Christian Death - Only Theatre of Pain [Frontier Records - 2011]“Only Theatre of Pain” was the first album by controversial US band Christian Death, it was also the album that gave birth to a genre of music- death rock, which merged together punk & Goth rock to create a sound that was pounding yet often horror fed & sometimes damn creepy.
This album originally appeared back in 1982 on Frontier Records- a Los Angles based punk/ alternative record label. This 25th year anniversary edition appears once again on Frontier records, and the album has been given a digital re-mastering- so it sounds even more ghoulish, sleazed, jerking & pounding than ever before.
The original album featured ten tracks, and these lasted between just over the two & half minute mark, and just over the four minute mark. The ten tracks mixed together gloomy yet persistent bass lines, spidery yet seared guitar textures, repetitive live post punk drums, some subtle keyboard textures & sound effects. All of this was topped off with Rozz Williams distinctive & highly effective vocals that where both cleverly sneering yet ghoulish & pained. Williams lyrics where a mixture of acidic anti Christian rants(decades before black metal took this type of thing seriously), horror imagery & sneering social commentary. The album still sounds surprisingly fresh, edgy & tautly grim today.
Other than the digital re-mastering this new edition adds in a selection of five demo & alternative version of album tracks- these are ok, but don’t really add much to the original release. Sadly other than lyric reprints & a few pictures of the original line-up, there are no other texts here….it would have been great to get some background behind the formation of the band, the recording of “Only Theatre of Pain”, and of course it’s impact over the years on other bands & genres such as the dark-wave & metal . Also it would have been interesting to see reviews of the album from it’s original release too. But sadly this is an all to sparse reissue, which is a really pity.
With-out a doubt “Only Theatre of Pain” is a stone cold classic- it’s an edgy & ghoulish album that should be picked up by anyone interested in any type of dark or horror fed guitar based music. It’s just a pity that more couldn’t have been done to expand packaging a bit.