|Musical Style: Doom Metal||Produced By: Victor Griffin & Travis Wyrick|
|Record Label: Outlaw Recordings||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2004||Artist Website: Place Of Skulls|
|Tracks: 4||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 19:19|
"If I'm wrong about what I believe will happen to me when I die, I've missed out on nothing. If a non-believer is wrong about what happens when he dies, he'll be missing out on everything."
doom/doom/ ·n. 1 a down-tuned bass heavy guitar tone played over a slow to mid-tempo drumbeat. 2 unusually placed flats, sharps, and minors in the chord progressions. 3 lyrical content varies but often deals with the darker side of issues.
Place Of Skulls easily fits the bill when it comes to the traditional definitions of the classic doom metal genre: The band projects the needed dark and down tuned low end heaviness and interweaves it with extremely heavy and slow paced riffing. The one crucial area where Place Of Skulls breaks from the status quo, however, is in the positive and spiritual nature of its lyrics. And that is where the bands guitarist and lead vocalist Victor Griffin comes in.
Griffin got his start in the early eighties as co-founder of the legendary doom band Death Row before recording three well received albums as a guitarist in Pentagram. Taking a much needed break from music after making a decision for Christ in 1996, Griffin got together with original Death Row bassist Lee Abney, who had gone through a similar spiritual transformation, and began working on new material. An ad in a local paper led them to drummer Tim Tomaselli who shared the same spiritual outlook. In time the three settled on the moniker Place Of Skulls, a name which not only worked well with the sound and lyrical content of the band, but it is also the hillside known as Golgotha where crucifixions took place in early Roman days- including that of Christ's.
In 2002 Place Of Skulls released its full length debut Nailed on Southern Lord Recordings before following up a year later with the excellent With Vision on the same label. Please note that Southern Lord elected to leave four songs off Nailed due to their bold, upfront and uncompromising Christian lyrical content. And this is where the bands 2004 EP Love Through Blood enters the picture in that it makes available for the first time the four songs in question rejected by Southern Lord. (A great deal of credit goes to Outlaw Recordings for allowing this release to become a reality.)
The best way to describe Love Through Blood would be melodic doom metal: Place Of Skulls displays a penchant for writing material that is heavy and driving but equally memorable at the same time, interlacing the foreboding atmosphere with acoustically driven passages and others that move in a more blues based direction. Griffin contributes his trademark clean and smooth sounding lead vocal style in addition to furnishing an abundance of gritty and at times blues flavored lead guitar work. Abney and Tomaselli combine to form an exceptionally tight and steady rhythm section.
Production values come across in a crisp and full sounding manner, just the right amount of polish added to the mix but not enough to take away from the bands natural raw energy. A full and heavy low end underscores a crunchy rhythm guitar and a clean mix of lead guitar.
Taking off to a plodding doom-like rhythm guitar, "Consuming Fire" tapers off to an ominous bass guitar driven riff for its first verse. Once the rhythm guitar returns to the songs forefront, it leads the way to a powerfully delivered chorus drawing its lyrics from Hebrews 12:29:
Our God He is a consuming fire
The flames burn down deep in my soul
Yes, our God He is a consuming fire
He reaches inside and melts down this cold heart of stone
After "Cornerstone" begins to a crunchy riff backed by a bit of lead guitar, the rhythm guitar trades off with an acoustic guitar during its first and second verse. A massive wall of rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix as the song reaches a hard hitting chorus pointing to the person of Christ:
But the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, He is alive
In belief or denial, He is the same for all time
He never came for the righteous man
But for the lost, He gave it all
You cannot add or take one thing from Him
He will always be the Cornerstone
Jesus is the Cornerstone
Griffin's blues flavored lead guitar work carries a minute long instrumental passage.
The pounding riff introducing "Days Of Trouble" gradually gives way to an upfront mix of driving rhythm guitar that evenly propels it at a mid-tempo pace to a good groove flavored chorus. Griffin's biting lead guitar work brings out the best in a song talking about whom to call upon during the trials and tribulations of life:
Your arrows pierce me
I feel pressed down
My flesh has angered You
And no good is found
Over my head have gone my iniquities
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me
To You I life soul
In days of trouble You I call
Unto You I lift my soul
Evermore never fall
An acoustic guitar carries "The Blood Of Jesus" forward until a huge resounding riff bounces in and out of the mix several times. Proceeding through its first verse in a slower acoustic laced manner, the song picks up in pace for a strong emotionally charged chorus reinforced by a crisp rhythm guitar. Griffin is on top of things with more of his trademark blues flavored lead guitar work. "The Blood Of Jesus" talks about exactly that:
Please forgive me and take control
The blood of Jesus cleansed my soul
He is the Way, He is the Truth and the Life
You can't see the Father without the Light
By way of the cross He came
And for our souls His life He gave
Glory to God, His Son is alive...
While the four tracks encompassing Love Through Blood rate with Place Of Skull's better material on Nailed and With Vision, the high quality music here only serves to wet my appetite for more of the bands melodic approach to the doom-metal genre. And that is a good thing, because at the time of this writing Griffin and company are working on new material for a 2006 release to be entitled The Black Is Never Far.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Consuming Fire" (4:11), "Cornerstone" (5:48), "Days Of Trouble" (5:07), "Blood Of Jesus" (4:11)
Victor Griffin – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Lee Abney – Bass
Tim Tomaselli - Drums
Also Reviewed: Place Of Skulls - The Black Is Never Far
“Love Through Blood.” Online article available at: www.outlawrecordings.net