Sunday, March 31, 2013


Victor Griffin the riff master of such powerhouse doom acts as Place of Skulls and Pentagram is back with a new release, entitled Victor Griffin’s In-Graved. The trademark sound and style of his previous efforts are showcased here and will have fans eagerly awaiting their live shows.

The sound and tone of Griffins six string assault is the driving force through out this album. He pushes the songs along with his sludgy biker metal attack and screams with some tasty blues inspired leads that add to the metal amalgam. His riffs are solid and heavy. Victor once again shines in the lead vocal department, his voice just fits the music; smooth but forceful. 

The promotional material mentions the extensive guest list on this release, take a look!

“The band and touring line up features Griffin, TROUBLE's original drummer Jeff "Oly" Olson (RETRO GRAVE) on Hammond organ, drummer Pete Campbell (60 WATT SHAMAN, PLACE OF SKULLS), and bassist Guy Pinhas (THE OBSESSED, ACID KING, GOATSNAKE). 

Guest appearances on the debut album are bassists Ron Holzner (TROUBLE, EARTHEN GRAVE, DEBRIS INC), Greg Turley (PENTAGRAM), Marty Swaney (DEATH ROW, PENTAGRAM), Dan Lively (SWEET CICADA), Anne Griffin, and keyboardist Mike Puleo (ORODRUIN)”

However it all comes down to the songs and these cuts don’t disappoint. My personal favorite being Late For an Early Grave, it has a great hook and melody but the riff is gratifying and heavy as a brick, not doom in the traditional sense but more bluesy biker metal. Most of the songs have a strong bluesy, doomy, heavy feel with a lot of great melodies.
Album opener Digital Critic is another that just grooves with power and heaviness that gets this old headbanger moving and reaching for his air guitar. Love Song for the Dying is one of the slightly slower tracks but is a bruiser for sure. Clocking in at nearly 7 minutes this track delivers the goods from Griffin’s guitar to Jeff Olson’s organ.

Two of the songs on this album Late For an Early Grave and album closer Never Surrender originally appeared on an obscure solo release by Griffin. I’ve not heard their original versions but their inclusion here is something I’m grateful for, these songs are some of the best material. A Jethro Tull song, Teacher was included here as well.

The production elements are up to snuff with each instrument having it’s own territory in the mix, nothing is buried and the sounds of each instrument are not hampered.  Griffins Christian worldview is evident even in the songs where God is not mentioned directly.

Overall Victor Griffin’s IN-GRAVED is great bluesy heavy metal with strong biker/doom metal overtones. The songs kick and have great melody, pick this album up and be prepared for some serious heavy metal action.

8 axes
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Friday, March 22, 2013

HAVEN - YOUR DYING DAY Retroactive Reissue

To the uninitiated Haven were a traditional heavy metal band from the American northeast. They released two solid metal platters on the R.E.X Records label back in the early 1990’s to much acclaim. Retroactive Records has seen fit to reissue their debut release Your Dying Day, well actually this arrived last year (2012) and somehow just missed my radar.

At the time of the albums original release strong comparisons to Queensryche were floating around the landscape. Listening to this album in 2013 I’m not so sure all of those comparisons were valid. Yes many of the elements are present, melodic intros and strong non traditional arrangements (at least in comparison to most traditional heavy metal). Perhaps think of The Warning era of the Ryche catalog, I think they were much heavier than Ryche period.

However the one item that strikes me differently this time is out is the vocal of Kevin Ayers. His delivery is much more raspy (like Les Carlson) than Geoff Tate. Yes he touches the stratosphere on such tracks as Below the Grave and Escape, and his range is there however it’s not as ‘clean’ as say Ray Parra. However this is part of what brings Haven to life for me, I love music that could or should be clean but the raw edges are left intact.

Fans of traditional metal will find quite a bit to chew on here. Whether it’s the driving Help Me Follow, the clutch and brake of On Judgement Day or the pure mayhem of the high octane title track this album packs a wallop. My personal favorite is the aforementioned Bellow the Grave. Ayers let it rip and the riff is a chugging piece of metallic brilliance.

The remastering brought on by our favorite mastering artist J Powell at Steinhaus once again delivers the goods. You won’t hear harsh frequencies but rich and defined bass and some soaring clarity amongst the middle and higher end frequencies.

A quality four panel layout digipack brings this package together quite nicely. Retroactive hit another gem and brings it all together.

Haven’s Your Dying Day is a must have if you don’t already own it. Be reminded of when the name of Jesus was brought to the forefront and not hidden under a bushel. A pile driver of a metal album well worth your time and consideration.

9 axes
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