Trouble – The Distortion Field (FRW Music)Tuesday, 23rd July 2013
When the voice of an iconic act leaves not once, but twice in a band’s career, you better step up to the plate for the replacement or risk alienating a healthy reputation. Eric Wagner possessed such a chilling recognizable voice as the frontman for Trouble, matching the doom riffs of the Bruce Franklin/Rick Wartell guitar tandem to the tee for legendary albums like Psalm 9, The Skull, and their major label self-titled effort. So former Exhorder crooner Kyle Thomas has huge shoes to fill, and a little fear set in as I pressed play on their eighth studio album The Distortion Field that the band may struggle to make this work.
I’ll admit it took a few playbacks for Thomas’s voice to settle in – it’s not as Phil Anselmo-like as his past, portraying a heavier, bluesy side that works on the slower, step-sister to Alice In Chains “One Life” or the doom swinging “Paranoia Conspiracy.” Reuniting with early producer Bill Metoyer gives the record as close to analog sound as Trouble followers desire, almost magical in terms of the ringing clean tones, bristling guitar rhythms, and emphasis on what makes them so special in the doom genre.
The Distortion Field is chock full of vintage Franklin/Wartell guitar parts that make your hair stand on edge and send chills down your spine. Check out the opening strains of “Sink or Swim,” the razor sharp crunch for “Hunters of Doom,” or the boogie-worthy 70’s throwback “Sucker” for the duo’s brilliance and class. At 58 minutes, the album could have used a little judicious shaving, as “Have I Told You” is a ballad best left to the grunge wasteland.
In the end, Trouble may lose some long-time fans wo can’t see this band without Wagner singing for them. But they will survive just fine, thank you, and let’s hope we don’t have to wait six years for the next follow up.