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Pentagram (USA) - 2004 - "Show Them How"
TRACK LIST: 1. Wheel of Fortune 3:47 2. Elektra Glide 3:31 3. Starlady 5:24 4. Catwalk 3:49 5. Prayer for en Exit Before the Dead End 5:50 6. Goddess 3:05 7. City Romance 4:36 8. If the Winds Would Change 4:34 9. Show Them How 5:06 10. Last Days Here 5:11 All tracks: by Liebling, Carmichael, & Pentagram. Produced by Liebling, Carmichael, & C. Kozlowski. Engineered by Carmichael & C. Kozlowski. LINE-UP: Bobby Liebling - vocals Kelly Carmichael - guitars Mike Small - drums Adam Heinzmann - bass
Prolusion. The US cult band PENTAGRAM was formed in far 1972. In the middle of the decade they recorded two studio albums, both of which, however, were released just many years later. Apart from the band's only permanent member, vocalist and songwriter Bobby Liebling, and also bassist Adam Heizmann whose name tells nothing to me, the lineup on the new Pentagram album "Show Them How" includes guitarist Kelly Carmichael and drummer Mike Small. These are former members of the UK band Cathedral, which, of course, has no relation to any of the two American Art-Rock outfits of the same name, one of which had existed in the '70s, and another in the '90s.
Synopsis. Along with the aforementioned Cathedral and some other outfits, Pentagram is one of the most consistent followers of Black Sabbath, so their music is traditionally regarded as classic Doom Metal. However, since the second half of the '80s this term has become applicable also to the bands playing a much rougher music, such as Celtic Frost, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and the like, so its initial meaning has been lost, at least partially. Hence, those directions of Doom Metal that aren't exclusively slow in tempo and, what's central, don't manifest any brutality - in music, lyrics, and vocals all alike - I used to call Cathedral Metal. Just like in the case of the genre's Godfathers, Pentagram's creation not in the least concerns Satanism, regardless of what the band's name may suggest. Its principal attributes are metaphysical mysticism and a latent social protest. Although being to some degree linked with the hermetic occult knowledge, the band's lyrics are grotesque rather than, say, esoteric in character. Those on Pentagram's new album in particular are mainly the 'inner' dialog between a man and the incomprehensible outer world, strangely revealing itself in the appearance of a woman (which, however, isn't that strange from the Old Testament's standpoint and not only). Musically, Sabbath-inspired Cathedral Metal with distinct elements of guitar Art-Rock and some bluesy intonations dominates on the album and, specifically, on If the Winds Would Change, Goddess, Prayer for en Exit Before the Dead End, Last Days Here, and the title track. With plenty of passages of acoustic and semi-acoustic guitar, complex stop-to-play movements and the other distinctive progressive features, these, and especially the latter three, are highly intriguing. Wheel of Fortune, Elektra Glide, Catwalk, and City Romance are structurally denser, but are more accessible compositionally. However, with mesmerizing guitar riffs throughout and, still, excellent dramatic vocals, they are hardly less impressive than the other songs. The up-tempo, less than moderately heavy Starlady is a rather atypical track here. This song doesn't arouse any direct associations, and yet, Blue Oyster Cult at the very beginning of the '80s would probably be a sufficient point of reference.
Conclusion. While not Pentagram's best effort ever, "Show Them How" is a very good album showing that the band and veteran Bobby Liebling in particular are still full of strength and inspiration to resist the stagnation, to say the least. Their pathetic music possesses a true expressiveness and is clever and tasty enough to be appreciated even by those into classic Prog-Metal.
VM: October 24, 2004
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