Troll - Drep De Kristne
Damnation Records
Symphonic Black Metal
8 songs (36:10)
Release year: 1996
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Those who know Stian Arnesen’s work from his time in Dimmu Borgir or The Kovenant will hopefully as pleasantly shocked as I am when they stumble across his time spent in Troll, a little-known offshoot of the Norwegian Black Metal tree that did great things in its time, and promises to do so again now that a new album is due in 2010. The Industrial Metal of 2001’s Universal is a personal highlight of the subgenre – I have absolutely nothing against the Kovenants of the scene, but they never seemed to be up there in quality with the Dødheimsgards and Arcturuses out there – and yet it’s the band’s debut album that’s the best of the bunch. Troll started when Stian, here going under the name Nagash Blackheart, was just fourteen years old, and Drep De Kristne (“kill the Christian”) is, along with Covenant’s debut, the best and purest Black Metal that he was associated with.

The best thing about the album is, surprisingly, the synths – they’re expertly applied, coating the fuzzy riffs and solid supporting blasts and beats to epic effect. I’m always astonished at the quality of the songwriting here, too, there being exactly zero poor tracks. Opener Kristenhat brings the Burzum, ambient humming becoming strangely symphonic and grandiose, layers forming atop one another as militaristic drums beat a harsh tattoo – then the Black Metal kicks in, wonderfully melodic without losing an iota of viciousness. Nagash’s vocals are throaty and raw, contrasting brilliantly with the rather beautiful music; think early Enslaved but catchy, and you’re more or less there. Unlike some of the other Black Metal bands who made Symphonic Blackness of a high quality, Troll’s synths go beyond the flying-dizzily-over-great-dark-forest effect to something distinctly more mystical and fantastic. The troll of the band’s title is the first thing that comes to mind, and as laughable as it may sound Drep De Kristne do a brilliant job in convincing you of these creatures’ existence.

From the epic invocation of I Saler Av Sten to the near-humpaa of Trollberg, Scandinavian myth meets your basic Black Metal bigotry in a killer combination. The sheer variety on offer is astounding; fine, 1996 was the year that Black Metal began to shapeshift, Satyricon’s Nemesis Divina and Dødheimsgard’s Monumental Possession just two of the albums that stood on the thin line between the genre’s future and its past, and Drep De Kristne is very much of the past, yet we’ve been conditioned to accept poor songwriting from the early Black Metal masters when gems like this exist. Take Naar Solen Blekner Bort, opening with catchy synths before an ahead-of-its-time breakdown and whirring guitars appear, spiralling down through keyboard blasts to incredible effect. On any other album it’d be an unquestionable highlight, yet here it’s surrounded with excellence, and picking out favourite tracks becomes genuinely hard. They’re all great, the bells and whistles of Troll Riket and the manic screams of Med Vold Skal Takes Kristenliv alike – really, this is a brilliant bit of Black Metal, and that Nagash performed all the instruments himself is even more impressive.

As epic instrumental Gud’s Fall introduces the finale title track, it’s hard not to be reminded of Emperor’s classic In The Nightside Eclipse. Drep De Kristne is clearly a different album but there are similar themes explored, and whilst this isn’t as good as the imperial masterpiece it is still a damn good piece of Black Metal, perfect for going out into the woods with on a clear night and paying homage to the sky. Others may have been spacier or more epic with their Black Metal, some were more technical or catchier, but few relics from the 90s could combine all of these into one kickass package, and it remains one of the best pieces of symphonic blackness to come from Norway; a vital listen for all Black Metal fans, as obscure as it sadly is.

Killing Songs :
Kristenhat, I Saler Av Sten, Naar Solen Blekner Bort, Med Vold Skal Takes Kristenliv
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Troll that we have reviewed:
Troll - Neo-Satanic Supremacy reviewed by Alex and quoted 76 / 100
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