Always a chaotic and wonderful time of year. I’ve had a huge focus in my review writing lately around singles. I think the whole industry has felt a shift in this direction. That is why it is important to take time and celebrate artists who release full albums tied together with an idea. To recall times sitting together around the speakers with friends pulling apart the strands of lyrics and ideas. Before I work on the Oct Darkscene Singles Chart, I am going to dive into some more expansive work driving my mind. Be on the lookout as well for some exciting new interviews on our youtube channel. If you like what we do, feel free to support with our Patreon page below
genCAB – Signature Flaws – Philly based industrial synthwave full of jagged glass and insight on the human condition. had a new October release. David Dutton is a master at surfing the razor edge between pop hook and unnerving dissonance. Infectious drum beats that hang just outside of time, never allowing you to feel comfortable. Combining this with clear delivery and an emo cadence. A unique vision within a genre full of repetition. With this 3rd full album release I am ecstatic to see David lean further into the abstract edges that makes his music connect.
Album Flow: It really fits together. The sound has over-arching themes but the dynamics really take a journey. I also love the emphasis placed on lyrics. These songs really let you into the mind of the author, flaws and all. This is a record you can really feel the intent, and attention to detail that went into subtitle sounds. The order of delivery holds true meaning.
Signature Flaws II – This song is a total masterpiece, the perfect break and epiphany moment in the middle of the record. Beautiful soft fur behind razor teeth. The background of strange electronic harpsichord tones make perfect accents.
Cancer Causes Life – Just shimmering with spinning violet light. Gorgeous vocal shifts to really make this slow jam feel full of movement. As a song writer I just love to hear this level of craft and soul.
VNV Nation – Electric Sun – I recently got to do an interview with Rowen which will be released soon. This album came out April 2023 and has been spinning around my rotation ever since. This album has a dark color to it. Every track feels large in scope and sets a tone of impending doom. In true VNV nature, it also is a call for unity and hope. A desire to face this darkness hand and hand. The synth banks form towering shapes that rise in terrifying representations of order. The narrative quality of the lyrics and the expressive delivery of the vocals leave me feeling like a spectator in some grand playhouse. Watching the protagonist belt his sorrowful story to the back of the wall. Is that to say there aren’t club bangers? Of course not, the energy is infectious, stomp your feet. Just also take the time to sit on a rooftop in the evening air and reflect on the world rolling by while you take in every word.
The Game – A scathing view of the post Capitalist world. The gorgeous Peter Gabriel cadence makes the message here feel enormous. The back beat on the drums is a marching rhythm, constantly driving forward like the game itself. The house always wins. This one got under my skin.
Run – 100% Bonafide BANGER. The tempo is slow and crawling but this is a boot stomping through the concrete with water spraying overhead from the sprinklers as you spin in time. It builds you up, it breaks you down. The breakdown at the four minute mark is an emotional outpour into a sky splitting elation. I felt like my soul ran to the top of a mountain.
VEiiLA – Sentimental Craving For Beauty – VEiiLA is pronounced “Vay-la.” It’s a stylized reference to a Baltic mountain-dwelling demon that lures men into her cave by singing and then devours them. Don’t threaten me with a good time. A new album on Projekt Records sent to me by Sam which I feel headlong into. A delicate beauty with 90’s trip hop elements, including a sprinkling of Beth Gibbons in the vocal delivery. Twinkling light arpeggiation taking us to an other worldly fairy fire mystery. This album makes great use of the “whisper factor”. When you shout something to the rooftops people natural lose focus. When you whisper a secret, everyone wants to lean in to be part of the inner circle. Veiila makes you lean in close, hanging on that whisper, then explodes in a shower of color. The flow of this whole record always leaves you shrouded in mystery. The other master stroke is the jazzy loose guitar winding clean and instinctive tendrils around that voice.
I Had A Dream – This song is full of magic and dark whimsey. You follow that lovely sound into a shadowy place and suddenly you are lost. Menacing low synth bass sounds bounce against the tiny bell sound sparkles. This track is a expert class on how to build tension, hit a peak, and explode with energy. The whole record excels at this but this track hits you right in the iris.
Common Decency – Nice glitchy witchaus drum beat that really frees the vocals to shine. Range and soul in equal measure. One of those tracks that would be at home in almost every situation.
Black Angel – LASCIVIOUS – I know you were all starting to think, Ken, are you only reviewing electronic trance and future pop? Well count on Matt Vowles, Corey Landis, and Maneesha Jones to hit us with a hot dose of gothic rock wrapped in tight leather on the back of a roaring engine. The title drips with danger and sensuality. Cracking organic drum snaps. Overlapping guitar lines weaving around a race track. I really enjoy the way Corey’s vocals fit a very Eldrich rhythm while having a lip curl snarling tone of his own. This record runs around a lot of trad goth elements then sprays them down with late 80’s LA hedonism. The effect becomes a blend of stalking shadows and care free excess.
She’s My Suicide – Loving this filthy guitar sound with a slow Concrete Blonde crawl. Landis uncorks a mixture of burning beam and rusty metal. This song was made for loud club speakers.
Killer – The drums in the opening here scream Banger. Guitar riff is a drag race right down your throat. Jones does a nice chorus harmony here sprinkling some Vision Thing spice.
daddybear – IA MALI EN – A new release from Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) where he again teamed up with French revolutionary artist Marie (Grabyourface) to make fog machine sensual grindwave. The pairing produces something I can best describe as modern. Because there really isn’t anything like it. Glitterbomb gold raining on a floor of midnight epoxy. Marie’s vocals drip a haunting whisper muffled by a lit Gauloises dangling from their lip. It is so effortless, lounging within the slashing beat.
Bedless Bones – Mire of Mercury – Brand new record from my favorite band from Estonia. Kadri Sammel is a unique vocal experience in her timing and enchanted forest delivery. This record seems to follow itself in reaction like rippling currents on still water. Every shift setting up another variation. This isn’t an album for the thumping club speakers. This is a record for an exclusive party with friends on the rooftop overlooking ancient ruins. A shimmering atmospheric hallucination that echos faintly in your memory.
Blood Citadel – This track stands out for it’s immersive Projekt Records world beat transportive nature. Running barefoot through the night through ancient ruins listening to the whistling breath of yesterday’s spirits. Great use of toms thrumming to a build. It makes me feel lost with cold wind biting at my face.
Brand new single and video from Baltimore suicide rock artist STR Helvete! After a two year hiatus Helvete Inc. returns with new collaborator “DrumDaddy” Dan Milligan (Joy Thieves) and producer Erik Gufstafson (Adoration Destroyed) to unleash a savage electronic entropy doused in guitar driven gasoline. Briming with life and corruption this creeping track boils over and fills the dancefloor with green fog. STR’s voice cuts through the static with a subtitle melody.
Lyrics: Revel in this ignorance Confess my sins, kneel and repent But this ever present nothingness is eating me away Kill for unseen entities to justify existence Hold onto faith but drowning in the lies
What is it that you pray for? The Godhead What is it that you prey for? The Godhead
released November 3, 2023
A Major Arcana work Produced and mixed by Erik Gufstafson Mastered by STR Helvete Recorded in The Void
Dan Milligan– Drums STR Helvete– Music, lyrics, vocals
This year is flying by, I can’t believe October is already here. Time once again for our singles chart to highlight some of the best songs released in September voted on by our group of Artists/DJs/Reviewers/Promotors/and Super Fans. Hearing these tracks are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse as well as raise awareness of amazing new bands in the scene that don’t always show up in other charts. If you or someone you know has a single released in Oct in the broad Darkscene genre. Join the group and add it.
Matt Hart – Deep Down City
Black Rose Burning – Fight
Stoneburner – The Great Filter
GoFight – Machine Rock
The Waning Moon – Shred My Wings
Curse Mackey – Dead Fingers Talk
Sapphiria Vee – What It Was
Night Nail – Narcoleptic Dream Catcher
Choke Chain – Mortality
Gazelle Twin – Black Dog
MATT HART – Deep Down City – London Industrial Metal artist Matt Hart is no stranger to the top of the S & S Darkscene chart. I love how every single has a cyberpunk back story. This track would be the perfect scene builder for one of my old ShadowRun Table Top games. A new neon world buried beneath the destruction of the past. Cybernetically enhanced 6 inch platform boot stomps. Designer drugs and laser cycles hugging the corners of plastic streets. Razor production and imaginative concepts.
We reached a place so deep that, All the light has left the darkness, We source a new found light a Strength to fuel our journeys process
A new world built for us, A city designed to survive, Honour, pride, and sacrifice, This is the way of the Deep Down City
Main chamber to the stairwells, Entertainment and the sleep holes, Trains and stations, living districts, All together survival instinct.
Deep, down below We see the glow our home so far down
This is the way, survive the day, Take it from me we’ve paved our way.
2) Black Rose Burning – Fight – It’s so great to see awesome people get the recognition they have long deserved. George Grant from Brooklyn has been a fixture in this scene for decades and people are starting to come around to his top tier voice, immersive songwriting, and complex technique. A science fiction story set in this albums space age world. I love how this tale zooms in on a relationship. In this one a co-dependent one. I think it’s really relatable for most of us at some juncture in life. George’s voice is such a breath of fresh air for it’s unique flavor in a baritone post punk world. It’s funny, as I read the lyrics I built a story of an alien parasite which is both keeping a stranded spaceman alive, while slowly consuming him. A race against time for rescue.
t’s stranger still, to taste a bitter pill And there’s no lines, it’s better to lie all of the time Now I can’t feel you anymore
Cho: Sometimes – we try to forget it all and never make a change Sometimes – we’d rather believe it, and just take the blame Sometimes – we deceive, and we lie, to ourselves Sometimes – it’s brutally painful to let it go – I know
Verse 2 It’s your state of mind, that’s seems so unkind Now there’s no love, just push and shove, off came the gloves And I can’t heal you
Cho: Sometimes – we try to forget it all and never make a change Sometimes – we’d rather believe it, and just take the blame Sometimes – we deceive, and we lie, to ourselves Sometimes – it’s brutally painful to let it go – I know
Bridge: I tried to make you happy But the truth kept shining through I tried to make it happen Dead and Broken, words unspoken so where do we go to now?
Cho: Sometimes – we try to forget it all and never make a change Sometimes – we’d rather believe it, and just take the blame Sometimes – we deceive, and we lie, to ourselves Sometimes – it’s brutally painful to let it go – I know
3) Stoneburner – The Great Filter – Title track from Baltimore sound sculpture and dear friend Steven Archer on COP International Records. I am adoring the emphasis on narrative focus for our top three songs this month. This album and song focused on a controversial theory by Robin Hanson. I love the slow walk 90s bass opening charged down by glitchy cyber rap. The tempo takes it’s time as layers of chaos and tension pile on to a white-hot barrel fire under a bridge.
4) Go Fight – Machine Rock (MekaBeat) – The top of this chart has been full of dear friends and all around awesome folk. So I am excited to see Chicago Industrial Legend Jim Marcus picked near the top. This remix album which features a ton of top talent doing remixes of the June single. This one has a fun 70s shock rock inside a 3d video pinball game flavor. Gyration and hip checks encouraged for this dance floor banger. There is something special about Jim’s “Industrial” voice that takes me there every time.
5) The Waning Moon – Shred My Wings – A newer band comprised of two veterans Ariel Maniki (Ariel Maniki and The Black Halos) and Zac Campbell (The Kentucky Vampires). The combination explores more electronic ground for each of the goth-rock artists. You are still getting a heavy dose of classic Zach early batcave riffs. Ariel croons like a creature risen from the depths dripping with pageantry. This project really reminds you why goth was so cool in the first place. Before the word got so big you forgot what it meant.
6) Curse Mackey – Dead Fingers Talk (Electric Heresy Remix by A Cloud of Ravens) – Currently out on tour Austin TX Industrowave beat poet Curse Mackey is remixed by shooting star Brooklyn post punk band A Cloud Of Ravens. The stairslide bass walk lays a thick path for Curse to fling a barrage of venom from. The idea of creeping zombified flesh swarming towards you was really taken to hear for this reimagining.
7) Sapphira Vee – What it Was – This months chart is so full of amazing artists I love dearly, so it is fitting Sapphira has found her way into this list. The Rochester NY electro sorceress is swirling energies above her head and surrounded by a coven of top tier remixers on the Distortion Records release. I really love the confidence and cadence of this track. Soulful Missy Elliot energy fired over a cool spinning disc. Loving the way she has harnessed her voice and leaned into her truth.
8) NIGHT NAIL – Narcoleptic Dream Catcher – Berlin based atmospheric obtenebrationwave band with the first single on their upcoming Metropolis release featuring everyone’s favorite euro darkscene producer Pete Burns. This opening bass riff is sleek, wet, and captivating. Brandon shows his range and dynamic with these vocals. I love the clarity of his dipping baritone that leaves the overwash reverb in the 80’s and pairs perfectly with what I assume are Valentina backup vocals. A smooth retrospective with newfound complexity.
9) Choke Chain – Mortality – One of the most fiercely honest voices in modern electro-hardcore. This new single is a visceral dive into self confrontation and the horror of depression. It’s a nice build and texture on the music, but Mark’s voice cuts through everything to stand an inch from your face forcing you into his raw reality.
I can’t take it anymore
posessed by death destroying my life every second gets worse it keeps getting worse
dying in your sleep or dying in pain most likely in pain most likely in pain
why do I have to die? im just trying to live
why can’t I just die? it hurts me to live
each minute that passes theres so many who die and at some point that will be you gone forever
cast into nothingness no way to know you existed every thought every memory all for nothing
10) Gazelle Twin – Black Dog – I knew very little about this UK band but I was instantly blown away. A quirky shadow pop with whispered menace and electronic hand drums. True abstract nightmare fuel lit by the glow of analog synths. At 2 minutes 53 seconds it explodes as the dog breaks it’s chain to charge you with frothing chaos. I genuinely regret this was the last song I listened to before bed. Pray for me.
As always, if you or someone you know is releasing a single in October in the broad darkscene genre. Feel free to post it on my Patreon or in the Facebook group. We are always looking to discover the best in new dark music.
I love this extended dance vibe in contrast to the usual auditory architecture of Berlin based Vlimmer. Alexander leads a teeming electro chorus to the desolate crumbling dance floor to stomp through the apocalypse.
“Höhenluft” is a 9-minute techno adventure that meanders through an atmospheric soundscape touching the industrial and post-punk genre. Originally recorded during the sessions for Vlimmer’s latest album, “Zerschöpfung” (released Aug 25), it now stands for its own, widening the sound of the ever-changing Vlimmer chameleon.
One of the great indicators of the Goth Rennaissance we are experiencing is the rise of more and more new festivals. The amount of talent currently in the darkscene added to the return of many legacy bands have led to great value for fans. These festivals have become goth summer camps to meet up with music scene friends often only interacted with online. In the last three years one that I always here praised by bands from around the world is Absolution Fest in Tampa Bay Florida from promotor/dj Mark Paradise from Communion After Dark and co promotor Pete Olen of Endoxa Booking. I think two things have lead to Absolution Fest’s success. 1) They place a focus on fresh up and coming bands rather than only having legacy headliners. 2) Positive people above name recognition. Everyone one I know who has played this festival raves about how every band there becomes friends and lifts each other up. This attitude and positive energy bleeds over into the crowd and gives everyone the sense of connection and community the scene has longed for.
