Sounds and Shadows Top Darkscene Albums of 2022

In the past four years the “Darkscene” goth adjacent movement has continued to expand at a glorious rate. Here at Sounds and Shadows I have seen a similar growth of our Music Review/ Webcast/ Facebook Group/ grow at an equally surprising rate. Trying to choose top albums of the year when the rate of interesting worthwhile music is firing out of a fire hose of content at an unprecedented rate is an increasing challenge. As always, I will do my best to draw attention to glorious new music that has moved me in some way. Thank you to all our supporters and please keep this scene alive. You are the lifeblood that makes it happen.

This is always so hard, I love so much new music. I started with about 136 bands I reviewed. With hard choices got down to about 60. I really want to make the bands I picked feel really special. Have you all know, I felt pain with every cut. So I am going to break this into genre categories a little.

Gothic Rock/Post Punk/Shoegaze

  1. Kill ShelterAsylumKill Shelter releases their third album Asylum, and the world has started to catch on to the soft-spoken genius setting the standard for this new wave. Featuring a slew of the biggest names of the scene: Stephan Netschio ( Beborn Beton) , Valentina Veil (VV & the Void), Karl Morten Dahl (Antipole) , Emanuel Åström (Agent Side Grinder) Alessandro Belluccio (Ash Code), William Faith (The Bellwether Syndicate), Ronny Moorings (Clan of Xymox). An impressive list of talent and experience which speaks to the respect Pete has catered as a producer and song writer. This album tackles an even darker theme of trauma and the most shocking pain of the human experience. Casting a light through a wide range of vocal prisms. The completion of a journey started just after Damage in 2019 and meticulously refined over four years.

Kill Shelter has done it again. Creating a personal emotional journey through post-traumatic stress with expert production and collaborative vocal performances that shine a light on some of the top singers in the scene. I can’t wait to release and rare upcoming interview on the Sounds and Shadows youtube page. We dig deeply into the process and feelings of one of the most important artists the modern era. When we speak to future musicians who are in the know about what influenced them in our time. Kill Shelter will be the Joy Division like name that trend setters were appreciating in the present.

Asylum [US Version] | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

2) Aurelio VoltaireThe Black Labyrinth

Has it really been 13 studio albums for Aurelio Voltaire? This review is special to me. As someone who writes “Goth music with a heavy dose of humor” it is hard not to give credit to the OG that inspired me all those years ago. Here he taps into his own inspiration from an artist and film that burned a codpiece shaped scar into every 90’s goths soul. It appears we also share a passion for collecting every talented guest star he could cram into this shadow glass menagerie. Let’s have a look at this list.

15 members of David Bowie’s band spanning nearly every era of the Starman’s career from the pianist on 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to the saxophone player on Black Star, Bowie’s last album.
The Black Labyrinth was co-produced by Mark Plati who produced the 1997 Bowie album, Earthling as well as the post humus release, Toy.

Other guest musicians included members of My Chemical Romance, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Vision Video, The Cog is Dead, Frenchy and the Punk, violinist extraordinaire Mia Asano, Ally the Piper, D and D songstress Ginny D and an international cadre of musicians making up the orchestra and choir.

The 20 song release is clean like twilight in a fantasy world briming with the mystery of a firefly forest and the pageantry of a catholic funeral. Voltaire’s iconic is the ringleader that ties together the spectacle. If you don’t know Voltaire, you have missed one of the most gloriously self-aware experiences in the dark scene. If you do you are in for a journey with one of the great bards of our time. Let goth music be fun. Let it be the giant melting black candle musical theater it was always meant to be. I both teared up and laughed out loud listening to it. You need this album.

The Black Labyrinth ~ A Requiem for the Goblin King | Aurelio Voltaire (bandcamp.com)

3) Secret ShameAutonomy – I am constantly amazed by the slippery edges and bursting intensity of the NC band. I’m just blown away by how many sonic emotions are crammed into this firefly jar. The haunting lilt of the vocals, the gnashing wolf jaw guitars, the shifty darting baselines. The production here is razor sharp. Anyone who says modern music lacks complexity is not listening to this. This is songwriting that is emotive, that transports you out of your own mind. Blending the best aspects of four genres to create something fresh and provoking. 10/10

Autonomy | Secret Shame (bandcamp.com)

4) IAMTHESHADOWThe Wide Starlight – Things you can always count on from a new IAMTHESHADOW release: 1) Pedro delivering the richest baritone in modern darkwave. 2) Soul baring poetry 3) Perfect precision of mix and master. Everything else about the sound is completely in the air. “The Wide Starlight” is an expansive new sounds full of twinkling stars over violet plains. The album came out on 10/14 and marks a turn towards hope which my soul has hungered for. Cold Transmission Music has been a fertile creative ground for Portugal’s premier darkscene act. This is a band that has continued to set the standard in European darkscene music that is constantly pushing their own boundaries and core sound. The truly greats make powerful songs while always redefining who they are

The Wide Starlight | IAMTHESHADOW (bandcamp.com)

5) The Cassandra ComplexThe PlagueRodney Orpheus and The Cassandra Complex have been entrenched in the concept of what we would later call “goth” music since before we had a word to describe it. They have toured with and played festivals with the biggest names in the scene. Starting in 1985 releasing 7 full albums and 3 live albums the last of which “Wetware” on Metropolis Records in 2000. 22 years we waited for a return with “The Plague” to burst forth with a ferocious new energy. Early releases like “Grenade” were thick with an aggressive political message. I fell instantly for this return of piss and vinegar spirit blended with fine blade refinement. A razor edge between emotional concept and ability. Although these are new songs tackling modern concepts of a post capitalism world, the album serves as a greatest hit record. Drawing on individual styles that run the range of their history. It doesn’t forget the tongue firmly in cheek humor, using wit to mock the face of power.

The Plague | The Cassandra Complex (bandcamp.com)

6) Golden Apes From The Sky – Berlin Germany based band which remains one of the most underrated post punk bands in the world. With Peer Lebrecht unmistakable and encompassing voice crooning poetic romantism that seeps under your skin. I loved the brighter expansive hope Christian, Gerrit, and Frank infused the guitar lines with. The change in concept from “Kasbek” displays another prism of range and proves Golden Apes story is far from over. I’m excited we will get an interview with them in 2023.

From The Sky | Golden Apes (bandcamp.com)

7) Christian Death Evil Becomes Rule – The most recognized name of the American Proto goth scene from Los Angeles “Evil Becomes Rule” marks the 20th studio album in a legendary career. In our recent interview Valor told me about EBR being a continuation of 2015 The Root of All Evilution. It would be easy to appeal to longtime fans, putting out similar albums in a fan friendly style. Some artists have wonderful careers doing just that. This has never been the Christian Death way. Always slicing the edge in every incarnation. Evil Becomes Rule took me to a new place I never expected. A shadow psychedelic blasphemy of triumph blending world beat Dead Can Dance and roaring power of Judas Priest. Maitri’s vocals are highlighted like never before and cast a sinister ritual of power.

Evil Becomes Rule | Christian Death (bandcamp.com)

8) Pilgrims Of YearningHadal – Long awaited release from Boston transplants POY which hits the mark perfectly. I love hearing a band grow from album to album by keeping the mystical wanderlust that made their sound stand out, yet graduating their production and layering to make the energy sharper. Juls voice captures a haunting Siouxsie Superstition” 90s vibe while the guitar rhythms fold and dart like a weaver on a loom. This is a band that really exposes their story with brazen courage and beautiful delivery. A contagious spooky tendril of psychedelic darkness winding around your vision. This is a band I have watched grow and refine. It fills my heart to watch the maturity and ascension of their sound and wisdom. I can’t wait to see the next path of their journey.

Hadal | Pilgrims of Yearning (bandcamp.com)

9) The Burying KindTragic Airwaves – I may be too close to this record. Enraptured by the story surrounding it. I can’t help but be struck by the staggering beauty and truth of it. It was this thing I got to watch grow and refine from infancy into something that mattered. Something that transcended genre and the music business. An abstract feeling that wells within you in solitary moments, a place of memory and blurry edges. This 12-track full length is a solitary lighthouse on a grey shore with Scott-David‘s romantic tragic poetry delivered with piercing emotional impact. The music is layered and complex for decerning listeners to unravel. I love nothing more in this high-speed age than hearing the time and intent that went into an artistic concept. It’s a presence and weight that gives every listen a reverence.

This is an album for connoisseurs. For fans of My Bloody Valentine and The Cure a like. It is a place for diving into mystery and unraveling the depths of something that doesn’t come simple in a world where everything is designed not to make you think harder. We used to rejoice in music that made us swim beneath the surface. It’s time to rejoice in it once again.

Tragic Airwaves | The Burying Kind (bandcamp.com)

10) Mark E MoonLux Vindictae – New lineup, new sound, and explosive delivery from Isle of Man shadow croon gothic rock Mark E Moon on Cold Transmission Music. A blazing light of vindication as the title states. The first single Blacklight bursts through a wall with shaking intensity. The drums pound relentlessly as Mark delivers confident sadness tinged with raw fury. Phil is spinning barb wire distortion in precision loops. The black mirror reflection of Shelly Rourke on vocals as contrast Mark’s cavern shaking Eldrichesque power. As the engine roars down an unlit highway this album swerves in tone and style without warning leaving you always on your heels. Mark really throws his soul into the vocal delivery. The tracks are all pure heat and poignant, each under 5 minutes.

I think two main changes stand out in contrast to 2021 release “Old Blood ” 1) the extreme nature of the peaks and valleys in tempo and style. This album runs the spectrum where Old Blood worked to perfect a singular idea. 2) Rourke’s vocals have really found a sharp and resilient force to break the power of Mark’s tide. In particular track 4 Drowning is a gorgeous ballad of imagery that highlights the new sound with strongly defined lines. It shows a passion and maturity of song writing that portrays subtle differences in depth as you sink below ever darker waters. I love the panning synth lines. The background to those glimmering delayed guitars flickering through the pressurizing water.

Lux Vindictae | Mark E Moon (bandcamp.com)

11) Black Angel The Black Rose – I know, I did an 11th album. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave this record off the list. It is so haunting and rock heavy in a time goth music wants to be anything but. Matt has this amazing ability to capture the sleazy opaque waterfall of endless motion regardless of tempo. The vocals by Corey Landis and Maneesha Jones are the perfect seasoning on the dish. I have a confession that will probably have me cancelled by the true metal folks, my favorite Ozzy is “No More Tears” and that includes Sabbath. This album hit with that same timeless power. As long as Matt Vowels is cranking out records, this guy is buying them. Someone really needs to sign him.

The Black Rose | Black Angel (bandcamp.com)

(Special Mention) Cleopatra RecordsThe Unquiet Grave – Growing up in the Velveeta Valley suburbs of Detroit in a time before the Google search, Spotify playlists, Youtube suggestions, and Sounds and Shadows I had a sacred ritual. Once a month I would coat myself in black from head to toe and pedal my bike to a mini mall which contained a record store. Here in the new CD releases I would take my caddie/busboy money and purchase the latest Cleopatra Records sampler. Now these compilations took many themes, tribute cover albums, up and coming goth bands. This was how you found the next band that connected you to the wider world. I would race back home, tear apart the packaging and dream of one day seeing my own name in the liner notes. This ritual mattered, it made me feel connected to other kids like me that I didn’t know. Somehow, I knew they were out there. When I saw Procession Magazine bring back this series of goth compilations, my faith was confirmed. To see one of our songs, appear here, that dream has finally come true. So, I welcome you all to join me in my room, as I light a candle, press play, and journey into the macabre world of “The Unquiet Grave” searching for dark diamonds in a cruel sea.

