For starters, if you do not know who Victor Griffin is, I expect you right now to hang your head in shame and ritually shed your denim cut off. Since 1980, along with founder member and resident madman Bobby Liebling, his guitar has been a constant in Doom legends Pentagram. Don’t know who Pentagram are? Well, in that case, as soon as you shed your cut off, burn it! Along the way he’s formed Place of Skulls, guested with the likes of Doom Dogs, and now leads from the front with his own eponymous In-Graved. Self named bands can tend to go two ways, from bloody excellent, at the Dio end of the spectrum, to excremental, a la Winger. So how does this band, soon to play at the sophomore outing of London’s Desertfest fare?
Opener, ‘Digital Critic’, starts with the nice and dirty down-tuned guitars that have been a signature feature of so much Doom, backed up with some nice swirling Hammond organ work, the retro sound a nice counterpoint to ultra modern lyrics railing against online music critics who snipe at musicians from the anonymity of their computers. Hey, what the……..? What makes this different to his normal stock in trade is the tempo, drawn out notes being replaced by a faster beat, a delivery which truly suits Griffin’s vocals.
‘What If…’ continues the rocking, Zeppelinesque riffs and breakdowns trading with the keys of Jeff Oly Olson, a man with his own epic pedigree care of Trouble. Don’t know who Trouble are? Well, best you keep your cut off on whilst you burn it! This guitar and keyboard interplay continues to develop with ‘Late For An Early Grave’, with more Southern Rock sensibilities of prison breakouts, the road, and redemption giving the song a dirty Seventies sound, whilst the blues are respectfully given homage in ‘Fading Flower’, Griffin’s voice and solos bringing a genuine mourning to the music a thousand times more moving then the false angst of so many modern screamers.
So many classic styles are paid tribute to in this album, from Doom, country, rock and blues to even a touch of prog, the vocal style of a young Ian Anderson being evoked in the psychedelia of ‘Teacher’; it’s as is Mr Griffin is proudly laying out all his influences open for all to see, yet always reverential, not simply derivative, and all played with a skill honed over years of recording and touring. Victor Griffin is a man who could rest on his laurels, or just make a career of playing hits of olden days. Instead he has come up with an album that mixes so many classic styles, all executed with a heartfelt passion. Maybe I’m just a sucker for classic rock and a well played Hammond organ, but you could do so much worse this year then come taste this band.
(8.5/10 Spenny Bullen)