What's teh big deal about Pentagram, anyway?

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I refer, of course, to the 70s American band, not the modern black metal band of the same name.

People I know have raved about these records for so long, I finally decided to check them out - i should have known better, as one of my least favorite recomendations to listen to an album is "it sounds JUST LIKE (band X) circa (high point of band X's career)." Like, wow, dick. Because the world REALLY needs a tepid, mediocre version of Gang of Four, Bob Dylan, or the New York Dolls.

Pentagram's guitar sound is so blatantly stolen from Iommi that it's nearly embarrassing to listen to. I mean, I don't mean to badmouth a 'legendary' band here, but, really, waht's the appeal?

I'm not anti modern stoner / doom. Far from it. I think Sleep's "Dragonaut," fer instance, perfectly pays tribute to Iommi while still very much doing it's own thing. It also kicks major ass. What Pentagram stuff kicks major ass and DOESN'T sound like leftovers from Vol 4?

roger adultery (roger adultery), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 00:22 (fourteen years ago) link


JaXoN Hole (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 00:30 (fourteen years ago) link

i like the "Vintage Collection", but i rarely listen to it. i'd much rather put on sabbath or the newer stoner stuff. shit, even flower traveling band

JaXoN Hole (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 00:33 (fourteen years ago) link

actually it's called "First Daze Haze"

JaXoN Hole (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 00:33 (fourteen years ago) link

you kind of have to be down for some 70s second-tier acid rock to really enjoy it. i think "first daze here" is great (i also like sainte anthony's fyre), but "turn to stone" would be the place to start if you want their later, more 'metal' stuff. the first half of "sub-basement" has some nice tunes, but the vocals are pretty fucking weird.

el sabor de gene (yournullfame), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 04:10 (fourteen years ago) link

man, that Saint Anthony's Fyre thing is one of the most incompetent things I've ever heard! and considering all the basement/outsider/'real people'/private-press spew I've heard over the years, that's saying something! Pentagram is certainly much much better than them. that said, I don't hate the SAF or anything, it does have its charms! but it does kind of fall into that "if you like [x], check out [y]" thing that Roger was talking about. I was raving about Sir Lord Balitmore and Buffalo and other 70s crap to some dude a number of years ago and he was like "dude you gotta check out Hairy Chapter and St. Anthony's Fyre". ok, well, the Hairy Chapter thing was obviously great and a good suggestion, but man the SAF thing ... holy mackerel

I actually think I bought the Pentagram First Daze Haze thing thanks to El Sabor's comments on that 'heavy riffage' thread. I still haven't picked up the Suck though.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 04:24 (fourteen years ago) link

guh, i'm a total moran. i got the title wrong twice. it actually is First Daze Here (never really paid that close attention to the gothic font). First Daze Haze is a totally better title

JaXoN Hole (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 05:22 (fourteen years ago) link


JaXoN Hole (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 05:24 (fourteen years ago) link

haha ... i just totally copied you JaXoN without looking at it


Stormy Davis (diamond), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 05:31 (fourteen years ago) link

from the other thread:

I bought the collection "First Daze Here" that Relapse released a couple of years ago, and pretty much agree with you. There's a couple of catchy songs on there, but to me this is pretty much completely trivial, not at all worth spending my time with.
Oddly enough, when I'm trying to remember their songs now, all I can think of is East Of Eden's dreadful blues-bass number "Centaur Woman". Ugh.

It should be noted that I'm not a big Black Sabbath fan either, so my opinion on these kinds of bands probably won't be very weight for those interested in Pentagram. I'm more of the geeky Captain Beyond type, though I do like some newer BS-wannabe bands.

-- Øystein (wabbitseaso...), March 2nd, 2005. (Øystein)

Far from it. I think Sleep's "Dragonaut," fer instance, perfectly pays tribute to Iommi while still very much doing it's own thing.

Don't know which album's you're listening to. There is some variance in Pentagram's timbre and tone depending on who was in the band. Often the act didn't sound like Black Sabbath at all.

Sleep, eh. Six of one, half a dozen of the other with regards to Pentagram. Sleep did its own thing for "Jerusalem." Unlistenable, basically, but an artistic statement with a kind of screwy honor to it. Comparing Matt Pike ca. Sleep to Tony Iommi kind of insults Iommi.

Sleep no more kicks major ass than Pentagram, the latter which can also head into somnolence.

But "Review Your Choices" is Liebling's best album and the title cut a captivating song. It doesn't necessarily sound like Sabbath. It is sludgy, basically slow and glowering thing. Liebling puts a demented mutter (for example, "Megalania," which I think is him telling some story about a giant lizard) to it that is unique to himself. "20 Buck Spin" from one of the Peaceville records is good. "First Days Here" is not like Black Sabbath, to my mind. Pentagram also had a big first album Captain Beyond love going. Hard to find, but there was a recreation of the first Captain Beyond album by a collection of bands and Pentagram's contribution to it was excellent. For "Mesmerization Eclipse," the band did kick ass.

"Sub-basement," the last Pentagram LP I have, has a lot of wailing feedback on it.

Maybe you'd be more interested in Penance or Count Raven. Both are closer to Sabbath, particularly the latter. Sheavy also has or had a singer who is a dead ringer of Osbourne. None of these bands had rhythm sections as good as Sabbath's or can write as well as that band could.

-- George Smith (70743.171...), March 2nd, 2005.