Procession Magazine Presents…The Unquiet Grave: The Final Chapter | The Unquiet Grave (bandcamp.com)

Industrial/EDM/EBM/IBM

  1. Curse MackeyImmoral Emporium Instant Exorcism moves beyond the prophesy of a post capitalism hellscape and dives into a meat and bone reality. A bizarre of debauchery and barter where every sin in imagination is on display and the price of souls are always plummeting. In a time of surface shimmer and digital commodity the Immoral Emporium casts a sharp reflection that burns to the core of the decay of empathy in the modern age. Instant Exorcism was raw and biting, a mad profit’s fervor. Immoral Emporium is a cleaner enticing beacon. Drawing the listener to their own corruption with shining golden salesmanship.

There is something about the level of narrative imagery and production expertise that stuck me about this album. It haunted me like a re-occurring nightmare, a prophesy of danger that hangs above our future. Curse has been such an impressive part of shaping Industrial music while a part of someone else’s project. It is incredible to see the darkness he is able to articulate when left at the helm of his own vision.

Immoral Emporium | Curse Mackey (bandcamp.com)

2) ESA Designer Carnage – if you are talking about the modern evolution of EBM (Electronic Body Music) British act ESA and Jamie Blacker have to be part of the opening discussion. This is an artist who has truly defined a genre by meticulous craftsmanship of the musical and visual idea of bass beats so shattering, you feel them in your bones. This album had multiple singles in our Darkscene Singles Chart. Jamie continues to be an innovator in the field of expanding the definition of Electronic music for another generation.

Designer Carnage | ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) | ESA (bandcamp.com)

3) <PIG>The Merciless LightRaymond Watts has continued to evolve at an exponential rate. Rather you are speaking of music, personal growth, or human interaction. The industrial progenitor has bounced around the boundaries of what this genre entails for decades, to keep the punk rock ethos of the original concept alive. I love the crushing jagged grind of this record, while hushing the edges, letting the menace whisper and hang in the air. Bringing in an all-star line up of contributors Abbie Aisleen, Jim Davies, En Esch, Mark Heal, Jimmy Livingstone, Mona Mur, Mike Watts. This album brings so many emotive hooks that really highlight how good Raymod has always been at conveying emotions in a compressed infectious package.

The Merciless Light | PIG (bandcamp.com)

4) Silver WalksVarious Positions – I met Daniel McCullough near a dumpster behind Cold Waves in 2019 and heard “Lantern” in 2020. Immediately I knew this album was going to be something special. Dan is one of the most underrated song writers in modern electronica. The people in the know, they understand this. I hope this album is what makes that clear to the scene at large. I think one of the first points to strike me, all but one song are over 5 minutes. In a world of short singles, Various Positions is stretching your dance floor endurance. While making EVERY song a banger. Infectious dance beats that ebb and flow in texture, with razor blade twists. You can really hear the patient precision that went into each song’s construction. There is a thematic post apocalypse spiritual journey that makes me close my eyes and get lost in the story, while stomping in time to infectious hooks. This whole album rides a highspeed tightrope between progressive and ear candy.

This album also has a spicy list of A + contributors to bring Dan’s vision to light. Stella Soleil , Coral Scere, Tim Heireth,  Marc Heal,  James Francis, Eva X, and many more mixed lovingly by living legend  John Fryer. Part of the testament to this albums power are the names that agreed to be a part of it. Album art & layout // Joshua Mccallister
silver walks logo by Jim Marcus. Eric Oehler wizard shimmers the mastering. Photo of Dan // Kirsten Miccoli I just saw Dan thanked me in the liner notes, so now I am crying.

various positions | silver walks (bandcamp.com)

5) Dread RisksAutomated Disappointment – GiddyYip this DeathRock Electro Cowboy shit!” A wise man once said about Texas IndustroDoom band Dread Risks. That wise man was me. Releasing 3/25/22 on Re-Mission this album is a return to the meaner barb wire aggression of industrial music. As an evolution from the past this aggression is no longer aimed outward but directed at addressing and concurring personal trauma. I love the molten glass cutting attack and melodic beauty of the vocals. The overhand bastard sword swing of the drumbeats. Berserker rage in clean focus. This is the next great wave in electronic musical concept. I am enthralled with the idea that Industrial music still has fertile land to create new artistic ideas. I even got a thank you in the liner notes, my heart cries.

automated disappointment | Dread Risks

6) KMFDMHyena – This album brings you much of what you love if you are a fan of KMFDM. Bonfire bright drum beats overlayed with trash compactor crushing guitars. I think the biggest change from the KMFDM of my youth is the maturity of Sasha’s voice. It is a more mellow growl without losing the glistening sharp metal. This record is a culmination of injected circulation right into the dance gland. I really keep expecting for a lot of these old school Industrial bands to lose the modern pulse, I keep being surprised. I feel like this is a ban that grew up with me. Their sound evolved at the same rate I needed it to.

HYËNA | KMFDM (bandcamp.com)

7) AUTHOR & PUNISHERKR​Ü​LLER – San Diego, California artists put out this album that is a bit absurd in it’s scope. On paper doing captivating emotive singles in the 5-8 minute range should not work in 2022. Yet, anyone who hits play on this 8 song album is immediately captivated and washed over by the unnerving perfection of these hooks. This truly is something else no one is doing. It is so mysterious and fresh I don’t know how to process it. Which is a rare feeling in 2022.

▶︎ KRÜLLER | Author & Punisher (bandcamp.com)

8) Spike HellisSpike Hellis – After seeing them at the Skull Festival in Detroit this year, I haven’t been able to put this away. LA based electronic flamethrowers who answered the question if Alec Empire hadn’t pulled a 180 and became a cryptobro what would a cleaner crisper refinement of the magma fury become? Hearing Spike Hellis really helps me understand what is meant by “Electronic Body Music”. It is felt in the tissue as much as heard in the ears. The range of feeling on this chaotic labyrinth darts through every hidden crack of the human experience. It really must be heard live to fully comprehend ,but having a map of the recorded experience can go a long way towards grasping the subtilty of what is happening. I really need to line up an interview with this band in 2023.

Spike Hellis | Spike Hellis (bandcamp.com)

9) DogtabletAshes – New 5 song EP from Industrial legends Martin King and Jared Louche. I had the pleasure of attending a listening party at the Post Punk Industrial museum where Martin provided some background for these songs. I love the grinding and deliberate nature of these tracks. Track 3 “Careless” Feat: Coral Scere is a haunting and memorable collaboration that shows how Martin continues to get the best out of everyone he works with. Another amazing EP from a legend let off the chain to work with whoever he wants in a style completely their own.

If you are a fan of old school Industrial, this interview is MUST SEE

Ashes | Dogtablet (bandcamp.com)

10) Deathline InternationalPax Americana – Basically a COP International all-star collaboration which includes living legends like John Fryer, GW Childs IV, Angela Goodman, Steve Watkins, Licia Johnson, sinister guitar lords James Perry & SLam, and vocals by Th3Count. Transporting us to a smashing old school Industrial runaway train with modern clarity and aerodynamic tempo. I think the biggest challenge when bringing together this much talent and trying to give everyone a voice, is the director aspect. Giving everyone a chance to shine in the spotlight. This album really feels like a collaboration. Mutual respect placed in the atom smasher and obliterated into something fresh.

▶︎ Pax Americana | Deathline International (bandcamp.com)

Special Mention: Gasoline InvertebrateCracked Wax Battery – Brian Gaupner (The Gothscicles, Space Couch, TigerSquak Records) holds a special place in my heart. I feel a bit of twin spirit in how he approaches music. That feeling that music is an experience better shared. The visual of a Cracked Wax Battery is such a striking image. That bleeding yellow goop pouring out of an old battery carcass. Bringing in great artistic names that are also friends of a mutual vision like: Gopal Metro , Ed Cripps, Zoog Von Rock, and MORIS BLAK. A plasma whip of electronic dance beats cracking the air with aerobic intensity. Brian takes some of the jovial madness of Gothscicles off his voice and replaces it with hissing menace. The NES throwback energy of these synth lines are a nerdcore street cred of belonging. Gasoline Invertebrate always makes you feel inside the curtain.

Brian Graupner is inspiring to me in particular for proving to the goth community that our scene can be silly as hell and that is ok. I equally love that he has a project so serious and old school industrial crunch that it leaves no choice but to acknowledge his talent and craft. So, when he makes a Gothsicles album you know it was because he chose to be goofy as hell, which adds a layer of punk rock power.

▶︎ Cracked Wax Battery | Gasoline Invertebrate (bandcamp.com)

Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave

  1. Panic PriestPSYCHOGORIA – Speaking of world class baritone voices Jack never disappoints. New album released10/21/22 on Negative Gain featuring the crooning beauty and slashing guitar mastery of Jack Armond. The Chicago based songsmith always layers the club friendly dance beats with a healthy dose of guitar accents to make a truly distinctive blend. The tempo here is a fast-paced bop, but the bottom of a chasm on the vocals gives every track a sense of soul and foreboding. Every album gets tighter and smoother. Jack’s voice is one of those definitive sounds and elevates everything it touches, and his blend of organic guitar licks and prism explosion synths makes every album memorable. Psychogoria is the most impressive evolution yet. It’s time for everyone to recognize one of the great talents out our modern scene. I just interviewed jack and it will release soon.

▶︎ PSYCHOGORIA | Panic Priest | Midnight Mannequin Records (bandcamp.com)

2) Vision VideoHaunted Hours – Athens, Georgia pop goth stars have grown more in the last few years than anyone in my memory. The music is nostalgic, expertly crafted with the newest techniques, and delivered with a romantic stirring beauty too often lost in the modern scene. Dusty has an infectious glowing moonbeam of a personality which has made him a public figure outside of music. This band has truly achieved a fresh interpretation of everything you loved in 80’s goth spun in a centrifuge and launched back at you with electron energy.

Haunted Hours | Vision Video (bandcamp.com)

3) Rohn-LedermanRage – We love music because it has the power to change the energy inside us. To enhance, diminish, alter, the sounds and stories built by artists change our emotional chemistry. Emileigh Rohn (US/ Chiasm) and Jean-Marc Lederman (Belgium/ The Weathermen, Ghost & Writer) have found a balance in their own artistic chemistry beginning in 2021 Venus Chariot on COP International which has continued to refine in a centrifuge into a potent emotional catalyst. With this newest release “RAGE!” they have bottled a frantic and aerodynamic monorail careening over changing landscapes.

I would consider myself a coinsurer of the duo’s collaboration. How is RAGE! different from the previous releases? By being the culmination of a series of experiments to produce a sleeker, faster, more agile vehicle. To refine the fuel of Emileigh‘s lyrics into something that burns hotter with honesty and volatility. The songs all contain a defiance and anger. Not a heavyweight clumsy, smashing anger. A precise, defined glowing fury of purpose. The details and subtilty of the music are built like a virus in their elegance and destructive nature. The vocals hold a sharp edge without bubbling over. It adds a tension that forms the shading of the grand design.

4) The Birthday MassacreFascination – Chibi and company has done more to expand the cone of what is goth music than anyone in the last decade. This new album infused an intensity of emotion due to the band facing some serious real-life trauma. It is explosive like a foam cannon of feeling sprayed on a receptive crowd. There are certain records that ride the line between fantasy and precision execution so perfectly it is hard to see the lines. That is how this album feels. I keep waiting for TBM to run out of gas, and they keep lighting bon fires.

Fascination | The Birthday Massacre (bandcamp.com)

5) Null DeviceThe Emerald Age – Wisconsin based dark synth band with a new driving political statement full of spiraling hooks and razor edge tapestry. The perfect mix of this album is so economical it makes the motion and pace feel like a UFO that darts and accelerates in a way modern technology has not produced. The vocal duties bouncing between Eric and Jill feels like a conversation of perfect syncopation. This album came out in Nov 2022 and every time I hear it holds a familiarity and nostalgia that defies logic.

