Released: 2013, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Stonegriff who formed back in 2009, are a four-piece doom metal band hailing from Skåne, Sweden. After three self released demo's and an EP the band signed to Italy's Metal On Metal Records who recently released PROLOGUS MAGICUS the band's first official LP release, this past August.
Right off the bat Stonegriff establish a heavy and hazy seventies styled doom metal presence on the dirging slow burn of lead off track "Black Magic Circle". It's difficult not to overlook the Iommi inspired riffage from Stonegriff's guitarist Molde. On "Secrets Of Your Soul" the band continues down the slow, plodding path of the opening track; establishing a foggy ambience as the tormented wails of vocalist Jacob wails over the murky backdrop of Sabbath inspired riffs. The theme riff on "Mercenary Bay" even sounds like a direct descendant of "Paranoid". However, I feel that Jacob's vocals really help lay the foundation when cementing themselves as a more unique doom metal band rather than just another Sabbath clone, as his vocal approach is far different than the Wizard of Oz, Dio or Martin. It's a bit difficult to find a reference point for his vocals actually. They are somewhat gritty and mid-range but he can indeed hit the higher register (and does) for dramatic effect, sounding every bit the tortured bastard that Stonegriff's riffs evoke.
"For Madmen Only" begins with another ten ton riff from Molde, dropped into your lap like a wheel barrow full of bricks and anvils. I have to admire the rhythm section of bassist Rex Nibor and drummer Grand Magnus as playing at this tempo is often more difficult than it would seem and these guys keep things solid whenever Molde goes into a solo. The opening verses of "Impossible" have a lot of bite to their attack, as sharp toothed riffs cut in and out over a slow pounding thump of drummer Grand Magnus and bassist Rex. "Impossible" also features an excellently sinister sounding guitar solo.
The lethal potency of the dark riffery displayed on "Black Snow" comes falling like volcanic ash, from the post apocalyptic wastelands Stonegriff's music conjures forth. "Devil's Daughter" has a shuffling, bar room boogie woogie kick to it, the drums in particular taking a jazzier approach. Lyrically, this one's pretty vague and left up to the listener to make heads or tales of the narrative. PROLOGUS MAGICUS comes to a close with perhaps the slowest number of the album with "In The World That You Rule" a spacy, halcion inducing stumble. Bumping incoherently into the darkness and belligerent in it's overall delivery of one last tortuous beating for good measure.
The dark, menacing and bewitching cover artwork by Santiago Caruso is amazing and very unique looking, I really like it. The booklet layout featuring graphics from the cover art, lyrics and a band photo is top notch as usual as Metal On Metal's own Jowita and Simone lend their graphic design talents to each release in their catalogue. The production on PROLOGUS MAGICUS is also of note as producer Kalle Kronhamn does a fine job in that regard, everything sounding stellar and very proper and befitting for a doom metal album such as this. Another terrific release from Metal On Metal Records that should appeal to doom enthusiasts and underground metal fans in general.