The untimely passing of Eric Wagner in August 2021 robbed the metal world of one of its greatest ever voices. With doom pioneers Trouble, and an assortment of other projects, the great man’s contribution to heavy music was huge. His voice was soulful, angst-ridden and cool as fuck, perfectly suited to monstrous heaviness or swaggering hard rock, but equally at home amid a hazy, psychedelic soundscape. Recorded not long before his death, Eric’s only solo album hammers home exactly what we have lost, but also how his creative flame burned bright until the bitter end.
Opener Rest In Place does exactly what you want it to: lithe, groovy doom, with one foot in the blues and the other on a monitor, Eric Wagner’s pained wail scorching across the riffs. Similarly, Maybe Tomorrow harks back to Trouble’s epic template for a grim cautionary tale of shattered hope, while Isolation is all giant riffs and spiritual torment. In wild contrast, If You Lost It All is a bruised and bruising torch song, with doleful cellos and a wonderfully resigned and restrained vocal. The classic doom sound returns for the tense and menacing Strain Theory, duly mutating into something far wonkier for the glacial strut of Walk With Me To The Sun. Meanwhile, the title track wearily ponders whether Eric will be ‘loved until I’m dead’ over the most languorous of psych metal backdrops, before Wish You Well wraps things up in gritty, street doom fashion.
Eric’s lyrical preoccupations were always destined to make his final statement unbearably poignant, and yet that voice rings out, pure and true, throughout In The Lonely Light Of Mourning, still making mortality’s cruel joke a little less horrifying and still sounding like the voice of rock’n’roll reason in a doomed world.