Under the Black Cross
1/23/2008 - Review by: Al Kikuras
Ibex Moon has batted a thousand for ought-seven in my book, just based on Denial Fiend's massive debut and this, which is a re-release of Pentacle's 2005 album, previously only released overseas. Both are massive old school death metal records. Yeah, I said record. When it's THIS old school it's a fucking RECORD, kids.
I loved Pentacle's EP The Fifth Moon. I picked up Rides the Moonstorm, and while it didn't floor me like the EP did, 'twas still a very gratifying listen. Under the Black Cross, it pleases me to write, is kicking my ass almost as much as the EP did. Interestingly, this is a concept record based on Operation Chariot during World War II, but unless you sit and read the lyrics sheet, that is basically irrelevant as there really is not a musical theme throughout the record that tells the story, ala one of the good (read: old) good King Diamond records. But the songs on Under The Black Cross are strong. No blast beats. Great riffs. Lots of grunts and just enough groove. Bassist/vocalist Wannes Gubbels has a timeless metal voice, sounding like the love child of Jeff Becerra, Tom Warrior, and Martin van Drunen, but with his own identity.
This is death metal, through and through, but in the grand old style of Celtic Frost and Possessed back in the days when the line between thrash and death was a bit blurrier. Not that there aren't bands combining the two genres now, but rather than sounding like a "death thrash" band, it is obvious from the sound, and even more so knowing the band's history, that Pentacle are the real deal. The two genres are represented here as they were when the aforementioned troops stormed the battlefield because death metal was still in its infancy, and like a parasitic twin, was sucking the life out of thrash to create some new mutant life form more ferocious than its host. Pentacle have captured that sound and feeling perfectly, as if time was stopped, and manage to sound as hungry as their predecessors did when death metal first spread its leathery wings.
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