Pentagram

Relentless

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Relentless is a well-chosen name for Pentagram's belated first album, as it was only through relentless determination that vocalist Bobby Liebling -- a fixture of D.C.'s club scene since the early '70s -- managed to persist long enough to see its 1985 release. And though it is hampered by the usual sonic limitations you'd expect from an independent recording, from a musical standpoint, the album more than lives up to pent-up expectations. A raw, untainted slab of pure doom metal, Relentless is a time tunnel straight to heavy metal's very inception at the hands of Black Sabbath -- largely thanks to its lo-fi recording, ironically. Guitarist Victor Griffin is an obvious disciple of Tony Iommi's fretwork, and the eerie similarity between Liebling's and Ozzy's vocal styles simply must to be heard to be believed. Together, they lead the band through grim anthems of depression and social ostracism, including the excellent "Dying World," "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)," "You're Lost, I'm Free," and "Sinister" (whose leaden backbeat is punctuated by what sounds like iron stakes being driven through a vampire's heart). Hardly a masterpiece, but well worth the wait, Relentless instantly confirmed Pentagram's position alongside Saint Vitus and Trouble in the American doom metal elite.

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