High Vaultage

An oft-damaged metal career, documented for posterity

The liner notes to this double disc of vault-scrapings portray Pentagram bandleader Bobby Liebling as kind of a prick, given to career-damaging outbursts in front of talent scouts. Too bad, really, because these old metal songs (even the ones he hasn't re-recorded a half-dozen times with later lineups) are the work of a distinctive talent. "When the Screams Come" and "Be Forewarned" are better Sabbath songs than anything post–Vol. 4.

Liebling's high, thin voice is hypnotic, and guitarists Vincent McAllister and Randy Palmer create an impressive psych-blues roar. These demos and rehearsal tapes document the Virginia-based band's search for a sound—most major early '70s hard rock styles are tried on, from Deep Purple throb to melodic Sweet crunch. Two covers, the Stones' "Under My Thumb" and the Yardbirds' "Little Games," are remade as stomping hard-rock anthems. And though the band came closest to success with three albums recorded between 1984 and 1994, these archival recordings contain many other glorious moments—the apocalyptic version of "Show 'Em How" that closes Disc Two in particular.

 
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