AN ORAL HISTORY OF AURAL HORROR: THE BIZARRE LEGACY OF CHRISTIAN DEATH PART 3 by VINCENT DAEMON:
SEX, DRUGS, ATROCITIES, AND THE WIND KISSED SCRIPTURES OF VALOR
For part 1 click Here
For part 2 click Here
THE WIND KISSED SCRIPTURES
1985 was a long, difficult year for Christian Death. Their lead vocalist (as well as only remaining founding member) Rozz Williams, had flown the coop, in senses both literal and figurative. Along with battling drug, mental health, and gender issues, he had also lost all interest in performing with C.D. He no longer desired to tour, and his creative pursuits had now become spoken word,, collage art, and seriously over-the-top extreme performance art (with his nightmare-noise duo PREMATURE EJACULATION). He no longer had wanted anything to do with C.D., whatsoever (however, this would not last . . . more on that later), and the internal creative disputes between Rozz and Valor (and the rest of the band) had become too much, and just like that, Rozz quit.
They had just finished the “Path Of Sorrows” final performance extravaganza (released by ROIR Cassettes), and were working on new material to immediately record, then promote, with a tour through Italy (their European fanbase had become huge by this time). There was absolutely no way that Valor was going to ditch the tour and his hopes of further success. With Rozz quitting, well, that would just screw the whole band over. So a deal had been struck, and Rozz asked them to rename the band something along the lines of The Sin And The Sacrifice, and even agreed to let them use the 82-85 period material. *How thoughtful of Rozz Williams as he had written none of the music — an interesting aspect which seemingly all Rozz-side-of-the-argument fans seem to blatantly ignore. This, Valor realized, would also screw the band even further. However, by this point ties had been severed, Rozz was gone, and the rest of the band remained.
A good deal had been made with Nostradamus Records, and immediately they went and recorded the powerful Wind Kissed Pictures ep, a hazy and dreamlike, yet far more rock oriented masterpiece of sound, with Valor Kand taking over lead vocal duties. The rest of the band, whom had all previously performed on the Ashes lp, remained. When the album came out, there was a slight mutation made to the band’s name, but not quite exactly as had been discussed. It was released as FOR SIN AND SACRIFICE MUST WE DIE A CHRISTIAN DEATH. Yeah, not the name all had agreed upon, and certainly more than a mouthful. Nor was it any good for anagraming. F.S.A.S.M.W.D.A.C.D.? W.T.F.? Exactly. That dis-alarmingly long name was used once, and only once, for Wind Kissed Pictures. In fact, it was only the Italian label Supporti Fonografici to use that name for the band on the record. By the time it hit mainland Europe and the United States, the band’s name had shrunk back down to what the fans knew: CHRISTIAN DEATH.
After the tour, and by the end of 1985, the then-current line-up of C.D. (who’d been together since Ashes) hit the studios one final time to record the full length conceptual record Atrocities, most of the songs being about the long-stay PTSD of post-Auschwitz survivors, and Dr. Josef Mengele in particular. Making Europe their home, C.D. once again returned to Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales (where they had previously recorded 1982’s Catastrophe Ballet). The production was phenomenal in sound and, especially at the time, the concept. The harrowing subject matter was made all the more horrific through the fantastically fluid songwriting and musicianship contributed by all, as a functional unit. Keyboardist Gitane Demone’s holy-shit-can-she-sing vocals featured solely and prominently on two of the albums most potent tracks: “Tales Of Innocence,” and “Gloomy Sunday” (a song with a long and weird history in and of itself, apparently having a tendency to induce suicide in those who listen to it whilst either severely depressed of after having undergone a severe grief — look it up). It seemed that C.D. had finally hit their stride.
SEX, DRUGS, AND VALOR KAND
After touring for Atrocities, guitarist Barry Galvin (Bari-Bari) and bassist Johann Schuman quit to come back to the U.S. and form MEPHISTO WALZ (yet another fantastic band). They were quickly replaced with James Beam on guitar and the mysterious Kota on bass. C.D. then recorded the conceptual (get used to it from here on) lp Scriptures (on Normal Records/Jungle Records, 1987). The album plays in two acts, the first being fairly poppy/punky/post-punky (NOT pop-punk), almost straight-up rock; the second act being a bunch of songs running right into and through each other, including a useless 10 minute version of Jimi Hendrix’s “1983.” First side good, second side not so much, but that’s just my opinion. This concept was far more muddled and confused than the last, being some kind of comparison of world religions or some such thing. Also, something very important was missing: there weren’t any hints of their classic moribund sound of gothic gloom.
But, as always, tensions were running high, and by the end of the recording drummer David Glass quit to flee to America and join MEPHISTO WALZ. Valor and the gang merely forged ahead . . . and right smack into the kind of controversy (ie: attention) Valor had been trying to attain for so many years.
