Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pentagram Week, Part 3: Be Forewarned

Released seven years after Day of Reckoning, Be Forewarned is at an odd spot in Pentagram's discography. It still features the lineup that made their first two efforts so legendary but came too late to capitalize on their momentum. It isn't exactly obscure but it sets the band up for obscurity as Victor Griffin and Martin Swaney would immediately depart upon its release.

Like Day of Reckoning before it, Be Forewarned bares a great influence from Black Sabbath. But while that album mostly channeled the Ozzy era, this effort has more in common with what Sabbath was making around the same time in the early 90s. The guitar tone reminds one of Dehumanizer, most notably on "Bride of Evil," while the title track could've found a place on Dio's Strange Highways. Of course, the band's old school flair is still at full force with "Too Late" and "Frustration" serving as more light-hearted rock numbers and "Vampyre Love" riding an excellent Hendrix-style swagger.

The band dynamic also seems to have gone through some changes between albums. The vocals are more restrained than before and the chunky guitar tone seems a bit darker, but these factors aid the atmosphere rather than bring it down. Elsewhere, Joe Hasselvander's drums keep their jazzy feel and you can hear the bass a little better than before.

But with there being thirteen tracks on here comes the thought that there may be a bit too much. You've certainly got your classics and "Nightmare Gown" is the only song that is less than great, but songs like "The World Will Love Again" and "Wolf's Blood" don't quite have the same excitement as past anthems. Fortunately, you still can't accuse them of lacking variety as "Live Free And Burn" starts things off on a speedy note while "A Timeless Heart" is a lonely acoustic instrumental that builds up to the title track in a melancholic fashion.

Overall, Pentagram's third album is rockier than past efforts but still has a lot that makes it worth checking out for doom fans. It would've been better if it had come out three or four years before it did, but it still gives the Death Row era a good send-off. Sadly, this is the last album that I would safely recommend to new fans as even the diehards found it hard to keep track of the ensuing decline...

"Live Free and Burn"
"Vampyre Love"
"A Timeless Heart"
"Be Forewarned"

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