Pentacle, chained within the mythical realms of primeaval black/death metal
Chained within the mythical realms of primeaval black/death metal, so graciously unveiled in the early 80's by hallowed cults such as Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Possessed, Messiah, Destruction, Necrovore, Bathory, Treblinka, Slaughter (CAN) and Necrophagia, Pentacle's sepulchral tribute, to this unforgotten legacy, started back in winter '89/'90 when Mike (guitar), Wannes (bass/vocals) and Marc (drums) joined forces...
After so many years of active service, the musical concept of the band is still firmly rooted in the golden ‘80’s, though remains far from being a mere copy-cat of the forefathers of extreme Metal. Don’t make the mistake to file Pentacle under the current retro-trend. They started performing their music when only a selected ( and loyal) audience still was interested in this honest style of music. Others sailed the seas of successive trends. Pentacle didn’t. Together with an obscure, yet individual lyrical approach, the band always worked hard to create a personal style, based on ancient Metal values. Remember this when listening to Pentacle’s releases...
interview with Wannes on 20-06-2002 by Nathaniel
You are in the underground since more than two months, and people know you through ASPHYX and PENTACLE. Please tell me how you started to be in the metal movement before you played in these two bands.
Back in 1983 a cousin of mine was into bands like Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Saxon, Exciter and such bands. As we met each other pretty often I noticed the t-shirts he was wearing. This made me interested in hearing their music. First band I heard was Iron Maiden. It just clicked! Afterwards bands like Judas Priest and Twisted Sister made their entry. BUT...very soon after having discovered these bands I heard on a local radio show the most blackest and extreme music ever created, VENOM! That was it! I mean, I still think the old Iron Maiden records are killer and I still play them regular, but Venom was the first band I got really enthusiastic about. The music, the lyrics and the image...it just fitted. The first songs I heard from them were “Bloodlust / In Nomine Satanas” from the “Bloodlust” EP. This was my kind of music! To the bone and full of power. After Venom bands as Metallica came with their “Kill ‘em all” and Slayer’s “Show no Mercy”, but to me, they never could reach Venom’s level of evil. And yes, even then I knew Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon weren’t such skilled musicians as above-mentioned acts. Music means for me emotions and not necessarily great skills. I love simple music. I can enjoy technical acts as well, but most times simple music comes straight from the heart and not from the brain. Anyway, Venom really ignited the spark in me. It was not until the discovery of Celtic Frost I enjoyed a band that much as the crazy trio from Newcastle, England. When I heard Frost’s “Morbid Tales” for the first time, I knew Venom had some mean competition. Indeed, Frost took the throne and still has it. Together with Venom’s “At War with Satan” and the mentioned 7”, Possessed’s “Beyond the Gates” and Hellhammer’s “Apocalyptic Raids”, all the Frost albums up to “Into the Pandemonium” are my favourite items on vinyl. These are some classic LP’s! I went to see bands live. I saw some great acts live like old Kreator, Sodom, Messiah and Celtic Frost. My world would never be the same again. At that period I started to get involved in the underground as well. I traded tapes and bought demos from all over the world. I still keep this time close to my heart as it means very much to me. The music was exciting, fresh and new and it made its mark on my soul. Those were the days!
Your point of view about what death metal must be seem to be rare nowadays. I mean that a lot of bands claim they’re brutal as they just have a compact sound with not understandable riffs and voices sounding like frogs. How have you felt the evolution of death metal, and how do you see it’s future?
