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Solemn Sacred Severe

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Künstler: Griftegard
Label: Plastic Head
Label: Van
Künstler: Griftegård


Tempting as it is to let this album's perfectly descriptive title, Solemn Sacred Severe, stand as précis for a regular review, we should probably elaborate further upon Griftegård's debut …if for no other reason than because the Swedish doom band forgot to also use the word "somber." Let us begin by saying that Griftegård tap unapologetically into the formidable legacy of elder countrymen Candlemass in search of the majestic atmosphere, semi-operatic vocals, and largely religious lyrics adorning epic slogs like opener "Charles Taze Russel" (named after the prominent early 20th century Christian Restorationist minister!), the somewhat repetitive "I Refuse These Ashes!," and the quite petrifying concluding tandem of "The Mire" and "Drunk with Wormwood." All of these, needless to say, evoke their imagery from the darker side of Christian ritual and tradition (choirboys Griftegård are not!), and by allying them with the more recent teachings of the funeral doom school, the group's ponderous pacing further heightens the oppressive, at times almost intolerable feeling of, well, doom, pervading all. Heck, the entirely metal-devoid hymnal "Noah's Hands" is easily this album's most uplifting moment (really its only one), and suffice to say that its grandiose, 12-minute (and again aptly named) centerpiece, "Punishment & Ordeal," will awe as many listeners as it lulls to troubled sleep, drool visibly leaking from the corner of their mouths. Even so, for those who do appreciate extreme but melodic doom, laden with -- ahem! -- solemnity, sacredness, and severity, Griftegård will be just the sort of penance their souls were yearning for. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia