The name Pentagram is uttered in hushed, reverent tones around my house. Their signature is on the Declaration of Doom, and their heavy blues sound is all over the original blueprints. It’s difficult to try and take a new record by such icons objectively, especially when the shadow of albums like Relentless loom so vastly over everything. But I’ve got to look at this in a bubble, it is only fair. They may be legends and pioneers, but that doesn’t give them a free pass for any old dross (I’m looking at you Metallica).
Opener Lay Down And Die is invigoratingly upbeat, possessing an almost Clutch like stomp to it, captured perfectly in Victor Griffin’s classic guitar tone. The Tempter Push has it too, that infectious groove that every doom band wants to inject into their riffs but not all manage it. Bobby Liebling hasn’t sounded this good in years either, his soulful scratchy croon easing you back into that classic era. Back when doom was just heavy rock with oodles of riffs and dark subject matter. Lay Down And Die is actually a cut from an old tape from the late 60s/early 70s, but it sounds so vibrant you’d never guess.
The riff takes a journey south with the achingly heavy opening to Dead Bury Dead, oozing with a whiskey bar room feel. The Liebling/Griffin partnership always brings together fantastic songs, but one of doom’s all-time great pairings have surpassed themselves here. Griffin’s guitar wringing beautifully fluid solos out of that smoky jam room, while Liebling has always focused his personal demons into great song writing. The desert rocking vibe of Earth Flight makes it super catchy, and the propulsive Walk Alone and the lonely, haunting title track showcases the band’s ability to create music that just gets to you.
The upbeat Misunderstood takes us straight to my album highlight, the simply excellent swagger of Close The Casket. It’s got that natural groove that bands like Clutch could only dream of, and that’s no disrespect to Clutch, that’s just fact. It is a thing of beauty, and might be up there with my top riffs of the year. Every time you hear a riff that’s vaguely familiar, it is the sound of ALL the bands who’ve taken influence from those rumbling strings, and there are many. Curious Volume is full of those classic riffs, and the simple fact that the band are referenced so frequently speaks volumes for the quality.
Curious Volume brings together once again two of doom finest exporters of the riff, the vibe, the DOOM! Pentagram have struggled to feel this vital, this alive, in the past. But Curious Volume captures them in rare form, carving mighty rawk from a template they helped to define and create all those years ago.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson