Sanctus Bellum’s El Birthday Metal Fest II Set for this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve never been big on birthdays — something about a complete lack of self worth — but apparently the dudes in Houston dark metal outfit Sanctus Bellum have no such reservations. In celebration of the shared birthday of guitarist Jan Kimmel and bassist Ben Yaker, Sanctus Bellum have gone so far as to import Bobby Liebling for a set of Pentagram classics and James Rivera of Helstar for a round of heavy ’70s rock gems, pulling a bit of triple-duty with a set of their own material as well on a bill that also includes Serpent Sun, Cauldron, H.R.A. and Owl Witch.

The show is set for this Saturday at Rudyard’s British Pub in Houston, and if you’re in the neighborhood, it sounds like it’s going to be a blast. Check it out:

Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling and Sanctus Bellum’s Ben Yaker Interviewed on Upcoming Collaborative Performance

Bobby Liebling of doom metal legends Pentagram and Ben Yaker of Houston’s Sanctus Bellum have been interviewed by Free Press Houston in preparation for their upcoming collaborative performance at The El Birthday Metal Fest II on Saturday, Dec. 22.

At the festival, which takes place at Rudyard’s British Pub in Houston, TX, Liebling will take the stage with members of Sanctus Bellum (collaboratively styled as Sanctus Bellum Sanctuary) to perform a one-time-only set of classic 70s Pentagram songs, many of which have not been performed since the 1970s, and some of which have never been performed live at all.

In the interview, which can be read in its entirety here: http://www.freepresshouston.com/music/the-el-birthday-metal-fest-ii/, Yaker states “…Not only do I get to essentially be in my favorite band for the night, but I get to hand pick the set list. These are my favorite, unheralded Pentagram songs–songs that I always wish would have gotten more play. I would always go to Pentagram shows, hoping to get them to play some of these songs, knowing it would never happen, but now I can make it happen.”

Speaking on the set, Liebling says “We’ll be doing songs I haven’t played in close to 40 years, most of ‘em. They decided to pick a lot of off the wall ones [laughs]… You know, the bands I used to listen to, I would have given anything to have gotten to do a set with Mountain or Grand Funk or Cactus. I’m very happy to do this show with them.”

The El Birthday Metal Fest II also features a set of classic metal covers performed by Sanctus Bellum and James Rivera of Houston metal legends Helstar (styled Sanctus Bellum Sanctus), in addition to sets by Sanctus Bellum, H.R.A., Owl Witch, and Serpent Sun.

The festival, which is 21+, is scheduled to begin promptly at 6:00 pm.  Admission is $15.  Advance tickets and commemorative posters can be purchased at www.sanctusbellum.bigcartel.com.

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Bobby Liebling to Perform with Members of Sanctus Bellum at El Birthday Metal Fest II

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Legendary Pentagram frontman Bobby Liebling will be hitting the stage with Houston’s own Sanctus Bellum on Dec. 22 at Rudyard’s British Pub, playing a set of ’70s Pentagram classics. Also joining Sanctus Bellum for a set will be James Rivera of Helstar, and while that means Sanctus Bellum bassist Ben Yaker and guitarist Jan Kimmel will be performing a staggering triple-duty night on their shared birthday, something in me doubts they’ll mind, given the circumstances.

Pretty badass way to celebrate your birthday, if you’re into that kind of thing. Here’s all the info and charm-tastic poster with art by Will Broadbent:

Members of Pentagram and Helstar to Perform One-of-a-Kind Sets with Sanctus Bellum in Houston, TX

Bobby Liebling of Pentagram and James Rivera of Helstar will perform special one-time-only sets with members of Sanctus Bellum at The El Birthday Metal Fest II on December 22, 2012 at Rudyard’s British Pub in Houston, TX.  The sets with Liebling and Rivera, styled Sanctus Bellum Sanctuary and Sanctus Bellum Sanctus respectively, will see the heavy metal icons performing songs that they have rarely, if ever, performed previously during their lengthy careers.

For the Sanctus Bellum Sanctus set with Rivera, the band will perform a set of classic metal covers reflecting Sanctus Bellum and James Rivera’s shared influences.  The set will include material by both well-known and comparatively underground bands and is sure to please fans of Rivera’s extensive body of work.

For the Sanctus Bellum Sanctuary set with Bobby Liebling, the band will perform a full set of 70s Pentagram classics, most of which have not been performed live in decades and some of which have never been performed live at all.  Speaking on the Sanctus Bellum Sanctuary set, Sanctus Bellum bassist Ben Yaker stated that “anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a huge Pentagram fan for years and that my favorite incarnation of the band is the 70s lineup.  This show has given me the opportunity to select some of my favorite, but often overlooked, Pentagram tracks that I’ve always wanted to hear Bobby perform live.  It’s an incredible honor to be able to share the stage with Bobby, who’s been the driving force behind my all-time favorite band, Pentagram, and with James, who’s helmed the most significant metal band ever to come out of Houston.”

