The Endless Road Turns Dark by The SkullRelease date: September 7, 2018
Label: Tee Pee Records
If you long for a new album of heavy doom metal, drilled in classic Black Sabbath and Trouble tunage, then the arrival of the sophomore album by former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner and his keepers of classic powered doom, The Skull, should be of interest to you. Filled with huge chunky riffs, slow thunderous grooves, impending doomey atmosphere, and as catchy as all things heavy can possibly get. Their fine debut For Those Which Are Asleep set the tone and standard. And although The Endless Road Turns Dark continues in the same vein, a few additional flourishes and fine-tuning demonstrates this is a band expressing an greater confident self-assured maturity.
Eric Wagner sings like an elder, wiser statesman, as he casts more lyrical downbeat thoughts, reflections and confessions, on life and death. Teaming up on guitars are Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) while pounding out the heavy slow beats is drummer Brian Dixon (Cathedral) with Eric Wagner’s former Trouble colleague Ron Holzner on bass. A stellar cast with loaded bags of experience to cast spells of burly song orientated doom metal.
Overall, the album is a tad slower in tempo exemplified by the re-worked version of ‘The Longing’ from their self-titled 2016 EP. Along with ‘Ravenswood’, and ‘As the Sun Draws Near’, these represent the hefty, riffage driven, immediately likeable hard rockers which are one half of the band’s trademark. But it is when they opt for allowing space within the power chords that you hear a band confidently flexing out, albeit maintaining it stays firmly within their own lanes of gloom, which bear the two album highlights, ‘Breathing Underwater’ and ‘From Myself Depart’.
There were a couple of songs from the debut – ‘Sick Of It All’, ‘For Those Which Are Asleep’ – which showcased the slower, sorrowful, side of the band and this melancholy wraps itself around even tighter on this album. The album’s opening title track booms into existence and signals a band striding for the bolder sized epic. It doesn’t quite reach the stature it allures to but further along the route they do fulfil their grand epic-ness ambitions. ‘All That Remains (Is True)’ is to Endless Road what ‘The Door’ was from their debut, while ‘Thy Will Be Done’ boasts the best riff arguably penned so far by the band before taking a variety of journeying tempo paths for it to successfully lay claim as a very fitting album closer.
If you are looking for a progressive form of doom then check out Bongripper’s impressive Terminal album. But if you like to counteract listening to boundary pushing (dark) adventurers with a nod to the classic sounding, early pioneering power strummers and riff conjurors, then The Skull’s The Endless Road Turns Dark is a worthy addition to your collection. The Skull truly deliver in high quality, heavy, melodic doom, which cements strongly that they are masters in their respected field.