The Emerald Age | Null Device (bandcamp.com)

6) Minuit Machine24 – This release combining the amazing talents of Hélène de Thoury and Amandine Stioui is staggering for its quality as well as tragic because it might be the last pairing the two. Helene has suffered some health issues which have caused her to step back from the project for the time being. This EP is nothing short of breathtaking in it’s seamless pulsing sophistication. Every track harnesses an effortless magnetic vouge you can’t help but want to be close to. Amandine’s vocal’s ring through the air with every phrase like a struck chime. A haunting electronic overture that paints a perfect moment while promising what could have been.

24 | Minuit Machine (bandcamp.com)

7) HexheartFuneral Flowers – Seatle WA SynthBard Jasyn Bangert has a June release of cybernetic serotonin pumped straight into your brain. I love the “Upstairs At Erics” bopping light synth and nostalgic warms. These tracks wrap around you like a favorite sweater. The AI captivating vocal effects are a fresh note contrasting the synthpop throwback. Every track feels like a cult 80’s film you are the only one who remembers. I really want to hear a cleaner vocal for the next album, because it is the final step towards perfection.

▶︎ Funeral Flowers | Hexheart (bandcamp.com)

8) Sapphiria VeeAerial HumanSapphiria Vee has sprouted wings and taken to stormy skies with the newest release “Ariel Human“. A bracing new pace and sinister promise. Featuring a rouges gallery of impressive collaboration from Jean Marc- Lederman, Roger Ebner, then Mixed and mastered by sonic wizard Jules Seifert. Send your mind a flight. Sapphira’s ability to draw talent towards her with both her powerful voice and magnetic personality gives her access to a wide brigade of masterwork tools. As a producer she knows just when and where to implement each sound like a conductor in a symphony.

Aerial Human | Sapphira Vee (bandcamp.com)

9) Eva XI Dream Of Reality – The progression of shadow pop artist Eva X has been a magnificent sight to behold. After a series of singles and videos this full albums with impressive remixes really shows the elevation Gaby can achieve. A poetic blend of vulnerable beating heart, and higher concept science fiction that paints a wonderful journey while keeping the hooks high and tight.

I Dream of a Reality | Eva X (bandcamp.com)

10) JunksistaOA – This German based band on COP International is one I haven’t given nearly enough press to. Every time I hear them I am absolutely floored by the razor wire combination of owning a space in your head pop melodies and the way too cool to hang out with me punk rock attitude. It just drips with effortless expression and after party in the know. It is hard to hear this and not feel inside the most exclusive salon where everyone is invited. Speaking of invited the album features a who’s who of guest talent. This album deserves a special award for band I put off the longest to deep dive into that left me regretting every moment I wasted not knowing them.

0A | JUNKSISTA (bandcamp.com)

Genres Are Dumb I Just Love It

  1. Sidewalks and SkeletonsExorcism – I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sidewalks and Skeletons for the webcast and was really excited to expand my knowledge of the “WitchHaus” genre. When I first decided to dive in I reached out to a few friends: Kenzi Burke (FIRES) and Hunter Hunter (W/O) for suggestions. Sidewalks and Skeletons of England was one of the first suggested. I suppose going in I had some pre conceived notions of what “WitchHaus” meant, but I have to say I was presently surprised by the texture and diversity of sound on this album. From track one “Exorcism” a glitchy sliding bass beat slither of technomancer energy tendrils, to “Shadow” feat: Goo Monday with it’s throbbing electronic club pulse, this album rings with a clarity and precision that tells a winding story of internal energy. I kept being struck by influences I never expected to encounter like shoegaze and ethereal which gave the entire journey a slick and winding synthesis. I am always impressed when in 2022 I hear something new. A fresh blend of ideas from a chemist taking previous concepts and making new science. It doesn’t happen enough. It is happening here.

EXORCISM | Sidewalks and Skeletons (bandcamp.com)

2) Mona MurSnake Island – German Electro punk Icon released this guitar heavy banger of an album featuring Goldkind. I love the Avant guard crunchy slam poetry punk ethos feel. The individual tracks capture such a range of furious emotions but in the end always return to being a hard rock album. In a time where music is so plentiful and genres are so fractured, it feels refreshing to hear hard rock. The cover of Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades” the dripping with venom and intensity. The single Schieldwall is sun gleaming on a silver hammer smashing the quarry with reckless abandon. This record encapsulates what previous generations artists have to teach the next about how music can be the spearhead of a movement.

Snake Island | Mona Mur (bandcamp.com)

3) Josie PaceIV0X10V5 – 2022 was such a big year for Josie and Ken, Detroit’s Industrial Pop darlings. Fresh off a tour with Aesthetic Perfection they are winning over every crowd they are in front of. Josie is drenched in “It” factor from her voice, attitude, and look. This record is brimming with infectious singles, slamming beats, and a voice that laser cuts the darkness. Now on Negative Gain they are strapped to a rocket ship speeding towards superstar. IVOX10V5 is the perfect refinement album that will finally show the world what Detroit audiences have seen for a while.

IV0X10V5 | Josie Pace (bandcamp.com)

4) Kali DreamerOctober Requiem: 1988 – Derek Christopher turned me on to this Columbus OH artist who is doing a truly unique blend of old school goth and hip hop cadence with a macabre edge. I was immediately hooked, the poetry of the lyrics with the truthful confidence of cadence. You can’t mistake the terror rap elements of Esham in the dark lyric style but the talent and beauty of Kali’s vocals add a modern and gorgeous element. I was truly floored by the quality of this. I just don’t hear enough to surprise me with it’s uniqueness anymore. This album achieved that.

October Requiem: 1988 | Kali Dreamer (bandcamp.com)

5) Katy Needs A LifeWith Friends Like Bees – This is another special release. I feel like I watched it grow up. Born here right in Kalamazoo MI, in Collin Schipper‘s (Amaranth) studio, done by Katy May (Sounds and Shadows). This record is everything I love about ultra sad dreamgaze pop, with none of the pretention I often associate with the genre. Every song is a flailing arms, heart flinging, explosion of narrative intensity. The music of Reggie, David, and Jake is a furious and frantic cohesion of chaos and pastel dreams. Katy has a voice full of purity and unapologetic raw truth that blasts through a sea of cold ultra-produced crystal. This is such wonderous walking around with your own thought’s music.

This record is the first full length with the entire band and spells a glorious future for Katy and company. On top of that it is expertly mastered by none other than Jason Corbett (Jackknife Sound Studios) (Actors). I think sometimes those of us that do musical support of others get lost when it comes to our own projects. This is an unforgettable must have record.

With Friends Like Bees | Katy Needs A Life (bandcamp.com)

6) Lorelei DreamingRetold Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.

Retold Fables | Lorelei Dreaming (bandcamp.com)

7) SINEMantis Complete – Texas nightmare whisper artist Rona Rogueheart dropped this culmination of the Mantis journey in November. A thrumming David Lynch fever dream impossible to place in a category box. The album cover is so appropriate as an angler fish draws you through the underwater darkness with a glittering light, only to open it’s jaws and bite down on you. It’s sinister subterfuge with the electric tension of a great thriller. This record also includes some unreal remixes by the likes of Clan Of Xymox and Leatherstrip. A couple different singles here which placed on the S & S darkscene singles chart like my favorite track “Je Suis”. Another album that charts its own course into mystery.

Mantis 1 | SINE (bandcamp.com)

8) The PicassosExhumed – I love nothing more than the chance to shout to the sky about a gifted and haunting band in my own backyard of Michigan. We even have the honor of playing with them at Skull Festival 11/20/22 at Noir Leather in Royal Oak Michigan. This album which dropped August 2022 is a darting ebony fencing match of furious clashing metal that strikes and counters with such speed you lose sight of the precision in the illusion of chaos. Charles is a master chef of sound, taking ingredients with familiar tastes and adding a pinch here and a skosh there. Some Pixies, Nick Cave, Violent Femms, flamenco guitars, stirred in a pot, raising the heat. The result is a powerful and heady stew served with pageantry and soul. This is truly one of Detroit’s great talents of the decade.

Exhumed | thePicassos (bandcamp.com)

9) The Waning MoonThe Waning Moon – Wonderous new collaboration project from Zac Campbell (The Kentucky Vampires) , and Ariel Maniki (The Black Halos). Two powerhouse talents of the modern traditional goth scene forging an alloy of blackened metal which echos with loss and remorse. Unlike their more organic percussion based projects TWM features aa blistering tempo freight train which unshackles Campbell to terrorize the fretboard and Ariel to use a haunting cadence full of ice cold foundation and strength. Only 4 tracks on this EP, but each sets the tone for a future force that fills a need in fans who hunger for traditional goth.

The Waning Moon | The Waning Moon (bandcamp.com)

10) Sever The ServantsSever The Servants – Brand new collaboration that sprung from the Sounds and Shadows group. A world grinding doom tank apparatus rolling through a nightmare hellscape of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen imagination. Stone walls on all sides as Hide starts filling the room with dank modular synth water. Mike who doesn’t usually do vocals hisses out a poisonous danger that left me floored and impressed. I hungrily await the future offerings of this project. A perfect synthesis of styles to form a stronger bond.

Sever the Servants | Sever the Servants | Sever The Servants (bandcamp.com)

11) AssasunSunset Skull – German song architect Alexander Donat of Vlimmer has changed gears once again with such a massive swerve proving once again there is nothing he cannot do. This new project is a psychedelic electro punk disco with shades of Tuxedomoon, Legendary Pink Dots, and Coil. It never solidifies into something familiar, it never quite strays into madness. A tightrope walk underwater. This record is almost disturbing in it’s creative Germaness. I can’t wait to hear what is next.

The World I Will Leave EP | ASSASSUN | Blackjack Illuminist Records (bandcamp.com)

12) VaselyneThe Sea Says – The Dutch duo Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig with the eclectic blend of rolling foam over a dark sea. This world beat blend of orchestral synth and organically woven vocals which hold a history in their entrancing delivery. Contrasted by sharp and vibrant guitar lines to add modern rock to the ancient mysteries. The PJ Harvey cover hits hard on my nostalgia bone but crafts a fresh and unique lens to the alt rock classic. If I ever go into a cave overlooking the sea and light a fire to dance shadows into the morning, this is the record I’ll bring.

The Sea Says | Vaselyne (bandcamp.com)

Top 12 Sounds and Shadows Darkscene Singles of 2022

I am so proud of how the Sounds and Shadows Darkscene Singles Chart has grown in the last 2 years. This chart is chosen entirely by our groups Artists, Djs, Reviewers, Promotors, and Superfans. I took the number 1 pick from each month this year. So they were all top picks in no particular order.

Jan – Gravity Corp – Another Day

Feb – Dead CoolGame Of Trust

March – LyciaSimpler Times

April – StoneburnerContacting Iris

May – LeathersRunaway

June – Dead Cool – Send Me An Angel

July – Kill Shelter (Feat Stefan Netschio) – In This Place

Aug – Pilgrims of YearningLa Mar

Sept – LeathersUltraviolet – Artoffact Records

Oct – Panic Priest AngelStealNegative Gain

Nov – Matt HartTerraform

Dec – The Bellwether SyndicateBeacons

Gravity CorpsAnother Day – Spacey driving dance beats from Mark Sousa. This futurepop trance rhythm with the melodic bass whisper vocals and sharp mastering of Eric Oehler (Klack). This is sensational music to fire finger guns on the dancefloor to.

https://gravitycorps.bandcamp.com/track/another-day-ep-version

Dead Cool Game Of Trust – Wilmington, North Carolina stellar splashing synthwave goodness full of mystery and mayhem. Ringing front striking vocals and cascade keys. The husband and wife John and Angela Yeagher create a sinister story that is always driving forward. Awesome cover art to complete the image by Morgan Elizabeth.

ttps://deadcool.bandcamp.com/track/game-of-trust

LyciaSimpler Times – A triumphant return for the Arizona based trance coldwave band. This track is a perfect blend of pastel light and dark hues. Oil spreading in a rain puddle. Mike VanPortfleet‘s vocals sit deep within the mix to create a gentle specter haunting your mind. I love seeing a band I loved in my youth break new ground while keeping their soul.

https://lycia.bandcamp.com/album/simpler-times

StoneburnerContacting Iris – Steven Archer is always pushing the edge hard and furious. This time by interweaving with Sci Fi author Peter Watts with a punishing new sonic canvas so relevant to the emotional mindset of the population. This artistic journey keeps getting larger and more intricate.

