Pentagram: An Auld Tyme Metal

Pentagram: An Auld Tyme Metal


Skip Groff musta been a busy guy during the ‘70s. In addition to managing a record store in Maryland called Yesterday and Today Records, he also ran an imprint – Limp Records – that would release some of the most important records of the Washington D.C. hardcore scene. As noteworthy as all of that is and was, the fact that Groff, for a time at least, managed a band called Pentagram is just as impressive.

Even setting Pentagram – initially founded by Bobby Liebling and Geof O’Keefe, although, Liebling would eventually be the only consistent member of the group – within this historic framework doesn’t serve the band well enough. Amongst the punk stuff, that no doubt owed a debt to some of the harder edged rock groups from the ‘60s and early ‘70s, Pentagram worked in some evil alchemy to reach the point that it did so early on.

Of course, there were a number of folks dreding through the same assortment of influences at the time – perhaps most notabley Sir Lord Balitmore up there in Brooklyn. Pentagram just came off as something more evil and even snagged one of the more foreboding names that the group was able to conjure. It’d be akin to naming your kitten Holocaust or something to that affect today.

Monikers and the like aside, taking a listen to either of the Relapse Records released compilations that attempt to round up the mist enticing tracks from this group points to a time beyond Black Sabbath, but before spandex (aka stunning metalastics).

The collection that wrangles Pentagram’s early works, entitled First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection isn’t without its clunkers, but most of what’s represented is above boards metal, if not just some adept hard rock stuffs.

It’s all been fetishized a bit too much, but that doesn’t mitigate the nasty guitar on “Lazy Lady.” The track, a mid tempo loving lament, sports some thick and tasty bass lines bolstered by the dirty and occasionally thrashy percussion. “Lazy Lady,” apart from mentioning hookers and various other taboo concepts then and now, owes as much to Cream and generous psychedelia as it does to later hard rock acts. An early pinnacle, perhaps, but despite the fact that there isn’t another offering on First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection that qualifies as a stoned classic isn’t surprising.

That being said, “Buck Spin” gets into Cream territory as well. It’s almost funky with the guitar figure meeting the basser up there in stoner vapors just beyond the grasp of the straight radio crowd. Subsequent to this late-in-the-disc entry, sound quality becomes an issue. But considering the fact that Pentagram didn’t record and release a proper disc until something like five years into its career, the fact that any of this exists is surprising.

Rekkid freeqs rejoiced upon the re-issuing of this stuff. And the clamor can said to be deserved. While the nerds that collected this stuff to immortalize and get it out into public again served a worthwhile purpose, a bit less of the myth would be good. Listeners, though, should just be pleased that Pentagram’s sitting on record store shelves again.