(Power Prog 2015)
Folk metal can be a very tricky style to pull off. The marriage of the heavy metal aesthetic with flutes, bagpipes, tin whistles and fiddles often comes across as contrived and forced. To my ears, many purveyors of this style sound either like a metal band using folk touches as window dressing or like a folk band without enough metal oomph to power the music. It’s difficult to get the proper balance. That hasn’t stopped the Argentinian band Triddana from having a go at it on their recently released second album, ‘The Power & The Will.’ Their debut, 2012’s ‘Ripe for Rebellion,’ was rightfully lauded as a stellar example of the genre done right. A few things are different this time around. Most notably, in the vocal department, powerhouse singer Diego Valdez (Helker, Electro_nomicon) is no longer involved, instead turning the mike over to guitarist Juan Jose Fornes, who wrote all the music, produced, mixed and mastered the album, and even performed the Buzok and Bouzouki. Fornes has a smooth and expressive enough voice (reminding me a bit of a subdued Andy B. Franck (Brainstorm) at times), but it’s hard not to miss the towering might of Diego Valdez, one of the premier singers in metal today.
The name of the game on ‘The Power & the Will’ is three- to four-minute midpaced melodic metal songs, with straightforward arrangements and a huge dose of highland bagpipes and tin whistle courtesy of Pablo Allen. In terms of presentation, then, Triddana are perhaps most comparable to the likes of countrymen Skiltron, or perhaps Elvenking or Saurom. The good news is that the metal quotient is sufficiently high to appease a crusty bastard like me, and there are a few stellar songs to be found amidst the likes of “Shouting Aloud,” “Death Blow” or “The Power & the Will.” The bad news is that the folk instruments are very much in-your-face and can be distracting at times, even when the melodies they produce are quite catchy (as is often the case). More broadly, the album feels like it has been buffed and polished to eliminate all rough edges. It’s very melodic, very listenable, very safe and very smooth, but it rarely induces the listener bang your head or pump your fist. That attacking spirit from ‘Ripe for Rebellion’ feels somehow suppressed and tamped-down here. At least part of that is the difference in vocal styles between Valdez and Fornes, sure, but there also feels like a different, decidedly toned-down approach this time.
Of course, none of this is to say that ‘The Power & The Will’ is a bad album. It’s actually quite accomplished and well-executed for what it is. Fornes is a gifted writer and has come up with some compelling melodies and choruses (just try to get “When the Enemy’s Close” out of your head once you hear it, I dare you). I firmly believe that different records work for different moods. The album you listen to in order to get pumped up during a challenging workout is different than the one you listen to on a weekend morning with a cup of coffee in hand. ‘The Power & The Will’ is the sort of album you can listen to when driving around town, doing chores around the house, etc. You know, an album that makes you smile, nod your head, tap your toe, and sing along a bit, but doesn’t keep you from focusing on the task at hand by forcing you to throw horns and scream “METAL!!!!” at the top of your lungs. In this regard, Triddana’s second album is indeed a worthy effort for those like slick, well-crafted melodic metal songs and don’t mind a shiny folk instrumentation overlay atop the polished sheen of it all.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~