Victor Griffin is renowned for being a long-time guitarist for the secular American doom outfit, Pentagram. He is also known for his spiritual awakening and rebirth in the christian faith in 1997. After gradually backsliding, he came back to faith with renewed vigour in 2007. He stated “By the power of His spirit and rebuke of His hand…I figured the damage I’d done to my own witness surely meant the end of my musical career, maybe even my very life. Though at that time, music and everything that went with it was the least of my concerns.
The consequences and trials that followed from 2007 to 2010 were times of intense prayer, reflection, and seeking God”.
His project band, Place of Skulls, released ‘As A Dog Returns’ (2009). It marked Victor’s spiritual journey with equal measures of strength and anguish. He later returned to Pentagram for ‘Last Rites’ (2011) and the subsequent DVD and live album. His latest band project is called In~Graved.
He stated “I firmly believe much of this material is an extension of ‘As A Dog Returns’. As it reflects many hard lessons learned and the importance of keeping God’s word in your heart in order to persevere. It also became the catalyst for bringing me back together with phenomenal drummer and friend Pete Campbell. It was a blessing to have such an outstanding group of friends willing to be guest players on the album as well”.
Victor’s doom background has been fused with seventies biker rock and blues leanings as his band comes howling out of the void in ‘Digital Critic’. This is a swipe at one of the curses of life today; the internet trolls that like to wreak havoc with the modern equivalent of poison pen letters. In ‘What If’ he reflects upon one of the questions that most people face. “What if you are right and this is all there is / So what if you died and your blood just turns to mist / But what if you’re wrong, and a new world awaits / And death lost its grip in life, beyond the grave”.
Taken from his earlier 2004 solo album and given a new lease of life is ‘Late for an Early Grave’. There are blistering guitar solos and heartfelt lyrics. After these three rockers, its time to slow down for the blues licks of ‘Fading Flower’. It has Hammond organ pulsating behind the blues guitar and has some touches that reminds of Hendrix.
With ‘Thorn In The Flesh’ it feels like he is challenging his inner doubts “A labor of love in this battle I’m sent / Where the dark would hang me if I lived in regret / So I carry on even if I fall / Brothers together, even when we crawl”. He nails a Jethro Tull cover in ‘Teacher’ as it reminds us to take time to enjoy ourselves. This is something that we need to be reminded about with our quickening lifestyles.
On the epic ‘Love Song For The Dying’ there is a slow meander through a tale that has biblical resonances of struggling to overcome a tattered reputation, where judgement is heaped upon you by others. “Generations come and generations go / But only the love we give will be what lives on / The seeds that we plant today will grow in hearts beyond / So soon our rising sun will be settling at dawn”. The album finishes with an upbeat romp ‘Never Surrender’ with a more traditional rock sound.
Victor is one of those rare people that is honest about his own failings. He doesn’t pretend to be someone that he isn’t. But his does want to pass on some of his hard earned experiences and uplift others along the way.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
1. Digital Critic
2. What If…
3. Late for an Early Grave
4. Fading Flower
5. Thorn in the Flesh
7. Love Song for the Dying
8. Never Surrender
Victor Griffin Guitar, Vocals
“Minnesota” Pete Campbell Drums
Ron Holzner – Bass (tracks 2, 4)
Guy Pinhas – Bass (track 5)
Jeff Olson – Keyboards (tracks 1, 5-8)
Mike Puleo – Keyboards (tracks 2-4)
Anne Griffin – Bass (track 1)
Dan Lively – Bass (track 7)
Marty Swaney – Bass (tracks 3, 6)
Greg Turley – Bass (track 8)
Record Label: Svart Records / Veritas Records, March 2013
Video below for ‘Late for an Early Grave’