The list of bands this year is staggering. I will go through some of the highlights along with links and information. Starting with the main even page below.
Kanga – Once again from the city of angels electronic glitter napalm pop Kanga is an experience not to be missed. Deeply respected in the genre this is glorious textural production you feel in your bones. New Album out October 6th.
Visceral Anatomy – The Alter ego of one of my favorite IL bands Wingtips. This incarnation of the duo place the lyric writing and singing on Hannah for a wonderfully different feel. I love the way their story is being told through a different lens.
Aeon Rings – Florida band I recently made song of the day and reminded myself I need to listen to more. Fierce EDM with Davey Partains piercing lightning quick vocals. They also have a new album out in Oct.
Last Grasp – Florida goth trio I had never heard before this review. First thing that grabbed me, what an amazing jazzy walking goth bassline. When you lay the foundation this well Epiphania it is easy to build on. Matthew DeFeis provides a nice rich Eldrichesque baritone vocal to round out a lovely trad goth feel. I’ll be looking for more.
Panic Priest – The magnificent Chicago darkwave crooner that makes every show feel like an intimate experience. violet beam guitar rifts, clarifying synths, and Jack’s top tier vocals are guaranteed to impress.
Double Eyelid – A dear friend Ian Revell coming from Toronto. They also understand how to embrace the camp of darkness. The songs all have razor hooks and interesting stores. This is a band that NEEDS more attention.
Black Rose Burning – One of the most underrated talents in our scene George Grant from Brookland. I’m so glad to see major festivals start to recognize their talent. They just dropped a new album “Ad Astra” Mastered by: Jason Corbett (Actors) and it is nothing short of breath taking. George is the musical genius of goth Peter Gabriel.
Empathy Test – The standout London band that has shot to worldwide notoriety with their dreamy emotive narrative style of songwriting. Another band I am yet to see live but that I can’t wait to. This is a band with headliner energy travelling across the ocean to delight American audiences.
WINGTIPS – The previously mentioned Illinois band also preforming Thursday as Visceral Anatomy. Perfect dream chaos synth music that somehow gets better every time I see them live. That is really saying something as I have seen them 7 times and each one my jaw drops and the connection and power of their performance. If you have never witnessed Vincent and Hannah do yourself a favor.
Helix – Amazing electronic team up of Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) & talented solo producer Mari Kattman. The married couple collaborate seamlessly to create steamy cascading electro art. I love the parts, I love the whole, I love getting lost in these songs.
BlakLight – LA darkpop darting between light and shadow. I always love the Peter Hook (Revenge) shadowsynth vibes I get from this band. I have never seen them live but I’m sure the floor will be pulsing.
NITE – The amazing Mendes brothers from Texas who flutter on the wind between post punk and synth pop. Always icy razor-sharp production and gorgeous glam vocals. A band I keep hearing the growth of with every release.
Additional shout out to Obscura Undead our dear friends in the scene and sponsor.
Obscura Undead is a collective of goth creators passionate about new and obscure goth, darkwave, post-punk, and other dark alternative music. Evolving and changing with the chaos is life and lead by Azy Bats, Obscura Undead celebrates five years of commitment to the members and bands of our dark scene, Tampa events, and inclusive goth-erie. We are a zine, a compilation, a mixtrack, a podcast, a promoter, a DJ group, and a supporter in love and darkness of all Goth has to offer.
Time again for the Darkscene Singles Chart. Where members of the S & S Facebook and Patreon group of DJs, Artists, Superfans, Reviewers, and Labels vote on the top songs released in August. The songs can be anything in the broad Darkscene genre. We have an amazing collection of music lovers in the group who always lift up songs that captivate the heart, and often aren’t a focus for other charts.
Steven Archer – I Am The Walrus (Beatles Cover)
The Amaranth – Thighs
Ashes Fallen – Damn Me
Bestial Mouths – Road Of A Thousand Tears
Bellhead – Valentine
cEvin Key – The House That Tried To Kill Me
Unitcode:Machine (Feat Stabbing Westward) – Cold
Brides – Chalices
Black Rose Burning – Night Terrors
Vandal Moon – Satellite
Steven Archer – I Am The Walrus – The WolfLord has returned with a new solo single cover of the Beatles. You really don’t see enough Industrialdelic Beatles tunes and this was a big hit with our listeners. Buzzing outer darkness chaos exploding with pinpricks of colored light. This was always one of the Beatles strangest offerings and Steven pushes it right off the cliff into the mouth of an exploding Katju Seabeast.
2) The Amaranth – Thighs – I know what you are thinking. Ken, you won second place in your own poll. (Nudge nudge wink wink). Well perhaps this is the one arena where a new Amaranth single can compete against the heavy hitters. I refuse to think that. I love this song. It’s sleezy, I got to dust off my sexy growl. The concept of passing out after playing a show and waking up to find a perfect imprint of your makeup pallet on your partners inner thigh was one that resonated with me. I will not apologize for increasing the number of songs in the world about going down on folks. Lovely cover art by Hemlock. Expert Mastering by Pete Burns. I love Kam’s live drums mixed with their electronic beat.
3) Ashes Fallen – Damn Me – California Goth Rockers with a slamming new single fresh off their appearance at the Murder Of Crows Fest in NYC. Loving the bouncing 80s guitar vibes mashed against The Cult style dark rock. Michelle Perry brings more confidence and gusto to every new release. Cover Art by Michelle Perry. Mastering by the legend Gordon Young. James Perry has put together an all star team and their future keeps getting brighter.
4) Bestial Mouths – Road Of A Thousand Tears – I talked about this upcoming release during the Negative Gain Records interview. How excited they were that Rhys Fulber himself had ask to be involved with the project. When I think of new bands doing something truly unique and fresh to stir an emotional experience the Sacramento, California band is at the top of my mind. Lynette Cerezo swirling chant resonates like a druid high priest lifting exaltation to the power of the dark forest. This track is one of those you can get truly lost in. The craft of the strings, the exploding percussion. I want this song as the intro to the next great warrior hymn period piece.
5) Bellhead – Valentine – New Video single from my favorite double bass duo from Chicago. We have an interview with them releasing soon. This track is Ivan’s voice at it’s most sensual and frightening. Karen gives a perfect Kim Deal call and answer. The piano is a gentle intimacy that highlights the edges and makes this song live rent free in my mind.
6) cEvin Key – House Tried To Kill Me – cEvin Key is a legend. He was in Skinny Puppy. So no wonder his new release got deserving attention on our chart. Off upcoming album Brap and Forth releasing Oct 6th the name is certainly apt. This feels like a private room electronic brap session in a trance rave. Textured organic meat walls pulsing and damp. I like that the flow isn’t something you need to follow. You sit in place and it creates a cyclone of motion around you.
7) Unitcode:Machine (Chris Hall Stabbing Westward Remix) – Cold – How does one improve on one of the spiciest dance singles of the year? Add Chris Hall, it was that simple. Texas Native Eric Kristoffer on COP International continues to show a flare for 90s dancedustrial hooks while maintaining a calm reserved elegance. Like a Jedi in a lightsaber battle. The song never needs to raise it’s voice to feel powerful. Soon to be headlining the Dark City Fest in New Orleans. If you get the chance to see Eric live, you must.
8) Brides – Chalices – August was a big month for Sounds and Shadows writers with Hide also making the chart for this new project Brides. I absolutely adore this direction for him. It’s inspired shadowfolk with contagious darkwave edges. His voice rings like the snarling lean elder wolf mouth crusted in glimmering ice. Brilliant and haunting, I can’t wait for more.
9) Black Rose Burning – Night Terrors – Always a fan of Brookland based Black Rose Burning. Right out the gate this new single has a guitar resonance that made me think of The Church “Reptile“. George croons and sears the back of the wall with vocal intensity. Haunting thoughts from the edge of an inky black universe.
10) Vandal Moon – Satellite – Another California band on the chart. Vandal Moon is one of those bands I always hear people I trust raving about and haven’t spent enough time with myself. This single is purple poison dripping from a dagger. Streams of spotlight synths panning around the room. This bassline thrums while hugging the curves. Nice rising decay on the vocals ala Pretty Hate Machine. Fun and briming with science fiction heist.
On their last tour, the tagline for the mighty Stoneburner was “industrial music like a goddamn firestorm,” and the live show lived up to that claim. The music of Steven Archer’s tribal-industrial setup Stoneburner is mechanical aggression with a sense of urgency, melodies to make one move their ass, not because they want to, but because they have to because the World Wolf itself is in pursuit. The project’s last album Apex Predator was a statement record, their first as part of a proper label, and now that statement is revisited with The Great Filter, a seven-song EP that isn’t finished kicking the listener’s teeth in, as if the listener is pre-Bloodline Roman Reigns and the music is Braun “I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU YET!” Strowman…
Perhaps I got swept up in the pro wrestling analogy, but the point is, The Great Filter, named for Robin Hanson’s potential solution to the Fermi paradox regarding extraterrestrial life, is an assault on the ears in the best ways.
“Narcissus” kicks off proceedings with a hearty bassline and Stoneburner’s signature layered vocals. It’s a powerful way to open the EP, barreling forward for a four-plus minute opening salvo that flows seamlessly into “Fair and Balanced.” Vocally, Archer is all over the place, with talk-sung, almost rapped verses before the refrain and command of “put your hands up,” almost making this song a spiritual successor to “Sellout” from the Apex Predator album. It’s an anthemic “all hands on deck,” with lyrics talking about the corrupt and warmongering nature of America, with the throughline being that it may be time to wipe the slate clean, as Archer sings in one of the earlier verses.
“Hard Crash Necropolis” feels like a love letter to Nineties electro-industrial, taking things in a dancier direction with elements of noise and a stronger sense of rhythm. Of everything in this EP, this might be the most club-friendly track, while remembering where it came from with the harsher electronic flourishes and features. Things go from dance to destruction with “Corvomancers,” a staccato-laden industrial rocker with loads of reverb and echo, making for a dreamier backdrop for the palm-muted guitars and Archer’s multiple vocal tracks to soar through. This song will definitely make my regular listening playlists before long.
Spoken word samples and acoustic guitars set “Generation Loss” into motion, haunting and shambling like the shell of its former self the America that Archer sings about has become. Elements of doom metal help to amp up the dread in this song, and while it wouldn’t be the first song I would show someone to introduce them to Stoneburner, it is one that appeals to me as a fan of metal music and of industrial music, as well as of things that lay just left of center. The title track is an abrasive and challenging one, though it would almost certainly get a dance floor going if given the chance, at least until the final third of the nearly five-minute track, in which pianos and different noise samples dominate the conversation until the fade.
The EP goes home on a cover of Psychedelic Furs’ “The Book of Days,” and this nod to the English post-punk group is a faithful one. While the original article has a bit more muddiness and grittiness to it, the Stoneburner rendition features a bit more of a dreamlike quality, a slightly more fantastical feel despite the heavier use of guitars than in the Furs’ version. It makes sense for Archer to give this late-Eighties classic the Stoneburner treatment, and it finishes off this seven-strong sortie that is The Great Filter on a high note.
My first introduction to Stoneburner was the Red in Tooth and Claw EP back in 2020, and every release I’ve heard since has only gotten stronger. Steven Archer has been in the music game for decades and is showing no signs of stopping, and we should feel blessed that that is the case. I don’t normally like doing superlatives or “best of the year,” but this is an essential listen, especially for the industrial fan that likes the music to beat back occasionally.
The Great Filter is available now via COP International.
I have not been doing a great job of releasing new reviews this summer. It is Bandcamp Friday so I thought I would play a bit of catchup on some of the amazing new music that has kept my Summer dark and cool. Goth/Industrial/Wave music is alive and well and as always I want to place a focus on new music that has touched my heart and inflamed my senses.
Black Rose Burning – Night Terrors – George Grant with a second new single from this hybrid genre project that continues to impress. George has a standout voice that has shown new facets of depth and clarity. The cover art and tone are a return to the science fiction passion resonant in the theme of BRB. The slow shooting star guitar rift gives shape to the frantic rhythm driving the track. I know Jason Corbett (Actors) is providing mastering for the upcoming album and I can’t wait to hear his vision of George’s story.
Obsidian – Collection 1 – I had the pleasure of seeing the Florida Death Rock band play live in Chicago in August. A band that is crackling with positive energy and overflowing with live performance emotion. When I got back home I immediately looked up this October 2022 compilation of their career to date. I hear a lot of passion for the core of original goth. A reverence for Pornography Cure, Acid Bath Alien Sex Fiend, for that early strain of darkness blended with the spark of creation. The compilation includes 2018-2020 15 tracks and a wide swath of styles.
Missy Mortis – Vocals & Guitar Kathy D. – Keyboards & Backup Vocals Dent A Gon– Bass & Backup Vocals Chuck Loose – Drums & Backup Vocal
A Swamp – You always need to start an album with a banger. Thunderclap bassline which really drives this song like a crashing wave. Sinful chanting vocals that come from the back of the room and pierce a veil of Barney Sumner guitar static. Draw them in before you knock them down. You can hear this was early material by the rawness of production, but the track is all hairpin turns and precision.
The Vultures Will Pick Your Bones – This is a high-speed decay. Kathy Diaz takes the vocal point like an enflamed banshee wailing a future demise. The punk rock gnashing teeth of these drums will have you flailing and processed. At the two-minute mark you hear a madman’s laugh and a blistering guitar solo that drives you into a brick wall.
Viracoacha – I love the resonant Cure guitar tone here. Missy unleashes a haunting Peter Murphy style vocal that completely channels the early goth flavor. I feel this one swelling in my chest. Punishing bass that comes from the inside out. I am memorized by how unhinged every song feels while reminded what careful attention went into each song writing decision.
This is definitely a band where the live performance tells the true tale. I got to have a quick interview at the show, but I promise you all we will have a full discussion with this up and coming talent soon.
Red Meat – Providence – Brand new double single release from the sordid electrofilth artist Rhys Hughes of Manchester. Freshly signed to Armalyte Records and ready to drag you into an underground world of unimagined debauchery. Rhys brings an unapologetic Queer courage and political napalm to both their songs and online persona. I always like to close my eyes and conjure an image the first time I hear a track. This is a dump truck full of green ooze caterwauling down the street splashing acid on the world as it teeters through every turn. Rhys flings the venom laced vocals at high velocity on a gatling gun percussion. It jumped up the bandcamp charts in a hurry for good reason.
Sapphira Vee – Fortune – NY shadow siren Sapphira Vee continues a steady flow of electronic cabaret on Distortion Records. This latest offering is in pre-release for Sept 8th. As always she puts a focus on collaboration and community with a bevy of top tier guest stars like Jean-Marc Lederman, Veronica Tam, Chava Sanberg, and Jim Marcus. Mixed and mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media, London UK. My first thought from track one is how much you can hear the craft work she put into her production and songwriting. A lot of effort went into very tiny details and it shines. A shimmering jazzy vocal cadence blended with Underworld electronica. Creating a lovely space between the triphop feel of her earlier releases. Powerful use of string synths that draw a memorizing line through the phrase.