Contracting Iris | Stoneburner (bandcamp.com)

LeathersRunaway – Another gorgeous smash hit from Shannon Hemmett of Vancouver. As part of the darkscene darlings Actors this synthy dreamwave project continues to grow and impress with every release. Masterful execution with a personal delivery.

https://leathers.bandcamp.com/

Dead Cool Send Me An Angel – I had no idea anyone had 2 number one wins in 2022 but here we are 🙂 From Wilmington, North Carolina the darkwave duo of Johnny and Angela Yeagher made this broken glass glittering on concrete version of the 1989 Real Life dance classic. A cool take on the original with much more menace to change the feeling. The band continues to be a fan favorite with our listeners and a number 1 single win speaks to their bright future.

https://deadcool.bandcamp.com/track/send-me-an-angel

Kill Shelter Feat (Stefan Netschio) – In This Place – I have a full review on S & S as well as an interview with Pete releasing tomorrow. However it is fitting this single off an early contender for album of the year is top song in July. Stefan of Beborn Beton delivers heavy resonant drops of tone into an unlit cave pool. 10/10 absolute banger

Asylum [European Version] | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

Pilgrims Of YearningLa Mar – I was so ecstatic to see the Boston shadowsynth band finish in 1st place. Delicious 90’s Siouxsie with texture snake delay guitars. Juls delivers a haunting and soulful performance. This is a must have in your collection. One of the most criminally underrated bands in the modern darkscene.

La Mar | Pilgrims of Yearning (bandcamp.com)

LeathersUltraviolet – So we had two double winners in 2022. Just shows how much of this year was a blur to me. Shannon deserves every great thing that happens to her though. New single from the Canadian synth extravaganza that is the project of Actors members and currently on tour with them. I love how if this was ever a “side project” it has evolved into a distinct powerhouse of twilight all on it’s own. There is a reason it was a definitive #1 in our most voted on chart to date. Force of nature single you need.

Ultraviolet | LEATHERS (bandcamp.com)

Panic Priest AngelSteal – Jack has a gorgeous and razor streaming style between the cracks of the darkscene. Warm crooning Baritone, waterfall backdrop synths, and lightning crackle guitar leads. Panic Priest always needs more recognition and having this single as number 1 is a fitting start. People need to start recognizing Jack as one of the top voices in the modern scene. Interview coming up with Jack in Jan 2023

ANGELSTEAL | Panic Priest | Midnight Mannequin Records (bandcamp.com)

Matt HartTerraform – Great to see UK artist Matt Hart get the number 1 spot. This single is a banging narrative short film in sonic form. Dystopian sci fi full of underground machinery, perseverance and rebirth. I love the sharp edges and skull smashing mid-tempo beats.

TERRAFORM – SINGLE | MATT HART (bandcamp.com)

The Bellwether SyndicateBeacons – Chicago show stopper’s have a brilliant new single that roars like a muscle car charging down Woodward Ave. Flames spewing out the engine to chase back the darkness. William croons with an extra edge of piercing determination. The mix is clear but always feels like a toe on the line which makes it feel dangerous, on the verge of shattering the glass bubble. They just took this song on the road with Then Comes Silence from Sweeden. Of everyone I currently follow in the modern darkscene, no one has more “rockstar” energy than William with a mic in his hand.

Beacons | The Bellwether Syndicate (bandcamp.com)

On the 3rd Day After Christmas Precious Ken Gave to Me, New Goth Bangers and A New Jam From The Joy Thieves

The year is drawing to a close. I’ll start working on the year end wrap ups from another stellar year in Darkscene music. Including a compilation of the Sounds and Shadows Darkscene Singles Chart. First, I want to do one last standard review of what I have been listening to lately. Every time I think I have emersed myself in this scene so deeply I cannot be surprised anymore, I find something that blows my mind once again. Something that says the world and art that goes with it are always going someplace bigger and bolder. No matter how much you open yourself, there is always something new to learn. Happy Holidays my friends.

Midwest Gothic – Awesome new compilation I came across of darkscene bands, some I knew, some I found from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky to cast a spotlight on the amazing things happening in my area. I always love a good regional compilation and this one is stacked with talent. It features a wide breath of the modern darkscene as well. Josh Kreuzman is the mastermind behind this offering, and I look forward to their future releases.

ANGEL-MAKER – Chris Nelson
Freeze Etch – Adam Duckworth
BlaK SundaY – Juan Blak, Jennifer Maupin, Jacob Cagen, Ron Anderson, Eric Brown
Pillar – Jermaine Artis
Juan Blak – Juan Blak
Sad and Pretentious – Joseph Mayfield
Hypnagogia – Elijah Durnell
Square Hollow – Mark Mehlbauer
Soma and Seraphim – Preston Krafft, Mako Chernobyl
Twice Dark – Josh Kreuzman
Broken Nails – Kim Bell
9th Circle Symphony – Jason Bambery, Dru Cadaver, Kurt Fester, Maria Cadaver, Chris Grady

Midwest Gothic | Various | twice dark (bandcamp.com)

Some Top Tracks:

Blak Sunday – The always napalm shadow punk energy of Juan Black. Old school chaos explosion always on the attack with relentless midwest blue color aggression.

HYPNAGOGIA – Tantalizing ritual gothic chant with a spider shuffle tempo and summoner circle cadence. A wonderful new discovery I will be watching for.

Broken Nails – The darting tempo cold wave with robust soulful vocals from Kim Bell. One of those tracks that energizes a dance floor while filling your head with reflection.

Plague GardenBlue Captain – 10,000 leagues beneath the sea in this pressure pulse old school gothic submarine. The guitars are a darting school of silver movement on the edge of your vision. This project is a Denver CO collaboration of Fernando Altonaga and Angelo Atencio of eHpH. I love the atmospheric reckless darkness and Sisters Of MercyFirst Last and Always” hopeless thrum of the ever-sinking vessel.

Favorite Track: Tonight – A bit of an outlier on the album but the dynamic shifts really encapsulated the treacherous sea. The pulsing bassline full of danger and movement. The hunting teeth of the palm mute guitar. The haunting croon of the vocals. Something about this track put everything together in perfect balance.

▶︎ Blue Captain | Plague Garden (bandcamp.com)

Null DeviceThe Emerald Age – Wisconsin based dark synth band with a new driving political statement full of spiraling hooks and razor edge tapestry. The perfect mix of this album is so economical it makes the motion and pace feel like a UFO that darts and accelerates in a way modern technology has not produced. The vocal duties bouncing between Eric and Jill feels like a conversation of perfect syncopation. This album came out in Nov 2022 and every time I hear it holds a familiarity and nostalgia that defies logic.

Favorite Tracks:

For You – This was a darkscene singles chart winner. A boot stomp tempo club banger with Jill belting with Irish funeral dirge sorrowful beauty against sparkling explosion synth lines. A captivating modern classic.

Misspent Youth – A haunting piano ballad with Eric’s clean and emotive voice ringing with captivating expression. Each note on the piano streams forth like ripples in a still underground pool.

Eric Oehler – Vocals, Synths, Violin, Guitars
Jill Sheridan – Vocals, Lyrics, Synths
Eric Goedken – Lyrics, Additional Production
Kendra Kreutz – Cello

▶︎ The Emerald Age | Null Device (bandcamp.com)

G.W. Childs IVTarrant County – Lately I have known an obsession, that is yee haw goth. G.W. Childs is legit cowboy who fell in love with YazUpstairs At Eric’s” and created a synthesis of southern family devotion and scorching disco inferno. I love old school country western. Hank Sr. Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline had a blue collar emotional delivery which would one day become punk rock. Legendary producer John Fryer (NIN, Depeche Mode, Love & Rockets, This Mortal Coil) reached out and encouraged his friend to lean into his country roots and make this EP of classics with a glossy hyper color synth wave sizzle. I’ve always felt the key to a good cover is when an artist excites a new generation that never heard the original song, but leads them back to it after. This is what the soulful delivery of every track on Tarrant County accomplishes. Watch out for an upcoming interview I did with G.W.

G.W. Childs IV (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Star Wars: Battlefront)
• Legendary producer John Fryer (NIN, Depeche Mode, Love & Rockets, This Mortal Coil)
• Famed game composer Peter McConnell (Psychonauts 2, Sly Cooper, Monkey Island)
Matt Carter (Guitar) 
Ed Love (Drums)

Tarrant County | G.W. Childs IV (bandcamp.com)

Crune – Necromantik – Recently I covered the Skull Festival in Detroit. I saw a lot of amazing bands. One really struck me. When you see something special for a reason you can’t put a finger on, you know. When the sassy yee haw goth playing a theremin telling stinging tales about severed heads on the bedpost took the stage, I knew I was seeing something special. I made it my mission to make sure the world was aware of the glory of Crune. I remember standing in front of the stage behind the members of Adult who I could see were also struck and feeling that theatrical chest wrenching darkness the first time I heard Danny Blu. This is the beginning of a talented young artist on a rocket ship destiny you won’t want to be the last to know about.

Favorite Track: May Your Wounds Turn Gold – Slithering sensual napalm of exposed truth spewed forth with careless expression. When I saw this song played live, I dropped my jaw. It is raw poetic cabaret unleashed behind an electronic construction of syncopated dynamics. This is the future.

Necromantik | Crune (bandcamp.com)

The Joy Thieves – 6 To 3 – Chicago super band led by Dan Milligan have a timely new release while the rights of women to control medical decisions about their own bodies is called into question. Joy Thieves will be donating 100% of the money raised from the sale of the ‘6 To 3’ EP, and its accompanying line of exclusive t-shirts and hoodies to the National Network of Abortion Funds. We are always quick to point out when someone falls short, so I was happy to give credit when artists stand on the right side of history. I love The Joy Thieves iconic blend of hard rock and industrial mayhem. Blending voices and furious flame wall liquid guitar. In addition to the 2 tracks is an industrial high court of scene mainstays not in The Joy Thieves offering remixes like Jim Marcus (GoFight), Walter Flakus (Stabbing Westward), Steven Archer (Stoneburner), Gaby Gustavson (Eva X). A fiery anthem to capture the tension and anger of these dark times.

6 To 3 | The Joy Thieves (bandcamp.com)

Minuit Machine – 24 – This release combining the amazing talents of Hélène de Thoury and Amandine Stioui is staggering for its quality as well as tragic because it might be the last pairing the two. Helene has suffered some health issues which have caused her to step back from the project for the time being. This EP is nothing short of breathtaking in it’s seamless pulsing sophistication. Every track harnesses an effortless magnetic vouge you can’t help but want to be close to. Amandine’s vocal’s ring through the air with every phrase like a struck chime. A haunting electronic overture that paints a perfect moment while promising what could have been.

Favorite Track: So Hard – Sledgehammer drum beats, lightning bug transitions, and a club build that set the stage for a gorgeous golden melody. Tendrils of glitter smoke catching beams of light. This song can hold my heart forever.

24 | Minuit Machine (bandcamp.com)

Spike HellisSpike Hellis – After seeing them at the Skull Festival in Detroit this year, I haven’t been able to put this away. LA based electronic flamethrowers who answered the question if Alec Empire hadn’t pulled a 180 and became a cryptobro what would a cleaner crisper refinement of the magma fury become? Hearing Spike Hellis really helps me understand what is meant by “Electronic Body Music”. It is felt in the tissue as much as heard in the ears. The range of feeling on this chaotic labyrinth darts through every hidden crack of the human experience. It really must be heard live to fully comprehend, but having a map of the recorded experience can go a long way towards grasping the subtilty of what is happening. I really need to line up an interview with this band in 2023.

