Trouble: The Distortion Field

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Trouble: The Distortion Field
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Trouble: The Distortion Field
Doom Metal, Stoner Metal, Stoner Rock
FRW Records
July 16, 2013
Release length: 1:01:35
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Chicago based Trouble are back with their eighth full-length album, The Distortion Field. The Christian themed Psychadelic Doom and Stoner Metal band has earned a strong, devoted following over the years, even after a large gap of silence due to problems within the group. 2007 the release of Simple Mind Condition, their first new album in about twelve years, but it was not met with the praise fans expected to give. It’s been a good six years since, and one can only wonder if this new album took the time to be aged properly, or if the silence is another sign of bad things to come. With what seems to be the drop of their more recent Psychadelic touch, it almost instantly will make any long time listener worried, or perhaps giddy. Either way, is The Distortion Field a solid effort, or will it be yet another disappointment?

The Distortion Field features thirteen different tracks, and clocks in at just over an hour of material, which kicks off well with “When the Sky Comes Down.” There isn’t anything too Psychadelic at work here aside a strong guitar solo and slower chorus, but the speed and heaviness in the latter of the those two caters more to a traditional Doom Metal approach. The main verses are a little more upbeat and have an infectious Stoner Rock quality to them that perfectly matches the aforementioned gloomy chorus, as well as downtrodden introduction. “Greying Chill of Autumn” does feature a hint of psychadelic euphoria largely in the main verses. Other than that, it’s simply an upbeat performance that has some additional melody to the riffs, and a few hooks for good measure. The rougher vocals pick up enthusiasm where necessary, and the whispered “help me” voices in the slower passage about three minutes in help segway out of the somewhat fun environment that makes up much off the song.

“Sink or Swim” has more of an authority driven attitude, throwing some Rock riffs right back to the eighties, though some can be a bit more on the mainstream side for that era as well. The chorus is a lot lighter, catering to a highly melodic performance with layered clean singing. The slower paced music is met with a solid guitar solo, and the transitions are executed well enough to keep things flowing smoothly. “Paranoia Conspiracy” carries a superb groove to the Stoner Rock material that will immediately have you bobbing your head along to the drum beat, which ends up the primary focus most of the time. Nods to mid-career Black Sabbath can easily be felt in the performance, especially in the chorus with the catchy, tighter riffs and harmonization in the rougher vocals. This is easily one of the best tracks on the album, but it’s impossible to ignore the much slower “One Life.” This ends up largely Doom Metal driven with a despair ridden atmosphere. Some areas end up dropping it for some catchier Stoner Rock riffs that maintain the same pace, which does dull down some of the bite overall, but doesn’t really hurt the track and it’s intent considering how short it is near the end.

“Have I Told You” comes out of nowhere with it’s lighter Alternative Rock presence akin to Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. The environment is largely different as well, voiding out nearly all of the Doom and Stoner Rock or Metal elements you’ve heard up to this point. It’s simply nothing impressive or original, and while it’s an alright track, it just sounds like a clone of what a lot of Rock radio stations today will play in heavy rotation. Sadly, this is also when the album starts throwing some less than impressive to filler material your way. “Butterflies” tackles that Alternative Rock vibe once more, but does show some Stoner Rock traits here and there to make it a harder song than an easily marketable one. It isn’t bad, though far from one of the stronger songs The Distortion Field has. Then there’s “Glass of Lies,” which carries a nice heaviness to much of the performance, but the chorus is so awkwardly upbeat with a truly enthusiastic vocal performance that it simply feels comical and immature against such a dominant presence all around it, especially with the addition of the tamborine in the background. Even the sluggish conclusion with a truly burdening atmosphere simply can’t make up for what seems like pure silliness. And, finally, there’s “Your Reflection,” which wraps things up on a slower, heavier note, but just ends up kind of boring, lacking any real enthusiasm, or even bite songs like “One Life” held. The riffs are rather simple, and even the vocals sound uninterested most of the time, and given the energy in every other song, one can only assume even the band knew this was gearing up to be more of a filler track than anything.

The Distortion Field is a very mixed bag largely Stoner Rock and Metal driven material, laced with hints of Doom Metal for good measure. About half way through, things do start getting rocky, lining the road to the filler-like climax with dull, even unoriginal songs that can become so awkwardly immature it can bring a chuckle to your throat. Of course, not all songs after “Have I Told You” are bad, and in fact there are a few as enjoyable as everyting up to it. While this isn’t the most solid recording you’ll ever get from Trouble, it does present a band shaking off some of the rust thanks to the problems they experience in the nineties to early two thousands, showing hope for a future effort that is great from start to finish. For now, The Distortion Field will please many fans of the band, and of the Stoner Rock style, but still ends up a release worth checking out first to determine if it’s woprth picking up day one, or holding out until it’s on sale somewhere.

01. When the Sky Comes Down – 5:43
02. Paranoia Conspiracy – 4:06
03. The Broken has Spoken – 4:12
04. Sink or Swim – 5:55
05. One Life – 6:13
06. Have I Told You – 4:36
07. Hunters of Doom – 4:24
08. Glass of Lies – 5:04
09. Butterflies – 4:52
10. Sucker – 3:43
11. Greying Chill of Autumn – 5:21
12. Bleeding Alone – 1:35
13. Your Reflection – 5:47
Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10

Trouble (band)
Trouble

Digital review copy of this release provided by FRW Records via Freeman Promotions.