HolyGroveFormed in 2012, this release marks the eponymous debut album from the doom-friendly quartet from Portland, Oregon. Sounding like a mind-meld between the cauldron-staring Black Pyramid, the dynamic Blues Pills, and the fantasy riff-chucking of The Sword, Holy Grove’s self-titled debut focusses on pitching buzzing stoner into 70s doom riffs that glisten with Lovecraftian intent.

Opener “Death of Magic” swings a sackful of big hearty bass, ladles on the groove and rocks you from pillar to post. Throughout fuzz-driven guitar riffs pitch and yaw all around whilst Vidal’s softly echoing vocal floats above it all. Her determinedly heartfelt cries bear a striking similarity to the storming output from Acid King’s Lori S.

Further in, “Nix” pulls out some feisty hooks and chucks in more psychedelic noodling before dropping into a half-time cosmic crawl to end. The heartstone of the piece though is the one-two segued caress of the title-track and the addictive bluesy lines of “Huntress”. They bear emotion that grips and won’t let go – “Kneel down at the altar”, indeed.

The Sabbathian-influenced “Caravan” wraps itself around the classic riff of the aforementioned’s “Evil Woman” before the 9-minuter, “Hanged Man”, with its dark chanting and punishing, warped overdrive tips a hat to Saint Vitus and seals the deal.

They’ve clearly had a ball making this album; you can hear the glee in their riff worship. Their continued deference to the metal gods of times past works for them as it stands up on its own – a stonking creation. Yep, there’s nothing truly innovational here but it’s still a thoroughly joyful experience and they are deservedly going down a storm in the live arena.

(8/10 John Skibeat)