Saturday 23 March 2013

Victor Griffin's In-Graved (Album Review)


Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 22/3/2013
Label :  Svart Records
In - Graved, album tracklisting:
1) Digital Critic 4:29
2) What If... 5:05
3) Late for an Early Grave 4:39
4) Fading Flower 6:14
5) Thorn in the Flesh 5:29
6) Teacher 4:02
7) Love song for the Dying 6:48
8) Never Surrender  4:03

The debut self-tilted album was produced by Travis Wyrick (Place of Skulls) and founding guitarist/vocalist Victor Griffin (Death Row, Pentagram, Place of Skulls). The album was recorded at Lakeside Studios in Knoxville,Tennessee and engineered by Travis Wyrick & Mike Dearing (Place of Skulls) with cover art by Richard Schouten (Place of Skulls, Massacre).

While closing the books on Pentagram and Place of Skulls in 2012, Victor Griffin invited drummer Pete Campbell to join him in the studio to record a new album. With no name, no members, and a batch of unfinished material… they cranked out 8 tracks in just under a week and Pete went home. But much was left unfinished.An invitation was then extended to some of the best bass players around with Guy Pinhas, Ron Holzner, Greg Turley, Marty Swaney, and Dan Lively accepting. Meanwhile, keyboardist Mike Puleo was making his contribution. Then with great enthusiasm… the timing was right for Jeff “Oly” Olson to join and bring the Hammond organ alive on the rest of the album!

Victor Griffin's name is synonymous with quality doom metal/stoner rock. Now that that is out of the way, let's focus on what is offered up on this debut release form his In-Graved project. “Digital Critic” is up first and comes grooving out of the gates at mid pace with some very nice, thick guitar tones. The lyrics take an obvious, but not misguided, swipe at keyboard warriors. This is 70's rock with a doom edge, which in many ways could sum up what is on offer here. The album is not as dark as, say, “The Black Is Never Far” and has a lighter vibe than “With Vision”- both records by his previous group Place Of Skulls.  Regardless, the material on this album shines very brightly indeed.

“What If...” slows things down a little with a very Sabbath vibe through the vocal lines and pacing. The acoustic outro is a nice touch, too. For me, the third track “Late For An Early Grave” embodies all that is good about the record and it is thus no surprise that it was the song that was used to promote it. The track is all outlaw motorcycle toughness and thick riffing. Double bass drums can even be heard, as can Hammond Organ swirling away in the mix (Jeff Olson of Trouble take a bow). A coming of age tale that possibly sums Griffin up as a writer and a man. Catchy stuff with a VERY 70's anthemic vibe. Excellent soloing over the tight yet flowing rhythm section lift the track even further before it comes to the inevitable conclusion (you know how it's going to end!).

“Fading Flower” features personal lyrics and an unusual arrangement to start with more Hammond and some excellent bass work underpinning the sparse guitar riff. “Thorn in The Flesh” is perhaps closer to Place of Skulls in tone, but again the rhythms, riffs and arrangements keep things interesting.  Some very cool changes can be found here as the band plays out of their skin- as they do throughout! “Teacher” has a somewhat lighter sound- it wouldn't sound out of place on a Pepper-era COC record... but is actually by Jethro Tull! Despite being by a very English folk/rock outfit, it fits in just fine and gives positivity along with the time changes and melodies.

“Love Song For The Dying” starts like a Type O song (superb!) but quickly changes tack for more trademark Griffin riffing (can I use that phrase?!) with a more sombre, reflective tone coming through in the central refrain and lyrics.  The track comes in at close to seven minutes, but makes the most of the running time- it is carefully crafted and features interesting double tracking on the vocals, more Hammond, layered guitars and a very good drum performance (Pete Campbell plays VERY deftly throughout this album).

The pace quickens for the Skynyrd-esque closer “Never Surrender” which is as anthemic as the title suggests and clips along with memorable hooks and a sentiment that is not as cloying as the title indicates.

Overall, if you have any interest in anything Griffin has done before you will be very pleased to part with your cash for this record. In fact, if you have never heard of Pentagram, Place Of Skulls or even Griffin himself this album is recommended. You like Clutch? You'll like this. Like Vitus? Ditto. Sabbath? Grand Funk? Skynyrd?... you get the idea. Support this master of riffs and buy this album!

Words by : Richard Maw

As always show your support to the band. You can buy the CD and vinyl is available here. Thanks to Svart Records for hooking us up with the record.