F U L L . R E V I E W S
Trouble - The Skull - 2006 (reissue) - Escapi Music Group
I must admit that I am relatively new the twisted world of these Chicago-based sludge pioneers, and The Skull was actually the first Trouble album I heard at a stretch, due in part to this nifty reissue campaign by Escapi. I was perusing one of my usual record store haunts when the lazy indie-rock crappola that usually monopolizes the store’s stereo was suddenly replaced by a huge, dark, monster-riffed sound. This, however, was even more hopelessly demented and ugly than the legendary Sabbath, with even uglier, sludgier tones topped by one of the most desperate sounding and downright deformed singing voices I’d ever heard. Wondering what the hell this was, I asked the store clerk, who responded that this was indeed The Skull, which had recently been reissued by Escapi.
Trouble were viewed by many as part of the “white metal” or Christian metal” movement, despite the fact that the band never really claimed allegiance to this cause, and despite that most evil-sounding collection of sounds contained within this album’s ghoulish yet eye-catching psychedelic album sleeve (which looks great on the reissue’s slip case, by the way). Many consider this album to be a notch below the band’s destructive debut album idea-wise, and while I do agree that it drags a bit in comparison, it does boast a couple of things that the debut did not have. First, the production, at least to my ears, was slightly improved- a bit smoothed out, but not enough to interfere with the six string sludge factory so capably run by Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell. Sure, “Fear No Evil” may have sounded dangerously close to being a rehash of the debut’s “Assassin,” but it’s not an outright rip-off by any means, and hey, it was a song type worth revisiting once at any rate. Plus, the title track is one of those harrowing, bulldozing epics that earned the band their esteem, and rightly so considering all the slow-burning doom and gloom that has oozed forth since.
Once again, we get a live DVD as a bonus with this reissue, as was the case with the band’s debut. Unfortunately, how much of a bonus this DVD amounts to is debatable, to put it kindly, as it is basically bush-league audience camera work with serviceable sound, mediocre image quality, and of course lack of close-ups or other varied shots. On the plus side, however, this reissue does appear to include the full track listing of the bonus DVD on the sleeve, which the debut did not despite its far superior bonus disc. Note: My slightly lower rating here reflects mainly on the poor quality of the DVD footage, not the music itself.
About this Writer:
Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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