Legend Master by Portland riff voyagers Troll is one of the best doom records you’ll hear this year. I can wax poetic about how this album snagged my attention from an inbox full of promising promos and has held my adoration for months, but that’s the quick and honest point. If you listened to Troll’s malt liquor-swigging demo or their swampy eponymous LP you know they can stomp through the muck. But Legend Master is an ascendant piece of art that mines epic heavy metal for fantastical imagery and grandiose riffs while grounding the listening experience with candid lyricism. Vocalist/legend orator Rainbo weaves stories of Dragonships and magical gateways with fragility and bravado. The mixture of cerebral sci-fi and emotional vulnerability through the lens of trad heaviness may cause some to pause. But like Rainbo exclaims in the standout opening track, “That don’t bother me, I’m free.”
The first half of the two-part title track is a moody, heartfelt doom ballad where Troll guitarist Lou VanLanning anchors the song with silver-lined fuzz. When they flip the page into part two (“Legend Master: Book II, Three Evil Words”) the spare instrumentation invites the shadows from every corner of the room. The psych flourishes give way to the heaviest riffs of the record near the three-minute mark, plummeting the track into the abyss. A song later, the initial sun-bleached bounce and whimsy of “The Door” satiates those yearning for easy-ridin’ stoner jams before 4/20. Before the 12+ minute track’s expedition concludes, the song’s rollicking finale keep listeners fixated with tastefully harmonized vocals and surprising bursts of frantic percussion from drummer Ryan Kroger (also of Ossuarium). Then there’s the soul-cleansing closer, “”Building My Temple.” While all the slow ‘n’ low pre-requisites are met, Troll’s Legend Master uses doom as a riff-fueled vehicle towards greater emotional clarity. Like Pallbearer elevated the genre with their kaleidoscopic prog collisions, Troll have crafted a record that radiates with warmth and headbangable triumph.
Stream Troll’s Legend Master below. Like, right now. And pre-order the record before its April 12th release from Shadow Kingdom Records from the link below the stream.