|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (December 2015)|
||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (December 2015)|
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Past members||Rozz Williams
Nick the Bastard
Steven “Devine” Wright
Christian Death is an American deathrock band, formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1979 by Rozz Williams. They became a highly influential act, heralding the American gothic rock and deathrock movements.
Formation and Rozz Williams years (1979–1985)
Christian Death was founded by teenage Rozz Williams in Los Angeles in October 1979. Williams grew up in the eastern suburb of Pomona in a Christian family. Williams had originally called his band the Upsetters, which included guitarist Jay (a.k.a. John Albert), bassist James McGearty and drummer George Belanger. The band garnered attention after changing their name to Christian Death and adding former Adolescents guitarist Rikk Agnew. In 1981, they made their first vinyl appearance with the song "Dogs" on the L.A. punk scene compilation LP Hell Comes to Your House.
Despite being in the same area as the emerging West Coast hardcore movement, by the beginning of the 1980s, the group was not happy with the local scene, especially the crowd that liked Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, given the crowd's penchant for becoming punks after punk became popular, and beating up hippies, when only a few years before much of that audience hated punk rock and beat up punks. Christian Death dismissed the followers of this movement as "hillbilly punks" in an interview.
In February 1981, the band went on hiatus. Williams concentrated on a side project with Ron Athey called Premature Ejaculation, but Christian Death got back together that summer with guitarist Rikk Agnew (formerly of The Adolescents) replacing Jay. A compilation album featuring several local punk and deathrock acts called Hell Comes to Your House was released in 1981. The track that Christian Death contributed, "Dogs", came from studio sessions financed by McGearty. The songs from those sessions would be released in France as the Deathwish EP three years later.
Their appearance on the Hell Comes to Your House compilation helped to get Christian Death signed to Frontier Records, which released their debut album Only Theatre of Pain in March 1982. This album featured deathrock anthems such as "Spiritual Cramp" and "Romeo's Distress". In England, despite the album's initially limited availability, Only Theatre of Pain would have a strong influence on many gothic rock groups who had come after Bauhaus appeared, including Sex Gang Children and Death Cult, the latter of which was the precursor to The Cult.
Drug use and internal fighting started to lead to the band's decay. By late 1982, George Belanger and Rikk Agnew were gone from the band and were replaced by Eva Ortiz on guitar (she had previously taken part in Only Theatre of Pain as a backing vocalist) and a new drummer, Rod "China" Figueroa from Oxnard, California. After their first gig with a local band called "Pompeii 99" and their regular support band Psicom, the first band of Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, Michael Montano replaced Eva on guitar. Johnnie Sage (Ammentorp, The Joneses, The Mau-Maus) on second guitar, completed the new line-up. It was not to last. Williams didn't like the "Punk Rock & Roll" influence China and Johnnie Sage brought to the band. Although demo recording continued with McGearty, the sessions known among band members as "The Last Gasp," Williams distanced himself from the project. Christian Death and Pompeii 99 had planned to tour together in Europe, occasioned by the continental release of Only Theatre of Pain on French label L'Invitation au Suicide, and then Japan, but by the end of 1982, Christian Death had broken up.
Williams assembled a new version of the band in 1983 by merging with another L.A. rock band, Pompeii 99. This lineup included guitarist Valor Kand, vocalist/keyboardist Gitane Demone and drummer David Glass. The new version of the band recorded their next two albums, 1984's Catastrophe Ballet (with bassist Constance Smith) and 1985's Ashes (with bassist Randy Wilde).
Valor Kand era (1985–present)
In mid-1985, Williams left Christian Death, in part due to his increasing interest in experimental music and performance art. Kand took over leadership, serving as lead vocalist and songwriter. Augmented by bassist Johann Schumann and guitarist/keyboardist Barry Galvin, the band recorded an EP for the Italian label Supporti Fonografici called The Wind Kissed Pictures, credited to "The Sin and Sacrifice of Christian Death". The EP was later reissued in Germany and the U.S., credited to Christian Death.
Their first full-length post-Williams effort was 1986's Atrocities, a concept album about the aftereffects of World War II on the European psyche, which was followed by 1987's The Scriptures, recorded by a revamped lineup of Kand, Demone, Glass, guitarist James Beam and bassist Kota. Longtime drummer Glass left the group following the release of The Scriptures and returned to California, where he eventually worked with several Williams side projects.
