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    Every Whitehouse Album, Ranked

    William Bennett, Philip Best and Peter Sotos. A comprehensive list ranking and reviewing over 20 albums by pioneering power electronics band, Whitehouse.

    Whitehouse band

    Pioneers of the power electronics genre, Whitehouse are renowned for their extreme and confrontational approach to music. Consisting of mainstays William Bennett, Philip Best, and Peter Sotos, their 20+ album career has seen the band explore sonic experiments that delve into the darkest corners of industrial and experimental music. Abrasive noise, harsh electronic textures, and provocative lyrical content underscore William Bennett’s uncompromising vision, Philip Best’s visceral vocal delivery, and Peter Sotos’ controversial recordings.

    Having left an indelible mark on the landscape of experimental music, it seems a fitting tribute to compile the entire studio discography of “England’s most extreme electronic band”. With 30-odd years of terrorizing listeners, it’s only fair to torment myself by taking a deep-dive into one of the nastiest back-catalogues to have existed. Without further ado, this is every Whitehouse album, ranked!

    Early photo of Whitehouse in the 1980s.
    Early Whitehouse flyer from the 1980s

    21. Right To Kill (Dedicated To Dennis Nilsen) (1983)

    Right To Kill (Dedicated To Dennis Nilsen) Whitehouse album cover

    The most derivative of any Whitehouse release is 1983’s Right To Kill. Considering the fact that seven releases already existed in the span of only three years, it’s clear each entry couldn’t succeed with the same amount of momentum. In regards to subject matter and technique, it’s point blank 1980’s Whitehouse. No disappointment, but no pleasant surprises either. It’s odd this project was the group’s only limited release, never being reissued in the past forty years.

    20. Thank Your Lucky Stars (1990)

    Thank Your Lucky Stars (1990) Whitehouse band album cover

    I’ll mention odd production choices more than once, but it reaches an apex on 1990s Thank Your Lucky Stars. Out of any Whitehouse release, this is about the only one affected to such a degree that I feel the listening experience is tampered. There’s some serious muffling to the frequencies that sound as if it’s being played in another room. It’s difficult to make out any fine detail in the trademark piercing noises present in the remainder of Whitehouse’s work. The title track however, is still a great listen.

    19. Erector (1981)

    Erector (1981) album cover

    Erector is an odd one. For sure, it’s the self proclaimed birth of the power electronics sound, according to Bennett himself, yet it feels more misguided than anything else. There’s semblance of a great album here, bogged down by overly long repetitive passages. This was a similar case to the previous record, Total Sex, an album based moreso in drone/ambient noise than the piercing frequencies of Erector. In this case, the elongated song lengths don’t add anything extra to atmosphere. Perhaps it’s fitting that Erector contains the songs of an overly long nature, maybe it’s purposeful. This idea is most present on “Socratisation Day”, a collection of a few alternating tones going on for seven minutes. The remainder of the album is at the very least solid, but full of filler passages. I would recommend this, only if you’re truly an ultimate Whitehouse masochist.

    For what it’s worth, Pitchfork called this the 26th best industrial album of all time. 

    18. New Britain (1982)

    New Britain (1982) Whitehouse band album cover

    As stated in our previous entry, I found fault with Erector’s overly long song lengths. This is fixed on New Britain, the only Whitehouse release based solely on fascist imagery. Much like any run of the mill punk record, each song is around the three minute mark. Through eight tracks we venture through the sonic equivalent of a skateboard grinding against concrete, an endurance test of cliched ideas tested on previous works. New Britain is a carbon copy of Dedicated To Peter Kurten, across audible worlds of running water and piercing frequencies. Perhaps its only unique contribution is what is regarded as the first ever harsh noise wall track ever created, “Movement 1982”. This may not be seen as triumphant, considering it plays out only one static tone for a few minutes. Nevertheless, New Britain is absolutely pummeling, yet simultaneously underwhelming.

    17. Birthdeath Experience (1980)

    Birthdeath Experience (1980)

    The earliest days in Whitehouse’s history are only a reminder of how much more trailblazing they’d accomplish in the following years. Birthdeath plays out as a departure from releases even within the same year in which each frequency is closer to a highly experimental progressive group rather than the harsh noise pioneers we know them as today. Yet still there remains some violent Whitehouse spirit in this release. Bennett shows the world his fascination with shouted vocal passages for the first time all over “On Top”, “The Second Coming”, and “Rock and Roll”. The last of which remained a staple in their live shows up to their disbandment. There’s certainly something here, but it’s overshadowed by its successors.

