|Review: Pentagram - Relentless|
Label: Peaceville Records
Year released: 1993
Originally released in: 1985
Genre: Doom Metal
Review online: August 18, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Rated 4.33/5 (86.67%) (30 Votes)
All throughout the 1970s, America's metal underground had their very own band that sounded very much like Black Sabbath, but never garnered the same amount of mainstream success that they did. They were called Pentagram. They had a cult following and a famously theatrical and histrionic live show, but the fact of the matter was that they were destined for obscurity for one reason: they didn't release an album all decade long. Many reasons have come about for why the band never released an album, many of them related to drug abuse. But thankfully, their very belated debut album Relentless came out in 1985, fourteen years after their formation, it wasn't the influential juggernaut it would have been in 1971. Nevertheless, its late arrival didn't stop it from becoming a doom metal classic.
Pentagram is fronted by charismatic and bizarre frontman Bobby Liebling, who sounds like a less nasal, less whiny Ozzy Osbourne. His voice is made for moody, depressed heavy rock music, as it doesn't sway far in tone or pitch, only emotion. Liebling doesn't hit a wide array of notes, but he can sound angry, frustrated, or visceral just as well. His emotionality mixed with his necessarily limited range fit the sound perfectly, almost emblemizing the feelings of depression. The brooding anthems on this album are furthered through monotonous, simple riffwork. These are traditional rock based, downtuned, and ultra-heavy riffs that are bound to get your head shaking, but at the same time invoke the album's depressed nature. Songs like "All Your Sins" and "You're Lost, I'm Free," along with many others on the album mix these characteristics to create moody, spellbinding, trancelike songs. They're so simple, yet transfixing in their own, unique melancholy.
These songs do little to separate themselves from each other, and they aren't too different from many more traditional doom metal (or even doom rock) bands. But that's only in their immediate sound and structure. There's a lot more underneath here that the casual listener might miss. The rocky determination in "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)" or the languid tiredness of "Relentless." It's deep emotion manifested into groove and often infectiously catchy melodies. No self-respecting doom metal fan should be without this album.
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