s also too traditionalist to sustain much repeated listening.
One look at the cover should tell you most of what you need to know about this album: it’s an almost black and white photo of three dudes in dark clothes tromping away from the camera on some rocky snow-covered field. The picture is grainy. The band logo is in Ye Olde Heavy Metalle Font. The album title is (presumably) Norwegian. You guessed it: this is an exercise in pulsing slow-paced blastbeats, droning two-chord riffs, and absolutely no bass ever. The songs themselves are a little mixed. The band will occasionally strike on an epically desolate melody that evokes the bleak grandeur so crucial to this style, as on “Fra Mitt Gamle…” and “By My Will” (which is perhaps the album’s highlight with its nasty blastbeaten intro and stately second act). Occasionally there’s also a nod to black metal’s punky roots, most notably amidst the weirdly exuberant power chords of “Vindernatt.” Almost as often, though, the band’s repetitive structures and clockwork drumming outstay their welcome. The opening title track wails on a dull, droning (in the vacuum cleaner way, not the epic soundscape way) riff for almost its entire length, tuning the listener out so severely that the song’s impressive, escalating conclusion is virtually lost amidst the buzz. The ten minute long “Steg” is a far worse offender, though. The vast majority of the song swings on another endless drone, this one with virtually no variations until the conclusion of the track. Gaahl’s mumbly-spoken-word vocals don’t help much either (but more on him later). The album concludes on a slightly more entertaining note with a tangential but enjoyable fiddle composition that fades out into one of those mystical humming drone sounds so often employed by bands into nature imagery.
The real star of Til Minne… is, of course, Gaahl. Trelldom’s efficient but stock black metal performance seems to be primarily a forum for Gaahl to display his vocal talents, and to his credit, he puts on a show that most black metal singers would struggle to match. The sparse but clear production allows him plenty of breathing room, and the vocals are wisely higher in the mix than they generally are with this type of black metal; they still have that “performed from the next windswept peak over” feel, but without the echoey inaudibility that usually accompanies it. Armed with this and some subtle effects, Gaahl puts his whole arsenal of shrieks, bellows, coughs, and gags on display here. The man is clearly very good at what he does, and some of his vocal moments are truly savage (check out the choked scream that concludes “Vinternatt”). The only obvious missteps are the aforementioned mystical mumble vocals, which appear periodically in the album’s more ambient moments. I understand that Gaahl wanted to demonstrate what a versatile vocalist he is, but there’s no way around it: it sounds goofy.
In the end, Til Minne… is reasonably entertaining, but far too generic for its own good. I certainly don’t expect to remember much—if any—of it now that I’m through writing it up, which is unsurprising as I’m not a huge fan of the style. That said, unless you worship Gaahl or are desperately in need of some average-to-good Darkthrone/Burzum jocking, you can probably do nicely without Trelldom in your life either.
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