Pentagram

Sub-Basement

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With the exhuming of Pentagram's '70s musical corpse now on its way to becoming an international pass-time, it's only fitting that the seminal underground band attempt to capitalize on the unexpected surge of interest by releasing the occasional new studio album, as well. Of course the term 'band' is used loosely here, for, like its predecessor, 1999's Review Your Choices, Sub-Basement finds Pentagram paired down to a duo comprising vocalist and founding father Bobby Liebling and longtime cohort Joe Hasselvander, on all other instruments. It also, once again, resorts to combining newly composed material like "Tidal Wave," the pummeling "Drive Me to the Grave," and the title track, with reworked versions of old Pentagram classics, including "Buzzsaw," "Out of Luck" and "Target." Problem is, neither these premiere offerings nor the newly recut historical retreads manage to compete with the group's doom metal glories of old; ultimately sounding even less satisfying than other recent, like-styled outings. And perhaps most troubling of all is the weakened state of Liebling's voice, which, if his gaunt and tired visage on the CD booklet (he's looking more like an old, decadent vampire than ever) is any indication, may be finally suffering the wear and tear of decades of reported drug abuse.

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