What It Was – Hard not to choose this opening single. Opening with those gorgeous string sounds into a sharp drum attack and very early 2000s London feel. Sapphira’s voice is a slow amber whiskey swirling in a glass. Confident and center without overpowering. An effortless ownership that eases you in.
Last (Feat Jim Marcus) – As a huge fan of Jim’s voice, hearing him take on a sensitive beauty in the reflection of someone else’s music is amazing. I feel so much trust and collaboration in this track. usually when I think of Jim’s lyrics and voice it’s all sexy bear growls and slippery club feels. This is tender, sweet, beckoning.
Metamorph – Woo Woo (Feat: Adoration Destroyed) – NYC Synth Witch Margot Day is leaning into the autumn season and teaming with club thumper maestros Adoration Destroyed. Streaking through the sky on broomstick, cutting the violet fog, getting real high and getting witchy for us. The flute breakdown before two minutes if the perfect gust of breath. We all know how much I love my goth to be fun, and this is a Stevie Nicks riot.
Slighter – This Futile Engine– What makes California electro sonic visionary Colin Cameron stand out in a crowd so much? I think it is how he approaches music. It’s never with a plan to play out live, to pack a room. His songs are moving auditory dreams made solid. This translates into his career doing soundtracks for tv/movies. The latest title “This Futile Engine” rings so apt evoking imagery of a grinding mechanized monstrosity rolling over a dying world of post capitalism too enormous to support it’s own consumption. Colin pulled out all the stops from Brutal Resonance and beyond with guest artists who he pushed out of their comfort zone in every track.
Tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13 written by Colin Cameron Allrich (ASCAP) Track 2 lyrics and vocals by Craig Joseph Huxtable (SOCAN) Track 7 lyrics and vocals by Anastasia Poirier (BMI) Track 9 lyrics and vocals by Yvette Winkler, recording assisted by Roland Zwaga Track 11 lyrics and vocals by Tara Kimberly Saavedra (ASCAP)
Track 5 Vocals by Steven Seibold and TaraSaavedra
Track 9 Vocals by Yvette Winkler
Memory Corruptor – (Feat Steven Seibold and TaraSaavedra) – This one is broken sky slow grind with terrifying screaming vocals. Guess who is one of the greatest screamers in the game? Steven Seibold of Hate Dept. Blend this with the ethereal swamp whispers of Tara aka Morgue VVitch and you are left with a heady and unnerving brew. The production on this song really highlights the best of everyone.
Pulling Me Under – Previous winner on the S & S darkscene singles chart. This track showed a glorious new side to Craig’s voice. The music is a rumbling dance bop. Cold and captivating Craigs voice resonates with desperation seeping into cold water. Try not to move your whole body to this track.
This whole album is perfect to close your eyes and sink into a nightmare imagination journey.
Psyclon Nine – More To Hell – Los Angeles terrordustrial band has made this EP as mean and gritty as I can handle. It’s good to know where your edge is, and this one is mine. Released on goth/industrial legendary label Metropolis in May 2023 this is a follow up to the 2022 “Less To Heaven” with some heavy hitter remixes by Skold, Suicide Commando, Pitch Black, and more. This EP is all slithering shadows, and they are all holding wicked looking knives. One of those records I don’t listen to if i am hoping for a peaceful nights sleep. Double bass drum impact, cruel glitchy guitar fuzz, and vocals that lash around like a razor sharp forked tongue. This isn’t in my standard wheelhouse, but something done well that has a time and place in my heart. Enough that I have continued to come back and find the words.
Money Sex and Death (Suicide Commando Remix) – Sure this is one of the bigger names for the remixes, but there is a reason they have that name. This is explosive like a legion of demons assaulting the gates. Stomping in the viscous sludge in platform boots.
Stoneburner – The Great Filter – Lately I have been getting the feedback that I have a few artists that receive a constant stream of my bandwidth and I could search deeper for bands I don’t know yet. Steven Archer would surely be near the top of that list. The thing is, Steven keeps putting out incredible art, and it is always different. I’m not going to stop talking about it just because I have before. So here is a new EP on COP International with a hypothesis to question if the universe is as vast as it is, it seems mathematically likely other life exists. So why don’t we see it. Industrial music, which has always had strong ties to Science Fiction or prediction is at it’s best when not only tackling concepts like dancing, banging, and drinking. Opening with the frenzy beat Narcisus Steven does layered mesh vocals rich with a lip curl arrogance. Almost like an audiobook Steven is finding ways to tell stories by vocal inflection. Different characters in the Stoneburner world have emerged with distinct voices. Another intriguing aspect of The Great Filter is a return to complete production control in Steven’s studio. I think it creates a different energy and confidence to some of the COP releases featuring John Fryer.
Fair and Balanced – Punk infused political banger addressing class and corruption. This is vintage Stoneburner spitting dissent with even cadence and rhythm you feel in your bones. It’s hard not to put your hands up. Like a bouncing cyborg kangaroo charging towards you on fire.
Corvomancers – What a rich and complex tale, of carrion hybrid creatures picking the bones of a broken world. The vocal effects back off to let the clarity of the words breath. This chorus got stuck in my head. The Crow hybrid or shapeshifter has deep roots as a trickster in many mythologies. Blending that with an alternate reality or science fiction is a master stroke. I would love to see a graphic novel of this premise.
Trying to hit the ground running and get the Darkscene Singles Chart out right at the beginning of the month. As always this chart started as a way to highlight the best songs released in July, chosen by our group of DJs, Artists, Bands, promotors, reviewers, and superfans. Since it is not pay to play it highlights artists who may not get recognized in other charts with prominent legacy artists. If you have a single release in August, or know someone who does, add it to the Poll in the feature section of the Facebook group or on our Patreon. Congratulations to all these artists and please share to show support for the scene.
Microwaved (Feat: Eva X ) – Propaganda (Gaslight Remix by Paul Housin)
Male Tears – Sad Boy, Paint My Nails
Choke Chain – Burial
Missing In Stars – Fight – (Infacted Recordings Germany) – Milwaukee synthwave artists with this gorgeous and emotive declaration of passion and symmetry earns a much deserving spot at number one. Dan Guenther has truely outdone himself with the layered sculpture of poetry and light. The vocals are so unique and drip with honey. A truly magnificent example of songcraft that touched something deep inside me.
2) MATT HART – Rotations – London Fundustrial Neuromancer with a SLAMMING new single which ties borg technology to the bones of Front Line Assembly and pumps 1.21 gigawatts of juice to animate this old school concept in 2023. Music to automate your factory to.
3) Mark E Moon – Daemons – (Cold Transmission Music) – Our dear friends from The Isle Of Man back once again with this slinky duet with gnashing vinegar in Marks delivery smoothed over with Shelly Rourke‘s cascading light. Transe fueled Ultravox synth vibes replace the Trad goth I am accustom to. The course language and snarl replace the teeth usually found in Phil’s guitar and leave you feeling shredded by a rampaging monster. Stay on the path and beware of the moon.
4) Bestial Mouths – Slitskin – (Negative Gain) – This single has a real story behind it. We discussed it in our interview with Negative Gain who have their festival in New Orleans coming this month. Lynette Cerezo unmistakable vocal fury cuts through this hum and flickering machinery. Brant and Mathew have constructed a cyber city backdrop to hold the rising explosion of Lynette’s chant. Industrial legend Rhys Fulber added string arrangements, additional keyboards & programming. He was so moved by this project he went seeking them out to be involved. This single paves the way for the album out August 11th and it will be a ground shaker.
5) The Bleak Assembly – A Night Like This – A wonderful collaboration of talented artists Kimberly Kornmeier of (Bow Ever Down) and Michael Smith of Fiction8. This first single has a lovely Violator vibe with the bouncing beats and grey vocal streaks. Wonderful poetry in the lyrics. That lost romantic goth I long for. Kimberly brings a violet crystal essence to every phrase. Beauty and Bop in equal measure. Loss, regret, strength and courage. The full journey.
6) Dread Risks – Comadose (Moaan Exis Remix) – (Re:Mission Entertainment) – This is the second time Texas Doomdustrial act Dread Risks has met up with powerdustrial Moaan Exis to unfurl this hot wet steel wool like a tidal wave down the asphalt. Another home run for Re:Mission Entertainment who keeps taking big swings and chances on bands not everyone knows but should. A dangerous mixture that swings a chain around it’s head somewhere between futurepop and 90’s Helmet. I love it when mean sounds good.
7) Microwaved – Propaganda (ft Eva X)(Gaslight Mix by Paul Housin) – First single from a series of remix albums from Des Moines, Iowa. This one with the electrowhip vocals of Eva X. I love the steamy rave pop build and shake. Gaby gives a timely lift to the bouncing electronic journey. This is welcome at my dance party anytime.
8) Motuvius Rex – Eleven 33 – (InClub Records) – I love when I find something new from this chart. Louisville Kentucky has produced some of my favorite new wave traditional goth. This band is about to be added to that list. Beautiful flickering Cure Pornography guitar lines behind a gate of dark pastels. The vocals are bizarre and captivating with psychedelic chaos and dark fold reverence. This band caught me completely by suprise but they have my attention now.
9) MALE TEARS – sad boy, paint my nails – So happy to hear a new track from my adopted goth little brother James Edwards. Know in equal measure for his playful sass online, and undeniable hook based synthwave in his blood. Just reading the title I knew I was in for the ride. I know most artists have access to the same plug ins and sounds, but whenever I hear a Male Tears synth intro, it always feels like they are laying into the keys of an old Korg through a Laney tube amp. James has a voice that blends genuine pain hiding behind mockery like Oscar Wilde using a rapier like tongue in a pub. I also long for a remix of this with that chorus over an explosive club hit.
10) Choke Chain – Burial – The long-awaited new release from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mark Trueman. In form this is machine gun EDM laying suppressing fire for Mark’s raw napalm screams of anguish and intensity. This single paves the way for the upcoming album MORTALITY, out September 22. I’ve seen Choke Chain preform three times now, and it is one of those things you need to witness to fully understand.
It’s that time again. The Sounds and Shadows Darkscene singles chart. Where you our group of Artists, Djs, Reviewers, Promotors, Labels, and Superfans vote on your favorite song releases in the month of June. These are your votes tallied and awarded from top to bottom. This month we have some amazing bangers from an eclectic group of artists in the broad “Darkscene” genre. If you have a single releasing in July or know someone that does, make sure to add it to the poll in the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group or Patreon.
Mari Kattman – Swallow
SINE (Textbeak Remix) – Attack
The Static Architect – Bitmask
Odonis Odonis (Feat Actors) – No One Left
GoFight – Machine Rock
Girls Under Glass (Feat Mortiis) – Backdraft
The Vulgar Parts (Dread Risks Remix) – Tu As Perdut Tes Droits
A Covenant Of Thorns – Idols
Dead Lights – I Am Electric
Spank The Nun (Batavia Remix) – On The Run
Mari Kattman – Swallow – There is zero mystery how this track showed up at number 1. Total unadulterated banger. This track slithers through the electro rain forest untethered. The delivery Mari gives of sizzling beauty spewing forth a poignant political message crucial to this time. Soul and execution in equal measure. This was the number one pick by a margin, and for good reason.
2 SINE – Attack – Textbeak Remix – Two of my favorites here teaming up to lock down spot #2. Texas ElectroCaberet artist SINE remixed by Detroit noisepainter Textbeak. This is smokey, electro hex witch energy magic. I love the glitch and chaos blended into Rona’s haunting vocals. This is a slam dunk.
3 The Static Architect – Bitmask – New single from SoCal noisetronic artist Nick McLaren. I believe this is their first time on our chart. Production levels here are FIRE. It sounds very retro, very red hot machinery on fire reckless feel. Yet these synths are moving so precisely and building with a purpose. The vocals had a Downward Spiral controlled fury, I’d love to get a larger dose. Another band on the chart that really imprinted their name in my mind and said pay closer attention.
4 Odonis Odonis – No One Left (Ft. ACTORS) Award winning Toronto retrowave band Odonis Odonis teaming with one of my all time favs Actors is a recipe for a sweet treat. This exceeded all expectations. This band is shooting like a rocket for a reason. I am yet to find anything that Jason couldn’t touch and make better. This song was a whole other rung on the ladder. It has that life affirming energy that those truly great songs of the past had. To make your moment brighter. This isn’t one of those songs though, it is brand new. It is ours. It holds that same power.
5 Go Fight – Machine Rock – The man, myth, legend of Chicago Industrial Jim Marcus. Rather you are a fan of Die Warzau or the latest project GoFight Jim has a gift for blasting the hardest industrial beats with a sensual vocal line and bouncing energy that stretches the definition of Industrial music. This newest single is bursting with sexy douse the world in gasoline and let’s see what happens energy. Until I am proven wrong, my stance remains if Jim puts out a song buy it immediately sight unseen. He is yet to disappoint.
6 Girls Under Glass feat. Mortiis – Tainted – German Based veteran artist on COP International with a brand new release full of classic Industrial sound contrasted by rising choir vocals in rapid bark cadence from the lord of dungeon synth himself Mortiis. Powerful flow and anthem energy make for a banger collaboration from both artists.
7 The Vulgar Parts – Tu As Perdu Tes Droits (Dread Risks Remix) – So Dread Risks the remixers I know well. The Vulgar parts from Perth Australia I am just learning about. using one word to describe, frantic. Bubbling energy hot and pressurized from under the crust. Nice blend of lifting pierce vocals and sinister growl. I really like how the guitar is held back in reserve for the exact moments it will cause the most impact. You have my attention.
8 A Covenant of Thorns – Idols – I just did a full review of this album and didn’t even pick this as one of my stand out tracks but it’s a haunting whisper with a sizzle of Roxy Music glam. Scott-David delivers with construction time rapture and waterfall reflective beauty.
9 DEAD LIGHTS – I Am Electric – UK Glam goth band returns to our charts with this dark bouncing synth blazer. Nice rich baritone vocals offset by shimmering lip gloss harmony. Jackhammer drum concussion driving color splash keyboard waves. Wonderful music to work out or smash glass windows to.
10 spankthenun – On The Run (Batavia Remix) – Texas based thunderdustrial band Spankthenun remixed by Florida electrospice couple Batavia for this Tron laser car chase with demon growls and sparkling explosions. Installment 3 of Bunker Tapes releases at the end of August and features glorious new material and remixes from top electronica artists.
In 1992 midwest goth troubadour Scott-David Allen began a musical journey called A Covenant Of Thorns which would burn a thick black candle in homage to the early forlorn roots of gothic music. To celebrate genuine emotion and the beauty found in darkness and pain. The concept of using our darkest moments to draw strength and celebrate those closest to our hearts. A vocal talent of superb beauty with lyrics of poetic elegance. Five EPs and Four albums later Scott David has imprinted a lasting mark on the goth scene leading up to his collaboration on “Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us” a compilation to save my cat which introduced him to Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). The two would then form The Burying Kind, my favorite new Shoegaze band of the last 5 years.
