Trouble has always been one of those bands that not a lot of people know of, but those that do LOVE them. My introduction to them was their classic 1990 self-titled release. Their Sabbath inspired sludge instantly hooked me. What ended up setting them apart from other bands was singer Eric Wagner. He has a distinctive high pitched style that elevated their sludgy sound from their contemporaries.
However, like every other band Trouble has had a revolving door of band members. The core sound courtesy of guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell are still here. Wagner’s on again off again relationship with the band is in the off position. Replacing him is Kyle Thomas, formerly of thrash band Exhorder, who had replaced Wagner before but never recorded with the band.
Although it may be unfair, the success of The Distortion Field rests on the vocals chords of Thomas. The band did not go for a Wagner clone as Thomas has a much gruffer sound. The music is still the same awesomeness though. For those that have not heard the band before, Franklin and Wartell have a very distinctive style. While still sludgy, many times the songs have a bounce to them. The second track “Paranoia Conspiracy” is the perfect example of this. Thomas’ voice seems to work when he can get in that groove. Same thing can be said for “Sink or Swim”, these are two of the best tracks on The Distortion Field. They really crank up the Sabbath influence on “One Life” and “Hand Of Doom”. Two crunchers that make you forget all about Wagner.
There are a couple of times that Thomas’s voice turns a song into just a typical metal song. “Glass of Lies” could have been recorded by a hundred bands. Then there is “One Life”, a curious yet out of place ballad. Plus, Thomas sounds like Mike Howe from Metal Church here.
The first time I listened to The Distortion Field, I really did not like it. Maybe it was my loyalty to Eric Wagner or maybe this is one of those albums you have to give a couple spins to. I think the more you listen to the music you will adjust to Thomas’ voice. Either way, Trouble did a good job in retaining their core sound while adding a new flair with Kyle Thomas.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon purchase
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on a MP3 sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space