[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”From The Door, track 4 on For Those Which Are Asleep“]For all my life I’ve been searching for / the door that opens from the side you’re on / Often wondered who would / save me from myself / For I am dark / Darker than you know
I have no peace / Only questions / Inward lie the answers / Just pay attention[/pullquote]
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30-some years ago, I found myself sitting in the kitchen at a friends house. It was kinda late in the evening, we where having a party, and everyone was getting quite plastered. Of course we were listening to music (although why we were in the kitchen I don’t really remember). My friend says something to the effect of “Hey, I’ve just gotten this – you’ve GOT to hear this!”
And my ears immediately started shivering. You see, this particular friend was responsible for turning me on to one class-act after the other – Metallica, Anthrax, and Hellhammer to just name a few – so hearing those words usually had quite the effect!
Now “this” in this instance was a taped version (and please do note that, no, home-taping did not kill the music industry) of Trouble‘s fantastic debut-album. And what started in that kitchen, in that semi-pissed state was a 3 decade long love affair with a fantastic band. And the love is still burning strong.
Trouble were something quite unique in the Metal scene of the early 80’s. For their music, definitely, but certainly also for the fact that even though having decidedly outspoken christian-themed lyrics they enjoyed a widespread respect and admiration.
Remember, this was the time of Venom and Mercyful Fate. of Slayer and Exodus. Christianity as a whole met with no warm feelings in the heavy scene at the time. At least not where I was located.
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But – as opposed to bands like Stryper – Trouble met with relatively little ridicule from the metalheads I encountered. Now it could of course be the quite hippie-like approach to christianity… but in the end, I gather it was actually the music speaking. Trouble used their music as a vehicle to tell their story (or at least a story), where bands like Stryper seemed to use their religion as a vehicle to further their music and career.
When push comes to shove, the Trouble experience was and is as much about the lyrics as it is the music. And I’ve spent long hours contemplating why Eric Wagner‘s lyrics has come to mean so much to me – an agnostic atheist with spiritual leanings. In the end, I gather, it’s two quite simple, but profound things: authenticity and pain. You can quite simply hear and feel the pain in both music and words, and it’s not just some abstract, scientific depiction of the concept of pain – it’s the real deal, the pain that sometimes gets so huge, that you can’t quite seem to move on. That’s what made Trouble so unique (at least to me), and why the legacy burns so bright so many years later.
Fast forward to present day – band in question is of course The Skull with Ron Holzner and Eric Wagner – both of Trouble fame, the latter of course being responsible for the pain-filled vocals.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”From review at AngryMetalGuy.com”]”This is the work of a band that respects their fans, understands their own history, and still has their ears open to the current doom metal landscape.[/pullquote]The Skull has practically taken up the glove where it was left somewhat lying after the first 5 Trouble albums (i.e. the Metal Blade and Def American albums) – and doing it quite masterfully so. Where the Trouble sound wavered some on the albums following Manic Frustration (as well as the lyrical content), both sound, vibe and lyrics are back where they belong. Not that The Skull is simply Trouble II – they’ve got their own identity, but much of that is of course present in those fantastic, painful guitar-riffs and vocals/lyrics. Listening to the debut album For Those Which Are Asleep (2014), it’s apparent that while maintaining the classic doom-sound, they also elaborate and enlarge the psych- and classic-rock influences that were always there from the get-go with Trouble (remember their excellent cover of Cream‘s Tales Of Brave Ulysses?). The Door is more blues-doom than Trouble ever created. A New Generation is more classic than ever. And overall, For Those Which Are Asleep is a more coherent and more adventurous album than much of the Trouble discography. In fact, in my mind this album is one of the very best released so far in this century, an album I return to again and again. Whether it will stand the test of time, and turn into a classic on par with Masters Of Reality or The Skull only time (ehrm…) will tell, but it will stand as one of the best trad-doom albums made in the first 15 years of the 21st century…
I never got to see Trouble live, which is of course why I’m not going to miss any of the 2 shows The Skull will be playing at Roadburn 2016 – seeing as we’re going to get the best of every conceivable world… The Skull playing their own fantastic material – and a lot of the old Trouble-classics to boot – and we’ll all be there, singing along (and let me apologize for that in advance), feeling the pain – and the camaraderie!
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The Skull will play Roadburn 2016 not only once but twice. On Thursday, April 14 The Skull will perform songs from For Those Which Are Asleep (out on Tee Pee records), plus classic Trouble, 90s era tracks.
Then on Friday, April 15, the band will hark back to Trouble‘s Metal Blade years, only playing songs from Psalm 9, The Skull and Run To The Light.
[thrive_headline_focus title=”Trouble Online Discography (with Eric Wagner)” orientation=”left”]
|Trouble (aka Psalm 9)||LP (1984)|
|The Skull||LP (1985)|
|Run To The Light||LP (1987)|
|Manic Frustration||LP (1992)|
|Plastic Green Head||LP (1995)|
|Simple Mind Condition||LP (2007)|
[thrive_headline_focus title=”The Skull Online Discography” orientation=”left”]
|For Those Which Are Asleep||LP (2014)|