That old familiar feeling, sitting late at night on Stella number 6. A quiet falls over my house. Other than my earbuds blasting the latest in wonderful new dark music which I will now share with you. Our new Sounds and Shadows Facebook group has exposed me to several new bands and DJs so I will dig into that now. May the muses strike you and help you find something inspiring on this list like I did.
The Gothsicles – Animal Songs – Anyone who reads this page knows I am a goth who does not take himself to seriously. I think goth music should be stretched to the utmost limit of the definition. So when I hear a band that takes that way further than I could even imagine, believe me I am all in. When I first heard bands like Violent Femms in my youth it was extremely inspiring. I have a voice that does not fit the music I play. Brian Graupner has achieved the same concept and turned it to eleven. The music is Star Destroyer laser beams of energy burning through the universe with reckless abandon. His singing is an infectious wail spewing forth educational and spicy cadence you can taste burning down your throat. This album takes on a really interesting concept. All of the songs are about animals, written from that perspective. It also has some great guest vocals including MC Lars and FIRES doing a rap. This record isn’t a lot of ups and downs musically. Just keeps blasting you like a fire hose. I think it is a true testament to what Graupner accomplished by having the lyrics and clever delivery be the dynamics that hold your attention.
Rock the Quokka – This track has the same bouncing intensity but with a funky bounding adorable energy. The lyrics are brilliant and transport you into the tall grass and brilliant sun.
Naked Mole Rat – I want to hear Aedra (FIRES) on everything. Here she is dropping amazing bars and her sharp edge sultry voice is an amazing addition. It blends well with Brian screaming Pink and Furtive. All these songs really do make you feel and empathize with these animals. It’s a memorizing effect.
Stag Beatle Professional Wrestling – Here the idea of making the beetles do another thing close to my heart, pro wrestling just slayed me. The music has wonderful 90s electronica industrial beats. Just pure fun right up your gullet.
This record just captured me entirely. If you buy one thing this band camp Friday my recommendation is it is this. It inspires me to make goth music even more fun. Obviously the world is ready.
The Hanging Freud –Nowhere – Delicious Glasgow slow droning darkwave. Lots of swirl and down tempo with singer Paula Borges giving rich melting chocolate to pour slowly on that buzzing synth. Definitely hearing big audio heaven sound stretching. Sometimes in a mix you can feel one aspect or another too far away. Here everything feels underwater in equal measure and it gives the music a surreal quality. The tension is great and gives this feeling of being on a submarine sinking closer to the crush point. Watching out the small glass circles and seeing the world grow darker.
Favorite Track: Power over you – Definitely the sharp point of that sinking feeling. A stalking Bioshock copper glow sound. This isn’t a song you are hearing, it is a record playing from the spirit world creeping through the veil into your human ears.
Blind Colour – Ink Project – Rhythm Spirit – Ok this is a little outside my usual wheelhouse. This is slow sexy textural electronic beats. Renunciant of triphop like Portishead. It’s hard to box it in just one place though because the songs cover such varied group and have a real visceral imagery. This is an album to close your eyes to, lay back, and picture yourself floating. I found a calm meditation washing over me as each track flowed like liquid into the next. The craft and patience of these songs are fully on display. This whole project streams like a movie where your imagination are the pictures.
Blink Feat: Yazmyn Hendrix – Slow grinding space flight. Quasars and stars pass you by. Hendrix voice has a southern soul and smooths the staccato beats of the music with a dreamlike flow.
Slow Suicide Feat: Fifi Rong – A stronger and funkier gravitational pull. Fifi has a whispered spoken word style with a little Suzanne Vega flow. Gently dipping her hand in a calm pool to create expanding ripples. Then she reaches up with a beautiful chorus melody. “I’m a mess, I confess” the balanced rhymes never let your head leave this perfectly constructed vision.
Ashbury Heights – Wild Eyes – Now I understand I am a little late to the game on Ashbury Heights, I can tell you I have rectified that mistake now. Just magnificent construction and expansive rising dance club banger energy. Madil Hardis has a sunrise voice that sets light upon the shadows. Anders Hagstrom has a perfect piercing counterpart. I played this single 4 times and just couldn’t stop shaking and swaying. The lyrics were relatable and left you deep in the pop hooks. Precision layering of the vocal harmonies with modern crystal clean movement. I need to listen to A LOT more Ashbury Heights.
Long After Midnight – Painkiller – Close to home is Grand Rapid Michigan’s Long after Midnight. Really liking how much rock is mixed into this Industrial Rock. The mastering was done by Jules Seifert so everything is smooth as an Aston Martin’s fender. Ross Martin’s vocals are crisp and powerful to cut through the progressive hard edge of the music. Mike Nolan is juggling a lot of moving parts here to give the music a sense of complexity and movement. Really exciting taste of more great things to come. I need to play with these cats once shows start again.
Heavy Water Factory – it’s not what you think – Let’s keep things in the Michigan. Jesse James McClear has been a pioneer of the Detroit Industrial/Techno scene for a few decades now. This new EP highlights what he does best. The hard stomping echo of Detroit Industrial with the tight corners and revving engine of electronic dance. This EP is all instrumental but speaks volumes with the razor changes and subtitle details. It’s an endless motion and sinisterly honed vision. The bleep bloop bop is not glitchy or crushing. Instead it endeavors for something sleek and calculated. This is night time driving soundtrack through a collapsing city. Could I have appreciated some vocals? Sure. However not having them didn’t stop me from plunging in and riding this wave of emotion.
