October 16, 2015 Pentagram Cast Their Magic Spell On Amityville, NY 10-2-15 w/ Electric Citizen & Satan’s Satyrs
Formed in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971, Pentagram, fronted by Lead Singer Bobby Liebling would toil in the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal underground for nearly fifteen years before releasing their self-titled debut in 1985. Finding inspiration from the burgeoning Metal scene, the band recorded several demos and toured relentlessly throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, and in exchange, influence other musicians as well. The band’s sound itself was influenced by international acts like Black Sabbath as well as more obscure acts like Budgie and Dust, creating a sound that was a pre-cursor to Doom and Sludge.
Now over four decades later, Pentagram continue their saga with their eighth studio record, Curious Volume. Released back on August 21st via Peaceville Records, Liebling and company have since hit the road in touring support of the new material. Around for only select dates, on Friday October 2nd, Pentagram came to Amityville, New York’s Revolution Bar & Music Hall for a night of hard-driving Heavy Metal with support from New York City based Sunlord and Black Dawn, along with national acts Electric Citizen and Satan’s Satyrs.
From New York City, Sunlord was up first. Together for over a decade this Heavy Metal band consist of Argentinian vocalist/guitarist Alfonso Ferrazza, drummer Jeff Almeyda, and bassist Bobby Dead. Bringing a classic Heavy Metal style to the stage the band swarmed through a killer set of original tunes that got the started on the right foot. Their new album, Burning Saint, is out now and the band will continue to tour in its support as they travel to Europe to further expand their fanbase.
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Keeping with the New York theme, Black Dawn took the stage next. Set opener “Reflect,” with its chugging bass line and striking power chords coupled with gruff vocals, encapsulated the best of mid-90s Metal. It was reminiscent of the sound that took over Rock -n- Roll after Grunge whispered its dying breath; aggressive, punchy Metal with an edge. The outro deftly mixed Death Metal guitar flourishes with a fresh, melodic sound as the band displayed its well-roundedness. “I Wanna Fly” carried on the sound of heavy, distorted guitars. Staccato riffs embodied classic Power Metal throughout, while the solo had all the dexterity of the best of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Set closer “Pray For Me” featured an eerie, swirling intro which led into a slowed-down riff before taking off into a mid-tempo lead echoing the sound of classic Space Rock. Powerful vocals gave way to charging outro steeped in the style of classic Thrash. Those who are connoisseurs of Heavy Metal and enjoy a variety of styles (NWOBHM, Thrash, Nu-Metal, Doom, Power-Metal), Black Dawn certainly fits the bill.
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The first of the national supporting acts, hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Electric Citizen followed Black Dawn with a set of Psych-drenched Heavy Metal. Lead Singer Laura Dolan mixed the feel and aesthetics of Grace Slick and Coven’s Jinx Dawson with a heady mix of showmanship and brute force. “Savage” opened their set with a speed-freak stomp that sounded like it came out of a smoke-filled garage in 1968. “Shallow Water” turned the psychedelic feel up even further as it mixed stormy melodies with flourishing guitar work from start to finish. “Beggar’s Need” ditched the feel-good sounds of 1967 and jumped head first into Heavy Metal. A menacing lead on guitar and pounding drums made for a haunting track steeped in the sounds of the London underground of 1971. Set closer “Light Years Beyond” was another heavy track with the vocals in syncopation with the drums and guitars creating a dense sound before closing with a complex solo and another dynamic verse. Electric Citizen is a band that has that rare ability to wear their influences on their sleeve but not sound derivative. Their sound is wholly original. Anyone who likes late ’60s/early ’70s underground Rock and Heavy Metal, be sure to catch them when they come to town.
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Virginia’s Satan’s Satyrs, featuring Electric Wizard’s Clayton Burgess on bass and vocals, Jarrett Nettnin (guitars), and Stephen Fairchild (drums) brought their brand of Heavy Metal to the stage for a dark set of intricate Space Metal as they blended a variety of styles. “Show Me Your Skull” started with a classic Heavy Metal sound before spinning into licks with a Classic Rock flavor that, amazingly, touched on Surf Rock and Country Rock with multiple runs on guitar before spiraling back into Hard Rock. A cover of UFO’s “Prince Kajuku” was an exercise in precision. A steady, pounding rhythm on drums was coupled with a searing bass line and wild guitar soloing. While the original clocked in at just under four minutes, on this night, Satan’s Satyrs laid down an extended jam to the crowd’s delight. “Alucard” closed the set with deep, dark guitars drenched in distortion. Galloping drums and a frightening vocal made for an edge of your seat ride for the duration. Satan’s Satyrs have a unique sound that turns their influences on their ear with a fiery blend of Stoner, Doom, Sludge, and Metal. This is band is not to be missed if you are looking for the perfect mix of styles, executed with definitive chops and endless style, seek them out.
