If ever there was a woulda-been, shoulda-been in metal’s history, its Pentagram. The band formed and reformed time an again from 1971 and 1985, when their first official album was released. The intervening years are what brought them to prominence, finding footing in D.C. and hacking out a sound that would grow thicker and more indebted to Black Sabbath over time. First Daze Here, however, is focused on that early period before they’d finally coalesce. Recorded on the cheap in several studios across D.C., the collection had been formed and remastered by Relapse in the early aughts and is now making its way to vinyl. The sounds here are more indebted to an evolution out of garage, finding their way through The Groundhogs and into Blue Cheer’s fuzzy embrace on the path to total Sabbath immersion. There’s a second collection that gets further into the garagey beginnings but its not as hard hitting or as revelatory as First Daze Here. Much as its interesting to hear an early Pentagram cover Syndicate of Sound’s “Little Games” its much more indicative where they’d find their start to hear “When The Screams Come” or “Review Your Choices”.
The doom metal they’d ultimately use as a calling card began to crawl out of these songs. Eventually, amid so many lineup shifts its a bit hard to keep track, the band evolved and became the force that emerged on Relentless. Their debut still stands as a classic talisman to metal heads with ears that were wider ranging in the ’80s than what graced the radio dial. Pentagram laid the groundwork for a new wave of doom metal to poke its head through the sand as the ’80s would wear into the ’90s and eventually birth the type of fare that Southern Lord built their house upon. There are even some clearer versions here of the band’s classics. I’d wager that the version of “20 Buck Spin” on First Daze Here carries more weight than the Relentless version, and definitely speaks to the influences at play in the song better than the shoddy production work on their more well known recording. Its been around the block at this point, but for those with History of Metal 101 on the syllabus in perpetuity, this is a vital vinyl snag to be sure.
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