Glass Apple Bonzai – The Blush – For my final review lets pick a great story from a wonderful human. Daniel Belasco had two friends effected by the winter storms in Texas and released this smoking hot synth danger to help them. This track has their beautiful signature layered new wave spun candy. The vocals are vaulting hurdle after hurdle and popping effortlessly between ranges. Spinning in a spiral of technicolor bright energy. The B side track Fire in the Sky is a deep crooning highway driver. I love this come hither version of Daniels voice. The chorus is a gorgeous open hook of cool mint candy cane. Feel good about snagging great music and helping folk in need.
Our podcasts have been really improving. Having interviews that are a real conversation with some of the artists I love and give all their fans a feeling of knowing them on a personal level. I wanted to compile them all in one place that give you the opportunity to find and enjoy them.
2/25/21 Grabyourface – Talented French artists Marie Dragontown on Negative Gain. Talking about their breakthrough album Sea, France, and their favorite pizza.
2/19/21Tear Down The Wall discussion with Russ Robinson (Infectious Groves Podcast) and Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). Here we discuss the charity compilation of Industrial artists put out by Riveting Records in Colorado that has a cover version of every song on Pink Floyd‘s iconic album “The Wall”
12/22/2020 Rodney Orpheus from The Cassandra Complex – Amazing interview with one of the godfathers of goth. Telling stories of meeting Andrew Eldrich, their new album, predicting the attack on our Capital, and the past and present of Goth.
6/25/20 Interview with Dogtablet Martin King (Test Dept) and Jared Louche (Chemlab) – Where they discuss history on the road, their song writing, snowball fights with Trent Reznor, Jared’s Shoes, and rescuing dogs.
The most invaluable attribute of an increasingly global community is the discovery of our shared – and often, surprisingly unified – experience of the world. Even as we languish through the isolation imposed on us via a global crisis, we can reach across vast expanses, foreign borders, and cultural divisions to find that, ultimately, we have more to connect us than we have to separate us.
Hence, the uniquely relatable Indonesian three-piece, Camlann, and their 2020 studio album, the aptly titled The Forgotten Lost Fragments. Listeners will find themselves immediately transported to the soundscapes of their misspent youths, with authentic, vintage-feeling grooves that harken back to the New Romantic golden age of the genre. The songs feel familiar and oddly comforting, yet spiked with a dose of the unexpected, an added ingredient that lifts the recipe.
Namely, the most novel feature of Camlann’s sound is vocalist Ony Godfrey’s haunting tone. Often acting as a rhythm instrument, the vocals will then suddenly take flight and soar above the surrounding backdrop, calling to mind the heady, bright tone of crooners like Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright – but stripped of pretense and glamour, and flooded with simple, refreshing sincerity and a distinctly feminine nobility. One feels less that they are merely listening to an artificially-cultivated performance, and more that they are sneaking a peek into a carefully-guarded diary.
Hummable tunes are augmented with classic, almost Santo and Johnny ‘Sleepwalk’-style guitar melodies – also Godfrey’s contributions, creating a dreamy lightness over the solid fabric of the drum-and-bass combo. The arrangements are straightforward, but layered and colorful, employing unique effects and pleasantly disorienting quirks, provided by bassist Bayu Triyudanto and synth/keyboardist Fauzan Pratama.
The 10-track album is a much-needed lesson in brevity; Camlann has a knack for knowing what they want to say, and being cleverly succinct in their approach. There is no wallowing or luxuriating in the mire here; the songs are considerably brief, most of them having gotten their point across in less than four minutes, with no need for further embroidery or gilding the lily. The charming, palate-cleansing sorbet of ‘Il Prologo’ clocks in at just 45 seconds, but its impact is effectively made, and the album wouldn’t be the same without it.
Standout tracks include the title track, which artfully drops the listener into Camlann’s world and sets the stage for an introspective, intimate drama. ‘What’s The Worth Of Living’ employs a lilting, rolling guitar theme that brings Camlann’s genuinely skilled musicianship into sharp focus. ‘Father Johannes’ sails in on the wings of a sweeping, cinematic theme to introduce the album’s eponymous central character, a mysterious figure whose headstone graces the memorable cover art. ‘The Ballad of Us’ provides a subversive twist on the notion of a conventional love song, with Godfrey’s vocal prowess on full display, grounded by the staccato heartbeat of a string quartet. ‘New City, New Hope’ positively shimmers with its many layers and sophisticated arrangements, peppered with an exuberant horn section that feels right at home among the album’s vintage-seeming accessories.
Formed in early 2019 by a trio of Jakarta middle-school students, this often surprising outfit also includes their own producer, Chariszan, and a co-songwriter, Arachne – both of whom share the distinction of their bandmates of being under the age of 17. Rare as it seems to encounter a young band with such a direct focus and clear intention, Camlann are proving that the upcoming generation has their own perspective, and plenty to say. I had the fortune of speaking via email to vocalist/lyricist Ony Godfrey about the band’s history, inspiration, and point of view.
Sounds and Shadows: Your enigmatic name is both mysterious and memorable. How did you arrive on ‘Camlann’?
Ony Godfrey: Camlann’s name comes from the well-known Arthurian legend, specifically from King Arthur’s final battle, “The Battle of Camlann”. I and Chariszan thought that we wanted to find a name that is easy to remember by people, and has a connection with legend or myth, so we chose the name Camlann.
S&S: How did you find one another?
Godfrey: In early 2019, I started posting covers of my favorite songs from my favorite artists (mostly The Smiths and Joy Division) on my old Instagram account. Somehow, this attracts Chariszan’s attention, and she asked me if I wanted to make a Post-Punk/New Wave band with her. So I said yes, and that’s how Camlann was born. It was never really taken seriously by Chariszan and I, before I graduated from middle school and moved to a public school in Jakarta, and met these two boys who later will be my closest best friends.
