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The Entrance Band: The Entrance Band

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The Entrance Band

The Entrance Band

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Label: Ecstatic Peace/Universal

2006’s Prayer of Death, a self-produced, self-recorded album by Entrance, was firstly, something of a Guy Blakeslee solo project and secondly, unjustly ignored. The record was an exaggeration of the most Gothic moments of Led Zeppelin’s 1971 untitled record, a thick, beautiful mess of violin, wah pedals and sitar accompanying Blakeslee’s crazed vocals, which were primarily concerned with mortality. Prayer of Death’s opening track was a total atom bomb; “Grim Reaper Blues” proved that drums/bass/guitar could sound as powerful and novel as they did decades ago. Horrific-sounding flanged guitar lines cascaded down while tightly wound wah guitar bubbled up from the murk. In the song, Blakeslee calls out, “Twenty five years old, baby/ And I don’t mind dyin‘.”

Now writing and recording officially as a band (reflected in the name-change), Blakeslee, longtime drummer Derek James and collaborator extraordinaire/ pin-up bassist Paz Lenchantin use “Grim Reaper Blues” as somewhat of a template for the sound of The Entrance Band. Released on Thurston Moore’s Universal imprint, Ecstatic Peace, The Entrance Band has a much more spacious sound than that of its paranoid, dense predecessor. Like most power trios, the songs here work best as vehicles for Blakeslee’s playing. The opening “Lookout!” sounds like the best song Jeffery Lee Pierce never wrote, a grim cautionary note to someone ignorant to the fact they’re in danger’s cross hairs. “You’re walkin’ on the wrong side of the street,” Blakeslee sings, with some of the same menace as Arthur Brown, before taking a break to strangle some licks out of his guitar.

The oddball tribute “M.L.K.” comes next, an uncharacteristically upbeat tune whose good-natured optimism is hard to deny. “I voted for change/ But it ain’t changin’ today,” Blakeslee sings before reminding us that that “it’s not enough to repeat what he said/ We gotta do what he said.” The song is like a Bizarro flip of the Black Angels’ own ’60s-obsessed doom- with rhythm. “Still Be There” drifts into indie rock territory, its steely, staccato guitar rigid over Lenchantin’s almost danceable bassline. By mid-album, the Entrance Band start sounding like Soundgarden, circa 1990; there are arena-sized drums, plodding bass, slightly-unhinged guitar work and Blakeslee wailing above it all. Songs like “Sing For the One” and “You Must Turn” may not stand well on their own, but when listened to within the context of the record, you’re more than happy to float off to whatever dark forest Blakeslee wants to take you to. “Grim Reaper Blues (Pt. 2)” is somewhat unnecessary- twice the length of the original and lacking its creeptastic guitar effects- yet is still nifty for its additional lyrics and the chance to hear the band working and sweating as an ensemble.

Moore described the Entrance Band as “the most alluring and, yes, entrancing vibe [he’s] yet to experience in the new age.” That should get some purist muso hipsters tizzied up enough to check out The Entrance Band, yet I just don’t see the same kids going to see Blakeslee and company on tour, where they’re currently opening up for workaday riffmongers Nebula. It’s likely that no one will know what the hell to do with the new record, as its target, Leslie West-loving audience doesn’t likely listen to new music anymore. The Entrance Band will probably continue to haunt their own little niche, with Blakeslee making big, terrifying, flanged sounds with his guitar. There’s nothing wrong at all with that picture.

by Chris Middleman

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