Better known in the western world as MEZARKABUL and absolutely not to be confused with the legendary doom metal band of the same name, PENTAGRAM are among Turkey's most heavyweight bands. Formed at the height of the thrash era, they have evolved constantly over the years, from the relative traditionalism of their early works to a sophisticated, esoteric blend of epic metal and assorted homegrown and Middle Eastern influences. Hugely popular at home but largely unsung elsewhere, PENTAGRAM are long overdue some recognition, and "Makina Elektrika" is the perfect record to make it happen.
Echoing the holistic euphoria of HELLOWEEN's recent reunion / expansion, PENTAGRAM reunited with all their previous vocalists for 2017's "Akustik" hits set, and have simply carried on with the same, nine-man lineup ever since. The result of a rejuvenated creative process, "Makina Elektrika" is the perfect introduction to the band's entire catalogue, as they switch seamlessly between styles, with vocalists Gökalp Ergen, Murat Ílkan and Ogün Sanlisoy contributing wildly differing but neatly harmonious performances.
Much of this is neatly in line with ORPHANED LAND's vision of Oriental metal, albeit with rather more classic metal crunch underpinning the songs. "Bu Düzen Yikilsin" is a great starting point, with its skewed but elegant riffs and otherworldly percussive embellishments. In contrast, "Sur" is a bittersweet melodic anthem, underscored by refined guitar harmonies but equally steeped in classy '80s radio rock. "Pride" changes tone and texture again, this time to a stately and ethereal strain of power metal, replete with a prog-tinged, syncopated breakdown. Elsewhere, "Sensiz" gets sluggish and sinister, as Sanlisoy snarls and spits across a lumbering, quasi-death / doom splurge; "Maymunlar Gezegeni" is a taut and nimble burst of progressive thrash; "Ödenmez" is a beautiful, acoustic reverie, with shades of SABBATH's "Planet Caravan" but viewed through an Eastern prism.
All of that should be more than enough to convince sensible people to explore PENTAGRAM's catalogue more thoroughly, but if not, the closing cover of METALLICA's "Seek And Destroy" will surely be the clincher. Instead of pursuing the usual, lazily respectful course, the Turkish nontet have rebuilt the entire song in their own inimitable, esoteric way, and it's utterly inspired and genuinely audacious.
35 years into their careers, PENTAGRAM (or, if you prefer, MEZARKABUL) have little to prove, but "Makina Elektrika" proves it anyway. A class act.