The Bela Sessions EP leaVing In The Flat Field beggarS arKiVe Murphy, Ash, Haskins and J casually define goth.
When Bauhaus arrived, apparently fully formed, into the nascent
80s London club scene, the post-punk tribe were in desperate need of a new kind of kick. The Ants crew’s hitherto S&M-favouring fetish Gruppenfuhrer was already eyeing up an anodyne white stripe, and all other options seemed to involve either wearing a lace doily or Oi-ing for England.
And then, straight outta Northampton, perambulated an exquisite corpse with a commanding vocal timbre who stalked the stage, lips drawn back over canine teeth, and Double Dared you to join him in the tomb. They’d released a nine-minute 12-inch in ‘79 that owned the indie chart for months. Bela Lugosi’s Dead
– devilishly simple, stylistically perfect – defined the band, but reviewing the entire five-song The Bela Sessions EP that sired it
(6/10), it was a happy accident. The rest of the material finds a band fumbling for direction, even touching on ska, before an eerie delay appeared to invent their sound for them.
So like Sabbath before them, the band embraced the dark side, Lugosi-ed their image and basically re-imagined metal by squeezing it through a punkinformed Bowie filter. In his day, Peter Murphy was the world’s greatest frontman, and their live set-duplicating In The Flat Field
(9/10) minimalist debut captures his magic perfectly. Stigmata Martyr casually and unintentionally defines goth as a ‘cruxifixation ecstacy’, and the album (now remastered on vinyl alongside the diminishing returns of the band’s subsequent output) remains an utterly essential dark delight.