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Monday, 12 December 2011

Live review: Pentagram / Horisont / Purson

Pentagram / Horisont / Purson

The Garage, London

9 December 2011

Walking into the gig and finding Pentagram lead singer Bobby Liebling meeting and greeting by the merch stall half scares me to death – the bug eyed devilish imp freaks me out more than a wardrobe full of toads. I decline to meet the man – scared that in return for his autograph he might want my signature for some occult pact.

Purson open proceedings tonight. They have some very promising material but little in the way of stage presence. Frontwoman Rosalie is in great voice and has a mean guitar style though she’s stuck out on the side of the stage while the other members look disinterestedly on. The songs sound heavier and have more depth than their rather polite demos, particularly ‘Spiderwood Farm’, though their performance is somewhat flat. Hopefully they’ll improve as time goes on.

Horisont are next and blow up the venue. The band look like they’ve crawled out of a Bolton heavy metal bar in 1972 and have a sound to match, recalling ’70s classic rock with hints of doom and psych. Vocalist Axel Söderberg should be a huge star with his easy charisma and blood-curdling scream. ‘Nightrider’ from their debut sounds immense and the tracks from their second album sound better than the first. What more can I say? To paraphrase Victor Kiam: I liked the band so much I bought the t-shirt.

This is Pentagram’s first UK gig in a 40 year career and the band is hugely thankful to the crowd for fulfilling their dream of playing this country. Another lesson in stagecraft is provided by the magnetic central performance of Bobby Liebling, who resembles a horny satyr engaging in some perverted head-banging ritual. They play a crowd-pleasing set full of old favourites like ‘Sign of the Wolf’ and ‘All Your Sins’ – songs that are the basic DNA of all traditional doom metal that has followed. The material from the new album Last Rites sounds as strong as the old stuff too. On record the band are sometimes a dour prospect but they come alive on stage and show their creepy majesty to full effect tonight. An encore of ‘When the Screams Come’ and ‘Wartime’ send the leather-attired crowd home happy – or at least as happy as a doom crowd ever gets.

Austin Matthews

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