Terrible news for the metal community today, as Eric Wagner, founding vocalist for legendary doom metal band Trouble and current vocalist for The Skull, has died after a battle with COVID-related pneumonia. He was 62 years old.
Wagner’s current band The Skull announced the cancelation of their performance at this week’s Psycho Las Vegas festival in a Facebook post reading, “Hey All. More bad news….We will not be able to play Psycho Vegas this Thursday. Eric Wagner’s bout with Covid has gotten worse and he was admitted to the Hospital yesterday with COVID pneumonia. All the other members have tested Negative. Positive thoughts and words will be helpful.”
Soon after, Eric’s song Luke confirmed his passing, commenting below the post, “Hey all this is Luke Wagner his oldest son. Eric Wagner has passed away.”
Wagner helped form Trouble in Aurora, Illinois, in the late ’70s, drawing influence from bands like Black Sabbath. However, Trouble surprised many metalheads by filling their downtrodden doom metal with openly Christian lyrics, sometimes directly referencing the Bible. This led to them being labeled “white metal” by their then-label Metal Blade, against the booming black metal scene of the time.
This did not stop the band from being hugely influential on the doom metal, heavy metal, and grunge scenes. Trouble’s first four albums, 1984’s Psalm 9, 1985’s The Skull, 1987’s Run to the Light, and 1990’s Rick Rubin-produced self-titled album are seen as cornerstones of modern doom metal. Among their most influential aspects was Wagner’s vocal delivery, which added a harshness to traditional heavy metal vocals, thus creating a sound somewhere between Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian.
In 2012, Wagner formed his new band The Skull, with whom he released two full-length albums, 2014’s For Those Which Are Asleep and 2018’s The Endless Road Turns Dark.
Everyone at The Pit sends their heart out to Wagner’s family, friends, fans and collaborators during this difficult time.
Words by Chris Krovatin