Posted in Whathaveyou on May 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you were hoping to get early-bird tickets for Desertfest Athens 2016, tough turkey — they’re gone. It didn’t take more than an initial lineup announcement to move them all out the door, so I guess if there was any question there was enough interest in Athens to warrant holding a fest under the Desertfest banner, that’s gone too. As for the first acts joining the bill, it’s an impressive assemblage, with Colour Haze, Pentagram, Karma to Burn, Beggars and Sadhus, the latter two local to Athens and supporting an international cast that’s only going to increase in scope as we get closer to October.
As noted yesterday, Desertfest Athens 2016 is part of a string of European festivals happening on successive weekends, preceded by Up in Smoke and followed by Desertfest Belgium and Keep it Low. I don’t know about you, but if ever there was a time to drop out of life and go bum around Europe for a month, this would seem to be it. If you need me, I’ll be daydreaming about same.
Just before this post went up, I noticed Greek outfits Automaton and Black Hat Bones have also newly joined the bill. Seems like it’s fair to expect Desertfest Athens will be highlighting the booming Greek heavy rock scene in its lineup, and I won’t argue with the mission. Feels like a long time coming.
Info courtesy of the fest:
First line up announcement for Desertfest Athens 2016!!!
Colour Haze Pentagram John Garcia Karma to Burn BEGGARS Sadhus “The Smoking Community”
Automaton are the next band to be announced for Desertfest Athens!!!
Black Hat Bones join Desertfest Athens too!!!
Get your tickets now!!!
Desertfest’s early bird tickets are sold out!!!
After London, Berlin and Antwerp, the Desertfest franchise is keeping up its conquest of Europe by launching the very first Greek edition of the famous stoner, doom and psych festival. DESERTFEST ATHENS will take place over the second weekend of October, as a sister event of the autumnal Belgium edition.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
One festival season (spring/summer) has barely begun, and already it’s time to start setting up the next one (fall). The snag here, of course, is that there is no such thing anymore as festival season. It’s all seasons. For Desertfest Belgium 2016 — the Antwerp-based fest now in its third year — extra intrigue is added because of its proximity to Keep it Low, held the weekend after in Munich, to the newly announced Desertfest Athens, which happens the weekend before in Greece, and to Up in Smoke 2016, held two weeks before in Switzerland.
What does that mean? Well, there’s always some overlap from one fest to the next, one year to the next, so that won’t necessarily be a surprise, but it seems fair in addition to that to expect a lot of tours to be announced that will perhaps start in Athens and anchor weekends in Antwerp and Munich, so not only do we get a sense of how long these runs will go — obviously not everyone will do four weeks, but some will — but also their general direction. For example, Pentagram, who’ve been announced for Desertfest Belgium, will also be at Up in Smoke. That’s three weeks in Europe right there already. You see where I’m going with this.
Looking forward to watching all these lineups shake out, who goes where and when. Also added to Desertfest Belgium 2016 are My Sleeping Karma, Torche, Electric Citizen and Belgian locals Your Highness, as the fest itself informed:
Aaaaaand….. here. The Fuck. We. GO!
We know this is the moment you’ve been waiting for, so we won’t waste too much time on pleasantries. Here are the first bands that will turn Desertfest Antwerp 2016 in our greatest edition yet:
The True Doom Legend of PENTAGRAM!
The expanding mind grooves of MY SLEEPING KARMA!
The thick Florida sludge of TORCHE!
The delirious retro throwback of the up-and-coming ELECTRIC CITIZEN!
and finally: the fabulous YOUR HIGHNESS hailing from our hometown Antwerp!
So how’s that for starters. Expect some more big names to be heading your way in a couple of weeks, meanwhile: start spreading the news, and start booking your ticket! Early Bird tickets are gone, but you can now get your Reduced Combi Tickets at €95 (which let’s be honest, is still a steal)
Come taste the rock at the Home of the Heavy! Save the date! On October 14-16, Trix Antwerp will become a temple to all sound heavy and psychedelic!
