It was my junior or senior year of high school, and I had only recently discovered that good Christian music existed (e.g., Mortal, The Violet Burning, The Prayer Chain). But I soon learned that was just the tip of the iceberg when my friend Kevin introduced me to the strange world of Blonde Vinyl Records, the legendary label run by Michael Knott (of L.S.U./Lifesavers Underground/Lifesavers fame).
One release immediately jumped out at me: Dead Artist Syndrome’s Prints of Darkness. Being an angst-ridden teenager, I had only recently begun delving into the world of goth music, and it was both shocking and exciting to hear a Christian make music that tapped into the same gloomy world as The Sisters of Mercy — not as some strange marketing gimmick to be “relevant” but as legitimate artistic output.
Much of that was due to frontman Brian Healy, an ordained minister who possessed a deep baritone à la Andrew Eldritch and was unafraid to write about religious hypocrisy, unrequited love, and human depravity, despair, and desperation. And backing him were a veritable who’s who of Christian alternative luminaries, including Michael Knott, Gym Nicholson, and Ojo Taylor.
Despite dealing with severe health issues, Healy has released several other records over the years, including 1992’s Devils, Angels & Saints, 1995’s Happy Hour, and 2015’s Kissing Strangers. But Prints of Darkness is where it all started, and despite being nearly 30 years old, its shadow still looms large. Healy reissued the album in 2013 with a mix of bonus and live tracks, but it was never released on vinyl… until now.
Back in October 2017, Lo-Fidelity Records — who has reissued a number of albums by Adam Again, The 77s, and Undercover — launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to remaster and reissue a “deluxe” edition of Prints of Darkness on vinyl, CD, and digital download. According to the campaign’s most recent update, the reissue will be released this summer, just in time for Dead Artist Syndrome’s appearance at the Audiofeed Musical Festival, during which they’ll perform Prints of Darkness in its entirety at The Asylum.
On a related note, it was interesting to learn that The Asylum — which started the goth tent at the 1998 Cornerstone Festival — is still going strong as a ministry. I have many fond memories of hanging out at that goth tent until the wee hours of the morning, and chatting about faith, music, and more trivial topics with people that I otherwise only knew via online chatrooms.