Around September 2019, my classmate, which is Fauzan, asked me if he could join the band as the synth player and composer. He told me that he’s a massive 80s New Wave/synthpop enthusiast and wanted to play in an 80s synth-dominated band. So I said yes, because we have the same interest in music and because he’s a very gifted synth player and composer. After that, Fauzan asked his friend, which is Bayu, if he wanted to join the band to play bass. So there you go, that’s how it all started.
S&S: What inspires you, and your sound?
Godfrey: I got inspired by a lot of things, but mostly by some real events that [are] happening in my life and some important events that happened in this world in general. I got influenced a lot by Morrissey’s songwriting since the very beginning of Camlann until this day. It’s funny to see that some people thought that these dark, depressing, and melancholic lyrics are based on my life, when in fact it’s all fictional and based on my imaginations. Well, most of them are inspired by some real events in my life, but I twisted those actual, real events into something fictional and mostly dramatic. I took these realities as a ‘host’ for these lyrics, and [I] twist these events into something fictional, dramatic, and definitely not personal. I love using real events in my life as a ‘host’ for these melancholic and gloomy lyrics, haha!
S&S: What turns you on, and puts you in your creative mindset?
Godfrey: I really love to add some religious and historical elements in my music. I was born from a non-religious family; my parents are Protestant, but not religious at all. But then one day, a life-changing experience happened in my life. I felt the presence of God, and I started to buy a bible from a local bookstore near my house and learn Catholicism all by myself. A year later, I got baptized as a Catholic and I’ve never been happier in my life. Since then, I’ve decided to include some Catholic references in my lyrics.
All of us are massive lovers of the 80s, especially Fauzan. So then we decided to create our own universe for our music, where in that universe, we’re living in the early 1980s. That’s also the main reason we take a lot of influences from 80s popular culture and sounds for our music. Fauzan’s presence and contribution in this band is very, very influential and basically, without him, Camlann would never have this current sound. So we owe him A LOT, and I feel like he’s very, very underappreciated when in fact, he’s the main composer of this band.
S&S: What turns you off, and how do you reinspire yourselves?
Godfrey: The struggle of mixing our influences into our music would be the main reason. I got influenced mostly by The Velvet Underground, The Smiths, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, Emma Ruth Rundle, Russya, and Xmal Deutschland. Fauzan was influenced mainly by Alphaphile, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Suicide, Donna Summer, and Molchat Doma. Meanwhile, Bayu was influenced mostly by The Cranberries, Hole, The Doors, and Joy Division. Sometimes, we struggle on mixing these various influences to Camlann’s typical sound, and it took us almost a year to find our own sound.
We usually reinspire ourselves by brainstorming our different influences together and sharing new music that we have just discovered lately, and then starting on gathering these new ideas into one unity. You will definitely hear this new sound of Camlann in our upcoming album, ‘Circa 1983’; this album is a fresh start of Camlann’s sound and image as a band. We will definitely go in this direction from now on – a ‘Dark Disco’ band, a mixture between classic disco and 80s synthpop/New Wave sounds with modern Darkwave sounds.
S&S: What would your listeners be surprised to learn about you?
Godfrey: We’re definitely just some random high school students with their own life interests and their own dreams. We are definitely not ‘dark’ or ‘gloomy’ when we’re not being these images we play in Camlann. We just happened to play in a dark disco band – that’s why we look gloomy and dark in our band pictures, haha!
Also, I’ve heard many people think that I have a deep voice. But actually, my talking voice is quite high-pitched. That’s why my father got really shocked when he heard me singing for the first time!
* * *
It may seem counterintuitive to imagine steel-gray, 1983 Sheffield skies scattered over wet cobblestones when one is listening to an Indonesian synthpop trio, but it is exactly Camlann’s relatability and reverence for their influences that makes the music feel mature and expertly crafted. There is common ground to be found here, freshly updated and uniquely flavored with subtlety and precision. Encapsulating a wide spectrum of genres and techniques, Camlann are proving themselves to be one to watch as they continue to develop their sound. The Forgotten Lost Fragments feels like poring through the memory box of an intriguing stranger, where one finds treasures that reach across time and borders to become cherished once again.
Sitting down to write and absorb for the first time in a few weeks. I love the way my boundaries keep getting stretched further by the sounds I am hearing. I feel like the Goth/Industrial genres are a buffet of ever widening flavors to test that adventurous streak in my heart.
SYZYGYX and ELZ AND THE CULT – ANXXX – Two of the sexiest bands on Cold Transmission team up for this razor hot single. Trying to put this in a box of genre or previous sound is a herculean task beyond me. This is found metal sculpture sounds, wet leather, and heavy breath. Static glitch dance beats are a 3D computer image of horror pop fingers on the back of your spine. Elz’s voice is captivating and sensual. Luna steps outside her breathy whisper to scream out with terrifying demonic exultation. The result is a horror film spectacle that leaves you frozen to the floor. Elz spoken word poetry shows a William Burroughs raw creativity and free form emotional overcharge. Everything these bands do is glorious art. Working together it is a powerful and un nerving statement.
Actors – Strangers – Another single, another amazing slow tease from Actors. This song has a synth heavy influence with wonderful understated staircase guitar. The energy is star crossed and introspective. That kind of infatuation that rattles your DNA and leaves you be lost in the journey of knowing someone that first time. The change in bass players really adds a bright bursting color to the tone. Jason takes the reins on the vocals here and every phrase is a come hither lilting rise. The way he sits in the mix like it is the scenery of this story. This album can’t come soon enough.