Enjoy 3 stages and 3 days of face-melting riffs and rump shaking grooves!
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Doom legends Pentagram continue pro-level touring in support of their 2015 album, Curious Volume (review here). They’re recently returned from Europe, which brought an appearance at Roadburn 2016, and before that was SXSW. Still to come this year are Psycho Las Vegas — they also headlined Psycho California last year — and a return trip to Europe that will include a stop at Up in Smoke 2016 in Switzerland, among other appearances sure to be announced. I don’t know if 2016 is Pentagram‘s busiest year in their 45-ish year history, but it sure feels like it. They’re giving an entirely new meaning to “Relentless.”
Before they get to Psycho and back to the EU, they’re sneaking in a West Coast run later this month, looping down from Seattle and eventually back into SoCal and heading north again from there. Dates and info follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
PENTAGRAM ANNOUNCES HEADLINING MAY TOUR DATES
New album “Curious Volume” out now on Peaceville
Legendary U.S. heavy/doom metal band, Pentagram, has announced a batch of headlining May U.S. tour dates in support of its latest album Curious Volume, which released last summer on Peaceville Records. A full list of confirmed shows can be seen below.
Featuring 11 classic heavy metal compositions with catchy hooks from core band members Victor Griffin, Greg Turley, and Bobby Liebling (Pete Campbell on the drums completes the band’s line-up), Curious Volume was recorded with Swedish producer Mattias Nilsson at studios located in Maryland and Virginia. Additional recording took place in Tennessee with Grammy-nominated producer Travis Wyrick, who also produced Pentagram’s previous album, Last Rites. The album’s cover artwork was provided courtesy of Richard Schouten.
Pentagram on tour: 5/17 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven 5/18 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s 5/19 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux 5/20 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room 5/21 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater 5/23 – Phoenix, AZ @ Nile Theater 5/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo 5/25 – San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick 5/26 – Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory 5/27 – San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge 5/28 – San Jose, CA @ The Ritz
Pentagram is: Bobby Liebling – vocals Victor Griffin – guitar Greg Turley – bass Pete Campbell – drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Pretty courteous if you think about it for Up in Smoke 2016 to give you six months of advance notice that you should get your ass to Switzerland — which, yes, I phrased that way because it might as well be Mars. Still, if you think about starting lineups, Sound of Liberation isn’t screwing around in this first batch of announcements, bringing out big guns in Electric Wizard, Pentagram, Monkey3 and Yawning Man and showing further dedication to Europe’s booming underground with Noon.
I’m especially curious to see how Yawning Man shakes out. The Gary Arce-led desert rock progenitors recently unveiled a new four-piece lineup with Bill Stinson still on drums, Justine Summer Heaven presumably on bass and Malene Arce (LewdFlesh) on… vocals, maybe? They reportedly have a new EP in the works for the summer, so we’ll hear how it turns out, hopefully.
I got sidetracked. That release will hopefully be out by September, which is when Up in Smoke 2016 is set, at Z7 in Switzerland, with indoor camping and more, as the PR wire informs:
UP IN SMOKE 2016! Sept. 30th / Oct. 1st … Electric Wizard, Pentagram, Monkey3, Yawning Man, Noon confirmed!
We are proud to present our UP IN SMOKE INDOOR FEST IV, that will take place on September 30th and October 1st 2016, in our dear Z7 Konzertfabrik! Two days of stoner/heavy-psych/doom music in Basel-area (Switzerland) featuring 20 outstanding acts on two stages with no overlapping sets, and an indoor campsite!!
ELECTRIC WIZARD, which have been announced last fall, will headline one of the nights, and we are stoked to tell you today that Pentagram, Monkey3, Yawning Man and Noon are confirmed as well for this new edition! 2-day passes (e-tickets) are already on sale on our website, on www.z-7.ch and on our Facebook. If you prefer to buy a hard-ticket, our partner Woolheads is selling them!
