Retro Reviews: Trelldom – Til et annet…

Trelldom - Til et annetAngry Metal Guy (hey, that’s me!) and Steel Druhm have long had it in for black metal. Indeed, one can hardly look upon the pages of without hearing a cranky metal guy bitching up a storm about how black metal isn’t what it once was; how it’s boring, overly conservative (not necessarily in viewpoints, but in musical approach) and mediocre. Hell, even the new girl is in on the “black metal is boring” thing. So, tonight, when a friend of mine was showing me some of his tracks, I was suddenly struck with a bit of nostalgia and broke out Til et annet…, an unsung classic which maybe hit a tad too late for the trve black metal folks.

Indeed, in 1998, black metal was starting to get really popular. Or, well, black metal bands from Norway were starting to get really popular. In a few years The Kovenant and Mayhem would be making it onto a lot of people’s radars in more popular circles, eschewing the kvlt status that the scene had until that point. Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk had been released the year before, raising the bar for quality coming out of the scene, but also quite accessible in itself. People who didn’t like Translyvanian Hunger or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas did like stuff like Grand Declarations of War. It is in this context that Trelldom released their second record Til et annet

Made up of Ghaal on vocals, Valgard on guitars and Sir Sick (who is now in Djerv) on bass, this record is some of the best black metal I own. I know I’m a reviewer and it’s my job, but it’s actually kind of hard to say exactly what it is that kicks so much ass with this record; it’s kind of a confluence of things. First, the riffing here is fucking stellar. Every track on this record has at least one really memorable riff; often times with bridges and breakdowns that other bands could only dream of perfecting (see: “Høyt opp i dypet” for an example). And while the record still has that classic Norwegian rawness in a lot of ways, it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a coffee can or something, so it’s rather accessible, really.

But it’s not just that, Til et annet… is varied, weird and unique. Laced with Ghaal’s raw, insane screams, the music is often more eery than raw and more groovy than blasty. “Min død til ende” starts out with an Einherjer-like riff and continues with great guitar harmonies, never speeding up past a tom-driven mid-paced groove. “Til is skal eg forbli” is representative of the more “traditional” trem-picked driven black metal tracks, but the harmonies and riffing are quality and memorable. On “Svinfylking – til krig” the riffing reminds me a lot of Windir (a band I’d not heard at the time) and Sir Sick’s bass work has a folky lilt to it. These varied and interesting riffs sound a lot more inspired than almost anything I’ve heard coming out of Norway in the 14 years since this came out, and remind more of Taake than anything else. They stick, they’re memorable and the tracks are well composed.

Trelldom - 2007The icing on the cake, though, is Ghaal’s insane and ridiculously memorable vocals. Over the top of exemplary black metal riffing he screams, hisses, growls and moans. His voice is the utter epitome of insanity; of which one can only feel and can never really know. On the aformentioned “Svinfylking – til krig,” for example, it sounds like he recorded 3 tracks and each one of them is totally different than the others. Each of the tracks screaming and retching and highly distorted. It’s like a collage of insanity that only Ghaal could do. On “Slave til en kommande natt” the listener is regaled with possibly the worst clean vocals I’ve ever heard in my entire life; and yet I can’t stop listening to this track! It’s weird, compelling shit and it sounds like someone got out of the fucking asylum, just in time to wander into the studio and croak into the microphone about the end of times.

Til et annet… is not the record that most come away with when they think of Norwegian black metal, and Trelldom is not the band they think of when they think of the late second wave of black metal—more likely Emperor or Taake. But there is something special about this one album from these crazy ass Norwegian recluses. If you’ve never heard this album before, you should make an effort to get your hands on it. The previous record Til evighet… isn’t as good and honestly I never even knew that they released Til minne… in 2007. But this is a record that is a moment in time that shouldn’t be forgotten.

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