Those familiar with Baltimore acid-Blues combo The Flying Eyes may be blissfully unaware that two of that happy breed make up the larger share of an outfit bearing the name Black Lung. This darker-sounding trio, however, is no maelstrom of evil hostility, and has more in common with the parent band than the moniker might suggest.Continue reading →
Desertfest is an ever-expanding, sprawling franchise festival, having pushed it’s tentacles out from London to Berlin, Antwerp and even Athens. As Ghost Cult did last year, we went to Desertfest Antwerp again, about the only October festival in the genre of stoner and doom music. Last year proved a great party and this time the line-up is salivatingly good, so we expected no less than a wonderful party of fuzz, swamp and bass, with a side order of psychedelia.Continue reading →
If you are into doom and 70s style stoner rock then The Met in Pawtucket Rhode Island was the place to be on Thursday, October 1st where the American masters of the sound, Pentagram, came through on their recent tour in support of their new album, Curious Volume (Peaceville).
Electric Citizen, photo by Hillarie Jason
Although Pentagram is the only band on the tour that was actually active in the heyday of doom, both bands on the tour package, Electric Citizen and Satan’s Satyrs, showed that they understood the aesthetic and vibe of the now classic sound. The only outlier was the local opener, Extinction Machine. Although their set started out slow, within minutes they got into a groove with their angry punk attitude and had me entirely captivated.
Satan’s Satyrs, photo by Hillarie Jason
Pentagram played a varied set consisting of six songs from the new album, some of which had never been played live before (not that you could tell), along with the classics that everyone wants to hear. Their set was exactly as you would expect. Hard hitting, mesmerizing, weirdly sexual and totally perfect. No matter where or how often I have seen them, they never seem to disappoint. Check out the tour dates and go to a show.
Last time, nobody really thought there would be a next time. Some of us maybe hoped there wouldn’t be. Four years on from Last Rites (Metal Blade) however, Pentagram return with Curious Volume (Peaceville), and there’s still a level of energy despite the weight and omen of previous victories having lost its potency.
Opener ‘Lay Down and Die’ and ‘Earth Flight’ have more of the power and sleaze of early Kiss: Bobby Liebling’s gruff vocal Simmons-like; whilst Victor Griffin’s deep riffs dance around the rhythms, his solo work proving as stellar and timeless as ever. Nowadays, of course, we’d class much of this stuff as good-time Heavy Rock, adding fuel to the argument that some people should know when to quit. ‘Dead Bury Dead’ however, with its return to Iommi-style riffage, tortured solos and lascivious vocal, sounds like a fresh foray into Liebling’s song vaults: returning the band to its former glories whilst simultaneously displaying an existing relevance.
Conversely, the ensuing title track sounds like something that should have been recorded thirty years ago: the squalling strings and ominous nature not enough to hide the belief that a younger band could have prevented this from becoming a mere ‘filler’. Similarly the Punkish feel of ‘Misunderstood’ descends to a ‘pub Rock ‘n’ Roll’ that the band’s history ill deserves, despite the up-tempo rhythm recovering some of the early vim. A return to the signature Proto / Doom of ‘Close the Casket’ and ‘Devil’s Playground’ shows where the real power of Pentagram will always reside: the tolling riffs and Bobby’s ringing yet sinister vocal betraying both his years and his troubles, while the Country Rock twangs of the latter still show they can mix the sound up.
While it strums the heartstrings to see Vic and Bob back together, it’s plainly obvious that their outfit’s best days are behind them. Still capable of eliciting an involuntary twitch of the hips however, Curious Volume is unlikely to win new fans but raises a fond smile, and still shows the odd flash of why we should be thankful for their very existence.
On the eve of their much anticipated new release Curious Volume, due for release on 28 August via Peaceville Records, Doom overlords Pentagram have announced details of a European tour in November.
