Review Summary: He was stoned out of his mind and trying a little too hard, but the presentation sounds better than one might think.
It is easy to see why Pentagram's sixth album is considered to be their rock bottom release. It's certainly the most contradictory album; the band was basically just Internal Void backing Bobby Liebling instead of their normal frontman and the songs are almost all 70s tracks that the band hadn't gotten around to recording yet. The mainstream rock world was starting to catch onto the band's influence via the First Daze Here compilation yet didn't have the incentive to see what they had to offer this late in the game. And yet, Show 'Em How still ends up being another solid edition to their discography.
While Review Your Choices and Sub-Basement were also quite reliant on old songs, Show 'Em How could be their antithesis in terms of presentation. The tone is still fairly heavy and the vocals are about the same as before, it's a stretch to call this a doom metal album. The songs chosen for it as among the most psychedelic in their repertoire and even the three new songs have more in common with Captain Beyond worship than anything Hasselvander or Griffin put together. In short, it is their lightest, most upbeat, and maybe even most accessible release to date.
The band also has some decent chemistry and fits the material well enough despite the disjointed pairing. The guitars and drums offer the usual Pentagram tricks and the bass puts on some surprisingly strong performances on songs like "Starlady" and the rocking "City Romance." Elsewhere, the vocals retain their character but seem to be a little more energetic as Liebling whoops, hollers, and throws his voice around more than usual. He was stoned out of his mind and trying a little too hard, but the presentation sounds better than one might think.
With that said, one's opinion on Show 'Em How will likely depend on how you feel about First Daze Here and other compilations that have the original recordings of these songs. The actual compositions haven't been altered all that much over the years but there is a certain spontaneity lost that could be a deal-breaker. The ongoing vocal decay will also be a pretty big turnoff though there is a certain beauty to hearing the rendition of "Last Days Here" when you think about everything that's happened since the song was first recorded...
Like Sub-Basement before it, Show 'Em How is surprisingly solid but not an immediate recommendation for first time listeners. The absence of doom makes a tricky sell for metalheads and 70s fans may find the performances inferior to the originals, but the songwriting still makes it worth checking out. I'd say to go for the First Daze Here collection and Interval Void's songs as you may find those to be more accessible ventures.
"If These Winds Could Change"
"Show 'Em How"
"Last Days Here"
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com