Pentagram - "Last Rites" CD Review (Metal Blade) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pentagram - "Last Rites" CD Review (Metal Blade)

Pentagram "Call the Man" by Metal Blade Records

Pentagram - 'Last Rites' CD Review (Metal Blade)Earlier this month, Pentagram released their seventh studio disc, Last Rites, which reunites a now clean and sober Bobby Liebling with Relentless-era guitarist Victor Griffin (Place of Skulls). In keeping with the ‘tradition’ of an every-changing lineup, Liebling and Griffin are joined by Greg Turley on bass (who played with Pentagram in the mid-90’s) and Tim Tomaselli on drums (Place of Skulls).

In closing out their fourth decade as a band, Pentagram haven’t sounded this good in years. This disc isn’t a return to the classic riffs of Be Forewarned (1994) but nor does it sound ‘phoned in’ like the band’s last studio release, Show ‘em How (2004). Victor Griffin’s muscular, blues-based stoner riffs, intricate leads and “Drop B” tuning add a lot to this disc and Liebling’s distinctive voice has lost little of its power.

Like most Pentagram discs, Last Rites is a split between re-recorded tracks from the 70’s and newly written tracks. “Walk in Blue Light” and “Everything’s Turning to Night” were originally released in demo form on the First Daze Here and First Daze Here Too compilations. “Call the Man” is from demo tapes from 1971 and “Into the Ground” and “Nothing Left” are from Liebling’s pre-Pentagram band, Stone Bunny.

The new material is good but somewhat of a mixed bag. Victor Griffin takes lead vocals on “American Dream” and this is a political song about the decline of the middle class. “Death In First Person” starts with a creepy “Alice Cooper Band” spoken word intro from Bobby before Griffin kicks in with the power riffs midway through the song. “Windmills and Chimes” is an “odd” number as I wouldn’t have expected Pentagram to record an alt-rock power ballad. The most interesting track is “8” which starts with some of the more creative drumming on the disc.

Pentagram has come a long way since (from the Washington DC City Paper) the days that Bobby required the City Paper interviewer to : 1) Always call after midnight; 2) all references to black magic and human sacrifices were to be off the record; and 3) at each 40-minute mark, Liebling would have to pause to smoke crack.

Last Rites is the first of a three-album deal with Metal Blade and, if they can hold this lineup together (and Bobby stays straight), they might reach beyond their core group of fans to become the “American Black Sabbath” (which is a label that has been following the band for years).