Featuring two shows in UK, London’s O2 Islington Academy and Manchester’s Sound Control, the tour, vocalist Bobby Liebling added:
“Pentagram is extremely excited about our upcoming tour in the Europe this fall. We all are itching to perform some of our songs off of our new album Curious Volume for you. We feel that they fit well within the other heavy numbers from the bands near 45 year history. Of course, the set is packed with the classics you know and love and ones that you may not even expect. Bring your earplugs, we are going to blow off the roof with our curious volume!”
You know them. They laugh, talk, seem pretty normal, then they suddenly stop and glaze over. The Affected, they have stared into the eyes of Bobby Liebling…
Pentagram has as long a history of spellbinding gigs as that of its figurehead’s appetite for self-destruction. This exhaustive DVD of live performances spans thirty years and is, according to the sleeve notes of long-suffering guitarist Victor Griffin, merely the first such offering. The notes further allude to this episode being the cathartic ‘split’ between the band’s tumultuous past, including their brief stint as Death Row, and their more peaceful present. A collection comprising mostly home videos chosen by the band, it surely meets their collective approval.
Our copy highlights inaccuracies in the list of contents, 1983 being the actual year for the solitary Death Row recording on the first of this 2-disc, seven-hour extravaganza. The vast majority of these outings are in intimate settings and intimately recorded: many stage-side which, of course, leads to some seriously distorted sound, though it does enable the 1993 camera to pick up a “Fuck yeah!” close-up from Griffin. It also gives the uninitiated the chance to see why early Pentagram shows were so legendary – the powerful Doom / Classic metal crossover coming out as a booming groove, Griffin’s leadwork as intricate and stellar live as on record, and Liebling’s outfits and alarming antics bewitching. Bobby’s electric, unnerving, occasionally camp and comedic stage persona would arguably have been less startling, less intense and claustrophobic, without those well-documented issues. Indeed it’s easy to forget that his craft would have been well honed by the time the 1985 CBGB’s antics – climbing all over Griffin during his solos, at one point biting his unfortunate guitarist’s arm – stare out from the screen.
That outing as Death Row gives some of the most striking visuals of the whole package: Bobby appearing to be whacked off his tits, his stare ghoulishly affectionate; then-bassist Marty Swaney doing his best ‘Lou Reed‘ impersonation; the face-paint of Liebling and Griffin, plus the latter’s massive poodled hair, not detracting from the weighty music one iota. There’s a moment, during ‘When the Dreams Come’, where Bobby stares round the corner of a shadow: it’s a one-eyed mindfuck that’ll stay with you forever.
Most of the sets here demonstrate the improvement of a band in terms of both presence and musicianship. By 2010 you’d expect some serious slowing in action but Liebling remained at that time a potent force: eyes wild; bony fingers curling frequently around Griffin’s shoulders; biting the mic stands with an uncontrollable tension. Sadly the last two offerings are a major disappointment, with the tinny sound of the distantly-filmed 2012 Oslo concert leading into two songs from the only multi-camera experience, just over a year ago. Thankfully this makes up merely a sixth of the total which, overall, gives a comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable, if a little over-long, journey through the live history of one of metal’s most intriguing, enduring, and lovable outfits.
In the beginning there was Black Sabbath. There was also Bedemon, but no one knew of them. And the world of Doom went about its business, for Bedemon were not the droids that were being looked for. Yet, the world of Doom was to realize its mistake and to come to know and love those that created the Bedemon, for their line up boasted none other than Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling, Geof O’Keefe and occasional member Randy Palmer. So, it all worked out alright in the end. Certainly better than it did for the Stormtroopers.
Child of Darkness is a collection of demos and recordings the band made in the early 70’s, remastered and reissued by Relapse. It will surprise none to learn that this collection of proto-metal tunes is very close in sound and style to the works of the aforementioned infamous forefathers, though with tunes bluesier and less riff based, and with Liebling’s a cleaner tone to Ozzy’s.
