Sweden's Griftegard are a doom metal band made up of members of Wolverine and Bokor, and Solemn, Sacred, Severe is their debut release, out now on Van Records. At times reminiscant of Candlemass or Solitude Aeternus, Griftegard also apply some funeral doom elements to their music, which you can hear on the slow, plodding two opening cuts "Charles Taze Russell" and "Punishment & Ordeal". Here, the band push out agonizingly slow and crushing riffage, crashing drum beats, and the mighty vocal pipes of Thomas Eriksson. At just over 20 minutes, these two tracks make up close to half the CDs length right there.
With "I Refuse These Ashes", the melancholy continues, as more 'wrist-slashing' power chords batter the mix, allowing Eriksson to tell his tales of woe, but with "Noah's Hands", chuch organ and vocal choirs come into play, giving the band a break from the dark doom of the album's first half. The pace picks up a bit on the evil menace that is "The Mire", a tune that packs plenty of huge riffs and even some tasty lead work into its seven plus minute's length, but then drops back on the funeral dirge "Drunk With Wormwood" that closes things out.
Though there's plenty of positives here, overall Solemn, Sacred, Severe lacks variety and finds itself dragged down by too much melancholy and not enough fire. Though the doom genre is often critized for this, plenty of other bands in the genre mix things up a bit, and Griftegard obviously have the talent, so there's no reason they can't do the same. Eriksson is a very talented vocalist, and guitarists Ola Blomkvist & Per Broddesson can certainly crunch it out, so perhaps next time out they'll deliver a more well rounded effort.
1. Charles Taze Russell
2. Punishment & Ordeal
3. I Refuse These Ashes
4. Noah's Hands
5. The Mire
6. Drunk with Wormwood