Rockin' Our Turntable: The Skull 'For Those Which Are Asleep'
By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 11, 2014 4:10PM
photo via The Skull's Facebook page
The anticipated debut album from The Skull, the clumsily titled For Those Which Are Asleep, opens with a huge chord that sets the tone for the entire album, which is about as solid as an ass-kicker comes.
The lid lifter, "Trapped Inside My Mind," blasts its initial gloomy chord with full instrumentation that smacks you in the face. You know right away these doom metal veterans still mean business and they're not about to embarrass themselves at this point in their career.
With former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner teaming up with Trouble's original drummer Jeff "Oly" Olson and longtime Trouble bass player Ron Holzner, they've been playing classic Trouble tunes live with guitarists Lothar Keeler of Sacred Dawn and Matt Goldsborough—who had a cup of coffee with Pentagram—for a few years. So it doesn't come as a surprise just how much the new tunes from The Skull sound like Trouble.
The songs have the familiar bone crushing riffs. They have the familiar eerie tones. They have the familiar hypnotic rhythms. However, it would be hard to call For Those Which Are Asleep a rehash of Trouble.
Although they are working with familiar formulas, The Skull is able to breathe fresh life into these new songs. There are some cool subtleties within the layers upon layers of the guitars on this album, with some far out lead lines buried underneath the pounding riffs and thick grooves. The guitar solos have a lot of unusual and interesting phrasing.
Although The Skull may be catering to Trouble fans a bit on For Those Which Are Asleep, they certainly are trying hard to carve themselves an identity of their own. There are a lot of aspects you'll find on classic Trouble albums, but with added elements.
"The Door" has a gloomy progression, but the sound is sweetened with a predominant acoustic guitar rhythm as well as backing keyboard chords and lead lines. "Send Judas Down" starts off with a punishing riff, but takes a detour in the bridge featuring a psychedelic breakdown.
Wagner doesn't take his vocals into the higher registers that we've heard on the classic Trouble albums, but it's fine. He isn't phoning in his parts. They're just lower and creepier. They add a certain eerie aesthetic that we haven't heard from him before. It's hard to say that it's better than his past performances. It's hard to say that it's worse either. It's just different, and very effective.
Trouble's impact on heavy metal is heard in a lot of bands that have come in their wake. And with a version of Trouble still out there performing and making new albums, the comparisons are going to be part of the territory for The Skull. It is inescapable.
Although the comparisons to Trouble could dog The Skull for for as long as they decide to keep the project going, it isn't difficult to enjoy For Those Which Are Asleep for what it is—a wicked exercise in heavy metal majesty.
The Skull has two shows in the area next month. They play Dec. 18 at Brauer House in Lombard, and Dec. 19 at Reggie's Rock Club.