Released: 2013, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Talk about an eternity in the making. The debut album from Chilean thrash metallers Pentagram (or Pentagram Chile, as the band is now known to differentiate themselves from much more established doom-rockers Pentagram) finally has arrived – nearly 30 years after their formation in 1985.
Guitarist/vocalist Anton Reisenegger – who has led the thrash outfit Criminal since 1991 and played guitar with the grind-metal supergroup Lock Up since 2006 - and guitarist Juan Pablo Uribe got Pentagram back together in 2009 following a 13-year split to play shows after a compilation of demo material reignited interest in the band. The pair, along with Criminal producer/bassist Dan Biggins and drummer Juan Pablo Donoso, subsequently went ahead and wrote and recorded songs for what is now the band's first genuine album.
The curious might want to temper their expectations for The Malefice which, despite the band's almost mythical reputation in underground circles and colorful history, sounds like a band still trying gain their footing. And though it is buoyed by some terrific crisp contemporary production, it has a decidedly old-school sound that comes across as more than a bit dated.
Indeed, at times, the band sound rather strikingly like Beneath The Remains-era Sepultura and, especially, vintage Slayer. “The Appiration” is a dead ringer for “At Dawn The Sleep,” the squealing solo at the close of “Horror Vacui” is trademark Hanneman/King and the opening to “Spontaneous Combustion” recalls “Angel of Death” right down to the “Eeeaaaagggghhhhh!” scream to lead things off - but ends up sounding more like Destruction later on thanks to its chopping riff and guest vocals from Schmier.
Yet, there is still a lot to like about The Malefice. The black/death metal tinges throughout give the album a genuinely sinister air as they revel in a variety of horrors, from the aforementioned “Spontaneous Combustion” to the volcanic apocalypse of “Prophetic Tremors” and the hellish super spiders of the menacingly hooky “Arachnoids.” Reisenegger delivers everything with a convincing old school bark.
And despite the relatively clean production, there is an inherent crudeness and rough-and-tumble vibe to the band's performance that gives The Malefice a chug and crunch guaranteed to get heads banging. “The Death of Satan” gets things off to a ferocious start and the Venom-like “Grand Design” and the galloping “Sacrophobia” - which features Reisenegger's Lock Up bandmate Tomas Lindberg guesting on vocals – are formidable tracks to be sure.
So while Pentagram Chile might not quite live up to the legend that inexplicably built up around the band in their absence over the years – how could it? - their long-awaited debut certainly can cure any old-school itch you might have.