Words by Bronwyn Thorne
Photos by Bailey Graham
In celebration of their latest release LP ‘Helluva’, Norwegian folk metal legends Trollfest have brought the wonders of their jovial musicianship and stage presence to Aussie shores. Having toured across the globe; fans across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra were finally presented the opportunity to experience the trolling first-hand. This past Sunday, Melbourne’s The Evelyn Hotel opened its doors in host of the festive occasion, and rest assured it shaped up to be an unforgettable party.
Canberra’s Beast Impalor brought their flavour of symphonic, progressive, death metal to kick off the night’s entertainment at 8:05pm. The four-piece immediately sparked attention with their theatrics and attire; which resembled a blend of inspiration drawn from pirates and old English beggars (notable in their black-smeared faces and tatters). Vocalist Adam Klückers boasted an eccentric array of energetic dancing as he thrust out his mighty screams; including core stomps as well as what could be described as somewhat of a metal shuffle. Bassist Reece Paine ripped into his 5-string as he also joined in for some stomping and solid windmilling. Guitarist Andy Read added his own layer to the theatrics by rolling his eyes in accordance with climactic moments, amongst other beastly facial expressions. The equally intense Tim Brown headbanged along as he thrashed the sh*t out of his keyboard. Another striking stage feature was the comical mascot skeleton noted as ‘Bone Jovi’ which stood in front of the drum kit due to the absence of a drummer, and sported aviator sunglasses and a white lab coat. The theatrical orchestral component of their sound gave an essence of watching a musical; with their set including the tracks Goblin!, Savage Bear Ambush, Voodoo Corpse, as well as their cover of Andrew Gold’s Spooky Scary Skeletons.
Next in line were Brisbane’s Valhalore to spice up the room with their brand of Viking folk metal. The eager crowd were met with beautifully intricate works from the bands’ 2017 debut LP ‘Voyage Into Eternity’ which embodies impressive vocal and instrumental melodics drenched in layers of heavy riffing. Fans needed no encouragement to mosh and sing along to tracks such as Upon the Shores, The Winterstone and the LP’s title track. Augury of Death was notably climactic with the stage becoming veiled with erratic red and blue light flashes and the occurrence of a wall of death, which was of course carried out in fashion of a warrior showdown (battle cries and all!) Across the Frozen Ocean saw members of the crowd jump onstage to sit and emulate the rowing of boat oars; with a boat line also forming in the pit soon to follow. Other highlights included “hey!” and clap chanting, as well as the pairing up of crowd members for a good ol’ folk dance.
Wollongong’s jokester metallers Troldhaugen were soon to follow with their vibrant chaos and sound that can’t be denied originality with an impressive array of style shifts and fusions. The crowd were left no opportunity to bore; between the electro beats and funky rhythms damn near impossible not to dance to and the comical antics of buffoonery (which included the use of props such as a dinosaur puppet, fidget spinner, and a groin guard which water was sipped from). The four-piece graced the stage donned in colourful workout gear and proceeded to carry out what resembled a throw-back to 80’s style aerobics classes. The combination of these aforementioned qualities sparked to mind a description something of kin to ‘Weird Al-meets-System of a Down-meets-Flashdance’, and perhaps a nod to the likes of Rammstein and Rob Zombie also. Punters were actively engaged from start to finish; with notable pit highlights including swaying with linked arms, a line of punters dancing like crabs across the room, and of course clapping and laughter. During the track Poultrytician the band paused with deadpan stares toward the crowd, moving only their arms in a flapping motion much like The Chicken Dance. After several scans of the room it was clear that the stage and crowd alike were engulfed in pure ecstatic insanity.
Last but certainly not least, Trollfest sounded off the night satisfying the inner child of everyone in the room with a crescendo of non-stop shenanigans and pure fun. The band entered the stage in bold safari attire including helmets, goggles, face paint and plenty of khaki. It was quickly evident that crowd participation would be key, with squiggle balloons and light-up flashing rings distributed through the crowd as a welcoming gift of sorts, before the set even commenced. Unsurprisingly, vocalist Trollmannen (who had also fashioned himself some antennae out of squiggle balloons) took a moment to inform the crowd that “we love balloons; they’re our favourite toy made of plastic”. Before performing their cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic, Trollmannen engaged punters in laughter early into the set in noting the day being a “Holy Sunday; who’s been to church? There’s a conversation starter! Speaking of church, want to hear some Britney?” At another point some punters chimed in with some banter of their own; shouting for the funny-man to chug his beer. Such beer culture lead to the crowds discovery that since being in Australia the band had learned the phrase “cheers, ya c*nts!” which needless to say, sparked a giggle. It is without doubt that Trollfest are masters of entertaining; they brought so much “Kaos” that it is arguably difficult to choose a highlight.
To name a few; memorable moments include: a wall of death, formation of a cabaret line in front of the stage, bassist Lodd Bolt crowd surfing whilst still playing, mosh pit plie’s, a giant conga line travelling outside of the venue and back, a wall of hugs (which was a personal first), unified dog noises along with the lyrics to Helvetes Hunden Garm, bouts of dancing, saxophonist Drekka Dag using his instrument to store his beer can, as well as one crowd member drumming on the tambourine from within the pit. Trollfest are not simply a band, rather a complete performing arts experience to be witnessed for oneself. The supporting bands were an on-par fit, making for an epic line-up. Shows like these are a fine example of how “small” venues can and do provide ample setting for atmospheric quality, spirit, and energy. If you weren’t there; you missed one “helluva” show!