Pentacle

Under the Black Cross

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AllMusic Review by

There is nothing groundbreaking about Under the Black Cross, the fourth album by Dutch death metal band Pentacle. Even so, it sure sounds better than most of the more contemporary-sounding (read: over-produced) albums by their death metal peers. This music is heavily indebted to the mid- to late-'80s work of bands such as Death, Possessed, Celtic Frost, and Entombed, although the heaved-from-the-gut vocals are most reminiscent of Obituary. It is nice to hear a band play with this sort of down-to-earth intensity and not rely on excessively technical songwriting or loads of triggers and over-processed guitar tones. Song-wise, the highlights include opener "Into the Fiery Jaws," which sports a very Entombed-like riff that circles back on itself every nine beats, and "The Utmost Desolation," which shifts gears into a cool Sabbath-like shuffle midway through and then into an effective quarter-time section at the end of the song -- a welcome change of pace from the double-time thrashing that otherwise predominates. In other words, they are not going completely by the book, despite the old-school approach. That said, this album will still appeal mostly to listeners who share the band's enthusiasm for the early death metal era -- and who don't mind that this turf has been well-covered in the past, if not as much in the 2000s as in the decade and a half before that.

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