Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pentagram : "Curious Volume"

 Sure they got a resurgence of interest after their 2011 documentary which focused on Bobby Liebling's struggle with addiction, but by the end of the movie watching his self -sabotage was frustrating at best...and this is coming from a recovered addict. So I get it drugs are rough. Before the hype, The Pentagram albums I had were proto-metal always reminded me more of Space Ace's Kiss songs.Here more heft has been added to the guitar, but it still is more hard rock than metal, though a doomy riff crops up on "the Tempter Push". They boogie more than head bang ,but you can here in Bobby's singing where he influenced Wino. What is separating them from another Sabbath clone on "Dead Bury Dead" ? is the question I find myself asking. Bobby does pick different intervals for his melodies than Ozzy. His range is more limited than say classic Ozzy. He has gone down a hard road so you can only expect the pipe to endure so much, but his singing style really hasn't changed much since their early work. There are more overdubs.

They go into a more upbeat rock n roll on " The first song that really grabs me is " Walk Alone" . His vocals fit much better against the riff and the whole songs just seems to have more balls to it. They follow this with another song that is filled with both emotion and darkness in the title track.When they pick up the pace, it sounds like any other 70s rock throw back on "Misunderstood" his voice goes up into a more nasal higher register. Midway into "Close the Casket" they hit an interesting melodic section. Bobby sings about how his body has aged beyond its years , which might be one of the album's most honest lyrics. They take a sleazier rock angle to "Sufferin'" which sounds like it could have been a b-side off Ace's solo album from the 70s. On "The Devil's Playground" they hit a weird blue based groove that somehow also manages to sound a little like Blue Oyster Cult covering "Free Bird". They do some interesting thing that balance all the varied elements they employ, it has a 70s rock sound but you can tell they are adding new sides of themselves to it and continuing to explore where they can go as band despite having put decades in together.

They succeed on many levels. The album sounds great and not like dinosaurs trying to rise from the tar pits. Bobby's voice actually holds up better than expected. The guitarist really steals the show especially on the second half of the album. I think this album works best when they play with the formula rather than trying to be metal or doom. It's the melodic touches that step out of  bounds that are the album's high points. I'll give this one a 7.5, not sure how many more listens I will need to get from it but enjoyed the ones I got more than I thought going into this. Peaceville is releasing this album August 28th.

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