Friday, 16 August 2013

Pentagram Chile - The Malefice (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 6/9/2013
Label : Cyclone Empire

The Malefice, album track listing :
1.  The Death Of Satan
2.  La Fiura
3.  The Apparition
4.  Horror Vacui
5.  Spontaneous Combustion
6.  Grand Design
7.  Sacrophobia
8.  Arachnoids
9.  Prophetic Tremors

Bio :
PENTAGRAM was formed in 1985 by Anton Reisenegger (vocals, lead guitar) and Juan Pablo Uribe (rhythm guitar). Influenced by the likes of SLAYER, VENOM, KREATOR and POSSESSED, the pair started writing songs until their live debut on December 28th, 1985 with Eduardo Topelberg on drums.
In 1987 PENTAGRAM recorded two studio demos with three tracks each. Two tracks off the first demo were later released by Switzerland's Chainsaw Murder Records as the now legendary PENTAGRAM 7” single. Soon they were playing to hundreds of fans in Chile and being handled as one of South America's most promising death metal bands in the burgeoning global metal undeground, but the band broke up in early 1988. However, the PENTAGRAM demos kept spreading worldwide through tape trading, inspiring a whole generation of extreme metal musicians including NAPALM DEATH, ENTOMBED, DARKTHRONE and AT THE GATES.

In 2001 the band reunited for a one-off show in Santiago, days before Reisenegger relocated to Europe, at what seemed like their final show. However, a compilation of the demo material released in 2008 by Cyclone Empire reignited interest in the band, so the three original members reunited once again in 2009, touring in their home country and then Europe.

Encouraged by the fans' response, they decided to carry on and finally record their first studio album in 2011. Yet the band suffered another setback when drummer Eduardo Topelberg failed to perform during the studio sessions. The recordings were scrapped and the album was delayed for another year, when the band regrouped with veteran Chilean drummer Juan Pablo Donoso (SADISM, THRONAFIRE). In the meantime, the band decided to officially change their name to PENTAGRAM CHILE in order to avoid confusions with the much longer running US doom rock band.
The album, titled “The Malefice”, was finally completed in early 2013. The main part of the record consists of all-new material, but the band also re-recorded their 80s demo tracks, which will be included in the album's first edition as a bonus disc

Line-up :
Anton Reisenegger - lead guitar, vocals
Juan Pablo Donoso - drums
Juan Pablo Uribe - lead guitar
Review :

Pentagram Chile (as they are now known to avoid confusion with that other band) are an intriguing proposition. First formed back in the 80's they would have, maybe should have, gone on to the type of renown that Sepultura enjoyed. For whatever reason, it didn't happen- but the handful of recordings these South American Terrors made went on to influence metal's best- At The Gates, Dismember and so on. The German label Cyclone Empire have been responsible for some of my favourite albums this year so far- this adds another entry to that list. Thank god for labels like that who have the guts to put out real old school metal not made on a  computer/played by someone with a styled fringe.

One listen to first track “The Death Of Satan” will let you know why this band are held in such high regard. The sound is awesome- proto-death metal with that nasty and feral underground edge beloved of all of us who have ever loved early Sepultura, early Slayer, Possessed and of course VENOM. The Geordies' spectre looms large over “La Fiura” (in spirit, not in musicianship- this is professional stuff). The sound is live and raw but very clear- the guitars sound like actual guitars (particularly the leads) and the vocals are nicely reverbed and unpleasant in tone.

“The Apparition” has got the time changes, the swirling riffs and a mean low end to boot. It really is timeless stuff for (real) metallers of all vintages- liked this kind of thing in 1985? Sepultura? Exodus? Venom? You will love this. A fan of Death? Cannibal Corpse? Obituary? Nile? Ditto. Fan of death core? Fuck off before I garrote you with an unravelled cassette copy of Testimony Of The Ancients.

“Horror Vacui” is speedy and discordant in the way that the best thrash is, complete with slow section of course. Kreator and Germanic thrash are recalled here, for me, and a most welcome echo it is. “Spontaneous Combustion” rips out of the traps with a scream that will make you think of Chile's other most famous metal export. Thrash at its nastiest here, that is until a chugging breakdown comes in and allows you to raise a claw to the metal gods.

“Grand Design” is a close to six minute workout of death vibes, thrash aesthetics and doom intro.
“Sacrophobia” has the type of riffs that you wished Slayer still wrote (that kind of “army marching on the gates” feel...) and brings the drama that other bands fail to muster in this genre.

“Arachnoids” keeps the tanks rolling pitilessly over your village as the record reaches its closing stages. “King Pest” (bonus track) oddly nestles before the album's official last track and I can see no reason why it was left off the album proper- stylistically it fits nicely, as it is ferocious and well structured. The riffs and rhythms are crisp and the track breaks the six minute mark- as a bonus it is an absolute gift and far above the usual throwaway that you might expect.

“Prophetic Tremors” closes the album in grand style with a bass intro leading into some excellent riffing and a classic “natural disaster” lyrical theme. The press release states that the album is all new material (other editions feature a second disc of early material re-recorded- bet that is well worth a look!) but the material here is classic- timeless in the way that the best metal is. It doesn't sound dated- but does sound old school. Fans of Nekromantheon, Midnight, Ravens Creed and even Aura Noir will find much to enjoy here.

Words by : Richard Maw

As ever, show your support to the band by checking them out at the various links.  You can buy the record here from 6/9/2013. Thanks to Jan @ SureShotWorx as usual.