TROUBLE – The Skull [Re-Release]

TROUBLE - The Skull [Re-Release]
  • 8.5/10
    TROUBLE - The Skull - 8.5/10


Escapi Music
Release date: October 24, 2006

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

The Skull, from Doom Metal practitioners Trouble, was originally released in 1985. Late in 2006 it was re-released alongside the band’s debut, Psalm 9. Like that disc, The Skull features updated liner notes from Martin Popoff, and a bonus performance DVD.

Trouble was one of the first Doom Metal bands, and they helped to define a genre of music with their Sabbath-influenced sound: dark, downbeat lyrical content, slow-paced songs, great big riffs, and howling vocals. On The Skull, Trouble sounds just like they did on the debut; most of the songs are slow, turgid, and grinding, although tunes like “Fear No Evil” are fairly fast, at least by Trouble’s standards. Still, this is hardly Speed Metal.

While this album is somewhat old, by today’s standards it’s still pretty heavy, with chugging, monstrous riffs rolling over you like a steamroller. The Skull still packs a lot of sonic punch. It’s unglamorous, noisy, and rude, and vocalist Eric Wagner’s pained delivery is effective. Trouble isn’t a fancy band: they deliver the Doom in a big, loud way, with no frills … and that’s just the way fans like it.

The centerpiece of The Skull is undoubtedly the third track, “The Wish.” Clocking in at over 11 minutes in length, this song is a Doom Metal epic: giant riffs, florid solos, wailing vocals … it’s all here. The other six songs are good too, most notably “Fear No Evil,” “Truth Is/What Is,” the churning “Gideon,” and the album-closing title track. There are no bad songs, really.

The re-release of The Skull features a bonus DVD: a live performance from Trouble, recorded in 1984 in Aurora, Illinois, USA. The club performance runs about an hour and 45 minutes. Recorded on tape, this performance really shows its age from a technical point of view, with sub-par image and sound quality. It looks like the entire show was shot from one camera in the back of the club. The concert is pretty much one continuous “static” shot from the same location, with rudimentary zooms and pans here and there. The sound levels are quite low too, making this loud band very hard to hear. It’s nice to have a live Trouble DVD for posterity’s sake, but this is still quite crude. It looks like the crowd was having a great time, but this show falls squarely in the “You Had To Be There” category.

Although they didn’t get the recognition they deserved (at the time, at least), Trouble helped blaze a trail for new bands to follow. The Skull, much like Psalm 9 before it, is a landmark Heavy Metal album.


  • Gary McLean

    Gary was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of the small Ontario, Canada town of Sault Ste. Marie, right on the border of Michigan, USA. When it comes to Metal and Hard Rock, Gary likes quite a few different bands, from stalwarts like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, to newer, hard-hitting groups such as Primal Fear, Hammerfall, and Paragon. Other favorites include the likes of Nightwish, Running Wild, Therion, Accept, Stratovarius, Dream Evil, Helloween, Rammstein, Dirty Looks, Crimson Glory, Tristania, and Gamma Ray. He thinks AC/DC deserves a paragraph all their own though.

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