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Pentagram: First Daze Here Too

Relapse Records' second collection focusing on the 70's US doom band Pentagram is a sprawling 2CD set that is a continuation of 2002's First Daze Here-The Vintage Collection. If you picked up that set, you would have gotten a first glimpse of some of the rare and unreleased recordings of this seminal Virginia doom band, who twice came close to scoring a major label deal only to have them fall apart, leaving all these solid early metal songs unreleased for years. While that first set focused mostly on the heavy, doomy material, First Daze Here Too takes you to some of the other less doom metal and more straight rock material. It's still heavy and intriguing however, and shows just how talented this band was.

The first CD here contains the remainder of the original demo songs that the band recorded in 1976 at Undergound Sound Studios. All are pretty polished numbers, a mix of doomy metal and straightforward hard rock. In addition to the excellent heavy rocker "When the Screams Come", the band features in this set a great cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Under My Thumb", the punkish "Wheel of Fortune", the UFO/Free-inspired bluesy hard rock piece "Much Too Young to Know", and the catchy "Teaser".

CD 2 contains fifteen tracks in total, mostly warehouse rehearsal recordings, and there are some of so-so quality, but for the most part they sound pretty good. The material, as is most of the Pentagram catalog, is top notch. From the Captain Beyond influenced heaviness of "Virgin Death", to the Robin Trower styled wah-wah guitars of "Yes I Do", to the relentless Sabbath styled doom of "Ask No More", the three cuts that kick off disc two, there's just one hot tune after another here. Lead singer Bobby Liebling truly had a unique style, and paired with the guitar talents of Vincent McAllister (Randy Palmer and Marty Iverson also contributed some guitar to various tracks here) plus the tight rhythm section of bassist Greg Mayne and drummer Geof O'Keefe, Pentagram seemed destined for big things, but it never happened sadly. One listen to the hot guitar licks of "Man", the psychedelic blues vocal wailings of "Be Forewarned", or the brontosaurus stomp of "Everything's Turning to Night", all scream of a special talent that was never presented to the metal masses, and that's a really sad thing.

Relapse has put together a very strong presentation here, with a full booklet containing lyrics and vintage photos, plus a full essay from drummer O'Keefe who privides insight on the history of the band and the many near misses that prevented Pentagram from being huge. He also adds detailed info on each song, where they were recorded and how they came to be, including lyrical and musical inspiration.

If you have any interest at all in 70's heavy rock, doom, or blues-metal, the two Pentagram First Daze Here are a must have.

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. Wheel of Fortune
2. When the Screams Come
3. Under My Thumb
4. Smokescreen
5. Teaser
6. Little Games
7. Much Too Young to Know
Disc: 2
1. Virgin Death
2. Yes I Do
3. Ask no More
4. Man
5. Be Forewarned
6. Catwalk
7. Die in Your Sleep
8. Frustration
9. Target
10. Everything's Turning To Night
11. Take me Away
12. Nightmare Gown
13. Cartwheel
14. Cat & Mouse
15. Show 'Em How

Added: June 22nd 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Relapse Records
Hits: 5103
Language: english

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