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I've been listening to Victor Griffin's body of work for about eight years, a fan of doom metal for an equal number of years, and have been a follower of Christ for two and a half years. Now obviously I'm coming at this album with a predisposition for this genre of music, but I would like to think that the free-thinking music listeners out there are still willing to judge an album based on its musical merits and originality. "As A Dog Returns" scores high in both areas. Starting with the lyrics, I think most listeners, be they Christian or non-Christian, can find some source of inspiration or relevance to life issues. For instance the song 'Timeless Hearts' says "Into the sunrise where time heals wounds, Where it's never too late and never too soon, through all of our tears of sadness and distress, Our dream still lives in a heart that's timeless". Now to be honest, Victor doesn't water-down his message of God's love and how it has worked in his life, but the lyrics don't come across as brow-beating either, as revealed in 'He's God' with "Leave our cares with Him and our lives He will change, On the road less-traveled, He'll show us the way".
Now I'm not the best at describing the musical side of things, not being a musician myself, but to sum it all up in a few words I would characterize this album as a musical journey of struggle and continued redemption. Victor, Lee Abney and Tim Tomaselli display a variety of highs & lows through their instrumentation that relates so well to the heartfelt lyrics. The low tuning of Victor's guitar playing lends itself to the doom metal categorization, but doesn't limit the band to non-stop crushing tunes. Songs like 'Though He Slay Me' and 'Psalm' start with a sweeping gentleness and crescendo into sonic soundscapes.
I would recommend this band and particularly this CD to anyone into Sabbath style metal, but would also implore anyone into bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience to give them a listen (or two).