Enjoy our new design made by Elvisdead, grab your ticket, and stay tuned! More names will come in March.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the fine tradition of, well, last year’s Psycho fest, 2016’s Psycho Las Vegas has announced an overwhelmingly impressive initial group of acts for its lineup, including some of the finest North America has to offer and choice imports. Notable in that category are Candlemass, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Colour Haze, Mars Red Sky, Belzebong, Øresund Space Collective and The Cosmic Dead, and they’re joined by returning figureheads Sleep and Pentagram, who headlined the 2015 Psycho California fest, along with YOB, Down, Mudhoney, Acid King, Fu Manchu and a whole host of others listed below.
The truly insane part about Psycho Las Vegas is that, like last year with Psycho California, the lineup is staggered, so this isn’t it. On Valentines Day, the festival will announce its full lineup of acts, which I’m just going to go out on a limb and assume includes everyone else on earth, and then after that, in March, they’ll follow up again with the headliners. So what we learn today is that 2015’s headliners will have someone playing over them. I don’t know who, or how that could be possible, but you can bet your ass I’m anxious to find out.
All the details so far unveiled about Psycho Las Vegas, as well as the link to purchase tickets, appear below:
PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2016
Neon Knights arrive and ignite the the city of light in a sleepless celebration of heavy culture. High rollin’ low lifes will low roll the high life at the world famous Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in “Sin City”, Las Vegas. For three straight days, from August 26th through the 28th, born losers win as Psycho Las Vegas holds a rock steady hand of bands, performance artists, tattoo artists, art exhibits, a black light chamber, custom van and chopper show, pinball arcade, and much more.
Psycho Las Vegas sins and grins two blocks south of the strip at the expansive Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The high-octane Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed casino resort hosts three stages; The Joint, which is a main stage, Vinyl, the rock club and out under the desert night sky is the second main stage, The Pool Stage. Experience live music, 24 hours a day.
In between bands and bets, ride outside to the venue’s open lot and witness the most bitchin’ rides this side of Death Valley at Psycho’s first ever custom van and chopper show!
Psycho Las Vegas features some of the most revered screen printed poster artwork with an exclusive exhibition from commissioned Psycho Las Vegas artist David D’Andrea. D’andrea, who returns to Psycho for a second year, created all the official festival artwork. Attendees will be able to eternally commemorate the event on their own walls with signed, limited edition works from D’Andrea.
Psycho Las Vegas acts and events were co-curated with music scene stalwart Sean “Pellet” Pelletier. (“Last Days Here” documentary) “Thief Present’s ‘Psycho’ festivals are visionary and have consecutively been the number one music event I’ve want to attend since they’ve started”, said Pellet. “I’ve been dreaming about putting on a cool culture and music festival for quite some time and I jumped at the chance to help us all go psycho in Las Vegas! The event is a celebration of subculture and a spiritual gateway for all of us into sonically connected sub-genres of heavy rock that hopefully, some of which, may be new to our senses. I’m booking bands that I’ve always personally wanted to see and have requested setlists that we’ve all wanted to hear.”
Among the first string of live acts announced will be hard rock legends, BLUE OYSTER CULT with a set heavy on their early songs that have inspired so many great bands over the years. Mark Arm and Steve Turner, also both of Green RIver-fame, will remind us why MUDHONEY are heralded as essential grandfathers of grunge. English psych rock pioneer, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN returns to America with a performance sure to highlight where groundbreaking artists such as Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Ghost may have gotten some of their ideas. We’ve reunited proto-metal masters TRUTH AND JANEY who will appear for an exclusive live set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their underground classic debut, “No Rest For The Wicked”! “A Band Called Death” documentary film stars DEATH, pulsate the pool stage and will show us why they are finally considered one of the first Detroit punk bands. Germany’s top psychedelic stoners COLOUR HAZE have chosen the festival for a rare US manifestation that’s sure rise us all high above the neon. Swedish doom metal ministers CANDLEMASS come crushing in yet another one of Psycho Las Vegas’s special performances. Stay tuned for the announcement of even more acts, over 60 in total, over the next few months.
