They might’ve been the first Christian industrial band, but for many years, Blackhouse was one of the most enigmatic acts in Christendom (rivaled only, perhaps, by the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus). It was impossible to find out much, if anything, about the band but Blackhouse nevertheless developed a nigh-legendary reputation due to their harsh, unrelenting sound (which challenged Christian audiences) and explicit Christian and conservative themes (which challenged noise and industrial audiences).
Some of the mystery has disappeared in recent years thanks to the likes of Wikipedia and Bandcamp (where you can find much of Blackhouse’s considerable discography). Still, imagine my surprise when I saw this Bandcamp profile of Blackhouse and Brian Ladd, the man behind the mask.
Amidst all of Ladd’s religious underpinnings, he had another love — industrial music. Whitehouse, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, the usual suspects. He noticed that Whitehouse, and other projects with shocking visuals and lyrics were getting pushback for that imagery, but he thought he would up the ante. “I thought what would be even more offensive was a Jesus band,” he says, “especially when it sounded like hardcore noise, so I was getting back at the scene for all the terrorists and stuff that they put on those record covers, the naked dead people, the Holocaust camps — the negative imagery — I wanted it to be a positive thing, being a Jesus industrial artist. So I created Blackhouse.”
Even now, Blackhouse continues pushing buttons. A brief perusal of their Facebook page reveals a considerable antipathy towards atheists, leftists, Antifa, feminists, and anything else that might fall under the “progressive” banner.
Bandcamp’s Blackhouse profile dovetails nicely with my desire to chronicle weird, experimental, underground, and otherwise outré Christian music, especially material released in the ’80s and ’90s before the rise of the Web. Much of that music was ignored and overlooked, or was so niche that it flew under everybody’s radar, but there are plenty of interesting gems that deserve some attention now, 20 – 30 years after the fact. (For example, check out these old school Christian goth and industrial albums.)