LIVE REVIEW: Pentagram @ Sound Control, Manchester

When you think of the bands that helped shape and forge heavy metal decades ago, PENTAGRAM isn’t always the first name to come to your head. Whilst the band may not be as globally renown as the likes of BLACK SABBATH for example, the influence PENTAGRAM have had on heavy metal, and in particular doom metal, has been enormous. Now, four decades after their origins, the band are still touring, but can PENTAGRAM still hold their own in the live environment?

BongCauldron live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver
BongCauldron live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: James Weaver

Doom Metal has come a long way since it’s early rumblings and BONGCAULDRON showcase just how far the genre has come. Monolith riffing from Biscuit reigns supreme here, the drumming is relentless and the vocals are harsh and compliment the enormous sound in grand fashion. Bass tones are thick and suffocating, just how doom should be, and despite a barren attendance, BONGCAULDRON kept everyone enticed. Their sound was stripped down and raw and the result was a performance of solid doom-grooves throughout.

Rating: 8/10

Ten Foot Wizard live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan
Ten Foot Wizard live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan

Whereas BONGCAULDRON align themselves to the extreme side of doom, TEN FOOT WIZARD produced the polar opposite. Offering a sound that is a combination of blues, Irish punk and stoner rock is an interesting one to follow the crushing riffs of BONGCAULDRON but for the most part, TEN FOOT WIZARD keep the crowd entertained. The bass tones and intricate riffing was captivating at times, showcasing the delicate and thoughtful approach to the band’s sound and when it worked, it worked remarkably well. Unfortunately, there felt there was a lack of intensity, a lack of bite to the band’s overall sound, which led to TEN FOOT WIZARD‘s impact feeling rather subdued.

Rating: 7/10

Mother's Cake live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan
Mother’s Cake live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan

MOTHER’S CAKE really felt out of place on the bill. Offering the faintest connection to doom metal possible the Austrian trio’s blend of funk, psychedelic and hard rock felt more of a mess than a captivating live performance. The bass lines and guitar play of Benedikt Trenkwalder and Yves Krismer, respectively, were intriguing at times but these moments were few and far between. For the most part, the performance was one of confusion as the band’s mash of styles often came across as confusing and mundane. Yves Krismer‘s vocals lacked the deliveries necessary to hold the audience’s attention and for the most part, MOTHER’S CAKE lacked any authority in their delivery. Glimmers of hope and neat riffing weren’t enough to warrant a performance that just lacked magic.

Rating: 5/10

Pentagram live Manchester 2016
Pentagram live @ Sound Control, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan

PENTAGRAM have built a enormous legacy over a career that spans four decades and their performance reflected an absolute masterclass. Riffs soaked in bluesy influence reigned high and mighty, bass tones were infectious and frontman Bobby Liebling‘s vocals soared throughout. With Liebling being the only original member in a merry-go-round list of personnel throughout the band’s career, he proved to be the glue that held the band together and this was perfectly reflected throughout their performance. Despite being in his 60s Bobby Liebling still displayed a strong stage presence and his iconic vocals were delivered to precise quality. From the soaring vocal choruses of Forever My Queen to the the haunting verses of Death Row, Liebling excelled throughout.

That being said, the rest of PENTAGRAM more than delivered in performing the band’s iconic back catalogue in the live environment. Guitarist Victor Griffin was a treat to behold at times, with the delivery of the spell-binding solo of Last Days Here performed to pin-point precision whereas bassist Greg Turley and drummer Pete Campbell kept the rhythm packed and flowing consistently throughout the band’s set. PENTAGRAM‘s career is about as old as heavy metal itself and whilst many of their peers are calling time on their careers, if anything can be taken away from their performance it is that, four decades on, PENTAGRAM are still a masterclass in the live environment.

Rating: 9/10

Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester here on Distorted Sound:

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