Catapulted back to possibly my favourite time in Metal history, I stand in some steamy hole of an American bar, preparing to be completely obliterated by the almighty Doom-fathers Pentagram. Originally this album was released as self-titled in 1985 and later was re-released under the title `Relentless'. The tracks figured on the album were written throughout the 70's and this is easy to identify in the crunchy rawness of the production. Unwavering `Sabbath fuelled melody tears you apart as Leibling sets about his throne to play the part of Satan in this superb re-issue.
As dirty distorted guitars holler mightily, the entrance of the loud proud, `Death Row' begins. Steaming in full whack the senses are brutally assaulted by the incessant charge of a unified riff. Vocals chant in persecution of a life never to be saved, dying alone and knowing hell awaits. The bleeding guitar solo leads you braying and begging for more, in reiteration of your peril, you are at deaths door. [Bobby] Liebling's vocals echo coherently up above, strangling the minion who dares not to stand and obey. In demand of adoration there is no where else to go but your imagination which places you at the footlights of the stage which over flows with distortion and blood red light. The powerful lyrics take you under their spell and the mist of Pentagram has got you, never to let go.
The carcinogenic `All Your Sins' swaggers in straight off leaving no moment for breath, weaving twisted chords slither over the vocals that wine as they are strangled, they taunt accusing some pathetic creature of all an' sundry, repentance is the name of the game. A tortured and lonely solo cries above the Ionian riffage below. And alas there is no way out of this hellish place.
`Sign of The Wolf [Pentagram]' easily defines what a damn good NWoBHM track should consist of. Its mood, structure, rhythm and tone are what I love so much about the whole genre. It Moves with some hell of a lick and the melody is well carried by chugging guitars, a superbly catchy verse/chorus structure and squealing guitar; there is nothing understated in this number, the reiteration of the word `Pentagram' is infectious and would've been sure to have set the crowd alight back in the day.
Oppression once again returns and the party is over, dragging you foot-first, en route to a dark damp grave yard, with the a visit to `The Ghoul'. With an intro almost as long as the entire song, tumbling drum rolls fall with homicidal guitars, vocals call out from the fog seeking the `chosen one' to fulfil the Ghouls blood-thirsty appetite. As the descending guitars drone on, you are caught and bitten, condemned to the life of a ghoul for evermore. Oh dear, oh dear.
The title-track `Relentless' is a powering thrasher of a track. It has solid guitars, a heavy distorted bass and thumping drums. The rawness of the preserved sound is perfect and not a speck of the original atmosphere is lost in the re-issue which is so often the case. Here Leibling's vocals cry out with vigour and abrasiveness reiterating beating melody. The chorus is simple and pulsing - get this one right on and crank it up to eleven!
`Run My Course' is a twisting fit of a track that hunts you down like a depraved beast. Superbly fluid bass moves classically underneath the heavy waters of the over-bearing guitars and drums. This is a vocally lead track which is super powerful and Leibling puts on a resounding performance.
The bludgeoning `Sinister' moves stealthily into battle next and you better take cover. Leibling's Satan lords it about suitably and is satisfied in a night's slaying well done. He calls out over the inferno below, setting the crowd to worship him once again. However, as the mid-section enters so too do some random `milk bottles'. What possessed the Boys to do this at the time certainly wasn't The Dark Lord himself and is sadly something much of the genre [NWoBHM/Doom] thought actually sounded good back then. As the guitar solo enters to save us from this bottle insanity the track redeems itself in time for the final beating of the drums.
Satan now takes a back seat and lets his brotherhood continue to run pain and terror through these parts with the pestilent `The Deist'. Heavy guitars and bass career head on at you from all angles uncompromising in their onslaught of innocent minions. This is by no means a bad track but felt like a bit of filler for me.
`You're Lost I'm Free' is a moaning drudgery of a track that leads into the sharp, elusive `Dying World'. As Leibling's vocals reign out over a superbly gritty guitar line, the wining solo enters like a dog crazed with a taste for blood as it twists and turns over a running bass-line urgently seeking death and destruction in its path.
The gem that ties up this monster of an album is the gruelling, groovy `Buck Spin' oozing feel and heat. The verses stay heavy and steadfast before falling uncontrollably into a downward chromatic spiral, the crippling solo stumbles around drunk in the darkness continuing to rise higher and higher, there's no let up as it climaxes refusing to be dragged down to the depths of the sodden bass and drums beneath it, wailing like a banshee it flies off out of sight.
This is album is a must have [if not already] for all NWoBHM and Doom metal fans. Revisiting these songs it's easy to see why Pentagram have remained one of the most enduring and influential Doom metal bands around. I stand in wait for the rest of the re-issues!
(c) MSA 2005