In May 2023 we received the eagerly awaited new album “Ashes” recorded at A Handful of Nothing Studios. Mastering by living legend Gordon Young. With Artwork by Greg Rolfes. I don’t know if this is always taken as the compliment I mean it, but the first word that comes to mind when I compare this record to previous beloved work, is maturity. A wisdom and elegance of sound. A communication in a relationship rather than expressing emotions after the fact. Ashes has a depth of sound made from living in the moment, rather than reflecting on the past. Every delivered line feels sung to the listener, rather than a description of narrative events. I was one with the concept, not a voyeur.
The Synths always play a staring role in Scott-David‘s work. These have such an organic feel. I hear horns, saxophones, organs, the guitar work charges to center stage in a way I don’t always feel from ACOT. Perhaps an influence of Gord being felt. The peaks and valleys feel effortless and vast. The darkscene of 2023 often feels obligated to bury the words of songs under oceans of effects. Here every word cascades out with clarity and shows the faith Scott-David places in his own voice to carry the story.
Stand Out Tracks:
Halos : This song has the emotive sway of a wooden ship on slow stormy waters I feel present in things like New Order “Ceremony“. Try to run away, trying just to feel nothing at all. The vocals here ring with such truth. Accent guitar pin pricks and a chorus with a smooth unexpected cadence. A pleading prayer for hope in the darkest moment. Also this includes a lovely sax sound around 4 minutes that always tugs my heart strings.
Grace (Like The Back Of A Fist) : This is a undeniable BANGER of the highest accord. This one has the edge, that shadow laced maturity I was discussing. No Boyish forlorn Robert Smith here. This is R rated danger and menace on a cold empty road surrounded by monsters. Shadows parting for a force of hope more menacing than the things in the ditches.
This album is beauty, it is inspirational, it is a blood red lantern in the darkness. It’s one of the best things I have heard so far this year. Sometimes you can take the best part of tradition and forge them into something new. Something that lives in this moment while casting a light backwards. I can’t wait to hear where A Covenant Of Thorns goes next.
Chris Corner, the singer, writer, and producer known as IAMX, is a force of nature. Having started out by forming popular trip-hop band The Sneaker Pimps in the 1990s, Corner has since evolved into one of the most exciting artists in dark electronic music. But before continuing my review of IAMX’s most recent album, Fault Lines1 and a stop on the Fault Lines1 tour, I must give full disclosure that Corner is my favorite artist and that I’m part of the IAMX Patreon group (who call themselves the Tribe or the Cult). Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled to be able to include his answers to some interview questions so that you can also hear about the album and tour directly from the man himself.
Fault Lines1 exudes raw emotion. Its unique beauty within the IAMX discography lies in the increased urgency of that emotion, reflected in the kinetic sounds and explosive voice. Combined, they show an artist deeply disappointed by human beings while staunchly refusing to giving up on them. He seems to be communicating his deepest concerns about what becomes of us once we give in to the darker thoughts that fuel our division. The beats are harder, the synths more frantic… and although the lyrics are damning of the “fanatics” Corner mentions, there are still passionate pleas not to give into our darker impulses of division in an age where we are too often being forced to think of those we disagree with as “the enemy” the media around us.
Corner relies on confessional lyrics that are often highly introspective and self-reflective. After commenting that this album feels like a raw response to the world since 2020, I asked Corner how changes in life since then have affected his writing.
“Covid changed us all. It felt like a pivotal historical turning point in many ways for western culture. Yet personally I felt very comfortable leaning into the quiet and reclusion that covid brought. I’m a very selectively social person anyway so lockdown was just a more intense version of my life. But it did give me more time to be obsessively observant and being exposed to all the world’s issues every second of every day just confirmed what I’ve always seen in humanity. The ignorance, the self-destruction, the fracture and division. Unfortunately, the modern media and hunger for car crash sensationalism just amplifies everything into a grotesque caricature. The scum keeps floating to the top and even more so in a culture yearning for cheap dopamine hits and echo chamber affirmation. What happens out there has to become a catalyst or motivator for the opposite. I feel the pushback will increase. The altruism, deep self-love, need for peace and balance and openness. This record is a tiptoe into calling out the horrors and signaling the need for change and personal growth.”
Disciple, the hard-hitting opener, throws us into the harder edges of IAMX world. The higher notes of his chorus are more raw than any in the past, soaring urgently, yet backing off just at the last moment as if to rein in his growing desperation. We move onto the first of a few direct social commentaries in Fault Lines. IAMX offers a dizzying dance between exhaustion at the ridiculousness of the times we live in and pushback against the fait accompli of our immovable division in this world. As we enter the softer pulsing synths in the next track, In Bondage, we see a submission to the flesh “in the dark arts” as being the only answer. It leaves us with a haunting mantra, “Nothing changes but my blood flow,” slowing down the song to an increasingly halting heartbeat. The X IDmoves on to ask the listener to find self-love and revel in the basic fact of our existence with a rousing and emotive chorus and bridge, screaming through distorted vocals…
I am alive/I am alive/Oh say it to yourself say it to yourself!
IAMX then slides gently into Radical Self-Love, showingus the delicacy and beauty with which he can touch on some of the darkest questions the times are forcing us to ask ourselves. This song is a ballad in the vein of This Will Make you Love Again and Alive in New Light, sliding between tenuous to fierce piano and soaring vocals that softly question before climbing towards a call to action on taking one’s own mental health seriously. The choruses are written with a call and response, internal dialogue that depicts the conflict we have when trying not to hate those who are doing so much to harm us and the wider society we are trying to exist in.
Breathe slow with me/When our darkness turns us into total enemies/Find your mercy/When the anger grows and it overwhelms me
Show me your, show me your/Radical self-love
He asks further how we are meant to function in this state of mind:
Conflict junkies/Our judgment kills the feeling there’s a you and me/Find your mercy/When the anger grows and it overwhelms me
All of these questions feel urgent, heartfelt, and so very relatable.
The title of a favorite later track, Thanatos, uses the Greek word for ‘death.’ But, in classic Freudian psychology, it is also the drive within and among individuals between Eros, the positive drives of life, love, creativity, sexuality, self-satisfaction and species preservation, and the opposite drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death. I read this in the lyrics and sound, feeling an undeniable sense of watching our progress towards Thanatos with a growing sense of horror. The screaming chorus: Do you bury your dreams in apathy? seems to me a clarion call to action. This is paired with the most urgent, driving beat and synths of the album. Starting out menacing but muted, they rise toward a climax of frustration at allowing ourselves to be so overwhelmed that we choose to do nothing.
These questions and pleas to give a damn and look after our mental health are no surprise to those familiar with IAMX’s work, deeply informed by his own battles with mental illness and insomnia. He is a passionate supporter of The You Rock Foundation, which works with musicians who have struggled with their own mental health challenges, and has often held mental health gatherings recent tours, this tour included. This album feels like an acknowledgement of our shared mental struggles against the increasing darkness we’ve faced since 2020.
Fault Lines1 tour stop at Crucible, in Madison, WI
After I Speak Machine had to bow out as opener after a few shows in on the tour, Madison’s own Carrallee stepped into the opening spot. Her show highlighted her lovely, sensual vocals that slide over dreamily distorted synths. She is a welcome and rising force in the darkwave scene, after having been a folk singer/songwriter. I look forward to dancing to her noir-informed beats on songs such as Morning Sun and Heaven or Hell.
The large crowd grew in its excitement as the time approached for IAMX to take the stage. The energy as they burst onstage was electric. All three masked, the slow lead into The X ID was punctuated by Chris asking the audience, “How do you feel?” through distortion that he would use off and on throughout the set. The song was a gorgeous way to start the show, setting the tone for a high octane experience. Launching into the luscious Sailor, Janine Gezang, longtime IAMX band member, collaborator, and Queen, amped up the energy as only she can, stepping in front of her keyboard to do a shimmy in her body suit and mask. The vampish interactions between Chris and Janine began in earnest and the crowd ate it up. Dramatic builds and pauses leading up to a chorus would prove to be a regular feature throughout the set. The final chorus ended with Chris releasing all his vocal prowess into I wanna be a sailor screams.
Photo courtesy of Fe Gaffney
I had asked Chris about the trials of looking after your voice on tour.
“It’s not easy to find a solution to truly feel secure with vocals on tour. It’s often a source of anxiety and pressure since really the whole thing pivots on the relatively fragile muscle in my throat. Not just how practiced or fit it is but the shit that goes in there night after night. The stage fog, the unclean public venues, the screaming sweating audience throwing billions of bacteria into my face! It’s amazing that it survives one show when you think about it. But fun aside I try to rest a lot, retreat a lot, hope a lot, and warm up like crazy. Somehow I get through.”
Photo courtesy of Victoria Jayne
Shortly into the set, the masks came off, and the visuals suddenly came into focus. Two video screens strategically placed at either side of the stage showed off a mix of natural elements and phenomenon that so often show up in IAMX videos as well as clips of the band and BDSM imagery. These added to the drama and energy of the show, and are so appreciated by a visual nerd like myself when so many bands I see live do so little in that area.
I was thrilled to hear them do Screams. This song is beautiful and delicate storytelling and, with a lovely extended build to the chorus. At the end, before the last chorus, he hugged a fan at the front and let the song end with delicate drums and piano. There were other hugs and shouts out to the very dedicated fans, and the gratitude from the band was tangible.
Next was a major highlight, starting with Janine’s menacing German nursery- rhyme-style vocals that weave their way through I Come with Knives. This song really allowed live bandmate Jon Siren to show off his incredible drumming skills with a heavier focus on the beat. The energy between Chris, Janine, and the audience was electric.
Speaking of Janine, her constant enthusiasm and musicianship is such an integral part of the IAMX experience. Whether she’s doing really cool stuff like her muted bass beat to lead in Exit, to her constant dancing, she’s a joy onstage.
Photo courtesy of Victoria Jayne
Chris donned an Elizabethan ruff, offered by a tech, to launch into his cabaret-style, waltz-beat work, including President and Bernadette. The chorus of President was joyful and cathartic.
Happiness and No Maker Made Me seethed with defiance and rage, especially in their choruses. For me, they proved exceptionally cathartic. Whenever Chris screamed, “Liar!” or “No maker made me!” repeatedly, it felt like so many moments of rage I’d felt in recent years were being summoned… and expelled, if only for that moment.
The band took on a softer tone for the final song of the night with This Will Make You Love Again.
As any musician will tell you, touring since Covid is such a different beast. But IAMX had a surprising response when I asked how it feels in 2023.
“Oddly It feels settled for the first time. During Covid I experimented with faceless electronic modular synth tracks and managed to do a few solo shows. Just me and my modular. Back to the roots of early IAMX. This laid the template for the new record and the edited band performance. I feel I have more control over my sound and leaning out the band elements has somehow created more power. It all feels like streamlined IAMX on steroids. Similar but smarter and meaner. I admit that Covid really fucked with us as an independent project. There are new financial and practical challenges in our industry and specifically the alternative scene. But on a more positive note I’m very happy with the shows and I sense the hunger growing out there again in my beautiful people.”
Courtesy of Jen Wilson
As the last notes of the show were played, I looked at my fiancée, feeling thrilled, refreshed, and so grateful to finally have seen my favorite artist, with her, in my home away from home, Crucible. No other artist has moved me so deeply, and sharing in that live experience after such a long wait meant the world.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know another one of The Tribe, Fe Gaffney, who had driven hours to get to the show. I asked her to share what her favorite thing is about seeing IAMX live.
“My favorite thing about any IAMX show, next to seeing the band and hearing my favorite music, is seeing familiar faces. The fans feel so deeply for his words and music, we all have this near tangible connection to each other, this overt belonging. I’ve never quite felt a connection to an artist so strongly as IAMX, and this is an overwhelming sensation being in a room with so many others feeling the same way. Over the years, so many familiar faces have connected and contributed to this online community, forming a tribe. Chris and Janine recognize this incredible collection of fans and have more than shown their respect for their fans over the last few albums.”
The head and the heart are constantly challenged by IAMX’s work. This translates beautifully to the live experience, creating an invigorating exchange of energy. I asked Chris what he gets back from the audience each night.
“It’s difficult to put into words the intensity of the emotional exchange we feel. It’s the superpower source of the purpose of IAMX. It’s visceral sexual universal unspeakable love. It makes me feel accepted, understood and hopeful for humanity.”
Look out for a second album to pair with Fault Lines1, set to come out later in 2023…
You can see IAMX live in North American again this year at Cold Waves, Chicago, on Friday, Sept 22. They will then embark on the European leg of the tour (dates below).
A link to the You Rock Foundation can be found here.
The new IAMX album can be purchased here on Bandcamp. Carrallee’s debut album, Scale of Dreams, can be purchased here on Bandcamp.
Crucible Madison setlist:
The X ID Sailor After Every Party I Die Fault Lines Screams I Come with Knives Exit President Disciple Happiness No Maker Made Me Bernadette This Will Make You Love Again
Remaining North America and European 2023 Tour Dates (link here for tickets):
22 September Cold Waves Festival XI, Chicago, IL
26 September Bratislava, SK 28 September Prague, CZ 29 September Budapest, HU 30 September Graz, AT 01 October Vienna, AT 03 October Sankt Gallen, CH 04 October Munich, DE 06 October Barcelona, ES 07 October Madrid, ES 09 October Brussels, BE 10 October Paris, FR 11 October Cologne, DE 13 October Leipzig, DE 14 October Hamburg, DE 15 October Copenhangen, DK 17 October Utrecht, NL 18 October Frankfurt, DE 21 October Berlin, DE 22 October Warsaw, PL 24 October Wroclaw, PL 25 October Brno, CZ 27 October Stockholm, SE 28 October Gothenburg, SE 30 October London, UK
We have returned to the Sounds and Shadows Darkscene singles chart. This month I have combined April and May but we have had the most votes cast to date. 2081 votes from our group of Bands, Djs, Reviewers, Promotors, and Superfans. These were all singles released in April/May of 2023 in the loose “Darkscene” genre. If you have a single out in June or know someone who does please add it to the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group poll, or become a Patron Subscriber. All the songs here are bangers, so please give a listen, support underground music, and tell us about your favorites.
Ground Nero – Stars
Leathers – Fascination
The Bellwether Syndicate – Noir Thing
Health – Hateful
Bellhead – Bad Taste
Bara Hari – Agoraphobic
Vaselyne – Under Your Skin
Self Titled Album – Haunted Chuck E Cheese
Danny Blu + Moris Blak – Cover of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation“
CARV.R feat (Mari Kattman) – Deflect
Ego Likeness – Cover of Madonna “Live To Tell”
Ground Nero – Stars – April 2023 release out of Belgium from Mark Sayles (Mark E Moon) , Peter Philtjens, and Peter Smeets. The first thing I notice, glorious organic drum beats which make this feel more old school than any guitar riff could. Mark’s vocals growl like a lean wolf stalking under a full moon. The chorus opens with a captivating hook worthy of the Mission. It’s a modern day anthem plucked straight from the 80s.
2) Leathers – Fascination – Another April release from Vancouver Canada synthstarlight project of Actors member Shannon Hemmett. Every single released gets more sparkling and elegant. Shannon’s voice burns braver. I love the jet set Duran Duran 80’s opulence in every molecule of this sound.
