Album of the Week 39-2016: Pentagram – Unspoken

Pentagram’s second album with the excellent singer Murat İlkan was the last one that was released internationally, albeit under the band name Mezarkabul outside of Turkey to avoid confusion with the American Doom Metal band Pentagram. The fact that the record contained songs in English exclusively raises the suspicion that the band was still aiming for the international market, but luckily, the Middle-Eastern scales and slight Folk leanings – emphasizsed by the ney playing courtesy of session musician İlhan Baruçu – are still present in Pentagram’s well-written, mostly midtempo Heavy Metal. ‘Unspoken’ is not too complex, yet has a depth many bands in the genre should envy.

While the record isn’t quite as adventurous as its direct predecessor ‘Anatolia’, ‘Unspoken’ does a good job consolidating Pentagram’s style. Up until this point, the band was searching for their comfort zone, incorporating elements of Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Power Metal and even some progressive touches. Here, the band really found its style. The tempo is never really high, but that gives the melodies and İlkan – Turkey’s Bruce Dickinson – all the room they need to shine. The aggression is mainly limited to Hakan Utangaç’s incredibly crunchy rhythm guitar, but since the songs are so strong, that really isn’t a problem.

If there ever was a true opening salvo on a Pentagram record, it’s here. After the excellent intro ‘We Come From Nowhere’, ‘In Esîr Like An Eagle’ is probably the ultimate opening track the band ever recorded. Epic Heavy Metal to the max with relatively simple, but brutally effective riffs and one of İlkan’s finest vocal performances to date. After the crushing heaviness of the title track, ‘Lions In A Cage’ is probably the most Middle-Eastern sounding song on the record and one of the highlights in Pentagram’s discography. ‘For The One Unchanging’ manages to be progressive and extremely passionate at the same time.

The instrumental ‘Mezarkabul’ – which, like the outro ‘For Those Who Died Alone’, is good, but slightly too long – functions as sort of an act break, after which the slightly more experimental second half of the album follows. As a result, it’s somewhat less memorable, although the heartfelt ‘This Too Will Pass’ has a chorus that won’t leave your head. ‘Pain’ is probably the most Doomy track the Turks have ever recorded and ‘Puratu’ features a highly progressive middle section. The guitar solos courtesy of Onur ‘Cat’ Pamukçu and Metin Türkcan – the latter of which joined as a fulltime member shortly after the album’s release – really stand out here.

Regardless of what name graces the cover, anyone who comes across ‘Unspoken’ – or really anything the band released after the mid-nineties – should get it. Not many bands these days have as much character as Pentagram does and unlike many contemporary Metal bands, they don’t need an overload of intricate riffs or clashing styles to create a rich, interesting sound. And they’re not quite as highbrow about their cultural heritage as some other bands from the region are: the influence is there, it just blends with the Heavy Metal sound perfectly. Worth a listen for anyone bored with the uniformity of contemporary western Metal.

Recommended tracks: ‘Lions In A Cage’, ‘In Esîr Like An Eagle’, ‘For The One Unchanging’

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