Thief presents Friday, August 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM – Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 12:00 AM (PDT) Las Vegas, NV
SLEEP BLUE ÖYSTER CULT CANDLEMASS DOWN THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN MUDHONEY COLOUR HAZE PENTAGRAM FU MANCHU ACID KING DEATH (Detroit) YOB BELZEBONG ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE DANAVA TRUTH AND JANEY GOLDEN VOID JUCIFER BONGRIPPER MARS RED SKY A STORM OF LIGHT CAVE OF SWIMMERS THE COSMIC DEAD
ACCOMMODATIONS Join the bands and crew at the Hard Rock Hotel & use the code: Psych16 at checkout to recieve 30% off your rooms.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The formidable likes of Pentagram, Weedeater, Bongzilla, Black Cobra, Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Mondo Drag, Venomous Maximus, Today is the Day and many more will take part in Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 this March in Austin, Texas, as part of SXSW. A two-day event clustered in the madness that is the Texan capitol that week, Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 is set for March 18 and 19 at The Lost Well, just north of 7th St., and far enough off 6th that if you happen to be in town for SXSW, it’s an easily-enough justified walk (stumble) by the righteousness of those on the bill. You might as well just camp outside the venue to be sure you get back there on the second day.
Or, you know, fall asleep in the gutter, because that’s kind of how it goes at SXSW, or at least it was the last time I was there. Though you can’t deny the wide reach of Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 in bringing in its headliners from around the Midwest and East and West Coasts, it’s worth pointing out the particular attention paid to supporting local acts, among them Texan outfits like Venomous Maximus — who reportedly have a new album coming this year — as well as Banquet, Sweat Lodge, Destroyer of Light, From Beyond and so on. Cheers to American Icon Presents for making sure all sides are represented.
Lineup follows here, in case you’d like to drool or book a flight or book me a flight, you know, whatever:
HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT 3
Day 1 -Fri Mar 18 WEEDEATER ( Exclusive Performance ) BONGZILLA Kings Destroy Black Cobra Author and Punisher Today is the Day Lord Dying Lo Pan Against the Grain Widower Slurr Thunderkief
Day 2 – Sat Mar 19 PENTAGRAM ( Exclusive Performance) Mondo Drag Venomous Maximus Sweat Lodge The Blood Royale Tower Sabbath Crow
SPECIAL GUESTS Destroyer of Light Banquet From Beyond Greenbeard
Day 1 and Day 2 tickets Purchased Separately Sponsored by American Icon Records (A.I.R)
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
At this point, you almost expect that sooner or later in the lineup-addition stage of any Roadburn, you’re going to have to throw your hands up in the air and say, “Fucking hell, Roadburn,” because the roster of bands has become that ridiculous and/or the scope of the thing has just become so overwhelmingly righteous that you’re pretty much left with no alternative beyond staring in awe. Seems early in the season for it, but that’s me, right now. Fucking hell, Roadburn.
Tickets are on sale today.
Before I get into how stoked I am on the Finnish takeover, let me say how awesome I think it is that Tau Cross will play — an exclusive, mind you — set on the same day as Amenra and Neurosis. Seems like maybe a similar feel that brought Enslaved into Wardruna into Skuggsja this year, the vibe building as the day goes on, leading to an inevitable apex that speaks to the whole and expands on it. I hold my breath and hope I get to go back, because that apex will be Neurosis celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2016.
Lee Dorrian adds Pentagram and Galley Beggar. Fucking a. Roadburn continues its affinity for creative black metal, adding Iceland’s Misþyrming as what seems like a particularly daring artist-in-residence. Fucking a. Swedes Hills and reactivated German psych-jammers Zone Six get added, and I start to feel like the universe is doing me favors.
