TROUBLE — The Skull

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TROUBLE - The Skull cover
3.67 | 10 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1985

Tracklist

1. Pray for the Dead (5:54)
2. Fear No Evil (4:12)
3. The Wish (11:37)
4. The Truth Is, What Is (4:37)
5. Wickedness of Man (5:46)
6. Gideon (5:11)
7. The Skull (5:51)

Total Time: 43:08

Line-up/Musicians

- Eric Wagner / vocals
- Bruce Franklin / guitar
- Rick Wartell / guitar
- Sean McAllister / bass
- Jeff Olson / drums

About this release

Full-length, Metal Blade Records, March 1985

Produced by Bill Metoyer and Trouble.

Re-released as a gatefold DLP with "Psalm 9" by Metal Blade Records in 1991.

Re-released with the album "Psalm 9" on one cd, leaving off track 4.

The Skull was remasted and reissued on CD by Escapi Music on October 24, 2006, including a bonus DVD of a live performance from 1984.

Re-released on limited edition 180g coloured vinyl by Cyclone Empire Records on April 9, 2010.

Thanks to UMUR, Unitron for the updates

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TROUBLE THE SKULL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
Trouble's second album shows little musical development over the formula established in Psalm 9, and some sloppiness creeping in here and there prevents it from being quite as tight a release as their debut album. The Skull sees the band amping up the Christian content of their lyrics - perhaps as part of an effort to distinguish themselves from other doom bands emerging at the same time - but at points it seems as though the music takes second place to this message, with Eric Wagner delivering his sermons over uninspired riff and tired self-plagiarism. It's got some good parts, but on the whole it isn't quite as good as we know Trouble to be capable of.
UMUR
The Skull is the 2nd full-length studio album by American doom metal act Trouble. The album was released in March 1985 through Metal Blade Records. In addition to the original 7 track album, The Skull has also seen a double gatefold vinyl re-release in 1991 with Psalm 9 (1984). The two albums have also been released together on one CD omitting the 4th track from The Skull called The Truth Is, What Is ( and what a shame that is).

The music on the album pretty much follow the same formula as the music on Psalm 9. We´re talking melodic and brick heavy doom metal combined with more uptempo traditional heavy metal parts. Black Sabbath and Judas Priest are the most obvious references IMO. Eric Wagner´s rusty voice is greatly emotional and one of the most importent elements of the band´s sound. His delivery is strong and personal. There are lots of Christian references in the lyrics and while this might disturb some people, I can´t say it offends me. Not when the message is delivered like it is here. Mostly the lyrics deal with personal suffering, alienation and depression and the difficulties of dealing with those subjects.

In addition to the strong and distinct vocal delivery by Eric Wagner, the music also features a tight and powerful rythm section and the dual guitar attack by Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell. It´s great to hear those two play. They compliment each other very well. The 7 tracks on the album are all high quality doom metal compositions and it´s not hard to understand why Trouble is widely considered one of the most influential doom metal acts when listening to this album.

The production is a bit thin ( just like the sound on the debut), but it´s not a major issue and I enjoy the album without thinking too much about the sound.

The Skull is a great follow up album to Psalm 9, and while the latter might be just a notch stronger than the former, we´re talking minor details here, and The Skull fully deserves a 4 star rating.

Members reviews

SilentScream213
Not incredibly impressed by Trouble’s debut album, their sophomore effort The Skull completely blew me away. I will say that this is the first Doom Metal album that makes the transition from Trad Doom to the more modern, melancholic Doom that I personally favor.

Musically, the lead guitar focuses on simple albeit effective melodies that add an extra layer of mood to the basic riffs that litter Trad Doom. The song structures are much more progressive – not that the music is incredibly complex, but there is a lot of variation, changes in speed, and many, many riffs in each of the rather long tracks. The solos have a fantastic balance of going for purposeful melodies that work perfectly with the rhythm work, or outright breaking into distorted, droning chaotic buzz. The drumming is another thing I love; I’d say this is also the first case of what I’d call “intelligent Doom Metal drumming.” Instead of simply playing slow, plodding beats, the drummer adds some progressive beats, and adds a great amount of double bass drumming in as well. Occasionally, all the musicians break out into speedy sections and just have at it, which I love in Doom. One song even has synthesized strings – a staple to modern Doom!

The lyrics and mood are the biggest separators from Trad Doom. No, I’m not talking about the Christian lyrics, I mean the references to depression, suicide, loss and death. The rich symbolism and more poetic style of songwriting is something that would be heavily expanded upon by Death Doomers of the 90’s, but it started right here. The music is also much more set to reflect the mood here, and there’s a clear difference to previously Satanic or drug and party influenced Doom of before.

Another aspect I haven’t seen in Trad Doom displayed here is passion. There is true passion in the lyrics and vocal delivery, even if those vocals are pretty rough. It’s clear the vocalist is not only 100% struggling with loss of hope and other issues, but also completely has faith in his God to help him, and to help others, and he’s truly thankful for it. This is music written for purpose; not just to sound good, but to deliver an important message. I myself am not a religious person of any kind, but I can still appreciate the passion and meaning to the music here, and the groundbreaking achievement that it was for my favorite music genre, Doom Metal.

Ratings only

  • Fant0mas
  • sauromat
  • Unitron
  • michelandrade
  • Psydye
  • Lokus
  • aecht

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