Released on: The Holy Bible (Album #3) Epic Records, 29 August 1994
In contrast to the singularly gruelling experience of preceding track [T69] ‘4st 7lb’, ‘Mausoleum’ largely consists of more straightforwardly rocking music, accelerating to its devastating conclusion more in the style of [T68] ‘Archives of Pain’. As with so much of The Holy Bible it has Bradfield deliver in spades in the beautifully sinister guitar department, particularly in the memorable intro. The demo version of the song – one of only two to ever be released from The Holy Bible, on the tenth anniversary edition – makes clear that this effect took some effort to achieve, as the early version was very crude by comparison. The really curious thing about the demo is that it contains two very different vocal interpretations of the song’s excellent, protracted bridge – the second rendition is absolutely hopeless, which readily explains why the first was chosen for the final recording.
‘Mausoleum’ is commonly thought of as the first of two songs on The Holy Bible to deal largely with the Holocaust, the other being [T73] ‘The Intense Humming of Evil’. This is generally because of Wire’s 1994 Melody Maker interview in which he said the songs can be “twinned together” and that they were both inspired by the band’s visits to Belsen and Dachau concentration camps. Of the two songs, ‘Mausoleum’ is much less obviously connected to the Holocaust, containing only one or two oblique references such as the mention of “no birds” in the chorus – one of the things the band noticed at the concentration camps was the lack of birds there. In the interview, Wire explains the band had also visited the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, Japan – this may also have been an influence on ‘Mausoleum’.
Although it is definitely one of the under-recognised songs on The Holy Bible, the track’s finest moment is probably its accelerating climax and the first three lines of its final not-quite-a-verse passage, which in contrast to the weak final line are truly stirring, thought-provoking stuff.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“prejudice burns brighter when it’s all we have to burn”
“I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit… and force it to look in the mirror.” – British author J.G. Ballard (1930 – 2009) explaining in an interview his motivations in writing the novel Crash (1973).