Place of Skulls
Nailed (Southern Lord)
by Craig Regala
The guy who put this unit together is a doom legend. Why? Well, because he kept doin’ it when it wasn’t cool or seen as a viable musical thing. Jeez, he started in ’71 and guitared for Pentagram until ’95. Pentagram’s take on doom wasn’t particularly on the turtle rock side. Biting the sustained grunty parts of Sabbath, they sit between Witchfinder General’s cranked up early ’80s NWOBHM short and chunky “stuff” and Trouble’s apocalyptic old testament brimstone and hellfire. Not as good as Trouble, though. Then again, who was? Plus, Trouble got better. Their last three slabs are as good a trio as anyone’s laid out ten years into their career.
So, Pentagram closes shop, and Place Of Skulls hangs out a shingle five years later. Formed and lead by Victor Griffin, he who swung the six-string for Pentagram and has added singing (low key, but yes, it’s singing, like your parents would recognize) to his resume.
Place Of Skulls are a smoother ride than all of the above. From the little I know about doom, I’d say their closest actual peers would be Count Raven. Upon suggestion, I pulled out their forth tombstone, High On Infinity, and the tempo, tones and feel rub horns with P.O.S. although the singer for Count Raven (the Count?), taps the Gothic/Medieval upsidedowncross wearin’ Ozzy a bit too much not to mention. Fun fact; 3:13 into the 11th song on High on Infinity (“The Coming”) the singer drawls out “boooogie!” Socrates: “Beauty is in the details.” Dig?
Bringing us to Nailed… This guy (Victor Griffin) was in the right place (on Earth) and time (right after Wino’s 11th birthday) to influence Wino’s band, The Obsessed. If he didn’t, then I’ll probably get hit by lightening again, fuck, I hate that!! If you have any affection for fluid, rolling heaviness built-up from slow to mid-tempo, acid-soaked blues-rock, pensive melodies, and the well-placed bar chord sustain (so beloved of stoner rock bands), buy this. It’s got a great cover of the ’60s tune, “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” which, I think, was a hit for Eric Burden and then maybe Cher. It’s almost as good as Goatsnake’s version of Free’s “Heartbreaker.” Heavy ballad action without the schmaltz of “power ballads.” Plenty of lyrical guitar and well-modulated, coolly-controlled singing from Victor puts this over. He’s got a grasp of what makes such minimal music work, and work it does.