Good question. Well, I’m glad there’s a certain way of development within the Death Metal scene. Although I’m a total old school freak, I wouldn’t like to see or hear the 100th copy of a band like Possessed. I witnessed the first wave of Death Metal with acts as Celtic Frost, Possessed, Mantas / Death, Hellhammer and more or less the more unknown underground bands as Slaughter, Necrophagia, Messiah and Master / Death strike. At the end of the 80’s there was a gigantic progression of the underground. I can’t mention them all, but bands like Morbid Angel, Nihilist, Acheron, Necrovore, Obscurity, Asphyx, Rigor Mortis / Immolation, Grave, Order from Chaos, Grotesque, Incubus (FL), Sindrome, Nocturnus, Dr. Shrinker, Mefisto and Poison draw influences from the first wave and created something new and maybe even more heavier and extreme than what people heard before. The first (major) Death Metal wave ended pretty soon, but in the underground, there was something happening for sure. This was a very exciting time. Almost every demo I bought was a killer and became a classic later. The debut records of many of the mentioned bands became classics as well. Just think about "Altars of Madness", "Left Hand Path", "The Rack", "Dawn of Possession", "Slowly We Rot" and many more. After this huge explosion Death Metal became a bit "safe". It wasn’t that exciting anymore. In the early 90’s the Black Metal-revival showed its ugly head. Mayhem, Burzum, Marduk, Darkthrone, Emperor, Samael, Immortal, Master’s Hammer, and more such bands became very popular. Death Metal was declared dead. Personally I enjoyed lots of these Black Metal bands and I still do, but Death Metal was always more close to my heart than Black Metal (with the exception of the mighty Venom and Bathory). Lucky enough, a lot of bands still kept the banner of Death high. And now, with the third wave of Death Metal, there’s an emphasis on speed, techniques and brutality. I do enjoy a band like Nile. They add some interesting aspects to this extreme music, but this is the first time I’m not too enthusiastic about the ?resurrection? of my beloved music. Often I miss the catchy melodies, which makes a song sound great to my ears. It’s just blasting with so many tempo-changes. I don’t enjoy such music too much. Granted, I still think bands like Morbid Angel, Angel Corpse, Hate Eternal, Kristin, Sinister, Centurion, Monstrosity, Immolation and Incantation are doing a great job, but give me Sadistic Intent any moment rather than Cryptophytes. No offence, but it’s not my kind of music. I’m more into old school-stuff. In the end, I’m glad Death Metal is still going strong. It’s just I enjoyed its earlier versions more. That’s my opinion.
Pentacle is now an old band. Please say how you managed to stay metal as a lot of people often quit this genre when they become older i.e. Crass from CRUSHER playing now in BOOST (a mix between Hardcore and new metal, with a lot of samples) or the guys from PESTILENCE who have spit on their original fans, and have done a pitiful album (Spheres) before they disappeared. What makes that you still keep the inner flame of death metal?
I think a very important reason lies in the fact I am a fan of this music first of all. The musician comes afterwards. I must say I don’t get the same excitement as when I bought my first records anymore, but when an album is really good, I really can be very enthusiastic about it. Telling everybody how great this is and that they have to buy it, etc. I’m still very much a fan. I still buy demos of upcoming bands and try to support them as well as I can. I still buy loads of CD’s and LP’s. My collection is growing and growing. Listening to an album as ?To Mega Therion? or ?Seven Churches? gives me as much satisfaction as it did in the 80’s. I just still love this kind of music, where as other musicians ?grow up?. They learn to appreciate other music than Death Metal. There’s nothing wrong with that, but often, they change so radically. When I come up with a new riff with sounds great to me, I still get shivers down my spine. I still got this particular Death Metal-vibe in my blood. When a band is playing which I enjoy much, I go to the front-row bang my head. I’m glad I still have this somewhat childish enthusiasm. That’s important to keep the spirit within myself alive. And of course I’ve changed though the years. It would be wrong if I still was the same Wannes as 10 years ago, but I’m very glad I still feel my blood boil when I hear a great song. The feeling is unbeatable!
How would you describe PENTACLE to someone, like me, who has just discovered the band? Which bands are the inspirations of PENTACLE?
I tend to say Pentacle is a band, which plays Ancient Death Metal. For lots of people it’s hard to understand we’re a Death Metal band. They can’t recognize our influences, because often, these are pretty obscure. We do have influences from the more known bands I mentioned earlier in this interview. The bands that made such a great impact on me , when I heard them for the first time. You know, Venom, Celtic Frost, Possessed and Hellhammer. I’ve heard these bands when I was a teenager so these bands influenced me quite a lot. But also a lot bands from the 2nd wave of Death Metal had their impact. Some bands I would to like to mention are Necrovore, Asphyx, Treblinka and Pentagram. Mix the before mentioned bands together with the likes of Slaughter, Messiah and Necrophagia, there’s Pentacle. All my favourite bands have an influence on me when writing material for the band. It’s not like you can hear all these influences. I certainly have an old Mayhem influence, but that one is more on a spiritual level. Mike brought some old Destruction, Death and Obituary-influences with him, while our former drummer was totally into old Kreator (?Endless Pain? / ?Pleasure to Kill?). So put 3 people together, mix their influences, and then you have a band like ours. I must say it’s all hardcore metal. Those who know understand what I’m trying to say here. Some years ago I was into this pigeon-holing too (Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Black Metal, etc.), but nowadays it’s more important if the band plays great music rather than to discuss whether they’re thrash or whatever. You get my point?