Echo Haus – Deth Werk – New single from Echo Haus, one half of Chicago based Lorelei Dreaming. AJ does a focus on electronic imagery and scenery in their music. This one instills a picture of a hospital intensive care unit. The thrumming heart beat blips and tension. The journey seems to dive into the patient around 1:27 and becomes a part of the blood stream. Twisting and turning past organ and system. I love their ability to transport you with frequency and modular shift. Sometimes I want to focus on the words and energy of music. Sometimes I want to to hide behind my eyes and drift through the world. Echo Haus is the latter.
aliasynesthesiamusic – Stop Go – Beautiful twisting tension track. I feel that sense of Bjork surrealism pop with shadowy edges. As though she is a character in a Mario Brothers adventure. City hopping on angel wings from one cloud to another and never able to escape this digital prison. One of those solo ritual dance songs made for your alone time in your room. A true imagination fuel mind gripper. This really gets me excited for the future releases. Beautifully produced and expertly crafted.
Burnt Souls – Desolation – An Australian recommendation from Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter) who is always a spot on source of great music. I love the complexity of emotion and overlapping sound. They have some flavor of The Church and even The Smiths but Colin Gallagher has a unique and delicate voice that really slips through the cracks of it’s own ground. It definitely rides that lo-fi throwback tone which sits perfectly within itself. The drum transitions flow like water through a rocky path. Every emotion seems to find it’s focus without screaming out. I love the steady control and thoughtful precision. This is one of those albums you can throw on and feel something different each time. Be drawn to a new aspect every time. This isn’t a record of bangers, it’s one that needs to be absorbed.
The Ghost Of Bela Lugosi – No Way Home – I can’t take a trip to Australia without visiting my good friend Vin Price. Every single he puts out is a master class in song writing and creativity. I know I say this every time I review him but he is staggeringly underrated. This track is a beautiful synthesis of the past and future with barbed hook guitar riffs, cascading tempo shifts, and ensemble cast vocals (even though it is all him). It’s a wobbling stumble through streets with broken lights. Following the voice of the one you love to certain danger. A power your can’t ignore. Every time I hear a new TGOBL track it instantly becomes my favorite.
Klack – Deklacked V1 – Matt and Eric are back at it once again. This time they have brought all their friends to share in the power of the Klack. To understand the power of Klack you need to grasp the friendship of the members. This in turn becomes a contagious connection which draws in the artists in this scene like moths to a flame. You can feel the affection of all these artists to these songs as they lovingly craft new lights and blips to make them their own. Assemblage 23 , Sweat Boys , Null Device, Caustic, and many more put the tender heart in a blender and spew forth visceral blood and guts to fling at the walls of your dance hall. If you love EDM/EBM no one is doing it at a level higher than Klack.
As 2021 begins and the world continues it’s isolation we find comfort where we can. For me that has been finishing an album, enjoying our ShadowBook Facebook group, and finding amazing new music to drop my hard earned duckets down for on Bandcamp day. The first Friday of every month Bandcamp gives all of it’s proceeds from album sales directly to the artist. So let me fire through what will be taking up residence in my ever expanding collection.
Stoneburner – No Light No Spark – It is fairly well known Steven is a friend of the page. That is why I appreciate it so much he never makes me forfeit my integrity by consistently putting out increasingly amazing albums. In this one he calls upon an army of Industrial compatriots to remix some of his recent work. (Bellhead/Assemblage 23 / Machines With Human Skin / Dogtablet/ Sister Sarin / Stabbing Westward / Joy Thieves / Bativia / Hollowboy / Pill Brigade). It’s always a joy to here material you love, reimagined by other people you love. Often they do something I always want to hear from Steven, which is giving even more clarity to his concepts and poetry.
Standout Tracks: All of them.
Amnesialand(Dogtablet – Soldier Ant Mix) Static strikes like brushes, a machine powers up, Steven’s rapping flow is clarified and direct. I love how the drums slide off the beat behind him.
Are You There The WayI’m Here (Assemblage 23 Remix) A slow and deliberate grind that isolates the lyrics. Striking hard on the front beats. Just wave after wave of giant stone wheels crushing the land before it.
No Light No Spark (Terror Management Theory version) Giant and terrifying in it’s scope. This track stomps around on iron legs with drunken fury. A stalking beast of a song.
You can never have too much Stoneburner in your collection.
SINE – DesolateDistrict Feat. Chris Connelly – This is an absolute burner single that came out last year. It’s starburst drums and satin vocals, weaving through a shattered landscape. Then it adds in Chris Fuking Connelly. I love this call and answer flow of the vocals. The power of the drum beats shakes your spine. This song is a dance club hit every place in America needs to be thumping through a system. When Connelly is the icing on your cake, that is one hell of a cake. Hot poetry like this “The name’s contagious, written in smoke You force fed energy, starved and soaked You misread crime when you look at decline Desolate district dissolute signs”
Die Robot – Frantic – Portland’s cybernetic punk energon cubes released this single in May last year. It’s that perfect synthesis of funky electropunk and smash your face flying robot fist. Great mixture of voices and sensual inflection. I got done stomping my feet to this single and picked up the whole discography. My advice is get this and then when your legs can’t dance anymore build better ones out of broken robot parts.
I Ya Toyah – Out Of Order – Chicago/Poland’s favorite one women sound extravaganza has this eagerly awaited sophomore EP out 3/26/21 which is now available for preorder. So far one single is available and just like every time Ania puts out something new, my jaw hit the floor. Instead of napalm energy, this new sound is a cutting laser or focus and complexity. Like a fine wine every moment it lingers in your throat offers a new flavor and tone. This is a must order and early contender to be on albums of the year. It’s so seldom you see someone with the talents of Ania work as hard as she does at her craft to grow exponentially with each release.
Also a bundle package available Unisex T-shirt designed by Chicago artist Danesh Kothari, printed on soft and natural Bella Canvas, plus limited edition holographic sticker, and CD in 6 panel art wallet with 6 page lyric and art insert. Photos and art by award winning European artist Krzysztof Babiracki. 15% of each physical album sale goes to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to aid mental health cause. Ania is an amazing human changing the world with everything she does.
