Pentagram - Last Rites

Metal Blade
Produced by Bobby Liebling

To say Pentagram and Bobby Liebling have had a stop-start career plagued by everything from substance abuse problems to line-up changes to a criminal underrating by fans and critics would be a gross understatement, but now clean and sober Liebling has reunited with guitarist Victor Griffin for one more try.

Triumphant comeback gigs in 2009 and 2010 paved the way for a three-album worldwide deal with Metal Blade and finally the opportunity to record the new album Liebling had been wanting to do for some time. Last Rites is the first album Liebling has recorded clean, and to say that his voice here is the best it has ever sounded, even if it's not quite the style fans are used to, would be an underestimation too. As he croons the verses of Horseman it's obvious he's feeling very confident about his abilities here (incidentally the choruses of Horseman are classic Pentagram).

Indeed a much fuzzier guitar tone and an overall lesser focus on the traditional doom feel make the new Pentagram offering sound much more like a stoner rock album than a doom metal album. Add to that Liebling's lower vocal tones and the album starts out sounding like Glenn Danzig singing stoner rock; fans might be taken aback. Into The Ground has hints of Dio-era Black Sabbath (a sound which is also prevalent on all of Grffin's guitar solos), and magnificently chilled out ballad Windmills And Chimes shows just how accomplished the song-writing is here, but it's not until American Dream, at track seven, that the first song on the album to sound like a bona fide doom metal song comes around. After that the second half of the disc is much doomier, featuring Horseman, the crushing Nothing Left and the downright Alice Cooper-creepiness of Death In 1st Person.

Like most Pentagram albums, some of the songs here come from as far back as the 1970s, when Liebling recorded a lot of material which at the time was never picked up by record labels. As Pentagram have gained the notoriety and popularity they always deserved over the years he has re-recorded some of those songs with each new album alongside brand new tracks. Fans of Pentagram will find it easy to spot tracks like Everything's Turning To Night and Walk In Blue Light, if they don't know of them already from the archive releases First Daze Here and First Daze Here Too, then by the style which is markedly different to the new songs here and very recognisable as old-style Pentagram.

Last Rites will take a couple of listens to sink in just because initially it doesn't sound entirely like Pentagram, but given a short while to grow its undoubted qualities will show through and it will become clearer with each listen that these are amongst some of the best and most mature songs Liebling has written.

“ fans might be taken aback ”

Tracklist: Treat Me Right / Call The Man / Into The Ground / 8 / Everything's Turning To Night / Windmills And Chimes / American Dream / Walk In Blue Light / Horseman / Death In 1st Person / Nothing Left

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2011, Albums, Doom Metal,

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