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Death Row : Through the Shadow

Highlights of this Death row video recording? Simply everything.

For most metal fans, when the words 'death' and 'row' appear together in the form of a title, most probably the first thing that comes to mind is Accept’s 1994 album 'Death Row'. Some people will even remember Tim Owen’s period in Judas Priest, and the song from their 'Jugulator' album, but some - from a rapidly dying sect of the Doom scene - will remember Pentagram and their first album. Pentagram’s first album wasn’t actually theirs but it was initially written and composed for a relatively unknown band called Death Row. I recognize the sacrilegious nature of my statement, but allow me to explain. In 1980 two talented musicians named Victor Griffin (guitars) and Lee Abney (bass) formed a new band that they named Death Row, and after a short time they were joined by Bobby Liebling (vocals) and Joe Hasselvander (drums); soon after that Abney left and the former Pentagram bassist Martin Swaney took his place. The band stayed unchanged for 3-4 years during which time they released two demos and, oddly enough, a live video - and that brings us to the current review.

I think it is better to split the review into two segments: one concerning the technical aspect of the recording and one for the band and their performance. The image quality isn’t perfect, but for 30-year-old VHS-sourced material is great, while the audio is heavy on the bass side but clean and enjoyable. The band plays material from both their 1982 demo and from Pentagram’s catalogue, plus a cover of Black Sabbath’s 'Sweet Leaf'. Their performance is great and all four members of the band seem to really enjoy their night. Heavy, fast or slow, melodic or brutal: the primitive, raw power of the band will win you from the first notes of “Death Row” until the gig’s end. Highlights of the recording - simply everything: every song has its place and the only thing that disappoints me is that 'Relentless' is missing, but the similar 'Committed To Vengeance' and the unfortunately abruptly-cut 'Dying World' fill that gap.

A year later the band released another demo and started working on their first album, and, for marketing reasons, shortly before its release - as stated in the booklet for Pentagram’s 2005 re-release of 'Relentless' – they changed their name and Pentagram was revived. The rest is more or less well known history.

Doom mystics will make a shrine in which to place the recording; the rest will like it, and they might be intrigued enough to try and find more material from Death Row and early Pentagram (not that early and later Pentagram are really different). In finishing, I would like to say that this item in its original form could only be obtained second hand and for good money, but in tape trading circles can be found as Death Row or Pentagram (it depends), or Silver Fox (or something similar).

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Death Row
2. All Your Sins
3. Sign of the Wolf
4. Run My Course
5. Review your Choices
6. The Deist
7. Living in a Ram's Head
8. When the Screams Come
9. Drive me Into Grave
10. The Ghoul
11. Commited to Vengeance
12. Feeling of Dread - Sinister
13. Bass Pray
14. Evil Seed
15. Live Free and Burn
16. Petrified (inc. Drums solo)
17. Through the Shadow
18. Dying World (cut)
19. 20 Buck Spin
20. Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath cover)

Duration : Approx. 100 minutes

Visit the Death Row bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-06-22 by Dimitris Plastiras
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