Pentagram – Curious Volume
Release Date: August 21, 2015
While Britain had Black Sabbath, America had Pentagram. The band was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971 to the deranged mind of frontman Bobby Liebling. Many things have changed in the 40-plus years since, but Liebling remains the twisted force that keeps Pentagram’s dark heart pumping. Pentagram were among the founding fathers of doomish heavy metal, but as it is for certain bands, their brilliance never found traction in the mainstream, and they became underground icons of the genre.
This summer, Pentagram returns with its eighth studio album, Curious Volume, the follow-up to 2011’s Last Rites. Longtime members Victor Griffin (guitar) and Greg Turley (bass), along with new drummer, Minnesota Pete Campbell, join Liebling on the new effort. To truly understand the import of this record and, in fact, the quiet influence and historical relevance of Pentagram, one should also check out the band’s 2011 documentary, Last Days Here.
Curious Volume represents another platter of doomy metal riffage combined with 60’s psychedelia and 70’s proto-metal. Leibling and Griffin illustrate their symbiotic relationship, trading vocal lines and riffs as if of a singular brain. The new record is slightly more polished than its predecessor, Liebling’s first “recovery” album. Here he sounds more confident and in command, though the record gets off to a weak start with the album’s poorest track, “Lay Down and Die”.
The record picks up with the “The Tempter Push”, a grand garage rocker with murky and biting fretwork from Griffin. The song serves as a fine gateway to the rest of the record’s weighty offerings.
The slowing grinding and doomy ode, “Dead Bury Dead” grabs you by the foot and seeks to pull you into your own grave. The fuzzy riffs add menace to the groove.
Turley’s meaty bass leads off “Earth Flight” which moves into an escalating riff and a driving vocal line. This is straight proto-metal fair that recalls band’s like New York’s Dust.
A bouncy hook and 60s buzzy melancholy saturate the addictive rocker, “Walk Alone”, while the title track is coated in a viscous Sabbathness and broody spirit. “Misunderstood”, by comparison, is an upbeat and propulsive rocker with a punk tinge.
Curious Volume cranks out some of its most memorable moments in the latter half with tracks like “Close the Casket” and “Devil’s Playground”, along with the emotive finale, “Because I Made It”.
Pentagram‘s push from obscurity is long overdue, and Curious Volume is a decisive statement to that effect. For old school fans and newcomers alike, Liebling and company have overcome their past, and they feel energized in their own murky way. Curious Volume captures a sound that transcends decades; a casual and hazy affair with a sleazy edge and some bluesy swagger, all dipped in stubborn demeanor.