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PLACE OF SKULLS (The Black Is Never Far) CD

It's nearly impossible to describe with words, how passionate, soulful and emotional the new album of PLACE OF SKULLS is. Ok, in the meantime these terms are sounding a bit hackneyed in the case of these group, because it's the nature of Victor Griffin's playing and singing, but with the new album is has simply beaten himself. The new release is also Dennis Cornelius studio-debut for the group, although he's part of the line-up for about two years now, and whoever had seen PLACE OF SKULLS on stage, will agree that his playing and co-writing are a real enrichment to the group's creativity, due to his own musical background. But former bassist Lee Abney is not forgotten, and he replaces Dennis Cornelius on three tracks here. At least, drummer Tim Tomaselli has returned to the band, and his powerful heavy style is as important for the band's significant sound as every other part here.

'The Black Is Never Far' is a perfect bridge between the doom-laden heaviness of the first album 'Nailed', and the classic hardrock edge of 'With Vision', but the album offers much more than just a successful repetition of the band's patterns. 'Lookin For A Reason' will surprise  with saxophone and a Santana-esque guitarsolo, while 'Darkest Hour' is  a mighty and dramatic anthem and one of the most progressive songs, that was ever recorded by PLACE OF SKULLS.  Especially these songs are showing, that Victor Griffin is more than just an outstanding riffmaster in the history of doom, but during the last decades he has also developed into an open-minded musician and writer, who stand firmly on his Sabbathian roots. 'Sense Of Divinity' and 'Apart From Me' are a sign of it, and could've been also on the band's debut.

I've mentioned the group's soulful intensity, which is always present in every song, but the title-track adds a new emotional depth to their sound. Due to additional acoustic guitars, the song spreads a strong 70's vibe, but what really impresses me here is the whole bitter melancholy of these track, which can only be descibed with one word: gorgeous. Not only here, it's worth to take a look at the very personal lyrics of Victor Griffin.  This is a brilliant album, and much more interesting as the previous releases. A must-have for everyone, who likes heavy music, that is totally honest and passionate. One of the highlights of this year!