"Psalm 9"

(Escapi reissue)

01. The Tempter
02. Assassin
03. Victim of the Insane
04. Revelation (Life of Death)
05. Bastards Will Pay
06. The Fall of Lucifer
07. Endtime
08. Psalm 9
09. Tales of Brave Ulysses

RATING: 10/10

Black sheets of raining doom rock cascade down, Old Testament prophecies come true in vengeful bursts of fire, and the bastards indeed pay! TROUBLE should have knocked the world on its ass in 1984 with this low-budget slab of creepy, ethereal metal, a distillation of the gloom of prime SABBATH, the out-to-lunch spaceman rock of CIRITH UNGOL and PENTAGRAM, and the clattering slo-mo apocalypse of WITCHFINDER GENERAL. Crappy distribution, an annoying (if understandable) tag as Christian rockers, and the band's own collective demons kept them down, but "Psalm 9" leached out into the world like lead into groundwater, eventually working its murky magic on all the generations of metalheads to follow.

Those who only know TROUBLE's big-label stabs at glory — the self-titled 1990 album and "Manic Frustration" — will warm to embryonic rock-and-roll riff machines like "Assassin" and the galloping anthem "Bastards Will Pay" (perhaps one of the best songs in history to sing along to while driving down a freeway full of assholes). But that latter-day psychedelia and pristine Rick Rubin production won't prepare you for the primal ooze of "The Tempter" blatting forth from your speakers — "Psalm 9" is analog, after-hours, no-budget 1980's recording at its finest, and all the remastering in the world can't wring the clammy desperation and claustrophobia out of songs like "Victim of the Insane". And would you want it to? The vibe here is dank and loamy, like a mossy basement full of untold crawlies, and it suits these granite slabs of doom just fine.

TROUBLE's legend was built on multiple pillars, one being the high, mighty, voice of Eric Wagner. Often compared to early-period Ozzy, Wagner's pipes here are rather unrefined and his voice could accurately be described as "screechy", although it fits the music perfectly and has a very proud, very metal charisma that makes this recording special. Add to that the leaden guitar tone and twin-lead flourishes (later put to good use by acolytes from CORROSION OF CONFORMITY to AT THE GATES) and some primitive, clattering, but undeniable hooks, and you've got the recipe for a classic album, one whose influence has only truly been celebrated in the last decade (the entire "stoner rock" scene owes a debt to "Psalm 9", just for starters).

By the time "Psalm 9" crashes into its rough-and-ready cover of CREAM's "Tales of Brave Ulysses", you'd have to be deaf not to respect and worship this pioneering band. The influence TROUBLE has had on modern heavy metal cannot be overstated — from those still carrying the doom torch, like PLACE OF SKULLS and CATHEDRAL, to more mainstream artists touched by the fevered genius of the band (Dave Grohl and the guys from PANTERA, to name an obvious few). This reissue sports a bonus DVD featuring a full set from 1982 — a rare treat for old-school fans, and a perfect next step for those newly enraptured by this timeless album.

This is fucking heavy metal. If you didn't already learn this, you're being mercifully given another chance to correct your ignorance. Don't blow it.


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