Music DVD Roundup: Some fine rock music DVDs have been released in the last few months. Included here are three of the best.
Pentagram - When The Screams Come (Metal Blade Records)
Cult figure Bobby Liebling’s doom metal outfit Pentagram recently celebrated its 40th year of existence, and much of that time was spent laboring in underground obscurity back before there were 1000 sub-genres of what was formerly known as just plain old “heavy metal.” This DVD is the first official filmic documentation of the band, shot at the Maryland Death Fest VIII in May, 2010, in front of a crowd mostly young enough to be Liebling’s own progeny.
When The Screams Come documents Liebling’s recent reunion with ace guitarist Victor Griffin, he of another fine cult metal act, Place of Skulls. Griffin, who visually speaking would fit right in with the gang on Sons of Anarchy, is one of the great, sadly underrated hard rock and metal guitar players, with old school chops that evoke hard rockers of the past like Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf while simultaneously sounding totally contemporary.
Liebling and Griffin make a great team, kind of a Jagger and Richards of doom, and sparks fly in this gig when they rip into Pentagram faves such as “Forever My Queen,” “Relentless,” and the band's theme song, “Sign of the Wolf.” The final song of the set (from which this DVD takes its title) “When The Screams Come,” features some fine, bluesy soloing by Griffin that cuts most of what can be found in the too often one-dimensional “doom metal” ranks.
Singer and band leader Liebling is animated throughout, mugging and pulling faces, obviously glad to be alive and onstage after years of self-destruction–a point that he drives home in a frank interview included as a bonus feature.
Johnny Winter - Live at Rockpalast (MVD Visual)
This 1979 performance is taken from perhaps the finest music show ever, Germany’s long-running Rockpalast (Rock Palace). Winter, already a guitar hero and legend, at this point had jettisoned the duo of bassist Randy Jo Hobbs and drummer Richard Hughes, with whom he cut most of his 1970s rock-oriented material, including the decadent 1973 classic Still Alive and Well, and was now backed by bassist Jon Paris and drummer Bobby “T” Torello.
This personnel change coincided with a turn back toward the blues material Winter had started his career with, and during this sizzling show in support of his White, Hot and Blue album, Winter electrifies the German crowd with extended, spine-tingling takes on Willie Brown’s “Mississippi Blues” and a slide blues medley of Robert Johnson’s “Stones In My Passway,” Leadbelly’s “Leaving Blues,” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin.”