AND THEN we get around to the Finnish takeover. Dark Buddha Rising still haunt from the last time they played Roadburn. Hexvessel were already announced, but I’m particularly stoked at the mere possibility I might get to catch MPH — Mr. Peter Hayden — again or see Atomikylä, whose blown-out blackened psych extremity seems to be a direct summary of a lot of what Roadburn is about these days. Very cool band that I think have thus far flown under a lot of people’s radar. Obviously not that of Roadburn 2016.
Like the headline says, it’s a massive update. Have at you:
Further additions to ROADBURN FESTIVAL ahead of ticket launch
TAU CROSS to play their first European show at Roadburn 2016
PENTAGRAM and GALLEY BEGGAR are the first bands confirmed for Lee Dorrian’s curation.
ROADBURN’S Artists in Residence are confirmed as Icelandic pioneers MISÞYRMING
Plus even more bands announced ahead of tickets going on sale today – October 2nd.
TAU CROSS TAU CROSS, the veteran punk / metal collective, revolving around Amebix bassist/frontman Rob Miller, Voivod drummer Michel ‘Away’ Langevin, and members of cult crust outfit Misery, will be playing a one off show at Roadburn 2016, along with Neurosis and Amenra, on Saturday, April 16th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
“TAU CROSS are delighted to announce that we have been invited to play at the 2016 Roadburn Festival. This will be our only upcoming European show, we are all looking forward to playing at this very special event” – Rob Miller.
Having TAU CROSS on the main-stage is causing us joy of unbridled proportions. Miller and Langevin are not only mutual admirers and peers, but their bands have been a huge influence on all things Roadburn. With all of the seminal bands and great musicians taking part on Saturday, it’s guaranteed to be epic.
To find out more about TAU CROSS at Roadburn, click HERE
LEE DORRIAN’S FIRST CURATED BANDS When Lee was asked to curate part of Roadburn 2016, there was an expectation of great things. And his first choices do not disappoint. On his choice to add the legendary PENTAGRAM – who will perform a special “best of” set – to the line up, he comments:
“They have been one of my all time favourite bands since first hearing them back in the mid 80’s. I became an obsessive fan covering my old apartment with flyers and intensely collecting as many live tapes, videos, photo’s and whatever else I could get my hands on back then. I’m am completely honoured that they agreed to accept my invitation to appear at my curated event, Rituals For the Blind Dead! This greatest hits performance will be a big party in celebration of the bands long and treasured career. With Victor back flying out those riffs like flaming balls of fire it’s going to be so relentless, I simply cannot wait.”
Dorrian’s second addition is London’s GALLEY BEGGAR. The six-piece acid folk troupe released their third album earlier this year – a record that is sure to feature in Roadburn’s album of the year lists. He comments:
“They are one of very few bands around today that understand the timeless beauty of acid-tinged folk-rock. In the true spirit of classic era Fairport, Trees, Spriguns, Mellow Candle and other contemporary kindred spirits their gentle, yet melancholic will act as the perfect refrain from all the dark, beastly heaviness surrounding the event.”
To find out more about PENTAGRAM click HERE, and GALLEY BEGGAR click HERE
ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE: MISÞYRMING Historically speaking, Roadburn’s Artist in Residence is usually an older, established act or musician, one who’s spent decades honing their skills and cultivating a worldwide reputation, but this year will be different. In 2016, Roadburn will welcome a new, young band that has exploded onto the international stage with the force of a neutron bomb, thanks to a crystal-clear, forward-thinking vision and the impeccable quality of their work.
During their residency, Misþyrming will play three shows at Roadburn.The first, Algleymi, (Thursday 14 April) will see the band debuting highly-anticipated new material. The second and most transcendent appearance is Úlfsmessa (Friday 15 April) Joined by the Icelandic black metal and black metal-influenced ritual drone bands Naðra, NYIÞ and Grafir, Misþyrming will present an intense, immersive collaborative performance, ten members strong, that will both reaffirm and redefine any devotee’s commitment to black metal supremacy. The final chapter of their residency will be Söngvar elds go óreiðu (Saturday 16 April) which will comprise a performance of their earth-shaking first album in its entirety.