Spike Hellis | Spike Hellis (bandcamp.com)

COLD TRANSMISSION MUSICZEITGEIST+ – There is no secret about my feelings on Suzy and Andy Herrman of Cold Transmission Music. They run a family style label that highlights the best in European Cold and Dark wave. As well as searching the world for underappreciated talent to shine a beam of their amazing energy on. This is the 15th of these compilations they have released to bring both their own signings as well artists they love. In the end CT are fans of great music first and then a great label. This compilation truly has the soul of those old Cleopatra compilations that want to tell the world about the best new music hidden under the crust. I need to do a review of this compilation on it’s own but wanted to at least shout it out in 2022.

Favorite Track (So Far) – S Y Z Y G Y XManiac – Luna has done an exclusive single for this comp and it is fairy light magic in a frozen palace of winter. The percussion of vibrating copper timpani sounds rippling the water from bleeps and bloops. Vocals equal measure smooth and smoke filling the room with vapor. This is a true talent that needs to be lifted up to a brighter light.

Compiled by Andreas Herrmann
Additional Mastering by Pete Burns at THE SHELTER
Illustrations by Jared K. Nickerson (Jthree Concepts)
Artwork by Yvonne Kiel (www.onlyvonne.de)

ZEITGEIST+ | COLD TRANSMISSION MUSIC (bandcamp.com)

Klack – Believe – I am always down to Klack. I will Klack in the morning, Klack late at night, I will Klack everytime because it always feels right. This cover is a perfect blend of two great artists Eric and Matt who loved the same song in different ways. They meet in the middle and the homage is perfect. Ok not quite perfect. They could have sung “Do you Bill Leeb in life after love. Maybe Cher would have missed the reference. I wouldn’t have. This choir hits like a glorious angel smashing into a gold brick wall.

Believe | Klack | klack (bandcamp.com)

Aurelio VoltaireThe Black Labyrinth ~ A Requiem for the Goblin King – Has it really been 13 studio albums for Aurelio Voltaire? This review is special to me. As someone who writes “Goth music with a heavy dose of humor” it is hard not to give credit to the OG that inspired me all those years ago. Here he taps into his own inspiration from an artist and film that burned a codpiece shaped scar into every 90’s goths soul. It appears we also share a passion for collecting every talented guest star he could cram into this shadow glass menagerie. Let’s have a look at this list.

15 members of David Bowie’s band spanning nearly every era of the Starman’s career from the pianist on 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to the saxophone player on Black Star, Bowie’s last album.
The Black Labyrinth was co-produced by Mark Plati who produced the 1997 Bowie album, Earthling as well as the post humus release, Toy.

Other guest musicians included members of My Chemical Romance, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Vision Video, The Cog is Dead, Frenchy and the Punk, violinist extraordinaire Mia Asano, Ally the Piper, D and D songstress Ginny D and an international cadre of musicians making up the orchestra and choir.

The 20 song release is clean like twilight in a fantasy world briming with the mystery of a firefly forest and the pageantry of a catholic funeral. Voltaire’s iconic is the ringleader that ties together the spectacle. If you don’t know Voltaire, you have missed one of the most gloriously self aware experiences in the dark scene. If you do you are in for a 20 track journey with one of the great bards of our time. Let goth music be fun. Let it be the giant melting black candle musical theater it was always meant to be. I both teared up and laughed out loud listening to it. You need this album.

▶︎ The Black Labyrinth ~ A Requiem for the Goblin King | Aurelio Voltaire (bandcamp.com)

Detroit Goth Is Alive and Well. My Weekend At the Skull Fest

This past weekend I traveled back to my roots. To a goth industrial festival in downtown Detroit. My first in many years. I grew up going to the legendary City Club, travel regularly to see bands at Smalls. I still have a nostalgic tie to East Michigan. I learned about the Skull Fest late, yet quickly was got excited at the idea of an ambitious goth industrial festival in Detroit. I quickly reached out to offer support anyway I could. I was welcomed with open arms both as a pretend music journalist and getting to play with my band Amaranth. Those of you that follow our blog and podcast know that I have a dreamer’s optimism about our scene. In B.P. LeGault I felt the kinship of a mutual dreamer dedicated to bringing together our community while creating an inclusive environment. Four days, major acts, vendors for art, fashion shows, giving a chance to goth adjacent new sounds sometimes over at festivals. He also did something I feel is important to a festival’s success, he included and promoted local talent. Detroit artists were a prominent part of the stacked lineup. I was also impressed by outside the box thinking. Day four, Sunday was an all-ages show. Taking a chance to help encourage both young fans, and parents who love the scene but have a hard time attending a music festival which often start around 9pm and go until 2-3am. This allowed them to take part and share an experience they love with their kids. This also was wonderful for goths who don’t drink and feel uncomfortable. I got the chance to attend on Friday and Sat, then play on Sunday with our amazing photographer Whitney Flaherty. So please follow along for the highlights of a truly uplifting experience for the goth scene.

So I didn’t get to attend Thursday, but I wanted to share what was there 🙂

Thursday 11-17-22 Opening Ceremony
6pm-Midnight 18+

-Noir Leather Stage-
CYANOTIC, Chicago
Second Salem, Detroit
Eprom Colony, Detroit
Triangulations, Tri Cities
Access to Concrete, Ypsilanti
EnD, Ypsilanti
Opening Ceremony
House Deejay: Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti

-Russell Industrial Stage-
Darks Choir, Ination, Toledo
Havok, Ination, Toledo
Audioflesh, Ination, Toledo
Misanthropia Narcissus, Detroit
Gates Of Janus, Novi

Friday 11-18-22 *Fetish Night
6pm-Midnight 18+

-Noir Leather Stage-
HIDE, Chicago
Noelle Solringen, Detroit
Crune, Detroit
Noir Leather Fashion Show
B.P. LeGault, Detroit
Vazum, Detroit
House Deejay: Raedy Lex

-Russell Industrial Stage-
EXT EST, Detroit
Justin Carver, Something Cold, Hamtramck
Marc Church, Detroit
Engine, Detroit
Udenjoe, Detroit

Walking in the door I was greeted by the liquid translucent shadowgaze sounds of our friends Vazum local to Detroit. Zach and Emily bring an organic and emotional DIY style that always stands out. It feels like the prevailing wind in goth is to emulate the 80s synth or early Batcave sound. Vazum shows their influence more in slushy guitar-based shoegaze with dark themes and balanced communicative vocals. They have a new EP out called “The Precious Ones” with a punk rock tempo and thundering drumbeats. Vazum is a staple of the new Detroit goth scene. The live show feels so thunderous and organic. If you are 3 feet away from the stage or 100 feet, a Vazum show always feels intimate.

▶︎ The Precious Ones | VAZUM (bandcamp.com)

BP. LeGault who made this all possible did the next set. I was enjoying bopping around the dance floor when 50 absurdly hot people walked past in a large block. I remember thinking to myself something must be happening because that was too much attractiveness in one place. It of course marked the beginning of the visual extravaganza of Noir Leathers Fashion Show. If you grew up in the Detroit suburbs like me the Royal Oak store was a big part of your counterculture life. It was the main place to get alternative clothes and learn what was happening in the scene. This was an impressive spectacle, but also called attention that unlike other festivals I have attended the people of Detroit on average were all rocking a full-blown look. A commitment to the aesthetic I just don’t see all the time.

☠️ Noir Leather ☠️

Crune – Next up was Detroit’s own CRUNE. I knew nothing about this band going in other than an introduction from amazing Dj Noelle Solringen. Without previous knowledge coming into this performance, I was absolutely floored. This band was my favorite surprise of the weekend. I couldn’t stop talking about it to anyone who would listen. “Sassy Yee Haw Goth with a Theremin” was something I had no idea I needed. I did. A searing energy captivating performance with engaging lyrics and a vocal delivery that made the hairs on my arms stand up. Do you know when you see “IT” even if you can’t put your finger on what that is? You know when you see it. Picture being a music reviewer that listens to 200 bands a month, then you feel “IT” happen. That was CRUNE for me. As gods are my witness I have made it my mission to make the scene aware how blistering talented this project is.

Necromantik | Crune (bandcamp.com)

HIDE – After a Dj set from Noelle Solringen Chicago based electronica band HIDE took the stage. I have heard the legend of the intensity from their stage show. I have listened and loved their albums. Nothing I heard prepared me for the jagged glass introspective emotion which fell on me like a firestorm. If you have never seen HIDE play live, I don’t know how to describe the experience to you. I know others tried to describe it to me, and now I understand what an impossible task was being ask. It is not a simple thing to witness. It is the full intensity of overpowering conflicting emotions dragging you back and forth at maximum velocity while you question every truth you have been fed. Does that sound over the top? Well trust me, unless you have seen it and you know, you don’t know.

Interior Terror | HIDE (bandcamp.com)

Saturday 11-19-22 Night Of Sin
6pm-Midnight 18+

-Noir Leather Stage-
COMFORT CURE, Detroit
Textbeak, Cleopatra Records, Cleveland/Detroit
Spike Hellis, Los Angeles
Veganinblack, Chicago
SOROS, Grand Rapids/Detroit
Wraith & Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti
Schedule IV, Detroit
House Deejay: Niko Fierro

-Russell Industrial Stage-
Absynthe Of Faith, Minneapolis
Satanic Hispanic, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago
Plvgues, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago
Sain’t, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago
Doc Colony, Detroit

So Saturday I knew my way around the festival site and was excited to take everything in. I knew I had to play on Sunday so I took at easy on the Maker’s Mark to be fresh for our performance. Saturday’s line up featured mostly bands I had not seen live yet. Once again, the surroundings were inclusive, friendly, and focused on highlighting new exciting dark music. I loved the shadow market of vendors featuring everything from bondage gear, art pieces, and magic. Noir Leather once again had a shop set up. A wonderful space set up to plunge in and out of performance engagement and leisurely stroll through darkscene art.

Schedule IV – Starting off with one of the most underrated talents in the Detroit scene. Powerful emotive lyrics and delivery by Steph Strange and precision post punk music that flows with the energy generation of a V8 engine. This was a new lineup from the last time I saw them play. When post punk music is done with this level of fine-tuned twists and turns it takes the listener on a journey. Schedule IV always brings that ferocious driving energy and it really set the tone for night 3 of the festival.

In Treatment | Schedule IV (bandcamp.com)

DJ VeganInBlack from Chicago spun a set a lovely set with a balance of old and new. I always am inspired by their conviction to music and their ideals that comes across in how they share bands.

(13) DJVeganinblack – Twitch

This festival featured two stages, one primary where full bands played. Then another for Djs and individual electronica artists. The set up again reminded me of old school raves. On Saturday this second stage was dominated by Blvsphemy Records from Chicago. Primarily known as a Chicago VVitchaus label with the added twist both sonically and aesthetically of Black Metal. As someone new to the Witch house scene it was amazing to see a “Goth/Industrial” festival embrace this subgenre and give it a place to bring in new fans. Seeing people catch word of the crackling energy and ritualistic thrum, packing the room with wide eyes and flailing limbs showed me that this is a part of the future of our scene.

Satanic Hispanic – Furious slow grinding back beats of house and triphop, with terrifying expulsion of anti religious emotional outbursts. The imagery and sonic assault projected a punk DIY ideal into a chaos magic lens. This set made me a believer in how this music fits into the future of the scene.

Disobey | Satanic Hispanic | Blvsphemy Records (bandcamp.com)

Plvgues – The final set from Blvsphemy was the Plvgues, which took the concept of everything the label had exposed me to, then turned it to 11. The massive presence of this hooded giant had an undeniable magnetism. His voice flowed beneath the sliding evasive beats to surface with shattered glass fury when you least expected it. Keep a close eye on this artist. They have star power.

