In 1993, three years after the release of their debut album, “Dorian Grey“, the Flowers Of Romance released their album “Pleasure & the Pain” for the Greek market.
As their single “Love Means Death” prepared the groundwork for the next band release, the Flowers Of Romance appeared on the Belgian/Greek vinyl compilation “Double Shot“, and entered the studio to record their newest material.
Prior to the release of their new album, a 7″ single was released with the tracks “Pleasure and the Pain/Winter Waltz“. With the same line up of singer Mike Pougounas, bass player Harry Stavrakas, guitar player Dimitris “Bay J” Beis, and Mike “Jabar” Tzavaras on the drums, they went on a string of gigs and appeared at the Rock Management Festival in Thessaloniki. During this same year the Greek TV channel ERT2 aired a 30-minute show featuring the band.
Pougounas had already recorded most of the keyboards for the upcoming album, so when keyboardist Laura Gini joined the band as keyboardist, she recorded piano and additional keyboard parts where needed.
“Pleasure & the Pain” was released during November, 1993.
The album uncovered the gothic rock face of the band with featured hit tracks “Love Commandos” and “Winter Waltz“.
There were two songs from the “Pleasure & the Pain” sessions which were not included in the album.
“Island on the Moon” appeared on the German CD edition of the album, while “20th Century Junk” was featured in the Metal Hammer “Hammer Holocaust, Vol. 1” edition (Winter, 1995). Other artists appearing on this exclusive CD included Rotting Christ, Sound of Silence, Into The Abyss, Red Mist, Sacrastic Terror, En-Garde, Necromantia, Fatal Morgana, and H-Quake.
Things got a bit tough when Tzavaras left the group to study in Berkeley (USA) and Beis returned to his hometown (Volos) to aid his father who had become ill right after the release of the album.
Drummer Dimitris Koukas (former member of the blues band Mojo Tooth) and guitar player Aggelos Kakouratos (former member of the post punk band Scoria) joined the band for live performances. Koukas became a permanent member while Kakouratos stayed for only a few months.
“Pleasure & the Pain” was also released in 1994 in CD format through the German label Nyctalopia Records and included four bonus tracks.
Distributed in several countries, it quickly established the band in the international gothic underground scene. Extra tracks contained in the CD release included “Kashmir” (from “Dorian Grey“), “Amaradina” (a song about a Greek witch of the Dark Ages, taken from the “Double Shot” compilation), “Loves Means Death” (from the same titled EP), and “Island on The Moon” (previously unreleased).
There were several differences between the CD edition and the Greek vinyl edition, including:
- The CD edition contained a photo in the booklet with the line up for the gigs.
- The vinyl edition had a photo of Pougounas, Stavrakas, and Beis on the back cover.
- The tracklisting was different.
- The font on the cover was different between the vinyl release and the CD release.
On January 21, 1994, the Flowers Of Romance played live at Mylos in Thessaloniki, and in February they became the first Greek band to be on the cover of a German magazine (“Back Again“).
They also made their second appearance on Greek national TV (ERT2) for another 30-minute segment where they were again interviewed and performed some of their hits, including:
- “Who’s Playing Jesus” and
Shortly after their TV appearance they were featured in Mick Mercer‘s book titled “Hex Files” about the international gothic scene.
The year 1994 continued to spin rapidly and the German label Spectre released the CD compilation “Gothic Spirit, Vol. 1” featuring the tracks “The Ocean Floor” and “Winter Waltz“, both from the “Pleasure & the Pain” album. Into The Abyss also participated with a cover of the track “Waiting for the Sun” amongst songs from bands such as Midnight Configuration, Venus Fly Trap, Elysium, and others.
The international press music became very interested in the band and interviews were published in European and Australian music magazines and newspapers. This created a fan base, mostly in Germany and Italy, and helped the band’s promotion all over the globe. Magazines such as England’s “Lowlife“, Australia’s “Dark Angel“, and Germany’s “Gothic” were among just a few of the many publications which featured interviews of the band.
The “tape movement” was still very active and several Flowers Of Romance tracks were featured in cassette releases in Germany, Japan, Norway, and other countries.
When the German CD compilation “When The Sun Settles Down, Vol. II” came out in early 1995, an additional track was included.
Released by EFA/Foundation, the album featured the Flowers Of Romance song “Love Commandos” and included tracks by bands such as Nosferatu, Inkubus Sukkubus, All Living Fear, and others.
During the prior months, Kakouratos was replaced by Averkios Hatziantoniades (also a former Mojo Tooth member) and Gini (who joined
the band Avaton) was replaced by George Katsanos for a short while.
They soon went back to the studio for the pre-production of their last album “Brilliant Mistakes“, which was produced by Wayne Hussey (Dead or Alive, Sisters of Mercy, The Mission).
Through the present day, “Pleasure & the Pain” can be found in catalogues around the world, either through American, European, or Asian distributors.
The album is considered to be one of the top 50 Greek rock albums ever.
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Live at Mylos – Thessaloniki
“Pleasure & the Pain” – vinyl edition track list:
Side A 1) Love Commandos 2) The Royal Hunt Of The Sun 3) Gerda and Kay 4) Pleasure & The Pain
Side B 1) Who’s Playing Jesus 2) Chrysalis 3) Ocean Floor 4) Winter Waltz