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Review: Trouble - Trouble

Label: Def American
Year released: 1990
Duration: 42:19
Tracks: 10
Genre: Doom Metal


Review online: January 8, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
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Rated 3.95/5 (79.09%) (22 Votes)

Trouble were on top of the Doom Metal world after releasing The Skull in 1985, and they continued their melancholic prowess with 1987's Run to the Light. The sound had become tried and true, but had also become stolid. Things needed to be mixed up a bit. After a three years hiatus, the Christian doomsters returned with their self-titled release, an acid rocky and psychedelic album that sounded just as much like their older music as it did Iron Butterfly. Apart from the stylistic differences, the album bears a noticeable step towards away from their trademark gloom. It's far less depressing than their previous works, evoking a sense of hope among misery, instead of merely impenetrable sadness. Throughout Trouble, the band focused on finding calmness through spiritual searching. That isn't to say this is an optimistic album; it's still Trouble, and they're still depressed, just a bit less so.

The riffs remain entirely blues driven, but are much fuzzier. The new guitar tone instantly separates itself from the down-tuned, wandering tone to which fans had become so accustomed. It's more upbeat, sounding like something out the late seventies, not too far from proto-metal pioneers Blue Cheer. Complimenting the fuzzy guitar tone are Eric Wagner's improved vocals. He certainly was never a bad vocalist, but here his range has improved, and he's able to carry songs with his piercing wail. Songs like "At the End of My Daze" showcase this ability, as his voice conveys an ability to overcome depression through personal movements and endeavors. The later song "Heaven on My Mind" creates an edgy yet optimistic view on his depression, providing something that –frankly—most metalheads may really benefit from hearing. In a strange way, Trouble is creating a mental self-help manual.

What's so special about this record is how Trouble still haven't abandoned their roots. Songs like "R.I.P." and "Black Shapes of Doom" sound like they could have come right off of Run to the Light or The Skull. The blues riffs swerve upwards and downwards, freely creating a depressing mood, one bereft of light and hope. At the same time, these songs keep the newfound fuzzy guitar tone and Eric Wagner still showcases his wider range. Trouble is able to mix the two sounds powerfully, creating a fast paced and blues heavy groove punctuated by their new sound.

This album isn't as strong as the despondent The Skull, but it still creates vivid moods ranging from depressing to hopeful. Trouble are Doom Metal forefathers, and proved in 1990 with this album that they still had the chops to hang with their contemporaries.

More about Trouble...
Review: Psalm 9 (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Run to the Light (Expanded Edition) (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: The Skull (reviewed by Adam Kohrman)
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