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gem lost in the haze - 96%

Nahsil, June 26th, 2008

Trouble's debut album did great things for metal and remains one of the darkest, thrashiest doom albums to date. A lot of things can change in six years, especially when you're talking metal and the dates are 1984 and 1990. The decade may have changed them, but not in a way that suggests decay or a decline in the quality of their resolve or their skill as musicians and performers. On the contrary, Trouble's 1990 self-titled release is arguably their most mature, boasting a fleshed out sound with unparalleled songwriting, a great production, and the time-crafted vocals of Eric Wagner which had improved drastically in the years since their previous efforts. All of this culminates in what is my mind the most "complete" thing Trouble ever created.

From the mid-paced chug of a killer opener in "At the End of My Daze" to the last notes of "All Is Forgiven", I can't see filler or anything resembling a weak link. The riffs here are some of the best ever written, by Trouble or anyone else; every song has a manically awesome main riff that demands a display of headbanging. Riffs are undoubtedly the point of focus here; they make the songs, and they're a timeless variety of great. Also, the interplay between guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell is some of the best lead work you'll hear this side of the dueling NWOBHM of Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton on Iron Maiden's own self-titled (high praise!).

One potential complaint with the self-titled (maybe the reason it's so ignored) is that it's no Psalm 9 sequel. Trouble basically reinvented themselves with this release, and while I think it was a fantastic rebirth, those who aren't so keen on the laid back stoner vibe they chose to adopt may not see it as a rejuvenation, but a step back (they did go from doom and gloom to collectively embracing their inner acid dropping free love hippie, after all). But the metal remained fully intact! And as I've said, I think this is Trouble at their best. What it may lack in originality and innovation is more than made up for in simple quality. Judas Priest's Painkiller is jumping out at me; that's not a bad comparison. A leader of bands paves the way and then steps aside to create something that will serve as an example of how to improve upon an established formula: that is, by doing it really damn well.

Highly recommended.