Eric Wagner – All that remains is true

Guest feature written by Elusive T./Elusive God

oh lord 
please take my soul 
take my in your arms rest assured 
and as i lay me down 
to sleep throughout the night 
forever in your heart
all that remains is true

While I was listening to The Skull‘s song “All that remains is true“, a scene from one of the first episodes of American Gods unexpectedly came to mind. Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, welcomes the newly deceased Laura. He asks for her heart to see if it is heavier than a feather. She refuses, claiming that it surely is heavier. Anubis wants to send her into eternal darkness. She didn’t believe in anything in her lifetime. She valued nothing. Therefore, her afterlife will be the same. Eternal darkness devoid of any meaning.

If life after death is truly based on our earthly beliefs and values, then I can assume that Mr. Eric Wagner is finally united with God (or Lord as he often referred to Him in his songs). After all, he dedicated a good part of his rich musical endeavor to Him. And so the endless road turns dark…

Obviously, older generations experienced the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, heavy metal and most of the music we listen to today. Sadly, our generation will have to say last goodbyes to those same genre pioneers and musical legends. We read about the deaths of famous musicians almost daily and it very quickly gets lost in the flood of the constant bad news. This seems like a “curse” of our generation. It is up to us to deal with the deaths of our beloved musicians with dignity. 

Eric Wagner was a really dear METAL character to me. He seemed like a calm, modest and wise man based on his appearance and charisma. While listening to The Skull‘s two albums, along with his voice and lyrics, I felt like I was absorbing his lifelong wisdom from each and every verse. His whole aura, deep voice and manner of expression left the impression of a DOOM METAL sage sitting on his throne explaining to younger generations how things should be and how it is done. I also liked how he adapted his voice and expression to his age. 

At the age of 60, it is unlikely that he’ll be able to hit the high, semi-screaming tones with the same intensity that he was known for in Trouble. Also, this kind of vocal expression also partially deserved him a status of a vocal deity. Although such high vocal parts were still present, Eric sang much more in the lower register, bringing to the fore the incredible color of his voice. This is one of the examples of dignified aging of a metal singer. All these claims support my theory about doom metal vocalists — As soon as the doom singers are older, their voices will probably suit even better slow and heavy music. With age comes wisdom which can only ennoble the lyrics. Aging can also play a significant role, especially if you’re a singer with long white hair that automatically radiates doomness. 

“For Those Which Are Asleep” is the song that was my introduction to Eric Wagner’s music. Usually I remember many life events by the songs I was listening to at the time of their occurence. The mentioned song was one of the most frequently played songs in many cars I was driving over the years. No matter where I was driving — The Skull would always be somewhere in the background and would always find their way to the playlist. I can also remember that I was headbanging like crazy and singing along while driving. It’s impossible to stay indifferent by listening to this magical chorus. Don’t you think that I won’t weep for those who are asleep?

After I found out that Mr. King of Doom has lost his battle with the coronavirus, almost instantly I listened to the aforementioned song again. I carefully listened to the acoustic section, the divine chorus riffs and his voice… and then it all became clear. I wasn’t even aware how much this song and Wagner’s character influenced my doom metal expression. Subtle and subconsciously. 

My other Eric Wagner memories are also miraculously related to cars and driving. I remembered how once my significant other and I were driving on deserted roads through Southern Croatia while listening to the Trouble‘s self-titled album. What an experience, what a journey and what a time to be alive. Great times are always remembered by great soundtracks. 

In the end, I gotta ask myself – why am I writing all this? It seems to me that this is maybe the only way I can pay an adequate tribute to a man whom I did not know, but who brightened many moments of my life with his music and voice. I guess this is my way of processing the loss of the man whose music I was listening to. I want to express my immense gratitude that he recorded so much good music that we will all be able to listen long after he is gone. In addition, it’s an honour and a privilege to be at least a small part of the same doom metal scene with legends such as Trouble and The Skull

All that remains is true, Mr. Eric. What remains forever are your songs, influence and DOOM. Thank you for everything!

Originally written a few days after Eric Wagner’s passing.

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