What could be said about this beloved album that hasn’t already been said in numerous reviews? I will give my personal take on the 2009 remastered release of this seminal 1984 album…
Beneath His Widow (the bonus B side) adds dark mystique and acoustic guitars to this already near perfect album, a great song but I feel takes away from the original soft intro of Awake at the Wall. With words that seems to envelope the room in a dark fog as Rozz seduces the listener with his poetry.
“I decadence and sane, I stood by the wall. Thought Id turn my back to stone…” This remastered release definitely receives the much needed volume the original 1984 CD lacked. Rightfully so, as this album could not be played loud enough. Catastrophe Ballet marks the first album featuring Valor on guitar. Despite one’s feelings towards Rozz and/or Valor, the musical pairing is nothing short of a Gothic masterpiece. Rozz is a masterful lyricist and performance artist, which could not have had the same impact if its musical foundation wasn’t structurally sound.
Sleepwalk bombards the listener with it’s wailing guitars and fast percussions, then orbits between a drudging funeral lament back again for a second helpings of punk rock assults. The Drowning perfectly picks up the scattered emotions and feeds the senses with honest words… “I’m in an empty Room…I’m burning books from you…I’m lost in bed with you…breaking these mirrors to end all I’ve seen.”
While Only Theatre of Pain demonstrated the bands west coast punk roots with Gothic undertones, Catastrophe Ballet puts dark decadence, elegance and poetry to the forefront. Still, the album manages not to be slow or abysmal; it treads with a combination of funeral march and dance macabre. I find the album to be quite versatile with either a reflective gaze on a rainy afternoon, a club dance floor, or even a loved one’s funeral. No track mourns so blissfully than The Blue Hour (A personal favorite).
“We could make ourselves blind, as Evening Falls around us…” could easily be an anthem to those that take solace and peace from the night. I cannot stress the importance of musical arrangement here; it’s a key factor that separates the exceptianal from the generic rock song. Following the evening are the tribal rumblings of Androgynous Noise Hand Permeates, a one minute track bridging the gap to the next classic anthem.
Perhaps the most dance floor friendly track is the infamous Electra Descending. Gitane Demone‘s keyboard work cascades wall barriers, trancing and foreboding, Gothic Rock at it’s absolute finest as who could resist lip syncing Rozz’s words…
“What about her? The wages of sin. What about him? He’s getting closer. What about the bells? Nipples licking the clouds…” The elegy begins with Cervix Couch, a funeral dirge that lumbers and gives reflect on the surreal and intimate hopelessness, backdropped with Gitane’s wailing requiem. Like minded individuals know all too well the impact of a depressed threnody and how it cradles us, comforts us, giving muse to the life of black clad.
This Glass House returns energy back to us with Rozz and Gitane’s classic chorus duet of the same name, and finally the album concludes with the experimental outro The Fleeing Somnambulist; a carnival ride into church organs, soldiers marching, and megaphone riot turmoil.
What sets the standard to a classic album isn’t just it’s sexy exterior, or enduring song structure, or even perfect production. What Catastrophe Ballet manages to accomplish is touching the listener with it’s purpose, reaching inner emotions and embracing darkness for those who relate. The key here is emotional content, the paramount to a classic album; and Catastrophe Ballet is a classic album.► by Dj Detra
Christian Death – Catastrophe Ballet (1984)
L’Invitation Au Suicide