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Consider Pulling a "Craig Moss" in the Future - 20%

AndromedaVessel, December 6th, 2019

Craig Moss is a director who used to make awful parody movies, such as "The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It" and "Breaking Wind", and has managed to redeem himself by starting to make action movies, mainly the "Bad Ass" trilogy with Danny Trejo. To be honest, I've never seen much of his parody era, because they looked incredibly unappealing, flat, bland and, much like the Seltzer-Friedberg duo, unfunny. I'll admit that I'm biased towards the latter though, and they actually employed actual comedic talent (not in the sense that they're outright funny, but that they worked in comedy shows before). This is what it feels like, but instead of trying to be funny just by going "OMG It's Hannah Montana crushed by a meteor!", Troldhaugen thinks silly screams are the only thing that might tickle the metal funny bone.

There's undeniably an avant-garde and experimental feeling all over the album, most of it inspired by Mr. Bungle and notably a Zappa-esque little interlude during CRISPr Me Baby One More Time, but as a whole it comes across as a YouTube gamer doing silly songs for his viewers. Yes, I'm targeting specifically Starbomb and Ninja Sex Party, but that's what it feels like. There is some talent here, specially in the instrument-playing, as it is competent and everything is locked-tight into the musical structures, but all is hindered down by the vocalist trying to sound funny, but it ends up being annoying.

The album has a lot of genres mixed with the main metal current flowing through it, which checks the mark of a general avant-garde album: swing/electro-swing in I Ordered a Taxi Driver Not a Taxidermy, hip hop in BMX Terminator, trap in Mambo Mambo (Binko Banko), a bit of reggae in Jaw Drop, some scat singing and dubstep in Genome in a Bottle, you get the idea. It also employs a lot of samples and synthesizers throughout the songs, so it always feels like stuff is going on and keeps the "crazy wacky" mood strong. There is also some use of speech synthesizers, with both female and male voices, mostly in the first and sixth tracks.

Take Tenacious D, 'Weird Al' Yankovic and even Psychostick for example. They all have comedic and, mostly in the case of the latter two, straight up parodies and satire of other artists and bands, but grounded in comedy nevertheless. Yet they never resort to only using silly voices, if anything they only use it in context, and mostly have great musical talent behind the compositions. Troldhaugen just feels... forced. Trying too hard to be funny in failed delivery instead of clever writing. Being a Seltzer-Friedberg rather than the ZAZ trio.

It Was Just a Prank, Bro - 24%

Thumbman, December 2nd, 2019

Man, imagine having so much musical talent (at least in the technical department), and just spending your time on what amounts to a joke that a 12 year old might find funny for one listen. Troldhaugen's world is filled with wacky keyboards, silly half-rapping, BMX Terminators and basically any in-your -face garishness you could possibly imagine. Apparently they used to be a folk metal band (I honestly can't picture it, and after this I have no desire to dive into their discography), but on Idio+Syncrasies they are a full on avant-garde joke band. Honestly, metal certainly does take itself too seriously at times and I'm not one to complained about injecting some humour into the mix. However, I can't imagine anyone who's reached the age of majority finding this funny. The music just seems wacky for the point of being wacky, and the humour isn't juvenile in an enjoyable way - it's just plain irritating.

While flittering between genres frequently is the name of the game, there are some constants throughout the album. The band seems to love nu-metal, with most of the heavier riffs being performed in the style, often in a stop-start style. While most of the nu-metal related stuff does very little for me, I'll admit I enjoyed the occasional nods to System of a Down. Mr. Bungle seems like an obvious influence here, and a lot of the time it seems like they're trying as hard as possible to out-weird them. Unfortunately, much of this reminds me of Mindless Self Indulgence. Besides the silly speech-to-text sampling, both bands do know how to write a catchy chorus, but also love littering their music rambunctious silliness, outlandish vocals and pointless lolsowhacky parts. At least Troldhaugen don't go overboard with juvenile attempts to be shocking. I won't go on about influences anymore, because the point of Idio+Syncrasies is largely to jam in as many influences as possible.

I'm not going to lie here, the musicians behind this are pretty good. The guitar player is generally very good at what he does, he just has bad taste. The guitar solos are generally quite good when they come up. The humour here is often aggressively childish - "Poultrycian" sounds like a skit directed by an 11 year old. However, there are a few moments that aren't terrible. The Drake parody part in "CRISPr Me Baby One More Time" elicited a passing chuckle, and "It's Morphine Time" is the one song where Troldhaugen pulls off being genuinely funny. Speaking of "It's Morphine Time", the band is actually really good at catchy choruses, they often just make no sense in the context of the song.

Just how far they go with the aggressive wackiness (I mean come on, the cover is a fucking crab doing a tail whip on a scooter over a stock 80s background) of Idio+Syncracies almost seems designed to deflect criticism. If you like it, great. If you don't it was just a prank, bro and you just don't have a sense of humour. I'm honestly baffled at who the audience is supposed to be for this. I want to say 12 year olds looking for a cheap laugh, but it doesn't seem like many of them have any chance of actually discovering it. I can't stress enough that I'm not just dismissing this because it's random as fuck and a joke band - it's just that they completely fail to be funny and musically it's grating and not actually very interesting at all despite their attempts to fit everything and anything into their sonic pallet.