3) The Bellwether Syndicate – Noir Thing – I waited so long for this album and single from the Chicago legends. They just returned from a tour and trip to Germany. This whole record is produced within an inch of it’s life. This single is a furious rampage let off the leash. William Faith has a lip curl snarl in his voice. Blistering Sigue Sigue Sputnik time changes and Jesus and Mary Chain rockabilly bassline. If you have never witnessed this live you desperately need to.
4) HEALTH – Hateful – LA Electronica demolition experts with an explosive new single. This intro absolutely sizzles. Listening to it makes me want to plan a jewel heist. It crackles with danger, it drips with sensuality, it swirls with deception. There is a reason EVERYONE in modern electronica is raving about this trio.
5) Bellhead – Bad Taste – Chicago bass duo keeps rolling out tension narratives of undefinable indie darkness that continue to be unnerving, captivating, and fresh. The vocals between Karen and Ivan are a dialog between thunderous baselines and slashing guitars. This is a dark star rising before our eyes.
6) Bara Hari – Agoraphobic – LA based theatrical dark pop with this shock whip April single. I just had an interview with Sam about this single and video. She really captured the national emotion during the pandemic of the walls closing in. Powerful delivery on a slinky dance beat and sword strike guitar riffs.
7) Vaselyne – Under Your Skin – The Dutch Duo of Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig on COP International return to our chart once again. Beautiful, delicate, haunting that organic connection of plucked acoustic strings against Yvette’s mournful plead. Around 2:40 the sky opens up with a sky fire guitar solo and vocal harmony. Raw emotion that gets under your skin.
8) Self Titled Album – Haunted Chuck E Cheese – Once again Utah based shadowdelic band of Rob Fkin Varney, Josh Hollar, and Tim Hall grace our chart. It’s always difficult to put words to the slushy decay and electronic assault. This track has a wonderful 90s alt rock hook that really captures the nostalgia of anyone who was abandoned in the animatronic capitalistic horror show that is Chuck E Cheese.
9) Danny Blu + Moris Blak – Cover of Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson – I just saw this amazing tour a few weeks ago and the chemistry between these two top tier artists is a blessing for us all. I have long held that the Rhythm nation album was always an industrial pop record which defined the genre before we had a word for it. I love how this cover brings the best of both artists. Danny’s cadence is sharp and throws sparks with every steel foot stomp. The backing music is crackling precision and mysterious twists you can never quite predict. If you still have a chance to see this tour it was one of the most exciting things I have seen live in a long while.
10) CARV.R Feat Mari Kattman – Deflect – East coast team up of Cristian Carver and Mari Kattman two veteran performer/producers which united to unleash this jam. New England Poltergiest Disco at it’s finest. The percussion is such a cascading tight spiral which Mari’s voice dances on like a ballerina. I love everything about this pairing and hope there is more to come.
In 1993 Sam Rosenthal (Black Tape For A Blue Girl) started an Indie label that combined a love of Dreampop, Ambient, Shoegaze, and Dark Cabaret. It began as a vehicle for his own band, but through a decerning eye towards the future highlighted eclectic new sounds we are celebrating four decades later. I discovered Projekt in college branching out for colder, darker sounds than Dead Can Dance and similar world beat shadow folk. With bands like Black tape, Voltaire, Love Spirals Downward, Attrition, and Lycia early Projekt sampler cd’s were fertile ground for a young mind exploring the boundaries of darkscene music.
For 40 years Projekt and weaved and bobbed changing focus and embracing new technology in the music industry. With Mini Disc, MP3’s, even a resurgence in discord vinyl Sam has flowed with the tide to bring new fans to music which otherwise may not have seen the light of day.
The first band Sam signed was Dark Industrial legend ATTRITION. with several records already out, they brought a blend of intelligent punk ethos, electronic textural ambiance, and ice cold rage. Martin Bowes would find an international audience still captivated today. This also awakened Sam, fresh out of college to the realization the record lable would consume his life the next couple years.
Lycia from Arizona would be the first band “discovered” by Projekt. I first found them through Burning Circle and The Dust. A haunting, memorizing, slushy burnt pastel sounds. Submerged ethereal vocals that wrapped around every sense. Eventually they would go on to form their own label. Releasing new material in March 2022 which I reviewed. These early Projekt records that put them on the map will always be my rain-streaked dorm window memories.
I don’t want to go any further without talking about the other band that drew me into Projekt, Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Another major nostalgia band that opened my eyes wider to the idea that what we think of today as “Trad Goth” or “Post Punk” was the end of the conversation when it came to darkscene music. Things could be elegant. Darkness, pain, and regret could be beautiful feelings that explored the human experience. “The Rope” from 1986 held a particular majesty, with Oscar Herrera‘s strange cadence and David Bryne clarity paved a new road in my mind for what was possible. Four decades later Sam is still finding ways to explore sonic paths not taken.
Another Projekt band that had a major influence on me was California Stargaze ethereal band Love Spirals Downward. Guitar layered woven tapestry and warm blanket harmonies. Songs that offered comfort and jump started deeper dreaming. Extra shoutout that Jennifer Wilde of Sword Tongue did additional vocals on my favorite album of theirs Ardor.
As someone who makes “comedy goth” Projekt records artist Aurelio Voltaire opened my eyes to what was possible with dark music. Clever gallows humor and rapier wit blended with eastern traveler instrumentation was a fantasy idea that captured my imagination. I recently interviewed Aurelio and doing preparation research found I still knew every lyric on “The Devils Bris“. A true shadow bard that transcended music style in favor of narrative craft. This troubadour set trends that paved the way for everything I am trying to accomplish today.
This has been an enjoyable memorandum as well as a glimpse into the future for a label that has helped define modern darkscene music. Rather you want to rediscover these updated releases of the past. Or explore the Projekt artists of the future, Sam has left an undeniable mark on out scene. I encourage everyone to delve into this rich tapestry of sonic narrative and celebrate 40 years of Projekt Records.
In 1974 in Catford, South London Dave Sylvian, Mick Karn, and Steve Jansen formed a GlamProg band which would have some commercial success. The true impact was the influence they would have on future generations of complex and emotive artists. Along with fellow pioneers like The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, Roxy Music, they challenged the boundaries of the time and continues to impact alternative voices today.
Coitus Interruptus Productions well known for creating tribute albums to highlight the best in new Darkscene music has released this latest offering with the assistance of Yvette Winkler of Vaselyne. Assembling a great production team of Jasyn Bangert (Mastering) Greg Rolfes (Artwork) the team at CI has compiled an amazing list of talent to pay homage to one of the most underrated bands of the past 50 years.
24 tracks on multiple labels all with a passion for Japan. With so many great takes I won’t be able to cover each one. I will try and give some quick impressions on as many as I can. This whole release is brimming over with friends and favorites. If you know and love Japan, this is a wonderful way to rediscover songs you love. if you don’t know them, find some of your favorite covers, then look up the originals. You will not be disappointed.
Brian Hodges & Pieter Nooten (feat. Marselle Hodges) – Let The Happiness In – originally a Mick Carns solo album track from “Dreams Of Reason Produce Monsters“. Marselle has one of those voices you can get lost in, gentle and wispy. Holding the power to erode stones over time. The Seattle artists fully embrace the streaking grey beauty of Sylvian’s original delivery. This isn’t a cover, it is a love letter.
DogtabletFt Marselle Hodges– Despair – Industrial legend Martin King also adds Marselle on vocals on this haunting cover that adds a brighter more resonant piano. The percussion is a gentle heartbeat underneath the streets of Paris in a smokey artist cafe. I love the addition of phosphorous glow to the existential dread. I will say I miss the amazing sax solo from the original, but I want sax solos in every song.
G.W. Childs IV – Gentlemen Take Polaroids – My dear friend G.W. covering probably my all time favorite Japan track. A single that hit number 60 in the Uk charts in 1980. The original really showed the Brian Eno influence with it’s funky sensuality. G.W. keeps the funk, punches the vocals forward with Pet Shop Boys sass and spices up the dance beats. This is a perfect cover for roller disco lovers spinning hands locked gazing into each others eyes.
melodywhore – Ghosts – Steller cover for Texas electronica songsmith and remix master. Released in 1981 and probably their best-known hit, this dreamy ballad where Sylvian really unburdens his soul. James opens with these giant pillar synths and really captures the despair of the original. Wonderful harp plucking effect to take place of the marimba. This was a true exercise in method acting, it really gets in the head space of Sylvian’s composition.
Pedro Code & Herr G – Methods Of Dance – Two amazing talents from Portugal team up to cover another track from “Gentlemen Take Polaroids”. This song features my favorite drum performance from Steve Jansen. A bold change to reimagine it as an electronic dark dance floor driver. Pedro’s voice is always exquisite and goes towards the top of the register in parts. They really change the focus of the track and make it their own.
Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) – Waterfront – I believe this track was a David Sylvian solo song. Beautiful Blue collar dockworker ballad. Sylvian really channeled his gruffer edge for this. Pete, who I know is an enormous Japan fan piles on a further gently plucked blues tone on the guitar and a fading town anguished delivery on vocals. I was almost scared to hear this one because the original is so amazing, but of course Pete absolutely crushed it.
Tenderlash – Life In Tokyo – 1979 release that definitely had a disco glam feel that became a hit on the singles chart in 1982. The NC darkwave band adds in a beautiful New Order synth swell to accompany Candy’s beautiful wispy croon. I really like the megaphone voiceover on the breakdown. They prove this could have been just as big a hit in the 90s alt rock riot girl scene.
Tearing The Blackbox (feat Yvette Winkler) – Back In The Beginning – A team up from Netherlands, this track really hit me with the jazz walking Mick Karn basslines I’ve been waiting for. It’s surreal and engaging with a wicked guitar solo backed by Yvette’s swelling chant. A perfect homage to the precise chaos that is Japan.
Unwoman – Darkest Dreaming – Another Dave Sylvian solo album track. This one is a gentle introspective stargazing dream. Erica of Unwoman, who always brings an original spin and quality to their covers stretches out the time as the bow slides across strings. Powerful organic tendrils of sound paint a road for their soulful vibrato and layered nuance. I fell into this track like a baby in arms.
Vaselyne – Riverman – This was a Sylvian + Robert Fripp team up. One of those epically weird and expansive songs with world beat psychedelic flavor. Covered by the Dutch band including Yvette who helped put the whole project together. I absolutely loved this rendition with all the organic movement and Yvette’s warm whiskey vocals. The guitar leads crackle with life and plunge in and out of the water. Definitely a stand out track on a record full of them.
Coitus Interruptus Productions from Seattle has another home run here. I love the way they are creating a bridge between the past and future of this scene. Highly recommend checking some of their other tribute albums to Chameleons, Killing Joke, Coil, Psychedelic Furs, and more. I didn’t get to touch on every band here, but they are all worth checking out. Artwork by Greg Rolfes. Mastering by Jason Bangert
May began with some really heavy blows to out scene. A tragic car accident. An unexpected health scare. It seems like the Chicago Industrial scene is weighted down with tragedy. This is also a time when we remember and appreciate how much we mean to each other. So please tell the people who matter how much you love and appreciate them. if that takes the form of an artist or song, then turn it up, sing it loud, and share it with others. Here are some artists which are currently touching my heart and I appreciate.
Hail Your Highness – Winter – Let us begin in my own backyard of Grand Rapids Michigan with two sisters playing Sega Dreamcast bleep bloop against rain-streaked windows. Fading memories of dewy blades of grass and sadpop drizzle. Honesty and clarity ripple on a still pond. Each track feels close to home. I look forward to reading the well worn paper back pages.
Chiasm – Relapse (Reissue) – A re-release of the 2005 electronica spider crawl synth from Michigan artist Emileah Rohn flawlessly remastered by composer and contributor Jean-Marc Lederman. Hearing an artist you know well from their delicately polished and precise recent material through the darker rawer lens of their early voice is a shocking beautiful realization.
Favorite Track: Delay – The gnashing teeth to the vocal delivery here is a fresh dynamic to the familiar imagery of Chiasm’s poetry and digital complexity. Falling in even rotation through a bottomless dark void.
This remaster feels like seeing a familiar friend in a virtual reality home movie to a history you have heard as a story but never seen with your eyes until now.
BELLHEAD – Good Intentions – New EP from Chicago double bass indie grime band Bellhead. In the 90’s when Avant Gard indie rock was happening, I listened to it. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated it. Maybe I didn’t yet have thick Buddy Holly glasses, maybe my pallet hadn’t refined. whatever the reason when I hear the bone shaking bass lines and tennis technique volley vocals in 2023 it just hits different. A blend of stalking menace and luring sweet hooks. You keep on the ride for the familiar feelings, the longer you stay the more you realize this is something you haven’t heard yet. Ivan Russia has a stalking wolf voice that is breathing hot death on the back of your neck. The lyrics have this hard line Frank Miller pulp narrative. Karen volleys back with the perfect energy and accent to make the picture complete.
Favorite Track: Into The Deep – Ivan goes full beatnick Ginsberg on this bopping funeral surf ceremony through hell. This is Frank Black and Nick Caves boiling seaside vacation to hell.
MOЯIS BLAK – BURIAL + VOID [remixed] – Boston based CyberApocolypse artist Moris Blak has been pumping out thrumming electronic bass grenades. With this new remix album featuring Rabbit Junk, Syzgyx, and GenCab features a reflective subtlety that I feel deep for. Spotlights to the sky on a rooftop rave. See them on tour now with Danny Blu and Eva X.
Antipole & Paris Alexander – Crystalline – I have been a huge Antipole fan since the beginning of Sounds and Shadows. Karl’s attention to detail in perfecting the post punk guitar sound is a level of mastery akin to a Rennaissance painter worthy of naming a ninja turtle after. So when I say this is my favorite release to date by the Norwegian songcrafter it is a statement of weight. With frequent collaborator Paris Alexander and Eirene on vocals this record is an exploration of cold biting beauty and haunting memories. One of those albums which fits well as a pairing to any activity. A long solitary walk, a soundtrack to an intimate dinner party, a delicate thrum in a crowded club. I was really impressed with how much Paris vocals stand to the front in a way I haven’t heard as much on previous releases. A raspy whisper full of danger and sensuality. This is an early contender for my top albums of the year.
Favorite Track: I really loved each one for different reasons. Track 4 Disjointed left me mesmerized and haunted. The guitar riff hung like a bridge of ice as you slowly make your way across an endless gap. Paris voice is a haunting poetry. This was a New Order Movement track that never got made before this moment.
Dogtablet – Black Space Dust & Memories – Martin King of the legendary Test Dept and Roberto Soavel have gathered an epic ensemble of talent to weave a wet aired electro jazz fantasy on the edge of comfort. Each track is a destination well outside of civilization and teeming with sharp teeth and claws.
