Place of Skulls

With Vision

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For a band that reached its creative peak in the early '70s, Black Sabbath has certainly had a long-lasting impact on heavy metal. Their riffs have influenced just about every stoner rock combo of the '90s and 2000s, and Sabbath is the band of choice for people in the doom metal field. Although Place of Skulls was formed in 2000, their approach owes a considerable debt to Sabbath's trailblazing work with Ozzy Osbourne -- there isn't a riff on With Vision, Skulls' second album, that isn't Sabbath-minded. Of course, the Sabbath influence that permeates this 2003 release isn't surprising when one considers what bands Skulls' members once belonged to. Guitarist/singer Victor Griffin (Skulls' founder) is an ex-member of Pentagram and Deathrow, while guitarist/singer Scott "Wino" Wienrich's credits include Spirit Caravan, the Obsessed, and Saint Vitus, in other words, Griffin and Wienrich both have a long history of belonging to Sabbath-influenced bands. And because Place of Skulls are as Sabbath-minded as they are, this CD will be classified as doom metal or stoner rock; however, it's important to note that Skulls isn't nearly as extreme as some of the bands that are considered doom metal. Compared to the noisy, brutally dissonant Grief (a great underground doom band that enjoyed a small cult following), With Vision is quite musical and melodic. This CD is heavy, but not in a ferocious, bruising, sledgehammer-to-the-cranium way; Place of Skulls caters to those who like their metal with a lot of melody. While With Vision is hardly the most original or groundbreaking metal disc of 2003, the material is generally well written and well executed; Place of Skulls definitely deserves some credit for craftsmanship. All things considered, With Vision is a decent and respectable, if derivative, outing for Griffin and his headbanging colleagues.

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