Only Theatre of Pain

Only Theatre of Pain

You could call this 1982 debut album from Christian Death the birth of deathrock, or even Yankee goth. It’s a noir-flavored perversion of postpunk that finds singer Rozz Williams crooning his way through guttural appeasements atop driving rhythms, pitched noises, and droning and shuddering guitars. Meant-to-provoke notions of necrophilia, bondage, death, and incest abound, to the point of parody. But it’s basically rock ’n’ roll, the kind that rises from dark basement corners and can still scare parents. Strangely melodic tunes such as “Stairs—Uncertain Journey,” “Romeo’s Distress,” “Spiritual Camp,” and “Figurative Theater” prove the band were too formidable to dismiss.

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