THE SKULL Record Release Show
Date: 22nd September, 2018
Ticket: $15/€13 (in advance) - $18/€15.50 (day of)
Almost two weeks before this show, THE SKULL dropped another Doom Metal bomb with the title “The Endless Road Turns Dark”, so getting to hear some of the songs live was the obvious reason to drive to Lombard, IL that pretty nice Saturday night. The other (and a little less obvious) reason was to give the Chicagoan doomsters the proper send-off as they would be getting on the plane to cross the big pond for a killer set of live shows in Europe. On the other hand, do you really need any ‘obvious’ reasons to see THE SKULL live other than the high quality Doom Metal served by this lineup spearheaded by the one and only Eric Wagner? Naah, is the right answer as long as you have a Doom Metal thinking brain that actually works.
This was our first time seeing the venue located behind the Brauerhouse bar and I was pleasantly surprised; first of all, the place is quite big and can easily host 500 people inside and also has a nice looking bar with room for some to watch the show while comfortably sitting. The stage could have been a bit taller but this was really a minor issue when compared to the echo which seemed to be adding some noise. However, this is an easy fix and I am sure if things go well, then Brauerhouse will get better. After seeing part of the crazy Thrash with a bit of Sludge (?) served by WHUT?, it was time to secure a nice viewing spot and enjoy once more THE SKULL. I know that there are those fans who love to hear TROUBLE songs from the original voice but for me, with two full lengths out, I would prefer the majority of the songs to be original material. I may be getting the evil-eye from some TROUBLE fans, but hey, new music should always come first, especially when it is this good. After all, if you want more TROUBLE songs, then you should check the actual band as it is still active and is still rocking hard!
To my delight, the set started with the THE SKULL original song triplet with my personal favorite from their debut coming second. Yeah, after the TROUBLE-grooving “Trapped Inside My Mind”, “Till The Sun Turns Black” came without stopping, showcasing a band firing in all cylinders. I have no idea if they have been rehearsing for the European tour, but to my eyes (and ears) THE SKULL were in top form. Starting off from Eric and his most-characteristic onstage presence, Ron’s relaxed but powerful (quite an antithesis, right?) bass-playing, and all the way to the guitar duo of Lothar and Rob, the band I was seeing onstage was kicking some serious a$$. In fact, I believe this was the first time I saw Rob and Lothar changing sides that much and it looked awesome because in previous shows I have the impression of the two guitarists being confined in their territory taking away some of the onstage energy.
The riff of “A New Generation” put a capital “D” in Doom and saw Eric in his super-friendly way greeting almost everyone at the first rows as if he was welcoming to his house. Despite his Doom-ier looks (some grey hairs on the beard have that effect, if you are able to support this, of course), he was friendly in a disarming way. The singer did some PR showing THE SKULL beer in hand and using this as a cue for the “The Endless Road Turns Dark” suite; starting with the groovy “Ravenswood”, THE SKULL proved once more that the songs sound better live than in the record. Yeah, the dynamics added by watching the lineup rocking out, and the loud volume hitting your chest, breathe new life in the songs, and if you don’t know what I’m saying, then seek a spot at the front rows and you’ll see the truth. If you would twist my arm, then I would choose the title track off the new album as the best of the four; I don’t know, maybe the guitars are to credit, but I can’t leave out of this Doom equation the ton-heavy rhythm section and, last but not least, Eric’s soulful singing.
To be honest, I would love to hear the entire album live (after all, this was the album release show) but at the same time I cannot claim that I did not enjoy the jamming and longer version of “Send Judas Down”. Watching these guys jamming along with wide smiles on their faces is an undisputed fact that THE SKULL are solid-er [sic] than ever. The evil “For Those Which Are Asleep” dropped the curtain for the original material but this meant it was time to do some TROUBLE; “The Tempter” and “Bastards Will Pay” put this show in the books as being a killer but a short one (even though it’s understandable since THE SKULL weren’t headlining that night). I guess, we can call this a THE SKULL appetizer and final rehearsal before the trip in Europe. I hope we will get our December fix of a full THE SKULL set and quenched the thirst this short Doom Metal sip left us with.
THE SKULL setlist:
01. “Trapped Inside My Mind”
02. “Till the Sun Turns Black”
03. “A New Generation”
05. “Breathing Underwater”
06. “The Longing”
07. “The Endless Road Turns Dark”
08. “Send Judas Down”
09. “For Those Which Are Asleep”
10. “The Tempter”
11. “Bastards Will Pay”
(click to enlarge)