Troll made a splash a few years ago with a self-released debut album that’s equal parts sludgy and catchy. That’s largely thanks to the Portland doom band’s expressive singer, known only as Rainbo, whose vocal hooks push their way out from beneath Troll’s mountain of fuzz. Rainbo also deserves credit for toning down his Ozzy tribute just enough to complement his band rather than distract from it.
On their new album, Legend Master, Troll lurches forward from sludge-style doom to a more classic take on the genre, while at the same time pushing Rainbo’s vocals further out in front of the mix. The result is a sound that’s cleaner, with song arrangements that boast the ambition of prog-rock and performances that echo the bravado of traditional heavy metal.
With multiple tracks running longer than 10 minutes, Legend Master gives Troll plenty of space to spread out. “Flight of the Dragonship” spends seven minutes building slowly to a killer serrated guitar solo. “The Door” is a zigzagging journey through suffocating fuzz and towering melodies. And closing track “Building My Temple” juxtaposes some floaty psychedelic passages with the album’s heaviest riffs.
The centerpiece, though, is Legend Master’s two title tracks (each subtitled with a chapter name), which combine into a sprawling 17-minute epic that showcases Rainbo’s versatile voice and storytelling skills against a sea of top-shelf, slo-mo doom. Here, Troll compares favorably to current doom giants like Pallbearer, and that’s the biggest takeaway from Legend Master. Where their debut established them as a good doom band, Troll’s second album shows they’re capable of becoming much more than that.