Place of Skulls

As a Dog Returns

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Former Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin still has the roaring guitar tone that marked his work with that band, but since 2000 he's been employing it in service of his Christian faith with Place of Skulls (the translation of Golgotha, the hill upon which Christ was crucified). Place of Skulls have been through multiple lineup changes, the most notable being the presence of Saint Vitus/Obsessed/Spirit Caravan frontman Scott "Wino" Weinrich on 2003's With Vision, but they're back to their true selves as a power trio on this, their fourth album. The mix of huge, doomy riffs and overtly Christian lyrics goes all the way back to Black Sabbath themselves, whose "After Forever," from 1971's Master of Reality, comes out quite explicitly pro-God. In the '80s and '90s, Chicago band Trouble went a similar route. Griffin has a way with a riff, and steadfastly refuses to modernize his sound; his intermittently psychedelic biker metal sounds like it could have been recorded at any time between 1969 and today, with slight allowances for technological advances (but make no mistake, this is a three-dudes-in-a-room recording, with only a few dashes of Mellotron-like keyboards or some bongos augmenting the arrangements). The lyrics, howled in Griffin's hoarse voice, leave no question as to his beliefs, but they shouldn't get in the way of anyone enjoying this record. There's also an excellent cover of Steppenwolf's "Desperation," which fits seamlessly in with the rest of the record.

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