Neo-Satanic Supremacy

Written by: EW on 10/02/2010 21:46:40

Trolls come in many varieties. Some of them supposedly live under bridges, some are useless virgins who reside on the internetz, others are a little on the skinny side, while a few are misanthropic symphonic black metal types, who may, or may not, conform to any of the above three classifications.

Troll are a name that has existed in the Norwegian BM landscape since way back in the murder 'n' church burning days of 1992, a fact which makes it all the more surprising that only one of today's line-up is a current or ex-member of a more recognisable name: that of mainman/vocalist/guitarist Stian Arnesen (Nagash). It is his ex-band Dimmu Borgir who are the most prominent focal point for the heavily symphonic and polished sound of black metal found on "Neo-Satanic Supremacy". For much of the album's 41 minutes it is the deeply-produced, spacey synths which lead the attack ahead of the guitars, giving those pieces a very crisp gothic feel, something I'm having a hard time working out if Troll intended.

Considering Nagash's Abbath/Shagrath-ian style of vocals, the stereotypical corpsepainted promo shots and a whole variety of songs referencing Satan, Troll thoroughly intend to be a black metal band. I mention this, as listening to "Neo..." I am not feeling the venom (no pun intended) and aura that is the absolute minimum requisite of any BM band today, and thus questions arise about Troll's true worth in a world very different to what they last knew with the release of 2001's "Universal". The sound of synth-drenched BM was a sound of the 90s, and quite possibly early 00s, but in comparison to today's important key acts (Watain, Funeral Mist, Deathspell Omega, Wolves in the Throne Room for example) Troll sound positively un-evil and at worst, comical. When the direction is allowed to be headed by the sound of guitars, evident in the title track and "Hvor Tåken Ligger Så Trist Og Grå" as two of my highlights, the band get close to providing me with the level of intensity and impetus I personally am unable to detect in a number of the songs either side of these two in the middle, but however, it is already too late by then. Keys/synth does have a place in the black metal world, very much so, and countless bands have used their presence to devastatingly atmospheric and emotional effects, but the cheesy nature of Troll's tone and the lack of hooks found in the song structures, riffs and vocals do not fill me with a confidence that much of today's BM fanbase will be overly appreciative of Troll's attempts to capture a sound of supposed darkness and mystique. It's definitely not doing it for me.


Download: Neo-Satanic Supremacy, Hvor Tåken Ligger Så Trist Og Grå
For The Fans Of: Dimmu Borgir, Sothis, Emperor
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 29.01.2010
Napalm Records

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