The Churchill Garden – Fade Away – Gorgeous new dreampop single with a team up of Andy Jossi and (Whimsical) singer Krissy Vanderwoude. This track is a tear rolling slowly down the cheek just as the sun strikes it to make it sparkle. I kept feeling my heart rise up towards my throat as layer after layer emerged and joined a cacophony of tender sweeping wind. Music to make your feel.
Luis Vasquez – A Body Of Errors – I hate to be that guy, that says I was at that one show. I’m just kidding, I love to be that guy. I got to see The Soft Moon at Berghain and it altered the course of my sonic life. This new solo album is a percussion driven instrumental masterpiece. Rising cities, cities destroyed, the screams of a dying age. Textural emotive hums infusing the body and blasting a prism of colors into the mind. I’m not usually one for instrumental works but just like anything when it is done at this level it is something that moves you. Future Sounds of London with the edgy tension of Coil. I want to be back in that bunker in Berlin riding the wave of this journey of sound.
Doors In The Labyrinth – The Shadow Of The Monolith – I love when a band has so many present influences that their is no effective way to categorize it. New album from the Pittsburgh native Josh Loughrey has a textured coldwave isolation crashing up against sizzling guitars and wilderness crooning vocals. Full album release is 3/15 but this first single is full of promise and explosive energy. I had the opportunity to see Josh open for Adoration Destroyed/Lorelei Dreaming and this is an artist with a bubbling volcano of passion ready to explode.
Collapse of Dawn – of dreams and nightmares – This is a sound that really leans into it’s album name. A sinister stalking wispy electronic sound. Both Saphirra Vee and Melodywhore contribute vocals and it is a powerful combination to give the shadow images both sensuality and dark intention. My personal favorite was “Silent Howl“, it managed to elevate the surrealism to further the dream metaphor. Just like a dream or nightmare I think the true star of the show were the tiny brushstrokes of sound you don’t remember you heard until later reflection. Everyone who listens will get their own story. I’m glad I heard mine.
Kandinsky Noir – DOM-J (Feat. Grabyourface) – This track immeadiately puts you back on your heels with explosive force and smashing guitars. Very old school industrial tone with a sharp high speed modern sound. The effect is made even stronger with a wonderful guest vocal by Marie of Grabyourface providing French lyrics. This one is even more special for me because the collaboration came out of our Sounds and Shadows group. A beautiful textured jam with teeth and blood.
Dissonance – Damage 1st Assault (Feat Melodywhore) Ok I am a long time fan of Cat Hall, she has one of the most underrated voices in modern electronic. So when I say this is my favorite track I want you to appreciate the weight of that. James lays down a filthy grinding beat that really let her voice off the chain. Puts me in mind of that aggressive feminine power of Lords of Acid and My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult. All broken glass and velvet sass. I can’t wait to hear more from this powerful collaboration. The single also features some powerful remix work from Joe Haze , Machines With Human Skin, Steven Olaf, and more.
It was a tough week for me. I think for a lot of people. It was also a time of hope and possibility. As so often I found myself taking refuge in the sounds of others, trying to feel something outside my own head. I have some releases here, some old, some new. May they offer you some comfort as they did to me at times I needed it most. I also wanted to say what a beautiful refuge our new Sounds and Shadows Facebook community has been to me. Many of these reviews were suggestions or submissions from new friends there. Keep sharing music and lifting each other up my friends.
Dead Astronauts : Silhouettes– A new release from our friends at Cold Transmission from Seattle WA. This record was a articulate and purposeful release that had a craftsmanship that placed it in the upper echelons. That made a lot of sense once I heard Slade Templeton (Crying Vessel) had a guiding hand involved. Florence, and Jared seem to have an instinct for where a song needs to go. Melody to melody, song to song, everything seems to flow in it’s perfect natural direction. It makes it so easy to fade away and become lost in the futuristic textures. They each have such a distinct and soothing voice. Made stronger by their combination and ability to hold the depth of a conversation instead of a monologue. The music has a lot of subtle dissonance and complex themes. What really makes it effective though is how these details are woven around straight forward pop hooks that remind me of Peter Hook’s Revenge , or Pet Shop Boys. This is a record that doesn’t need to scream to get your attention or convey emotion. It tells you everything without ever having to raise it’s voice.
Strangers In A Room – I feel in love with this very funky dance beat. Jared’s voice is a sensual croon with muted horn synths behind. It sets a scene of adventure and tension. Florence is the low lights which create his shadows. Just expert construction and a hook that grabs you by the waist.
She Haunts Me – Holy fuk this is gorgeous. Dark synth driven ghostly introspection. This beautiful sense of ownership of action and the feeling of someone who is gone but still shapes you. The things you have acknowledged and learned to late. This idea hits so hard. The chorus highlights the depth of Jared’s voice which swells without ever losing it’s smooth contours.
Pain, I Know – The cadence of this song make amazing movement. Florence is a haunting presence that lifts this song on her airy ever shifting melodies. This one really tugs the heartstrings.
Overall this album is a total concept and a much needed blast of poetry and expression in the darkwave genre. It’s a great example of what you can create when you understand harmony and synthesis. I just keep coming back again and again.
Chant – HYDRA – New album from Bradley Bills who’s pedigree is well known in the industrial scene as a drummer. This release is a venture deeply of his own device. It still starts with the power of of percussion. Just amazing and varied rhythms and mathematical constructs. The sound is massive. I picture a powerful sorcerer standing on a cliff face raising and lowering his hands while crystal shafts shoot forth tot he sky or crash back beneath the sea. The vocals are a raspy and passionate chant. I kept finding myself drawn and isolated on individual sounds and lines. Bills is a real magician when it comes to directing your focus while he is moving the next phrase behind your view. Some nice hard smashing guitars that hit and decay quickly. I think one of the most interesting aspects here is how the drums feel like melody and the guitars feel like percussion. The lyrics are very clever and poignant to the political and human issues of the moment from demagogues to media saturation.
