Earthen Grave, Mount Salem, Relentless
2109 South State St
Chicago, IL, 60616
This event is 17 and over
Although PENTAGRAM did not officially form until 1971, the beginnings of the band date back to 1970, when vocalist Bobby Liebling joined Washington DC area band, SPACE MEAT, who then changed their name to STONE BUNNY. Aside from Liebling, the line-up featured John Jennings (guitar), Greg Mayne (bass) and Geof O'Keefe (drums), all of whom later turned up in PENTAGRAM. STONE BUNNY only stayed together for a few months because Liebling's harder vocal style wasn't right for Jennings' often melodic material, and they parted ways with the Jennings/Mayne/O'Keefe trio reverting back to the moniker SPACE MEAT before splitting up a brief time later.
In the fall of 1971, Liebling and O'Keefe decided to pool their talents and form a band that could play originals in the heavy style they both loved. In addition to Liebling (vocals) and O'Keefe (switching to guitar), the very first line-up featured Vincent McAllister (bass), and Steve Martin (drums). They began working up original material influenced by their idols including Blue Cheer, The Frost, The Groundhogs, Stray, and Sir Lord Baltimore, and yet even in this embryonic phase, the sound was uniquely PENTAGRAM. After a month, John Jennings returned to the fold giving the band a twin-guitar style of groups like Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy but it soon became apparent that further fine-tuning was needed. Martin's jazz-influence style wasn't right for the heavy direction the band wanted to go in, and so O'Keefe returned to the drums. This sadly unrecorded Mark III line-up of Liebling/Jennings/McAllister/O'Keefe lasted for all of one rehearsal which blew everyone away, but later that evening, Jennings phoned O'Keefe and said he really didn't want to play heavy hard rock, leaving the remaining three members disappointed and without a guitarist.
The trio soldiered on briefly with Liebling playing rudimentary guitar so they could at least keep working on material until one day when bassist McAllister suggested he try playing guitar. Liebling and O'Keefe figured they had nothing to lose and after a few numbers, realized there had been a guitar hero posing as a bassist in the line-up all that time! They were blown away by his Leigh Stephens-styled soloing, wild and raw. It was just what they needed. O'Keefe promptly phoned his former SPACE MEAT pal bassist Greg Mayne (who also was a friend of Vincent's to begin with, living in the same area) and on Christmas day 1971, the classic "original line-up" of PENTAGRAM was born, although technically it was the 4th version of the band. They rehearsed as often as possible for three to four hours a night at a bulk mailing warehouse in Alexandria, VA where O'Keefe's dad was an executive. Just before the band's first promotional-only single, "Be Forewarned"/"Lazy Lady" was to be pressed in the summer of 1972, the band decided to avoid the potential controversy of being labelled a 'satanic' band and changed their name to MACABRE. Subsequently realizing people had difficulty correctly pronouncing that word (Muh-cah-bra), they went through a number of other names such as VIRGIN DEATH and WICKED ANGEL before finally and permanently reverting back to PENTAGRAM. They played their first live gig on December 8th, 1973 at Montgomery Junior College in Maryland. This Liebling/McAllister/Mayne/O'Keefe line-up remained constant (with the exception of two additions) until late 1976.
Briefly in 1974, Randy Palmer was added on second guitar and was in the band long enough to take part in the classic National Sound Warehouse sessions as well as their recording of the Rolling Stones' classic, "Under My Thumb." This line-up made its debut at the Falls Church Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia in July of 1974. Palmer left and rejoined the band again in 1975 but after another short stint was once again out of the band. Later that same year, PENTAGRAM was courted by CBS/Columbia Records and were brought to New York City to record demos with Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman. Krugman/Pearlman were well-known and quite hot at the time for their work with Blue Oyster Cult and The Dictators, among others. Unfortunately, due to a falling-out in the studio during the sessions, nothing came of it and the demos were never fully completed.
It was during this time when Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS were invited to the band's rehearsal by then-manager and big-time rock journalist Gordon Fletcher. The band was ill-prepared and not in the best form that day, and Simmons and Stanley weren't particularly impressed. It is oft-rumored that KISS offered to purchase the PENTAGRAM songs, "Starlady" and "Hurricane" and were turned down by the band, but there are strong conflicting recollections as to whether this actually ever happened. KISS were successfully writing their own material at the time and on the brink of huge success, having just released Alive a few months earlier, and PENTAGRAM could have definitely used the money. Additionally, the chief writer of "Starlady" was Randy Palmer, and Palmer, who tragically passed away in 2002 following an auto accident, stated repeatedly that he was never approached to sell the song. It is believed this in fact might have been an idea of Fletcher's and that he was floating the idea to the band before presenting it to KISS.
After the Columbia and KISS incidents along with other internal conflicts, Vincent, Greg and Geof decided to part ways with Bobby in early 1976, but as he owned the name, couldn't use it without him. They worked up new originals written by O'Keefe and auditioned singers, and along the way added guitarist Marty Iverson to the line-up. Eventually they decided to give Bobby another shot and wound up gigging quite frequently in the fall of that year, in addition to recording a 5-track demo at Underground Sound.
