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The Wall of Sacrifice

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Album Review

By the time of 1989's Wall of Sacrifice, Death in June was essentially a one-man project, although Doug Pearce is joined here by several collaborators, familiar and new: Non's Boyd Rice, filmmaker and occult author Nikolas Schreck, Strawberry Switchblade's Rose McDowall and David Tibet of Current 93. Wall of Sacrifice juxtaposes melodic neo-folk with experimental pieces that dispense with conventional song formats. The album is bookended by numbers from the latter category. On the opening title track, Pearce assembles a chaotic 16-minute soundscape, cutting and pasting together doomy repetitive piano notes, triumphant horn flourishes, martial drumming, old German songs and vocal samples. The track's sound-collage approach recalls some of Current 93's explorations on Nature Unveiled (1984) and Dogs Blood Rising (1984), but it's not particularly engaging. The ominous, epic closer, "Death Is a Drummer," is more successful; a hypnotic, droning electronic pulse gives this track a more satisfyingly unified feel as ghostly military music while female vocals fade in and out. The most rewarding material finds Pearce pursuing his apocalyptic folk muse on several sparse acoustic tracks. The brooding "Fall Apart" and "Hullo Angel" are compelling enough, but most memorable is the beautiful and austere "Giddy Giddy Carousel," which evokes Scott Walker's stirring Europhile ballads — although Pearce's view is considerably darker than Walker's romanticism ("Europa has burned and will burn again"). While most of this material is either expansive and atmospheric or concise and melodic, some numbers combine the two tendencies. The brief dreamscape "Heilige Leben" fuses melancholic synth ambience and spectral voices; "Bring in the Night" achieves a similar effect (notwithstanding Boyd Rice's spoken word nonsense about the divine order of destruction and violence). Although Wall of Sacrifice isn't Death in June's strongest late-'80s album, it usefully maps the different sonic territories Pearce was exploring during that period.


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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The Wall of Sacrifice, Death In June
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