When Eric Wagner, the longstanding mastermind behind TROUBLE, left the band in 2008, it was unclear how his replacement, Kory Clarke (WARRIOR SOUL) would hold up. Well, apparently the band wanted to show off their brand spanking new vocalist with a new live album, and well, he’s crap. At least in comparison to Wagner, he certainly is.
Okay, so the last album with Wagner was certainly underwhelming, but TROUBLE might as well be a different band with this singer. He has none of the commanding power that Wagner’s voice so naturally held. It sounds like Clarke’s voice is going to give out at any minute. It’s a real shame, too, because the band is as tight as ever. "R.I.P" opens up the set (nice choice) with the massive riffs slowly spewing out just as they should, but then Clarke comes in and sounds like he’s about to cough up a lung. Clarke is best suited to the more energetic, aggressive songs, in my opinion. Take "Plastic Green Head", for example. His gruff snarls work relatively well here, but at times he seems uncomfortable with the pace and range, although he holds his own. Another disappointment on this release, is the setlist. Eleven songs for a live album? Come on, that’s pretty half assed by today’s standards. And even with these eleven songs, it still fails to fairly represent TROUBLE’s career. Most of the show focuses on material from the ‘90s, however they throw in two songs off 2007’s "Simple Mind Condition". You’d think they’d whip out some classics from one of their three ‘80s albums, but the only thing that represents that era is an instrumental off "Psalm 9", "Endtime". I found it quite funny that they’d choose to play an instrumental, as if the band is fully aware of Kory Clarke’s lack of vocal capabilities, but it’s definitely a highlight of the show.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me add that Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell still sound absolutely godly on the guitars. After all, isn’t that the most important aspect of TROUBLE? I’d say so. Every riff comes across with great precision and each song is played perfectly. I guess that’s what you get when you’ve been playing with the same guitarist since 1979. I just wish they showcased some more tunes off the first and second album, because that material is simply Doom Metal glory.
If you’re a fan of TROUBLE, I’d check this out to see what you think. I’m sure Kory Clarke is a great guy, and I bet I’d enjoy hanging out with him, cracking a beer and talking some Metal, but I’d like him to kindly stay out of TROUBLE.
Guest review by Rory Say
(Online May 11, 2010)