The festival, which will also feature performances by Sanctus Bellum, Cauldron (ex-Gammacide), H.R.A., Owl Witch and Serpent Sun, celebrates the birthdays of Yaker and Sanctus Bellum guitarist Jan Kimmel.  Artwork for the event by Will Broadbent Illustration, which will be available as a full color 24×36 poster at the show, features the members of Sanctus Bellum, along with Liebling and Rivera, animated as members of the Legion of Doom.

Advance tickets are available at www.sanctusbellum.bigcartel.com.

The El Birthday Metal Fest II
Saturday, December 22nd, 2012, 5pm
Rudyard’s British Pub
2010 Waugh, Houston, TX 77006
$15, 21+

Lineup:
Sanctus Bellum Sanctuary (Members of Sanctus Bellum with Bobby Liebling of Pentagram)
Sanctus Bellum Sanctus (Members of Sanctus Bellum with James Rivera of Helstar)
Sanctus Bellum
Cauldron (ex-Gammacide)
H.R.A.
Owl Witch
Serpent Sun

Sanctus Bellum’s most recent album, The Shining Path, was released on June 12, 2012.

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Live Review: Pentagram and Hull in Brooklyn, 01.06.11

Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

As I dove across two lanes of traffic to get to what turned out to be the wrong entrance to the southbound Garden State Parkway, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what happened the last time I tried to see doom mega-legends Pentagram in New York and failed viciously. “Going south to go east?” you ask? Typical.

I rolled into Europa on Meserole Ave. in Brooklyn at maybe 8:30. Bezoar had already played, but that left Judas Priestess, Hull and Pentagram still to go, in that order. Judas Priestess took their time setting up and went on after nine. I knew already it was going to be a late night. A late Thursday is a romantic idea. It’s the ultra-metro NYC myth of “nobody goes out on Friday anymore,” as though no one in the audience had to get up the next day and go to work. For what it’s worth, I didn’t make it to the office today.

Once they got going, Judas Priestess kicked off to a solid start. Everything you need to know about them but their pedigree (members of Van Helsing’s Curse and Angel Rot), the name says. They are, indeed, an all-female Judas Priest cover band. Lots of very elaborate hair, lots of leather, lots of “hey, let’s rock it!” attitude and I had to wonder how many members of decent original bands were in the audience who’d kill to open for Pentagram while Judas Priestess ran their way through a too-fast version of “Metal Gods.” I can’t count myself anymore, but still.

They played “Deep Freeze” from Rocka Rolla in an effort to throw the doom crowd a bone, and it was appreciated. By the time they left the stage, Europa was so crowded that I could barely move. I stood by the bar in the corner and watched as patron after patron came over thinking the bathrooms were down the hallway. They weren’t, and I disappointed several dudes in telling them they had to go all the way around the claustrophobic clusterfuck of humanity to get to the other side of the bar. Too bad.

Hull were good. I like Hull. I’ve known those guys for years in a hand-shaking, “Hi, how are ya?” kind of way, and I’ve watched them grow over the course of however many of their shows I’ve seen into a real force on stage. They were heavy and loud, and they closed with the epic “Viking Funeral,” which might have been a bit much, but was still cool. They’re supposed to have a new album in the works. I look forward to hearing it.

The draw to Pentagram this time around — aside from the fact that they have a new album and thus new songs to play — is that recent Obelisk interviewee Victor Griffin is back on guitar. He had some amp problems before their set, meaning more delays, and they finally got started after 12:30 or so. Not that you need me to say it, but it was late.

Griffin‘s tone was dead on, and he wore the Pentagram songs like a well-fitting shoe on stage. It’s so rare to see a person so obviously born to do what they’re doing, but watching Victor Griffin play doom, that was the feeling I got. Vocalist Bobby Liebling‘s well-reputed stage antics were relatively subdued compared to other times I’ve seen the band, but technical problems are a momentum-killer and as I’ve already said, it was late, so it’s understandable. He still sounded pretty good, and the rhythm section of bassist Greg Turley and drummer Tim Tomaselli (both imported from Griffin‘s other band, Place of Skulls) were in the pocket the whole time.

Even with all the people who’ve been in and out of Pentagram over the years, it’s kind of strange to see Liebling fronting what’s basically Griffin‘s band. Hard not to get a feeling that history is repeating itself, remembering that it was the Griffin-led Death Row that became Pentagram‘s most classic lineup in the ’80s when Liebling joined on vocals. I didn’t get the chance to bring up the parallel to Victor Griffin, or to anyone else, for that matter, because I was too miserable, crushed in by the bar.

