Griftegård | ‘Solemn, Sacred, Severe’
Tag ‘sprawling’ along to the end of that album title and you’re event closer to an accurate description, as these doomy Swedes have finally got around to releasing their debut album via Ván records. The quiet anticipation in advance of this release certainly has a lot to do with 2007’s ‘Psalm Bok’ remaining one of the most acclaimed demos of underground Doom Metal in recent years, and not without good reason.
Originally coming on a super limited run on some microscopic label, it was destined to be repressed again and again in various forms – its two epic tracks mixing crushing weight and striking, choral vocals far too well to be consigned to obscurity.
Given the excellence of ‘Psalm Bok’, it’s forgivable that they choose to commence this album with an expanded and cut from that. It’s not too bold to say call ‘Charles Taze Russell’ a nigh on perfect Doom number, all echoing drums, granite-hard chords and dives into a mournful vocal hymn. The vocal talent of one Thomas Eriksson is what elevates the track into the extraordinary, with a passion and range that often recalls that moribund glory of Scald (Rus)’s much missed Agyl Adrianov.
Indeed it seems that the will of the Doom Gods are very much behind the group, as they project their own powerful material confidently, but working and varying the delivery, rarely above a doleful march but always moving into interesting areas. ‘I Refuse These Ashes’ carries particular power, the touching, reaching guitar lines reaching an almost Warning style of poise while angry guitar solo’s populate the crunch and thud of ‘Punishment and Ordeal’.
The crafting of the tracks make the release sound like something that was properly worked over and over, with not an ounce of flab visible on any of the tracks. Diversions in the form of the choral piece ‘Noah’s Hands’ and the piano laden intro to ‘Drunk with Wormwood’ adds a touch of old Yorkshire Doom to the mix, as if it wasn’t rich enough already.
There’s precious little to be criticised on this debut. Packed with power and skill, it’s a slow and steady listen, but it more than wins the race. Griftegård have properly arrived, and here’s hoping for a lengthy and fruitful tenure on their part.
4.6 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 23/10/09