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With the crowd thoroughly warmed up, Pentagram took the stage for a set of manic Proto Doom and Heavy Metal. Frontman Bobby Liebling is the only remaining original member. Joining him on stage were Victor Griffin on guitars, in his fourth stint with the band, Greg Turley on bass in his second go-round, and “Minnesota” Pete Campbell who joined this year.
“Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram),” from the self-titled debut, started the show in appropriate fashion with its blistering melody and ferocious runs on guitar; it is the penultimate Pentagram cut. This got the crowd banging their heads immediately, and they would not stop over the course of the fifteen song set. “Forever My Queen” took the heaviness of early Heavy Metal and melded it seamlessly with the upbeat guitars of early hard Rock -n- Roll. While the base of the song was dense, throughout it was sprinkled with ariose ramblings on guitar.
“Starlady” brought elements of Classic Hard Rock sounding like prime Deep Purple in both vocal inflection and the accelerated lead. Echoing, airy solos were featured throughout along with a slowed-down break, making for a complex take. While the band relies heavily on raw power, this was a great example of the band’s musical savvy. “When the Screams Come” was suitably antithetical to “Starlady” as it was a sentient Doom masterpiece. Plodding, thick guitars led the way for the verses before taking off for a sped-up middle section before finally receding back into a dank swamp of down-tuned guitars.
The middle of the set was dedicated to Pentagram’s latest release, Curious Volume, and they put aside any fears that the band has lost a step or softened in any way. A fuzzy lead and lumbering drums moved “Walk Alone” along in classic Pentagram fashion. The song closed with an ambitious turn into pure Hard Rock. “Dead Bury Dead,” “Close the Casket,” and the title track from Curious Volume followed and proved to be even heavier than “Walk Alone.” “Dead Bury Dead” was an apocalyptic dirge with the night’s sludgiest riff. The bottom end was utterly leaden, and its coupling with sleek runs on guitar made for an intense, aural number. It was an uncompromising blend of heavy-handedness and dexterity. “Close the Casket” played on the same wavelength with an unforgiving, chunky riff. “Curious Volume” sounded like it was lifted right off of a Horror movie soundtrack. The song reeked of things evil and unseen and kept the dark vibe going. Despite being released in 2015, these songs would not seem out of place in a hole in the wall bar circa 1972.
It was then back to the debut for “Dying World.” A Punk Rock drumbeat set the pace for the tune as start-stop guitars, dripping with feedback hurried along. This was classic Pentagram as the subject matter’s gloomy theme was surpassed only by the absolute sinister sound of the guitar. Set closer “Relentless” eschewed the tones of Doom and was a straight Heavy Metal romp with a hint of Thrash. Rapid fire guitars and swift drumming were tempered by a growling, drawn out lead on vocals; Pentagram personified.
After a brief exit, the band returned for a three song encore. “Last Days Here” began the set. If there is such a thing as a Doom ballad, Pentagram invented it with “Last Days Here.” Relatively mellow guitars, and equally quiet vocals oozed along at a medium pace. Not abandoning their sound altogether, the song featured bombastic solos and thumping drums along with the tender sounds. “Be Forewarned” started off in the same vein but eventually turned back to the classic Pentagram sound of rowdy, dank guitars before closing with a spiraling solo. Show closer “20 Buck Spin” was an excellent choice as it had all the elements that give Pentagram their signature sound. The song meandered from Metal, to Doom, to Thrash, to Punk, back to Metal, and finally back to Doom with each style executed flawlessly.
Being on the road for over forty years has clearly paid dividends for Pentagram. Their blend of dark, doomy Heavy Metal and Hard Rock coupled with frontman Bobby Liebling’s off the charts showmanship make for a memorable night of pure entertainment every time out. It is easy to see that they were pioneers of Doom Metal, but puzzling as to why it took nearly twenty years for their major label debut. With a new album under their belt, it is clear there is no end in sight for one of Rock’s most influential acts.