Album of the Week 08-2013: Pentagram – Anatolia

While Turkey’s Pentagram never was a band to release the same type of album twice, ‘Anatolia’ was a step forward from their first two efforts. With the arrival of Murat İlkan’s fantastic vocal range, the band shifted from Thrash Metal towards a mid-tempo, somewhat progressive Power Metal sound with a lot of room for influences from their native country. Being a big fan of oriental influences in Heavy Metal, ‘Anatolia’ completely blew my mind the first time I heard it, but even fans of somewhat more “casual” Power Metal should admit that this is a spectacular album.

Part of what makes ‘Anatolia’ so amazing is the focus on the actual songs rather than speed, blazing leads and rolling double bass drums. There are still some hints of the sound heard on the first two albums (‘Welcome The End’, ‘On The Run’), but Hakan Utangaç’s and Demir Demirkan’s riffs on this album are closer to Candlemass than Slayer, the traditional Turkish instruments like the saz, the bendir and the ney were nowhere to be found on the earlier releases and there is a much stronger focus on melody than ever before, no doubt helped by the introduction of a singer who facilitates them to do so.

Regardless of what label you would give Pentagram’s music, the songs speak for themselves. Though the entire hour the album lasts is nothing short of brilliant, there’s some songs that stand out. For instance, there’s the progressive masterpiece ‘Behind The Veil’, of which the opening riff suggests a Thrasher, but it eventually turns into a brilliantly sung, melodic track with a passionate chorus and some fantastic twists. ‘1000 In The Eastland’ is a dark semi-Thrasher and an anti-war statement. ‘Fall Of A Hero’ is a powerful, eighties USPM inspired semi-ballad, ‘Stand To Fall’ and ‘Give Me Something To Kill The Pain’ are somewhat more conventional Hardrock songs that make amazing use of multiple layers of vocals and ‘∞’ is a beautiful acoustic ballad sung in Turkish.

Speaking of the Turkish language, ‘Anatolia’ is where Pentagram first started releasing tracks in Turkish and I tend to like those the most. Case in point: ‘Anatolia’ itself is presented in both English and Turkish here. When listening to it individually, I usually put on the Turkish version. Somehow I like that one better, though both versions are musically identical. Either way, it’s a brilliant song. Also, Pentagram covers the immensely populair Turkish traditional ‘Gündüz Gece’ here. A simply fantastic rendition of a beautiful song.

‘Anatolia’ is the album that made Pentagram (or Mezarkabul, if you want to be strict for any country outside of Turkey) the band they are today. It’s a spectacular, powerful and melodic Heavy Metal album with stellar vocals and a distinct oriental touch. This is a record that makes the best elements of east and west come together and as such is an incredibly enjoyable record. Seriously, you’ll have to hear it to believe it. The time that the best Metal bands were from the US, England, Germany and Scandinavia is over, taking a look at Israel and Turkey may be just as rewarding.

Recommended tracks: ‘Behind The Veil’, ‘1000 In The Eastland’, ‘∞’, ‘Anatolia’

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