More conflicts within the band and with the managers led to a final split at the end of 1976. Vincent and Geof went on to be a part of a new local band assembled by the managers, while Bobby went on to form a completely new line-up of PENTAGRAM.
In mid 1978, Bobby Liebling met drummer Joe Hasselvander. He was drumming for a local DC band who had opened up for PENTAGRAM. The two discussed their love of The Groundhogs and heavy rock and started a long friendship. On Halloween, 1978, after Joe's band, The Boys, broke up and PENTAGRAM was on hold, the two bumped into each other at a show that featured former members of both their bands. Joe was already playing with a full band in need of a vocalist. A week later, Bobby was the band's singer. They changed their name to PENTAGRAM and even played classic PENTAGRAM songs. A single featuring "Livin In A Ram's Head" b/w "When The Screams Come" was released on a local label in 1979 but PENTAGRAM was put on hold yet again due to personal problems within the band. It was Halloween 1981 when Joe introduced Bobby to Victor Griffin, the guitarist of a band he was drumming for called Death Row. Bobby was soon recruited as the band's vocalist and they quickly wrote "All Your Sins". Their bass player soon left but Bobby brought in PENTAGRAM alumni Martin Swaney. Martin had been in the 1978-1979 PENTAGRAM and appeared on the "Livin' In A Ram's Head" single. The name Death Row lasted until 1984 when fan pressure led the band to reassume the PENTAGRAM moniker. The band soon signed to Pentagram Records in February 1985 but things moved slowly and the band didn't receive much support. This coupled with the lack of management and direction, led Hasselvander to leave again in 1985. The s/t debut album was released in June 1985, five months after Hasselvander departed the band. Hasselvander would later resurface as the skinsman for the English metal band, Raven.
Just before Hasselvander left and the debut album was released, the band entered Cue Studios to lay down the tracks to the second album, "Day Of Reckoning". Hasselvander was replaced by Stuart Rose, who stayed in the band until 1987. It was in '87 when "Day Of Reckoning" came out on Napalm/Dutch East India Trading. Due to lack of shows, money and label support, the band again disbanded in the summer of 1988. Liebling managed to get another line-up together in 1989 that split less than a year later. It was in 1990 however that Peaceville Records became interested in signing the band and re-released the first two albums. This led to Victor Griffin moving back from California to rejoin the band. Hasselvander soon followed although he was still playing drums in Raven. Martin Iverson also agreed to come back to the fold. In 1992 the Peaceville compilation, "Volume 4" started off with "Sign OfThe Wolf" and marked the first PENTAGRAM recording to surface on the label. This was followed by the limited Collector's Club 7" single "Day Of Reckoning" b/w "Relentless" in March 1993. The full length "Day Of Reckoning" then came out in August of the same year.
"Be Forwarned" was released to rave reviews in January 1994. The band stayed together until 1996 when Hasselvander left (he continued playing with Raven as well as filling in as the touring drummer for Cathedral) and Swaney retired from the music biz. Gary Isom (Iron Man/Shine) replaced Hasselvander and Greg Turley replaced Swaney. The band continued to play shows but broke up again due to drug problems. A discography of live and raw tracks called "Human Hurricane" came out on Canada's Downtime Recordings in 1998. It was limited to 1,000 copies and features rare and previously unreleased tracks from the 70s. This release proved only for diehards however as most of the song quality was lacking. In 1999 the band reformed with only Liebling and Hasselvander. Black Widow quickly signed the band and released, "Review Your Choices" which featured Hasselvander playing every instrument! Hasselvander wrote the majority of the new songs. The record also featured re-recorded classics from the early days.
In December 2001, Black Widow records released the latest PENTAGRAM masterpiece, "Sub-Basement". Once again, it features only Liebling and Hasselvander and contains re-recorded PENTAGRAM classics as well as new songs. In 2002, Relapse Records unearthed some killer 1970s songs recorded with the original "Ram Family" line-up and asked to release two retrospective collections that would be the first authorized cds of these rare gems. "First Daze Here ~The Vintage Collection" was released in 2002 and included all the early, impossible to find 45s, the National Sound Warehouse recordings as well as a few live recordings of songs never put on wax. Liebling remastered all the songs as well as added vocals and guitar to the classics, "Lazy Lady" and "Be Forewarned." The second collection of PENTAGRAM rarities, "First Daze Here Too" will see its release in 2006 and contains rare and unreleased studio recordings and live rehearsals. 22 tracks of vintage PENTAGRAM classics from the vaults of the influential and critically-acclaimed D.C. legends!!! The legend lives on!
