1990 Def American
Gotta thank my bud Peter Gutierrez for reminding me about this lost masterpiece. Word of warning…if you’re not into heavy music, you’ll probably be turned off. Myself, growing up listening to Sabbath and Zeppelin in my wee childhood I quickly developed an affinity for the sound of heavy, distorted guitar played with gusto, attitude and a sense of style. To this day, it’s rare that I gravitate toward any music that isn’t heavily guitar based (though Keane’s “Hopes and Dreams” CD is a glaring exception).
This disc takes the spirit of classic Black Sabbath and modernizes it with another brilliant production job by Rick Rubin (he IS the man!) applied to a batch of songs that can stand on their own, quality-wise. No over-production here, as Rubin does his thang, letting the band breathe life into each song with a very live sounding mix. The band performance is tight, while grooves alternately swing and bulldoze with an impossibly heavy guitar tone.
The album kicks off with the apocalyptic swing of “At the End of My Daze,” which expertly sets the tone for what’s to follow…an album of both heaviness and depth. “Psychotic Reaction” received airplay on MTV (just a really cool song) and Trouble was making waves as a band of hooks, chops and credibility. Alas, it never translated into the album sales they deserved.
For me, the surprising (though it shouldn’t be, given the band’s obvious intelligence) crown jewel of the disc is “The Misery Shows (Act II),” a melancholy and almost dreamy mellow tune which shows Trouble’s depth as both powerful and sincere…definitely no “token ballads” here.
Trouble is a band (reunited in 2002 and still cookin’) that has always taken the traditional “doom” metal sound and injected it with a positivity and hope in the lyrics that earned the band the label “white metal” in their early days. Indeed, it’s easy to look at song titles like “A Sinner’s Fame,” “The Misery Shows,” “R.I.P.,” and “Black Shapes of Doom” and make an ignorant, negative snap judgement, while a closer listen to those songs, “Heaven on My Mind,” and “All is Forgiven” shows that there is always a silver lining on the dark clouds of Trouble’s music.
If you love heavy music, this one is a no-brainer for your collection and a disc you will make many returns to for years to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5