I love a band that says what they are. None of that Folk-Punk or Folk-Rock messing about for Belgium’s The Lucky Trolls. It says right across their t-shirts and hearts “Irish Punk From Liège”.
It finally seems that things are returning back to normal thank Heavens! I spoke just the other day how great it was to know that bands like The Scarlet had survived the pandemic and were releasing their first material since before the nightmare began. The very same can be said of The Lucky Trolls who shot to fame back in March, 2019 with the debut release of a self titled 4 track EP capturing the #1 spot as that years London Celtic Punks Best Celtic-Punk EP. Twelve fantastic minutes where their energy and passion comes across in every single song of fast Celtic-Punk with often dual vocals from Nicolas and fiddle player Anne-Sophie.
The band hail from Liège in Walloonia which is the French speaking part of Belgium. Once a centre for working class industry, especially steel making, it has in recent years become important for education with tens of thousands attending universities in the city. Also world famous for it’s football team Standard Liège who in common with many teams from similar industrial areas had gone into decline but are happily showing signs of a return to their former glories. The five members of The Lucky Trolls have all played previously in well respected Belgian alternative and Punk-Rock bands – Radio 911, Chump, We Are Minutes and Young Enough. Pre Covid they had racked up 50+ shows within two years and had opened shows for everyone from fellow renowned Celtic-Punkers The Real McKenzies to Folk-Rock artists like Jethro Tull.
The album begins with the great ‘City Of Iron’. A track we previewed on it’s release so impressed were we. The song tells of corruption in the town of Seraing where several members of the band live. It is located in the province of Liège where the accompanying video was also shot. Seraing is called ‘the city of iron and coal’ and their are many such places around the world where local politicians have feathered their nests at the expense of the people. The Lucky Trolls challenge Seraing’s administration “Gimme some reasons to stay in this town”. They follow this with ‘To All Broken Souls’ and it has a sound similar to Black Water County, who had ‘punked’ it up when I saw them live recently. Drummer Gilles says of the album
“It’s not heavy metal, nor punk rock that tears. It’s scales of Irish chords, melodies that you could hear in an Irish pub, on which we add more traditional instruments and not only big punk guitars.”
The underlying Celtic melodies are there and even though the music can be hard and certainly fast at times I can’t help but agree with Gilles that is does have an accessibility to it that would, I’m sure, please anyone with decent musical taste and get them up on the feet. ‘Second Wind’ is one such song that slows down again and again for some Celtic interludes before bursting into life again. I love the chugging guitars throughout and the use of fiddle as on ‘Better Way’ is superb.
On ‘Faded Sheets’ they are joined by Titou MacFire of the great French band CelKilt, who they are playing with soon in their home town, on vocals for a song that finds itself struggling to contain itself. The rapid drumming adds to its fast and furious feel even getting faster towards the ending! Most of the songs here are originals with the first cover being of the auld Irish rebel song ‘The Foggy Dew’. The song begins in traditional ballad style before springing into action a third of the way in. A really great version sung beautifully by Anne-Sophie. I hear this song a lot as it has become very much a Celtic-Punk standard but this is a version I really, really loved. Parts of the album are influenced by ‘Pop-Punk’ as you can hear sometimes the influence of Yank bands like NOFX as on ‘Streets’ but it is by no means over powering. This leads us to the second and final cover and another popular song in the scene. A shame they couldn’t have found some less well known covers but I’m guessing these have been included as they are popular played live so we can forgive them. Theirs enough cheesy and cringey versions of ‘Galway Girl’ out there but not here. Chugging guitars and loud fiddle steer it well clear of anything embarrassing. Almost at the end and can’t tell you much of the meaning of ‘The Flooded Roads Of Kent County’ but a cracking song never the less before the curtain comes down on the album with the trad Celtic-Punk sounding ‘Again’. A grand way to end things.
(The Lucky Trolls 2021 Saint Patrick’s live stream at the Cultural Centre of Beauraing in Belgium. The four songs includes three songs from Raised Fist And Rebel Songs – ‘Flooded Roads Of Kent County’, ‘Faded Sheets’ and ‘Streets’)
The album came out just a couple of weeks ago and already the band have had several shows to promote it’s release. It was recorded at Big Dog Recordings in Antwerp and produced by Tim Van Doorn. The Lucky Trolls style of Celtic-Punk is definitely in the Punk camp but their catchiness and fantastic tunes ensures that even though I find myself less and less enamoured by Punk music over time The Lucky Trolls debut album only add to my love of them.
(You can stream and / or download Raised Fist And Rebel Songs via the Bandcamp player below)