PENTAGRAM - Last Rites CD
Metal Blade Records
I'm going to start this review by asking a question. When you saw that PENTAGRAM had a brand new release coming out your first thought was?
A) Well I'm a Pentafanatic and if Griffin is back in the line-up then this is going to be a long awaited gem.
B) Well I'm a Pentafanatic and thought that line-up with Russ Strahan on guitar plus the UNORTHODOX rhythm section was fairly decent live but since Bobby gave em the boot who knows? Hopefully he gets back with Griffin.
C) Well I wouldn't call myself a Pentafanatic but I like their early stuff so I'm curious to see if it's cool.
D) Oh yeah, cool, this is the band with the old guy singing with the weird eyes. Their last album is still on my turntable.
Now if you answered "D" then go away. All others and even you people laughing please continue. But just for the record I would've answered "C".
Even your most hardcore Pentafanatic will admit that 1994's Be Forwarned was the band's last high note as far as greatness goes. The three full lengths since then all had some decent moments but the fact is that the band was always at their creative peak when Bobby Liebling and Victor Griffin (PLACE OF SKULLS) were together. Well now it's a reality plus along for the ride is fellow PLACE OF SKULLS' bassist Greg Turley and new drummer Albert Born. Last Rites doesn't seem like the greatest of titles considering how well some of the songs burst from your speakers with huge energy. Strangely enough all the songs on here were written years ago and two were re-recorded. So if you're wondering how well this release sounds "authentic" like from years ago, ah well technically it is. There's plenty of up front rockers on Last Rites for all those with less than a four minute attention span. I considered the more mellow numbers worthy contenders to grip your attention. As far as Bobby Liebling goes, the man sounds pretty damm good on here, considering. He might not have hit it with the opener "Treat Me right" but on "Call the Man" (first recorded back in the 70s) Liebling sounds pretty damm forceful. I'm sure pulling out 1973's "Walk in the Blue Light" will have Pentafanatics nodding in agreement where as newbees will be nodding out. I think Liebling holds out his best vocal performances on "Into the Ground" and "8".
As far as Griffin is concerned I'm sure other people will cite his guitar prowess, which on here is without a doubt top notch, as the reason for this release's greatness. Sure the man knows his doom riffs in and out but when he starts into a solo it's time to forget everything and let him shine. One of his greatest moments here is on "8" which is a completely dark doom cut in which Griffin weaves utter beauty throughout. Another song that will be a winner with fans of old school guitar noodling is "Windmills and Chimes". He even gets to break out a lead vocal on the STEPPENWOLF gone Doom, "American Dream". There's definitely shades of his other band in that one. Frankly I found Griffin's work on here better than on his last PLACE OF SKULLS' release. For anyone who remembers that review they'll understand. As for the rhythm section's job on Last Rites well they made it to the end at least. I think the bottom line here is that for all of you Pentafanatics the wait is over. I still think the title is all wrong. Maybe Redemption would've have been better considering. For all of you newbies I'd say start from the beginning and work your way up to this. You'll find the experience more enjoyable although Metal Blade is banking you won't.