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The Skull's New EP Offers An Eerie New Track And Reworked Classics

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 22, 2016 10:54PM

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The Skull released a new self-titled EP Friday, which takes a good snapshot of where the band is today.

When lead singer Eric Wagner left Chicago doom metal stalwarts Trouble, he recruited former Trouble bassist Ron Holzner and original Trouble drummer Jeff "Oly" Olson along with a pair of guitarists—Lothar Keller and Matt Goldsborough—to form The Skull, taking the name of Trouble's acclaimed second album.

They played shows featuring classic Trouble songs from the band's first two albums. Last year they released a full-length album of original material, For Those Which Are Asleep. They continued to sprinkle in classic Trouble tunes with the new songs while touring in support of the album.

The latest EP combines new material with a reworked classic and two live tracks recorded from their performance at Reggie's Rock Club last month. It is also the first release to feature new drummer Sean Saley and guitarist Rob Wrong, who fills a hole left by Goldsborough. 2016.01.22skullcvr.jpg

The EP kicks off with "The Longing," a new track that follows the formula that helped make Trouble a doom metal trailblazer in the mid-80s. Wagner's eerie vocals sit nicely on top of a gloomy, bluesy riff that sounds like the band is marching through drying concrete. Keller's and Wrong's guitar interplay weave a heavy, yet soaring, soundscape of metal madness. Wagner also shows off his range as a singer. His lower register leads are creepy while he hits the higher ends in the background like screams from the distance. If The Skull keeps writing songs like "The Longing," they will emerge as a real force on a rather bleak metal scene.

The band also reworked "The Skull" for modern times. The new version is faithful to the dirge that closed Trouble's album of the same name. The tones are heavier and the drums hit a bit harder than the original and the mix is cleaner. It's still an imposing tune as Wagner croons the tale of Jesus' crucifixion.

The two live tracks, "Assassins" from Trouble's 1984 studio effort Psalm 9 and "Till The Sun Turns Black" from For Those Which Are Asleep, show off the band's prowess and power as a live act and spotlights how the new material fits seamlessly with the old classics.

"A New Generation" from For Those Which Are Asleep rounds out the release.

The Skull will have copies of the new EP on hand at their performance at beautiful Thalia Hall on Jan. 27 - a sold out affair opening for Sleep. The Skull also has an extensive European tour booked for late winter/early spring.