6 of 7 thought this review was well written
The album is a mass that posits AIDS as a disease created by Satan to wipe out the human race - but not the gay men who were accused to spreading the disease in the real 1984, but the moral guardains who have allowed the disease to spread by passing the buck so arrogantly. No, really. Diamanda sings, speaks, uses Sprechgesang, wails, whatever, this mass in the Cathedral of St. John The Divine in NYC, with, for the most part, no musical backing at all (there's a drum here and there, a baby's cry at one point, and one track uses what sounds a little like a sleigh bell throughout). No, really. She performed the album topless and covered in blood. No, really. You'd think the facts would make it weird enough. Jesus Christ. Even this doesn't sum things up. Not even the artwork - the most genuinely disturbing artwork of all time, I'd wager - gets there.
How long have I owned this album? A year now? Must be at least close to that mark. And I still have absolutely NO clue what to rate this. It defies any sort of rating system. It's a masterpiece because it is a singular piece of art, because it is a genuinely terrifying listening experience, because as far as I am aware nobody else has ever even attempted anything like this, because her voice is truly an amazing thing, because it's the single heaviest album I've ever heard, and because it achieves what it sets out to do perfectly. It's trash because it is practically unlistenable to all but the most hardened fans of avant-garde music, because it will instantly alienate everyone else to the point where they won't even be able to make it past the first track unless they are on a pre-dictated mission to give every album they hear a full listen, and because her voice, that amazing voice, is used with the explicit intention of causing the listener physical pain.
There are moments of melody. "This Is The Law Of The Plague" is practically a spiritual at times, quoting directly from "Amazing Grace" at one point, but my God - HOW THE FU
CK DOES SHE MAKE THOSE NOISES AT THE END OF THIS TRACK?! And in the close of "I Wake Up And See The Face Of The Devil". They're unspeakable. They sound like Satan himself playing the saxophone. The rest of her vocals could be placed under terms like 'screeching', 'wailing', 'blubbering' and 'screaming', but really, that doesn't explain it. They'll have to do, though, because I simply don't have words that could explain it. She has an incredible control over her voice, I'll say that much.
Hearing lyrics is a bit of a chore at times, but I am assured that quotes from the Bible appear at regular intervals. Diamanda Galas was and still is, after all, an AIDS activist, and in an attempt to persecute those who have persecuted homosexuals for their 'crimes', she's definitely done her research. Her defence of AIDS victims and understanding of the pain they are forced to go through, and the sheer conviction behind it, makes the album, on a conceptual level, beautiful, and almost heartbreaking. Which, of course, makes the whole thing so much weirder.
The rating of 1 is a cop-out, a decision simply because there's too many 5s on the site and not enough 1s. The album is only 'terrible' if we use the etymological root and say, yes, this album does inspire terror. But what do I do? It's a 5 and a 0.5 all in one. I'm truly glad I heard this. I really am. And, in truth, I would love it if more people heard this. It will redefine how you feel about music and, maybe, life. But I really, really hope I never hear anything like it again.