This world crucifies you again and again
December 30, 2017 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Massivivid was a Christian industrial rock band active from 1996 to 2003, the brainchild of Wally Shaw and a spin-off project from Deitiphobia, the Christian Industrial band he had founded with Brent Stackhouse in the late 1980s.

Deitiphobia (then named Donderfliegen) initially released a cassette demo called Digital Priests in 1990. They were subsequently signed to Michael Knott's Blonde Vinyl Records and in 1991, they released The Fear of God. Musically, it's in the same neighborhood as Front 232; lyrically, it's what you'd expect from a couple of teenagers raised in an American Fundamentalist Christian environment.

A year later, they released Digital Priests - the remixes, a partially reworked and remastered version of the earlier demo. (Blonde Vinyl went under not long afterward; the linked playlists were taken from a reissue by (now defunct) Flaming Fish Records.)

After Stackhouse left in 1993 to form X-Propagation, Shaw recruited his wife Sheri and guitarist Josh Plemon to release Clean. Musically, it's more industrial rock than pure industrial (think KMFDM) and Shaw is a better lyricist now. Vivid is the stand-out track on Clean. In the same year, Knott (who also needs a MeFi FPP) created Fear of the Digital Remix a musical collage composed mostly of snippets taken from Fear of God and Digital Priests. (Alas, it doesn't seem to be on YouTube; iTunes has it though.)

And at this point, Deitiphobia felt a little ill and decided to lie down for a bit. Some time afterward, Massivivid burst from its chest with 1999's Brightblur.

Musically, Brightblur is a continuation Clean's industrial rock sound—Vivid is basically a Massivivid song—but Shaw has evolved as a lyricist and songwriter. The album feels much more honest and while he continues to explore Christian themes, it's no longer the series of Church culture clichés found in his previous work. Brightblur won the 1999 Dove Award for Hard Music Album of the Year. With Brightblur, Plemon is now gone from the lineup and the Shaws are joined by (among others) Wil Foster, formerly of Sheltershed. You can see some not-very-good concert footage here and here taken at the Cornerstone festival.

Shaw would later describe Brightblur as being a very safe album to make within the Christian music industry. For the followup, Dressed to the Nines...Armed to the Teeth, (2002), he adopted the stage name and persona of Frankie Vivid, a kind of stylish lowlife. This album is long out of print and not much of it is available online. I've found three songs: Nined, Conflagration, and Opium Doll. Unfortunately, these don't really convey the humour throughout. It's also a much more disorganized album and arguably a third of so of it should have been left on the cutting room floor. Still, its high points are amazing. Shaw stays in character as Frankie but sometimes lets the mask slip and it's unclear whether what he's admitting to is him or his persona.

Concurrent with all of this, the Shaws and Foster revived Deitiphobia, producing one final album: Lo:Fi.Vs.Sci:Fi. This was a concept album that used cyberpunk-ish elements as metaphors for aspects of Christian spirituality.

In the early 2000s, Wally Shaw released some remix albums on as well as an outakes-and-rarities compilation, all of which are now gone with the site.

And that was it. The Shaws divorced in the early 2000s. Sheri went on to form Sstaria and work with Billy Corgan while Foster worked with The Echoing Green. There may have been a Deitiphobia compilation album in 2007 but all evidence of it seems to have disappeared. Even the band's domain, expired and after a few years of squatting was bought by a fan of the band. (Said fan also tracked down some copies of Dressed to the Nines and is selling them for $75 each.)

Wally Show (now calling himself Franky Vivid) worked in video games for a bit, composing music and sounds for the Red Faction and Summoner series. He married Michelle L'amour and is now involved in the Chicago Burlesque scene.

By the way, if you're wondering where to start, I suggest Brightblur. This whole post is really just an excuse to recommend an amazing album.

Finally, here's Deitiphobia covering Erasure's She Won't be Home from a 1995 sampler CD.
posted by suetanvil (10 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I had written most of this post before it occurred to me to try Googling Franky Vivid instead of Wally Shaw. Up until that point, it looked like he'd disappeared after around 2003. It's fascinating how Shaw seems to have become his own stage persona.
posted by suetanvil at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2017

Cyberpunk plus Christian spirituality makes a lot of sense, really. Roko's basilisk is essentially a form of Calvinism. Also: Some of this music is pretty good! I do love me some experimental '90s Christian industrial rock. I bet the guy I met at homeschool softball back in 1996 who was really into Christian industrial knew about these guys.
posted by limeonaire at 2:26 PM on December 30, 2017

Musically, it's in the same neighborhood as Front 232


Front 242 perhaps?

mods, fix?
posted by evilDoug at 2:30 PM on December 30, 2017

I was HUGELY into Massivivid and Deitiphobia in the late 90s and early 2000s. I still own a bunch of these cds (though I never ponied up for Dressed to the Nines...) but I haven’t listened in ages. But this was almost the only “approved” band who had that nine inch nails/Marilyn Manson sound (besides Argyle Park/AP2) in that fundamental Christian music industry. In hindsight, these guys helped open my eyes to the gothier side of music.

Feels like it’s the right time for this stuff to start coming back. Ronnie Martin of Joy electric and Mad at the World both released new albums this hear, so maybe using synthesizers to sing about the Lord is coming back into style.
posted by sleeping bear at 4:55 PM on December 30, 2017

Or perhaps Front 120, who were similar to Front 242, only not even half as good.
posted by acb at 5:51 PM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Front 242 perhaps?

Yes, that. I distinctly remember typing it in correctly so it must be cosmic rays.
posted by suetanvil at 8:11 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

This hybrid is alive and well. I just saw some stuff on YouTube the other day that was calling itself Christian breakcore.

Also, nuns (and priests) are super popular motifs in current witch house and spooky trap stuff, just like they were in industrial/goth days. I don't know if I'd properly call that Christian rock/music or whatever, but it's a thing.
posted by loquacious at 9:06 PM on December 30, 2017

Wow! I went to high school with Wally. I had the Donderfliegen cassette and the Deitiphobia CD. Cool to see it on Mefi!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 12:27 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I lean more towards Krisnacore when looking for strange spiritual subgenres.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:35 AM on December 31, 2017

I was really more of a Project 86 kid but i have to recognize this is an amazing FPP. Thanks!
posted by midmarch snowman at 11:22 PM on December 31, 2017

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