WHEN most persons in the know hear the word Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible or religion come to mind. It is a cross the five-piece band which carries this name are prepared to bear.
The Genesis is the title of Pentateuch's debut album which was produced by Paul 'Computer Paul' Henton for his Bootcamp Records. Released two months ago, its songs address issues from repatriation to self-reliance, many driven by the patented one-drop beat made famous during the 1970s.
"A lot of people may think we are Christians when they hear Pentateuch, but that's not the case. At the same time, there's a level of spirituality in our songs," says guitarist Garth Forrester.
Pentateuch — which also includes vocalist Kevor Williams, bassist Andrew Ayre, drummer Brady Robinson and keyboardist Andrade Bowen are among the flood of bands coming out of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, in recent years.
While most 'Edna' bands like C-Sharp have won a following by favouring contemporary sounds, Williams says Pentateuch's primary goal is to produce enduring music rather than hit singles.
"We are not targeting any particular market, as long as the songs are righteous that's good enough for us," he said. "We are not looking to tap into a market just to suit anyone."
The Portland-born Williams is the band's chief lyricist. Hard-hitting songs like Going Home and Time Bomb have a feel reminiscent of 30-odd years ago when roots-reggae was the rage.
Pentateuch is far from one-dimensional, as heard on the uptempo gospel cut Will U Be There and the ballad, Nothing But Love. Kingston looks at the challenges of urban life in the Jamaican capital.
Formed four years ago at Edna Manley College, Pentateuch's members count giants of roots-reggae such as Marley and Tosh, among their influences. Musicians from that era including Wailers drummer Carlton 'Carly' Barrett, guitarists Steven 'Cat' Coore of Third World and Earl 'Chinna' Smith, are also heroes.
In 2011, they collaborated with Henton (known for his work with Jimmy Cliff and Stevie Face) on sessions at the Tuff Gong studio in Kingston that yielded The Genesis.
The dreadlocked Williams says defining their sound and establishing a presence on the local live scene is high on Pentateuch's to-do list for 2013.
"We know that we're making good music and that's what we'll keep doing. Wherever that leads us, we will go."