‘Archives of Pain’ opened with another spoken-word piece, this time a recording of a mother of one of the Yorkshire Ripper’s victims. This is a pro-death-penalty song, which might have come as a surprise to some fans, especially since both Wire and Edwards contributed to the words. Richey Edwards can often be analysed as having a victim persona, but here he hits back: ‘Pain not penance, forget martyrs, remember victims.’ A list of killers is read out with the blunt message, ‘Execution needed’.
Wire and Edwards worried a lot about the song and worked on it endlessly because of the tricky subject matter. ‘It was written as a reaction to the glorification of serial killers,’ says Wire. ‘In Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter is made into a hero in the last scene of the film - people feel sorry for them.
‘There’s a book by Michel Foucault with a chapter called “Archives of Pain”. Richey and I did that book at university, and it had quite an influence on us. It talks about the punishment matching the crime. But the song isn’t a right-wing statement, it’s just against this fascination with people who kill.’ Meanwhile, Edwards’ explanation of the song was more succinct: ‘Bentham’s “Panopticon” - visibility is a trap. Foucault - Savagery is necessary.’
‘It appeals to me, but you shouldn’t only bring back capital punishment,’ Edwards said several months later. ‘It should be compulsory that your body be kept, have oil poured over it and be torn apart with horses and chains. It should be on TV, and four or five-year-olds should be made to watch it. It’s the only way. If you tell a child, “That’s wrong”, he doesn’t really learn. But if you show a body being ripped to shreds, after Blue Peter, he’s gonna know.’
— Analysis of the song “Archives of Pain”, A Version of Reason: In Search of Richey Edwards by Rob Jovanovic.