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Trouble – The Distortion Field

Trouble
The Distortion Field
by Gary Hernandez at 19 November 2022, 4:22 PM

By July 26, 2013, TROUBLE had lived up to their moniker—at least lineup wise, they had indeed seen their fair share of trouble with a total of 18 individuals having cycled through the band. On this date, TROUBLE enjoyed the European release of their eighth studio album, “The Distortion Field,” a good six years since issuing their previous album. Arguably. the biggest change was vocalist, Kyle Thomas. Fast forward nine years and three days. July 29, 2022“The Distortion Field” has been remastered and re-issued via Hammerheart Records.

Word on the street is that TROUBLE has been recording a new album which is expected to be released in 2023 through Hammerheart. The lineup, btw, is to remain unchanged. Meanwhile the band has implemented a strategy of re-issuing their core catalogue, helping to regain relevance in the Metal collective consciousness. And I don’t think anyone has minded. TROUBLE, after all, is one of the most revered bands in Metal history. “The Distortion Field,” however, probably ranks amongst the least cherished TROUBLE albums. The reason? Well, there is only so much change many Metal fans can take before their minds explode. Especially when it comes to lineup and evolving sound. With “The Distortion Field,” TROUBLE committed the cardinal sin of messing with both.

Everything that needs to be said about the merits and faults of “The Distortion Field” has been covered well enough in the last six years and doesn’t need rehashing here. The controversy still lingers, but it’s fading. Let’s just acknowledge Toneshed Studio for a job well done. “The Distortion Field” isn’t TROUBLE’s best, but it’s good enough and it’s another step in their overall trajectory. Better to embrace history than deny it.

The album comprises 14 tracks and spans over an hour of playtime. There is only one instrumental/interlude, “Bleeding Alone,” a curious synth-laden piece that takes away more than it adds. Thematically, most of the songs come across as personal reflections. One or two tracks seem to touch on socio-political issues, but I can’t even remember what was happening in 2013. I mean, the 2020 plague, Trump, Brexit, wars and rumors of wars, and all the rest have effectively brainwiped me. There are several love songs, or at least one traditional love song (“Have I Told You”) and several love-related cautionary songs. “Have I Told You” is a bit hard to bear, but the others are filled with enough venom and vim and bolstered with enough solid riffage to make them tolerable. Tonally it’s a mid-tempo Doom with hints of Psych. There’s a heavy 90’s vibe going on here. Think WARRIOR SOUL, BADLANDS, TEMPLE OF THE DOG.

You may recall there are no massive ‘hits’ on this album. The tracks are all fairly even keeled. I guess the big shocker to most people is that despite the lineup changes, the band sounds pretty good. And Kyle Thomas is an undeniably great vocalist, so no credible criticisms can be lobbed there. To 2022 ears, it’s going to sound dated, but that comes with the territory. Final verdict is that while “The Distortion Field” is not strong enough to be labeled a true comeback album, it certainly doesn’t lose ground. The comeback we’re all hoping to see should transpire in 2023. Until then we have an entire catalogue to get reacquainted with.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.    When the Sky Comes Down
2.    Paranoia Conspiracy
3.    The Broken Have Spoken
4.    Sink or Swim
5.    One Life
6.    Have I Told You
7.    Hunters of Doom
8.    Glass of Lies
9.    Butterflies
10.  Sucker
11.  The Greying Chill of Autumn
12.  Bleeding Alone
13.  Your Reflection
14.  The Apple from the Snake
Lineup:
Rick Wartell – Guitars, bass (track 9), vocals (backing)
Bruce Franklin – Guitars, bass, vocals (backing)
Kyle Thomas – Vocals (lead, backing)
Mark Lira – Drums, percussion
Record Label: Hammerheart Records
     


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