Genere: Goth Rock.
Similar Artists: Swans, Sex Gang Children, Faith and The Muse.
Recording Year: Epitaph, 1982.
And thus was American goth rock born. Perhaps an extreme statement, as one could argue .45 Grave beat Christian Death to the punch, if with a lot more intentional humor. Still, it's about the only thing that can be said upon listening to Christian Death's debut, Only Theatre of Pain, released in 1982 and influencing more bands that can be counted since then. The member who got the most attention was, unsurprisingly, singer Rozz Williams, but guitarist Rikk Agnew is the secret weapon that makes this album so good. With the first phase of the Adolescents (and a solo album) behind him, he brings his punk-inspired work here, and with the help of longtime producer Thom Wilson, who sat behind the boards here, the two created a perfectly ominous world of tolling bells, heavily treated guitar, and general spookiness. Bassist James McGearty and drummer George Belanger keep the murky energy going and thankfully aren't afraid to kick up a storm when needed either. The most memorable song is "Romeo's Distress," a catchy slice of doomy punk-pop that admittedly has one of the most un-PC lyrical starts around. Throughout, the band either kick out the melancholy jams, McGearty's purring bass leading the way, or sheer atmospherics, some quite effective. Witness the slow wash of sound concluding the first side and kicking off the second, or the combination of noise, keyboards, and treated vocals on the closing "Prayer." And then there's Williams -- those who accused Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy of delivering up pretentious lyrics and overwrought performances must have flipped upon hearing this record. Sodomized boys in front of furnace altars, hilariously naïve reversed words meant to be spooky ("Reficul!"), incense-laden sex, "roses and candles, silver knives and spoons," "necrophiliac relationship," song titles like "Mysterium Iniquitatis" and "Spiritual Cramp," all delivered with a breathless moan at once low and whiny. His weird charm comes through after a while, but it usually takes a couple of listens to get the giggles out. [The CD version contains the Deathwish EP as a welcome bonus.]
Fields Of Haze.