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Yes, Trouble works fine without Wagner - 60%

mblidmark, July 25th, 2013

Since the last Trouble album, 2007's Simple Mind Condition, one singer has left the band and one has been fired. In charge of the mic today is Kyle Thomas, previously in Alabama Thunderpussy, who also sang with the band between 1997 and 2000. Of course, Eric Wagner's amazing singing has always been an important component in the Trouble atmosphere and since this is the first album wihtout him, the mood is bound to be a little bit different this time.

Anyway. The first song of The Distortion Field, When The Sky Comes Down, is a rather typical Trouble song with regards to the melodies and the overall composition of the song. The next two songs however, Paranoia Conspiracy and The Broken Have Spoken, are straightforward rock songs with very simple choruses. In contrast to the great opening song with its haunting melodies, these two are a big disappointment.

There is a distinct difference in the sound between Trouble's two latest albums. While Simple Mind Condition sounded like a doom rock album with a lot of groove, The Distortion Field sounds more like a regular hard rock album with doom metal components. If that's a good or a bad thing is up to the listener to decide, but personally I prefer the psychedelic groove of Simple Mind Condition over The Distortion Field's more head-on approach.

One of the first things that struck me while listening to this album is that Kyle Thomas does an amazing job and I constantly find myself impressed by his vocal range. A good example of his qualities is in Sink Or Swim, one of my favourite songs on the album. It's a melancholic piece with a lot of build up and atmosphere, as opposed to the preceding two songs, and he shifts between a lot of different singing styles constantly during the song. It's a really cool song that contains pretty much everything you could look for in a Trouble song, all wrapped up with a really heavy doom metal outro.

One Life is another good one. It starts off with a slow piano/organ intro followed by some of the heaviest riffs on the entire album as well as a great guitar solo. However, there's just something about the lyrics that puts me off - “You only got one life to live, so give it all you got to give. Embrace the truth, don't live a lie. No regrets on the day you die”. I don't know, with the whole Christian thing in the ir early albums I suppose I shouldn't expect Trouble's lyrics to be all too sinister. But still.

The album continues with Have I Told You, a song that sounds more like a Pearl Jam ballad than a Trouble song to me. In itself I guess it's an okay song but on a Trouble album I really don't know what to make of it. Other than that, there are some more songs that strike me as a little too simplified and straightforward but there are some great moments by the end of the album, as well. Butterflies has some absolutely fantastic riffs and a chorus to die for and The Greying Chill Of Autumn is a groovy, psychedelic song that makes me a little sad, wondering why there aren't more songs on the album like it.

The greatest surprise of the album is definitely Kyle Thomas' vocal performance. He isn't a carbon copy of Eric Wagner but that's not what the band should have gone for, in my opinion. I really appreciate how Kyle's voice is a whole other thing and I imagine he will do a great job live. To sum things up, it's hard to score this album. On the one hand it contains some truly amazing pieces of work. On the other hand, about half of the songs don't really do anything for me. I want to score the good songs eight out of ten and the not-so-good songs a four out of ten, so I think it's fair to settle for a six in total.

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