Trouble - The Distortion Field

(CD/LP, FRW Records, 2013)

The news that Chicago’s Doom finest TROUBLE would be back in discography after their latest release of 2007 (“Simple Mind Condition”) was a truly blessing for my ears and I believe for every die-hard TROUBLE fan. You see, it’s never enough to listen to the trademark dual guitar harmonies of Bruce Franklin / Rick Wartell, even if almost 34 years have passed since the early days of “Psalm 9” and “The Skull” that introduced us the band’s velvety dark sound (even though TROUBLE didn’t manage to break the international music market, but remained an underestimated band for the biggest duration of their career – with the only exception Rick Rubin’s magic touch in 1992’s “Manic Frustration”). Truth is that it isn’t 1992 anymore, Eric Wagner has decided to stay away from the band and the hair-rising amalgam of Doom / Heavy Metal melodies mixed with the more Hard Rock / Stoner sound TROUBLE used in their latest works cannot be considered as a ‘trend’. With that being said, I don’t expect to see “The Distortion Field” climbing up in the Billboard charts, a fact that also indicates that this album addresses more to the old-time fans and less to the new ones who sadly are still searching for the next scream-o/core adrenaline injected.

“Can TROUBLE exist without the characteristic voice of Eric Wagner?”, “Does “The Distortion Field” possess the heaviness of the glorious past?” and “Will this album honor TROUBLE’s history?” I guess these were some of the questions troubling your mind after having heard the news that Kyle Thomas (EXHORDER, FLOODGATE, ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY) was chosen to fill Wagner’s tight shoes. But listening to the “Run To The Light”-esque album opener “When The Sky Comes Down” you’ll instantly realize that TROUBLE are back! Well, I’d agree that Eric’s to-die-for hair-rising reading is missing with Kyle bringing a more Stoner-like style along his ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY timbre (revealing a more Metall-ic and a less psychedelic feeling to the band’s sound), but the trademark guitar duo melodies are here, ready to remind you the reason you fell in love with this band in the beginning when the calendar wrote 1984 when tracks like “Assassin” and “Bastards Will Pay” shock your music world.

I have also to admit that tracks like “Paranoia Conspiracy” and “The Broken Has Spoken” bring an almost Anselmo/DOWN-laden feeling to the mix inviting you to embrace and digest TROUBLE’s evolution in creating something fresh and ‘modern’ (yup, the quotes are mandatory here), while maintaining the old-school aroma of their prime works. The true surprise comes with “Have I Told You”, “Glass Of Lies” and “Greying Chill Of Autumn” where TROUBLE dare to reveal their TEMPLE OF THE DOG/ALICE IN CHAINS-like mood to create that US ‘modern’ feeling I was talking about. Kyle reveals his extremely wide vocal range and his ability to sing everything at ease; from the most Doom and dark lyrics to the super-angry/screamy lines, making him the best alternative choice for the TROUBLE lineup. However, my favorite moments are the super-atmospheric and TROUBLE-esque “One Life”, the galloping Doom masterpiece “Hunters Of Doom” and the “The Misery Show (Act II)”-laden intro of “Butterflies” where Bruce’s and Rick’s guitar work brings to mind the strong TROUBLE scent from the very first second, enticing the appetite of all the die-hard fans for more.

As Kyle aptly said to the most recent TROUBLE interview at METAL KAOZ, “the open minded but skeptical fans will love “The Distortion Field”, because it sounds like TROUBLEand I couldn’t agree more. “The Distortion Field” is a well-crafted album by Bruce and Rick who have something to say to the nowadays’ chaotic and confused Metal scene (with all these ‘-core’ trends among others), trying to discover new ways to satisfy today’s metalheads. If you expect to listen to a new “Psalm 9” or a second “Trouble” album, I’m sorry, but you’ll be disappointed. TROUBLE sound ready to explore new territories, maintaining the high-quality riffage we all love, having one more die-hard TROUBLE fan on their disposal and I am talking about Kyle Thomas who has already gained my total respect. Now, tell me the truth: haven’t you missed the dual guitar tunes of Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell? Then getting “The Distortion Field” is a one-way road.





01. When The Sky Comes Down
02. Paranoia Conspiracy
03. The Broken Has Spoken
04. Sink Or Swim
05. One Life
06. Have I Told You
07. Hunters Of Doom
08. Glass Of Lies
09. Butterflies
10. Sucker
11. Greying Chill Of Autumn
12. Bleeding Alone
13. Your Reflection


Rick Wartell - Guitars
Bruce Franklin - Guitars
Kyle Thomas - Vocals
Mark Lira - Drums