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Bobby Liebling claimed to have written about 80 songs in the earliest incarnations of Pentagram and many of those gnarly 70's heavy rock songs have made up the bulk of each Pentagram album to date. "Last Rites" takes some of the best (previously unused) early demo/rehearsal tracks, polishes 'em up and tucks in a few weaker tracks to fill out the bunch. If you'd followed Pentagram over the years this is pretty standard for the group. This time, though, the filler tracks are some of the band's least interesting moments and a few detract from the albums overall appeal.
The past is still very much alive in these old, dusty stoner rock songs. If you've heard that sloppy Stone Bunny bootleg EP "Nothing Left" you'll be pleased to know that the two best tracks "Nothing Left" and "Into the Ground" have been turned into solid stomping doom songs that bookend the album (as they did the EP). Two of my personal favorite rehearsal tracks "Call the Man" and "Walk in Blue Light" are given a similar polishing, and are two of the albums finest moments with their buzzing-bluesy Black Sabbath guitar tone. Half the fun of listening to this album is comparing the new versions to the compositions as they were almost 40 years ago and seeing most of them remain structurally unchanged.
For the uninitiated, Pentagram's heavy stoner rock sound is easily digested and enjoyable. "Last Rites" is a strong showcase for some classic tunes and overall represents a slightly above average package from Pentagram. One song wasn't necessary to unearth "Windmills and Chimes" and another is boring garbage "American Dream" but, the rest of the album is top notch stoner-rockin' doom metal from one of the genre's strongest die-hard groups. At any rate, this will tide classic doom metal fans over before upcoming Argus and Pale Divine albums see light of day.