Pentagram

Be Forewarned

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One of heavy metal's most elusive underground heroes, Virginia's Pentagram finally ended a seven-year hiatus with 1994's Be Forewarned. Since its last recordings in the mid-'80s, the group had witnessed its legend grow from strength to strength, as its Sabbath-inspired proto-metal (as well as the band's virtually forgotten psychedelic hard rock singles from the '70s) became one of the foundations for the quickly rising doom metal movement. Thus, it was only fitting that the bandmembers should return to action in an attempt to reap the rewards of their labor of love. Sadly, like much of the then-promising doom metal scene, their efforts would go largely ignored outside the ever-respectful and loyal heavy metal community. And with all due respect, Be Forewarned is the least Pentagram-sounding album of all, since it finds the group actually attempting to jump the early-'90s doom metal bandwagon that it inspired in the first place (see the lumbering "Life Blood" for proof). Obviously instigated by guitarist Victor Griffin (who repeatedly succumbs to his well-publicized Iommi fixation), the disc's only other shortcoming is the half-hearted involvement of singer Bobby Liebling, the man whose songwriting and haunting vampire stare are inextricably linked to the band itself. Still, Griffin's better offerings ("Too Late," "Vampyre Love," "Wolf's Blood") are quite worthy of praise, in keeping with the Pentagram tradition. As for resourceful drummer Joey Hasselvander (then splitting his time between Pentagram and New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwart Raven), his best submissions include the purposeful drive of "The World Will Love Again" and the morbidly strutting "Bride of Evil" (on whose chorus Liebling hilariously seems to be singing "Ryan O'Neil"). The album closes with Griffin's beautiful acoustic piece "A Timeless Heart" (a personal response to his idol Tony Iommi's "Fluff"), which serves as an introduction to the epic title track, a resurrected classic from Pentagram's '70s repertoire, transformed here into an ultra-doomy monster.

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