Lands of Njord
Most every metal band has at least one minor feature that makes them different, and some bands have any number of things that truly make them unique. This applies very strongly to Trelleborg, a young Russian band that have emerged from Saint Petersburg with a very unique blend of metal influences. On their debut album, "Lands of Njord", the young quartet storm out with a surprising and memorable offering that will likely divide a great deal of metal heads.
It's difficult to precisely pin down the style of the band. Sure, they're predominantly some flavor of folk metal with some power and black influences. Sure, it's very symphonic with a touch of progressive nature here and there, but there's some very unique touches to Trelleborg that make them more than just another folk band playing up cliches to try and earn themselves a quick audience.
As usual, I'll point out the vocals first thing. "Lord Volland" has a VERY unique voice. It's somewhat obvious that he's not a classically trained professional, but he's got a strong, deep, and smooth voice that adds to the attempted epic feel of the album (and succeeds, in my book). He also pounds out the growls that appear on several tracks on the album (but definitely play second to the clean vocals). While they're decent, they're nothing to write home about.
Secondly, this is an extremely symphonic piece of folk/viking metal. There are a few points in here that remind me sharply of Bal-Sagoth, with occasional blast beats and synthy keyboard backing. In sharp contrast, there's also a hefty dose of the much-maligned accordion. This instrument always gets a bad rap, but I love the thing, and it's put to good use here by Trelleborg. Particularly of note pertaining to the accordion is their song "Metsanhumppa!", a four minute instrumental that is fast, fun, and incredibly catchy (think of it as Trelleborg's version of Nightwish's "Moondance").
Yes, humppa and accordion, we're now drawing lines to bands like Finntroll and Korpiklaani as well. Well, Trelleborg are definitely a little more power metal-ish and epic than either of these two. The more epic tracks like "Gunbjorn" and "Tale of the Immortals" might feel slightly similar to songs like those recorded by say, Ensiferum, but the feel is much different. "Lands of Njord" is a tough album to compare, and thus somewhat difficult to categorize, but the formula has worked well for this aspiring young band. Also noteworthy is their decent English pronunciation Particularly for the nation of Russia, where many bands seem to like to stick to their native tongue, this is exceptional.
All things considered, "Lands of Njord" is a strange and unique experience, ranging in style from humppa to epic battle hymns to strange blast beat-laden black metal passages. I can't help but like it, and I admit that a fondness has grown for this little Russian gem. I'll be on the lookout for their next album for sure.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.75 out of 10