Gems of Masochism
Having already established their unique version of hardcore over two previous albums, Antioch Arrow decided to embrace the more gothic and garage-y elements of their music, and the resulting Gems of Masochism certainly represented a huge change of focus. The band had already been compared to late-’70s/early-’80s gothic-influenced punk, such as Bauhaus and Wire (to name two particularly disparate bands), and Antioch Arrow’s image — make-up, combed-back hair and debauched hedonism — only underlined that aspect of their sound. However, no one could have been prepared for Gems of Masochism. The band’s new direction was a pretty brave move, especially considering hardcore fans’ notorious fear of musical expansion, even coming from fringe acts like Antioch Arrow.
Gems of Masochism was originally released back in 1995, but has long since gone out of print, making this reissue by the Locust-associated label Three.One.G one of the year’s most essential. Coming across almost like the Damned with regards to musical influences, Antioch Arrow still sound like no one but themselves. Gems of Masochism is a stingy, edgy affair from a band that was able to give their madness and sorrows a shine of magic hedonism — check the longing “David” or the wonderful, shivering “You Gotta Love the Lights.”
It’s hard to overestimate the importance that Antioch Arrow have had on the hardcore punk world of today. At the time of its original release, Gems of Masochism never received its due attention. Those who did listen, however, recognized this as a brave and visionary statement coming directly from the heart of some of the most trembling, exciting new hardcore music around. Not that Gems of Masochism necessarily demands comparisons with hardcore punk, as it’s drenched in gothic blood and reverb-y garage punk. But it’s hard to separate the music from its audience, and in this case, Antioch Arrow introduced the punk scene to something genuinely spooky, quite different from anything else that might have crept into punk rock at that time. This re-release is a timely reminder of the importance of Antioch Arrow, and their continued influence on underground hardcore punk.