Review: Eric Wagner ‘In The Lonely Light Of Mourning’

In an era of routine horrible occurrences, it goes without saying that the death of legendary Trouble/The Skull/Blackfinger vocalist, and doom icon Eric Wagner due to complications from Covid-19, was a major blow to the worldwide stoner and doom scene, and underground rock in general. We covered his passing here at The Sleeping Shaman as the reverberations from his death were felt globally. It is in this context that Wagner’sfirst solo LP, the aptly named In The Lonely Light of Mourning, allegedly multiple years in the making, sees its posthumous release. Wagner recruited many of his current and former bandmates from Trouble, The Skull, and Blackfinger for In the Lonely Light of Mourning, including Trouble/Blackfinger drummer Dave Snyder who helped Wagner with the songwriting, and also plays guitar alongside Trouble’s Chuck Robinson.

Eric Wagner 'In The Lonely Light Of Mourning'

Sonically, In The Lonely Light of Mourning, doesn’t stray too far from Wagner‘s outings with his previous bands. The opening trifecta of songs shows plenty of what Wagner’s bands have been known for over the course of his long career. Opening with the ironically titled Rest In Peace that features a slow, walking bassline from Wagner’sformer Trouble and The Skull bandmate Ron Holzer, before opening into the crawling, doomy riffage that has become synonymous with his releases. His unmistakable wail sounds as good as ever, the man’s voice has aged remarkably well.

Maybe Tomorrow has a great opening riff, before balancing the line between Wagner’smelancholy and the chugging riffage of Snyder and Robinson. Wagner’s lyrics ponder his death, which, under the circumstances makes this song all the more impactful. Isolation, the third of the three opening bangers features some pretty menacing riffs courtesy of Robinson, as Snyder sticks to the drums here.

Wagner completely shifts gears on the sorrowful If You Lost It All featuring melancholic cello courtesy of Brian Gaona. The sad styles don’t last long as the massive riffage of Strain Theory crushes the depressed vibes under its mountainous riffs. Walk With Me To The Sun also features another massive riff-swell, combined with Wagner‘s melancholy. Snyder’s drums in particular sound good on this track as he conjures a nice sense of march.

Wagner ventures back into despondent vibes with the reflective title track In The Lonely Light Of Mourning. Certainly, I’d view this as the centerpiece of the album, taking everything Wagner and company have introduced thus far, and building to its melancholic climax. It’s a doom-epic to be sure, featuring a mournful solo from Victor Griffin, appropriate riffage from Snyder and Robinson, and of course, killer, emotional, doomy, vocals from the man himself.

In The Lonely Light Of Mourning serves as good of a sendoff to the iconic doom legend…

Wagner chooses to go out, guns blazing on closer Wish You Well, maybe my favorite track on the album. It’s an up-tempo, ripper for sure, Robinson operates as the sole guitarist here, as Snyder focuses on his driving, complimentary beat. Wish You Well features excellent, well-timed shred courtesy of Doug Hakes.

In The Lonely Light Of Mourning is a cohesive listen, all of the songs are tight and well-written, with Wagner’s introspective, spiritual-based lyrics, hitting home all the more due to his death, and delivered with his trademarked, sorrowful, doom vocals. The musicians Wagner enlisted all do their jobs exceptionally well, Snyder being of particular note providing songwriting, riffs, and stellar drum playing. However, all the musicians excelled at providing the crunch, epic bottom end, and yes, the cello, when appropriate and impactful. Additionally, In The Lonely Light Of Mourning sounds fantastic, well produced, the instrumentation is clear, the guitars sound great, as well as the aforementioned drum sound Snyder captured, to say nothing of Wagner’s inimitable voice.

I’m guessing Trouble, The Skull and Blackfinger will excavate the vaults as time goes by, with more posthumous releases and reissues, but In The Lonely Light Of Mourning will stand out as Wagner’s one and only solo release, as well as his first posthumous release of original material. There’s obviously no way Wagner could’ve known this would be his last release, as he allegedly finished this shortly before his passing. However, In The Lonely Light Of Mourning serves as good of a sendoff to the iconic doom legend as one could’ve asked for. Recommended.

Label: Cruz Del Sur Music

Scribed by: Martin Williams