Even by the fabulous, outrageous and shameless standards of the Eurovision Song Contest, January 15’s Trollfest performance at Melodi’s Grand Prix, Norway’s televised preselection tournament to select the nation’s entry for the annual festival of the song, was A Moment.
Introduced by Rammstein-style jets of flame, on a stage decorated with inflatable palm trees, a team of burly musicians wearing flamingo costumes pranced in circles to parry the folk-metal as their leader encouraged the audience to get ” on the job”. the “dance floor” and “dancing like there’s no tomorrow”. Damn knows what the live audience at Fornebu’s H3 Arena thought of this endearing and ridiculous spectacle, but when footage of the performance was posted online, the internet was charmed and captivated: “Why the hell wouldn’t you choose not this one?” plays the first comment under the clip. “He has everything you could ask for from a Eurovision hit.”
Unfortunately, for our brave feathered heroes, that was not to be the case: voted for the competition’s Last Chance Gold Duel eliminator – don’t ask us, it’s complicated – Trollfest ultimately lost to Maria Mohn. Fly for a place in the national final, in which the good people of Norway duly elected Subwoofer – two men in black suits wearing yellow wolf head masks singing Give that wolf a banana – as ambassadors of Eurovision 2022. What a time to live.
It’s entirely possible, however, that the average viewer being assailed by shit happily Dance like a flamingo may have written off the Oslo-based nine-piece as a gang of camp wackaloons doing pop-metal novelty for kids’ parties. And quite possible too, that words such as “Like parasites we infest, Bleed all resources dry / No hope, no change will come / Power sits in comfort” may have gone unnoticed amidst the visual chaos, so the true meaning of the song – a cautionary tale about the cynical machinations of an evil ruling elite and how tyrants thrive on apathy – did may not have been immediately obvious to all.
It also remains to be seen whether those investigating Napalm Records’ debut of Trollfest, Flamingo Overlord, will choose to dive beneath its dizzying mix of catchy, driving vocals to uncover dark musings on themes of addiction and indoctrination. Those who do may increasingly view the pop-metal sheen of the album as rather sinister, if not downright evil.
“If you’re having a shitty time and the person right next to you is having a blast, that’s even more shitty,” observes singer Jostein Austvik, aka Trollmannen. “Especially if the guy next to you knows you’re having a shitty time and he’s still taking advantage of his ass!”
“Hopefully – if people haven’t completely written us off – when they get the album and see the lyrics, all the carefree party songs will have to be revisited with another perspective. shallowness of our culture; people take a quick look and think they’ve got it all figured out, but you only have to take half a look more to realize that your assumptions are completely wrong.
Be honest: who saw this coming?
Formed in 2003 by Jostein and guitarist John Espen Sagstad, aka Mr. Seidel, Trollfest unquestionably set foot in the water before becoming a hot band in 2022. Self-proclaimed pioneers of True Norwegian Balkan Metal, the first seven records of the group were written and sung entirely in “trollspråk” – a kind of grammarless amalgamation of German and Norwegian, not conducive to pursuing a global audience. 2019 norwegian fairy tales abandoned this convention to focus on the native language of the group, and finally, with Flamingo Overlord, we monolingual English speakers have Trollfest songs we can sing. It feels like an album that the collective, whose eclectic, restless compositions and overactive imaginations actively mitigate boredom and stagnation, has been building for a long time. Freed from any internal or external pressure to stay ‘on brand’ in this new phase of their career, in the band’s concept album about a tyrannical dystopia based on the flamingo, the troll lyrics of yesteryear are no longer visible. .
“I don’t know if it was an active decision or if it just happened like that,” Jostein reflects. “Lyrically, it was definitely liberating to write in English this time around. It made it a lot easier for me to say exactly what I wanted to say. Similar with the trolls, it was liberating to put them aside for a bit. I felt like trying to become a dictator in the troll world, I don’t think it would work. There’s too much anarchy among the trolls to accept a single ruler !”
While cartoonish imagery and eccentric flamboyance have always been part of Trollfest’s DNA, these elements are underscored by serious talent, discipline and hard work. The absurd shuffling of genres isn’t just undertaken for its own sake – these often breathtaking arrangements radiate a pure passion for music in all its forms. Almost 20 years into their career, Trollfest have seen massive changes in the industry they operate in, and there’s no hint of humor in their frontman’s voice when he says, “L The music industry is so unfocused on music these days.
“There’s so much in the picture, the video, the accompanying merchandise, the freshly brewed beer, the bar of soap with the band’s logo on it, so much bullshit,” he spits. “As the ‘fuck you’ to it all, we’ve always been 110% serious about the music we make.”
Balancing a sense of humor with a conscientious, committed, and ethical approach to art and industry can be a difficult line for musicians to walk. For Jostein, who cites Devin Townsend and Mr. Bungle as artists who continue to inspire his band, the two approaches have never been separated; his introduction to heavy music was inextricably linked to the act of laughter.
“My dad is an old metal guy from the 70s,” he reveals. “What I remember most is Hocus Pocus by Focus, the Dutch group, with yodelling. It made me laugh for fucking hours! My dad had a live version on tape, I rewound it so many times it broke. Frank Zappa is also a wonderful example of how serious music and comedy can go very well together.
Maintaining this balance can be even more difficult to achieve in the metal scene; In the ’80s, Anthrax came under a lot of criticism when they stopped trying to look mean in leather and started smiling in Bermuda shorts, and there’s still a feeling that it didn’t. ain’t cool for metal bands to make fun of. One can only imagine how Trollfest’s surreal and subversive approach to their art has ruffled – no pun intended – some of the most committed and engaged overlords in the Norwegian metal community.
“We’ve met our fair share of these guys,” laughs Jostein. “Sometimes you see them at shows, in the back, arms crossed, shaking their heads. One of my favorite things to see is these guys start like that, and by the end of the show, they jump everywhere smiling and having fun like never before! For me, it’s a very beautiful thing to see, and one more dig at these people who need everything to be serious all the time. I find it so boring. And I wonder, how serious do you need it to be? Do you only listen to death metal made by murderers? Do you believe that black metal bands sacrifice humans and drink their blood? How come these lies are serious and our lies are not serious? That’s fine, if you want to be one of those serious people, that’s fine. But black metal bands with long nails and spikes, prepared for war, sacrifice for satan, all that, you meet them and they’re just co nerds even all of us.
Eurovision glory may have eluded Trollfest, but the Oslo band have plenty to look forward to as their profile continues to swell, and an in-depth catalog for newcomers to their Flamingo Secret Society to discover. And while Trollfest isn’t the fantasy escapist troupe their image might suggest, this intriguing, idiosyncratic collective is seemingly relaxed and accepting that not everyone who signs up for the journey ahead will turn to them for provide a moral, intellectual and spiritual roadmap for an as yet unwritten future.
“It seems to me that’s what happens in democracies in the western world, a lot of people disconnect from politics and societal interests and just bender,” Jostein reflects. “We should probably all be more careful and know a little more about politics so we can make informed choices, maybe even improve things? But it turns out we love the bottle and the party way too much.
troll party Flamingo Overlord the album is out now