As someone who would call himself a dedicated metal fan, it was with some surprise that I had never heard of Pentagram until I saw the 2011 documentary, Last Days Here. The film told the tragic tale of Bobby Liebling, the front man of the Virginia-based doom metal band. Judging from the initial part of movie, I'd have been surprised that any new music from Pentagram would ever see the light of day. However, the conclusion of the film charts Liebling's course to recovery from drug addiction and depression.
Pentagram, as a band, began in the early 1970s but their debut album, Pentagram (aka Relentless, as it became known when it was re-released in 1993), wasn't released until 1985. It became something of an underground classic. The band sort of stalled and churned its way through numerous line-ups and releases of older material up until the release of the documentary. Energized by the reception of the film and the exposure it brought to Liebling's twisted talent, Pentagram experienced a rebirth of sorts. Curious Volume is the band's second album since the documentary was made.
As many of the band's albums have been, Curious Volume is comprised of older material from the 1970s and newly-written songs. The result is a unique mixture of modern doom and vaguely psychedelic metal. Liebling is backed up on this effort by long-time guitarist Victor Griffin and bassist Greg Turley, along with new drummer "Minnesota" Pete Campbell.
The album opens with the blistering "Lay Down and Die" which has a definite 1970s vibe to it, complete with wah-wah solo. Immediately followed by the equally swinging "The Tempter Push" and the ominous sludgefest "Dead Bury Dead", the album gets off to a great start. "Earth Flight" begins with a spare percussive intro and then launches into a road-ready riff. The title track slows things down a bit but still provides ample doses of heaviness. The tempo picks back up on "Misunderstood." Other highlights include "Close the Casket" and "Devil's Playground." Liebling's vocals sound like he looks: grizzled and spaced-out but yet oddly compelling.
If you're a doom metal fan and you haven't already done so, you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with Pentagram and their new album. Dark, fuzzed out, and heavy as hell, Curious Volume is an album that demands to be cranked to the maximum.