Christian Death – Frontier Records – 1982

Cavity – First Communion / Figurative Theatre / Burnt Offerings / Mysterium Iniquitatis / Dream For Mother

Stairs – Uncertain Journey / Spiritual Cramp / Romeo’s Distress / Resurrection – Sixth Communion / Prayer

Halloween is upon us tonight so thought I would upload the debut LP on Frontier Records by California’s uber Death Rock Goths, Christian Death. Dark, theatrical and moody – this LP kicks most of the UK ‘gothic’ band’s material that was around in 1982, well into touch. Hello to Mike and Lena from Post Punk Tribe, reckon those two would like this post!

Text ripped from da wikki…45 Grave and the compilation LP ‘Hell Comes To Your House’ that are mentioned in the text below, are uploaded on this site somewhere if you search for them. Halloween text courtesy of beyond the grave.

Rozz Williams founded Christian Death in October 1979, at the age of 16, with bassist James McGearty, drummer George Belanger and guitarist Jay. The band name was a satirical play on words derived from the designer brand Christian Dior. The first Christian Death performance in front of a live audience was at a Castration Squad gig in 1980, when Castration Squad invited Christian Death on stage to play a couple songs. In 1980 and 1981, the band played many shows with 45 Grave, another L.A. deathrock group, though they also played shows with punk bands like Social Distortion and The Adolescents.

Despite being in the same area as the emerging West Coast hardcore movement, by the beginning of the 1980s, the group were not happy with the local scene, especially the crowd that liked Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, given the crowd’s penchant for becoming punks after punk became popular, and beating up hippies, when only a few years before much of that audience hated punk rock and beat up punks. Christian Death dismissed the followers of this movement as “hillbilly punks” in an interview.

In February 1981, the band went on hiatus. Williams concentrated on a side project with Ron Athey called Premature Ejaculation, but Christian Death got back together that summer with guitarist Rikk Agnew (formerly of The Adolescents) replacing Jay. A compilation album featuring several local punk and deathrock acts called Hell Comes to Your House was released in 1981. The track that Christian Death contributed, “Dogs”, came from studio sessions financed by McGearty. The songs from those sessions would be released in France as the Deathwish EP three years later.

Their appearance on the Hell Comes to Your House compilation helped to get Christian Death signed to Frontier Records, which released their debut album Only Theatre of Pain in March 1982. This album featured deathrock anthems such as “Spiritual Cramp” and “Romeo’s Distress”. In England, despite the album’s initially limited availability, Only Theatre of Pain would have a strong influence on many gothic rock groups who had come after Bauhaus appeared, including Sex Gang Children and Death Cult, the latter of which was the precursor to The Cult.

Drug use and internal fighting started to lead to the band’s decay. By late 1982, George Belanger and Rikk Agnew were gone from the band and were replaced by Eva Ortiz on guitar (she had previously taken part in Only Theatre of Pain as a backing vocalist) and a new drummer, Rod “China” Figueroa from Oxnard, California. After their first gig with a local band called “Pompeii 99” and their regular support band Psicom, the first band of Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, Michael Montano replaced Eva on guitar. Johnnie Sage (Ammentorp, The Joneses, The Mau-Maus) on second guitar, completed the new line-up. It was not to last. Williams didn’t like the “Punk Rock & Roll” influence China and Johnnie Sage brought to the band. Although demo recording continued with McGearty, the sessions known among band members as “The Last Gasp,” Williams distanced himself from the project. Christian Death and Pompeii 99 had planned to tour together in Europe, occasioned by the continental release of Only Theatre of Pain on French label L’Invitation au Suicide, and then Japan, but by the end of 1982, Christian Death had broken up.

An idol of early American goth-rock fans, Christian Death founder Rozz Williams hanged himself on April Fool’s Day 1998 in his West Hollywood apartment. He was 34.

The forefather to artists such as Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor, Williams recorded the first Christian Death album, Only Theatre of Pain, at age 16. He worked on five albums with the death rock band before 1985, when he backed out of the group for personal reasons.

“He left the band for the same reason he left life: love situations,” said Valor Kand, a former Christian Death band mate who took over as lead singer and copyrighted the band’s name after Williams’ departure.

Born Roger Allen Painter on Nov. 6, 1963, the flamboyant singer was raised in Pamona, Calif., by two born-again Christian parents. Williams battled alcohol and heroin addiction since his mid-teens, and perpetually struggled with his overt bisexuality and androgyny, Kand said.

“He was a manic depressive,” he said. “There have been more times than I could count that I have yanked razor blades from his hands and ropes from around his neck, and stopped him from killing other people with knives. I think this was the way he wanted to go, it was his destiny.”

A tarot card titled “The Hangman is a Fool” was reportedly discovered near Williams’ body by his roommate and musical collaborator Ryan Gaumer last Wednesday. Williams left no suicide note, but Kand said he believed heartbreak and alcohol played a large part in his death.

However, Bruce Duff, who worked closely with Williams at Triple X Records, said his suicide came as a complete surprise.

“I saw the guy 10 days before he died and he was laughing and having a great time,” Duff said. “Obviously there was something wrong. Rozz had a tendency to not think his actions all of the way through.”

During the early 1990s, Williams performed with alternative hard rockers Shadow Project and Premature Ejaculation before launching an eclectic solo career. Within the last few years he had released a bluesy cabaret album with singer Gitane Demone called Dream Home Heartache, as well as Whorses’ Mouth and Every King a Bastard Son, two brooding spoken-word albums inspired by his personal and musical hero, David Bowie.

At the time of his death, Williams was awaiting the release of From the Heart, the next Shadow Project album due out this month, and organizing a hard rock band with Triple X Records.

Halloween history and traditions

Halloween, celebrated each year on October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and the Roman festival of Feralia all influenced the modern holiday of Halloween. In the 19th century, Halloween began to lose its religious connotation, becoming a more secular community-based children’s holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding Halloween may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’, were called Hallowmas.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday, with luck, by next Halloween, be married.

In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Another day with connections to Halloween is Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated on November 5. Guy Fawkes was a Roman Catholic who planned to blow up the Protestant House of Parliament on November 5, 1606; luckily for the House, he was apprehended and executed. Afterwards, the anniversary of the day was celebrated by building straw effigies, entreating passersby for “a penny for the Guy”, and finally burning “the Guys” in bonfires.

1 comment
  1. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    May 1, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I bought this from a second hand shop in Lewisham a few years after it came out, went to the pub, got home pisssed, put it on, immediately took it off and snapped in two because it was so awful. Do I regret it? Not for a second.

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