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The Black Is Never Far

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Place Of Skulls were formed in early 2000 by guitarist/singer/songwriter Victor Griffin, bassist Lee Abney and drummer Tim Tomasell, Place of Skulls (a biblical reference to Golgotha) carries the torch of prior Griffin & Abney bands such as Death Row and Pentagram in the ever-burgeoning underground scene of Doom Metal. But as their sound continues to expand beyond those boundaries they incorporate intricate dynamics in their songs that few bands of the same genre explore. Honest, deep and warm conclusions of true beliefs in music, well matured in Tennessee s salty brise, Place Of Skulls deliver the finest blend you can get out of different ingredients: deep rooted in Doom tradition enlightens the cold winter with positive feelings, nailed in stone and created with vision. The Black Is Never Far is the third release by Place Of Skulls and further demonstrates their far-reaching Doom abilities and castes the band as prominent leaders in the U.S. Metal underground.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 22, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EXILE ON MAINSTREAM
  • ASIN: B000D4DM1W
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,021 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Just looking at the current and former members of Place of Skulls should be enough to indicate what an amazing band they are. Consider this list of acts: Pentagram [US], Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Trouble, Spirit Caravan, Novembers Doom, and others. Place of Skulls has been around for quite some time, and despite being a die-hard doom metal fan, The Black Is Never Far is my first introduction to them. This is their third album.

Place of Skulls is led by former Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin who handles also the vocals on the album. Griffin is accompanied by the ferocious bassist Dennis Cornelius from Oversoul, another kick-ass doom band. And Tim Tomaselli is responsible for the drumming. The trio have created an amazing piece of work, with varied soundscapes and dynamic arrangements. The album makes a safe start with "Prisoner's Creed" that recalls St. Vitus with its relentless old school riffs and slightly blues-tinged solo. Griffin's vocals fit right in as he proves he is as expressive a singer as he's a guitarist. The band's deeply Sabbath-rooted musicality is displayed on cuts like "Sense of Divinity" and "Apart from Me", both of which boast crazy soloing from Griffin. Actually the former is a lot more experimental than most of the Sabbath reportoire; it's a song that moves from sludgy build-ups to frenzied solos to tense silences. It is a very dramatic song and helps set the grey tone for the rest of the album.

Expanding on Griffin's love for the contrast between really heavy and soft passages in songs, the trio experiment with this approach on "We the Unrightous", a song whose lyrics address corrupt politicians, with the softer parts helping the band to convey their messages.
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Format: Audio CD
Album of the year: 'The Black Is Never Far' courtesy of Place Of Skulls. Bold statement? You bet! Over-reaction? You be the judge.

Place of Skulls has been a musical ticking time bomb since it's initial release of 'Nails'. The pressure built a few millibars for their sophomore effort, 'With Vision.' Of course having Wino (The Obsessed, St. Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand) in the band didn't hurt any. Now be prepared for an apocalyptic explosion from their latest release.

The album unleashes with the crushing chug of 'Prisoner's Creed.' Great start off song. The sabbath inspired string work of 'Sense of Divinity' is down right ferocious in it's attack. 'Darkest Hour' shows a tinge of an alternative sound during the first minute and then it erupts into an avalanche of bass and melodic guitar playing. This is doom with a sense of salvation.

"If there's freedom out there
Then I believe no price to pay
In my darkest hour
Truth's light will shine the way"

This song is a new personal favorite of mine.

A song like 'The Black Is Never Far' brings out the best in Place Of Skulls. It incorporates shades of 70's rock and 80/90's anthem metal without sounding dated. This would definitely be "one of those cigarette lighter songs", if that act wasn't so damn Bon Jovi-ish.

Another track that can't be overlooked is 'Lookin' For A Reason.' Talk about originality, this number starts with a mellow, jazzy saxophone performance (by Chastity Brown) that segues into a mid-range doom romper, that floats above the ground like an evil mist. Impressive finger work by Victor on this one. Add Victor to your list of guitar gods.
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Format: Audio CD
With the rise of the doom/sludge/stoner genre to prominence it seems that Place of Skulls would get more notice. Yet they seem to remain in the cult status the members former bands were in. Hardcore fans revere them but those finding bands like Wolfmother, Black Stone Cherry and others should be checking POS out to really hear the genre done right. Griffin loves the stop start effect of going heavy to light sonically and the vocals fit the overall mood perfectly. The Black Sabbath influence is extremely heavey with dashes of Trouble and even some Deep Purple moments added for variety. I wonder too, if the lyrical content is turning some off as Griffin is writing from a christian world view nowadays, albeit, mostly allegorical. I'd say any fan of aforementioned bands as well as all the ones the former members have been in will love this musically and the lyrics should not stop any fan from enjoying the high quality this band represents.
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Format: Audio CD
A blistering, unflinching confrontation with questions of faith and the self that any thinking human being faces before the end. If there are other bands who do what Place of Skulls does, I haven't heard of them. This minor-key, guitar driven testimony isn't some comfortable Sunday School vision of salvation. Instead, it wails and thunders about the price paid to keep searching for meaning in a world devoted to impeding and crushing our efforts in reaching for the light. The message of this album reaches far beyond dogma.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This has to be IMHO one of the best works of music & lyrics I have heard in quite sometime. Is it doomy, hell yes! But there is also a quiet hopefulness permeating almost every song which made me feel aware af an inner strength which we all have but need to be made aware of from time to time. The old addage of "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" seems appropriate to uch of the lyrical content.
The other reviewers did an excellent on this, and I don't know how much more I can add. Sense of Divinity is really heavy and wistful; Darkest Hour is an amazing song that stays in your soul; Apart From Me has a totally original epic riff that Tony Iommi evidently missed (but certainly must've inspired).
Then there's the title track Black Is Never Far; when I first heard this it seemed the power and beauty of it were almost overwhelming. This is why I love music. Beyond the appreciation musically, the human connection is what makes serious music so meaningful. That is why people can hear a song & say "that's my song!" or "that was written for me". Even though I've heard it many many times, I still feel drained after listening to it.
Another standout track is Lookin' For a Reason with its jazzy atmospheric opening setting up a couterpart to more heaviness. This amazing disc ends with Changed Heart, and somehow manages to encapsulate the overall feeling of a despair tempered with a hopefulness born of inner strength.
Victor Griffin and his buddy Wino who worked together on the previous POS work "With Vision" are at the top of their games and I look froward to all of their new releases.
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