Pentagram: “Sub-Basement” LP/CD

If you have read his blog or any interviews about the period, it really is a miracle that this album was ever recorded. But Joe Hasselvander was determined. He just needed Bobby Leibling to sing and sing he did. There may have been complaints about it being another blend of old and new songs although that charge would still be grossly unfair. The performances throughout, particularly Hasselvander’s heavier than hell fretwork and pounding fluid battery really made the record buoyant and it has not showed any signs of subsiding over a decade later. The early aural assault of “Bloodlust” and “Buzzsaw” is relentless. This culminates in the fraught “Drive Me to the Grave” before tumbling headfirst down a steep flight of steps into the “Sub-Basement” of nightmares. Special mention must go to the Blue Cheer tinged “Target” with Bobby in mighty fine form before being engulfed by Joe’s tumultuous storm. How one man can whip up such a tempest is incomprehensible.  Equally inexplicable, in my original assessment, “Mad Dog” and “After The Last” appear to have wound me up and for the life of me I cannot fathom why. If anything, my appreciation for the album as a whole has deepened with passing time. Perhaps not perfect or as landmark as the ‘80s output, some out there will continue to dismiss the record. But if there is any justice, the revamped Svart vinyl pressings of recent times should have turned a few heads towards this neglected era. “Just remember baby, I used to be like you…”

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