Are you ready for absolute fucking madness?! Troldhaugen sneaked into view in 2014 with their sophomore album Obzkure Anekdotez for Maniakal Massez, a madcap rollercoaster that blended insane genre-hopping avant-garde with a touch of folk into a spiraling descent through a parody of an asylum. With Idio+syncrasies, the folk is mostly gone, but the maelstrom of insanity has only increased in intensity. Hyper-catchy bounciness, sound effects, robots riding BMX bikes, medical experiments gone wrong, a chicken politician, this album is basically the metal equivalent of a Ren & Stimpy episode on acid. You can only stop dancing when you’re laughing too much, and no album this year has made me so ridiculously manic as this utterly unique offering from the absurd Aussie band.
The album can be roughly cut up into thirds, with interludes defining the borders. The first third is the strongest by far, opening with the schizophrenic whiplash-inducing “I Ordered a Taxi Driver Not a Taxidermy,” which features text-to-speech samples, a bouncing main riff, high-pitched crooning and an utterly addictive chorus with a stellar performance by Mr. Troldhaugen, also credited as Reventüsk. The man is a cartoon come to life, and he draws you straight into the crazy world of Troldhaugen. With all the apparent madness swirling through the songs, it’s easy to forget how gifted the musicians are, playing the complex, rhythm-defying riffs with otherworldly precision. This grounds the insanity and assures you don’t get lost, instead wanting to relive some of the tracks again and again.
The compositions are so laden with different instruments and sound effects it’s a miracle how exceedingly catchy they still manage to be. No song demonstrates this better than one of my favorite tunes of the year, “BMX Terminator.” Amongst the xylophone rattling and myriad of cartoonish sound effects, the band still finds time to blast one of the most ridiculously addictive choruses I’ve ever heard. Only an actual machine could sit still listening to the tale of a bike-riding robot as it bounces off the walls with overt glee. Further down the line, “It’s Morphine Time” channels Faith No More, twisting it into Broadway-ready exuberance about doing drugs. There are a few duds, mainly the forgettable “Mannequin Checks In” and awkward “¡Mambo Mambo! (¿Binko Banko?)” (you don’t want to hear flirtatiousness from what boils down to a cross between Ron Jeremy and an Animaniac,) and lo-fi country outro “P3R5P3C+iV3_M4N” seems tacked on. But the rest of the album is such a unique blast it’s hard to hold these missteps against them, even if they mean Idio+syncrasies doesn’t quite live up to its immediate predecessor.
A lot of metal gets too serious for its own good. Troldhaugen is the absolute antithesis of this attitude, channeling chaotic madness down a tunnel of bouncy, danceable catchiness, dressing it up in the insane humor of acid-laced cartoons and grounding the writhing mess with superb performances. The bizarre mania is as addictive as huffing whip-its, as it draws your finger to the replay button after every spin. Idio+syncrasies is the most irreverant platter of hilarious fun metal has seen this year.
Tracks to check out: “BMX Terminator,” “It’s Morphine Time” and “I Ordered a Taxi Driver Not a Taxidermy.”