Out on Metal Blade this year, “Last Rites”, is the latest release from Pentagram. This was recorded with Bobby Liebling and long time original guitarist Victor Griffin. Helping to round out the band are Greg Turley on bass and Tom Tomaselli on drums. Although this release has only a few new tracks and a lot of reworked or archived tracks, Pentagram managed to get another album out. With a mess of archived and re-worked songs and minimal new material can this hold up to the Pentagram expectation?
Finally a proper Pentagram release is here! Maybe in part due to Liebling’s recent sobriety or the sheer dedication of Metal Blade, maybe even Griffin agreeing to work with his old friend again and brining most of the band with him, who knows. What we can say is that Pentagram has done a great job with this release and honestly its about time. This band may have truly been ahead of their time when they formed and since have done nothing but struggle and toil in virtual obscurity for many for decades. “Last Rites” is a well earned shot in the Pentagram arm for listeners. A nice heavy release, laden with slow droning and dark riffs courtesy of Mr. Griffin’s fretwork. The opener, ‘Treat Me Right’, is the perfect bait to lure the listeners in with immediate old school sounding riffs.
‘Treat Me Right’, has fantastic riffs and drumming backed up by great bass lines. Liebling sounds better than ever on this opening track. Couple that, with the solos reminiscent of day gone by, and this results as the perfect track to open “Last Rites”. The track ‘Walk In Blue Light’ is what may be the classic Pentagram sound. Dark heavy riffs, great stops and starts by Tomaselli and Turley all layered to weave a tapestry of an incredible song. Great old school doom sound with perfectly intonated vocals, this track is destined to be the classic sound for Leibling, Griffin and friends. This is not surprising at all since this was reworked from previous releases but in proper doom fashion. Take this alongside the riffing and beats of tracks like ‘8’ and ‘Everything’s Turning to Night’ and the listener gets the full experience of what should have been 20 or so years ago.
Given the ages of Liebling and Griffin, a release of this magnitude does not show any slowing down or loss of creativity. Many bands have a creative arc and as time marches on so does creativity but not in this case. The only low point on the album is ‘Windmills and Chimes’ and only because power ballads deserve to be a relic of the past rather than part of the future. If one is not a fan of power ballads still give this one a listen as the guitar work in this track by Griffin is truly impressive.
In short, “Last Rites” is a great release for Pentagram. It may never be in the running for album of the year but it is a great accomplishment. It is great to see Liebling and Griffin get the recognition they rightly deserve for their tremendous body of work. What is most interesting is that most of the songs on this release are re-worked or archived material. This fact alone goes to demonstrate the genius of Pentagram was always there but due to issues of the past; that genius never got out to more of the public until recently. Pentagram looks to have a few more releases left in their blood and if they continue to be as good as “Last Rites”, we will finally get treated to a consistent and touring Pentagram, something both the listeners and band deserve.