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Album Review

The second and final studio album done as a full collaboration between Rozz Williams and Valor Kand, Ashes finds Christian Death at what might have been simply the beginning of a long-term partnership of quality rather than a final break. Williams' vocals are now much more controlled and immediately powerful than the overwrought early days, substituting a quieter sense of later, Bowie-inflected drama instead of, say, Ziggy-era Bowie squealing. Kand's lyrics aren't any less laden with images of religion, twisted sex, insanity and mystic rites — a ritualism well matched throughout by the music — but the near-adolescent goofiness of earlier times now feels much more considered and focused. Kand, in the meantime, brings a much more consciously artistic edge to his music than Rikk Agnew did on Only Theatre of Pain; here the aggressive power is tempered by a huge theatricality that still works, almost in spite of itself. Not to say that this era of Christian Death can't rage as hard — the conclusion of the opening track, "Ashes" itself, is a frenetic explosion of sound, where drummer David Glass and singer/keyboardist Gitane Demone also earn their keep. Restraint, though, is a key element to what's going on — consider the almost psych/frug worthy "Face," or the wonderful "When I Was Bed." The title may be a bit nonsensical, but the shadowy pulse of the music, ratcheting up just a bit on the verses, is attractively paced throughout. Williams and Demone make for a good harmony team on the chorus, and the whole is equal to the post-punk hooks-and-vibe of bands like Echo & the Bunnymen. A great detour from the overall mood is "Lament," an oompah/music hall anthem that sounds like a twisted carnival anthem, where Demone gets to sweetly intone things in German and Williams really exercises his Bowie fetish.


Formed: 1979 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The founding fathers of American goth rock, Christian Death took a relentlessly confrontational stand against organized religion and conventional morality, with an appetite for provocation that made Marilyn Manson look like Stryper. Regardless of who was leading or performing in the group, Christian Death set themselves up to shock, both in their cover art and their lyrics, which wallowed in blasphemy, morbidity, drug use, and sexual perversity. Their self-consciously controversial tactics set them...
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Ashes, Christian Death
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