Place Of Skulls As a Dog Returns

Place Of Skulls As a Dog Returns
American doom doesn't get any more old school than in the hands of former Pentagram/Death Row guitarist Victor Griffin, who's been plugging away for the past decade in Place of Skulls. Once boasting doom deity Wino (the Obsessed, Saint Vitus) and Dennis Cornelius (Revelation, Memory Driven) in their ranks, this Knoxville, TN-based group have returned to the trio format with long-time bassist Lee Abney and drummer Tim Tomaselli on As a Dog Returns. Griffin's warm vocals speak of Christian themes, but the riffing is all Trouble-inspired and not far from 2006's The Black Is Never Far. "The Maker" sounds like a lost Obsessed cut, and the sheer tonnage of "Timeless Hearts" crushes the shimmering chords and echoing harmonica in its intro. "Though He Slay Me" features Griffin's excellent stratospheric soloing, as does the ten-minute "Dayspring," meandering through Rush-like suites of alternating gloom and light. "Psalm" begins with Tomaselli's toms, à la Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan," before cranking up the amperage to spotlight more of Griffin's wailing solos. It's fitting that he covers Steppenwolf's "Desperation," honouring the band that coined the term "heavy metal," as he reshapes it into a modern doom ballad. The curious title is a reference to an aphorism from the Bible about the inflexibility of the foolish, though it's certainly no folly for Griffin to return to the metal subgenre that's given him such rich rewards. (Giddy Up!)