Trouble - The Distortion Field
FRW Records
Doom Metal
13 songs (61' 31")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Andy
Major event

Trouble was a giant among the doom metal bands of the 80s, producing several great albums and at least one timeless classic, but after the 80s the band seemed to move in a different direction and had trouble with their lineup -- though all their albums had been with original vocalist Eric Wagner, he had been disappearing from the band on and off while others took his spot, only to come back for another album, and another. Now he's possibly gone for good, and the band's latest, The Distortion Field, features his 90s-era understudy, Kyle Thomas, ex-Exhorder and Alabama Thunderpussy. Needless to say, this has been eagerly awaited as a possible comeback for the band; one of my colleagues said, as we received this album, "This is either going to be a comeback of the century or a bust of the century." Is it? might not be the bust of the century, but neither is it really less mediocre than the band's last Wagner album. Trouble might still be able to resurrect itself, but this definitely isn't their comeback album.

The first track starts with a ringing doom riff that speeds chuggingly up in their trademark speed/doom metal combo, which still sounds good; but Thomas's voice, while great for Southern stoner doom, is somewhat incongruous when compared to their earlier sound, though not terribly so. The chorus drags quite a bit more and is rather tuneless, which is troubling, but the verses make up for it. Paranoid Conspiracy follows with a swinging beat that is one of the better songs on the album; it doesn't sound like Wagner-era Trouble, but it's good traditional doom, fits well with the vocals, and stays crisp and tight all the way through. However, other tracks start going downhill; The Broken Has Spoken is forgettable and generic, and the mostly clean make-up ballad Have I Told You, while containing some excellent guitar work, just doesn't fit in a metal album. The chorus of Sink or Swim is actually painful to listen to; it's slow, but not in a doom way -- more like a metal band trying to soften their sound to appeal to an alternative rock audience.

Some tracks are better. One Life has some decent riffs on it, and Hunters of Doom's songwriting is much better than most of the other songs on the album, with slow doomy parts, speed metal passages similar to some of their 80s sound, and a good melody that Thomas's vocals work with rather than against. Really, if more songs were like Hunters of Doom the album would have a better chance at greatness, as it very effectively combines the newfound Southern rock with the old sound. But despite occasional flashes of quality, the album too often tries to stick to mid-90s stoner- and alt-rock tropes that it would really do better to avoid, and try as I might, I can't like Thomas's voice (though I do respect the fact that they didn't try to hire an Eric Wagner clone); he occasionally sounds off-key and the tracks he sounds most at home on are also the most tuneless and generic in the lot.

The Distortion Field is indeed somewhat of a change for Trouble, but it doesn't seem to be a very exciting one. The rather weak efforts from the last couple of albums aren't vastly improved upon in this one, and the overall sound, far from being a bold new direction, occasionally reminds one of some of the awful attempts in the 90s by former 80s-era greats to improve their fortunes by cutting their hair and trying to sound less metal and more mainstream rock, something which anyone would hope to forget. Trouble always had a good deal of bluesiness in their music, so the Southern rock doesn't really hurt the album, but they set a high bar for themselves in the past and simply are unable to reach it in The Distortion Field. We will have to wait a little longer for a true comeback.

Killing Songs :
Paranoid Conspiracy, Hunters of Doom
Andy quoted 64 / 100
Other albums by Trouble that we have reviewed:
Trouble - Run to the Light reviewed by Andy and quoted CLASSIC
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