Review Summary: Pentagram delivers another solid old school metal album with enough hooks but decreased doom metal elements compared to past releases.
Pentagram is one of the biggest “what ifs"” in the history of rock music. What if they had released on time the material Bobby Liefling composed during 1968-73" What if it hadn’t taken them 14 years to release their first album" Would they be considered the first doom metal band" What if Relentless
as it is known) was the first official doom metal release instead of Witchfinder General’s Death Penalty
" One thing is certain though; after all is said and done, we are who we are. And regardless of talent and inspiration, our state of mind and the decisions we make fundamentally determine our path in life.
Bobby Liebling could have been recognized as one of the most influential men in heavy metal and among the greatest metal vocalists while stepping out of the underground long before 2011’s documentary Last Days Here
. Nevertheless, his talent came with a hefty price, in the form of his heavy drug addiction, but without it he wouldn’t have been the man he turned out to be.
Pentagram’s previous effort marked guitarist’s Victor Griffin return to the band and proved to be a solid effort. Curious Volume
is once again a very enjoyable affair for old-school rock/metal fans and the most important reason is Griffin himself. With a beefy, distorted tone that any doom guitarist would be happy to utilize, and an array of memorable riffs and catchy solos, Pentagram’s guitarist provides the backbone on each track of the album. Bobby Liebling does a very good job at sounding fierce on “Lay Down and Die” and “Earth Flight” – which was written more than 40 years ago – and commanding on “Dead Bury Dead”, “Close the Casket” and “Devil’s Playground”. However, his age and mileage is evident even though his overall performance is commendable especially considering his wear and tear. Furthermore, calling Curious Volume
doom metal wouldn’t be 100% accurate. A more fitting description may be heavy rock with enough hooks and influences from Cream, Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath of course, among others. Imagine something similar to Witchfinder General but with a heavier guitar tone. Nevertheless, the doom element is definitely present on here and is what makes Pentagram’s music special on tracks such as on the autobiographical “Close the Casket” or “Devil’s Playground”.
On the other hand, those who are not familiar with the band or have only heard their early material compilations such as First Daze Here
might have trouble getting into the album. Bobby Liebling is – naturally – far from his ‘70s self, while his pronunciation is a bit iffy (“Misunderstood”), and the band sounds more “plastic” than those early recordings. So if you’re wondering if Curious Volume
is a good starting point for a new listener, First Daze Here
might be better choices. Lastly, more doom wouldn’t hurt at all.
In the final analysis, Curious Volume
consists of songs that I’d happily pay to experience in a live surrounding, which plays a major role in rock n’ roll and provides fuel to the band. At the same time, Pentagram does exactly what they’re known for – which was quite expected – while the album’s lifetime value remains to be seen. At the end of the day, Liebling & Co. give a lot of younger guys a run for their money by crafting catchy and filthy melodies that riff lovers are bound to enjoy.