Place of Skulls - As A Dog Returns
Exile on Mainstream Records
Bluesy/Southern-influenced Doom Metal
9 songs (55:42)
Release year: 2010, Exile on Mainstream Records
Reviewed by Khelek

Place Of Skulls has been around for ten years now, fronted by ex-Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin, who does both guitar and vocal duties in this doom metal band. Lyrically the band takes some direction from Griffin's Christian faith. For those who don't know, Place Of Skulls is a biblical reference to Golgotha, the site of Jesus's alleged crucifixion. Musically the band's sound is akin to older traditional doom acts such as Saint Vitus, Solitude Aeturnus and the like. This is also a band that isn't afraid to try incorporating other influences, and being from an area of the U.S. where country and folk music is quite popular, they have certainly been influenced by bluesy Southern rock and metal. The fuzzy, bluesy guitar riffs are instantly recognizable, and while I was not blown away by this album, it is certainly nice to hear some traditional doom done right.

I really like the riffs on the opening track The Maker; the sound forms around fuzzed out, heavy guitars and thick drums. The vocals of Griffin soon come in, which are somewhat melodic, but have an undertone of that rough sort of doom metal voice. The song sounds to me like a combination of Saint Vitus and perhaps Candlemass. Breath Of Life is a traditional doom track through and through. Slow, crawling guitar riffs and reverbed vocals. It definitely creates that doomy, dark atmosphere that this genre is known for. Though He Slay Me hints at older metal acts like Uriah Heep with clean electric guitars, though the traditional doom elements present themselves in the heavy guitar riffs in the chorus, and Griffin's vocal style. Psalm reminds me of the stoner rock band Spiritual Beggars that I reviewed earlier this year. It starts of slow with soft electric guitar and drums, with some catchy, fuzzed-out riffs taking over about halfway through.

Perhaps the best thing about this album is that it also incorporates some bluesy, southern rock sounds that lend some of the songs a more upbeat feeling than many in this genre. Dayspring definitely starts with this atmosphere right off the bat, but stays mostly in doom territory over its epic length. The final two tracks are the embodiment of this Southern-influenced sound however, with Desperation being an excellent, doomy Steppenwolf cover. The guitars and drum rhythm used just shout blues rock, while the heavy guitar riffs infuse them with a heavier, more "metal" feeling.

I really enjoyed this album with its mixture of traditional doom and bluesy Southern rock influences; it shows that a good doom metal album doesn't necessarily have to be all doom and gloom. I've also heard people complain about Christian metal acts, which to be honest I do often find annoyingly predictable, but these guys continually break the mold here, creating both catchy songs and some darker atmospheres. It occasionally sounds a bit commercial, but I can easily overlook that. Definitely a solid American doom album.

Killing Songs :
The Maker, Dayspring, Desperation
Khelek quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Place of Skulls that we have reviewed:
Place of Skulls - The Black Is Never Far reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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