President God – Powerful and lockstep. Again I can’t stress enough how much the drums take a front seat here in the best way possible. This paints a picture we are all familiar with in the last 4 years. A politician trying to move from elected official to dictator. Very cool old KMFDM feel with a stripped down clarity I found refreshing.
Primetime Annihilation – I’m loving this concept album story of this corrupt politician in the modern era. “The more you watch and the more you hate, the more that I get paid”. This song is such a bag of broken glass swung at your head like a mace. The edges hit hard but the melody is a beautiful hook that leaves you stomping your feet while it lives in your head.
Overall it is a politically charged chaos party of blasting beats and witty scathing one liners. I am here for it.
Broken Nails – Overcome – New full album release from Swiss Dark Nights, a label I should really be talking about more. Great minimal old school synth sound here. Singer Kim Bell has this smoky throwback Missing Person vibe happening. I’m loving the collision of the very dungeon crawl obscure sound of the music splashed against her focused soulful pop voice. The result is a sound you can weave your arms to in the club. A club you need to travel down a flight of stairs and give a password to get into. I feel like this entire album is shrouded in mist. It’s dark, swirling, and always on the move.
Mirror – Opening track starting strong with a nice build and snapping snare. This song really puts Kim’s voice front and center which is when this band shines best. I really like the transitions and the strange millionth of a beat behind delivery on the phrases. It feels like a bizarre carnival house of mirrors you become lost in.
Control The Delusion – Wonderful 80’s throwback. Here Kim does her dreamy Terri Nunn sound. Then the music does a well executed phase shift and she goes into a chanted affirmation.
I feel like this band is yet to hit their ceiling, that leaves me excited for the future.
NU:N – Remember Me – I knew there was some beautiful goth music coming out of Portugal that was not IAMTHESHADOW. Right off the bat what I love is that this is powerful unapologetic old school gothic rock. Precision striking bass and teardrop razor guitar lines. Oliver Heuer has a voice that is captivating and romantic. The whole sound has a beautiful throwback of early 90s Rosetta Stone An Eye for the Main Chance era. This EP only contains 2 songs and remixes but it left me hungry for more. I could have devoured 8 more tracks of these lush sorrow dripping cemetery jams. The great power is in the authenticity. They are on the serious side of the emotional gothic line. Hungry and longing with a sinister edge.
Cherimondis – Unleashed – Ok is this a little outside our usual wheelhouse? Yes. Is it absolutely brilliant and I can’t stop listening to it? Also yes. Gorgeous soulful beyond their young years cabaret trip hop sounds with poetic lyrics and an angels voice. I dare you to listen to this and not feel immediately moved and connected to it’s power. Derek Christopher (The Joy Thieves) does the mastering and leaves the edges sharp and jazz chaotic letting the immense power of Cherimondis voice shine like a glorious beacon in the tempest. I hear enough music to know a future star when i hear one and this is a star.
Wolf – A skipping quirky Dresden Dolls husky jerky glory. The pixie light vocals grow into a stalking beast. I love the dancing piano and flowing bassline. I could play this 1 million times and never regret it.
Mind Over Matter – Strutting backbeat and a affirming optimism. The lyrics are delivered in a rhythmic hurricane in a bottle of control behind a thin layer of glass. This song is a perfect portrait of the artists and makes a spiritual connection with all who listen.
I except we will also be hearing big things from this 21 year old future star.
When I ranked Black Angel “Kiss of Death” in the top 5 goth albums of 2020 it was largely due to their ability to bring back something to gothic music I feared lost forever. Adrenalin fueled hard rock. These are deep rich tones and sexy shadowy gothic concepts. With early Mission semi truck baselines and buzz saw guitar work cutting through your conciseness. The video is a beautiful high production old school MTV cinematic affair. True LA glamor style done with a London posh darkness.
We are extremely excited to be premiering the release of a brand new video from our friend Yvette Winkler and the band Vaselyne from their album. It goes live at midnight tonight. I love the flowing darkwave vibes with tension building strings. A sullen and introspective walk through an enchanted forest. I love these soulful resonant vocals and how they intersect with this gorgeous piano melody. Wonderful vibes of Dead Can Dance/Miranda Sex Garden coldwave shrouded in mystery. Hailing from the Netherlands I have high hopes for the future of this delicate and passionate sound.
Part 3 of this series might have been the toughest to write. There was such a wealth of great new albums in this genre I found myself at a loss to pick and choose my favorites. However tough choices need to get made. These are all records released in 2020 and not singles. I feel like everyone on this list did something very profound.
Black Rose Burning – Open the Gates – George Grant is doing amazing things using stripped down elements of dark post punk concepts. His voice has this scintillating David Bryne expressive lilt. It harnesses such energy with an acoustic guitar and a percussive gate. It’s romantic, not like a relationship, but the way Star Trek is romantic about the love of stars and exploration. I find myself constantly lost in the beauty of it.
Scenius – Enough Fears – I found this album at the very end of the year but I have a feeling this will be on my heavy rotation the next few months. The Leeds band is a bending maze of emotion and turns that I found myself deeply immersed in. The vocals from Fab Nau were so original and cutting. Perfect dark trance resonance and endless builds. This is a band I will be paying close attention to in 2021. I feel the beginning of something beautiful starting.
