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PENTAGRAM
PENTAGRAM
Turn To Stone
(Peaceville Records)
79:02min

This 17 tracks anthology documents the PENTAGRAM Peaceville Records era. Those who are already familiar with the three PENTAGRAM albums the British label issued in the 90s will find nothing more here, as no unreleased tracks are featured. But "Turn To Stone" is certainly an excellent introductory course for beginners who can thus be exposed to the music primitively released on "Relentless", "Day Of Reckoning" and "Be Forewarned", those albums being for many (myself included) the first exposure they could have had to these American cult doomsters. Note that the incarnation of PENTAGRAM I am discussing here was in fact named DEATH ROW at the beginning of the 80s, and features the classic line up Bobby Liebling, Victor Griffin, Joe Hasselvander and Martin Swaney, the three first of them actively involved in the song writing process. And the main interest of "Turn To Stone" lies precisely there, because you can confront three different ways of writing music. Bobby Liebling is obviously deeply rooted in the 70's, and his tracks bring back to life a forgotten era when Hard Rock and Heavy Metal were in their infancy ('When The Screams Come', '20 Buck Spin', featured in lighter versions on "First Daze Here", the Relapse Records compilation also reviewed here). Victor Griffin can't hide his obsession with BLACK SABBATH, like in 'Evil Seed', 'The Ghoul' or 'All Your Sins' while Joe Hasselvander lets out his love for KISS (also shared by Victor) in tracks like the fantastic 'Bride Of Evil', 'Petrified' or especially 'Vampire Love'. All these talents combined could only give way to smoking hits and you precisely get 17 of them here! Contrarily to the 70's era PENTAGRAM, the DEATH ROW line-up was more frankly Doom oriented, delivering full force sludgy crawling riffs in a godly manner. PENTAGRAM always revolved around a B-Horror movies universe lyrically wise, and all the tracks featured here are no exceptions to the rule, giving the recording an added charm. In that regard, tracks like 'Bride Of Evil' or 'The Ghoul' (the latter probably inspired by the film of the same title by Freddie Francis and shot in 1968, during the golden era of the British Gothic Horror movies) are peculiarly explicit. Essential tracks like 'Too Late' (from "Be Forewarned") or 'Broken Vow' (my personal favorite, from the "Day Of Reckoning album) are unfortunately not featured here, so you are not dispensed of buying the complete albums; meanwhile, and like I said above, "Turn To Stone" is an essential buy to absolute PENTAGRAM neophytes, a temporary solution for those who don't have all the three Peaceville albums already, and a fine addition to their collection for those who own all the PENTAGRAM available catalogue! My only complaint goes for the cover artwork: Peaceville already messed up with it with their reissues of the first two PENTAGRAM albums (they should have go for the original vinyl artwork instead), and they do it again now, using one more time the good old Goat of Mendes picture! I would have expected more imagination, but it is a minor annoyance considering the excellence of the music featured here! For more information about PENTAGRAM and related subjects, go to www.ramshead.org, an unofficial (and really good) page run by Penta-fan Mathieu Deflem. Dare to enter the PENTAGRAM universe and you will never regret it!

Edouard Vergriete

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