Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Treblinka - The Sign of the Pentagram (1989)

Treblinka's second demo, The Sign of the Pentagram, was released in March 1989. This recording was another important step for the evolution of this band and showed them getting closer to the sound that they would possess on Sumerian Cry, under the name Tiamat. At a time when Black Metal was not so popular, as even Bathory was moving into uncharted territory, this Swedish band was keeping the black flame of burning through the unholy night.

The material on The Sign of the Pentagram demonstrates how much Treblinka had developed since Crawling in Vomits, and the atmosphere is even darker than on that recording. The Black Sabbath influence seems to have been better worked into their own sound, which helps the music sound a little more threatening. Songs like "Nocturnal Funeral" and "Mould in Hell" still retain similar sections, yet the songwriting is such that it is worked in a lot better. While the tracks consist of a variety of tempos, there seems to be more fast-paced riffs than on the previous demo, which is where the band really makes their mark. The fast riffs, hellish guitar solos and Hellslaughter's ghoulish vocal delivery all come together to create an atmosphere suitable for nocturnal rituals. The only complaint here is the weird 'blues-influenced section, in the middle of "Evilized". This was shaping up to be the best song on the demo, yet this absolutely kills the dark vibe and leaves the listener wondering what happened to their tape. This is so bothersome that I actually edited this part out of the song, as it is just completely unacceptable. Somehow, this trash managed to remain on the full-length version as well.

The production really helps with the more obscure sound of the material. The bass does not stand out as the dominant instrument, for one. The guitars are thicker and more distorted, enabling them to become more of the primary focus. Unlike the Black Metal that would be spawned in Scandinavia a few years later, there is nothing cold about this. The mix does well to accentuate the sense of doom and the lead solos are really loud and drowning in reverb, which adds to the hellish feeling. Everything sounds more cohesive, rather than the sort of distant feeling that was present on Crawling in Vomits.

The Sign of the Pentagram is not a flawless release, but it was yet another step in the right direction. Along with recordings from Bathory, Mefisto, Obscurity, Morbid and Merciless, Treblinka was proof that the underground in Sweden was doing quite well, through the 1980s. Fans of the aforementioned bands are encouraged to pick this up and give it a listen.