TROUBLE — The Skull (review)

TROUBLE — The Skull album cover Album · 1985 · Traditional Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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