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The Corn Years

Death In June

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Album Review

The title may be a bit curious, but as a place to get a sense of what Doug Pearce is all about — questionable imagery and all — The Corn Years is a useful digital summation of his mid- to late-'80s work. It compiles tracks from two major albums — The World That Summer and The Brown Book — and has cuts from the To Drown a Rose EP, along with complete lyrics and a brief listing of the various collaborators he worked with. New listeners might be rather surprised by the results; though Pearce is clearly one for extreme artistic impulses, his songs are in many ways quite catchy and attractively dramatic. It's not on the same level as, say, Scott Walker's work, but "Torture by Roses," the first full song on the release, actually feels like a cousin to Walker's wonderful "The Seventh Seal," with haunting, quick guitar and semi-spaghetti western moods and arrangements. The explicit collaborations credited in the collection, mostly with David Tibet, often result in excellent work, and even if Tibet hadn't been mentioned, the fact that one song specifically references a Current 93 high point by being called "Behind the Rose (Fields of Rape)" shows he was around. Coil's John Balance takes a bow with the lyrics for "We Are the Lust," which wouldn't have been out of place on anything off Scatology or The Horse Rotorvator. Four songs were re-recorded for the collection, with generally fine results. The combination of church organ and husked whisper on "Love Murder" sounds like it should be introducing a horror film of some sort, while Rose McDowall's work on the lovely, horn-tinged "Break the Black Ice" is worthy of wider attention all around. The content of songs like "Runes and Men" doesn't help Pearce's public image much, but this is still creative, haunting work.

Biography

Formed: 1980

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Industrial innovators Death in June emerged in 1980 from the remnants of the punk unit Crisis, reuniting singer/multi-instrumentalist Douglas Pearce and bassist Tony Wakeford; drummer Patrick Leagas completed the original lineup, which made its live debut late the following year with an opening slot for the Birthday Party. The 12-inch "Heaven Street" soon followed, and in 1983 Death in June issued their first full-length effort, The Guilty Have No Pride; from the outset, the group was criticized...
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