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Pentagram - First Daze Here

    Ian Jane

  • Pentagram - First Daze Here

    Pentagram - First Daze Here
    Released by: Relapse Records
    Released on: June 17th, 2016.
    Purchase From Amazon

    Pentagram's First Daze Here ('The Vintage Collection) was originally issued on CD in 2002. It's been out of print for a long time but Relapse have stepped up to the plate and brought it back from the dead for a well deserved second shot. Pentagram have been around since the early seventies and in this incarnation are made up of Bobby Liebling on vocals, Vincent McAllister on guitar, Geof O'Keefe on drums and Greg Mayne on bass.

    For those not familiar with Pentagram, they were one of metal history's biggest misses - they had a few shots at a major label deal, played for Kiss, were produced by the same guy who got The Dictators originally down on wax. They could and should have been huge. It never happened, it was a series of mistakes combined with the tempestuous attitude and personal problems of Liebling. Time, however, has been kind to the band. Liebling still fronts the band, they still tour - the other original members aren't playing anymore but Pentagram still exists. This early seventies stuff though? Bad ass. It finds the right balance between Black Sabbath style doom, Thin Lizzy style 'rawk' and whatever sort of weird-ass experimental playing style you'd care to name.

    This collection is made up of various studio recordings made in the first half of the seventies. Forever My Queen spends two and a half minutes punching you in the ear, it's heavy and loud and aggressive and abrasive and wonderful for all those reasons. This is early doom done right, complete with Iommi-esque riffs aplenty. When The Screams Come slows things down, it's a bit of a blues track, really, an instrumental that conjures up some Blue Cheer style sounds. Walk In The Blue Light gets things back on track, starting with a fade-in of a single riff played over some drum and cymbal work. It gets proggy from there, rhythmically so, but proggy none the less. Liebling's vocals sound like they're coming from outer space while the drums get more and more absurd and over the top.

    Starlady gets things back in rock 'n roll territory, showing us a faster, catchier and more accessible Pentagram than what we've heard thus far in the collection. It's a straight ahead RAWK track, catchy as Hell and pretty tight too. Lazy Lady has a bit of a Deep Purple influence going through it in a big way, but it still sounds like Pentagram, they make it their own. It's not a stand out track but it's solid, with some nice, sludge-heavy guitar playing. Review Your Choices is almost funky at the beginning, the production puts the bass much higher in the mix while the vocals show a very obvious Jethro Tull influence - Liebling doesn't so much channel Ian Anderson as he does reinterpret his vocal style here and give it a weirder, more psychedelic spin.

    Hurricane is a straight ahead rocker, it's got a nice beat to it, a very thick guitar heavy backbone and a simple but effective bass line that'll get your foot tappin' in no time. The drum work here is absolutely killer and that riff at the forty second mark is chunk-tastic! Livin' In A Ram's Head is similar in weight. This is a heavy track, fuzzed out and a little fucked up in spots, getting increasingly more unhinged and manic as it progresses.

    Earth Flight takes things in a different direction. We get a bass/drum intro with some chilled out mellow guitar riffing over top to set the mood, and as both volume and tempo build to the thirty second mark, we're lulled. It gets heavier there, Liebling's vocals fitting in perfectly with the grungy rhythm section and the just slightly off kilter guitar playing. This is a little sloppy, but beautifully so. 20 Buck Spin is a catchy track, it's got some killer guitar solo work in it about one third of the way in, and it's just really solid rock and roll. Be Forewarned starts off with more mellow guitar work, Liebling delivering some very restrained singing, it's calm, but the lyrics get darker and the vocals get more intense and the guitar work gets heavier and you know it's going to go off - and it does. But again it shows a heavy blues influence. The next track, Last Daze Here, finishes things off beautifully starting out with another bluesy style opening. Liebling again sounds like a bit of a tortured soul and as the track progresses, builds in intensity, it gets heavier and sludgier and works some early doom-style sounds into the mix. By the time it's reach its climax, the track has gone completely off the rails and taken a fairly conventional start into an entirely unhinged direction.

    The band's first seven inch was issued under the name Macabre. It's included here in its entirety - two tracks. The first is Be Forewarned and the second is Lazy Lady. These are both presented in their original 'The Macabre 7” original mix' and they're interesting and very different versions of the songs included earlier in the collection.

    Along with the music, remastered for this release, we also get extended liner notes from Geof O'Keefe that do a great job of detailing the early years of the band's history. His writing also touches on the band's resurgence in popularity in the 2000s, the Last Days Here documentary. We also get lyrics and commentary for each song and some notes on the Macabre 7” release.

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