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Slaughter in the Vatican - 74%

Metantoine, July 18th, 2013

After Saint Vitus' return last year with the underwhelming LillieĀ : F-65, another American doom legend has been resurrected. Their revival is also a successful one and after a six years pause since the mediocre Simple Mind Condition and the departure of Eric Wagner (who formed his own Trouble cover band, The Skull). The Distortion Field is the first album with Kyle Thomas formerly in cult thrash/groove progenitors Exhorder. In an unfair world where the new Black Sabbath is number one in the charts, quality doom metal is still alive and this album is the proof.

Trouble has always been pushing the boundaries of doom and changing their sound often such as the excellent Plastic Green Head with its psychedelic influences. The new album feels like a fresh start with nods to their entire career. From a stoner, bluesy feel to their slower traditional doom original sound, there's almost everything for everyone on this album. Thomas is bringing his NOLA roots to the sound and if you like Southern metal/rock, there's a sweet little overtone to be found here especially in his vocals. Let me tell you that I'm not missing Wagner. His voice is powerful and don't be afraid he doesn't sound like a thrash singer most of the time. He kind of does in ''Hunters of Doom'' but it's still pretty enjoyable. The lyrics, more social, sentimental than their usual Christian or psychedelic themes are good, albeit a little too mundane for me. They do evoke the necessary despair for a doom record! I guess they don't really care about that stuff anymore or maybe they really wanted Thomas to sing for the band and based on some of his other bands, not sure he'll praise Jesus!

I'm not the biggest fan of groove and I can't say it would had been my approach of choice for the album but for what it is, it truly works. There's enough heavy riffs to satisfy the purest doomsters though. Such as the excellent last track ''Your Reflection'' with its awesome solos. Nevertheless, they tried to everything on this album, while it's quite diverse, it's also too long with its 13 songs for one hour of music. I had the same criticism for the latest Alice in Chains, while everything is good on both records, their musical genre doesn't need albums that long, a forty five or fifty minutes of material is more than enough. My comparison to the famous Seattle band is not random, I hear some grunge influences here and there such as ''Have I told You'', a very smooth personal song. The album, like most of their releases, have fast paced to mid paced numbers and it flows very well. It's definitely hard to swallow at once because of its length.

A good return for sure, be prepared for a different approach though. It does sound like Trouble since both original guitarists are still in the band but there's a bit more stoner, southern and groovy. It's not a great album but it's nowhere near bad, it has good riffs but some weaker unnecessary songs, I like long records but I prefer when there's longer atmospheric tracks than a bunch of shorter ones and I like the subdued side of the album like on ''The Greying Chill Of Autumn", my favorite track on this release.

Nonetheless, check out The Distortion Field, it proves that the band still has what it needs to write good doom metal in 2013. It's not breaking any new grounds, but it's honest and will kick your ass.

Oh by the way, this cover art is terrible!

Metantoine's Magickal Realm