Comparisons had already been made to such legends of dark post-punk as Bauhaus and the Birthday Party, so perhaps it's not too surprising that Antioch Arrow went all out goth on Gems of Masochism, the group's final effort. The CD case is blood red, the band appear suitably eye shadowed and lipsticked on the cover photo, and song titles like "Too Bad Yer Gonna Die" and "Dead Now" abound. This all had the end effect of freaking out a fair amount of the group's original fanbase -- and apparently got the goat of Winterberg, who only appeared as an adjunct performer along with two other guests -- but the group followed its own instincts, and successfully at that. Without sacrificing any of the awesome power of the earlier releases, Antioch Arrow added new elements of drama and decadence to their work, finding a nexus between musical and lyrical extremity. Montaigne's vocals are even more desperate and breathy than on Jetts, an inviting voice of sleaze amidst massive band crunches and quieter, moodier moments. If anything, he sounds like what Rozz Williams should have sounded like on the early Christian Death albums, if that singer had ever bothered to study voice control. Lyrically, Montaigne dips into things most of the group's audience probably got nervous about if they were the close-minded sort. "David," with lines about mascara running and flirting with the night while wearing high heels, no doubt was the topper of the bunch in that regard. Mann's keyboards definitely have a bit of haunted house to them at points -- check out the organ introduction to "Too Bad Yer Gonna Die," as well as the moody piano parts throughout many of the songs. Overall, the band definitely let in a lot more space and room to breathe in the arrangements, making the tracks the most song-like -- and with "Introducing Elizabeth" and its six-minute length, also the longest -- they've ever been.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett