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

Traditional Doom Mastery - 100%

Mercyful Trouble, March 22nd, 2021
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Peaceville Records (Reissue, Super Jewel Box)

Pentagram further embraced heavy metal by time they re-emerged in the 80's, since self-titled, a.k.a. Relentless has got more emphatic metal riffing than anything featured on the First Daze Here rehearsal demos (I hope I will be forgiven for bringing up the compilations as source material since they're my only exposure to the music, being a younger fan). However, what they followed it up with in 1987, the 34-minute LP Day of Reckoning, introduced the sound that makes Pentagram a relevant band to this day (you have bad taste if you don't think they're still relevant), by actually regressing a bit to their 70's self but with more Master of Reality type heaviness. This album right here is essential doom structured concisely and perfectly. It's the perfect metal album all around and astonishingly accessible. Before I dive into the songs here, I've also got to say that Day of Reckoning is the sheer proof that doom metal substantiates much more of the formative years of now standardized metal subgenres than anyone gives it credit for - this is, along with Candlemass, Trouble, and Saint Vitus albums released around this time, the culmination of 80's doom. I recall some 50 year old groove-thrash knucklehead once telling me doom metal wasn't a known thing in the metal world till the late 90's, and Type O Negative was this guy's idea of a doom band. That's hilarious because I don't think Pentagram would be writing songs like "Evil Seed" with such burnt out delivery and ominous melodies if they didn't know they were onto something yet. The Skull existed by 1985 for crying out loud and "Pray For the Dead" sure isn't USPM. And for god's sake, Candlemass' first album from 1986 literally has doom metal in the title.

So yeah, the songs on Day of Reckoning, they've got balls! The title track is really an intense, driving banger that makes one "review (their) choices" in life, so to speak. It's really proof of how no one understands doom metal, because that song is forth-charging in a way that projects slothiness without actually being really slow at all, thanks to the power chord battering ram of Victor Griffin's riffing in between Bobby's vocal lines. Not to mention, the melodies in the bridge are doom as fuck. "Evil Seed", though, as mentioned above, is where the album slows down for the first time, having a typical early Sabbath riff during the intro and chorus, but being entirely bass and drum-driven during the verse. Again, the doomy melodies shine through much more than on Relentless, lending an introspective feel to the music. "Evil Seed" seems so have lyrics concerned with being led on by a woman only to be manipulated or dumped, which suffice it to say was relatable in my high school days.

The take home point of the latter paragraph is that the album opens with a damn fine one-two punch, but delivers yet another duo of fantastic doom standards in "Broken Vows" (which seems to be about moving past strife such as that brought up in the previous track) and "When the Screams Come", one of the band's oldest songs but once again defining doom metal further this time around. "Burning Savior" is of course the fierce centerpiece here, and it's a lot of people's favorite Pentagram song. You gotta love Bobby's downcast vocal delivery during the refrain on this one, and once again Victor's riffs are total slugs that pack a massive haymaker of a punch. Martin Swaney is also a better bassist than most would give him credit for, and drummer Joe Hasslevander is an unsung hero all around (though apparently some other guy recorded drums for a couple tracks on some versions of Day of Reckoning, I forget the exact details). Oh, and "Wartime" is the stoic closer every classic metal album needs of course.

FUCK. Again, I'm a youngin, so I'm reviewing the now-standard reissued track-listing. It wasn't always this way, though. If I remember correctly, "Day of Reckoning" was still the opener on the original issuing, but "Evil Seed" was way later on in the album. "Madman" was weirdly stuck in the middle of the record too. So yeah, the reissued track-listing is better paced but all the songs here are excellent, bar-none ESSENTIAL doom, so it doesn't matter too much how you organize them, as listening to the Turn to Stone compilation from Peaceville Records reveals. That CD has a lot of their best songs on it, and it starts with "Petrified" from Be Forewarned which is a mid-paced deep cut.

Now, I've already essentially said this, but it doesn't really get any better than Day of Reckoning musically. Review Your Choices is generally doomier and heavier (and my #1 favorite), while Be Forewarned is a hell of a lot more varied and complete, perhaps even more creatively bright, but Day of Reckoning is just it, man. You need this record and you have no excuses for not owning it that aren't related to finances. It's accessible. It's doomy. It's good.