Deathrock Deathroll // 10 Momentous Deathrock Releases

Deathrock initiated in the eighties as a word used to describe gothic and horror themed punk rock from the US. It's something rooted in the darker parts of the rock 'n' roll of the fifties and proto-punk from the sixties, while stylistically it often draws influence from the theatrics of seminal dark and glam rock acts like Alice Cooper, Iggy, Bowie, The Cramps, The New York Dolls and others. Almost forty years after its origination as a genre, it still remains underground, underappreciated, and one of the strongest and most emphatic forms of punk rock.

10. Rudimentary Peni: Cacophony (1988)

Emerging from the London anarcho-punk scene of the early eighties, and standing out for the brilliantly mad songwriting (and pen-and-ink artwork) of Nick Blinko, Rudimentary Peni follow their acclaimed LP, Death Church, from 1983, with an album wholly inspired by the life and stories of HP Lovecraft. The album contains a plentiful of thirty tracks, interchanging between punk rock madness and super weird interludes. It's insane, and it earns extra points of appreciation for the fact that its creators were confident enough to name it after exaclty what it sounds like.

9. Theatre Of Ice: A Cool Dark Place to Die (1985)

Citing influence from both Throbbing Gristle and Iron Butterfly, Theatre Of Ice's sound was light years far from average punk rock. Balancing well between the more experimental style of their first releases and the more direct one they indulged in later in their career, A Cool Dark Place to Die is an ominous record, a bit tough to digest, and as history has put it, the band's most acclaimed offering.

8. The Naked and The Dead: The Naked and The Dead (1985)

Borrowing their name from a novel by Normal Mailer, New York City's The Naked and The Dead came and went in a flash in 1985, leaving behind a five-track demo cassette that was a big influence on the entire gothic rock scene. The band reformed a couple of times in the 2000s, but their legacy will always be founded on that pure, undiluted demo release.

7. Specimen: Batastrophe (1983)

Although alonside Alien Sex Fiend, Specimen were the hottest band to emerge out of London's The Batcave, they never released a proper full length back in their early days. Their only EP, Batastrophe, is a fine representation of the band at their coolest, mixing glam rock with vigorous punk, filtered through their own special gothic lens.

6. Samhain: Initium (1984)

Right there between the horror punk and pop sensibilities of Misfits and the gothic metal direction of Danzig, Glenn Danzig was right at home, sounding comfortable and genuine through the deathrock sound that Samhain had to offer. The band's debut may be lacking in production, but as its titled suggested, it expressed an eager fresh start for the great musician who enlisted the talents of Lyle Preslar from Minor Threat, and Al Pike from Reagan Youth. Initium was released on Danzig's independent record label, Plan 9. 

5. The Flesh Eaters: A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (1981)

With the blessings of X's John Doe, and conveying a raw, primitive sound that sounded like ill-timed proto-punk, unusually instrumented and unconventional in every way, the sophomore full length by LA's The Flesh Eaters was a triumph of directness and crudity. Utilizing horror movie aesthetics, bluesy, soulful and simplified to its core, A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die became The Flesh Eaters' most characteristic record, even though it was released right between two equally notable LPs.

4. Kommunity FK: Close One Sad Eye (1985)

On their second album, LA dark rockers, Kommunity FK took a more artistic direction compared to the immediacy of their debut, The Vision and the Voice, and even had a sort of a hit with Something Inside Me Has Died. With only two records released, the band earned deserved complimentary comparisons to Bauhaus, and became an emblematic act for the deathrock/gothic rock sound they represented.

3. 45 Grave: Sleep In Safety (1983)

Before Return of the Living Dead introduced 45 Grave to a wider audience, the band had already released a couple of EPs and a fantastic debut album founded on their super gritty sound, and their inclinations toward a more fun approach and energetic attitude. Dinah Cancer's manic delivery becomes the album's highlight quality, providing more weight and emphasis on the dark and violent character of the band's themes.

2. Alien Sex Fiend: Who's Been Sleeping in My Brain? (1983)

London's Alien Sex Fiend started their prolific career with a bluntly produced, rough debut which may sound repetitive, jumbled and messy, yet, its wildness became characterful and the record's boldest quality. Alien Sex Fiend's straighforwardness is the aspect that grabs the listener tighter than anything else, and Who's Been Sleeping in My Brain? succeeds in uniting the songwriting's offbeat nature with the performance's frenzied delivery.

1. Christian Death: Only Theatre of Pain (1982)

The debut studio album by Los Angeles gothic rockers, Christian Death, is not only considered one of the first examples of deathrock, but also one of the greatest and most influential punk albums of all time, shining through its darkness, its grit and its inherent aggression. Rozz Williams' profoundly poetic lyrics about the occult, faith, and a wholly romanticized image of death is profound, unique, and it gave birth to a record which will always sound relevant and substantial.

Honorable mention. Various ‎Artists: Batcave: Young Limbs And Numb Hymns

A masterpiece of a compilation released in 1983 via London Records, Batcave was a showcase of the powerful weekly club-nights of the same name that started in central London in 1982, including The Specimen, Sexbeat, Meat Of Youth, Alien Sex Fiend, Brilliant, Test Dept., James Pursey, Patti Palladin and The Venomettes. It is undoubtedly a deathrock and gothic rock essential.

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