Guest vocalists: Track 2: Steven Archer (Stoneburner/Ego Likeness) Track 4 and 9: Coral Scere Track 6: Jared Louche (Chemlab) Track 7: Daz Sharp Track 10: Melodywhore Track 11: Cat Hall (Dissonance) Track 12: Franke Nardiello (My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult)
Roger Ebner – Sax on Diamonds Phil Moseley – Guitars on Ashes
Artwork and Layout by Greg Rolfes
Trying to pick a Fav track is too big an ask here. There is so much variety and ground covered. An airship of adventurers each with a role to fill. On track 4 WhispersCoral Scere gives such a tragic and soulful delivery I felt my eyes welling up. Track 7 Tar Pit featuring Daz Sharp was another level of vocal craftsmanship by stretching each phrase through thick murky ink. Layne Staley was looking down smiling. Track 12 The Oversight featuring Franke Nardiello is a snake charmer doing a flickering flame dance surrounded on all sides. The opening track Diamonds was rich and heavy with swaying Tom Waits swagger and the shimmering sax of Roger tied around each limb and stretching us to our limits. This record is an adventure.
Grey Gallows – Strangers – Patra Greece darkwave artist with a new full length album. I found them through Cold Transmission and was hooked in right away. A sinister batcave thrum blended with modern darkwave club beats. Konstantin has an expressive range and a showman’s inflection on vocals. The basslines are tight and weighty like a bowling ball down castle stone stairs. Track 3 “Spirits” featuring Kriistal Ann was a lovely standout. Giant sweeping synth pads and her operatic grace accented with cymbal accents. I really need to dig through the back catalog of this band. This album is keeping old school goth alive in 2023.
Favorite Track: The Night In Me – The tempo drop and pageantry of this song put it heavy in my rotation. The vocals drip like hot wax on a cathedral candle. The reverb heavy rhythm guitar crated perfect anticipation between verses.
Event: Ministry, Gary Numan, (equal time) Supporting act: Front Line Assembly Date: April 21, 2023 Venue: The Union Event Center City: Salt Lake City, Utah
So, as long as any of us can remember, we all got into Ministry maybe a song or two, but REALLY got into them in 1989-1990. WHY? Well, that was when Ministry had their breakthrough album “The Mind Is a Terrible Thin To Taste”. The shows on that tour were legendary, and have since solidified Ministry as a MUST-SEE for all industrial music fans.
Before we all fell in love with Ministry, we were already devout fans of the new wave synth god Gary Numan, not just for his epic song “Cars” but that he had just been making great music since the late 70s, and we all bought his albums just because, well, we knew there was so much more to this guy than “Cars” and we were right.
So, imagine all of our delight to catch both of these bands who have been making outstanding music for 40 years, on the same stage. This tour has been something rather sensational, or at least this night was one of those more incredible nights.
Opening the night (at barely 6:45 pm) was Vancouver Canada’s Front Line Assembly, veterans in their own right, they are a fantastic way to start the evening off. They were tight, and very interactive with the audience. The guitarist had “SALT LAKE CITY” painted on his instrument, and he was playing it, tight up to his chest, almost vertically at times. The main drummer was standing at a very scaled-down drum kit, and was wearing a masque, that, well, could have been worn for an apocalyptic look effect, or just a covid precaution, either way, it was badass. They opened with “Angriff” and you just felt the real guitar lines pounding through the PA system as the guitarist was whipping his white dreads around, almost looking like that scene in Jedi when Luke took off Darth Vader’s helmet.
I caught the first 3 songs in the pit, and as I was leaving, they enlightened us all to the point that we were going to be having 80s new wave hits on the menu. They did this by playing a cover of Falco’s 85 hit “ROCK ME AMADEUS”. I will be honest, I was never a huge fan of that song, I love Falco’s other work, I lived in Germany for several years, and he is revered as a musical God to the Germans. However, this evening, and the way Front Line Assembly delivered it, IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. The lead singer also played drums off the original drummer, just for some great effects.
Front Line Assembly set the mood for the rest of the night, and the only complaint I had about their set was its brevity, really we all could have easily enjoyed four or five more from them. Tight, intense, and fun, but only 7 songs, closed out with “Mindphaser”.
As the switch out for Gary Numan was happening on stage, the venue was almost full, and the gaps in the crowd were getting smaller. Why? BECAUSE IT’S GARY NUMAN THAT’S WHY. I have been shooting at this venue for years, and the only time I have ever seen it packed to the doors was for Echo & The Bunnymen last year. Now, well, I guess there was enough draw, cause you couldn’t fit a razorblade between the punters this night. The final count from the bouncers was just short of 4 thousand.
As the stage went dark again, there were plenty of strobes flashing and the band took the stage, again looking like a dystopian post-apocalyptic movie, but more like Krishna monks.
They started with a throbbing humming keyboard line, straight out of the engine room of a large starship. Then the drumming commenced, the slow pounding of “Intruder” from the new album of the same name, while the band cranked up the atmosphere with their guitars and keyboards. Then the spotlight was on Gary as the stage lit up, and he began to take us through this set. He was dressed like he has been in the last several years, looking like a survivor of a space-age apocalypse with painted tribal red lines going down his face, almost like tiger claw marks. Only, cooler. He gave us “Halo” and “Pure”, as we were expecting them for the evening. Gary Numan has put out so much music over the years, and the genres have all kind of mixed and clashed. Though these songs might have been written in the last 20 years, they sound as fresh and current in the direction Gary has wanted to go, a long way since the magnificent albums “Dance”, or “New Anger”, Gary seems to have found a sound that makes him very happy, and, thus, he manages to make us all very happy too. He laid out the epic “My Jesus” from the album “Pure” and we still can’t believe it was released in 2001, and still has “It”.
I am amazed at the amount of energy he has on stage after going on 50 years, starting with the Tubeway Army back in the 1970s. Gary was swinging the mic stand around, playing different guitars for each song, jumping back to the keyboards to play, he was all over that stage, while his guitarists and bassist were just as animated. I got up close and can say that the man has not aged. He looks like he did when I first met him almost 30 years ago. He gave us “CARS” and that was his new wave hit contribution to the evening, everyone was expecting it, but he could have played another 40 songs in its place and gotten no complaints. Gary is mechanical, and powerful and makes sure to deliver all he has. With “The Chosen” and “My Name is Ruin”, especially live, you can see there is a totally different stage persona than say his “Blade Runner influenced” epic live album “The Skin Mechanic” from the “New Anger” tour. Gary Numan has so much to choose from for his live sets, and when he plays something from even the 70s, his electronic metal sound puts a fantastic new “edginess” to the music that always feels like it was released last month, and you are hearing it for the first time.
I have seen Gary Numan many times over the years, from Paris in 1998, to Boston in 2001, to the recent set of shows he has played here in Salt Lake. He knows that he will always sell out the venue in Salt Lake City, because of his rabid fan base here. Could I say this was the best performance that I have ever seen? No, is it the worst? No, I really can’t gauge them, they have all been at the same level of spectacular. (Though he insists that the Paris gig I saw really was not very good, I LOVED that night, and since I’m the one writing the review, I’m right). You will get the best live show Gary Numan has to offer if you saw him performing “Telekon” in 1981, or “Intruder” this week.
After seeing a band like this eleven times over 33 years, one can appreciate the fact that no matter what Al Jourgensen has come up with, he is still full of surprises. I have come to expect insanely loud, fun, crazy industrial metal with great social commentary sucker punched in a vegan eggplant sandwich right between your eyes.
The Stage was adorned with the “industrial Grade Steel ” Metal Cross, lit up like one of those back alley way churches serving the less fortunate in a poor part of down town. It has kind of become the token image for Ministry shows the last few tours. It even has a pulpit for Al with several mics mounted to it. Yeah, after all it is “MINISTRY” . The band took the stage with AL coming in late making a fashionable entrance while they opened with “Alert Level”. Now, I have known Al’s work to be often loaded with sarcasm, and this evening was no exception. Maybe his being a general cynic, or skeptic, or just funny, but he was playing over the speech by the jaw-dropping idiot “GIVE ME MILLIONS OF DOLLARS” personality the “On Air” preacher Kenneth Copeland, you know the guy who says god wants him to have really expensive airplanes to preach the word? That guy. Well, Al managed to splice into his first couple of songs the Kenneth Copeland speeches where he declared by the word of god that “Covid Shall be Banished from God’s Earth”. I remembered watching that speech and thinking “What a freaking LUNATIC” and then here we are 2 years later, and Ministry has that same speech as the background track for the new album. That was enough reason to go to this show, the sheer wit behind it had me smiling through the song while I got photos.
Pieces from the same sound bytes were playing into song two, “Good Trouble” off the recent album “Moral Hygiene”, then they played “Disinformation”. Leaving the pit Al said “Hey everyone, we are going to do a cover of an Iggy Pop tune, called “Search and Destroy”. I yelled at Al “And Yesterday was Iggy’s Birthday even..” Al Smiled and said off the mic, “YEAH”. They played a cool version of the classic, I mean, we all LOVE IGGY.
I got up to the balcony and they played “Believe Me” which was bizarre because the background graphics were like a psychedelic trip trying to hypnotize ya. They gave us “Broken System” which had graphics of AR-15s and various political figures flashing up on the wall behind them. The token message, is that you don’t need to ask “What does he mean by this?”. He said “This is the 2nd time we have ever played this one, and I’m sure you’ll like it” and they gave us the song “Goddamn White Trash”. Now, whatever you expect from Ministry in a song like this, you would be right. Flashing pics of the KKK, visuals of NAZI icons, and just general redneck culture, Ministry’s disdain for all things TRUMP were present in this song… and he was right, we did like it, a lot. During this part, a woman who had been in the pit with us taking pictures with her phone, and obviously part of the tour, walked onto the stage with an acoustic guitar and played in with the band her name Ani Kyd Wolf (a favorite artist over on Alternative Tentacles and plays in the band THOR). Her contribution was great when the stage got crowded for a few songs. By then the mosh pit was insane, and Al was thrilled to be feeding off everyone’s energy, and the feeling was mutual from the punters.
Al said, “Ok, you have all been patient and great for this new stuff, we’ll give you all some of what you came here for.” They broke into “N.W.O.”, then “Just One Fix” and then “Burning Inside”. Imagine the video from the “In Case You Didn’t Bother Showing Up” performance in 1990, well, it was just as fun and crazy, with a crowd of punters several times that size. Al stopped to thank us all and say “I don’t know what it is about you in Salt Lake, but you are one of the top 4 most enjoyable cities to play for”. As he continued goading everyone having a good time, while he was giving a very tight, and solid performance. After they tied it up with “So What” on an encore, he said, “Really, you people are the craziest fans ever, I just love playing here”. They walked off stage, and then after a minute or so, the house lights came up, and then people started to leave. Then Al ran back out on stage and grabbed the mic “NO !!!! DON’T LEAVE YET!!!!”. He explained that they had one more to play, and asked them to turn the lights off, and everything ramped up again. Al was NOW going to give us his 1980s new wave contribution, he said “This is our cover of a 1980s new wave song by a band called “FAD GADGET” called “Ricky’s Hand”. This was as far as I know the first time they have played this since 1986, and thus, the punters were thrilled.
They finished the cover, Al and everyone waved and said “Good night” and the event came to a close. I talked to the guitarist for a few minutes, he has been on previous tours, and he said they were having a lot of fun changing all of this out for this tour. I have always seen Al Jourgensen as a hard-partying, intense, and sometimes over-the-top guy. You always know where he is coming from, and he has had more humor and just good times vibes in his performances lately, that you just enjoy the whole experience. After a ministry show, you feel some sort of euphoria having released all kinds of negative feelings and energy because the music does that for you. All in all, this was one of the best Ministry gigs I have ever seen. I hope you all can get into one soon, the merch table was getting sacked, and even the Front Line Assembly stuff was running short by the end of the night, once you see any of the bands on this tour, you will know why.
Yes I know this is coming very late. I unfortunately got wrapped up in my own bullshit this month and didn’t release this in a timely matter. Nor opened voting for the month of April. However, better late than never, these are the top 10 songs voted on by our group of Artists/Djs/reviewers/Lables/and Superfans released in the Month of March. No pay to play, just your votes on great darkwave music.
Lockjaw – Annihilove
Dead Cool – Stranger Kind
Giant Monsters On The Horizon – Secret or a Lie Featuring Arden and the Wolves
Self Titled Album – Economic Housing Anxieties(STA Mix)
Dread Risks – Machine Identity (in the walls mix by God Module)
Lockjaw – Annihilove – Excited to see a band new to the group and from Milwaukee grab the number one spot with their first single on the chart. Look for an upcoming interview I did with Medavon we will release soon. I was drawn in right away by this lean wolf, untamed wilderness goth. It has a wonderful stalking hungry Iggy Pop feel synthesized with electronic beats. Lockjaw has had some previous success playing with some big names in the scene. Returning with a vengeance of hard rock riffs and recklessly revolving percussion I will be paying close attention to the project going forward.
2) DEAD COOL – Stranger Kind – Wilmington death pop duo makes their return to this chart with a sizzling new retro trance song with 8bit major motion digital drive and Johnny’s wide beam vocals and lyrical painting. I love the brushstroke of Angela’s phonograph spoken word line.
3) Giant Monsters on the Horizon – Secret or a Lie Featuring Arden and the Wolves – Glorious across the continent collaboration from St Louis to California. Cyberpunk electronica band Giant Monsters On the Horizon lay down a FILTHY beat that twists and writhes to lay a pathway for my favorite vocal performance by Arden. Something about their voice always feels like lashing motion. The dynamics and venom of this glowing green delivery make every line hit home. Total Banger.
4) unitcode:machine – Undone (Aesthetic Perfection Remix) – Texas native Eric Kristoffer has been on an absolute tear this year. Singing with COP, releasing this instant classic hit with 3 legends doing remixes. Daniel Graves absolutely crushed this slowly unspooling the story and highlighting a premier vocal talent in the modern scene. Pay attention to this future star.
5) INSULIN SHOCKS – Eva X – Virtualsexual (Braindance Mix) – British Colombia Cyberrave single featuring Gaby of Eva X. She delivers this lovely terrifying AI choir you expect to hear right before the machines take over. Let yourself be assimilated, resistance is futile.
6) Kill Shelter & Death Loves Veronica – Sex Tape – Everything Pete does will be at the top of my buy list. Add in the smokey embodiment of a David Lynch film in sonic form Veronica Campbell. You have an instant recipe for a delicious sensual club banger. The craft displayed for every subtitle detail in song writing. Veronica’s temptress whisper. Nothing better than a song that starts a conversation while slapping this hard. You need this.
7) EN ESCH – Push – Industrial legend En Esch collaborates with Gabriel Lennox newly on Give/Take with a rawkus 90’s industrial sound with a tent revival spiritual chant. I love the vocal layers and resonant clarity breaking the standard of the industrial roots. That clear breakdown at 4 minutes in particular is an absolutel gem.
8) Ritual Howls – Dark Ceiling In Tennessee – A different sound for the Detroit band. Personally I am loving this darkwave jangling spurs Violator vibe. Around 1:30 a flaming sword guitar lead cuts the tension. Paul Bancell fully embraces classic goth Baritone, which strikes the mark freshly against the digital chainsaw static. Personally this is my favorite Ritual Howls to date.
9) Self Titled Album – Economic Housing Anxieties(STA Mix) – Wonderful to see the Utah band back on out single charts. I have tried and describing Self Titled Album is always a Herculean effort. It is deeply honest and vulnerable spoken poetry in a psychedelic haze and electronic glide. A complex mixture i am glad our group reconizes and appreciates.
