Chicago doom: invincible, immaculate, larger than life and prone to taking on the world. Trouble was of course the forefathers, but when hard times hit the band split in two and the world was blessed with the almighty power of The Skull. The crushing forward motion and roaring bottom end that has come to define this band is thrilling and the way that The Skull swagger forth speaks to a band who have a deep understanding of heavy metal as a greater entity. A much more rocking band than their predecessor, The Endless Road Turns Dark is still colored with endless moments of doom magic.
The most impressive aspect of the band is that, even now, nearly forty years in for some of them, they still reign supreme. Eric Wagner's voice is still powerful and exciting, cutting through the murk and driving straight to your heart. The twin guitar attack of Lothar Keller and Witch Mountain's Rob Wrong is dynamic and exciting. Of course, Ron Holzner slots in nicely next to Cathedral drummer Brian Dixon. It's one hell of a thing.
Everything about this doom metal supergroup is tastefully executed. The gang clearly hustled their asses off to put together a record that is nicely arranged with the songs never dragging on, as is the case with many of these old head bands. Instead, the tracks have a clear sense of forward motion, and they play off a lot of interesting dynamics. Of particular note to guitar nerds is the interplay between the twin lead guitars.
Lothar Keller pushes a more Randy Rhoads inspired shred-tastic approach, it perfectly counterbalances Rob Wrong's potent bluesy stylings. It makes for one of the most exciting guitar approaches in the scene right now. That being said this is by no means a "guitar album." Rather it is an album that has a ton of really talented players. The focus never falls too hard on any one musician, but instead, plays off of common and shared talent.
Having this much raw skill in a band is a very rare thing. The Skull are bringing more to the table than just about any of their peers. This is a record that jumps from peak to peak, that plays off of the potency of old material in order to keep driving, to keep inspiring and keep reminding us why these guys have a longstanding reputation as some of the best in the game. They put together something that plays on a lot of the standard tropes of the genre, but the thing is these are some of the guys who invented them and perfected them.
This is a record that speaks to exactly how magical, fun and powerful this music can be. It's a rock record for doom nerds, a doom record for rock heads, and an album that music lovers of all stripes are going to dig. Heavy, loud, over the top, and yet perfectly dialed in, The Endless Road Turns Dark is a doom masterpiece.