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I like splits. It's an awesome way for fans of an established band to come across a more recent group cut from a similiar cloth. I never got Griftegård's debut (I should have, the name, cover art, genre and reviews all pointed to it) and it's taken Ván Records' cunning placement of them on a split CD next to my beloved Count Raven to get me to hear them. Both songs on the split are new, and both tracks have some beautiful accompanying artwork (the grey and white vista of gothic statues for 'Wolfmoon' is particularly reminiscent of '90s doom album art).
Count Raven hit us first, 'Wolfmoon' opening with (surprisingly) sampled wolf howls and twinkling, eerie synths - it's all very Moonspell actually - which eventually evolves into the song's main melody. A kickass drum beat and ripping bass riff takes us to a rocking, spaced out guitar riff that could have just about been on Mammons War. If it had though, it would have stood out for sounding a little more cold and stoned than the other material on that album, almost early Ufomammut-like. Dan Fondelius' Ozzyesque wail is perfect as ever, especially with characteristic lyrics like "run to the car and scream just driiiiiiiive!"
'Wedded to Grief'
Well I always knew I was going to enjoy that, and in fact I liked it even more than expected. It's always nice when bands put in the effort to make a split worth owning on its own merits. Griftegård's contribution, 'Wedded to Grief', was the unknown quantity. They present a longer song (typically for them, having browsed the track lengths on their debut on metal-archives.com) and rather than rocking out with their cocks out like Fondelius and the gang they play far more in the vein of Candlemass' Nightfall and Ancient Dreams, great whining doom leads on the guitar accentuating the slow '80s doom riff that forms the song's rock hard backbone. Essentially, Griftegård are from Sweden and they sound like it. Vocalist Thomas Erikkson has a mournful, sonorous voice with just enough edge to give his intonations a pained yet almost savage cadence. The closest comparison would be the excellent Felipe Plaza Kutzbach from Chile's Procession. Cracking stuff.
One of this year's best splits, if not the best. Two approaches to old school doom metal being played, both equally classic, by some of the best in the business as of the year of your Lord 2010. Even if you're well acquainted with both these groups this is well worth checking out. More of you will know the Count, and I feel I have to big up Griftegård a bit more - if you have a big doomy boner for the classics of Vitus, Rev Bizarre and especially Candlemass, this song and band will instantly appeal. Music for dim lighting, cold stone floors and some real fucking nice red wine.