Svart Records: Victor Griffin’s In-Graved + High Priest of Saturn + Deathchain + E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr

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Reviews by Jason Guest

Svart Records LogoSo what have we got from Finland’s Svart Records this time? We’ve got the first album from ex-Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin’s band that goes by the name of In-Graved, the début album from Norwegian mystical doomsters High Priest of Saturn,  Sumerian death metal from death metal thrashers Deathchain, and ambient electronic minimalism from Finland’s E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr. One thing’s for sure, Svart Records like to keep it diverse. And so let us begin…


Victor Griffin’s In-Graved

Vince Griffin, the man behind the plank for Pentagram’s first three albums and 2011’s Last Rites, has left Pentagram (again), put Place of Skulls on hiatus and gone solo – kind of – with In-Graved. Playing to his strengths, this band calls to mind his entire oeuvre whilst simultaneously distinguishing itself from it completely. With eight tracks with almost as many bassists, you’d think that it’d be difficult for the band to have let alone retain its own identity, yet Griffin and drummer Pete Campbell (also of Place of Skulls) manage to imbue each track with enough of their own idiosyncrasies that their identity is stamped all over it.

Griffin’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and his lyrics, whether dealing with such subjects as internet trolls or whether atheists should consider the possibility of an afterlife, are delivered with not one jot of irony, sarcasm, or smug self-righteousness. Yet Griffin’s forthright approach is only one aspect of this album that makes it so potent. Laced with some serious down-tuned doom riffs, 12/8 blues shuffles, emotive lead work, chilling organ, and an impressive cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Teacher’, Griffin and co. have delivered an emotive, moving, and incredible piece of work. However you discovered Griffin, either through Pentagram, Place of Skulls, Death Row, or even if this is the first you’ve heard of him, this is well worth checking out.

In-Graved 20138 out of 10

  • Victor Griffin’s In-Graved on Facebook

Track listing:

  1. Digital Critic
  2. What If…
  3. Late For An Early Grave
  4. Fading Flower
  5. Thorn In The Flesh
  6. Teacher
  7. Love Song For The Dying
  8. Never Surrender

 

High Priest of Saturn – Self-Titled Début

If an epic doom/psychedelic sludge hybrid sounds like your thing, then the Norwegian three-piece High Priest of Saturn will be right up your star sign. In reverence to the great gods Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Cathedral, St Vitus, and Electric Wizard, with four tracks that all exceed the nine minute mark, this is the stuff of the universe. As slow moving as an intergalactic voyage a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the vintage sound of this band, its doomy riffs and reverb-drenched vocals, all bear an exquisitely eerie and haunting character, as of countless beings perched on the edge of another dimension awaiting to be beckoned forth unto this mundane plane. Veiled in a wispy organ swirling in the ether, the ghostly vocals of Merethe Heggset seem to circle around the strange fancies of unreal and shadowy worlds of the lumbering bluesy doom grooves. The deliberate and menacing monolithic structures threaten to tear down the heavens with every strike of every colossal note. Huge, haunting and hypnotising, this is some incredible doom and an incredible début.

High Priest of Saturn 20137 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Protean Towers
  2. Kraken Mare
  3. Crawling King Snake
  4. On Mayda Insula

 

Deathchain – Ritual Death Metal

Deadmeat Discioples (2002), Deathrash Assault (2005), Cult Of Death (2007), Death Eternal (2008), Death Gods (2010), and now Ritual Death Metal. Hmmm. There’s something about Finland’s Deathchain’s album titles that I just can’t quite put my finger on… Maybe it’ll come to me… Oh well, on we plough…

With H.P. Lovecraft being given a break, it’s to Sumerian themes that Deathchain (featuring three members of Jess and The Ancient Ones) turned for their latest death/thrash assault. And so with this eastern “ritual” aspect to their approach, Deathchain’s sound has become somehow denser. Following an eerie intro to set an unnerving scene, Ritual Death Metal is modern death metal cast in an iron production. There’s nothing about this album that isn’t solid: the drums are vicious, the guitars relentless, the vocals harsh and sinister, and the tracks are delivered as if from the clenched fists of incensed gods. With elaborate structures that weave the intricate into the atmospheric and the brutal, the most interesting aspects of the album are those that draw upon the aesthetic of mythology for its dynamic. As a death/thrash album, this ticks all the boxes, but had this leant as much towards the ritualistic as it has the brutal, Ritual Death Metal would have set it apart from the ever-growing pile. But in balancing the brooding with the mystical and the heavy with the atmospheric, this makes for an intriguing listen.

No, wait! I’ve got it. All of their album titles have got “Death” or “Dead” in them! Genius!

Deathchain - Ritual Death Metal6.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Voice Of Sharur
  2. Stele Ov The Vultures
  3. Seven Asakku Shadows
  4. Our Lady Under The Earth
  5. King Pazuzu
  6. Like Worms Upon The Lands
  7. Tiamt’s Eyes Of Death
  8. Abzu Doom

 

E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr – Kometenbahn

And so, after a bout of rock/blues doom courtesy of USA’s Victor Griffin’s In-Graved, a spell of psychedelic doom from Norway’s High Priest of Saturn, and a slab of esoteric death metal from Finland’s Deathchain, what better way to wrap up a music review than with the progressive Krautrock-influenced electronic ambience of Finland’s E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr? Inspired by the golden era of 1970’s German electronic and experimental rock, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr are an interesting bunch. To say the least. Vocoded voices, warm and deep bass pulses, subtle melodies drifting in intricately-woven textures, ethereal and cosmic ambiences, patterns that suggest rhythms rather than impose them, and a sense of an infinite air in the vast and unbound aesthetic, Kometenbahn is a cosmic experience, erm, man. Highly recommended.

E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Prolog Im Himmel
  2. Nachtgeist
  3. Durch Den Kosmischen Dunst
  4. Sonnewind
  5. Mythos
  6. Sonnenaufgang