The Skull – The Endless Road Turns Dark
Reviewed: January, 2019
Released: 2018, Tee Pee Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
We should all hope to have a fraction Eric Wagner’s infinitely cool swagger by the time we’re pushing 60 years on this orb. During that time, the man has found himself as a reluctant monolith within the doom scene for 2/3 of those 60 years – mired in equal parts music, interpersonal drama, and a variety of mind altering substances along the way. THE ENDLESS ROAD TURNS DARK is the second full length release from The Skull (one of Wagner’s two post-Trouble outfits), and finds the man and the band at an admirably Zen like creative state.
The riffs on this album…oh man, the riffs…Songs like “Ravenswood”, “Breathing Underwater”, “Thy Will Be Done” and the domineering title track swing with a kind of casual confidence that belies the rich complexity underneath. Guitarists Lothar Keller and Rob Wrong make it all sound so matter of fact as they layer harmonies against a hypnotic wall of dense rhythms, while Ron Holzner and Brian Dixon (ex-Trouble and Cathedral respectively) anchor the tunes with a groove that sounds wholly organic – particularly on “From Myself Depart”. Wagner’s voice has matured with the years, but the pipes are still there, his voice as inimitable as ever. And though there are stylistic remnants of classic Trouble that lend an air of familiarity, these songs exist entirely in their own universe – one that acknowledges the past, but is not content to recreate it.
There’s also a consistency across THE ENDLESS ROAD TURNS DARK that was missing on its predecessor, allowing each song to fit into the next like a puzzle that slowly comes together. It flows remarkably well, carrying listeners willingly down the endless road amidst a scenes of darkness, light, hope, despair, and doom. It’s an immensely satisfying listen that boasts the maturity of its conspirators in making it sound so damned easy. The shadow of Trouble will always be present – there’s no escaping that, but with THE ENDLESS ROAD TURNS DARK, The Skull have crafted an album that begins to truly define a new legacy.