Album Title: Under the Black Cross
Label: Iron Pegasus
This is the second full-length album from Pentacle, a band from the Netherlands that plays old-school death metal.
The production on this album is quite clear and punishing. The vocals are right up front: they're understandable deathy snarls that remind me of the current frontman for Desaster. The guitars are sharp, with plenty of low-end that's further augmented by the bass, giving the album an extremely heavy sound. The drums are great, with plenty of clever fills when they're not pounding straight ahead.
Pentacle were certainly paying attention during Celtic Frost class -- they've got that sort of old, old death metal sound. They add in some thrashy guitars in the fast sections, too, all built on a foundation of genius riffing. The smooth transitions and perfectly placed speed changes ensure that these songs will get into your head and stay there. The lyrics and subject of the album are excellent, as well: it's a concept album, based upon a successful British suicide mission of World War II. As a result, Under the Black Cross has a feeling of triumph mixed with hopelessness that's quite powerful, and gives this album a surprising amount of atmosphere. From the opening salvo to the final notes of "Awaiting the Blast of Death", this album delivers song after song of top-notch death.
This is the best death metal album of 2005, as far as I'm concerned -- one of the best death metal albums in recent years, for that matter, right up there with Mortem's Decomposed by Possession. This band deserves an accolade for Under the Black Cross, as it's an instant classic in my eyes. Highest recommendations.
Standout Tracks: "Into the Fiery Jaws", "A Devil's Shooting Gallery", "Awaiting the Blast of Death"