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Report: Dark Troll Festival 2016

Moonsorrow, Hellheim, Graveworm, Finsterforst, Black Messiah, Himinbjorg, Obscurity, Fen, Cnoc An Tursa, Khors, Heimdalls Wacht, Firtan, Thrudvangar, Lux Divina, Strydegor, Thyrgrim, Wolves Den, Dvalin, Kosmopyria, Killing Spree, Wrack, Bluteck
in Thursday, 5 May 2016 at Bornstedt Castle
by Erika Kuenstler

Years of blatant marketing lies have made me very sceptic when I read sales pitches like “The best (insert product name here) in the world!!”: what you end up with typically ranges from “Passably okay” all the way through to “So bland it makes your grandma excited”. So it was with mild trepidation that I attended my very first Dark Troll Festival, purportedly “the most beautiful festival in the world”. And finally an experience that lives up to its marketing hype! In just one weekend, this highly scenic festival has firmly embedded itself as a strong contender in my list of “Absolute Must-See Festivals”.
One of the first aspects that sets this festival apart from others is its location. Passing rolling hills blanketed in fields of blazing yellow flowers, a small track winds up a hill near a remote village in Germany, with apple orchards slowly giving way to verdant forests interspersed with glades speckled with blooms. And it in these lush woods we find the ruins of an old castle. Completely enclosed by a wide wall, the renovated inner courtyard gives a sheltered niche overlooked by a stage built into the remnants of what was once possibly a bell-tower. A towering spire looms majestically over all, giving stunning vantage points not just of the stage, but also a panoramic view the surrounding countryside. Encamped at the foot of this tower is a small group of re-enactors, their simplistic lifestyle from bygone centuries lending an authentic medieval air to all. And it is in this stunning setting that Dark Troll Festival takes place each year, featuring a slew of Pagan, Folk, and Black Metal bands. Added to this was four days of perfect weather, with clear skies and cool breezes giving a small slice of Metal heaven.
Another outstanding feature is the attitude of the festival. Dark Troll is by far the most relaxed festival I've been to, with the organisers taking a very casual stance, rather putting emphasis on a pleasant festival experience for all. Everything has a very familial feel to it, all the way from the smiling and friendly security though to the ever-cheerful bar staff. This attitude has lead to a massive increase in the popularity of the festival over the years, with this year being the very first time that festival tickets have been sold-out, with fans flocking in from a whole range of countries, including Switzerland, Italy, and Belgium.
My usual reaction to a good festival goes along the lines of “it was great, but it would have been nice if…”, yet Dark Troll is the very first festival which impressed on every single level. The ablution facilities were clean and adequate; there was a wide range of food and drinks available, catering to every budget; the sound was decent for the most part (albeit with some feedback issues throughout the festival); and there were plenty of areas to sit and just enjoy the music.
As for the bands themselves, there were no really lacklustre performances, although some were obviously better than others, with feedback issues marring a few performances. Several of the shows were of a truly high calibre, such as OBSCURITY, MOONSORROW, and BLACK MESSIAH, with many of the lesser-known bands hot on their heels performance-wise. My personal highlight was FEN, a band that all to seldom frequents the German scene. This made their spell-binding performance an even rarer treat, and something that their fans truly enjoyed. The emphasis on less known bands meant that almost everyone I spoke to had the opportunity to discover a new favourite underground band, with their outstanding shows garnering new fans. For example, Munich-based WOLVES DEN delivered a bombastic show that went straight for the jugular, with ferocious riffs intermingling with savage growls. However, perhaps my favourite moment of the festival was seeing the Black Metal band BLUTECK on stage, bedecked in bones and blood, rasping out chilling songs whilst standing on a stage flanked by large bowls of bright-coloured pansies. The contrast between the band and sprightly flowers somehow completely shattered the evil look the band was going for, giving their otherwise excellent show a more comic twist.

Overall, this was a completely stunning festival that should be an absolute must-see for all Metal fans, particularly if you're into more Pagan and Black Metal music. In short, if you've had enough of thronging masses found at larger festivals, and are looking for a small, intimate, and well-organised festival, with awesome music and friendly people, look no further than Dark Troll. So be sure to keep your eye out for next year's instalment, which will feature the likes of WOLFCHANT and THE COMMITTEE. And don't forget to get your tickets early, as they surely will be sold out again next year.

For more photos, click here.

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