    Whitehouse live in Amsterdam 3 June, 2004
    “Rock and Roll” from 13:54

    16. Total Sex (1980)

    Total Sex (1980)

    Whitehouse is predominantly known for harsh soundscapes with characteristics of foreboding noise and overly stated vocal passages. But perhaps their closest to a purely drone outing lie in the worlds contained in Total Sex. For whatever reason, the production values are rather electroacoustic and clear, full of supersonic detail. In comparison to the previous release of Birthdeath Experience, there’s moreso a laser sharp focus on one hypnotic atmosphere throughout, leaving any variety completely behind. For what it’s worth, the title track Total Sex is every bit as engorging as any notorious future release involving Steve Albini, however its novelty is short-lived. Our only escape from metallic monotony exists in the most monotonous “Her Entry”. 

    Perhaps the only positive about this particular track is the revision put forth on Dedicated To Peter Kurten, otherwise we are left with six minutes of the same twiddle repeating for ages. There’s a minimalist mindset held within, in a different way than the blungening power electronics shown later down the line, with varying degrees of success. Total Sex is a unique specimen in the Whitehouse canon, providing a one of a kind sonic universe through trials of repetitive madness.

    15. Buchenwald (1981)

    Buchenwald (1981) Whitehouse band

    Much like its title, Buchenwald is anything but accessible or pleasant. Each track begins and ends with piercing frequencies synonymous with Whitehouse’s early 1980s sound, seen most aggressively on “The Days at Florabelle”. Despite offering nothing unique to the 1980s Whitehouse discography, the sharp production values keep this from remaining purely as a footnote. 

    14. Tokyo Halogen (1996)

    Tokyo Halogen (1996)

    Some may view Tokyo Halogen as just a live album. But the performances of supposed Whitehouse classics are so far distanced from the originals that each phase into something completely unique. There’s a hypnotic aesthetic to the instruments played on Tokyo Halogen, a quality shared with the Halogen album of the same name. Much like the 80s releases, Tokyo Halogen makes for excellent and aggressive background music, perfect for any casual stroll across the grocery store.  

    13. Psychopathia Sexualis (1982)

    Psychopathia Sexualis (1982) Whitehouse band

    Psychopathia Sexualis was not a record I was originally fond of. If anything, I simply viewed it as another simplistic 80’s release with questionable production choices. But much like the back catalogue of this time period, it paints some beautiful violent ambience. This record explores frequencies not seen on the likes of Erector or Dedicated To Peter Kurten, particularly in the album’s latter half. Bennett provides vocal passages even more aggressive than on previous efforts, leading to what should be their early period’s magnum opus. 

    It is unfortunate that a few choices led Psychopathia Sexualis down a few notches in notoriety, notably the presence of overly long introductory narrations and faulty production. This record doesn’t exactly hold the same razor sharp attack due to a more mid-range based sound, all throughout the fifty minute runtime. Perhaps it’s a bit bloated, with too much substance with little to offer. Yet, there’s still joy to be had. I find “Ian Brady” and “Pleasure Fur Frazen” on par with other classics of this time period, full of chaos and imagination.  

    12. Halogen (1994)

    Halogen (1994)

    Reviewers have touted Halogen as “meditative” and “calm”, terms many would find blasphemous describing the pioneers of power electronics. Yet somehow, Whitehouse present us with a laid back style of harshness. The vocal production steals the show, a quality that acts as the albums highlight. It’s a shame many of the tracks sonically do not match Bennett’s veracity, mostly presenting bland minimalist passages to the utmost degree. It’s not to say Halogen is without merit. 

    For more substantial atmospheres, we can look to the title track and closer, in particular the sub-minute “The Way It Will Be”. This is a personal favorite, a foreboding atmosphere of poetic whispers that fade away into nothingness after a sparse sonic journey. There’s much missed potential on Halogen, but each subsequent output was only up from here. Perhaps Halogen exists purely as Whitehouse’s 1990s ground zero, the prologue to power electronics mastery. No matter the case, “Lightning Struck My Dick” is still the band’s greatest song title to date. 

