Hopefully Not The Last
Does it count as “throwback metal” if the band was actually there in the 1980s? Probably not, but it’s comforting to know that a pack of old dogs (okay, maybe just Bobby Liebling) can still outshine all the young whippersnappers trying to emulate their heroes. Even after 40 years and 6 full-lengths, Pentagram proves that they can still bring the doom with their newest one, Last Rites.
Pentagram sets the tone right away on “Treat Me Right,” an old-school swinger wrapped around vocalist Liebling’s leathery rasp, which segues nicely into “Call The Man,” driven by a stabbing guitar that is not to be missed. “Into The Ground” would not be out of place on Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules, and one almost expects Dio to arrive at any moment. The quiet-Zeppelin strains of “Windmills And Chimes” would sound out of place on any other album, but Pentagram’s track record makes it a treat. The band returns to form on “Walk In The Blue Light,” showcasing their inimitable sauntering metal that has influenced an entirely new generation of bands, and exits in similar fashion with “Nothing Left,” the Gregorian guitar work blending perfectly with baritone musings of damnation.
The vintage production here is exactly what was called for. For a band that’s been around as long as Pentagram, any attempt to update the tones would be, quite frankly, sacrilege. Big muddy guitars, bright yet thick bass, the biggest drumset you can imagine, and nary an auto-tuner in sight. The vocals are even doubled in that slapdash fashion we’ve come to love. And yet, the recording quality is there. It’s the perfect blend of retro and modern.
Pentagram, at this stage of their career, is a difficult band to explain. It feels wrong to compare their current sound to newer bands, as these bands themselves grew up listening to Pentagram. They’ve clearly been influenced by the past 30 years of metal, but still manage to sound like the innovators. Put simply, this is just a damn good record. Put it on your shelf!