Tjolgtjar – Five Tjolgtjarian Keys

Some people tend to get unreasonably angry when talking about this band, and if you’re one of those people, perhaps you should go outside because you’re probably taking things far, far too seriously.  A lot of people seem to think that Tjolgtjar is some HORRIBLE BESMIRCHING FORCE attempting to destroy USBM as we know it, but really, it’s just goofy, surprisingly well-composed blackened heavy metal that isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not good music; I actually find myself liking this more with every listen, even though I was pretty suspicious of it at first glance with its patently ridiculous aesthetic at all.  I have to say though that this is actually worth an occasional listen, as silly as it is.

The first six tracks are the best, taken from the ‘The Five Tjolgtjarian Keys And The Gate To Vruguun’ demo.  They’re the least conventionally black metal of the material on this disc, really reminding me of a more uptempo Black Sabbath than anything.  The riffing throughout this compilation is really very NWOBHM and first-wave black metal oriented, with a great bluesy feel on the earlier tracks.  Drumming in simple and rock-based while the vocals are a silly goblin screech or some surprisingly well-performed clean vocals.  Some of the riffs on this release are absolutely stunning, a perfect fusion of bluesy Sabbath and first-wave black metal ala Mercyful Fate.  The field of blackened heavy metal is a rather slim one, but I have to say that I have a soft spot for it when it’s done right like it is here.

The most surprising thing is that once you’ve adequately suspended your disbelief, this is a pretty easy release to listen to.  There’s an acclimation period where you learn to get used to the silly vocals, strange guitar tone, and overall ‘different’ feel from conventional black metal, but it’s easy to lose yourself in the nest of NWOBHM riffing and goblin shrieks.  The production is pretty poor; rehearsal room quality really, with everything sounding sort of raw and awkward, but that seems to fit the music pretty well.  The second half of the release I’m not such a big fan of; the NWOBHM and blues elements are somewhat pushed into the background in favor of a more traditional black metal sound, and I think Tjolgtjar is at its best when staying as far away from ‘traditional’ as possible.

I was pleasantly surprised by this release, expecting a pseudo-joke band with little in the way of actual compositional ability, but I found an artist that employs an odd aesthetic to great effect alongside quite well written music.  I dig it, and though the first half of this release overshadows the second, I still recommend it to those who like this sort of mixture.  If you’re totally not able to handle ‘weird’ music, you don’t want to get this, and you should probably jump off a bridge while you’re at it.

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~ by noktorn on September 7, 2008.

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