Volos | Plvgues | Blvsphemy Records (bandcamp.com)

Spike Hellis – Next up on the main stage is a LA based electronic explosion Spike Hellis. I have seen them before at Cold Waves, but never before in this intimate underground setting. In 2022 Atari Teenage Riot got involved in some NFT Crypto madness that tainted my image of furious electronic anarchy. Spike Hellis brought that sonic image back with crystal static anger and EMP pulse which writhed out in shockwaves to assault the adoring crowd. I enjoyed their performance at Cold Waves. I was memorized here. Impressive emotional transfer from stage to crowd. The aggression and intensity doing something this inclusive is a bizarre combination of feeling but the most accurate description.

Spike Hellis | Spike Hellis (bandcamp.com)

Spike Hellis | Spike Hellis (bandcamp.com)

TEXTBEAK – Another Detroit band. More festivals need to take note, if you are holding a festival in a city, then show love to the bands that are a part of that scene. I can’t remember a time I saw this ideal held up more than at the Skull Festival. Michael Szewczyk is such a warm overlapping part of the whole Detroit scene who’s talent and glowing spirit are never more on display that in his primary project Textbeak. As someone who grew up on Detroit electronica Michael seems to have the core concept written on his DNA. Every track has a brilliant and unique composure yet somehow resonates with that distinctive house sound that transports me to a warehouse on Hastings Street. Michael is also a part of the previously mentioned Crune and continues to impress with their talent and vision.

Sick for Songs a Season Eats Remixes | TEXTBEAK (bandcamp.com)

COMFORT CURE – Closing out the night was another Detroit talent. I am always left impressed lately by solo electronica artists who manage to unleash the energy necessary to captivate a crowd alone. Percussive EDM with a lashing distinctly Detroit beat and poetic vocal delivery that reminded me of Underworld. I didn’t know nearly enough about Comfort Cure going into the weekend. They left an impressive mark on me. As an added bonus while watching the set I noticed Detroit Electronic music royalty ADULT was standing in front of me enjoying the set. I love seeing artists I associate with a city coming out to support.

They Told You Wrong (Single) | COMFORT CURE (bandcamp.com)

Images by Whitney Flaherty

Sunday 11-20-22 *ALL*AGES*MATINEE*
Noon-6pm

-Noir Leather Stage-
WINGTIPS, Chicago
Justin Carver, Something Cold, Hamtramck
Amaranth, Kalamazoo
Faux Fear, Reading, PA
The Picasso’s, Detroit
House Deejay Raedy Lex

-Russell Industrial Stage-
Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti
Wraith, Defiled, Ypsilanti
Darks Choir, Ination, Toledo
Havok, Ination, Toledo
Audioflesh, Ination, Toledo

This Sunday matinee was special to me for many reasons. I got to play on the stage, I had just watched so many amazing bands. We got to open for one of my favorite bands in the modern darkscene Wingtips. I also appreciated the vision and concept of B.P. doing an all-ages daytime event as part of the festival. Too often it feels like goth culture is not focused on the next generation. It is a scene that tends to worship and embrace the past. Also A lot of folks my age do not get to attend goth festivals anymore because they have children. Who can get a sitter from 10pm-3am two or three days in a row? Having an event focused on family inclusion as part of a major festival spoke a lot about how this event felt different in thinking outside the box.

Exhumed | thePicassos (bandcamp.com)

First act i saw Sunday was Detroit’s own The Picassos. A glorious darkternative band I recently discovered who seamlessly blend The Pixies, Nick Cave, and Violent Femms. I had the pleasure of doing an interview which I will post below. When I spoke to Charles and company they told me of their connection through theater. I loved seeing this translate into their stage show. A funeral set where all the listeners could take part in the production. The sound was everything I want in a live show of a band I know and love the recordings of. Everything I loved in the song writing and emotional connection was here, with an added layer of projection and emotion. Charles voice is unique and captivating. I found myself lost in the performance. This is a must-see live band if you ever get the opportunity.

Sounds and Shadows Interview with The Picassos

FAUX FEAR – Next up was a post punk dark wave duo from Reading PA. I had the pleasure of speaking to them in the green room and instantly felt a kinship with their devotion to DIY inclusive grass roots promotion of the dark scene. The music was sleek and sophisticated with driving baselines and cascading synths. The vocals had a resonating Terri Nunn vibe with more understated delicacy. They did a fantastic Cure cover. This is a band I will be looking to connect with for a show exchange soon. My only regret is I had to spend part of the set behind stage getting ready to play.

Image by Whitney Flaherty

Image by Whitney Flaherty

Gothtimist | The Amaranth (bandcamp.com)

We got to take the stage next. It was a great honor to play with so many talented people who I love. I grew up on this side of the state and being a part of the energy here was a transcendent feeling. The sound staff were all wonderful. We played songs about Ninjas, Assplay, Feminism, and Onlyfans. In my mind it was one of the best sets we ever played in modern Amaranth. After I helped get our gear off, I was walking with Collin. A young lady locked eyes and started walking towards me. I assumed I was in her way and tried to speed up and change direction. I turned back to Collin and she tapped me on the shoulder asking if she could take a picture with us. I get a bit of that from Sounds and Shadows at music festivals. This was for Amaranth, this was different, this was a young person who really enjoyed what we played enough to chase me crossed a warehouse. I forgot how special that can feel.

Image by Whitney Flaherty

Cutting Room Floor | WINGTIPS (bandcamp.com)

WINGTIPS – When I spoke to Hannah and Vincent after the show I told them something I aspire towards. I have seen them about 7 times live now, and every time I see them is the best time. The darkest side of retro melodrama and beauty blended with furious emotional outburst and shocking realism. The amount of star power dripping from this duo is something you feel in your bones. They closed with “Last Minute” which was my first introduction to them. The song that was my first love. The perfect close to a wonderful event of memories.

Images by Whitney Flaherty

Overall I

Now a brief interview with B.P who made his dream a reality.

Ken: What made you first fall in love with this music and scene?

B.P: My passion for dark music is deep rooted. I started attending goth nights in Detroit back in the 90’s. The scene just felt like home. Goth nightlife, music, fashion, and subculture has been a part of my identity since those early days. As well as writing and recording dark-wave and industrial music. Throughput the years Detroit deejays and bands have kept the music alive in the underground. And I love that.

Ken: I really felt a sense of kindred spirit in you. You are a Dreamer like me. Tell me what you wanted to accomplish with this festival? What was your vision ?

B.P. : Thank you, Ken. After getting to talk with you a at the festival I felt that too. I remember telling someone, Ken is a great guy, he is sincere, passionate, and sees the big picture. The goal of SKULL was to bring together as much of the regional talent possible to provide an opportunity for Detroit’s goth music scene to build a stronger community and more support for the musicians and deejays as well as the artists, vendors, and lovers of all things goth. I truly hope everyone met someone great that they didn’t know before. Or made friends with an acquaintance. Because we have so many wonderful people in our scene.

Ken: Tell me about some of the people who helped you pull off this ambitious undertaking?

B.P. : Remnant aka Casey Discursion of Defiled was the first person I had a conversation with about bringing together the older and younger music fans of goth and industrial in Detroit. There is a great divide in ages and genres and he understood how all of the sounds could compliment each other and that creating a stronger community was possible. There are a couple silent partners behind SKULL that believe in the mission. The SKULL managers Xaina, Marie, Stacey, and Jai Jay all did an amazing job in their leadership roles. There were also several friends of mine and deejays that helped physically put the event together and promote it for months. I am grateful for all of their efforts.

Ken: Why was it so important to include an all-ages day for the festival? Why should more festivals do this?

B.P. : There are a lot of young goths out there. One, they deserve to have a place to experience the subculture, and two, they are the future of our community.

Ken: 5) What is your hope for the future of Skull Festival as well as the Detroit scene?

B.P.: We have several meetings coming up with the main people involved in SKULL and I know there are a lot of creative ideas floating around on what to do next. All things will be taken into consideration and once we decide on our next goth adventure we will make an announcement. Stay tuned 🖤💀 Ken, thank you for your time and your efforts in the world of dark music.

November Sounds And Shadows Darkscene Singles Chart

Nearing the end of the year and just in time for Bandcamp Friday we have the latest addition of the S & S chart. November was an amazing month for new music. I found a ton at the Detroit Skull Fest which I will be putting an article out about soon. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to support our scene by listening to these singles chosen by our group of Artists, Djs, Promotors, Reviewers, and Super Fans. Each song here is a single released in Nov 2022 and voted on by our group. If you have a single release in December, or know someone who does, post it in the December poll.

  1. Matt HartTerraform
  2. Derision Cult (Feat: Chris Connelly and Gabriel Reeves)Deaf Blood
  3. ST///LLDarkened Eyes
  4. Minuit MachineFollower
  5. Anti-Social ClubEmpty
  6. SINE Je Suis
  7. STAERManifold
  8. Mari KattmanFever Shakes
  9. Null DeviceFor You
  10. Mechanical Vein X Moris BlakCemetary Wind

MATT HART – Great to see UK artist Matt Hart get the number 1 spot. This single is a banging narrative short film in sonic form. Dystopian sci fi full of underground machinery, perseverance and rebirth. I love the sharp edges and skull smashing mid-tempo beats.

TERRAFORM – SINGLE | MATT HART (bandcamp.com)

Derision CultDeaf Blood – West Chicago Industrial band with an all star contributor list of Chris Connelly and Reeves Gabrels. Slamming drum progression and wicked guitar solo with the iconic Connelly vocals, what is not to love?

Mercenary Notes Pt 1 | Derision Cult (bandcamp.com)

st///llDarkened Eyes – UK band I wasn’t aware of before they popped onto the chart. Really cool slushy Chameleons meets The Dammed post punk vibes. The basslines here in particular are really infectious. You have my attention.

Darkened Eyes | st///ll (bandcamp.com)

Minuit MachineFollower – French based ultra-cold wave with the always amazing  Hélène de Thoury of Hante with vocals from Amandine Stioui. An icy gust of winding motion and shimmer. This album is so effortlessly cool. I feel like the slickest version of myself when I am listening to it.

24 | Minuit Machine (bandcamp.com)

Anti-Social ClubEmpty – Really cool project from two group members Pete and Greg. Sweet throwback synthgoth anthem, I love the vocals here, big Peter Murphy energy with harmonies from Rachael Fuhs. This track is the perfect blend of fresh and familiar. That chorus drops like an A bomb.

Last Train to Oblivion | Anti-Social Club (bandcamp.com)

SINE – I recently got to discuss this single with Rona in an upcoming interview we will be releasing. Slow steps over smoking volcanic earth with whispered vocals that declare I am. I love how this powerful and sensual confidence oozes in waves while making a sound impossible to place in a box.

Mantis Complete | SINE (bandcamp.com)

ST∆ERManifold – I was so excited to see electronic texture artist Ian R. Staer crack the singles charts. This isn’t a “typical” single bopper. It is emotional landscape painting in sonic form. Stretching and breathing with a story created in the listeners mind. I really love that our listeners are picking songs this cerebral.

Written, performed, and recorded by Ian R. Staer.

Mixed by Chris Vrenna at Bluebird Studio, Huntsville AL.

Mastered by Eric Oehler at Submersible, Madison WI

Equilibrium | ST∆ER (bandcamp.com)

Mari KattmanFever Shakes – One of my favorite humans in the scene, the amazing burning energy of Mari releases this stomping shadowpop single full of bopping beats and furious delivery. A picture Mari in silver robot armor with a blue electric broadsword carving a swath through her enemies.

