Theatre of Hate

  • Theatre of Hate
  • He Who Dares Wins (Live at the Warehouse Leeds) (UK Burning Rome) 1981 
  • Live at the Lyceum [tape] (UK self-released) 1981 
  • Westworld (UK Burning Rome) 1982 
  • Theatre of Hate – He Who Dares Wins (Live LP - You Have a Choice) (UK Burning Rome) 1982 

Although singer/guitarist Kirk Brandon’s heart and conscience were obviously in the right place, the intense and ambitious but short-lived Theatre of Hate always carried an air of undeserved hype. The band wielded impressive imagery and confidence and had a manager who released their budget-priced records on his Burning Rome label, but Theatre of Hate’s recorded work — unremittingly morose and often strident — was rarely as good as enthusiastic UK press notices made it out to be.

Tucked in between three live releases (one recorded in Leeds and one in Berlin, both titled He Who Dares Wins, plus a cassette from a show in London), ToH gained a measure of cachet by having Mick Jones of the Clash produce their only original studio LP, Westworld, capturing the full extent of Brandon’s urgency, especially in the ominous and chilling “Do You Believe in the West World” — the LP’s strongest track, concerning the U.S., China, Russia, the world and the aftermath of a neutron bomb explosion. Despite the variety of imaginative arrangements, the album mix is muddy and, while the feeling is strong, his vocals aren’t. What good’s a conscience if you can’t express it understandably? Although Brandon sounds agitated, the band resembles a punked-up Sergio Leone. (The only other track of any note is the haunting “Love Is a Ghost.”)

Guitarist Billy Duffy (pre-Cult), who joined after the studio work was completed, is reportedly on He Who Dares Wins (Berlin), produced by manager Terry Razor, which has thick, dense sound, but reasonably clear vocals. The muscular rock sound, intense atmosphere and teetering sax give it an edgy excitement.

Brandon shut down the Theatre of Hate in 1982 and formed Spear of Destiny. Numerous live albums, compilations, a lost second album and other collections eventually followed. The band reformed for a time in the early ’90s and then again in 2007.

[Karen Schlosberg / Ira Robbins]

See also: Spear of Destiny