10) Dread Risks – Machine Identity (in the walls mix by God Module) – My favorite Doomdustrial from Texas remixed by God Module and released on Re:Mission Records. I love everything about this sentence. Jason Bangert really adds a slippery wetness to Dread Risks usually boot stomping destructive power. If your club isn’t working this into your local dance night you are being done a disservice.
April was a really tough month. Emotionally, physically, finding the spoons to write anything was more than I could bare. A lot of amazing things came out which kept me company in these dark moments of reflection. Finding a way to describe it and share it with all of you ended up more than I could bare. So tonight for the first time in a long time I find myself in front of the keyboard with that spark again. That sweet inspiration returned, ready to pitter patter my calloused fingers against the keyboard and tell you about some of the great new music which makes this compressing life bearable. I hope you find something new among my musings to share and love.
Cult Of Alia – Patterns Beat Emotion – Brand new single from Dara of Cruex Lies. Pyromancy Disco full of flashing lights and rising smoke. This project is on Cold Transmission which is always a vote of confidence. I love the vocal delivery on this track. It’s fearless and steady with just a hint of snarl. This track also has an energy of the bands namesake from Dune. Swirling sand, science fiction, and spirituality at a fever pitch. I don’t spend enough time in reviews talking about lyrics. This one is a cold razor.
I feel my face will just betray me So lets destroy those pleasantries An honest look is just a warning Of something deep that wants to breathe
Albadore – The Forgotten Future – This album from Flint MI Dj Michael Absher is a tad outside our usual wheelhouse. An electrodelic jazz infused crackle full of Kerouac verse and Ginsberg meter. Timely record scratches to break the trancey silk edges and pay homage to the church of vinyl. 21 distinct tracks with a wide fusion of flavors. Michael really runs the full spectrum of sounds and blends them with precision and cunning. Sometimes I hear a band and think, the primary song writer was a Bass Player/Drummer/Singer, by what the focus seems drawn to. In this ambitious sound you really hear a DJ making music. The focus is on seamless transitions and following the natural path of the listener. Put this album on at your next party and just let it guide the energy of your night.
The Funeral March – Persephone – Rockford, Illinois postwave led by J. Whiteaker breaks the water with a new EP paying homage to a favorite topic of mine Greek Mythology. The first thing you always hear hook you in are the GORGOUS The CurePornography style guitar work that really steals the show. I also find myself lost in the misty vocal style Joe croons to cast contrast against The Cure. This EP feels very familiar, it wears it influences on it’s sleeve. It explores enough of it’s own path to feel fresh. The imagery heavy lyrics and romantic weight are a missing and welcome jewel in the modern scene.
Favorite Track: Kiss Me With Your Last Breath – It’s so slushy and hunter green floating above still water. The Cure guitar influence is very heavy here but the slippery electronic drums and Joe’s ghostly echo vocals make dancing lights to capture the imagination.
Fixed Lens – Swept Out To Sea – New single release from Berlin razor synth band I was turned onto by Nichole Ferree who runs the Boston Dark Spring festival. This has that lovely driving bass and infectious guitar delay of post punk, but the vocals lean HARD into the punk aspect. The energy is reckless, dangerous, speeding through the underworld a split second from destruction. Instant fan.
ego likeness – Live to Tell – The first new release from goths premier couple Donna and Steven in a hot minute. A Madonna cover. Madonna is sacred to me, she changed pop music forever. Gave it soul, made it matter, changed forever how we think about women’s sexuality. Certain artists I really wouldn’t recommend a cover of. How would you add to it or change it? Madonna is firmly in that category. The only way it ever works, is a fresh take by someone who displays such a reverence for the source material. That the original soul burns through in their voice. That is what Donna does here. That is what she captures, and it is fuking beautiful.
G.W. Childs IV – You Don’t Know – I’ve been talking about the Yee Haw synth cowboy G.W Childs a lot recently. Paired up again with living legend John Fryer to paint an electric pastel desert of tumbling weeds and neon hover cars spewing sand and racing back home to his family on the ranch. It’s an electronic Yaz infused cattle drive into the sunset. It features four remixes of the stand out single “Tarrent County” by some of my favorite artists Ashes Fallen and proto goth legend Rodney Orpheus (The Cassandra Complex). Available on COP International.
thePicassos – Weird Sisters (feat. Sarah Rose) – My feet are immediately tapping for this swing rich team up of Detroit eclectic rockers ThePicassos and Sarah Rose of (Sarah and the Safe Word) on this run away wooden rollercoaster through an abandoned carnival. This baseline is high stepping zoot suit fire and skeleton shimmer. The Picassos have become masters of taking any fringe style and making it distinctly their own. i really can’t wait to hear where they go next. Charles is a modern-day poet of experience beyond just words in a song.
The Bellwether Syndicate – Vestige & Vigil – Chicago darkscene darlings William Faith, Sarah Rose, Philly Peroxide, Stevyn Grey, and Corey Gorey with their eagerly anticipated full length album which has immediately concurred the airwaves. In 2023 if you are going to release an album, I think it is key that it runs a vast range of styles and emotions while maintaining a primal core which defines you. This is what Bellwether Syndicate knocked out of the park on the first swing. From driving hot rod flame spewing bangers like “Noir Thing” to old school gothic rock anthems like “We All Rise” it’s a twisting maze of human experience full of complexity and intention. Once you get past the fist pumping energy and absorb the lyrics the political punk rock ethos cuts another layer to appreciate. Every baseline and shimmering guitar reminds you of the rock roots that cast a reflection to Faiths quintessential darkwave vocals. It’s easy to get lost in thoughts of how is this the first full length album from this band. Until you take time to add the experience and catalog of the individual parts.
Favorite Track: Republik – Hard to go wrong with any song on this expertly crafted album. This single has always held such a captivating tempo and delivery that it randomly leaps into my head and explodes a electric pulse of pure energy . The toms, the pin prick guitar leads, the unstoppable yet elegant vocals make this song an unforgettable banger on an album chocked full of them.
I haven’t interviewed The Bellwether Syndicate, that is an unforgivable crime I will correct shortly. You really need this record.
I hope you found something that moved you. I hope you follow and like our page and others like it. There is a glorious dark scene Rennaissance happening and there is no time like the present to jump on board.
Punk Icon, Music Journalist, Scene Historian, in so many ways John Robb has made a career of lifting up great music and art in equal measure to creating it. Starting in Blackpool in 1978 The Membranes walked the razor line between introspective darkness and fiery blue-collar aggression. In 2010 he started “Louder Than War” an independent website of reviews, interviews, and live shows to shine a light on the fringes of music which might never get attention from mainstream pop coverage. This aspect was personally relevant to me, by proving one person could champion a movement to share and humanize the artist of the underground. When John released his new book “The Art Of Darkness” about the history of my chosen genre “Goth” and I had the opportunity to interview him my cold dead heart fluttered with joy. A giant who paved the way for me like few others.
Things that struck me about the first read through of this book. The historical research is first rate. How could it not be, John lived this time. Loved these bands. When I hear someone talking about something close to my heart, I need to hear that same reverence in their voice. This is the voice of a true believer. The facts aren’t enough. I need a bit of novel to set the backdrop. I was born in 1977 and never had a chance to go to the Batcave, to see Joy Division live. In this book we are taken through those damp streets, smell the clubs, see the fashion. A great history paints a picture in your mind that makes you a part of what happened years later. That was the ultimate magic of this book. Finally, my beloved goth scene always wants to put itself in a box. It’s a scene obsessed with the past, the idea that what came before will always be better than what comes after. This is a book about history, but one that flexes and expands the definition and connects those bands to the future. I’ve read several books and articles about goth history. None of them sparked something in me like this. If you are a lover of dark macabre music, this book is a must have.
This interview was my longest to date. Sometimes as an interviewer you need to navigate the flow of conversation to help the person you are interviewing tell their story. John is a lot better at this than me. So my goal was just to set him up and let him move from story to story. I am proud that although I could have listened to him discuss all the amazing things he has done and people he has known, I did get him talking about how the history of this scene impacts it’s future. The interview clocked in at 1.5 hours but in the end there was so little I wanted to cut. So we have broken it into 3 parts. I really hope you find something to learn and love from this conversation with one of the foremost experts in the modern darkscene.
Learn about the past. This book is a great way to do it. Start a review page. Tell bands you appreciate them. Go to shows. Stand in front. Wear crushed velvet. Smoke cloves. Drink the blood of your enemies from a skull. There is no wrong way to appreciate and be moved by music. Just do it with all your heart and leave space for everyone.
2023 has not been a great year for me doing written reviews. No time like the present to get back on track. I continue to be surprised how people keep finding new directions to explore sounds and human experience. Hopefully this article leads you to a new favorite band to love and support. If you find something you enjoy in this article, Please share it, maybe someone else will find something to brighten their day.
Jean-Marc Lederman – Soul Music For Zombies – The brilliant Belgian composer is always finding a new way to astound me. It is as if twelve brilliant writers live inside his skull and fight for control of what the next album will be. This album travels back to the beginning, when music decided to tap into something primal and internal. A circulatory system of connection and automation. Jean-Marc has a level of talent and skill that often leaves me flabbergasted. The greatest of which is an ability to create an emotional connection without reaching. Listening to this album never feels like a production or manipulation. It’s a ticket I bought, a seat on a magical vessel of experience and sensation. As a reviewer it is a difficult task to quantify something so exceptionally crafted, that on your best day, you could never produce. To step outside your own comprehension and appreciate the journey. This might be the most powerful statement in a career I can barely scratch the surface of.
The Music Walks Again (The Robert Johnson Story) Featuring Emileigh Rohn – The collaboration of these brilliant producers has produced some of my favorite music of the last 5 years. Every song feels like a meaningful conversation. A compromise of ideas. A tapestry made stronger by interwoven threads. Slow rhythmic strings and a hint of distortion paving individual footfalls for the beautiful clarity of her voice. This is an old story in blues. Robert Johnson goes to the crossroads at midnight. Offers his soul in exchange for playing something truly meaningful, something to last. The short, extraordinary life of an artist. To choose an eternity of suffering for a moment of perfection.
Didn’t Your Mama Tell You How To Behave ? – Electronic blues assault with an intensity to splashes on the back of the room. A single simple idea brought into rhythmic chant to hold together a spirit induced cacophony. I dare you not to feel this.
Jean-Marc Lederman does not disappoint as a rule. This album has tapped into a devotion to music and spirit that is transcendent in it’s youthful quest that follows the heart. An outstanding addition to your collection.
MORIS BLAK – BURIAL + VOID – The Boston, Massachusetts Electronic Body Music artist has continued to evolve and gather attention from the electronic community like moths to the flame. What jumps out most from previous works is the way the tempo is held back to add weight and inertia. Each song adds a guest talent to give it a unique frequency. GenCab, Kofin, SYZYGYX, Rabbit Junk, all add a distinct seasoning to this chaos electro antimatter stew.
Favorite Track: Procession – Banger alert! Heavy waves of cadence explosion with a beautiful duet vocal that tested the boundaries of both artists. The perfect song to let go and spin out of your own reality.
This Spring catch Moris Blak out on tour with Danny Blu a live show you will not want to miss.
unitcode:machine – Undone – Dallas, Texas industrial artist newly signed to COP International with a new single/remix release. Eric is another artist I feel I have watched evolve into one of the most prolific electronica vocalists of the new wave. THREE STELLAR REMIXES BY TOP NAMES IN THE SCENE (aesthetic perfection, stabbing WESTWARD, assemblage 23) . IN THE VEIN OF SILVERWALKS LAST YEAR, THIS PROMISES TO BE ONE OF THE MOST MEMORIBLE THINGS WRITTEN THIS YEAR.
Hem Netjer – The Song Of Trees – what an amazing growth for the world beat shadowcraft band from Vancouver, British Columbia. A truly unique blend of trance tendril synths, authentic throat singing, priestess croon, and rapture. A harken back to the spiritual soul and cultural exploration of Dead Can Dance, Projekt Records. The patience and subtlety crafting stories with words are an enchantment that burns into the listener’s mind. This is a band that has tapped into something beautiful and primal and have exploded past their own ceiling.
Favorite Track: Eldur – At 5:33 this is not a catchy hook single, but nothing about Hem Netjer strives towards simplicity. They are at their best when crafting a heady and meaning brew. This track fully highlights and range and soul of Raven’s voice in perfect harmony with evergreen energy pulse.
Hem Netjer is: Raven Rissy, David Deckard and Jesse Ellytt Lyrics: Raven Rissy Composition: Raven Rissy and David Deckard Throat Singing: Jesse Ellytt
Recording at: Jacknife Sound with Jason Corbett (Actors) Music Production: Scott Fox (iVardensphere)
Beborn Beton – Darkness Falls Again – German Synthlords return from a brief respite with one of the sizzling early contenders for album of the year. A 9th album full of vibrant passion. Stefan Netschio has a distinctive voice that is drawing you towards him with every inhalation. The hooks are constructed brilliant energon cubes free of fractures. Hand to evil leather bound tomb, this is what Depeche Mode wishes they were releasing in 2023.
Favorite Track: Dancer In The Dark – Sometimes I want to pretend I am aloof and cool, not falling in love with the first single off the album. This is such an undeniable banger it would be a disservice to deny the truth in front of everyone. The beat, the lead, the vocals, everything about this song is chefs kiss perfection.
Greetings my friends, it is once again time for the S & S Darkscene singles chart. The top 10 singles in February 2023 chosen by our group of Artists, Djs, Producers, Promotors, and Super Fans. We receive no compensation and every month I am astounded to find an incredible new bands I was not aware of. I welcome you all to do the same and dive in for the best new Goth, Industrial, New wave, Post Punk, Darkwave, Witchaus, or any other genre we decide suits our fancy. If you have a single in March or know someone who does, join the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group and add them to the poll.
AL1CE – The Lucky Dead Theme Song
IAMWARFACE – Say My Name
Sawtooth (feat. Sapphira Vee) – Walk Into The Ocean
Matt Hart (feat. Daniel Graves) – To The Core
Microwaved (Featuring Gaby Gustafson of Eva X) – Propaganda
Bellhead – I Would Die 4 U (Prince Cover)
A Cloud Of Ravens – Requiem for the Sun
Self Titled Album – The Unicorn Tornado Of Hurt
The Picassos – Under The Floorboards (With You)
Carrion – THERE IS ONLY HELL
The Bellwether Syndicate – We All Rise –
AL1CE – The Dead Lucky Theme Song – (Los Angelos CA) Animated raindrop synthwave track with an explosive bassline and jet engine guitar roar. I love the multi media connection to a comic called The Lucky Dead by Melissa Flores. Tash’s vocals are elegant and abstract weaving an image over the rhythm sections drive. Every new track I hear impresses me more.
IAMWARFACE – SAY MY NAME – (Brighton UK) – This one surprised me from the first beat. A blistering prog pulsed synth slammer that teetered between live and electric drums. The vocals are outstanding with a real Brett Anderson energy and sass against the hard rock thunder. Writing this down on paper this should not be my cup of tea, with every choice and change I kept finding myself won over. The quality and complexity on display here are undeniable.
