Tuesday 16 July 2013

Trouble - The Distortion Field (Album Review)


Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 16/7/2013(USA)
26/7/2013 (EU)
Label : FRW Music


The Distortion Field, album track listing:
1.  Paranoid Conspiracy
2.  When the Sky Comes Down
3. The Broken Have Spoken
4.  Sink or Swim
5. One Life
6.  Have I Told You
7. Hunters of Doom
8.  Glass of Lies
9.  Butterflies
10. Sucker 
11. Bleeding Alone
12. The Grey Chill of Autumn
13. Your Reflection


Kyle Thomas : vocals
Bruce Franklin : guitar
Rick Wartell : guitar
Mark Lira : Drums


Trouble return for their first studio album since 2007. Truthfully, I have lost track of the band since their classic 80's to mid 90's period. However, when I heard that Kyle Thomas would be taking over vocals for this record... suffice it to say that I was very interested! Thomas, as you may/should know is a world class vocalist who has graced several metal classics in his time. From Exhorder to Floodgate to the absolutely superb “Open Fire” by Alabama Thunderpussy (much missed!) Thomas has some serious cred.

Paranoia Conspiracy kicks things off with a large groove, old school sound and massive vocal performance. Right away, you are reminded of records such as “Manic Frustration” and you just have time to sit back and soak up When The Sky Comes Down. With a more “Psalm 9” or “The Skull” kind of vibe, the guitars work like classic Tipton and Downing and Thomas brings a vocal of Dio-esque bombast.

The Broken Has Spoken slows things to a lumbering groove. The song packs an insistent refrain and nods back to when doom wasn't all about taking a lot of drugs and recording records on a mobile phone placed inside a tin can. Sink Or Swim has a creeping riff and good leads to open things up. Multi track vocals make the track unexpectedly melodic and Thomas recalls one of his biggest early fans (Phil Anselmo) in his phrasing and delivery.

Doom riffs abound in One Life as the band settles into a strong pattern. Again, the vocals really shine, as does the lead work. Have I Told You brings the record into ballad territory- remember that this is a classic doom band- and the change of delivery works well with the pacing of the album.

Hunters Of Doom is a standout for me- The Tempter is recalled in the riffing (yay!) and the subject matter is pure old school metal as well. The ghost of Dio fairly leaps out of the speakers as Thomas cranks up the histrionics before a surprising drop in drama and tempo that gives some lovely lead work before ratcheting up again through the gears.

Glass Of Lies echoes more “Manic Frustration”-era Trouble with its bluesy groove and gives a classic kind of rock track to the album. It is this kind of hallmark which marks Trouble out as such an important band. They bridge eras and genres; from Sabbath to Priest to Vitus to Down, Trouble echo lots of bands, but sound like no one. They have enough bite to satisfy the most ardent of adrenaline junkies and enough melody and class to interest, say, the average fan of Free or Rainbow. Butterflies has clean guitars to start then an almost Soundgarden type riff (who were huge Sabbath fans, remember) before stomping onwards then getting all melodic again before a scorching lead section.

Sucker is up tempo, groovy and switches between time signatures effectively. Again, the vocals soar as the guitars keep things locked down. Bleeding alone is a sort of bridge track, beloved of Sabbath and Vitus, that links in to the record's final two tracks. Greying Chill of Autumn rather foreboding and eerie in atmosphere and opts for mid pace rather than that of a snail to get its point across.

Some have criticised or been put off Trouble in the past because of the (supposed? Actual?) Christian bent of some of their work. Honestly, if you look hard enough I am sure that you could find that influence in the record- whether it is there or not, won’t matter to those that want to find it. However, it simply does not matter to me what band members believe or reference. When a  record is this good, it shouldn't matter to you either. To reject Trouble on that basis would be the same as dismissing Victor Griffin's Christian period (foolish!) or, equally, boycotting any number of metal bands for endorsing (seriously or not) Satan. Indeed, I don't agree with Varg Vikernes' politics or his past violence, but I still love early Burzum regardless. So, let's not get hung up on religion/beliefs and enjoy this for what it is- a great doom/hard rock record with musicians operating at the top of their game.

Your Reflection closes the record strongly with heavy riffing, melody, classy soloing and strong hooks that are the bread and butter of this outstanding album. If you had/have an interest in Trouble then don't hesitate to pick this up. If you haven't checked out the band for whatever reason... what are you waiting for?! 

Words by : Richard Maw

As ever, show your support to the band by checking them out at the various links below. You can get your CD, Vinyl, DD here in the USA and it will be available at the usual places in Europe 26/7/2013.  Thanks to Kat Podmolik at Space Loft Six for hooking us with the record for review,  many thanks again!  You can listen to an exclusive 3 song sampler exclusively via Decibel magazine here