ERIC WAGNER - In The Lonely Light Of Morning LP (Black Vinyl)
Eric Wagner

ERIC WAGNER - In The Lonely Light Of Morning LP (Black Vinyl)

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Eric Wagner’s legacy was always secure as Trouble’s legendary lead singer, but he managed to carve out a distinct niche for himself across multiple projects. Groups like The Skull, Lid, and Blackfinger sat at varying points on a spectrum of doom metal and psychedelic rock without going full stoner, often guided by his world weary yet still longing introspection. In light of his tragic passing last year, his first and only proper solo album may have been the most fitting way to encapsulate his illustrious body of work.

But while one would expect a singer’s solo album to not put as much emphasis on the instrumentation, the musicianship is very balanced and rock-solid. In the Lonely Light of Mourning is surprisingly riffy with the guitar and bass tones boasting the bottom-heavy beef of his alma mater while the drums put in some swing without getting too intrusive. Wagner’s vocals are simultaneously restrained and heavily weighted, largely staying in his lower range with carefully constructed lines. The cello on “If You Lost It All” is also a nice touch.

The songwriting is similarly low key with a slower pace that reflects his signature sense of doom, but with enough dynamics for the individual tracks to stick out. “Rest In Peace” carries an extra grim aura with hindsight, but “Maybe Tomorrow” and “Strain Theory” feature the album’s strongest riff/chorus sets. Wagner’s softer side also gets its chances to shine as “If You Lost It All” brings in a somberness that gets elaborated on the title track’s melancholy. “Wish You Well” is a stranger outlier with its speedy, more abrasive approach but it works as a final punch to the gut.

Posthumous releases are always hard to reckon with. Part of me wishes that this album had been more of a stylistic outlier from Wagner’s usual method, but it was clearly a labor of love perhaps constructed in a more casual fashion than something like The Skull. Perhaps there could’ve been further developed ventures with subsequent releases but as it stands, In the Lonely Light of Mourning is a fitting culmination of Wagner’s illustrious body of work. Anybody who’s enjoyed any of his bands can consider this an unfortunate but worthy epitaph.