    11. Great White Death (1985)

    Great White Death (1985)

    Great White Death represents the end of an era. The closing chapter to the group’s fiercest days as purely inaccessible harsh noise juggernauts. We end on a conflicting note, bringing previously shocking material to a level that reaches self-parody. What more can be said than titles such as “Ass-Destroyer” and “Rapemaster”? Fortunately, (or unfortunately) the imagery of pure shock value would fizzle away further into their discography, replaced with non-fictional analysis and avant-garde symbolism. Despite this, the music inside Great White Death is far more constructed than the unorganized frequencies of prior efforts. 

    Take the classic “I’m Coming Up Your Ass”, a hypnotic frenzy with a resemblance of verse-chorus progression. Perhaps its greatest moment lies in Whitehouse’s greatest epic (ONLY on the special edition), “My Cock’s On Fire”, elongated to nearly eleven minutes on the fittingly described “long version”. In the dimensions of drone music, no track provides such a dead end feeling of pitch black darkness. Within the first decade of Whitehouse, this track alone acts as their most powerful, both in production and musicality. It’s unfortunate that the remainder of the record doesn’t follow suit, but each track is solid enough to define this as an all time early noise classic. 

    10. Twice Is Not Enough (1991)

    Twice Is Not Enough (1991)

    Perhaps all Whitehouse releases could be boiled down to simplistic synthesizer fiddling, but this is no more obvious than on Twice Is Not Enough. This remains as possibly the group’s most minimal work, presented in a way that still retains the aggression of previous albums. There’s an added element of dark ambience all throughout, allowing emotions of anxiety and fear to ring out just as clearly. Perhaps our only drawback finds itself in the likes of the title track “Twice Is Not Enough”, possibly the cheesiest effort in the group’s entire career. Nevertheless, this record manages to turn the art of minimalism into a far more violent craft. Something sharp and searing through only a few layers of foreboding ambient layers at a time.  

    9. Cruise (2001)

    Cruise (2001)

    The turn of a new millennium birthed a new era for Whitehouse, a period more closely analyzing the controversial subject matter that made the group so notorious in the modern day. Cruise brings the emotion of fear to the forefront, searing through it in audible form. Even in quiet moments such as the subtle whispers of “Dance The Desperate Breath”, there remains traces of intense anxiety throughout. Had the lyrics not been taken from a late 1990s anorexic internet forum, the gentle nature wouldn’t have come across nearly as crushing.  

    Signature Whitehouse anthems “Force The Truth” and “Princess Disease” find their origin point right aside previous album repeats of “Just Like A Cunt” and “Public”. The former admittedly boasts sharper production values, but with no added elements. And as far as Peter Sotos’ sound collages go, it’s less effective than on the ever so bombastic Mummy and Daddy. Cruise suffers from an identity crisis, a transition point within what many consider their greatest period. Perhaps with some minor tweaking, this would’ve been one of their strongest musical statements. Otherwise it exists simply as a memorable Whitehouse release.

    8. Racket (2007)

    Racket (2007)

    Whitehouse’s final outing was not that of a harsh noise powerhouse. Racket focuses on natural African percussion sounds in place of blaring frequencies, acting as an aversion to everything that came before it, and a bridge to what would come after (Bennett’s African inspired Cut Hands project). Don’t let this deter you from the chaotic nature that remains present. “Fairground Muscle Twitcher” is every bit as uneasy as any number off of Bird Seed, only now through a different lens. Choices in production values aid in giving Racket a particularly homemade atmosphere, something extremely unique in the Whitehouse catalog. 

    7. Never Forget Death (1992)

    Never Forget Death (1992) Whitehouse band

    Admittedly, Whitehouse’s output during 1985 to 1994 is a bit too minimal for my tastes. Perhaps I find solace in the high pitched chaos of releases outside this threshold, but Never Forget Death is fittingly, unforgettable. Across the board, Bennett’s vocal shouts are filled to the brim with odd flanging effects that are unfortunately only present on this album. There’s a whimsical quality to it all, an element of nonsensical fun that phases past the dictatorial energy of the instrumentation. If you’re not in the mood for a visceral sonic beatdown, maybe you’ll be open to venture the oddly relaxing worlds of “Asking For It”. It’s notable to mention experimental punk juggernauts Suicide had somewhat of an influence on Bennett, and for this one time we can see it pervade through the minimal electronic work throughout. 