The new songs sounded fittingly riffy, and I expect that when Last Rites hits, it’ll be well received, at least by doom heads. Liebling‘s well-publicized sobriety has really given the band new life, and although I was worn out by the end of the show, I don’t think he was. They closed with “Pentagram (Sign of the Wolf)” and threw most of what you’d expect into the set among the new cuts. “Forever My Queen” is always a highlight.

The crowd had thinned out some by the end of the set, so I was able to make my way over to the main area of the venue to watch them finish. It’s astounding, the love that’s behind this band. I know they got paid to be there, but given how late it was, they had every right to cut the show short, or to half-ass it, and they absolutely didn’t. And when Bobby Liebling thanked the crowd at the end and said he loved New York, I didn’t think I was being paid rock-star lip service. He meant it. That’s the difference.

I got back to the valley at 3:45AM, lucky to be alive. I haven’t slept like that behind the wheel in a long time, and if I-287 hadn’t been a ghost town on my way back North (my route was circuitous and affected by my company for the show; would take a longer time to explain than is necessary), I have no doubt it could have been very unpleasant. Last thing I did before head hit pillow was email work and tell them I’d be late this morning. You can see above how that turned out.

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Southern US Pentagram Tour Starts Tonight

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

If I could, I’d pay good money to see Victor Griffin playing guitar in Pentagram tonight. Unfortunately, I don’t live anywhere near Raleigh, North Carolina, so it’s a big no dice. One can only imagine the doom to take place on this latest Pentagram tour — one of these days, they’re gonna have to put out a record if they want to keep playing all these shows — but stuck here in Jersey, that’s a long way away. Maybe next time.

If you’re below the Mason/Dixon, you’ll probably want to pay attention to these tour dates from the PR wire:

Legendary doom band Pentagram have just announced the Southern US tour dates with Relapse recording artist Black Tusk. This tour will kick-off in Raleigh, NC and finish at the Maryland Deathfest. A listing of confirmed tour dates and cities can be found below.

May tour will feature the following band members:

Victor Griffin – guitar
Greg Turley
– bass
Gary Isom
– drums
Bobby Liebling
– the madman on the mic

Pentagram Tour Dates:
May 21 Raleigh, NC Volume 11 Tavern

May 22 Savannah, GA The Jinx
May 23 Orlando, FL The Backbooth

May 25 Houston, TX Walter’s On Washington
May 26 Austin, TX Emo’s
May 27 New Orleans, LA The Hanger
May 28 Nashville, TN The End
May 29 Newport, KY Southgate House
May 30 Baltimore, MD Maryland Deathfest VIII

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EXCLUSIVE Interview with Bobby Liebling of Pentagram: The Voice of the Head ‘Ram

Posted in Features on March 15th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

To quote legendary Pentagram frontman Bobby Liebling, speaking about himself, “I’m one of the original dinosaurs that made it through the ice age.”

It doesn’t really matter that the dinosaurs died millions of years before the last ice age, because Bobby‘s right anyway. Not only for a rock and roller, but for any human being at all to have survived the life he’s led so far into his existence is beyond fantastical. The stories he has to tell are guaranteed to blow your mind like the first time you heard “Forever My Queen,” and having spent an hour with him on the phone to conduct the nearly 5,400-word interview you’re about to read, I can honestly say that you don’t even have to ask him about them; he’ll just tell you. Bobby Liebling is an open book.

Three years sober, married to wife Hallie with a full touring schedule, a movie about his life, the prospect of a new album and a baby on the way, Liebling‘s drug years — decades, really — now serve him as vital memories of everything he’s come through to get where he is today. He says he’s blessed and I don’t know how many other explanations there are for it than that, because to hear him tell it, he probably should have died multiple times over by now.

Throughout the course of our conversation, Liebling went from laughing raucously about the mob guys in the Philadelphia neighborhood where he and his wife now live to audibly welling with tears talking about last year’s untimely passing of Blue Cheer bassist/vocalist Dickie Peterson. And even as Pentagram guitarist Russ Strahan announced his departure from the band on March 14 (which Liebling hints at in our conversation), it leaves the door open for new lineup opportunities that will supposedly be announced soon. For now, Pentagram is rounded out by bassist Mark Ammen (Unorthodox) and drummer Gary Isom (Spirit Caravan, Valkyrie).

What you’re about to read is probably the most fascinating and, again, open, interview I’ve ever had the pleasure to do (and I barely asked any questions!), and it is with great honor that I present it to you, as true to how it happened as possible, in Q&A form after the jump below. Please enjoy.

Read more »

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