Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Skull - For Those Which Are Asleep (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 4/11/2014
Label: Tee Pee Records

‘For Those Which Are Asleep’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

01). Trapped Inside My Mind
02). The Touch Of Reality
03). Sick Of It All
04). The Door
05). Send Judas Down
06). A New Generation
07). Till The Sun Turns Black
08). For Those Which Are Asleep
09). Sometime Yesterday Mourning
10). The Last Judgment


THE SKULL -- the new band featuring original members Eric Wagner (vocals) and
Jeff "Oly" Olson (Drums) of American Doom Metal Legends TROUBLE,
alongside longtime TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner, guitarist Lothar Keller (SACRED DAWN) and former PENTAGRAM guitarist Matt Goldsborough will release their debut album For Those Which Are Asleep on November 4 via Tee Pee Records, the NYC independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep. 

Written and recorded this past spring, For Those Which Are Asleep features ten tracks of elemental Heavy Metal and is the first full length album to feature WagnerHolzner and Olson since the 1995 release of TROUBLE's critically acclaimed LP Plastic Green Head. The new record's greatest strength is how well it captures the apocalyptic trudge that Trouble delivered from the first downbeat of their 1984 debut, but now unequivocally propelled by the hallmarks of a hungry new band fueled by new blood. The mighty voice of Wagner is on full display; the vocalist proving on For Those Which Are Asleep that he still wields an eerie power at the mic. Titanic riffs abound as Keller and Goldsborough weave ominous atmospheres over the molten, crushing core of Holzner and Olson's sinister strut. Make no mistake, THE SKULL are in complete command of their craft and have capably created a modern classic; a recording where atmosphere is established as drums crash, guitars blare and stories are told

The Skull is:

Eric Wagner | Vocals
Jeff Olsen | Drums
Lothar Keller | Guitar
Ron Holzer | Bass
Matt Goldsborough | Guitar


The Skull, featuring members of Trouble and named after one of that band's best albums sound like, well, you can guess! ‘Trapped inside My Mind’ kicks things off with a groove laden riff, nice bassy production and some lovely changes. Eric Wagner's voice is in fine fettle as is the erstwhile rhythm section of Holzner and Olson. Truly, the band is world class.  ‘The Touch of Reality’ demonstrates this fact amply with creeping doom riffs and excellently double tracked vocals. Nice soloing is a feature that runs throughout the record- look out for them!

‘Sick of It All’ brings a very doom laden vibe- exactly as the title suggests. The songs are hooky- in a similar way to the Blackfinger project that Wagner also put his name to.  The Door’ has a dramatic piano intro that gives way to an almost Type O Negative type of track- morose and melancholy, the album is really shaping up at this point. ‘Send Judas Down’ brings grooving riffs to the table with a nice almost Fu Manchu type of looseness to it. Its dark stuff, but not unremittingly bleak and the lyrics are good too- crisis of confidence and questioning of beliefs abound.

‘A New Generation’ is almost classic rock in its bluesy approach. Again, it is memorable and retro but with a modern twist on lyrical content (access denied!). ‘Til The Sun Turns Black’ has a rolling riff and very catchy hooks to the chorus, it is Sabbathian and Troublesome (!) all at the same time. Great stuff.

‘For Those Which Are Asleep’ offers a lush arrangement and production with acoustic guitars layered with electric and a suitably dramatic chorus. This is top notch classic doom. Keller and Goldsborough do a fine job with the guitar weaving- their playing is a match for the recent Trouble album (a fine record, by the way). It makes me think that we now have two great bands to enjoy instead of one. Everyone wins!

‘Sometime Yesterday Mourning’ is a chugging beast that lumbers into some nice changes and well constructed verses. Truly, Wagner is on great form here. He delivers such a confident and assured performance. One of the great doom vocalists for sure. ‘The Last Judgement’ finishes this confident and muscular album in appropriate style- with massive riffs. This is a great band in its own right, with the songs to compete with anyone in the genre. It is doom in the old school sense of the word- Sabbath, Pentagram, Vitus, Trouble- all those bands have their place in doom history. The Skull are now busy carving their own, a great record.

Words by: Richard Maw

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