To find out more about MISÞYRMING (with thanks to Kim Kelly and Noisey) at Roadburn, click HERE
THE FINNISH TAKEOVER. With a clutch of such definitive and inventive bands all hailing from Finland, it’s no surprise that we’re giving over a corner of Roadburn to the amazing artists hailing from this beautiful country.
We recently announced HEXVESSEL to the Roadburn 2016 bill, but we’re now excited to announce a second show. They will be joined on Friday 15 April on stage at Roadburn by the archaic elementals of Arktau Eos for a one-off performance of a rite featuring music and themes from Hexvessel’s debut album Dawnbearer, and Arktau Eos’ debut Mirrorion (which celebrates its tenth anniversary). Arktau Eos will also perform their own set on Thursday 14 April.
To find out more about HEXVESSEL & ARKTAU EOS, click HERE.
The other Finnish bands taking over Roadburn 2016 are: Dark, droning psych-lords DARK BUDDHA RISING on Friday 15 April. Experimental black metal innovators ORANSSI PAZUZU on Thursday 14 April. Psych drone purveyors feat. members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu – ATOMIKYLÄ will perform at Roadburn on Saturday 16 April. Again featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, ABYSSION are a coarse mix of punk, black metal and even post punk, they play on Thursday 14 April. Specialising in dramatically drawn out cosmic doom – MPH play on Sunday 17 April.
To find out more about the Finnish takeover click HERE
FURTHER ADDITIONS TO THE BILL In addition to the above bands we have also confirmed: Cinematic Italian doomers, ABYSMAL GRIEF – click HERE for more information Fellow Italian’s EPITAPH – click HERE for more information. Folk-tinged droners CRUMBLING GHOST – click HERE for more information. Cosmic neo-krautrockers ZONE SIX – click HERE for more information. Psychedelic Swedes HILLS – click HERE for more information. Progressive black metallers TERZIJ DE HORDE – click HERE for more information. Seven piece Texan metal horde – DEAD TO A DYING WORLD – click HERE for more information.
FURTHER TICKETING INFORMATION Tickets to Roadburn Festival 2016 will go on sale October 2 2015. Ticket sales will start at 21:00 CET (20:00 GMT | 22:00 Finland, Greece | 3pm East Coast USA | 12pm West Coast USA). Three-day tickets will be available for 165 Euros (excl. service fees); four-day tickets will cost 185 Euros (excl. service fees). Sunday-only tickets will cost 39 Euros (excl. service fees). Camping tickets are also available through Ticketmaster.
Additional information for people who wish to buy their tickets in person: Sounds in Tilburg will be open for you to purchase tickets in person from 18.30 – 20.30, and showing your Roadburn ticket at the door will get you entry to two Roadburn-approved gigs in the city that evening.
Roadburn Festival takes place at the recently upgraded, state of the art 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands, between 14 – 17 April 2016. The line up this year includes Neurosis (30th anniversary), Paradise Lost (performing Gothic in full), curation by Lee Dorrian, Amenra, The Skull, La Muerte, Of The Wand And The Moon, and Green Carnation.
Posted in Reviews on August 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The odds have been overcome, the story has been told, and really all that’s left for Pentagram at this point is to keep the momentum going. Their return to Peaceville Records comes with Curious Volume, their second full-length after 2011’s Last Rites (review here) reunited one of the most pivotal pairings in American doom: vocalist Bobby Liebling and guitarist Victor Griffin, and one could easily argue that it finds Pentagram — Liebling, Griffin, bassist Greg Turley and drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell as the latest addition in place of Sean Saley, now in The Skull — with the highest public profile they’ve ever had. 40 tumultuous (to put it mildly) years later, Bobby Liebling is legitimately a rock star, headlining at festivals like Psycho California and touring to packed houses on both coasts and in between.