What do you think about THE RAVENOUS, the new band with Dan Lilker, Chris Reifert, Danny Coralles and Killjoy? Was Autopsy an important band for your music? What do you think about bands in the same vein like INCANTATION, ASPHYX, and DEMIGOD?
The Ravenous is killer! Their album is fuckin’ great! It reminds me so much of old Autopsy, a band I like very, very much. The Ravenous and Autopsy aren’t the same bands, but the feeling is very much alike. Chris’ vocals are sick! Sometimes I get the feeling The Ravenous is an all-star band, but as said before, let the music do talking! I enjoy The Ravenous more than Abscess, Chris’ other band. I hear quite a lot Autopsy in this band too, but they have some weirdo-parts as well which aren’t my taste. Autopsy didn’t have a direct influence on Pentacle. When we started, Autopsy was very popular, just like the other Death Metal from that time. We were more hitting the first wave of Death Metal and deliberately took some distance from what happened at that time. I bought all the good albums and went to numerous gigs, but related to the band, our direction was quite a bit different from most of the other bands. And as Autopsy was an influence for many bands at that time, we stayed away from that. But yes, I totally enjoy their music. I own all their albums. Personally I think “Severed Survival” and “Mental Funeral” are their best, not to forget the demos. But I’m into the other 2 albums as well. It’s Autopsy, so it’s killer, ha, ha! If you’re into Autopsy, check out Murder Squad from Sweden. This outfit sounds more like Autopsy than The Ravenous. They did a totally great album on Pavement Records. Get it!
As for the other band you mentioned, Asphyx always was my favourite Dutch Death Metal band. I know them from demo 1 “Enter the Domain” and followed them from very close. They always had a very particular sound of their own and had some great vocalists in the persons of Theo Loomans and Martin van Drunen. I love all their albums, especially “On the Wings of Inferno” ha, ha! No, I think “Embrace the Death” and “Last One on Earth” are their best. Of Demigod, I enjoyed their “Unholy Domain” demo a lot. Their album was OK, but not has the standard of their demo. Incantation is a band I can appreciate too. It’s not I listen to everyday, but I own all their albums too. The first and the third are for me their best ones. They have a great attitude towards the scene and Death Metal. A totally honest band and cool guys as well. Last year, we did a gig with them in Germany and they did a very good job. A very seasoned band.
You said in your interview with UNHOLY TERROR (the almighty German death metal fanzine) that you had war paint in 1991-92, but that you stopped to wear make-up while the black metal wave came from the North. What did you find powerful in the war paint? Don’t you think that the metal movement is sometimes more exposed to clichés than to a true musical feeling?
As said before, when the 2nd Death Metal wave was very big and lots of bands were being influenced by it, we were heading in another direction. As the older bands were influencing our music, we tried something in this direction visual as well. I never liked it when I saw a Death Metal band live with basketball-shoes, jeans and a colourful t-shirt. Yes, everybody can decide for his / her own what to do in life, but I felt when playing such powerful music, one has to fit the visual concept as well. So when we did our first gigs, we decided to approach this on another way than all the other bands at that time. So Mike, our guitarist, used studs and bullet-belts, while both of us used war paint. The obvious Hellhammer / Celtic Frost-influence. I must say, the people in the crowd looked pretty astonished when we hit the stage. As Black Metal was coming up very slowly from the underground, they never saw something like what we did. Mayhem and Darkthrone were doing their paint, while in Holland we only had the infamous Bestial Summoning doing the same as us, wearing paint on stage. When the whole Black Metal movement was becoming bigger and bigger we decided to stop our painting. We didn’t wanted to be put together with all these new acts coming up. We enjoy(ed) lots of Black Metal bands, but we felt we were doing something different. The whole paint thing became quite a trend and as we never followed trends I’m glad we decided to end it there. It fitted our concept well, but it was time to move on.
