Only Theatre of Pain

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Only Theatre of Pain
The background of the album cover is black, with a yellow Christian Death logo emboldened at the top of the artwork and "Only Theatre of Pain" at the bottom, both in scratchy yellow print. In between the two texts is a drawing of a distorted, ghoulish figure that resembles Jesus Christ in a crucifix pose. The artwork has yellow-line borders, resembling that of the Bible; furthering its religious affectations.
Studio album by Christian Death
Released March 1982
Genre Deathrock, gothic rock, post-punk
Length 32:20
Label Frontier
Producer Christian Death, Thom Wilson
Christian Death chronology
Only Theatre of Pain

Only Theatre of Pain is the debut studio album by American deathrock band Christian Death, released in March 1982 by record label Frontier. It is considered the harbinger of the rock subgenre deathrock.[1]


The album was produced by Christian Death and Thom Wilson.[2]


Only Theatre of Pain was released in March 1982 by record label Frontier.[3]

On the 1993 CD reissue of the album (and subsequent issues), the band's 1984 EP Deathwish (recorded prior to Only Theatre of Pain) was appended to the original album.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Record Collector 5/5 stars[4]
Melody Maker favourable[5]
Sounds 4/5 stars (1982)[6] (1983)[7]

Only Theatre of Pain was praised by critics upon its release. Mick Mercer of Melody Maker called it the "gothic album to out-gothic all others".[5]

Around the time of its release, a presenter on a religious TV program, in a special on "Satanic influences", reportedly broke a copy of the album on air.[8]

In its retrospective review, Record Collector wrote, "Only Theatre of Pain's influence should not be underestimated".[4] Alex Ogg, writing in The Rough Guide to Rock, was less favourable, calling the album "self-aggrandizing doom rock redeemed only by strong musicianship."[9]

Anniversary concert[edit]

On April 13, 2007, the remaining members of the Only Theatre of Pain line-up of Christian Death reunited as Christian Death 1334 to perform the album in full at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The addition of "1334" to the end of the band's name was reportedly to make a distinction from the Valor Kand-led version of the band, which includes none of the group's original members; "1334" was also Rozz Williams' "signature number". At the time, it was reported by that the band were working on new songs and were to commence the recording of a new album later in the year, but this never materialized.[10]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Cavity – First Communion"   Rikk Agnew, Rozz Williams 4:06
2. "Figurative Theatre"   Williams 2:41
3. "Burnt Offerings"   Agnew, Williams 3:43
4. "Mysterium Iniquitatis"   Agnew, Williams 2:46
5. "Dream for Mother"   Agnew, James McGearty, Williams 3:21
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Stairs – Uncertain Journey"   McGearty, Williams 3:06
2. "Spiritual Cramp"   Williams 2:55
3. "Romeo's Distress"   Agnew, Williams 3:15
4. "Resurrection – Sixth Communion"   Agnew, Williams 3:45
5. "Prayer"   Agnew, Williams 2:41


Christian Death
  • Rozz Williams – vocals, production, sleeve drawings, cover concept
  • James McGearty – bass guitar, production
  • Rikk Agnew – guitar, production
  • George Belanger – drums, production
Additional personnel
  • Thom Wilson – production
  • Ed Colver – sleeve photography


  1. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "Only Theatre of Pain – Christian Death | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ Only Theatre of Pain (Media notes). Christian Death. Frontier Records. 1982. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Frontier Records: Christian Death – Only Theatre of Pain". Frontier. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Kinkelaar, Freek. "Only Theatre of Pain –Christian Death |". Record Collector. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Mercer, Mick (June 11, 1983). "Christian Death". Melody Maker. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ Traitor, Ralph (April 17, 1982). "Death or Gory". Sounds: 30. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ Sinclair, Mick (1983). "Christian Death 'Only Theatre of Pain' (Future FL2)****". Sounds. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Rozznet – The Official Rozz Williams Website". Rozznet. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ Ogg, Alex (2003). "Christian Death". In Buckley, Peter. The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 194. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  10. ^ " – Christian Death: 'Only Theatre of Pain' Anniversary Concert Scheduled". April 5, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 

External links[edit]