    For any diehard noise fans wishing for old-school Whitehouse terrorism, the closing number “Torture Chamber” may be enough to satisfy your endless needs. It’s actually not the complete destruction of the mind that makes this track possibly the group’s most pummelling, but rather the random juts of silence interspersed near its last minute of runtime. Never Forget Death seems to be overlooked by a majority of the Whitehouse fanbase, who in turn are missing out on some of their most imaginative analog soundscapes.

    6. The 150 Murderous Passions (1981)

    The 150 Murderous Passions (1981) Whitehouse and Nurse With Wound collaborative album

    There may be no project more intolerable than the one-off split between Whitehouse and Nurse With Wound. If there was any attempt to create the greatest anti-music equation, William Bennett has surely tried to capture it in audible form. The 150 Murderous Passions brings together the most tortuous elements of Whitehouse’s signature sound and multiply them tenfold. Beyond just the frenzied screams and piercing frequencies, this record demonstrates some of the harshest instrumentation of any album in history. From beginning to end, it is simply cruel and unusual. Had this project existed beyond just a singular 11 minute track, it may have remained as the group’s greatest output.

    5. Asceticists 2006 (2006)

    Asceticists 2006 (2006) album by band Whitehouse

    Asceticists 2006 somehow manages to summarize Whitehouse’s career in only seven tracks. Every listening moment is an aggressive one, filled to the brim with confrontational instrumentation ranging from exotic percussion to deafening sirens. While avant garde is generally viewed as low-brow by common music goers, there’s nothing but intelligence hidden behind the shouted vocal passages all throughout. For sure there’s an element of hostility present, but there’s surprising moments of self-empowerment and confidence. This is no more obvious than on the minimalist anthem “Dumping The Fucking Rubbish”, a vulgar call to action preceding Whitehouse’s most haunting closing moments. 

    Another highlight is found in the pseudo-diss track directed at former Whitehouse member Peter Sotos, “Ruthless Babysitting”. If any previous lyrics weren’t savage enough already, Bennett’s poetry comes across more scathing than anything before. From beginning to end, Asceticists 2006 is relentless, with enough influence from early periods and enough steps forward to act as a collective statement on Whitehouse as a whole. 

    4. Quality Time (1995)

    Quality Time (1995) by Whitehouse

    Despite reaching the farthest atmospheres of the avant garde, Whitehouse managed to outdo themselves within the punishing worlds of Quality Time. All throughout is an audible depiction of benevolent verbal abuse, amplified by Whitehouse’s greatest production values to date. Never before have the vocals of Bennett and Best sounded ever so primal, seen most fiercely on openers “Told” and “Quality Time”. Unprecedented anxiety finds a home all across the tracklist, but perhaps it remains strongest on the anti-masterpiece “Baby”. If previous releases have left you uneasy, certainly the bizarre sounds of a toddler splashing around might do the trick. 

    It stands as Whitehouse’s single most unorthodox moment, leaving interpretation completely to the listener. Future cuts aren’t any less forgiving amongst the second half. The best audible comparison for the remainder of the album’s playtime might be a slow drill going through an already injured brain. It’s truly a masochistic experience. An experience that leaves you traumatized and abandoned in a sea of some of Whitehouse’s most violent work. Yet by the end of it, you might still find yourself wanting more.

    3. Dedicated To Peter Kurten (1981)

    Dedicated To Peter Kurten (1981)

    Dedicated To Peter Kurten represents the apex of Whitehouse’s 1980s output. The finest flow, the finest instrumentation, and finest concept. It’s hard to believe William Bennett put out what remains as one of the group’s most aggressive releases only five years after the supposed birth of punk in 1976. Perhaps Bennett simultaneously decided to appropriate the traditional punk formula at this time, as most songs remain under the three minute mark. While overly long analog compositions plagued the likes of Total Sex and Erector, there’s a breath of fresh air in between short moments of frenzied noise madness. When mentioning Total Sex, I can’t avoid bringing up the revised highlights on said release present on Dedicated To Peter Kurten in the forms of “On Top” and “The Second Coming”. If Whitehouse was already extreme before, somehow they’ve intensified their own creations by about a hundred.

