The Distortion Field
Published Jul 16, 2013
A funny thing happened in 1990, and then again in 1992: Chicago, IL's Trouble released two of the best heavy metal albums of all time. I'm not sure why you don't have the Manic Frustration
album tattooed on your face, because these albums are so good they almost hurt to listen to. Unfortunately, after the '92 masterpiece, the band have lived in a state of permanent bad luck, with huge lapses in their public presence interrupted only for news of signings with completely obscure labels or major member changes. What little material that has been released since then has been good, but forgettable. Here, Trouble do a great job given the extremely difficult circumstances: they've lost singer Eric Wagner, which is huge. Replacing the man with one of the greatest voices in metal is ex-Exhorder (and ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) dude Kyle Thomas. Thomas doesn't have one of the greatest voices in metal, but he has a throaty, rough-guy singing style that works... kind of. It isn't Wagner, and that's a big one to get past. However, the riffing, as always, is top-notch. The first few tunes lay down the usual upbeat stoner/doom declarations Trouble unleash when kicking off an album. "The Broken has Spoken" finds Thomas wailing with enough passion, while "One Life," the excellent "Hunters of Doom," the rockin' "Glass of Lies" and "Paranoia Conspiracy" feature the riffing and soloing that make this unit so great. However, without the soaring vocals of Wagner, numbers that could be life-affirming anthems become almost a downer: "Have I Told You," which sounds like depresso-grunge, deep crooning vocals and all. The album has the riffs that make Trouble so great, but it's going to be tough for fans to get past the absence of Wagner. Even the killer downer/doom riffing of closer "Your Reflection" just isn't quite enough to put this into transcendent territory. My advice: try your hardest to get over the vocalist situation and enjoy this for the great stoner/doom it is.