Musical Archaeology (part 11) – Trouble

Ross “Milkki” Mulkern is a music industry freelancer. In addition writing for a number of popular magazines and blogs, he regularly drags up some of the finest underground gems in the world of rock and metal on his blog, Milking It.   (Editor's note - it is a bit X-rated, but some of his blogs e.g. on avoiding mad boy/girlfriends, are very funny!)

Alongside the likes of St. Vitus, The Obsessed and those godfathers of doom, Black Sabbath, Trouble played a major role in defining the sound of what would eventually become known as “Doom Metal” in the early 80s.

Despite a loyal cult following, however, it was not until the band came to the attention of Def Jam boss and producer par excellence Rick Rubin, that Trouble found the sound that would come to characterise – in the eyes of many – their finest hour.

Released in 1992, Manic Frustration is a potent witch’s brew of psychedelia, groove-laden riffage and out and out classic rock. From the sugary stomp of “Hello Strawberry Skies”, to the hippy-tinged “Memory’s Garden”, Trouble wear their “White Metal” tag firmly on their sleeves - preaching peace and love from the pulpit of Lucifer himself with an aplomb rarely seen since… well ever, actually.

Sadly, despite a strong critical reception, commercial success eluded the band for what should have been their breakthrough album. By 1992, the plaid-shirted juggernaut of grunge was swallowing everything in its path, leaving little room for either traditional heavy metal or the hippy-trippy sensibilities that permeated this stage of Trouble’s career.

As a result, the band remain confined alongside The Wildhearts and Kyuss in the great pantheon of cult artists who never achieved the stadium-filling fame for which they seemed so destined.

Still though, despite their decidedly “retro” sound, Trouble’s music retains a freshness and vitality even today. From vocalist Eric Wagner’s signature screech to the near telepathic dual-guitar harmonies of Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell, Trouble – and Manic Frustration in particular – showcase a particular breed of heavy rock that can still hold its own against any number of more commercially successful contemporaries.

Ross “Milkki” Mulkern

Listen to the track Tragedy Man here:

 

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