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Trouble - The Skull (Reissue) Award winner

The Skull (Reissue)
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 10 April 2021, 3:45 AM

In the 80’s, when a first album from an independent label had a good acceptance from the public, it meant that a second one would come soon, maybe a year. It’s the case of “The Skull”, the second album of Doom Metal masters of TROUBLE. But such album would give the band not only recognition from the press and fans back in 1985 as a great band, but would become a cornerstone for Doom Metal as well.

This time, the band is sounding even heavier than what they presented on “Psalm 9”, bitter and darker, but elegant and finely arranged, even keeping the same Doom Metal approach. It was a progression for the quintet, because the songs are not as stiff as in their first album, being fluid and showing fine dark and climatic contrasts. Their melodic Hard Rock/Heavy Metal influences are still there, but aesthetically darker and oppressive than before (maybe reflecting the internal struggles of Eric with substance abuse, and the tensions that were appearing inside the group), and even some technical parts can be heard in many moments (as on the rhythm of “Pray for the Dead”). All that’s left to say is that “The Skull” shows a darker and heavier approach, but it bears the TROUBLE’s trademark sound.

Once more, the band worked on the studio with the headmaster Bill Metoyer taking care of the production and sound engineering, and the mastering was done by Eddie Schreyer. The sonority of “The Skull” is several steps ahead of what its predecessor showed, being better defined and understandable, but still bearing the same organic feeling and hard sound. It’s aggressive, heavy, but defined.

The seven songs of the album are classical pieces for the band’s fans, but for the ones that aren’t introduced to their musical work (shame on you 2), the bittersweet melodic taste imposed by the excellent melodies of “Pray for the Dead” (what amazing guitar riffs and solos, and flowing so good into the ears), the catchy Hard ‘n’ Heavy scent of “Fear No Evil” (very good contrasts of rhythms, and the bass guitar of Sean and drums of Jeff are working on an excellent way), the epic full of contrasts called “The Wish” (a 11 minutes songs with dark melodies and crushing weight, with clean parts, a fine singing, but the guitars of Bruce and Rick are breathing a strong melodic sense to it), the weaving weight of the refinements of “Truth is - What is”, and the iconic masterpiece called “The Skull” (a song with a clear epic appeal and contrasts between weight parts, melancholy deeper moments and some instants with fast tempos, and its lyrics tells the history of Christ’s Passion). But don’t you dare to leave aside “Wickedness of Man” and “Gideon”.

Once more about the lyrics: this time, even with a set of Christian themes, there are parts with a darker and depressive approach. But it gives to people the right viewpoint for the value of life. It’s not a surprise that “The Skull” is considered a masterpiece. But it’s the final work of Sean and Jeff with the band. But TROUBLE kept on.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1.  Pray for the Dead
2.  Fear No Evil
3.  The Wish
4.  Truth is - What is
5.  Wickedness of Man
6.  Gideon
7.  The Skull
Eric Wagner - Vocals
Rick Wartell - Guitars
Bruce Franklin - Guitars
Sean McAllister - Bass
Jeff Olson - Drums
Record Label: Hammerheart Records


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Edited 03 October 2022

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