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Trouble - Plastic Green Head Award winner

Plastic Green Head
by Chris Hawkins at 13 June 2022, 12:51 PM

In an uncanny yet fortuitous birth, in 1979, TROUBLE was formed in Chicago, Il.  By 1984, the band had released the prolific “Psalm 9” to an audience of Metal fans bitterly divided by the popularity of Glam Metal and the intensity of Thrash.  TROUBLE did not quite fit in, though.

Worshipping at the altar of SABBATH, that Birmingham groove formed the basis for things to come rather than a springboard.  Thankfully, Hammerheart Records has decided to rerelease the band’s underappreciated sixth full-length album, “Plastic Green Head”.  When 1995 hit and the album was initially released, TROUBLE had forged its own unique brand of Psychedelic Doom.

Before progressing further, though, the prevailing influence and timely legacy of singer, Eric Wagner, must be mentioned.  Unfortunately, the Metal world lost a treasure last year with his passing.  Therefore, sit back, relax, and proceed to reflect upon this snapshot in time from one of Heavy Metal’s enduring legends.

In ’67 at the Human-Be-In, in front of 30,000 hippies, Timothy Leary uttered his famous quote “Turn on, tune in, drop out”.  It is a fitting prelude to the beginning of “Plastic Green Head” because listening to the album is like embarking on a personal odyssey, a trip through the pathways of firing neurons and the streaming emissions of dopamine.  The title track opens with a wicked riff highlighted by a hysterical sounding wah and a sinister laugh.  It has begun.  With their inimitable groove, TROUBLE proceeds to woo the listener by providing an irresistible chorus and a glimpse of a heavier version of the ‘70s.

Quickly following on the heels of the title track is “The Eye,” a song characterized by its methodical sway.  Palm-muted crunchy guitars lead the proceedings, and the chorus is yet another unstoppable feat.  The unique chord progression lays the foundation for a truly mind-altering solo.

The guitar sound is a product of the time period.  Heavily scooped, its lack of mid-range frequencies increases the presence of the bass and treble substantially.  What is unfortunately, lost, though, is the girth that mids provide.  Think of a Doom-ier version of Dimebag Darrel’s tone.  The third track, “Flowers,” provides an alternate view of the guitars with massive hanging chords that descend upon the listener like a wash of heavy rain intensified by the intrinsic soul in Eric Wagner’s vocals

One could make the case that there were two landmark Doom albums released in ’95, the record at hand and DOWN’s “Nola”.  Compared to their southern brothers, TROUBLE’s sound is less SABBATH (though previous releases were definitely more so) combined with bludgeoning guitars and more of a trippy vibe.  Simply put, if DOWN is a bong hit, then TROUBLE is like a couple of tabs of double-dipped blotter.

Another highlight of the album is the fifth track, “Opium Eater”.  Beginning with a lion-like roar, the journey takes an intriguing turn.  It is truly like a visceral challenge to sobriety and all that entails.

“Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream”.  So begins a personal favorite BEATLES song, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” prodigiously covered by TROUBLE.   After a humorous beginning, a wave of sonic fury crashes into the listener.  After regaining composure, one can realize the excellence of this choice of covers.  The song fits comfortably within the band’s oeuvre, is an honest tribute to the original, and thrives from the more modern production (comparatively)afforded it.

While not as critically lauded nor deemed as cutting-edge as the band’s self-titled release, “Plastic Green Head” is effectively a timestamp of TROUBLE’s evolution.  With an indelible, absorbing atmosphere fueled by mind expansion, the band creates its own vibe like a gradual high that increases substantially as the album progresses.  It is an album to stand the test of time, yet one cannot help but be faced with a head-scratching moment.  Why was this band not any bigger?  What if they had not been forced to cancel their European tour?  Such questions must be grappled with at the very least to cement the gravity of both Eric Wagner’s and TROUBLE’s legacy.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Plastic Green Head
2. The Eye
3. Flowers
4. Porpoise Song
5. Opium Eater
6. Hear the Earth
7. Another Day
8. Requiem
9. Below Me
10. Long Shadows Fall
11. Tomorrow Never Knows
12. Till the End of Time
Eric Wagner – Vocals
Ron Holzner – Bass
Rick Wartell - Guitar
Bruce Franklin- Guitar
Jeff Olson – Drums
Record Label: Hammerheart Records


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