Yorkshire based, heavy metal outfit, Dream Troll, will release their much anticipated new album, Second to None on the 12th of July.
Dream Troll released their debut, Knight of Rebellion, in 2017 and I found myself instantly hooked. Their powerful brand of old school metal with a modern twist is addictive, brilliant and also fun. You can read our thoughts on that debut here. They followed that up with the equally brilliant, The Witch’s Curse last year. Read about that one here. Basically, they release music, it is brilliant, we lap it up and eagerly wait for more. If you haven’t checked out Dream Troll yet, you are seriously missing out and should hunt them down (their music, that is) with urgency.
Dream Troll are Matt Baldwinson and Paul Carter on guitars with Paul Walsh on vocals. Simon Blakelock is on drums and Paul Thornton is on the bass.
We have already been treated to a couple singles from Second to None. The album opener, Steel Winged Warrior, was first up and you can read our review of that here. The rest of Second to None has a lot to live up to off the back of that excellent first taste. Did Dream Troll succeed? Yes. They certainly did, with barely a misstep along the way.
So, Second to None is 8 tracks in total and weighs in at around 57 minutes. A very respectable length in modern times where 30 to 40 minutes is accepted as an album length. Second to None is the sort of album that you listen to and it just leaves a big smile on your face. Pure enjoyable, entertaining heavy metal. It doesn’t do anything to clarify exactly what genre Dream Troll sit in but who cares. It’s just heavy metal. Over the course of the album expect them to touch on rock, hard rock, power, folk, thrash and traditional metal. Basically, be ready to throw your fist in the air, head bang, mosh and play the air guitar plenty.
Second to None starts off with the brilliant first single Steel Winged Warrior. I love this song, so much so I had to force another GBHBL writer to check it out so watch us react to it on YouTube here. It is a good example of what you get across the whole album too.
Songs like I Will Not Die Today hit you hard with a banging riff. A real galloping headbanger with wicked drumming. It fades into a gentler, more ballad like verse with a little piano melody. This all builds in power and force heading towards the chorus where it then jumps back to the galloping riff with lead guitar flourishes. The chorus is catchy too, which is important for this style of music. Throw in a cracking solo too of course but it is the ending part of the song that sells this one for me as it builds up the speed of the drums and guitars.
The Lawmaker has a darker tone to its start with intermittent drum hits and a melodic guitar coupled with a nice bassy crunch. A decent riff and quick tempo on the drums drags you through the verse before a brilliant prechorus. A vocal line gets blazed out followed by a galloping riff on repeat. It’s brilliant and one of the many moments that Dream Troll add to songs that elevate them from good to great. The chorus is really good, again too. The second chorus ends into a huge solo that isn’t far off just showing off. It’s brilliant.
A vocal verse ends then quickly into a second solo before we head into crowd favourite territory with a section of “woahs” and then back in for a third solo through to the end. Or is it just one huge solo separates by some verses. I don’t know, I just know I love it. The second single, Chrome Skull Viper comes next and is a speedy, rocking track with a hilarious video. A fiery verse sees it fade for a prechorus with almost spoken word. This works well in that it accentuates the higher chorus that follows.
The Art of Death has an atmospheric building start before a crunch of guitars jump in. There is a bit of synth use at the beginning but it sits in the song nicely enough. There is a real ominous tone to proceedings as the guitars, drums and vocals all build slowly. The vocals are immense in all sections and the backing vocals in the chorus are brilliant. The punch with how the song jumps back in for the chorus is intense and makes you take notice. The bass lines in the build up stick out in what might just be my favourite Dream Troll song to date. It’s fantastic and is different to anything on the album so far showing a band full of creativity.
Darkness Lies Within the Sun brings the pace back with an intro worthy of a boss end battle. A powerful lead guitar line that’s tinged with emotion and blasting drums. We switch to a bass line and drum beat as the verse approaches. There is a piano melody alongside the bass and drums now as the vocal punch out lines. The prechorus sees the guitars jump back in and the drums hit blast beat levels of speed. The chorus itself is catchy, possibly the catchiest so far. The chorus ends into nice riff section with blasting drums and speed picking. The second go round extends this section before heading into a powerful ballad like verse and then into a blinding solo. As the song approaches the end, the vocals jump in pitch and power before we get a repeat or two of the chorus
Checkmate … Annihilate! Is the penultimate track. Bound to be a fan favourite with lines like “fists to the sky”. We all love a bit of throwing fists in the air! There is a real 80s vibe to the early stage of the song. As expected by now, the vocals are strong and the guitars are amazing. Great solos, great riffs – it’s all on show. There is an ending section with vocals that are backed in a way that turns cheesy to a new level and I could definitely do without though. I’m all for a bit of cheese but this outcheesed me completely. Otherwise it’s a quick headbanger of a track.
Legion ends the album and is the longest track on the album at over 10 and a half minutes long. This is the epic, starting with sorrowful guitar melody and passionately delivered vocals. A sudden crunch of guitars and drums brings you back in style as the song turns into an absolute banger. The verse riff is just brilliant all the way through. The way it grows in drawn out notes over the quick tempo rhythm of the drums is special. Just like that I have my new favourite, best Dream Troll song to date.
There is an amazing instrumental section with some gang vocals made for the live environment. A wicked, retro sounding solo that grows back into the main riff. The drums hit a new level of power and speed in the following verse. A squealing lead guitar fades into a beautiful section of piano melody with cymbal rolls. This leads into a powerful vocal section that eventually fade back into the piano melody through to the close.
Second to None is a cracking album. It is full of flair and energy and leaves you with a big grin on your face. Blazing solos and punchy riffs couple with strong, power metal vocals all held together by the excellent drums and bass lines. There is a ton of creativity on show too as the band explore different elements. A bit of piano melody, the epic masterpiece ending track, Legion and the altogether darker The Lawmaker are stand out moments in regards to Dream Troll expanding their sound.
Aside from the overload of cheese at the end of Checkmate … Annihilate!, Second to None is brilliant all the way through. Music designed to head bang to, to play air guitar to and to throw your fists in the air in unison. Dream Troll continue to release great heavy metal music that acts partly as an ode to all things traditional but is also very much their own. Be sure to get yourself a copy of Second to None and just enjoy it a damn good metal album.
Second to None by Dream Troll
The Final Score - 9/10