Saturday, 29 November 2014

Christian Death "Only Theater Of Pain" (1982)


I came across this album during some casual browsing, praised as the first Gothic Rock album I figured its something I should give a listen. My understanding of Gothic music is limited, so the accuracy of that statement is beyond my knowledge, but this certainly struck me as an overtly Gothic and "out there" record considering the time. The stark album cover is certainly attention grabbing, and the ghoulish yellow font could be an early source of inspiration for many Extreme Metal bands who in the coming years would take a similar path with their logos. And with all that said, Christian Death are a four piece outfit from California, and this is there debut album.

With the sound of church bells opening this album, the group set their Gothic tone quickly as the drums bring in a beat for dreary, mournful guitars to build an eerie atmosphere of pain and suffering through some rather genius flange overdriven leads that gel with a strong, warm bass presence thats participation in the forefront fills a space left by the guitar leads that go of on noisy, emotive tangents in between the core riffs. The chemistry is strong between the two and provides moody Gothic instrumentals for Rozz Williams's vocals which are a point of interest. Flamboyant and dramatic, Rozz's delivery is driving with a slight touch of whine. Its a hard one to describe, but its a love / hate style and one that defines a lot about this album. The lyrical content is introspective, emotional and romanticized with some dark and occult overtones through vivid use of language. 

The aesthetic and theme of this album is spot on, but the execution is disappointing. When doing it right the songs are dramatic, dauntless and absorbing, but more often than not the songs wander off into uninspiring and self indulged tangents that fail to offer anything to get excited about. These weaker songs were frequent and made the listen somewhat of a drag, but for what it does right I will find myself revisiting this one to hear the better numbers.

Favorite Tracks: Cavity, Figurative Theater, Romeo's Distress, Deathwish
Rating: 5/10

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