Written by: The Administrator
At risk of showing all my cards before the review even begins: Dream Tröll are one of my very favorite bands, and have been for a couple o' years now. Time, methinks, to gush accordingly.
I first heard Realm of the Tormentor a few weeks ago, and for the entire stretch of time between then and now, every single track contained within has been firmly lodged in my skull. This level of sheer likeability and competence inevitably raises the question: is Dream Tröll capable of putting out a less-than stellar release? Thusfar, I pleased to offer a resounding "no." Despite a rotating cast of vocalists that nearly recalls the drummer woes of umlauted brethren Spın̈al Tap, the consistency in quality they have demonstrated since 2018's The Witch's Curse is simply incredible--and 2017's The Knight of Rebellion, while less refined, is no snoozer either. Literally every single track they have released is a certified banger, a non-skipper, a prime exemplar of traditional metal prowess in the modern era. These guys claim to keep the spirit of old-school metal alive by "making the OLD sound NEW again"...and y'know what? Not a single lie hath been detected.
But this isn't a review of their bulletproof back catalog. Their latest effort--which straddles the line between album and EP with a grim tenacity--may not yet be my all-time favorite Dream Tröllrelease per se, but it certainly contains their most concisely earwormy tracks. To any newcomers, I highly recommend starting here and working backwards, cuz damn, Realm of the Tormentor has some godly chops.
Marrying the most prestigious elements of hard rock, glam metal, arena rock, NWOBHM, prog, thrash, and capital-H Heavy Metal, Dream Tröll consistently demonstrate an ability to trim the fat and deliver triumphant tunes that truly feel like the best conceivable version of the respective component genres. The foot-stomping and air-guitar inducing riffcraft is absolutely out of control, while the many solos hit the very fine balance between "refreshing" and "blistering." The bass is deliciously present, and frankly pretty ridiculous when it comes to laying down a groove without adding too much weight. The drums are precise and punchy, refusing to fade into the backdrop like so many peers in trad metal revivalism. The synth is tastefully engaged, lending a little overt 80's flair when called for. And the vocals, courtesy of one Ash Elliot, fill the seemingly unfillable shoes of alum Paul Walsh with a remarkable confidence and grace. His delivery is meaty and downright powerful, yet his willingness to lean into the high-flying drama serves to maintain the beautiful give-and-take relationship between the vocals and leads that was firmly established in earlier efforts. I dunno where Dream Tröll finds their vocalists, but they seem to have cornered the market on top-tier talent.
The band across the board operates on a very high technical level, and while the riffs are outstanding, the basswork is sublime, and so on, one of their greatest strengths as a crew is a willingness to proudly give everyone's skills the space to shine. While I'm of course not privy to the inner workings of the band, to say that everyone seems to pull their respective weight is an understatement.
Given the signature elements at play, Dream Tröll's work feels like it should be predictable after a couple of tracks. Somehow, it is anything but. Dream Tröll is proof of the maxim that the sum is greater than its component parts--no discredit to said component parts intended. The songcraft here is truly something else, with every damn track feeling like a contender for, well, best track. Each is exactly as long as it needs to be, each delivers an irresistible catchiness, each showcases a range of talent...and each simultaneously feels wholly unique. Side A, comprised of the monolithic title track, the gruff and glammy "She Got the Devil Inside," and the catchy-as-all-hell "Winner Takes Nothing," feels like ample 80's radio single fodder. These three songs prominently feature jubilantly crunchy riffage and the kind of earwormy choruses that practically demand the listener to sing along whilst throwing horns. While still intensely immersive and energetic, Side B takes an ever-so-slightly contemplative and proggy path. This variety provided allows for the potent sense of freshness and excitability to continue across the breadth. Final track "As Death Rains From The Sky," with its intensely chantable chorus, is the longest and the most slow-burning, but don't let the tempered approach fool you: this track succeeds quite well at providing an engaging exodus from the triumphant air of that which came before. While Dream Tröll do play with delivery, tempo, atmosphere, and so on, everything herein is invigorating and upbeat, yet never slides too far down the slope into overt cheesiness.
Look, if you let me go on all day and night, I'll do just that. Suffice to say: if you like high-energy heavy metal, Realm of the Tormentor will inevitably appeal. As stated in these humble halls previously, Dream Tröll are the entire package: beyond delivering hooks on hooks for days, their bubbly kineticism glistens with glam and sweat. Their commitment to revitalizing the days of yore is commendable, but more than that, they are ultimately successful to a degree that is equally frightening and inspiring. If you haven't embraced the Dream Tröll, there is no better time than the present. This beast of a release comes highly fuckin' recommended.
Dream Tröll - Realm of the Tormentor was released July 2nd, 2021.Find it here!
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!