The year was 1990. I’d heard lots of buzz about this new “goth rock” band Dead Artist Syndrome. Even Roger Martinez from Vengeance Rising had been sporting their t-shirt at gigs. For those who don’t know, DAS was the first goth band to release an album on a Christian label. While being the first is always a good thing, it wasn’t the fact that they were an early representative of the subgenre that made them interesting. It was that they were so darn good at it.
The goth subgenre can go in all sorts of directions–danceable and leaning towards industrial, punkish with rockabilly tendencies, mellow and ambient or darkwave, or harsh and noisy. Amazingly, DAS took a different path than all of those, using their somber tones to create moody atmospheres that were simultaneously dark and brooding, but also drew one in creating a sense of wonder and mysterious.
The band released 6 albums in their lengthy career, and while each of them had moments of brilliance, none of them surpassed the creative genius of the debut, Prints of Darkness, the title of which was a pun regarding the influence of evil in this world, showing founder Brian Healy’s sardonic humorous side. At times lyrically confusing, Healy told tales of unrequited romance, dances that go awry, and faded memories. Frequently these stories serve a double-meaning, allegories of the divine romance, or at least the desire for spiritual intimacy.
Brian tragically died last year, having battled with many health struggles throughout his adult life. Thank you for the music Brian. RIP.