    Bounds of searing industrial noises help paint the pseudo autobiographical account of Peter Kurten, coupled by interspersed samples of running water. While later uses of this trope within the Whitehouse discography are nothing short of repetitive, it’s important to note the possible relevance the sounds have to Kurten himself. He had been thought to have drowned a classmate at a young age, an event possibly portrayed on the chillingly titled “Dom”. This aspect of sadistic emotion throughout seriously gives Dedicated To Peter Kurten a particular edge over other 1980’s releases. Outside of any biographical qualities, this album acts as a pure endurance test to any “extreme music” enthusiasts. 

    2. Bird Seed (2003)

    Bird Seed (2003) by Whitehouse

    For most, Bird Seed is the magnum opus of the entire power electronics genre. It’s easy to see why, as it showed Whitehouse perfecting their 1990s formula, culminating in tracks “Why You Never Became A Dancer” and “Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel” which have since become their signature anthems. What Bird Seed does best is illustrate the darkest elements of the human condition audibly. The resulting emotional wounds from a lifetime of belittlement. The slow crushing of your pent up self-worth viewed important to the eyes of no one. The pathetic tears left behind that act as nothing more but fuel for emotional and sexual abuse. It’s all here. 

    Take the lyrics of “Philosophy”, a chilling example of Bird Seed’s complete disregard for any sympathy whatsoever. 

    “You fucking cunt I really can’t believe you did that

    You vulgar, common, coarse piece of shit

    Your hanging and sick wobbly meat flab

    Flabby folds your flesh

    You’re a disgrace, you’re a total disgrace”

    All throughout, Whitehouse demonstrate their genius portrayal of non-fictional analysis. Past the countless amount of “depressive” and “extreme” heavy metal releases of this time, nothing seems to hit harder than the psychological abyss depicted. Each minimal yet crushing composition present prove that the worlds of power electronics have as much musical standing as any other genre attempting to capture emotions this empty. Bird Seed stands as one of the most effective artistic statements of the past twenty years, an audible experience that will plague the minds of any lister who dares to come face to face with its remorseless and domineering presence. 

    1. Mummy And Daddy (1998)

    Mummy And Daddy (1998)

    In contrast to their earlier releases, Mummy And Daddy doesn’t rely on simple shock value or serial killer fetishism to make the corresponding music engaging. Their one record focused particularly on child abuse contains material more crushing than the sharp frequencies they explored for over a decade prior. It is also their first record to include the group’s signature abuse testimonials provided by writer Peter Sotos. Moreso than any other entry in their discography, each individual track on Mummy and Daddy is completely identifiable, flowing seamlessly across the albums forty minute runtime. Perhaps I was initially uncharitable to Cruise in its mid-tracklist inclusion of “Public”. Yet I believe the decision to close this record with Sotos’ “Private” was a far more effective choice. 

    My first exposure to this track will always remain as an unforgettable experience, one that saw me dazed on a lonely road in the darkest hours of the night. To this day it remains as the most powerful listening I’ve had with any record by any artist. The perfect blend of coherency and variety heard across this album allow the overlying message to hit harder than a brick wall, more brutal than any of Whitehouse’s contemporaries, let alone their own material. If the theology of pure punk rock is to show the listener what reality feels like, Mummy and Daddy accomplishes this tremendously. Within even the opening moments, the presence of  “Philosophy of the Wife Beater” proved Whitehouse could still deliver punishing atmospheres fifteen albums after their inception. Perhaps no record screams Whitehouse moreso than this one. For sure, this IS the sound of being alive.

    William Bennett and Philip Best at the end of a show
    William Bennett A Cunt Like You
    Whitehouse band in America
    Whitehouse Live at Markhthalle Hamburg 1984 II
    Whitehouse and friend
    Whitehouse by Chris Low
    Whitehouse shot by Chris Low
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    Taylor has a longstanding inclination to music of an experimental, bizarre or masochistic nature. From time to time, Taylor also creates atmospheric sound art under the moniker SIRENHEAD.