If Christian Death trumped 45 Grave when it came to releasing a debut album -- Only Theatre of Pain having surfaced a little while earlier -- then there's no question that Sleep in Safety is easily the equal, if not better than the other band's initial effort. It doesn't hurt at all that Cancer is a much better singer than the chronically groaning Rozz Williams, for one thing, while the clear sense of humor 45 Grave never denied ensured that the band never entered the realms of relentlessly ridiculous self-parody. How could they, given how entertainingly off they already were -- thus songs like "Riboflavin," in praise of the nutritious forms of blood the healthy vampire needs. Fusing everyone's varying punk/trash/art backgrounds into a goth rock overlay and then never letting themselves be suckered into actually going and digging up bodies, the members recruited Craig Leon for effective production work and the well-recorded Sleep in Safety scored underground hit after hit. There's even a surf instrumental, and when will anyone see most modern black-clad types ever trying that move? There's no question that the band's legendary "Partytime" is the high point, a stop-start, quiet/loud horror of a goth landmark that lets Cancer sneak in a bit of pretty creepiness before everyone fires up into a classic rock chug with a great shout-along chorus that Joan Jett would be proud of. What really works best is how the music is the most truly dark part of the band, Graves' bass playing and Cutler's post-Banshees guitar parts hitting all the right notes. In turn, Cancer isn't so much a dark priestess of gloom as a commanding figure who has to be listened to. The hilarious part of the band comes to the fore from the start, thanks to the introductory message about the creators of the album being skilled insurance agents. Later CD reissues included the single version of "Partytime" and a perhaps inevitable rip through Alice Cooper's "School's Out."
Sleep In Safety Review
by Ned Raggett