It's a dark, scarred reflection of Talking Heads, a band who were hardly the cheeriest motherfuckers on the sofa to begin with. Talking Heads yacked about Buildings And Food. The Manics' yacked about the architecture of the body, and a dangerous lack of food of any damn sort.
And the Holocaust. Let's not forget that.
Richey was blessed and cursed with a deep concern for humanity, and a cripplingly obsessive mind. The fact that detestable motherfuckers were spouting rancid filth about how the Holocaust never happened, shit like that right there kept him awake for days on end. That such intense, impenetrable suffering could be so easily mocked by these fuckwit "historians", he couldn't cope with the weight of that injustice.
To this end, we get The Intense Humming Of Evil and Mausoleum. "No birds", hisses the latter, "The sky is swollen black." The former, an industrial death-march grind, is unbearably explicit;
"In block 5 we worship malaria,
Lagerstrasse, poplar trees,
Beauty lost, dignity gone,
Rascher surveys us butcher bacteria"
Unforgettable, deeply, deeply disturbing. Utter genius. Alongside 4st 7lbs, it's one of two tracks on The Holy Bible that I routinely skip. Not because they're bad, but because they're so fucking good. They're too intense, too painful to listen to. The melodies are beautiful, the playing is immaculate, the vocal performance is stunning. And death and loneliness hover over both like the terrible memories instrumental in their creation.
The Intense Humming Of Evil is, I would wager, the aural equivalent of Pasolini's Salo. Like Salo, it's a howl against fascism, and a tormented cry at the unspeakable horrors humanity is capable of. Like Salo, it's a commanding piece of work that never flinches, that even when presenting to us images or ideas that we don't for a second want to contemplate in anything other than a coldly intellectual manner, still captivates us. Like Salo, its creator vanished shortly afterwards.
Except Pasolini had a helping hand from a disgruntled rentboy and the flick of a blade.
On those two tracks, The Intense Humming Of Evil and 4st 7lbs, The Holy Bible becomes, for The Duke at any rate, something akin to Closer by Joy Division, something that is undeniably special and important, but something I can't for a second enjoy hearing.
For the rest, however, for those other eleven tracks, perhaps the most accurate comparison one could make, and it has been made ad naseum, is to Nirvana's In Utero. That was another record knee-deep in frustration and hurt, but it sounds phenomenal. It's not depressing for a second. It's touching, and occasionally sad, and it's complex and pained, but not depressing. It's joyous.