Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #17: Pentagram

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Pentagram
Where from:  USA (Virginia)
Years active:  1971–present
Number of studio albums:  8
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  N/A

Alexandria, Virginia-based Pentagram were pioneers of the doom metal genre in the early '80s.  The band formed in the early '70s, but went through various lineup changes, break-ups, reunions, and the like during the '70s, only releasing a couple singles.  In the early '80s, the band finally came together to rerecord some of their material from the '70s and some new songs, and, in 1985, they self-released their self-titled debut album (which was retitled Relentless when it was reissued on CD by Peaceville Records in 1993).

The debut album is a masterpiece in doom metal, with plodding, down-tuned, fuzzed-out guitars, dark lyrics, and a generally brooding attitude.  Lead singer Bobby Liebling's voice is a perfect combination of rock and creepy.  I have no idea how I heard about Pentagram, but I've had that album for a while now.  It's a damn good metal album –- the kind of music you'd expect to hear in a room with only black walls.  If you want some good music to play while you're handing out candy on Halloween, definitely check the album out –- assuming, of course, you're like me and you want to keep the neighborhood children and parents guessing about whether you sacrifice goats on a regular basis.

After releasing their follow-up album to Pentagram/Relentless, Day of Reckoning, in 1987, the band broke up again.  They sporadically reunited over the years with varying line-ups, Liebling being the only constant member of the band.  All in all, there have been almost 40 different members of the band since they first formed in 1971.  It seems like the band has a pattern of reforming for a few years, releasing a couple albums, and then breaking up or going on a hiatus for a few years.  For instance, their albums after Day of Reckoning were released in 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2011, and 2015.  Of course, with a name like Pentagram (and the fact that their first two album covers feature a goat's head inside a pentagram), there are certain segments of the population who will refuse to buy (or even listen to) the band's music.  If anything, the band has gained some recognition outside of metal circles because of the 2011 documentary Last Days Here, which follows Liebling's attempts to kick his drug habit and get back on stage.  I haven't seen it, but I've been meaning to watch it at some point.

The song I'm going with is "Sign Of The Wolf (Pentagram)," off of Pentagram/Relentless.  It's a badass and sneakily catchy metal song, with a great riff and spooky lyrics that appear to be about a man who sold his soul and became werewolf.  Also, doing online research about a band named Pentagram during your lunch hour at work is maybe a good way to keep the IT people in your office to keep their distance.  And if they give you any shit about it, you can always claim you're a Satanist and tell them to get off your back and let you practice your religion in peace.  Either way, you should also start chanting random Latin phrases at them in a foreboding manner and leave a goats' hearts on their desks, just in case.

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