The Skull - The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull - The Endless Road Turns Dark

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(CD/LP, Tee Pee Records, 2018)

Greatness; yes, that would be the only word I will use to describe the sophomore album of Chicago’s masters of Doom THE SKULL who continue to produce moody yet crushing tunes, tinged with all the dark colors of the universe. I know, you may think I’m overselling this, but once you have experienced with your own ears how the album opener kicks the door down, you will understand the greatness of this lineup which loyally serves the Heavy music for more than three decades. And yes, it kind of contradicts the fact that the heavier-than-Heavy [sic] “The Endless Road Turns Dark” is just the band’s second full length effort...

...come to think of “The Endless Road Turns Dark” turned out to be the heaviest material this band has produced to date. Well, I may need to revisit my last statement because I’m sure I will be saying the same thing for the next THE SKULL album, but let’s take first things first. The first thing you’ll notice as you spin this beautiful piece of music is the Heaviness; and I’m using a capital ‘H’, simply because I can’t remember hearing something this Heavy from Eric Wagner & Co., even when going back to his TROUBLE days. You can credit the production / mix for this (having engineer Sanford Parker / Quentin Poynter behind the console is a strong hint), offering that thick, almost-Sludgy sound, and you should also include the songwriting which is equally Heavy, fitting the meat-y and hearty sound like hand-in-glove. Start with the album’s title (words can be heavy, you know), and then dive headfirst into the title track with the merciless drumming, stop by the oomph-y “Ravenswood” and the sunless Doomy yet Blues-y “As The Sun Draws Near”, before enjoying the big surprise of “All That Remains (Is True)” (and I’ll stop right there as I don’t want to spoil all the listening fun), and realize that all the signs are there. The only track that probably escapes the ol’ Dark and Heavy theme is “The Longing” that was previously released on the band’s “The Skull” EP, two years ago.

Another thing I loved while spinning the whole album for more than 10+ times straight (!), is the fact that THE SKULL amply prove that they’re not here to sit on their Doom throne, serving a reheated plate as fresh, but they actually try to reinvent themselves creating a couple of refreshing tunes that may spawn ‘modern day Doom Metal’ as a new genre (remember where you read this first). Sure, I bet you’ve already loved both “Ravenswood” and “As The Sun Draws Near” (available for streaming online through the usual suspects’ channels), but I swear you’ll find quite refreshing and original-sounding my personal favourite “Breathing Underwater” that, even though has both feet well-planted on US Doom Metal soil (pay serious attention to the haunting Doomy intro), Eric’s unique, almost-narrating and out-of-this-world voice lifts the entire thing up, and fits perfectly to the aforementioned Heavy / Sludgy mix. And then, the TROUBLE-esque “Thy Will Be Done” drops the curtain in a megaton-bomb way with the Heavy-cut twin-guitar riffage and that Geezer-y, fat, finger-licking bass sound, and becomes the palpable proof that THE SKULL aren’t afraid to push the envelope farther by embracing their rich past while enhancing it with some truly beautiful details that make the entire venture a unique, Heavy piece of neck-crushing Doom.

I could go on talking about these eight tracks comprised of many layers for the listener to peel with every album spin, but I don’t want to spill all the beans and I’d rather let you discover more things to love about THE SKULL’s second offering. To me, “The Endless Road Turns Dark” is the best material these fine gentlemen have released so far, and I can surely say that the road never looked brighter (pun intended)... Like I said, greatness.

10/10


Links:

www.TheSkullUsa.Com
www.FaceBook.Com/TroubleTheSkull
www.Twitter.Com/TroubleTheSkull


Tracklist:

01. The Endless Road Turns Dark
02. Ravenswood
03. Breathing Underwater
04. The Longing
05. From Myself Depart
06. As The Sun Draws Near
07. All That Remains (Is True)
08. Thy Will Be Done


Lineup:

Eric Wagner - Vocals
Ron Holzner - Bass
Lothar Keller - Guitars
Rob Wrong - Guitars
Brian Dixon - Drums