It’s worth noting that part of that notoriety is owed to the 2012 documentary, Last Days Here (review here), but the band having a back catalog of largely-underrated doom classics has helped them influence an entirely new generation of listeners and artists. It boasts few surprises, but the 43-minute/11-track Curious Volume works well within Pentagram‘s strengths and proves a solid outing that will keep them on the road as they continue to expand their fanbase. One wouldn’t go into it expecting or even wanting much by way of experimentalism, and accordingly, Pentagram deliver on the promise of blending classic doom and Liebling‘s charismatic persona — see “Misunderstood” — and do justice to the band’s decades-spanning underground legacy. Recorded by Mattias Nilsson with additional vocal tracking by Travis Wyrick, it draws together with professional clarity and poise the best of Pentagram as they are today.
In doing so, it bears a significant stamp of Victor Griffin‘s songwriting. Guessing when Pentagram material was written is a trap — they had more than a decade of material before their first album came out — but songs like, “Lay Down and Die,” “The Tempter Push,” “Dead Bury Dead,” “Curious Volume,” “Close the Casket,” “The Devil’s Playground” and the closing “Because I Made It” carry a distinct feel that one can trace back through Griffin‘s work in In~Graved and Place of Skulls to Death Row, so whether the parts are new or old, they’re his. Near as I can tell, the only cut on Curious Volume that previously appeared on a Pentagram release is “Earth Flight,” which showed up on 2003’s A Keg Full of Dynamite live outing (good luck finding it), recorded in 1978, but that’s hardly the only inclusion on Curious Volume with a classic feel.
Following the opening rush of “Lay Down and Die” — which seems to directly acknowledge the notion of a live audience in its lyrics — second cut “The Tempter Push” nods directly at Deep Purple‘s “Strange Kind of Woman.” Its tense intro marked by Campbell‘s steady kick, “Earth Flight” has a classic-style shuffle, and the doomly “Sufferin'” and speedy good-timer “Misunderstood” follow suit. They could be brand new and “Dead Bury Dead” could’ve been written by Liebling or original drummer Geof O’Keefe for Stone Bunny circa 1970, but in terms of feel there’s a fair amount of variety between tracks in their approach — on “Walk Alone,” more rocking, on the title-cut, more morose, and so on — but Griffin‘s best-in-class tone and Liebling‘s vocals both tie the songs together, so that the entirety of Curious Volume remains cohesive across its span, speaking the crowd on “Lay Down and Die,” “Curious Volume” and “Because I Made It” — the opener, centerpiece and closer — but keeping listeners engaged throughout with its quality of craftsmanship and performance.
More perhaps than any other song on Curious Volume, the closer sums up the band’s position. “Because I Made It” finds Liebling and Griffin both on the other side of addiction struggles, each party very much in need of the other, and while I won’t downplay the role Turley‘s low-end plays in setting the heavy vibe of “The Devi’s Playground” or “Dead Bury Dead,” or the job Campbell does in stepping into the drummer role right before entering the studio, no question the focuses for most listening are the vocals and guitar. As much as anyone can in doom, they have made it. With Last Rites, the question going into it was whether or not Pentagram would be able to carry a full-length record across after seven years and a yet-again revamped lineup.
On that level, Curious Volume is an even more difficult record to make, because unlike its predecessor, the simple fact that it’s coming out doesn’t automatically stand it up as a triumph. It’s fortunate, then, that Pentagram have been able to sustain the momentum from their live shows and bring that energy and presence to the recording. The reflecting point of view of “Because I Made It” — in some ways, it and a couple of the other songs here seem to be retelling “Amazing Grace” — feels justified, especially given the context of Last Days Here, and the band make their victory through the classic doom that Pentagram helped to shape. No question that spectacle is a factor post-documentary, but there’s nothing one could reasonably expect of a Pentagram record 30 years after Relentless first surfaced that Curious Volume doesn’t deliver.