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Place Of Skulls – As A Dog Returns

Place Of Skulls
As A Dog Returns
by Maria Voutiriadou at 11 September 2010, 3:09 PM

You can smell from the cover of the latest album, “As A Dog Returns” that something has changed in PLACE OF SKULLS music. If you expect to hear some traditional doom Metal tunes, you’d better pass along without qualms and heavy conscience, just because of the glorious past, including “Wino”, Cornelius or even Holzner. All these guys belong to the PLACE OF SKULLS past and I can not tell that their future betokened the same brilliant and pompous. I am not prejudiced because their debut “Nailed” touched me emotionally so deep that I don’t think Griffin could manage to compose such a strong record as that, nor I expect something as powerful and glorious as “With Vision” was – how could I forget “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” cover anyway? That belonged at the beginning of the 00s and nowadays, 2010 shows its toughness with so many good releases that you can’t even pick one.

In “As A Dog Returns”, the fourth studio effort of PLACE OF SKULLS, 4 years since the latest “The Black Is Never Far”, you can find the sensitivity and the heart-searching of Victor Griffin in a way that were never be presented to us in the past. The opening “The Maker” maybe the only authentic doom Metal track, having all this monolithic heaviness in its catchy guitar riff, while the following “Breath Of Life” carries a lot of TROUBLE influence reminding me a lot the “Requiem” track’s exhaled desperation from the “Plastic Green Head” album. “Psalm” shows its BLACK SABBATH-esque teeth straight forward, having this “Planet Caravan” acoustic guitar/ drums on first sight and all the psych groove atmosphere which is able to travel us through funny smokes and unstoppable dreaming. Here also, you’ll find the astonishing bass burst of Lee Abney that has nothing to envy from his predecessors, Ron Holzner and Dennis Cornelius.

Where are the shortcomings though? I can understand the whole ‘love Jesus’ thing that Griffin has on mind and his need to express it through his music but I can not accept the fact that I found more than the half tracks of this latest PLACE OF SKULLS album talking about how Jesus suffered for humanity, how good he is and how deep Griffin felt him inside his soul. I mean, when you take on your hands a record from a traditional doom Metal band that created great furore with its debut album, I don’t know if it’s reasonable to have all this stuff inside, including the heart-breaking, corn melody cited to PEARL JAM tunes or something. “Dayspring”, “Timeless Hearts”, “Desperation” and the self-titled track that ends the album entertain this music style with climax the Griffin’s reading, reminding a lot Eddie Vedder’s vocal parts. Strange, huh? Maybe we should accept the ‘u turn’ that a musician decides within 4 years or less. The question is how PLACE OF SKULLS will impress Griffin’s new needs on the upcoming fall tour that their doom Metal fans should support. Well, the future will tell…

Since their very beginning, PLACE OF SKULLS was not another one band, so absolutely devoted to the doom Metal, just copying others; it was one of the first Doom Metal acts that dared to create its own history with the ‘positive feelings/ created with vision’ enlightening blend. Even the US trio is more progressive and futuristic from what we can handle. “As A Dog Returns” is the palpable proof.

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Tracklist:
  1. The Maker
  2. Breath Of Life
  3. Though He Slay Me
  4. Psalm
  5. Dayspring
  6. Timeless Hearts
  7. He’s God
  8. Desperation (STEPPENWOLF cover)
  9. As A Dog Returns
Lineup:
Victor Griffin – Vocals, Guitar
Lee Abney – Bass
Tim Tomaselli – Drums
Record Label: Exile On Mainstream Records
     


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