Dream Tröll - The Knight of Rebellion

Dream Tröll The Knight of Rebellion cover
Dream Tröll
The Knight of Rebellion
Stormspell Records
Floooobah! I haven’t been this beguiled and overwhelmed by a metal album since Amulet’s “The First” and Sin Starlett’s “Digital Overload”. Therefore, allow me to elaborate on what makes Dream Tröll’s full-length debut (released last May on CD under California's super reputable Stormspell Records), “The Knight of Rebellion”, so darned great and why I’m presently shaking my pom-poms like a giddy cheerleader.
Originating from Leeds, England and fronted by the highly compelling, gruffly whimsical and slightly nasal Rob Stringer with Matt Baldwinson on guitar, as well as additional guitarist Paul Carter, Paul Thornton on bass and Simon Blakelock on drums, Dream Tröll’s brand of radio-friendly and fleetingly ethereal “heavy power metal” lovingly sprinkled with airy fairy dust evoking keys is spread out over seven mercurially rendered tracks totalling just under fifty minutes – by Crom, I’m in like Flynn!
Although they average seven minutes (three are over eight while the shortest, the appropriately titled “A Fairy’s Tale”, is still a lofty four and two thirds), their multi-dimensional and dreamy, smoothly transitioning segments give the impression there are more without wearing out their welcome – no easy feat when considering such lengthy compositions, notably the acoustically progressive opener, “Time for Vengeance”, which grandly takes its time prepping the listener for an intensely catchy and melodic successor in “Velvet Drawbridge” by way of yawing drums, whirling dual guitar harmonies and a late, mystically antiquated and xylophone-ish keyboard solo. Again, the colorfully implemented keys are absolutely killer and much more than simple backing components as they’re on par with the linear albeit light-footed guitar riffs like the one at 01:20 and 03:12 of said “Velvet Drawbridge” or towards the end of “Mons Ominosus”, when the royal and tense keyboard spiral combined with a majestic drum roll provide the grandstanding impetus for the festively chill guitars to soar into the following chef d’oeuvre, “Lost In the Pages”, another groovy, head bopping winner one can easily lose themselves in. The swift, roisterous guitar riff introducing “A Fairy’s Tale” makes it the more accessible track but truly, none of them are painfully florid or tumescent because, as implied, there are so many fluid melodies and amusing developments one can’t help but feel enchanted at every turn. Even the swell, bookending closer, “(The) Earthbound Betrayal” takes part in such poignant ax revelry once it gets through the motions of setting the table with its transcendent keyboard intro and gumption stocked, ziggurat patterned instrumentation.
The lyrics are wicked, simply stellar all-around, be they the liberating verses of “Velvet Drawbridge” detailing a humble blacksmith’s rise to eternal championship, the backing vocal tinged and battle-some refrain of “Mons Ominosus” or the fun, storied stanzas and haughty as well as downright ticklish vocal lines to “Lost in the Pages”, likely my preferred track in this sense, although it faces stiff competition from the ultra-cool chorus dominating the raunchy and rumbling demiurge rejection which is “Unwanted by the Gods”. (Dig it!):
“Madness, creeps within the night
Nightmare, trapped in dark all time
The light, now a thing of dreams
Except fire, no more stars on high
Earthquakes, high waves
What now? How we pray for the…
Old days, old days, we pray, for this night to end...”
That’s another thing: the dumbfounding-ly stout rhythm section stands at the forefront of these eclectic overtures; like my buddy said, as much as the vocals, guitars and keyboards rock, the band towers above its peers thanks to its elephantine, hat squashing battery which never misses a beat when it comes to shaking one’s foundations to the core while providing a masterful counterpoint to the higher registered elements. One memorable instance is at 0:44 of “A Fairy’s Tale”, when the spherically tumbling and trampling drum fill makes me feel I’m being felicitously and repeatedly slapped across the face, Archer style. Vocally, this knockabout track also features a Brothers Grimm stylized narration, which sounds like it’s spoken by a child-chomping ogre or the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk!
Lead guitar is conservatively, but sagaciously deployed in a similar manner as (anti?) ecclesiastical doom metal worthies such as Cauchemar and Lucifer. When they do appear, such as at the middle of “Velvet Drawbridge “ and “Lost in the Pages”, they unobtrusively yet tastefully flavor the already magical and potent backing riffs/keys. Welcome exceptions are the flashy and searing, Ritchie Blackmore-esque solo intersecting “A Fairy’s Tale” as well as the integrated, freakin’ radical guitar meets keys lead break fiercely punctuating "Unwanted by the Gods".
One thing to be said about Dream Tröll is it gratifyingly differs from your usual run-of-the-mill power metal in the sense it does such a unique job of incorporating upbeat doom and traditional heavy metal aspirations into its ever-appealing castle cavorting, dragon slaying and William the Conqueror emulating foundation. Now, imagine my delight at hearing a three-track EP, “The Witch’s Curse” (featuring a new front man in Paul Walsh), is due out in February 2018. For now, I strongly urge you all to check out “The Knight of Rebellion”; rest assured it’s Sandman approved!