Two men instrumental in carrying the dark and dense doom-metal torch lit by Black Sabbath — guitarist/singers Victor Griffin (Pentagram, Death Row) and Scott "Wino" Weinrich (Spirit Caravan, The Obssessed) — team up on Place of Skulls' second album, With Vision, to continue the tradition. The twist? Subtle yet Christian-centric lyrics.
That's right. Imagine Ozzy belting out lines like "How long till the silver cord breaks/And I will fly from this world and all its hate/Split the sky and let me inside," while guitarist Tony Iommi blisters his fingers and your ears with thudding riffs. Even the quartet's name is a reference to the Biblical place in which Jesus Christ was crucified. With Vision will rank as one of the more melodic doom-metal albums you'll hear these days, if not one of the most original. Both Griffin and Weinrich seem well-schooled in the art of quality songwriting. Their strong voices sound effectively dusty, and their dual guitars swirl around each other like madmen seeking salvation. Read the lyrics to these nine tracks – the other three are instrumentals – and you'll find insight you expect from neither the genre (stoner rock) or the label (sometimes-crass Southern Lord Recordings).
I don't feel reborn after listening to With Vision – the lyrics are far from overt, as the band's web site simply calls Place of Skulls "spiritually aware" – but I do feel reinvigorated. And that's important.