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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Place of Skulls
The Black is Never Far
Exile on Mainstream

Rating: 8/10 ?


April 24, 2006
With bands like Place of Skulls and Sword around to handle the 70s revivalist duties, there may yet be hope for Generation Z. Both of those groups hail from adamantly red states (Sword from Texas, Place of Skulls from Tennessee), which authorizes them carte blanche to walk around in public sporting WWE bodies and hairstyles, all of which would be beside the point if it didn't count toward an artistic freedom of sorts.

The Black is Never Far finds Place of Skulls once again under the auspices of ex-Pentagram singer/axer Victor Griffin; a short rule by Ozzy-mockingbird Scott "Wino" Weinrich (St. Vitus) began and ended in 2003, so from the start it's safe to say that all downloaders are in safe, authoritarian hands. Unlike St. Vitus and their myriad catamites, Place of Skulls generally tut-tuts slug-slow meter, tending more toward riffy stuff that's slightly less technical than, say, Trouble or Watchtower, not that you're expected to nod your head knowingly at the sight of tape-trader-era references.

No, in large part this material has more in common with a blenderized splattering of Queens of the Stone Age, Mountain and Boris than Sleep or Vitus. "Prisoner's Creed," the handshake track, is a headbopping blast of j-metal that's equal parts Foo Fighters and Leslie West; it's the sort of uncluttered-but-punky vibe that could be dreamed up - if not properly executed - by any garage band in the world.

A nod here and there to plain-vanilla doom metal was to be expected and indeed rears its horned head on the album's second track. "Sense of Divinity" is an Into the Void-speed bastardization of "Dazed and Confused" that was most likely originally slapped together with Weinrich in mind; Griffin is compelled to cough up Ozzy's early quivery-quirky warlock-warble for branding purposes, and quite frankly it blows away Weinrich's constantly stoned effect.

But that's not all. Griffin manages a more-than-passable run at Blue Oyster Cult soloing in "Apart From Me," shouldering for the moment the role of Great White Hard-Rock Hope for millions of kids who usually get their BOC by way of nu-metal quacks like Papa Roach who avoid bust-ass solos like the plague merely out of some perceived need to cling to long-expired DIY rules that were never meant to be applied to expensively produced gunk like theirs in the first place.

But back to our story, where Griffin does (unintentionally or not, it's all good) a hilarious Gene Simmons impersonation in "We the Unrighteous," a rock-R-us high-wire act that pales in comparison to his BB King jazz-guitar tradeoffs with (get this) sax player Chastity Brown in "Lookin' For a Reason," a what-the-hell interlude that recalls Sabbath's debut album and should, axiomatically, be up for a Pulitzer.

This may not be Hemispheres, but it's further proof that progressive-minded metal guys are beginning to bark up the right trees. And let's face it, all that full-color-glossy P.O.D. pablum can't come to a screeching halt soon enough.

Reviewed by Eric Saeger
An LAS staff writer based in New Hampshire, Eric Saeger was named alt.flame\'s Newbie of the Year in 2000.

See other reviews by Eric Saeger

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