Pentagram: All Your Sins

Resurrected doom legends broadcast their past

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Bobby Liebling should be dead, and Pentagram should be little more than a footnote in rock history. And yet, thanks in part to the dedication of their fans and those around Bobby and the band – not to mention the astounding quality of much of their musical output – the group are currently experiencing the most commercially and critically successful period in their nearly 44-year-long career.

But let’s not pretend that much of their current success is not also down to the much-deserved acclaim heaped upon the 2011 documentary Last Days Here, the alternately abject and inspiring story of Bobby’s difficult recovery from crippling drug addiction and the rebirth of Pentagram./o:p

Given the relative scarcity of professionally recorded Pentagram material in the decades leading up his recovery, but the wealth of demos, rehearsal tapes and so on archived away in some dusty pit somewhere, since the film’s release old fans and new alike have developed a somewhat ravenous appetite for any nugget of music or video they can unearth.

With so much of Pentagram’s recent history being viewed through the narrow prism of Liebling’s personal demons, however, the tendency is to forget that during their intermittent periods of activity and stability Pentagram were an un-fucking-touchable live experience.

Comprised wholly of concert footage shot mostly in the mid/late 80s and early/mid-90s – with the briefest of glimpses of the band performing at the DNA Lounge, San Francisco, last year – and compiled largely by long-serving guitarist Victor Griffin, this six-hour, two-disc set, All Your Sins, stands as an attempt to highlight the band’s long journey from private and professional darkness into the clean, productive light.

Unfortunately much of the source material, while intriguing as a visual, historical snapshot of the band – Victor Griffin dressed like Judas Priest-meets-Mötley Crüe during a rare performance under the name Death Row in ’85; a deranged Liebling looking like he’s been beamed down from outer space at CBGB’s in ’84; and a frail frontman looking almost overcome with emotion in 2010 – is of utterly appalling home-video quality, with muddy sound and grainy, ultra-low-res film quality.

For completists, this is an interesting, time-capsule curio. For the rest of us, YouTube should suffice./o:p