You’re right about the 2nd part of your question. Metal is for a big part about clichés. Just think about the lyrics and some music as well. The outfit too. The leather, spikes, bullet-belts, the posing, doing the “Evil”-sign, and yes, the paint too. Some clichés are just great. Just think this posing of bands like Possessed, Hellhammer, Sarcofago and Venom. I still think it’s incredible great. Some bands are trying to get hold of the same feeling as those mentioned bands, so they use everything their old masters used to do, including the posing. We did some of those sessions too and it just feels great! Letting the beast inside take control! Yes, it’s totally cliché and 100th of bands have done it before, but it just looks great. The best photo ever made is the one of good old Tom Warrior on the backside of their first album, “Morbid Tales”. This one says it all. None more evil than Tom Warrior! I agree certain bands are very much fixated on their image. The most important thing is the music. That has to come first, then the image. A band can have a great image, but when the music sucks, it’s over and done. On the other side, there are lots of bands with the attitude “let the music do the talking”. I think everybody can find what he / she likes in Metal. Be it Manowar or Queensryche, Darkthrone or Iron Maiden. There’s enough to choose from for everybody. Some clichés are indeed great and belong to our beloved music and some not. Let everybody decide for himself or herself.
Nowadays, I find that everything is broken by a vicious iconoclasm. I mean that you can’t do anything or say something without people come to you and break it by their ignorance. That’s the fact with metal that has been too much exploited by the records companies, which have just found a way to put metal genres in little boxes. Why would I be ashamed to love both MANOWAR(old) and DEATH or TESTAMENT at the same time? What do you think about that?
I know lots of people who enjoy different styles of Metal. That’s cool. I mean, one can listen to f.e. Vader next to Helloween. I must confess I’m not the most open-minded guy, but I just love the new Pentagram album, “Sub-basement”. It’s not an extreme album, but it kicks ass and that’s the most important! I feel not ashamed listening to old Candlemass after I’ve had my amount of Sadistic Intent. When you like a band, take a listen to them. It’s important to stay honest towards yourself. I know it wasn’t cool to listen to Manowar when there’s a Morbid Angel as well. When I was younger I was craving for the heaviest band I could get too. It’s more important to listen to good music than listen to bands because they’re “cool”. Whether they’re called Blind Guardian or Nile, if you enjoy them, good! I know especially the “heavy” scene can be pretty much narrow-minded. Just think about the 2nd Black Metal wave with Burzum, Emperor, Darkthrone, etc. You weren’t allowed to listen to most other bands then the before mentioned ones. I’ve always listened to the bands I enjoyed, even though they weren’t “hip” anymore. Quality pays itself of and it’s not because of the sole reason it’s Death or Black Metal.
And yes, there are so many different styles of metal within metal. It’s just laughable. We too had our share with our ?Ancient Death Metal?-moniker too. In the end, it’s just all Metal and that’s the most important thing, right? In some way I find it understandable everything is being put into different boxes, as you said. It’s in the human nature to do such thing. I do it as well and more often than I thought to do.
If death metal was a beer, which one would it be according to you? And please give your own definition of death metal.
That’s the most difficult question you’ve asked me, because I don’t drink any alcohol. I’ve seen such questions asked in other interviews before, and I always thought to myself what my answer would be. Pf, that’s a hard one. May I change “beer” into “cola”? Yes? Well, I wouldn’t drink it because it would be hazardous as hell, ha, ha! It would be foul, pitch-black, aggressive and of course, deadly! Fuckin’ acid!
The famous Unholy Terror-question, right? Well Death Metal means the following items to me:
As stated on the back of our new t-shirts.
Would you like to ask me a question?
I would like to ask you 2 questions. First, how did you get to know our band and second, which is your ultimate Death Metal band and why?
I know that you are very interested in historical books about the conflict in the 20th century. Is it an other period which deserves your interest? Have you already practised archaeology or studied History in the university? Have you ever visited France and it’s places of World War 2 fights?
I’m interested in history in general, but my real passion goes out to the 2nd World War. That’s true. I’ve always enjoyed history-classes in school. There are many great stories to be told and there’s enough to learn from, if one wants to. I never really studied History at the university, but I can tell you after having read so many books and discussed certain topics with good friends of mine I’ve developed quite some knowledge. I wanted to take a study in History, but I really wanted to solely concentrate on WWII, which wasn’t possible, so I dropped the idea. Sometimes I wished I had taken the study, but as history isn’t reversible, I have to do it what I have. Yes, I’ve visited France a couple of times. I’ve been to the Normandy and visited the landing-beaches and all the museums in the neighbourhood. Very interesting and impressive. I would like to visit more battlegrounds.
Here’s the conclusion that belongs to you dear.
Well, Nathaniel. That’s all I guess for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview and my answers. Now you know a bit more about the band. Check out our website at: http://free.of.pl/p/pentacle or contact me by written letter. Thanks for your support and all the best with your band and zine!
DON’T FORGET THE ANCIENT FEELING…IT STILL RULES!!!!