1988 saw the release of the (I feel) highly underrated Sex, Drugs, And Jesus Christ lp. The cover is a portrait of a gaunt, sunken in JC shooting up into a ghastly overused track-mark. The album is odd, another total sound change, this time towards sounding something almost pre-gothmetalesque, but recorded in a trash can. The guitar sounds sick, just the weirdest fuzz, like it doesn’t even want to play the music/sounds being raped out of it. They’d trimmed down to a four-piece, with Valor taking on all guitar duties, and someone named Webz on drums. I’ve heard that Webz was really David Glass, but unless he was paid a hella-fortune, I highly doubt it. *On an odd side note, Valor seemed to have developed a love affair with terricloth, as fashion, that seems to persist to this very day.
The album cover was appearing on all manner of televangelist programming, including the 700 Club, where Pat Robertson actually smashed it. *I also had the t-shirt with this pic on it, which just thrilled my “at least it isn’t drugs” mother, heh. That cover was never officially released in the U.S., at least not until the Cleopatra Records re-release several years ago. It was getting terrible reviews (many of which were highly unwarranted, unnecessarily cruel, or just plain Rozz-ist), but I found it their best since Wind Kissed Pictures. Again, Gitane Demone’s vocals shine, she actually being the strongest element on the album. But OOPS! now she’s pregnant with a second child from Valor. This time it would be a daughter, Zara.
The album was selling horribly, Valor and Gitane Demone had gone on the outs, and the other two members, Kota and Webz were essentially non-sequiturs in all of this. They performed one final show as this lineup, released as both an lp and a videocassette. *I used to own this, my friend Bill (mentioned in part 1 of this series) and I went to great lengths and a lotta cash to acquire the devastatingly bad VHS — If I had actually been at this show I’d’ve been furious. That very night, minutes after the show, Gitane Demone apparently merely says to Valor “I quit” and left the building, taking none of her stuff with her (don’t feel bad Val ol pal, we’ve all been there). The other two members followed suit.
LOVE, HATE, INSANITY, HEARTACHE
Valor was about to become a one man band. In 1989 he put out yet another concept album, only as two full length lp’s, All The Love and All The Hate. Valor played a good portion of the instruments to the whole project himself, with occasional appearances by an obvious gentleman named Nick The Bastard (Nick Farr). Hell, Valor even has his own son Sevan (7 at the time I believe) doing lead vocals to the one single “I Hate You.” The whole album set is deplorable, All The Love being dull, schmaltzy, and sickly saccharine sweet, and All The Hate being mostly really, really bad “metal.” I’m sure you can figure the concepts out by the titles alone. If not, you are hopeless, much like this set which, amongst the C.D. pantheon of recordings, is easily Valor’s worst effort.
In 1990, C.D. released the enigmatic and startlingly good lp Insanus, Ultio, Proditio, Misericordiaque, featuring the return of Gitane Demone, David Glass, and a good portion of the 1983-1986 line-up. And that was all the information given. *Remember kiddies, it is 1992 when I acquire this utter masterpiece — perhaps my favorite of the Valor-inclusive albums — we didn’t have computers and Wikipedia to look up and youtube to listen in an instant — we had to search valiantly to find our music and rely on word of mouth and hard to find magazines to get info on anything — you spoilt bastards — It was work — you have no idea. I’ve since found out it is a collection of tracks recorded over several different phases of their career up til everyone quit, essentially. Songs that just didn’t fit the albums they were recorded for. What he ended up compiling really is its own album, and features also some of the best production of their career. It is almost a sonic achievement. But there were two more surprises in store. 1) Rozz Williams actually appears on the highly disturbing track “Lullaby” on lead vocals! And then, in very small print: “Dedicated to the memory of Rozz Williams,” which you will eventually see as an awful, accurate prophecy, of sorts.
So, in 1990, was Rozz Williams dead? No, of course not. Well, not yet, anyway. Then why the memorial inside the almost non-existent liner notes?
Because, in 1989, Rozz got back together with Rikk Agnew (original guitarist if you’ve paid any attention to this at all), brought along Eva O., and began to tour the west coast of the U.S., billing themselves as THE ORIGINAL CHRISTIAN DEATH. And apparently, this had made Valor a very unhappy man.
Now there were TWO functional bands touring calling themselves CHRISTIAN DEATH.
This was most definitely going to be a problem.
The Wind Kissed Pictures ep (Nostradamus Records, 1985)
Atrocities (Nostradamus Records, 1986)
Scriptures (Jungle Records, 1987)
Sex, Drugs, And Jesus Christ (Nostradamus Records, 1988)
All The Love (Jungle Records, 1989)
All The Hate (Jungle Records, 1989)
Insanus, Ultio, Proditio, Misericordiaque (Jungle Records, 1990)
Vincent Daemon, writer and rabblerouser, can be followed on FB @ https://www.facebook.com/vincent.daemon.1 , and join his blog The Writings Of A Depraved Mind @http://vincentdaemon.blogspot.com/?zx=e40931ba40511a11