Vlimmer – XIIIIIIII – This series of albums reaches it’s conclusion in glorious and staggering fashion. Alexander Donat has an amazing gift to take emotion and transfer it into sound seamlessly. Taking a tiny burning ember of idea and gentle blowing on that fire until it swells into a blaze. Truly a criminally underrated talent in modern artistic expression through sound.
White Mansion – Human – Arkansas brings us this strong front to back traditional post punk. I love the bold transitions here and open air vocals. I think the name Human was perfect for this record because it is all about relationships. You can really follow the story. It’s organic, full of heart, and makes a connection.
The Secret French Post Cards – Colors – More glorious post punk darkness this time mixed and mastered by Pedro Code (Iamtheshadow). This record is so understated and comes at you in subtle ways. Olli Ohlander has a ringing and smoky delivery that chews up scenery like a master actor. Blended reverb and echo makes the guitar build tension that pulls you into the moment. Paint a picture in your mind with this record. Another Cold Transmission band.
Danny Blu – The Pale Horse – Crackling energy and neck grabbing hooks from NYC. Personal soul threaded into club kid sleek trance. This record is everything cool I want to give off. The smoky saxophone trills add a beautiful contrast note. The cadence they lyrics are delivered with are an extra percussion and rhythm. It leaves me longing for more.
Elz and the Cult – Bloodlines – Elz is one of those beautiful and unique humans that takes their internal light and bleeds it into every track they make. It has such a genuine and soulful flavor which modern darkpop is so hungry for. It is a record of personal intensity that stands out in the landscape. A true gamechanger record that everyone should experience. On Cold Transmission Music.
Korine – The Night We Raise – Philly based band that is taking the scene by storm for good reason. They have such a glamourous beauty. While the lyrics are full of edge and venom. They truly have mastered the idea of taking two things you wouldn’t think would make sense together and then synthesizing it perfectly. It’s elegant, profound, and makes you feel like you are on the inside of secret. Also it has that glorious shake that ass factor. You will dance to this record all night long. On Born Loser Records now.
Panic Priest – Second Seduction – Chicago based Jack Armondo finds himself once again on my albums of the year. This sophomore album uses his rich and powerful baritone to great effect but softens the edges of the guitars in the first album. Putting the synths forward really captures the neon industrial aspects of his city. I love the way he captured the concept of isolation in the middle of a populated concrete jungle that became so relevant to us all in 2020. An impressive offering both in connection and execution on Negative Gain Records.
Soft Kill – Dead Kids R.I.P. City – Portland postwave glory with gorgeous and rich vocals and rainy flowing waves of synth sound. This record is so efficient and full of intention. This is one of those records it’s never a bad time for. It has that voice of a generation The Smiths sound but with a speed and energy of the modern era.
Idles – Ultra Mono – I love this album for the punk side of post punk. It’s intelligent, political, smash your fucking teeth in complex blasting rock. It has the true core of Fugazi. I wasn’t quite sure where to put this under but it belongs on some list.
Kiss of the Whip – We’re Not Here – Baltimore is doing some amazing things in the current scene and KOTW are near the top of that list. There is an amazing feeling when someone has such a wizardry of an instrument that it transcends and lefts everything in the song around it. That’s how I feel when Tristan Victor plays keyboards. The wide open textures and landscapes that flow through your mind at razor speed. His melodic whisper growl vocals really draw you in and let those complex synth changes do their work. I continue to be impressed with every new growth.
Spectres – Nostalgia – Sometimes I want a record that really pushes the edges of a genre. Sometimes I take comfort in bands that do a familiar sound with perfect execution. This album is so full of feelings that transport me back. Each song is original and new but the pallet of colors is brilliant with New Order, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen. The heartfelt homage to the music I grew up on cleaned and washed and sent straight to my heartstrings.
Loveblind – Sleeping Visions – What happens when a traditionally shoegaze label like Saint Marie Records puts together a superband of Shoegaze talent to make a darkpop album. In this case what happens is one of the most textural beautiful records of the year. Dorian Electique has a stunning and haunting vocal quality that floats on the waves of slushy wave crash guitars and striking drum beats. Every time I play this record I picture silk scarves flowing in my wake. it just makes life a little more beautiful.
Black Nail Caberet – God’s Verging On Sanity – This band from Hungary has been on my constant playlist. They had an album in my top list of 2019 as well. I love that they don’t sit idle and instead explore a new aspect of darkpop. Emese has a remarkable strength and depth to her voice that reminds me of Annie Lennox. The dance beats are a force to be reckoned with and are like a shot of energy in the arm. When I need to find a little something extra within myself this is the record I reach for.
Algiers – There is No Year– If you have never witnessed Algiers live, once the world reopens that should be the top of your to do list. They are the best live show I have seen in the past 20 years. It’s breathtaking to behold. They are another band hard to put in a box in the most amazing away. Notes of Motown/Gospel/Post Punk/Electronica. It’s all thrown in the blender and spun to a smooth creamy glory. The lyrics are poignant, fresh, and delivered with a voice sorely lacking in this scene. This record is such an up and down journey through culture, injustice, and personal revelation. I really can’t stress the importance of this band enough.
Then Comes Silence – Machine – Swedish based dark rockers put out this album in March and I listened to it many times in it’s entirety. The single We Lose the Night is such a perfect jam it has to be my most earworm song of the year. Just walking through the world I found it constantly popping into my head. This record has what I think of as true Post Punk vibes. The bass is thunderous and driving. Vocals are enchanting and full of warm and captivating feeling. Also the track Ritual feat: Karolina Engdahl is a perfect duet to blend beauty and razor cuts. I was an instant fan for life.
