The fact that heavy metal and Christianity have found a steady partnership for better than 25 years is beyond discussion. It simply is. However, that relationship has been muddled, even tenuous, at best. In the early days of the merger, Christians formed bands, rocked, rolled, and got heavy with a simple mission of spreading the Gospel with equal enthusiasm as the pagans who were spreading various sorts of sin, mayhem, and hedonism. Whether they were noble or naive is verdict still languishing in the jury room.
Then around the late 80's and early 90's things got weird. Christians formed bands and the Message, at the very best, got muddled or, at the very worst, got transfigured into a sermon of confused emotionalism, moralism, and deism. The person of the Gospel, Jesus Christ, sounded in lyrical description more like your girlfriend than God of the universe and Savior of sinners. Or he was diminished to nothing more than long-suffering, man-pleasing, candy-spewing Buddha Claus. Unless it's straight praise/worship music, this trend remains. But why all this historical commentary?
Enter Place of Skulls* with their fourth album As a Dog Returns**. As a point of fact, the Skulls have little do with modern trends in Christian metal, but are rather inheritors of the original idea. Their heavy rock/doom metal explores and displays their Christian faith, thought, and witness with exceptional clarity (a rarity in these days). Better, unlike many early bands, and many newer, Place of Skulls are excellent musicians and composers who know their preferred genre quite well.
The Maker, Breath of Life, Psalm, and Desperation are some of the best, somber, foreboding, and often dark, heavy/doom metal you'll find on this side of the Atlantic. For greater clarity, Desperation gives their heaviness a Southern rock feel, done better than neighboring cousins King Giant. The Maker and Psalm add a clever psychedelic feel. And Timeless Hearts, with its eerie and gripping harmonica, is a brilliant genre-defining masterpiece. Even better, however, is the clarity by which Place of Skulls lifts up the Person of their faith in the lyrical content of every song.
If you didn't think Christians could make heavy music with both skill and clarity of musicianship and faith, then you must give notice to Place of Skulls and their latest As a Dog Returns. Even if you, Christian or not, don't care for heavy rock, heavy or doom metal, this is important and significant music. Strongly recommended.
*Referring to Golgatha the hill outside Jerusalem where Christ died (only to rise again three days later).
**From Proverbs 26:11, As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
If you didn't think Christians could make heavy music with both skill and clarity of musicianship and faith, then you must give notice to Place of Skulls and their latest As a Dog Returns
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