In the middle of pursuing his various goth/glam efforts and using the Christian Death name even while Valor Kand was still leading his own version of the group, Rozz Williams finally did the right thing and got the original lineup back together again for a one-off concert. Well, almost original -- bassist James McGearty sat it out, replaced by one Casey, but otherwise it was Williams, Rikk Agnew, and George Belanger together again, with Rikk's brother Frank adding some guitars as well. Iconologia captures the end result, logically concentrating on Only Theatre of Pain material but with a few ringers as well, including two honest-to-goodness new songs by this particular lineup. Casey actually gets the first word with the introductory "Excommunicamus," a collage of samples that purees everything from sex squeals and church choirs to invocations of Satan and destruction, but after that it's full-band business galore. Kicking off like Only Theatre did, with "Cavity -- First Communion," the revitalized quartet tears into everything with the appropriate punk-inspired energy. Williams wisely doesn't try to replicate his 1982-era singing, instead favoring his higher, clearly Bowie-inspired quaver and jettisoning the bored moaning; he sounds like he's having the time of his life. Agnew shows no slack either, cranking out some great, freaky solos when he's so inclined, while Casey and Belanger keep the band and enthusiastic crowd moving. When it comes to the new songs, "Cry Baby" makes for a nicely fried glammy treat, while "Some Men/The Other" is even more so, an explicit early Bowie tribute that works wonders. In a telling homage to roots, Lou Reed's excoriating "Kill Your Sons" gets a strong runthrough, accompanied by an amusing intro from Williams. The original album is really what needs to be heard, but as a entertaining footnote to the first era of the group, Iconologia is a thorough treat (it has to be said, though, that a lot of the crowd cheers sound like they were borrowed from another source).
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett