Record Review - 3 July 08 2004

Why Antioch Arrow’s Gems of Masochism, the San Diego band’s final and most formidable release, has languished in obscurity for nearly 10 years is a mystery. After all, this is the record that injected the hardcore elite of the ’90s with a goth-tinged jolt to the dark side. Along with Gravity Records labelmates Angel Hair and Heroin, Antioch Arrow fused the emotionally distraught tone of the times with the dismal disorder of Christian Death, the Damned and the Birthday Party. Gems of Masochism came as the first coherent offering of this union of unlikely influences, and with seminal flare it paved the way for later groups — the Rapture, the Liars and Yeah Yeah Yeahs — to dumb it down and reap the rewards. For the first time, this unaltered reissue offers Antioch Arrow’s classic record to a generation on which it has had a major influence.

When Amalgamated Records released Gems in 1995, it signified a swift and distinct change in direction. Songs like “Paper Moshay,” “You Gotta Love the Lights” and “Date with Destiny” clung to the group’s listless hardcore dirge of the past while bringing it to a dark point. “Picnic Pants” sums the record up, with clusters of clumsy rhythms that lurch with uncomfortable flamboyance. This is a sentiment mirrored by the lipstick and eyeliner the group’s members flaunt on the cover of the record. But just as Antioch Arrow’s appearance seems a bit alienating, it reinforces that Gems of Masochism was — and still is — about pushing limits of disturbed music; albeit a decade before its time.