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Pentagram > Day of Reckoning > 2005, CD, Peaceville Records (Reissue, Super Jewel Box) > Reviews > CHAIRTHROWER
Pentagram - Day of Reckoning

The Devil Will Laugh As Your Resistance He Breaks - 99%

CHAIRTHROWER, July 31st, 2017
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Peaceville Records (Reissue, Super Jewel Box)

In my long-winded review of Pentagram's sole disappointment, 2011's Last Rites, I rattled off the majority of the D.C. Doom legend's stand-out studio releases save one: 1987's exceptional Day Of Reckoning courtesy of Napalm Records (re-released in 2005 on CD under the reputable Peaceville label), my favorite 'gram recording aside from the groundbreaking First Daze Here (compilation) from 2002, which stands in a class of its own.

Judas Priest's "Exciter" may win the golden palm for best "heavy metal" opener before the genre's flood gates flew open; alternatively, my vote for stockiest "doom metal" opener goes straight to Pentagram's unholiest of Devil dancing hip-shakers, "Day Of Reckoning". Alongside Martin Swaney's throbbing, throttling bass line in tandem with new-coming guitar hero Victor Griffin's lugubriously mesmerizing pentatonic darkness, Bobby Liebling is aflame:

"Now take your last look the world's about to fall
Your efforts are useless to move a brick wall
You didn't seem to listen to a thing I say
I think that today will become your day

So open your eyes to which path to take
The man's gunna laugh as your resistance he breaks
Butchers and cowards they've been running your life
This day is for reckoning if you wish to survive!

Breakdown!

So why don't you open your eyes to which path to take
The devil will laugh as your resistance he breaks
Please be strong stretch your arms down at length
He'll dance in the flames he thrives on your strength!""

While the lyrical content's condensed, the opposite's true of the diabolically enchanting instrumentation, from an eerie and scratchy guitar shuffle to mightily haranguing guitar riff following "Breakdown!", Griffin is in top shape especially on his down-to-earth, no frills solo after the last verse - definitely one of his best leads, be it with Pentagram or his later outfit, Place Of Skulls. In terms of bass, Swaney is phenomenal throughout. While 1970s Pentagram featured a laid-back and groovy Greg Mayne (remember "Lazy Lady"? Zoinks!) the late 80s took a turn for the gloomier and mildly (as opposed to overtly) gregarious with the auspicious hard-driving trio of Griffin/Swaney/Joe Hasselvander (on drums) and a cantankerous Bobby L. tearing up the mike like a resigned Mick Jagger - minus the cattle prod this time around...

Also of note is how Hasselvander beat the skins on "Burning Savior" only. For some reason, the other six are handled by Stuart Rose (R.I.P), and nicely at that. You'd be hard pressed to notice any difference between the two. Day Of Reckoning (the album) appears to have been born under a bad star - a good thing in this case.

With only seven tracks topping out at thirty-four minutes, these "burning saviors" make every second count; effectively, you'll be compelled to replay this without exterior prodding. "Broken Vows" is another go-to track of mine, as I can't get enough of Bobby's despondent and darkly introspective ramblings and Griffin's super commanding, wavy riff half a minute in. Simple in its structure, it slays by way of sheer bad ass conviction, perfectly underlying Bobby's epic prose. Griffin's poised solo and Rose's dense drum out-take only serve to heighten an already gloomy but fun experience. "Madman" hits like a ten-ton hammer of doom while you're still recovering from Day Of Reckoning's twin ass-kicking openers. Again, the rhythm section supplements an ideal backdrop for team Griffin/ Liebling's overtures thanks to Rose's tactful pummeling and Swaney's bass line, which pokes around like Seth's staff while keeping a respectable distance - great stuff.

The only 1970s/ Vincent McAllister (RIP) reprise is "When The Screams Come", considered a top Pentagram gem by fans far and wide. Simply put, this track is awesome! Varying between a sardonically wonky opening guitar riff - which will lodge itself in your skull without missing a beat -, honky cow bell and a jangling jam/ solo following Bobby's unforgettable and demonic "You've entered hell I guess and weren't so cool/ NOW SATAN MAKES YOUR RULES!" "When The Screams Come" is not to be missed! I don't know what it is exactly about this track but it encompasses everything I love about Pentagram, be it Bobby's diabolical vocals or minions' slackly fierce musical prowess.

The track placement is spot-on. From the 2.5 minute opener to the incremental nine-minute eulogy of "Burning Saviors" (which includes more of Griffin's pentatonic wizardry in the form of spastically amped solos) and revved up romp & stomp of a closer, "Wartime", Day Of Reckoning, along with the 1985 self-titled dirge and Be Forewarned from 1994, represents Pentagram in top form after a decade long hiatus. Who would have thought the D.C. legends would carry on well into the new millennium alongside a rising generation of doom metal purveyors? It must've been written in the stars…I almost forgot to mention "Evil Seed". While it gets off to a slow and cumbersome start, fear not as both Swaney and Griffin knock this one out of the park with their respectively brooding and soaring leads three minutes in or so.

As a parting note, I've always dug Pentagram cover art but I must say this architecturally pleasing church/ mausoleum montage is a fresh change from usual "satanic imagery" i.e the covers for Pentagram ('85) and Review Your Choices ('99). Either way, repent for Day Of Reckoning!