It’s Friday, and you know what that means: it’s time to get weird. Today’s dive into the eerie, often unsettling waters of the avant-garde finds Scott and I going over an artist that I had personally never heard of: Diamanda Galás. Galás is a singer (and performance artist) whose vocal work usually incorporates Greek and Middle Eastern scales and styles, and The Divine Punishment is the beginning of a trilogy of albums she put out in the 80s, chronicling—through her own personal vision—the AIDS crisis.
This was an album that came to me out of left-field, both musically and thematically, in the best way possible. While HIV/AIDS doesn’t have quite the reputation it did back then, it is still an issue in the world of health (although medical science has made enormous strides in treating it), and Galás makes this disease nonetheless relevant, drawing comparisons to the Old Testament during the first track of this album. Her voice—capable of almost black metal-style screeching at times and vocal gymnastics that remind me a bit of Mike Patton—is what makes this album musically, as it is relatively sparse when it comes to instrumentals, consisting really of vocals and a few Dead Can Dance-esque synth pads.
Out of all the albums we’ve gone over in this podcast, The Divine Punishment is perhaps the friendliest album thus far to fans of metal. Galás’s harsh vocals really take command here, and the entire vibe of the release has this epic fire-and-brimstone evil to it that a metalhead with an open mind could enjoy considerably. I went into this not quite knowing what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.