1. Aligned With The True Death
2. Deathless Form
3. Omega Angel
4. Holy Black Sun
7. Earth’s Last Stand
Band Line up:
LRH – drums & guitars
sg.7 – vocals, synthetics & noise
TG – bass
Hailing from Finland and formed in 1997, Trollheims Grott have recently described themselves as the “unsung pioneers of industrial black metal.”
Their third (and newest) album – Aligned With The True Death – comes 15 years after their last release (2003’s Bloodsoaked And Ill-Fated – which was preceded by their 2001 debut, Bizarre Troll Technology) and it seems they have been prompted into action by a perceived lack of “true” black metal in a scene that in their opinion, has become influenced by “unskilled copycat newcomers staggering around… babbling about their primitive approach.”
It appears the band have a point to make. They compare their newest album to a blood-thirsty beast that will “lay terror around the world with unforeseen force”. They go on to say, “it’s about fucking time to put true talent and vision back into black metal again – prepare for utter annihilation!”
It’s quite a boast – and one that builds the anticipation before pushing play on the disc.
After a brief crescendo of ringing electronics, Trollheims Grott come crashing in with a blast of confident and crisp heavy metal on the title track – Aligned With The True Death. The guitars are pushed high in the mix to maximise their attack and immediately, the riffs are razor sharp and relentless. The song lives up to the declared intention of the band – it’s heavy, aggressive and powerful – but in addition to the onslaught, there is also a subtle, melodic element buried among the layers of thrashing guitar.
Deathless Form continues the brutality with effortless blast-beats that propel the song through its black metal verses. Sg.7 roars out the vocals until the song shifts into a half time chug that ushers in the final barrage of double bass drumming and tremolo riffing.
As the album advances and I find myself considering what the band actually mean by “true” black metal – Where they have certainly captured the harsh aggression associated with the genre; I would argue that – to their credit – they are also taking influences from elsewhere. In addition to the industrial soundscaping that augments and embellishes the songs, there is a gloomy aesthetic that comes from some of the darkly melodic guitar lines. Omega Angel is a good example of this. LRH’s unrelenting drums prevent the tempo from slowing into Doom territory but there is a bleak melancholy here that reminds me of how Celtic Frost sounded on their Monotheist album.
In contrast, Holy Black Sun is a straight ahead banger – It’s tight and whips along like an icy wind. Add some volume and I’m confident you’ll be throwing up the horns in a heavy metal frenzy until the album’s fifth song brings some comparative respite.
Twilight represents a break in the turmoil. It’s essentially an instrumental interlude performed at a marching pace. The crash and thump of the drumming sits underneath some heavy, high gain guitars and marks the first of two more measured songs on the album.
The second of these – LXFR – is an industrial rattle that while unremitting in its delivery, to my ears lacks the initial appeal of the earlier, faster tracks on the album. With that being said, it is a solid tune, underpinned by a simmering, electronic babble – a fair assessment would be to acknowledge this as a potential “grower” that will no doubt reveal its treasures over time.
Aligned With The True Death has so far lived up to much of its promise. It’s an aggressive album, which might seem an obvious comment to make about an extreme metal record, but where some black metal bands will make use of long, ethereal passages and atmospheric arrangements, Trollheims Grott have gone for the “everything turned up to eleven” approach. This album is a barrage of unabating heavy metal – occasionally, it offers some lightness in the dark, but it is always buried deep underneath thick layers of buzzing guitars and ferocious vocals.
By this point, whether the band have achieved their intention to obliterate those they see as fakers has become a moot point – What is clear is this album is a worthy addition to the genre, and this is clearly demonstrated on the final song, Earths Last Stand – It’s another “traditional” blast into pure black metal territory and I am reminded of Darkthrone, albeit with a beefier, clearer production. The song hammers along, building momentum until it shatters with an explosion; leaving the listener to experience the weight of the silence it leaves behind.
While Aligned With The True Death is unlikely to become a classic album, it should be noted it is a strong release that more than justifies the band’s decision to return to recorded music after 15 years. Ultimately, Trollheims Grott have delivered a credible, angry, adrenaline fuelled record that is skillfully played and strikes an appealing balance of clarity of sound with the energy of the performance.
Listening to it is not necessarily a deep experience but certainly one that will get your blood racing and your head banging.