The band had their biggest successes on the UK Indie Chart with the 1987-89 singles "Sick of Love", "Church of No Return" and "Zero Sex" and the 1988 album Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ. Following the "Zero Sex" single, Demone opted to leave the band.
Valor recorded the two-part All the Love All the Hate concept album (1989) in collaboration with Nick the Bastard, which spawned the double A-side single "We Fall Like Love"/"I Hate You".
During the late 1980s, while also recording as Shadow Project, Williams resurrected his own version of Christian Death, with his wife Eva O contributing guitar as well as vocals. Billing themselves as the original Christian Death, they were rejoined by first-album guitarist Agnew for a 1989 tour of Canada. The band was signed to Cleopatra Records, and released The Iron Mask album and Skeleton Kiss EP in 1992, The Path of Sorrows album in 1993, and the The Rage of Angels in 1994, all under the Christian Death name. A 1993 show featuring Only Theatre of Pain-era members Williams, Agnew and Belanger (along with bassist Casey Chaos) performing live at Los Angeles' Patriot Hall was recorded and later released in 2001 as a DVD by Cleopatra Records.
Williams' reclamation of the Christian Death name sparked a fierce battle with Kand. However, Kand already had the rights to the name due to Williams' departure from the group and subsequent neglect of the moniker. Williams consequently billed his version of the band as "Christian Death Featuring Rozz Williams". After this, Williams' version would not release another full album of original material and he went on to pursue other projects before committing suicide on April 1, 1998.
Meanwhile, Valor's Christian Death continued performing and recording, issuing the 1990 album Insanus, Ultio, Proditio, Misercordiaque, on which Kand conducted the English Abbey Choir and the Commonwealth Chamber Orchestra. The band added bassist Maitri in 1991. Her first concert with Christian Death took place at the Contemporary Festival, held at the Anfitheatro delle Cascine in Florence, Italy on 12 July 1991. The band released the Sexy Death God album in 1994, the double-live set Amen in 1995, the Nostradamus-themed Prophecies in 1996, and Pornographic Messiah in 1998.
In 2000, Christian Death added drummer Will Sarginson and toured Europe with Britain's Cradle of Filth in support of the Born Again Anti Christian album.
For Christian Death's 2003 tour, they were augmented by Cradle of Filth guitarist Gian Peres.
In 2014, the band embarked on the 30th Anniversary Catastrophe Ballet tour, beginning in Europe and continuing through the year's end in North, South and Central America.
In January 2015, Christian Death announced the planned release of the PledgeMusic funded album, The Root of All Evilution. The album was digitally released on August 14, 2015 by Knife Fight Media, and on vinyl on October 16, 2015 by Season of Mist. A CD release was announced for December 18, 2015 on The End Records.
With Rozz Williams
- Only Theatre of Pain (1982)
With Rozz Williams and Valor Kand
- Catastrophe Ballet (1984)
- Ashes (1985)
With Valor Kand
- The Wind Kissed Pictures (1985)
- Atrocities (1986)
- The Scriptures (1987)
- Sex and Drugs and Jesus Christ (1988)
- All the Love All the Hate (Part One: All the Love) (1989)
- All The Love All The Hate (Part Two: All the Hate) (1989)
- Insanus, Ultio, Proditio, Misericordiaque (1990)
- Sexy Death God (1994)
- Prophecies (1996)
- Pornographic Messiah (1998)
- Born Again Anti Christian (2000)
- American Inquisition (2007)
- The Root of All Evilution (2015)
Christian Death featuring Rozz Williams
- The Iron Mask (1992)
- The Path of Sorrows (1993)
- The Rage of Angels (1994)
- Huey, Steve. "Christian Death – Music Biography, Credits and Discography: AllMusic". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
- "Christian Death" (Press release). Box 22, Sun Valley, California, 91352: Frontier Records. 1982. Retrieved June 9, 2013.
- "Amazon.com: Live: Christian Death: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
- Valor Kand of Christian Death, retrieved 20 October 2015
- See the booklet which accompanies Insanus, Ultio, Proditio, Misercordiaque
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