February 25, 2010 | , | 3

Troll, Neo-Satanic Supremacy

Troll: Neo-Satanic Supremacy

I’ve never been a big fan of symphonic black metal. I hate overdone, cheesy keyboards drowning out perfectly violent and bleak ferocity — it’s just never made any sense to me. Neo-Satanic Supremacy, the latest album from this Norwegian merry band of blasphemers isn’t going to make me a fan of the music any time soon, but at least Troll have the presence of mind to keep the keyboards balanced within a crisp production that serves to amplify the blasting drums and furious riffs found on the album.

Putting the symphonic elements of the album aside, the music found on the album is essentially unrelenting, flesh searing black metal that isn’t just mindlessly stomping on the accelerator. No, there’s definitely some thought and creativity thrown into each track, even at the higher speeds.

Til Helvete Med Alt
I initially cringed at the thought of the opening keyboard work, thinking to myself that I should just turn the damned stereo off, unplug it and burn it to a bubbling puddle of plastic, but then the manic drums and swirling riffs showed up about 35 seconds into the song. The fury of the delivery was enough for me to overlook/ignore the symphonic tones that cover each song. There are some decent riffs found within the pummeling you receive on this first song.

Alt for Satan
“Alt for Satan” continues the nonstop keyboards, but at least the band throws in some hellish growls and screams to make up for it. The layered vocal delivery on this song adds some much needed evil to the mix as the blackened thrash riffs and driving drums are enough to wake the demons of old. The problem with the symphonics is that, while it adds atmosphere, it’s not necessarily the right mood for the metal it’s accompanying. There’s nothing dismal or menacing about the black metal here. Sure it’s aggressive and is delivered with an unrelenting ferociousness, but the keyboards make it feel more like a sulking goth teenager angry at his parents for not lending him money for a new shroud.

Ga til Krig
Monilithic riffs and creative drum work do their best to eclipse the repetitious keyboards over the first 30 seconds or so before all hell breaks loose. See, now this is what I’m talking about. The stretch of blackened mayhem before the one minute mark is exactly what this album needs more of. Kick the keyboards to the curb, sacrifice a goat or two and shred some fucking metal.

Burn the Witch
“Burn the Witch” may be one of the slower songs on the album, but it’s a masterful track full of sweet riffage and a hellish, head banging groove — that is, if you can ignore the keyboards stuck on repeat. There’s a new layer to the vocals (deeper and more guttural) which provide a bit more meat to the overall feel of the song. This is probably my favorite one on the album.

Morkets Skoger
Talk about putting the pedal to the metal. After a brief piano-like intro and a couple of massive riffs the guys unleash an unrelenting torrent of blackened mayhem before pulling on the reins a bit. The rest of the song is a mix of tempo changes and keyboard injections that only prove to muddle the momentum the band builds and then abandons. This song has some potential for being a hell raiser.

Hvor Taken Ligger Sa Trist Og Gra
The over-synthed opening to this next one was enough for me to skip the track outright the first couple of times I spun this album. It’s only when I decided to review the disc that I listened to the song in full. The only redeeming value the song has is a couple of catchy riffs that are fairly beefy yet carry a melodic touch. It’s a relatively slower paced track when compared to the rest of the album, but I’ll be damned if those keyboards won’t be the death of the album — an album that I really want to like.

Neo-Satanic Supremacy
The title track thankfully forgoes the keyboard build up and gets right into the meat of the matter. Blasting drums and malevolent guitars carry evil growls and screams across your soul like razor blades through your flesh. This is a beastly track that really shows how the band should use the more orchestral elements in the future — minimally and to the benefit of the sacrilegious music these guys shovel down your gullet in two and a half minutes. More, please.

At the Gates of Hell
“At the Gates of Hell” is a mid-tempo song that incorporates the keyboards that do more for the music instead of overtaking it like some of the earlier stuff on this album. This is a head banging, groove oriented melodic, black metal track. It’s as simple as that. Sure, it ain’t revolutionary, but it is executed perfectly and just too damned infectious to ignore. More of this too, please.

Smertens Rike
“Smertens Rike” is a pretty run of the mill symphonic black metal song. It’s got the keyboards, the rolling drums, driving riffs and slower vocal delivery just like the stuff that I hated back in the 90’s. Thankfully, there are a couple of nicely timed out bursts to keep me from slitting my wrists from boredom.

Age of Satan
The final track starts off with a killer riff, but is quickly dumped on by shitty keyboards. Dammit! I had high hopes for this one after hearing the opening few notes of that riff. Yeah, so there you have it. Two or three damned good songs on a well performed album that brings a bit more to the table than your standard symphonic black metal, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to start liking the genre now.

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