Formed in 2008, Earthen Grave is a six-piece Chicago metal band that marries the sounds of metal past and future with a sweaty, pummeling live show. Bassist Ron Holzner served a 15-year sentence with Chicago doom legends Trouble and Rachel Barton Pine brings her frightening classical chops to a relatively new instrument, the Viper. Finding groups like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Pentagram, Candlemass and Slayer to be common influences, the band wrote and played shows around Chicago for the first half of 2009, culminating in the release of the"Dismal Times" EP in June. Featuring three original songs that meld classic, crunchy doom and NWOBHM vibes with a solid dose of thrashy bludgeoning alongside covers of two choice doom classics by Pentagram and Witchfinder General, the EP was hailed by critics as "astounding," and "pure, head-banging bliss" (MaximumMetal.com) and prompted Doommantia.com to write, "Can't wait till the band gives us a full length with all originals...they have all the songwriting capabilities to make one of the best albums ever."
In July 2010, Earthen Grave closed the Great Performers of Illinois festival at Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago's famed Millennium Park, where Rachel received the 2010 Great Performer of Illinois award. The band was featured on NBC's Today Show and live in studio on WGN's nationally televised Midday News. Earthen Grave has shared the stage with such luminaries as Megadeth, Black Label Society, Mayhem, Macabre, Anvil, Machine Head, Pentagram, Novembers Doom, Raven, Skindred, and Nachtmystium and played at Indianapolis' Templars of Doom III festival, Milwaukee's Rave, Wisconsin's Brat Stop and Vnuk's, New York's Piano's and Europa Club, and Philadelphia's Mill Creek Tavern, as well as at Chicago-area landmarks like House of Blues, The Metro, Double Door, Reggie's Rock Club, Shark City, Chicago City Limits, Abbey Pub, and Pearl Room.
Earthen Grave boasts an undeniable collective metal and musical pedigree. Ron was a member of the seminal and seismic doom pioneers Trouble, who are widely regarded as one of the most important unsung American metal bands. Jason is a gifted guitarist and composer who has lived the music, both as a member of the critically-acclaimed The Living Fields and as founder of Deadtide.com. Scott's dedication has manifested as a drummer in numerous metal bands, booking shows and running radio station Rebel Radio. Tony has been in and around the metal scene for many years, and has worked with such bands as Trouble, Prong and Ministry. Mark has performed and recorded with several bands including Trifog. And while Rachel had never been in a metal band per se, her status as an internationally-acclaimed classical violin soloist has taken her all over the world as both performer and music ambassador. While on tour for classical performances, Rachel often visits rock radio stations to perform metal songs and discuss the genre's intensity and compositional complexity.
Earthen Grave emerged late in 2008, as Jason was working on another project. He recalls, "I had just finished writing The Living Fields' new album and was on a Saint Vitus (the pioneering '80s doom metal band from Los Angeles) kick, and I just started writing these doom riffs. I was wondering who I could play this stuff with, so I reached out to Scott and asked him what he thought, and things just snowballed." Enlisting Ron in their project, the trio soon had their first jam. Jason says, "The first rehearsal was tough, but after we sorted out some issues with downtuning, things really jelled." The band put out an ad looking for a vocalist, and Mark responded the very next day. He recollects, "I saw Scott's name in the ad, so I knew it was serious. I knew of Ron from Trouble. The minute we played for the first time, it felt right. I knew immediately that I wanted to be in this band."
Then Scott, who had known Rachel for many years through the local metal scene, invited her to a rehearsal. Rachel brought along her new instrument, an amplified six-string Viper, an extended-range cousin of the electric violin. She says, "I've been listening to metal for most of my life. And for fifteen years I had been playing metal on acoustic violin. But the first time I jammed with Earthen Grave, it was so much more intense than anything I had previously experienced – playing metal loud felt amazing." Jason adds, "We knew from that rehearsal that we definitely wanted Rachel in the band. She brings a completely different dimension to the music. Violins have often been a part of metal, but usually playing parts underneath or above the band. This time, an electric violin will be woven into the DNA of the band as a core instrument."
Tony was the final piece. As he puts it, "I went to practice with them, and immediately I could tell they had something really interesting happening. Yes, the doom thing is there, but with a fresh twist, with different melodies and tempos. And what Rachel brings is just totally new." He continues, "But what made the decision to join easy for me is the integrity of the people in the band, and the love with which they play."
The band is dedicated to exploring new possibilities for the genre. Jason says, "It's not about being the heaviest band or the slowest – it's about having good songs and playing them live." "Scott, Tony and I played doom metal before it was even called that," Ron continues. "And for Jason, the music we pioneered was his influence. We're bringing the strands of the music together - and with Rachel using the violin as a core component of a metal band, we're taking the genre on a new journey."
Earthen Grave has become a band to be reckoned with for the purest of reasons. "We all have a deep passion for music and for metal," Ron concludes. "That's the basis of every note we play." With their collective experience and talent, this band is dedicated to leaving their mark on the metal world.
Rock n Roll from Chicago.
Relentless is a new Heavy Metal band from Chicago, Il. Their debut album "Souls of Charon" is to be self released in November 2013 via Do Or Die Records