My knowledge of Death Cult is virtually nothing other than I know they changed their name in 1984 to simply The Cult. I know quite a bit about the Cult having bought most of their records, including the album “Love” at the time they were released.
I’d never previously heard any recordings by Death Cult so thought I’d put that right by buying the CD collection “Ghost Dance” which captures everything the band recorded in 1983. What was I about to discover? Would I enjoy the material as much as “Spiritwalker” or “She Sells Sanctuary”, I’m afraid the answer is a resounding NO.
All of the material is ruined by over-produced drums, this was that dreaded eighties disease of gated-drums or some other tomfoolery by the producer in the studio. So many bands in the eighties had their music destroyed by this unnecessary caper, if only someone could go back to the mixing desk with the master-tapes and ‘un-gate’ the drums or whatever stereophonic gibberish these producer types were practicing.
Ian Astbury’s vocals are annoying, it seems that on all of this Death Cult material he shouts and screams like an injured Cheyenne warrior at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Billy Duffy’s guitar tones sound fabulous though, he clearly demonstrates that he was destined for something much tougher than the indie goth rock he’s playing here. His metal-blues / hard rock style of play changed the Cult’s sound for instance after their ‘psychedelic’ period.
The best number here is the soothing, acoustic heavy, drum free ballad “A Flower In The Desert” which was re-recorded and released as the B-side of “Spiritwalker” in May 1984. The song is presented here from a Radio One session they did for the Kid Jensen Show, recorded 16th October 1983.