Matthew D. Mercer | Chicago, IL United States | 08/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Diamanda Galas has the rare ability to truly instill fear in her audience. Even the most excited and avid fan of her work cannot help but feel more than mildly uneasy through many of her performances and recordings.The Masque of the Red Death showcases Galas at what some may consider her conceptual and musical peak. She has become the voice of all those victimized or betrayed by the AIDS/HIV epidemic. She boldly and without hesitation questions the religious principles and doctrines we as an American culture tend to take for granted, reversing the roles, describing a place where angels are devils, the dying are victims and the empowered and righteous are not to be trusted.The first disc of the two is comprised of two separate recordings, The Divine Punishment and Saint of the Pit. The Divine Punishment is included in its original 2 lengthy segments (presumably intended as 2 sides of vinyl originally) and consists primarily of more musical, synthesized arrangements with Galas channeling more than the occasional demon. Biblical texts are often appropriated for her own devices, inverting segments, altering scripture and adding her own fiery monologues. Saint of the Pit continues the trend but begins with several tracks of wordless vocal improvisation and a more industrial slant to percussion and sound effects. Rather than relying on the Bible for lyrical content, Galas has instead turned to Baudelaire and philosophers' texts.You Must Be Certain of the Devil comprises the second disc and serves as the third and final installment of the trilogy. Taking a sudden left turn from the apocalyptic sound of the previous disc, this collection of songs relies more on conventional pop structures, industrial-dance elements and a strange twisting of southern culture into Galas's own horrific vision. "Let My People Go" is an outstanding traditional piece accompanied by Galas's deep resonant vocals and lyrics that owe more to traditional gospel than her usual spastic opera.Galas's drama is one which is not to be ignored. The sheer fury and anguish embodied in her wide vocal range and aggressive performances is not meant to be passive. She is here to scare some sense into you, and she's done a mighty fine job of it."
Michael | Olympia, WA USA | 08/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two things should be added to Matt Mercer's cogent review. First, the trilogy musically, and obviously, progresses "historically" from extremely spare, usually only percussive, accompaniment at the beginning of the trilogy, through lusher, sometimes even vocal-keyboard-symphonic orchestrations, to straightforwardly modern arrangements at the end (capped by a piano-gospel finale that returns us to the beginning of the trilogy). The texts as well follow this historical progression, from Biblical quotations to French symbolists to "rock" lyrics and parodies of Southern revival music. Second, the trilogy is made thematically coherent throughout insofar as it dramatizes the lamentations, howls, rebellions, and depths of anguish, rage and despair of the gay community. AIDS may be the motivating inspiration for this work, but it functions -- Galas' voice functions -- as our advocate, our Singer for the Dead (to steal an Orson Scott Card title). It catalogues the progression from faith lost, through despair, to an absolute rejection of the hatred and discrimination levelled historically and presently against the gay community. As such, it is, finally, an exhortation to hope and a call to action."
One of the most chilling albums i've ever listened to
moongrenadine | high point, NC | 02/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"masque of the red trilogy may be perhaps the most disturbing & ultimately chilling albums i've ever had the pleasure of listening to. i love every second of it!! having already bought two of diamanda's works in the past 6 months, i was eager to get my hands on one of her earliest masterpeices. as one reviewer has already stated, nothing can quite help you prepare for what you'll hear or experience on the initial listen but the album is highly recommended nevertheless. diamanda's vocals rise & fall within seconds & one can never be sure exactly where one note shall lead us. although there are fleeting moments of beauty within ms. galas' eight octave vocals, most of the album consists of wretched sounds which suggests she is once again the catalyst in examining what may very well be the most excruciatingly frightful fate known to man. a fate perhaps worse than death itself? i know, hideous notion indeed. from the opening law of the plague to the very last track lord is my shepard, red death will hold you captive in it's darkness & you will literally feel or understand the pain others have experienced at the hands of angry & cruel humans. again, not a pleasant experience but ONE THAT WILL awaken every nerve within your body in a matter of just moments. diamanda embodies all the great wisdom of a classic greek playwriter & fully understands tragedy in ways we couldn't possibly imagine or wish to be subjected to. she is also a deep thinker & she feels a great deal of pain for those who have gone before us. we tend to believe these inhumanities(which galas understands completely) should not be spoken of or written about for fear of making oneself a bit uncomfortable but diamanda perhaps wouldn't feel comfortable unless the pain & suffering of millions were brought out into the open. again, there you have the greek tragedy in it's rawest form fleshed out like a great play written by sophocles or a harrowing film directed by pasolini. my favorite track without doubt is 'let my people go' which i have played many times. "oh lord jesus, do you think i've served my time? the eight legs of the devil now are crawling up my spine." listen & weep."
J. A. Freakin' Freestyle | CHICAGO, IL | 10/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This a compilation of three previously released albums. First came, "DIVINE PUNISHMENT," then "SAINT of the PIT," and thirdly "YOU MUST BE CERTAIN of the DEVIL" which released the song "DOUBLE-BARREL PRAYER," which was accompanied with a music video in 1988. This has lots of 15th, 16th century European literature/text/poems and after awile one may get confused at to what he/she is listening to; to the point where one has to refer to the program/text guide as I had to do several times even after multiple listenings. Folks, what Diamanda is trying to convey and not to be repetitive is the ignorance and lack of education of AIDS- the so-called plague of modern times(remember these albums were released during AIDS earlier days during the 80's). I know the mainstream wouldn't have the patience to sit through and listen to three cd's- especially if has shreiking, moaning and sounds unbearable to listen to and subject matter that is depressing and just that creepiness factor. It takes an individual who has an open mind to this type of art form, and yes it's an art form, and appreciate these works as they work as a whole. You have to have an interest or you will not like this at all. Diamanda Galas is not for everyone's taste. "