The long history of lineup changes, legal battles, and competing versions of Christian Death is a bit long to cover in this review, but the short version of it is Valor Kand has fronted the band since 1986 with Evil Becomes Rule being his thirteenth studio album. Bassist, female vocalist, and songwriter Maitri joined the group in 1991 and they have been the creative duo behind the official Christian Death ever since. While this lineup’s output has been a bit of a mixed bag over the years with concept albums, artistic experimentation, and forays into metal, Evil Becomes Rule taps into the band’s roots and proves to be a well written and superbly paced album of gothic deathrock with quite a few earworms.
The album opens with slow moody tracks highlighted by Valor’s deep vocal delivery, but the album really sinks its fangs into the listener with the combo of “Elegant Sleeping” and “Blood Moon,” with the former being Maitri’s first opportunity to really belt out some blistering vocals and the latter showing off catchy guitar hooks, a strong bass line, and great song structure. Even through the lesser tracks of the album, smartly placed tempo changes and memorable choruses keep the listener engaged and paying attention. The biggest highlight of the album comes with the song “Beautiful,” which borders on verge of a deathrock parody with its dramatic violin to set the stage, the heavily distorted guitar and Maitri belting out, “I want you to look beautiful at my funeral” – it all comes together with a semi-serious poeticism that makes it one of the best songs of the entire Valor-era of Christian Death.
While rough edges are often part of the charm with this album and the genre in general, the main negative of Evil Becomes Rule comes in the audio mix with issues like the vocal channel coming in a bit too heavy or unevenly, the bass getting easily drowned out, or the drums sounding a bit hollow. It can be a distraction at first, giving the album a bit of an amateur, D.I.Y. feeling, and some of the tracks could possibly land a bit better with a few tweaks to the levels. Mix complaints aside, Evil Becomes Rule easily ranks among the best of the Valor-era and tracks like “Blood Moon” and “Beautiful” are worth the price of admission alone. The album hits a great stride as it moves between slow and moody to catchy and sinister and each track is engaging and memorable. The album opens to the lyrics “Abandon all your hope, all who enter here,” but for those wishing for a good Christian Death album, your hopes have been answered.