Fever Shakes | Mari Kattman (bandcamp.com)

Null Device – For You – The mostly Wisconsin based electronic band with this gorgeous old school synth single that puts me in mind of Depeche Mode “Construction Time Again” blended with powerful Annie Lenox style vocals from Sheridan. Powerful and emotive this whole EP is a must have. Which is why I have it

Eric Oehler – Vocals, Synths, Violin, Guitars
Jill Sheridan – Vocals, Lyrics, Synths
Eric Goedken – Lyrics, Additional Production
Kendra Kreutz – Cello

The Emerald Age | Null Device (bandcamp.com)

Mechanical Vein x MORIS BLAK – Powerhouse team up from England and Boston for this stabbing cadence with some electro Nu Metal energy. This is a positive banger. Glitchy, bass pounding goodness to set your dancefloor ablaze.

Cemetery Wind | Mechanical Vein x MORIS BLAK | Mechanical Vein (bandcamp.com)

It’s Hard To Believe The Sounds and Shadows Darkscene Singles Chart Has Been Around A Whole Year

One year ago in October I was discussing with Hide, do charts still matter in 2021? What is the point in modern times and do the current charts accurately represent what our scene values? It was a pretty good debate discussing pros and cons. In the end I decided to try letting the wise and tasteful members of our Sounds and Shadows group. Comprised of Djs, Reviewers, Bands, Promotors, and Super Fans that are the lifeblood of this scene. No pay for play. Just a simple vote on what music you are hearing that makes you feel something. I wasn’t sure this would be something I would continue to feel the value of. 12 months later, I have come to really appreciate what this chart brings to the scene. The way that amazing music gets recognized here that doesn’t find it’s way to other charts. As always these are all singles released in October and voted on by our group members.

  1. Panic Priest AngelStealNegative Gain
  2. Object XOut Of Place
  3. IAMTHESHADOWThe Wide StarlightCold Transmission Music
  4. The Burying KindIn Black And White
  5. Dread RisksExtinction FormBrutal Resonance
  6. Dog Tablet Ashes
  7. Morgue VVitch X AllicornHigher
  8. Actors + Bootblacks Boys keep Swinging (Bowie Cover) – Artoffact Records
  9. CarrionCount The ScarsProdukt 42
  10. Mona Mur – Dream Rider – Give/Take

Panic Priest – ANGELSTEAL – Jack has a gorgeous and razor streaming style between the cracks of the darkscene. Warm crooning Baritone, waterfall backdrop synths, and lightning crackle guitar leads. Panic Priest always needs more recognition and having this single as number 1 is a fitting start. People need to start recognizing Jack as one of the top voices in the modern scene.

ANGELSTEAL | Panic Priest | Midnight Mannequin Records (bandcamp.com)

Object XOut of Place – From Reno Nevada a band I was not familiar with but shot to #2 on this chart. I really liked the single, a deep resonant poetry in the vocals and Nick Cave style organic ghost story style. I really love the vocal harmony here, as well as the horror movie samples from Bela Lugosi’s 1931 Dracula. The space opera bending guitars add a wonderful tension to the narrative. This track was a wonderful surprise I didn’t know I needed.

Out of Place | Object X (bandcamp.com)

IAMTHESHADOWThe Wide Starlight – I talk a lot about the expectational song writing glory and passion of Portuguese band IAMTHESHADOW. I will always buy anything Pedro puts out on Cold Transmission unheard, because he has never let me down . What always astounds me is how different every new album sounds. This new single is such a contrast to “Pitchblack”. It is expansive, hopeful, and dynamic with the soul and accessibility of Psychedelic Furs. A band that is always taking you on a fresh emotional journey.

The Wide Starlight | IAMTHESHADOW (bandcamp.com)

The Burying KindIn Black and White – I love everything about this release. The quality of the song writing and musicianship. The method acting delivery of the lyrics. When a band can get lost in the emotion of their own release it is a powerful thing that cannot be faked. This album is up for top releases of the year. This single will transport you places.

In Black and White | The Burying Kind (bandcamp.com)

Dread Risks – Extinction Form – New Video single from our favorite Texas DoomDustrial band. It’s hard, mean, creeping danger, which culminates in a sledgehammer delivery of broken pieces and mysterious questioning. This is a band I really need to see live.

(36) Dread Risks – Extinction Form (Live) – Elysium Austin, September 16, 2022 – YouTube

Dogtablet – Ashes – Industrial legend Martin King who i recently had the pleasure of meeting in person at Cold Waves with this tantalizing delay deep space exploration single from the new EP. I always love tracks of this project where Martin lets his own voice shine. Every new song for this project feels like a hound off the chain running free, because these expert songsmiths have nothing left to prove and are releasing abstract concepts without limits.

Ashes | Dogtablet (bandcamp.com)

Morgue VVitch x ΔLLICΘRNHigher – New Collab of ethereal witchtrance crystal towers. Tara’s climbing vocal style paired with the sleek sky climbing synth structures and a glorious blend of dream inspiring fantasy. Two great artists leaving me hungry for what is next.

Higher | Morgue VVitch x ΔLLICΘRN | Allicorn (bandcamp.com)

Actors + Bootblacks Boys Keep Swinging – What is not to love about two of the top names in modern darkscene teaming up to cover a David Bowie deep cut while producing a gorgeous gender fluid video. This video is absolutely staggering. If somehow you don’t know about these bands, do yourself a favor and open up to the glorious new wave of modern postpunk

CarrionCOUNT THE SCARS – Wonderful crunchy horror synth from Hide Tepes. This new single is mixed and mastered by Mike Nolan in Michigan and adds a refinement and focus to the brilliant artistic expression that Hide hurtles with reckless abandon into everything he does. A storm of broken shards raining down.

COUNT THE SCARS | Carrion (bandcamp.com)

Mona MurDream Rider – Another single off the latest album of the Berlin electronic punk icon. Sparkling and jagged like a skiff hurtling through the desert. I love the purposeful force of this track, the way it doesn’t fit in any box but it’s own. This whole album is a modern classic. I did a recent interview with Mona and it gave me a fresh appreciation for her contribution to the modern scene.

Dream Rider | Mona Mur (bandcamp.com)

This chart has been growing every month for a year. If you have a darkscene single release in November or know someone who does, make sure you add it to the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group, and support underground music.

Darkness falls across the land The midnight hour is close at hand. Creatures crawl in search of the best in new darkscene music.

It is Halloween weekend, that special time of the year where everyone celebrates leaning into the darkness which our scene embraces all year long. As I get ready for an Amaranth show on Sat I will share some reviews of what I have been listening to during the spookiest of months.

Ashes FallenNew Normal – Brand new Single from Sacramento goth rockers, this one has this awesome Batcave B52s vibe. Energetic and dangerous like a twirling skirt on a dance floor. I can hear the curl of James lip on the vocal deliver. The keyboard has a Hammond B3 organ feel that adds to the Skoth Madness effect. banger.

New Normal | Ashes Fallen (bandcamp.com)

Cyborg AmokEtiam – Another quirky goth rock hybrid blend from the Father/Son NJ project. A definite psychedelic Syd Barrett meets Depeche Mode flavor. The multiple decades of influence, sharing music within your family really gives a unique sound and every song feels like a legacy and discussion.

released October 8, 2022

All songs written by Greg Bullock, (except, Golden Years, by David Bowie).
All songs performed by Cyborg Amok:
Greg Bullock: Lead Vocal and Synthesizers.
Brydon Bullock: Drums/Percussion and Backing Vocal.

Additional musicians:
Adam Vaccarelli: Bass on all songs (except Wicked Close).
Frani Lugo: Guitar on (Some) Sleep Tonight.

Drums, Vocals and “(Some) Sleep Tonight” Guitar recorded at Retromedia Studios, Red Bank, NJ
Engineered by Adam Vaccarelli.
Synths, Loops, Sequencing and some backing vocals recorded in GABWorx, Studio B, New Egypt, NJ
Engineered by Greg Bullock

Produced by Greg Bullock
Mixed by Adam Vaccarelli at Retromedia Studios.
Mastered by Mark Trewella at Full Circle Mastering, Ashville, NC

https://gabworxllc.bandcamp.com/album/etiam

Desmond DoomSurf​-​Goth EP – My favorite Shoegaze is The Jesus and Mary Chain style surf Shoegaze. It makes sense I fell immediately in love with Australian surf goth with a haunting blend of New Order Movement and the slushy cascading bop of The Ventures. A lot to get lost in here, people need to know about this.

Surf-Goth EP | Desmond Doom (bandcamp.com)

Secret ShameAutonomy – Currently out on tour with one of my favorite modern darkscene bands Vision Video I am constantly amazed by the slippery edges and bursting intensity of the NC band. I’m just blown away by how many sonic emotions are crammed into this firefly jar. The haunting lilt of the vocals, the gnashing wolf jaw guitars, the shifty darting baselines. The production here is razor sharp. Anyone who says modern music lacks complexity is not listening to this. 10/10.

Recorded at Drop of Sun June 2021 and February 2022 by Alex Farrar
Mixed by Alex Farrar
Produced by Secret Shame and Alex Farrar
Mastered by Carl Saff

Cover art by Lena and Aster
Cover photo by Jonny Leather
Layout by Nathan

credits

released October 28, 2022

Lena – Vocals, synth
Aster – Guitar, backing vocals on Zero
Matthew – Bass, synth, backing vocals on Hide, additional guitar on Accelerate and Pink Staircase
Nathan – Drums

Additional guitar and backing vocals on Hide by Lemon Malandra

Autonomy | Secret Shame (bandcamp.com)

METAMORPH (Margot Day)Kiss of the Witch – Lovely new shadowhouse from New York with the captivating Margot Day and produced by Erik Gustafson of (Adoration Destroyed). This is wispy ghost grind, club music with a captivating cyclone of soul circling the abyss. I love hearing Erik’s fingerprints behind Margot’s storytelling and delivery. A powerful combo to fill the room behind your cauldron.

Kiss of the Witch | METAMORPH (Margot Day) | Metamorph (Margot Day) (bandcamp.com)

Tears for ʇhe DyingEyes Wide Open in the Dark – I have an upcoming interview with the raw stalking intensity from the Georgia batcave project Adria Stembridge. The purple flame fury of her truth will make the hair on your arms stand up. You can really hear the devotion to early goth sounds in every track. Blood runs down the walls of my vision when I play this EP. A wandering chaos surrounded by tendrils or The Cure Pornography and sinister siren vocals full of Switchblade Symphony. One of those bands I really look forward to seeing live to fully appreciate

Eyes Wide Open in the Dark | Tears for ʇhe Dying (bandcamp.com)

KMFDMHY​Ë​NA – So this isn’t a band that needs my support. One of the well known voices in Industrial music. I recently saw them for this tour in Pontiac while seeing Bradley Bills of CHANT. This album brings you much of what you love if you are a fan of KMFDM. Bonfire bright drum beats overlayed with trash compactor crushing guitars. I think the biggest change from the KMFDM of my youth is the maturity of Sasha’s voice. It is a more mellow growl without losing the glistening sharp metal.

HYËNA | KMFDM (bandcamp.com)

Kali DreamerOctober Requiem: 1988 – Derek Christopher turned me on to this Columbus OH artist who is doing a truly unique blend of old school goth and hip hop cadence with a macabre edge. I was immediately hooked, the poetry of the lyrics with the truthful confidence of cadence. You can’t mistake the terror rap elements of Esham in the dark lyric style but the talent and beauty of Kali’s vocals add a modern and gorgeous element. I was truly floored by the quality of this. I just don’t hear enough to suprise me with it’s uniqueness anymore. This album achieved that.

Favorite Track: Hellbender – This was relatable, bouncing, heavy concept gorgeous flow. The guitar was a perfect contrast. Everything about this fusion sound is pure chef kiss.

