When a new band is formed which consists of a majority of ex-members of an older established band, rightly or wrongly there are going to be comparisons between the two. This is going to be the case with The Skull as they feature three former members of doom metal specialists Trouble. For those not familiar with Trouble they were at their peak in the early ’90’s. releasing some mighty fine slabs of doom, especially with the albums “Trouble” (1990) – produced by Rick Rubin on the Def American label – and “Manic Frustration” (1992). If you especially like your doom in the classic Black Sabbath style then seriously check out the aforementioned albums. So connoisseurs Eric Wagner (vocals), Ron Holzner (bass), Jeff Olson (drums) have added Michael Carpenter and Lothar Kellar on guitars.
This then brings up the question as to whether there is going to be a change of style or sound. The Skull was the title of a song and an early Trouble album so already there are hints of an acknowledgment and continuation from their past. In fact, you should fear not as musically it’s familiar territory and keeps the spirit and soul of their former selves. ‘Trapped Inside My Mind’, ‘Send Judas Down’ and ‘Till the Sun Turns Black’ are befitting any Trouble album. Lyrically it’s also a continuation of subject matters like various states of mind and religion.
Overall, the album is slightly slower paced and maybe less immediate, especially from the middle-to-latter stages with ‘Sometime Yesterday Mourning’, ‘The Last Judgement’ and the title track, but the big power chords of the latter still had my head nodding whilst in the kitchen chopping vegetables. The most interesting of the slower tempo songs is the atmospheric ‘The Door’, which combines organ/piano with trademark doom-style chords; “It’s getting dark, darker than you know” Eric notifies us.
“For Those Which Are Asleep” may not hit the heights of prime Trouble all the way through but the highlights are well worth checking out and here’s hoping they continue to keep the doom flag flying. It’s good times when you have doom metal pioneers and good new bands like Black Moth around at the same time. Reportedly The Skull play a mix of new songs and old Trouble material live, which sounds like a good reason to check them out when they hit your town.