Sawtooth – Walk Into The Ocean (feat. Sapphira Vee) – (Lowell, Massachusetts) – I love everything about this team up. Two amazing people that impress me every time working together. This beat slithers like an anaconda slithering along a slutty muted trumpet. Knowing both these artists, the way both voices shine is my favorite thing about this heavy air banger.
MATT HART – TO THE CORE (AESTHETIC PERFECTION REMIX) – (London UK) – Industrial Pop tender destruction remixed by the master of the genre. Glitchy and cruel with crystal clarity. This is not Matt hart’s first trip to our singles chart, it most certainly won’t be his last. The rising strikes like visible heat rising from the pavement. The bassline is a diamond tipped drill seeking out minerals below the curst.
Microwaved – Propaganda (Featuring Gaby Gustafson of Eva X) – (Des Moines, Iowa) – Gabe Wilkinson teaming up with Gaby is a beautiful synthesis of deadly EDM beats and a gatling gun cadence from the breathy vocals. Music to hunt the wastelands to.
BELLHEAD – I Would Die 4 U – (Chicago IL) – My favorite Chicago double bass duo with a Prince cover that is weird, disturbing, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. Ivan Russia summons some Steven Malkmus vocal delivery that leaves such a dissonate aftertaste to the familiar melody. I don’t know what I was expecting, it wasn’t this, it somehow hit for me on every level.
A Cloud of Ravens – Requiem for the Sun – (Brooklyn, New York) – what a bright future the Brooklyn post punk standouts have. Leaving for tour and every new single that comes out on this record is a bonfire banger. This bassline is Peter Hook worthy crude oil pipe. Matt’s vocals show range and creativity. People really need to get on board with this band. Don’t be the last.
Self Titled Album – Unicorn Tornado of Hurt – (Price, Utah) – Ok number 1, I didn’t think Utah had sweet bands. number 2, The title of this song is epic. That is before I even hit play. This track is a fuzzy level of bass I have not heard since Monster Magnet. Filthy and psychedelic with a retro 90’s engine.
thePicassos – Under the Floorboards (With You) – (Detroit MI) – One of my favorite haunting indie shadow sonic flavors from Detroit. Organic, emotive, and original driving into a concealed truth without fear. Charle’s vocals and haunting and original. Every time I hear this band I wonder where they have been all my life.
Carrion – THERE IS ONLY HELL – (Kingdom of Norway) – Our moderator and reviewer Hide has been locked away drinking torture juice pressurizing emotion for a new string of synth driven terror abstraction. Vocally flinging broken glass at our jugular at random precision. It’s always new, always distinct.
For this month I am going to add a special mention. The Bellwether Syndicate had a new single release that didn’t come out until 2/24/23 but it is such an absolute BANGER it felt wrong not to mention. The tone of this guitar is like walking in your door after an especially long day of work. William Faith’s voice is distinctive and raw. These drums slash us in reckless assault. A modern day classic.
While it’s true that I prefer reviewing full EPs/albums, the digital age of streaming playlists and Bandcamp Fridays have returned us to the Age of the Single™. Thus what I tend to find in my emails and trawling are standalone tracks, and I would probably lose sleep if I didn’t bring some of them to your attention. Therefore, here’s a list of 5 tunes, either released singularly or standing out from their respective albums, that I’m labeling “don’t miss” for March.
With their new album My Last Party, Dark Narrows proves the post-punk revival won’t stop in 2023. I’m calling it: “Second Hand Tears” is going to be the breakout hit from this release. The Maryland outfit assembles everything needed for a pop-goth dance floor banger, from punchy bass and dreamy guitars to the perfect sing-along hook with unexpected, descriptive imagery. I’ve been playing this on repeat for the past four days.
Oh my stars and garters! Martin Bowes and Julia Waller have joined up together again for the first time in 20 years and I couldn’t be happier. Neither have lost their talent for spooky, atmospheric music that chills the spine, but I’m also tapping my feet to this lively production. A lesser act would simply recreate the sound of yesteryear for a quick nostalgia trip, but Attrition instead compounds a lifetime of experience into an expertly constructed romp through the darkest parts of electronic music, leaving me breathless by the end of the recording and desperately looking forward to the upcoming Black Maria.
Last year I appeared on Space Couch and tackled the monolithic task of naming the best up-and-coming industrial acts. Thing is, mentioning Josie Pace as one of them came easily, and sure enough, she found herself performing on TV and opening for an extensive tour with Aesthetic Perfection, gaining a whole new following in the process. She capitalizes on that momentum now with a destructive single that pounds its listeners into dust. Pace continues to prove guitars are optional for industrial, delivering the concussive force of a hard rock power anthem with keyboard alone. Easily-chanted lyrics slowly dissolve into disturbing visions, a catharsis the heavy music gladly delivers.
Wilmington’s Johnny and Angela Yeagher excel at producing efficient, classic-sounding synthpop, and now they try their hands at making a sing-along anthem for all the weird ones in the world. These club hymns often pose a challenge because the lyrics need to be all-encompassing without being meaningless. Dead Cool takes a unique path by transforming a silly joke we’ve all spoken to our fellow black-clad friends and crafting it into the hook over a foreboding synth line. The earnestly sung, “Don’t let the sun blind your eyes,” transforms into the perfect rallying cry, combining the introspection and self-mocking humor that are both cornerstones of the goth/industrial aesthetic.
Despite the fact that I totally look the part, I’m not a huge anime nerd, so I haven’t seen the animation this song references. Furthermore, I’m not usually a fan of songs that try to tell a story someone else has already told, so “A Song of Your Name” had a high mountain to climb before I even listened to it. Luckily, this is Baltes & Zäyn, whose “Apocalyptech,” recounting scenes from Neon Genesis Evangelion, gripped me last year and never let go. Lucian Zäyn delicately weaves the story into a relatable, exposed melody that’s almost heartbreaking, exemplified by Steve Baltes’s cinematic score underneath. I didn’t have “synthpop power ballad about kami-manipulated young love” on my Bingo card for March singles, but apparently I should have.
What about you? What’s on your playlist for March?
Two things I love dearly are goth compilations and Florida based review/interview page Obscura Undead. Azy and friends have been such amazing supporters of the scene. They are a huge inspiration for me, and this is the fourth volume of awesome new Darkscene music. I’m so angry at my laziness that I didn’t submit an Amaranth song to be added. Compilations like this are so important to helping fans cut through the tidal wave of new music and find things that inspire. So I am going to take this journey that Obscura Undead laid out and find some great new bands I love.
Obscura Undead is a collective of goth creators passionate about new and obscure goth, darkwave, post-punk, and other dark alternative music. Created by Tampa, FL DJs Maus and Azy and backed by passionate fans turned writers from all over the world.
Draining Kiss – Draining Kiss – Gainesville, Florida artist with a lovely ambient EDM shadowsynth blended with Projekt Records romantism. The five song E.P. was released Oct 2022. The music has a vibrating 90’s techno feel with wonderfully layered vocals of ringing clarity. This appears to be the debut EP, but it gets me excited for things to come.
Chrysanthemum Ballroom – Mirrorball Explodes – Fortunate that the Chapel Hill, North Carolina band had just reached out for review which I can do now. So this track has a lovely ringing organic death rock feel. The vocals stood out in a unique and captivating Brian Eno way. I just don’t hear enough of this cadence and inflection in the modern darkscene. The guitar and basslines twirled and overlapped with cascading echos. I was an instant fan.
Element 104 – Blue In Heaven – Miami Florida fury tempo synthwave artist with wispy climbing Cocteau Twins ethereal vocals. Blending boot stomping dancetensity with effortless grace. Djs take note, this needs to spin in your clubs.
hororhaus – bloodlust (feat. Tokyo Teens) [Jimmi B. vocal version] – Woodstock, New York artist and frequent S & S contributor Scott Harris with this thrumming heart hammer dance beat. A runaway ghost train on a laser track. One of those tracks that packs a dancefloor.
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall – Multi country collaboration with Aussie Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter) , Bruce Nullify (Orcus Nullify) , and Colin Gallagher (Burnt Souls AU) form up for this spiraling darkwave single. Thick resonant vocals with great Mark Burgess flavor and 80s Killing Joke frantic turns. This crew never disappoints.
Cyborg Amok – Black Well House (A Ghost Story) – New Jersey father son duo with this bleak and beautiful building ballad. I love the power of the drums while maintaining this slow droning tempo. Understated and haunted vocals, the chorus harmony in particular create an emotive blend. An edgier Psychedelic Furs feel that lives up to the name ghost story.
Flores de Tchernobyl – Black Plague – Lots to be excited about here. There is always something when you get a new compilation where you stop and say holy crap how have I never heard this. Plus they are from Mexico and I am always looking to shout from the rooftops that people need to pay attention to Mexican Darkscene music. Also I LOVE the cover art. So this track is electronic brush rolling across the desert. Powerful sultry vocals and a nice cold minimal build. The voice rings with such power and creates bold contrast to the beats behind them. This was an instant buy for me.
Uncanny Chamber – Escaping The VoidFeat: Pedro Code – From Portugal another band I didn’t previously know, one thing I know very well is that Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) makes everything he is involved in amazing. This track is of course no exception. Ethereal still water expanding in every direction while Pedro poles this boat through the darkness. I now have another darkscene band in Portugal to be excited about.
Byronic Sex & Exile – Taking it back to where it all begin in Leeds, I’m not sure how I first found this band but I was blown away. Delicate and engaging like a lace cuff with a hint of mystery. The piano line for this track is captivating and the baritone croon is a magnificent contrast. I dare you not to fall in love with this band.
I feel like I could be here all day writing about every band on these compilations. Azy and crews taste is always first rate so everything here is worth trying. I hope you take the journey and support the wonderful community at Ubscura Undead.
A new year has started and we are already flooded with amazing releases. Tons of legendary bands are coming out for one final farewell tour or album. Here at S & S we like to focus on the new and fresh. The hot singles of the darkscene not showing up in more reputable charts. All of these singles were voted on by our group of Artists/Djs/Promotors/Reviewers/Superfans. If you have a single releasing in February go to the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group and submit 🙂
Beborn Beton – Dancer In The Dark – (Germany)
Astari Nite – Bowie In Daydreams – (Miami Florida)
Vazum – Night Shade – (Detroit Michigan)
Scary Black – Everything Rots (Louisville KY)
Iamnoone – King Of Pain (Italy)
En Esch – ET NOS UNUM SUMUS – (Berlin Germany)
Klack – New Buildings – (Madison Wisconsin)
Cerulean Veins – Love Won’t Save Us Now (San Diego, California)
Leaether Strip – Last Station – (Vegger, Denmark)
Dissonance – I Don’t Like Who You Are – (Dallas, Texas)
Beborn Beton – Dancer In The Dark – A new year, a new #1 finish for the German darksynth destroyers. This single will crawl into your ears and live there for a week. Pure crooning spun sugar by Stefan Netschio this album really can’t arrive soon enough but the release date is March 17, 2023.
2) Astari Nite – Bowie In Daydreams – What a beautiful tribute to the thin white Duke. It’s sassy, it’s fantastical, and Mychael really captured the Star Man attitude. I feel like I just took a swing around the sun.
3) VAZUM – Night Shade – Detroit Cold Fi duo with this new unseely court fairy driving banger with a nice lyrical shade thrown. They always bring something creative and against the grain of the scene status quo. Loving how vocal forward the harmony is on the chorus.
4) SCARY BLACK – Everything Rots – Every time I hear something new from Albie, I get genuinely mad he isn’t apart of every discussion of the biggest names of modern darkscene. This single is TERRIFYING. The emotional projectile vomit of dark viscus sound is staggering. The first time I played it my hands were shaking. If you love goth music, please go listen to one of the best artists of the last 10 years making it.
5) iamnoone – kind of pain – Before I even get to this single by the Italian Cold Transmission Music duo, I have to address this amazing cover art. Something about the texture of it just haunts me. The new single and video is a lovely bouncing shadow disco with a bit of Peter Hook Revenge energy and teardrop synth chimes ala The Cure. Grab a cup of tea, this song, and raindrops streaking down the window.
6) EN ESCH – ET NOS UNUM SUMUS – This track is a little outside what I think of as darkscene singles, but it is such an interesting concept by the industrial legend I am ecstatic it was chosen. To really appreciate you have to read the liner notes. An immersive thought piece with brilliant high hats.
It’s based on a very special and unique concept and sound installation I created for the Berlin government, “Kulturprojekte Berlin”. A stand alone musical piece that is something completely original and inspired – every known national anthem playing together at the same moment. 206 national anthems playing at the same time!
The Untied Nations has 193 member states and I also added the anthems of observers and known non-members.
The German Esch lyrics in the beginning and at the end are taken from the poem “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy) written by German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller in 1785.
The other lyrics written by me are translated into Japanese and spoken by Keiko Yoshida, translated into Polish and spoken by “fdisk@interia” an internet friend of mine I that I have been unable to contact (please contact me, I want to credit you correctly) and the English part is performed by Sylvia J. Carrasquillo.
7) Klack / Inconscio Viola Split EP – New Buildings – So in spite of being one of my favorite team ups in EDM music Matt and Eric, this one flew a little under my radar. It was a spit EP on New York label SYNTHICIDE with Inconscio Viola. First thing I notice, it has MORE cowbell, I have immediately bought in. Trademark razor samples and Matt’s cascading growl. Stomp your boots and join the Klack. What if we made the whole track the breakdown?
8) Cerulean Veins – Love Won’t Save Us Now – Now I must admit I was not familiar with the San Diego band but they are definitely here now. Lovely pounding late Mission style goth rock with a great ringing anthem chorus. Crisp charging builds mastered to perfection by the always on point Pete Burns.
9) Leaether Strip – Last Station – With absolutely no surprise for anyone, Claus Larsen releases this shimmering crystalline EDM modern classic as a tribute to Kurt. Poetry, pain, love, I may have misted up a bit.
10) Dissonance – I Don’t Like Who You Are – Cat is a singular vocal talent that draws in top collaborators like moths to the flame. On this particular track it is Jon Van Herrman and Rath Campbell. I love this new broken glass edge to Cat’s captivating vocals. It distracts you with shine, right before the knife slides between your ribs.
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
Kill Shelter – Asylum – Kill 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.
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.
3) Secret Shame – Autonomy – 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
4) IAMTHESHADOW – The 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
5) The Cassandra Complex – The Plague – Rodney 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.
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.
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.
8) Pilgrims Of Yearning – Hadal – 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.
9) The Burying Kind – Tragic 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.
10) Mark E Moon – Lux 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.
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.
(Special Mention) Cleopatra Records – The 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.
Curse Mackey – Immoral 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.
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.
3) <PIG> – The Merciless Light – Raymond 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.
4) Silver Walks – Various 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.
5) Dread Risks – Automated 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.
6) KMFDM – Hyena – 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.
7) AUTHOR & PUNISHER – KRÜLLER – 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.
8) Spike Hellis – Spike 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.
9) Dogtablet – Ashes – 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.
10) Deathline International – Pax 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.
Special Mention: Gasoline Invertebrate – Cracked 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.
Panic Priest – PSYCHOGORIA – 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.
2) Vision Video – Haunted 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.
3) 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.
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 Massacre – Fascination – 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.