October Requiem: 1988 | Kali Dreamer (bandcamp.com)

Review Of The Burying Kind “Tragic Airwaves”

This project will always strike a special chord in my heart. In 2020 my cat Freyja was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in her leg. It was a really dark time for me. She got an operation and I am overjoyed to report she is doing wonderful. When it happened A ton of generous souls in this scene stepped up to help me with a benefit album to offset costs. So many in fact I started running out of space. So I started pairing up artists for collaboration. One of those pairings was Chicago Industrial percussion master Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves) and romantic goth crooner Scott-David Allen (A Covenant Of Thorns). The team up started as a drop-dead gorgeous remix of “Dahlia“, then blossomed into a friendship which produced the 2020 self titled EP that became my favorite shoegaze album of the year “The Burying Kind

A Covenant of Thorns – Dahlia (The Joy Thieves Remix) | Sounds and Shadows | The Amaranth (bandcamp.com)

The Burying Kind is Scott-David Allen and Dan Milligan.

Additional musicians:
James Scott -bass guitar and backing vocals
Bobby Simons -bass guitar

Special thanks to Laura Glyda

Recorded at A Handful of Nothing Studio, Smoulderman Studio, & Populist Recording

All songs written, recorded and produced by The Burying Kind
Mixed by Dan Milligan at Smoulderman Studio
Mastered by James Scott at Populist Recording & Mastering

▶︎ Tragic Airwaves | The Burying Kind (bandcamp.com)

I may be too close to this record. Enraptured by the story surrounding it. I can’t help but be struck by the staggering beauty and truth of it. It was this thing I got to watch grow and refine from infancy into something that mattered. Something that transcended genre and the music business. An abstract feeling that wells within you in solitary moments, a place of memory and blurry edges. This 12-track full length is a solitary lighthouse on a grey shore with Scott-David‘s romantic tragic poetry delivered with piercing emotional impact. The music is layered and complex for decerning listeners to unravel. I love nothing more in this high-speed age than hearing the time and intent that went into an artistic concept. It’s a presence and weight that gives every listen a reverence.

Favorite Tracks:

Coming Through – I know, picking the single first is lame, but this is absolutely gorgeous. The drums here are an absolute masterwork of movement. Scott-David’s voice is an expansive whisper that grows and pleads a self-reflective honesty that offers true soul.

Explode – Something about the frantic nature of this track really speaks to me. The drums have a front edge attack in the verse that allows the chorus to spread like liquid mercury in a sunbeam. It’s the extreme dynamics of emotion without ever raising the volume or tempo that gives it a special power.

Overall: This is an album for connoisseurs. For fans of My Bloody Valentine and The Cure a like. It is a place for diving into mystery and unraveling the depths of something that doesn’t come simple in a world where everything is designed not to make you think harder. We used to rejoice in music that made us swim beneath the surface. It’s time to rejoice in it once again.

Bands You Should Know In 2022 That Won’t Cost As Much as Depeche Mode.

So the last week I have heard a ton of people talking about the insane ticket prices of the new Depeche Mode tour. Now I have been lucky enough to see the life affirming spectacle of Depeche Mode and David Gahan “Paper Monsters” and everyone who can, should see it. It is truly one of those goosebump shows from a band that boasts a four-decade catalog. Gahan can still FULLY pull off the leather vest. While I saw a lot of folks complaining about the post Capitalism ticket prices, I didn’t hear nearly enough discussion of exciting bands in the genre you can see live in their prime for under $20. Let’s talk about some hot new releases now.

IAMTHESHADOWThe Wide Starlight – Things you can always count on from a new IAMTHESHADOW release: 1) Pedro delivering the richest baritone in modern darkwave. 2) Soul baring poetry 3) Perfect precision of mix and master. Everything else about the sound is completely in the air. “The Wide Starlight” is an expansive new sounds full of twinkling stars over violet plains. The album drops on 10/14 and marks a turn towards hope which my soul has hungered for. Cold Transmission Music has been a fertile creative ground for Portugal’s premier darkscene act.

▶︎ The Wide Starlight | IAMTHESHADOW (bandcamp.com)

IAMTHESHADOW
Pedro Code – Voices, Synths, Guitar and Programming
Herr G. – Electric Bass
Vitor J. Moreira – Synths

Track 7: Voices & Lyrics by Kristien Cools (Splendidula)

Favorite Tracks :

The Wide Starlight – Choosing the title track seems a tad on the nose , but what can you do when a song of this beauty and staggering power comes along. It is the perfect representation of what is special about this album from every previous IAMTYHESHADOW release.

I Am The Dark (Feat: Kristen Cools) – As someone who has sang a duet with Pedro, I know how intimidating it can be. This was a perfectly composed blend from the Belgium artist. Spiritual, sinister, and a wonderful halfway point to break the tone.

Overall: It is so difficult to make a statement like this about an artist I am so deeply invested in. I need to inhale this record deeply several more times. On it’s face “The Wide Starlight” has the potential to be my favorite IAMTHESHADOW album.

Panic PriestPSYCHOGORIA – Speaking of world class baritone voices Jack never disappoints. New album out 10/21/22 on Negative Gain featuring the crooning beauty and slashing guitar mastery. The Chicago based songsmith always layers the club friendly dance beats with a healthy dose of guitar accents to make a truly distinctive blend. The tempo here is a fast paced bop, but the bottom of a chasm of the vocals give every track a sense of soul.

Favorite Track: Dead Lust – I suppose some of the other tracks have more pop appeal. This one just oozes with raw vampire sensuality. TYhe vocals split the sky and have a Dead Or Alive horror vibe I can’t let go of.

▶︎ PSYCHOGORIA | Panic Priest (bandcamp.com)

Sapphira VeeAscent – New remix EP from NY electronic lounge artist Sapphira Vee on Distortion Records. Featuring reimagines by several up and comers as well as scene legends. I love the eclectic blend here from Texas Doomdustyrial artists Dread Risks to Michigan lightening waterfall producer Chiasm. The common thread in all of Saphira’s releases are the honesty of tone that bleeds truth with every delivery.

Favorite Track: Metamorph (Dogtablet Mix ) – Martin captured this amazing slow motion crawl across the floor feeling for this track. It really highlights the higher range of Sapphira’s voice which she often uses sparingly and lends more power when leaned on.

Ascent | Sapphira Vee (bandcamp.com)

DogtabletAshes – New 5 song EP from Industrial legends Martin King and Jared Louche. I had the pleasure of attending a listening party at the Post Punk Industrial museum where Martin provided some background for these songs. I love the grinding and deliberate nature of these tracks. Track 3 “Careless” Feat: Coral Scere is a haunting and memorable collaboration that shows how Martin continues to get the best out of everyone he works with.

Favorite Track: 16 Times – Martin has the ability to call on top tier vocal collaborators, I keep finding myself draw most to his own growing vocal confidence. This song is a spinning tendril of dream and imagery.

▶︎ Ashes | Dogtablet (bandcamp.com)

JUNKSISTA0A – This German based band on COP International is one I haven’t given nearly enough press to. Every time I hear them I am absolutely floored by the razor wire combination of owning a space in your head pop melodies and the way too cool to hang out with me punk rock attitude. It just drips with effortless expression and after party in the know. It is hard to hear this and not feel inside the most exclusive salon where everyone is invited. Speaking of invited the album features a who’s who of guest talent.

Guest Artists: Black Nail Cabaret , Die Krupps, Vaselyne , Omnimar, Helalyn Flowers.

Favorite Track: Fuck Your Pretty Face – I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite on this masterclass album. This is an unequivocal JAM. The drums, the guitar wail, the visceral vocal delivery. It’s one of those tracks I could never tire of.

We will have an interview with Junksista coming soon.

0A | JUNKSISTA (bandcamp.com)

Review of Rohn-Lederman “Rage”

We love music because it has the power to change the energy inside us. To enhance, diminish, alter, the sounds and stories built by artists change our emotional chemistry. Emileigh Rohn (US/ Chiasm) and Jean-Marc Lederman (Belgium/ The Weathermen, Ghost & Writer) have found a balance in their own artistic chemistry beginning in 2021 Venus Chariot on COP International which has continued to refine in a centrifuge into a potent emotional catalyst. With this newest release “RAGE!” they have bottled a frantic and aerodynamic monorail careening over changing landscapes.

All tracks are:
Emileigh Rohn: vocals and lyrics
Jean-Marc Lederman: music and production

Except “Pets” written and composed by Perry Farrell, Stephen Perkins, Martyn LeNoble and Peter DiStefano

I would consider myself a coinsurer of the duo’s collaboration. How is RAGE! different from the previous releases? By being the culmination of a series of experiments to produce a sleeker, faster, more agile vehicle. To refine the fuel of Emileigh‘s lyrics into something that burns hotter with honesty and volatility. The songs all contain a defiance and anger. Not a heavyweight clumsy, smashing anger. A precise, defined glowing fury of purpose. The details and subtilty of the music are built like a virus in their elegance and destructive nature. The vocals hold a sharp edge without bubbling over. It adds a tension that forms the shading of the grand design.

▶︎ RAGE! | Rohn – Lederman (bandcamp.com)

Top Tracks: (Honorable Mention) – I’ll start with the Porno For Pyros cover which was a song I always loved and had forgotten about. This interpretation found a perfect home amongst the core concept on the album. Emileigh really captured the dark levity of Perry Farrel. I really enjoyed the rising tempo as a contrast to the underwater quaalude of the original.

This Ones My Own – I love the confrontational power here. The train is leaving the station, rising off the ground, gaining speed. There is a staggering gentle tapping baseline, a light contrast I found to be haunting. Awesome 99 Degrees Susanne Vega vibes. A winding track so smooth it never touches the ground.

March Right Through The Fire – This track marches forward with an unyielding determination. Full of pride and courage it treads through heavy water. The kind you courage you need to convince yourself to believe. The music is a constant motion machine of stabbing probes. With equal and opposite reaction. Something about the tempo and hint of snarl in the vocals has this song in my rotation.

Rohn – Lederman has once again proven they have a special connection and collaboration which is on my automatic buy list until proven otherwise.

Review of Curse Mackey “Immoral Emporium”

Curse Mackey has been has been a force in this scene for decades as a collaborator. Pigface, Evil Mothers, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult all bare the stamp of his powerful vocals and intense delivery. In 2019 he released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism” with instant critical success. September 9th we received his sophomore offering “Immoral Emporium” full of personal dissection and arterial spray.

Photo by Krain Fish

The spiritual successor to Instant Exorcism moves beyond the prophesy of a post capitalism hellscape and dives into a meat and bone reality. A bizarre of debauchery and barter where every sin in imagination is on display and the price of souls are always plummeting. In a time of surface shimmer and digital commodity the Immoral Emporium casts a sharp reflection that burns to the core of the decay of empathy in the modern age. Instant Exorcism was raw and biting, a mad profit’s fervor. Immoral Emporium is a cleaner enticing beacon. Drawing the listener to their own corruption with shining golden salesmanship.

Produced by Curse Mackey and Chase Dobson
Mixed by Chase Dobson at 1156HQ, Denver CO
Mastered by Ken Marshall, HiWatt Labs, Vancouver BC
Recorded at Omen View Studio, Austin TX
and Tarantula Ranch, Tarantula TX
Vocals recorded at Scary American Studios, Austin TX

Favorite Tracks:

The Dead Fingers Talk – Curse really shows his vocal range and lyrical depth in this Violator 90s flavored dance banger with light footed cadence. The imagery and liquid tempo are an immersive ride.

Immoral Imperium – The title track is a stripped down culmination of the core concept. I love the way it isolates and accents the sharply defined power of the vocals. The music is under constant assault from crackling Broken sample noise to bleed a chaotic backdrop for the lyrics. An instant banger with soul.

Curse Mackey (bandcamp.com)

Curse will soon be out on a west coast tour with Clan of Xymox and A Cloud of Ravens catch this amazing album preformed live. As well as an upcoming interview on Sounds and Shadows Youtube Page. The follow up to a first successful album is always a frightening idea. Curse Mackey has managed to build and grow on a narrative that is keeping darkwave music fresh and challenging.