This is the Digital-Only edition. Originally released in 1993.
The band's first full-length, Beauty & Bitterness managed the hard-to-do trick of creating dark, atmospheric music with obvious appeal to goth fandom while not sounding limited or cliched in its approach. A lot of this has to do with Rosenwasser, whose singing would be to kill for by any number of country, blues, or folk singers. Rich, deep without sounding conventionally or hammily spooky, about the closest comparison to be made would be Margo Timmins' early work in the Cowboy Junkies, with a touch more of a brood. Higher registers are equally within her reach — not helium squeaking or anything (thank goodness), but the gentle flow of her voice on the busier musical arrangement for "Ebb and Tide" creates a wonderful contrast. Cooley concentrates on his bass work, which works a touch more successfully than Steven Knouse's guitars — at times the latter kicks up a fine enough wash of digitally delayed feedback as needed, though it makes everything sound more conventionally goth than it needs to be. The post-psych drones and fine folk/blues-tinged acoustic performances he puts in at points helps make up for that, and quite nicely, too. As for the rest of the band, Rick Allen's drumming adds some surprising body without being overwhelming, while Joaquin Tavares concentrates on fine but generally unobtrusive synth parts. Together the five-piece ranges from busy, almost rock-on efforts here and there to slow, stately majesty. "Intro: Voltaire's Vallerie" makes a great example of both, with the intro itself showcasing John Clough's guest keyboard work at the start, almost like an orchestral start, while the main song starts calmly before hitting a great, mid-paced groove highlighted by Knouse's rural-touched playing and Rosenwasser's wonderful singing. In sum, a fantastic debut from a young band already well on their way to where to go next.