Sunday, May 25, 2014

…THE SKULL – “Sometime Yesterday Mourning c/w The Last Judgment”

With a finger on the pulse of the days of yore and a gaze fixed toward the future The Skull have resurrected the unique, introspective doom-laden sound of classic era Trouble. After a string of pioneering releases between 1984 and 1990 Trouble, for better or worse, went off in a new direction. While the 90’s albums ‘Manic Frustration’ and ‘Plastic Green Head’ included some undeniably killer tracks, the magic of their first four releases seemed to be a thing of the past. Enter: The Skull.

Though Trouble’s ‘Run to the Light’ and their self-titled fourth album were masterpieces in their own right, The Skull have—based on their single “Sometime Yesterday Mourning c/w The Last Judgment”—picked up where Trouble’s sophomore outing, ‘The Skull’, left off. Original Trouble members (and arguably pivotal personnel) Eric Wagner and Jeff “Oly” Olson, along with alumnus Ron Holzner have managed to rekindle the magic and spirit of classic Trouble with the aid of Lothar Keller and Michael Carpenter.

Enlisting veteran engineer Billy Anderson for the recording of their first single has paid off in a major way. “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is slightly muddy, surprisingly heavy, and definitely would not sound out of place on either ‘Psalm 9’ or ‘The Skull’. Perhaps the main difference in sound stems from Eric Wagner’s voice which has somewhat weathered and deepened. The band, in a nod to the past, has also re-recorded Trouble’s contribution to the 1983 ‘Metal Massacre IV’ compilation album. While it would have been great to get two new tracks, The Skull does not miss a beat with “The Last Judgment”.

If anything “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” proves that The Skull are the real deal and not just a nostalgia act. To top it off, they kill it live. Since the release of “Sometime Yesterday Mourning c/w The Last Judgment” guitarist (and former Trouble bassist) Chuck Robinson briefly replaced Michael Carpenter before amicably departing ways with The Skull. In his stead the band has, in a masterstroke of genius, recruited former Pentagram guitarist Matt Goldsborough. Goldsborough did a fantastic job filling in for Victor Griffin and he probably would have breathed new life into Pentagram following the capable, yet lackluster, ‘Last Rites’.

While Trouble’s ‘The Distortion Field’ was a fine album, it’s clear that Franklin and Wartell have little interest in revisiting the sound of days long past. Not only are The Skull willing to look to the past, but they are also interested in continuing and further developing a creative trajectory that has, in the minds of many fans, ended too soon. If “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is an adequate representation of where the band’s collective heads are at both creatively and compositionally then their forthcoming album is going to be one to look out for. Get your copy of the single HERE.

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