JaXoN Hole (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 06:21 (fourteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Just wanted to boost this thread. I still don't really 'get' Pentagram. Sound like pretty standard 70s hard rockers to me, but woah, Lazy Lady is a great, if entirely unoriginal piece of rock. Been working from home with this damn near on repeat all day.

Rombald, Wednesday, 15 March 2006 19:49 (thirteen years ago) link

three years pass...

Yeah this really isn't much more than second-tier acid rock (as mentioned above), but goddamn if "20 Buck Spin" doesn't slay me every time.

the sideburns are album-specific (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 25 June 2009 13:36 (ten years ago) link

seven months pass...

The last song of their main set Sat night was "20 Buck Spin." Awesome. They hit that fuzzy low-end sweet spot that literally tickled my balls. There is something special about them. There's no shortage of bands inspired by Black Sabbath, but how many of them had their own tribute band (Witchcraft)?

They dedicated Day Of Reckoning (1987) to Blue Cheer, but it doesn't really sound like them either. My friend Tomiiko who went to see them with me says that a documentary is in the works. They recorded the Empty Bottle show, but that's for a live album.

The last update was a year ago: http://blogs.myspace.com/pentagramdocumentary

Fastnbulbous, Monday, 1 February 2010 15:22 (nine years ago) link

ten months pass...

I think they still have plenty of magic these days, unlike Iommi. The comparisons with Sab are exaggerated - based on Relentless maybe, where the Sab influence is strongest? They're more of a heavy southern rock OTT Christian guilt garage thing. What they have is those great southern vocals. They must be a tricky band to mix though, some of those albums grapple with the Liebling/gtr balance. I don't consider them second tier. First tier without a doubt, but very unstable in someway, a bit unhinged.

moley, Friday, 3 December 2010 23:07 (eight years ago) link

Bobby always big ups Blue Cheer and The Stooges more than Sabbath, I think.

mini-skirt and gogol books (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 4 December 2010 02:49 (eight years ago) link

one month passes...


gallagher 3 (latebloomer), Thursday, 3 February 2011 18:56 (eight years ago) link

Here's what I said about Pentagram for the Voice in 2003. It was for a collection and I rated it a little higher than I would now. Not indispensable but it encapsulated Bobby Liebling's thing.

"southern rock OTT Christian guilt" from upstream made me laugh. Liebling definitely had Cotton Mather drilled into him somehow.

Thirty years in the business, almost twice that many records sold—or so it seems. But for Pentagram, persistence of vision works. The collection is mid-'80s Cotton Mather-inspired sludge 'n' cack, a style absolutely no mass demographic is or was interested in—shunned even in Britain, where this band of Virginians was mystifyingly sent to market. "Vampire Love" is a catchy trudge-metal classic; "The Ghoul," Edgar Allan Poe for those prone to tattooing themselves using the nibs off fountain pens. And Bobby Liebling is a Roky Erickson type who mixes blues mumbling, I'm-living-in-a-ram's-head black metal dogma, and Johnny Cash storytelling in the space of an hour and a half.

Gorge, Thursday, 3 February 2011 22:41 (eight years ago) link

We did a whole story on Victor Griffin/Pentagram last year, for those into such things. (Griffin lives here in town, is why we devoted so much space to him.)

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Friday, 4 February 2011 15:09 (eight years ago) link

Liebling founded the first incarnation of Pentagram in Arlington, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C., in 1971. That version of the band had more than a dozen members over the course of the decade, but recorded only three demos and two singles.

^great article, but I think this quote doesnt do the 70's stuff justice.

The Curse of Dennis Stratton (Bill Magill), Friday, 4 February 2011 15:35 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

I just got Be Forewarned on double vinyl via Svart. It's smoking.

PG Harpy (Doran), Thursday, 21 April 2011 11:12 (eight years ago) link

Be Forewarned (the song) sounds like a version of the 13th Floor Elevators nurtured in hell.
There are a couple of good songs also on the Bedemon reissue.

Marco Damiani, Thursday, 21 April 2011 13:25 (eight years ago) link

Saw the Bobby Liebling documentary at SXSW. It's a pretty awesome and unbelievable story, regardless of how you feel about Pentagram.


Hatch, Thursday, 21 April 2011 14:00 (eight years ago) link

ten months pass...

saw the film, which ain't bad at all. I don't have any use for the music.

Literal Facepalms (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 29 February 2012 05:02 (seven years ago) link

six months pass...

Just saw the documentary myself. Goddamn. I don't know how he's doing these days but I hope he's holding it together.

In related news, listening to a lot of Pentagram today.

A Pick Up Artist's Guide to Negative Approach (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Monday, 10 September 2012 03:50 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

Despite/maybe because of the basement sound quality, love "Catwalk":


That riff, man, so snakey.

Vera said that?! (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Monday, 2 June 2014 02:01 (five years ago) link

two years pass...

Be Forewarned is pretty fuckin' great

Neanderthal, Saturday, 3 September 2016 18:46 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

I will rep for Review Your Choices but damn if I can’t get the feeling that they are the American Sabbath out my head

calstars, Saturday, 16 March 2019 20:39 (five months ago) link

Bobby is out of jail and they are currently on tour:

Mike Dixn, Saturday, 16 March 2019 20:52 (five months ago) link

one month passes...

Just watched the documentary. If the comments in the above link are to be trusted, his later life is even worse than I expected, he went to jail for assaulting his mother, kicked his girlfriend and child out and went back to drugs in a big way.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 11 May 2019 20:21 (three months ago) link

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