(Finnish web site, English translation below)
The Dutch have a long tradition of death metal: Pestilence, Asphyx, Soulburn, Gorefest, Eternal Solstice, Delirium and so on. Founded in 1989, Pentacle is not at the forefront of local releases, probably due to the band’s underground attitude and slow record pace, rather than its quality of music. However, the band’s captain Wannes Gubbles has sung among others as a singer and bassist for Soulburn and Asphyx, so it’s still not that unknown.
Although the band has a 30-year track record, Specter Of The Eight Ropes is only their third album. Nothing has really changed, however, as Wanness’s hair experienced the Nifelheim and then disappeared completely, while guitarist Mike Verhoeven now has a ZZ Top beard. The rest of the band and the record still echo its slogan “Don’t forget the ancient feeling … it still rules”. So don’t expect when listening to Pentacle to hear modern death metal. The comparison could also be made a bit towards Asphyx, mainly because of Wanness’ tearing singing style, though there is a bit of Obituary’s John Tardy in the man’s voice. The music itself also features the airy groove characteristic of Celtic Frost.
The Specter Of The Eight Ropes as a whole is a pretty straightforward old school breeze, but there’s also a bit of technicality to it, in the right proportion. The war themes of the previous album Under The Black Cross (2005) are still covered, and the musical content of the Specter … album is an overwhelming, warlike roll. The footsteps are immediately apparent when the Behold … Denial, Despair and Cruelty launch a foreground attack in a violent rhythm. Mid-tempo I Christen Thee Doom! relying on sawing riffs for a very multi-faceted design language without losing power. Gubbels’ violent use of voice does not pity either the man himself or the listener.
Basically, the whole sequel to the album follows the format of the songs I described above, but Pentacle has enough stakes for new destinations right up to the end. However, while the songs aren’t quite straightforward forging, the content that opens up through its nuances requires a few rounds of listening before the whole unit begins to take shape as a standalone song wall. Weak moments are not found on the album and every song redeems its place. As a bonus, the CD version features Necrophagian Forbidden Pleasures, which also serves as a tribute to Killjoy, who died last year.
Pentacle’s debut album … Rides The Moonstorm (1998) and the pre-mini mini-LP The Fifth Moon (1996) are still crowned with the band’s production, but Specter Of The Eight Ropes stands in line. It is an overpowering and intense death metal with dry gunpowder and painful death. At the end of the year, Specter Of The Eight Ropes has to be at the forefront of weighing in on the death metal albums.