Whether you see this as a curio or an essential purchase will depend on how deep your love of Doom is, and how interested you are tracing the lineage, as this line up (in this guise) and this collection of songs didn’t see the light of day until 2005, other than odd tracks on mythical bootleg records and tapes.
Even though this suffers in places from poor source audio quality (some of the tracks are notably warped or distorted), that doesn’t detract from the overall experience, and in fact, enhances the feeling of authenticity; overdriven dark blues that would form the basis of an entire genre a generation later. The simple but oh-so-effective laid back groove of ‘One-Way Road’ is a three minute template for desert rock and on the more considered ‘Into The Grave’ you can hear the origins of the sounds that would inspire and drive Monster Magnet.
Child of Darkness is a collection of good, dark and heavy bluesy proto-metal tunes from talented musicians who, while not having the same global impact as Sabbath, would nonetheless go on to make an indelible mark in the history of this beautifully ugly mutant we call metal.
Pentagram has re-signed wth Peaceville Records and will be releasing their forthcoming studio album, set to be released this summer 2015. The highly influential American heavy metal/doom act, fronted by the mysterious Bobby Liebling, formed in the early 1970s, though its debut album – now known as Relentless – didn’t see a release until 1985. Through four decades of adversity and triumph, Pentagram has become a legendary international act and has firmly stamped its name in the heavy metal history books.
Pentagram recently completed pre-production with Swedish producer, Mattias Nilsson, at studios in Baltimore, MD., DC and VA, with additional vocal and guitar production in Knoxville, TN with Travis Wyrick. Wyrick is a Grammy Award-winning producer who produced the band’s previous album, Last Rites.
The band comments on the signing:
“Pentagram is happy to return to the label that helped relaunch interest in our debut album and introduce us to a new metal audience in the 1990s. Peaceville Records has been an ally to us throughout the past 20 years. We are happy to have them by our side once again as we record our fourth album under their banner. Never properly recorded songs written by Bobby in the 70s will be heard on the album as fresh as they were when they were written over 40 years ago. Brand new numbers by the core of Griffin, Turley and Liebling that were written this fall will appear along the old songs, and will produce an album that encompasses the true spirit of Pentagram. Doom is often mistaken as exclusively slow music. If you listen to our classic ‘doom’ album ‘Relentless,’ many of those doomed classics are quite fast. One of the magics of doom metal is to have a faster song seem much slower because of the sheer heaviness of the number. That’s what we are going for. The band will sound like they are as much from the street as they are from the Sabbath, because, well, we are.”
It has also been announced that Sean Saley has decided to step down from the drum throne. “Minnesota” Pete Campbell will step in to complete recording and touring duties throughout 2015. Campbell is best known for his drumming with Victor Griffin’s In-Graved, Place of Skulls and stoners Sixty Watt Shaman.
The band is still releasing their DVD setAll Your Sins on March 31, 2015. This first-ever official Pentagram video collection recovers, repairs and resurrects the earliest known footage of this doomed metal pioneer and more. Featuring two DVDs packed with priceless archive footage, as well as recent shows, All Your Sins – Video Vault unearths the rumored lost visual evidence pent up in the Ram Family vault for decades. This definitive collection contains over seven hours of footage from nine venues and numerous historical shows, including a charged performance at the legendary CBGB’s club in 1985 – a mass of classic renditions from the band’s catalogue finally gathered together for a live journey spanning over 30 years.
1.1 Death Row Live at the Silver Fox – 1983 [01:29) 1.2 CBGBs – 1985 [00:28] 1.3 The Seagull Inn – 1985 [00:22] 1.4 The Hung Jury Pub – 1987 [00:39] 1.5 9:30 Club – 1993 [00:41]
2.1 The Paragon – 1993 [01:02] 2.2 The End – 2010 [01:09] 2.3 John Dee, Oslo – 2012 [01:11] 2.4 The DNA Lounge – 2014 [00:06]