The Trollish Mirror


Metal Blade Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It is difficult, if not near impossible, to base an opinion on a band after only hearing a few songs. I realize that part of my job at "The Daily Vault" is to indeed make such opinions on demos that are sent my way, but whether it's a good or bad review, I often think I've done a band an injustice by passing judgment on 10 or 15 minutes' worth of music.

I kind of feel that way when I try to talk about Swedish death metallers Amsvartnet and their four-song EP my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Trollish Mirror. On one hand, I hear the same grindcore formula that has catapulted many bands out of obscurity in this genre; on the other hand, I hear some things which are different to this style of music. In the end, I'm left wanting to hear more... and maybe that was their plan all along.

The band - vocalist Marcus Johansson, guitarists Jonathan Holmgren and Daniel Nygaard, bassist Albin Johansson and drummer Alfred Johansson - have the formula for this style of metal down pat, though they nearly make a critical error to kick off this disc. The first track, "The Trollish Mirror," takes far too long to get started; after about 30 seconds, I cranked up the volume just to see if I was missing anything. There it was, faintly heard in the background - the sound of wind. I honestly thought the CD was defective, that's how long the silence continued. Of course, once the track got started, Amsvartner redeemed themselves with solid musical performances.

There is one thing I hear in Amsvartner that doesn't sound like your typical grindcore - namely, the occasional presence of a softer guitar line. Whether this is an acoustic or a regular ol' electric guitar without 16 tons of distortion I don't know, but it provides an interesting "yin-yang" to the traditional balls-to-the-wall approach of the music. Well done!

For 22 minutes, The Trollish Mirror provides plenty of enjoyment for fans of this genre. If you care to try and decipher what Marcus Johansson is screaming, the lyrics are included in the liner notes (though he is more clear in his delivery than others in this genre).

Naturally, only four songs doesn't really give a great picture of this band and their capabilities, though it does make the listener want to hear more from them. Somehow, I don't think that will be a hard request to fill, as Amsvartner does a brief, but impressive, job on The Trollish Mirror.

Rating: B

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.