Bootblacks – Thin Skies – NYC post punk stars took a giant leap forward in their evolution for this album. It truly takes it’s own life and direction. Adding on Jason Corbett (Actors) to chisel and magnify a sound that already had such a unique and dangerous flavor. It is sleek, mysterious, and is my number one soundtrack if I ever pull an elaborate jewel heist and car chase in the heart of New York City. I think the most magnificent part of this album is that it really took “Post Punk” someplace new. It’s easy to get hung up on nostalgia, and there is some of that here. There is also a sound so sensual and fresh. I can just smell the musk of this album. You need to feel it on your skin.
Empathy Test – Monsters – This album was my most played on bandcamp this year. I just couldn’t stop coming back to it. It holds a beauty and quality that touches on so many genres. It’s personal and full of imagery that transports you into a movie. Isaac has one of those once in a generation voices that speaks right to your heart. This record just struck a chord inside me like the first time I heard RadioheadThe Bends. That feeling of dramatic intensity that makes me think of youth while the refined craftsmanship spoke to my changed perspective. This is a young band, and their potential to grow and make art on another level seems limitless.
So many great Industrial/EDM/EBM albums this year. This is a genre that has been expanding and drawing fresh listeners all year. Again I can’t possibly include everything I loved, however these albums were the ones that fired a jolt of electricity into my spine and made my gears churn. These are all artists who had a full release in 2020.
20) Rabbit Junk – Xenospheres – Seattle based EBM/Metal dance explosion has been churning out explosive action movie soundtracks with razor sharp production. This album is swinging a sledge hammer around their heads on a leather cord. The cover of Iggy Pop’s “Kick It” with Peaches singing is worth the price of admission on it’s own.
19) eHpH – Infrared – Colorado band eHpH did this timely politically charged record that really captured the fear and division in the current climate. I think what I loved best were how wide the influences present were. Some melodic and post punk, some bright buzzing EBM. The whole record was full of intelligence and challenges the listener to face their own ideas about where the world is headed.
18) Seven Federations – Holy Orders – A wonderous sonic explosion from South Dakota. The vocals just crackle with electric ferocity from exploding transformers. Filthy basslines and wolf growl guitars. this album is the naughty demon on your shoulder whispering to you of sinful roads not taken. They might be the most underrated album on this list. People need to know about this record.
17) Carrion – Testament Ov The Exiled – This is always such a hard review to write. Carrion is so powerful, so fresh, but just doesn’t fit into any box that makes sense within the mind. This textural terror noise has a level of intensity that demands recognition. How to quantify it I have no idea. Other than to say it is music that leaves you changed, afraid, praying for the dawn. Hide [Adrian] is creating on a level that artists and critics in the next decade may have artful words for. This whole record just leaves me moved and unsure how to describe. Best to bare witness for yourself.
PS: Carrion is already reissuing the album via Brutal Resonance Records, the `Revised Edition ` includes 5 bonus tracks!
16) Corlyx – Together Apart – World traveling EDM darkpop couple Caitlin and Brandon with their sophomore offering have captured the glory of pageantry in dark music. Caitlin has a beautiful voice that captivates and builds dreams in your mind. I love the dark LA gutter glamor this band always commands. They have added a level of clarity and refinement for this album and continue to evolve. Get in on the ground floor of these future stars.
15) Rottersand – How Do You Feel Today – The way this German band turns and twists on different axis within the same tracks is reality defying. The echoing chorus’s that have an intelligence and feel of Roger Waters bursting with electronic futurecore explosion. This album is a special journey with peaks and valleys that run the breadth of human experience. It is a modern album that has something for every kind of listener to enjoy.
14) Trevor Something – Deep Wave Data Dark Web Deamons – Florida dance demon Trevor Something might be the sexiest thing I heard all year. The way they capture raw, grinding, sexual energy in sonic form is something of glory. It shakes your bone marrow awake and says you are an animal that hungers for flesh. Buy this record, shake a martini, and have a private dance party with your favorite partner.
13) 11 Grams – Humancide – The super combo of Rob and Simeon put out this long awaited album of everything you ever loved about old school industrial/electronica. It always has a toe over the line while sounding so familiar. Perfect execution and narrative intensity. This record is a rocket jocks sci-fi soundtrack to explore the speed of the stars.
12) SpankTheNun – The Bunker Tapes Volume I – Hard and metal to the floor industrial from Texas. How do you find that line between crystal clear beats and filthy growling vocals? It’s right here. We aren’t reinventing the wheel here, we are greasing the axle to make it spin harder and faster. A bunch of amazing remixes from Blue Ant, Assemblage 23 , Melodywhore, Sapphirra Vee, show the faith and influence that this band commands in the scene.
11) Caustic – A Succession Of Repetitive Beats – Our only double album winner in this genre is Matt Fanale. The return of Caustic and their DIY punk rock mentality with witty and humorous electronic slither is a breath of fresh air in the modern genre. The song Stale Semen, Shame, and Video Games is a poignant slam of the Incel culture. Make me dance and make me think. This is what Joe Strummer trained us for.
10) Sapphira Vee – The Mask – The smoky and subtitle voice of Sapphira Vee from Rochester NY has been tearing up the airwaves the last two months. A slow drink of whiskey in sonic form. It’s slow and grinding full of personal reflection and self realization. I had a small part guest vocal on this album and it’s a point of personal pride that I was involved with such a powerful release this year. I’ve bought multiple copies of this record to send to friends. This is a great example of why trip hop is the highest evolution of music.
9) Kanga – Eternal Daughter – LA based artist wields this sonic saber like a charging cavalry officer charging by on a horse slashing on both sides. It’s that effortlessly cool beauty blended with icy dance beats. I’m not sure what category to put this in beyond excellent.
8) Grabyourface – Sea – Every once in a while some album comes along that is so fresh and honest you sit up in your chair and just feel something new. One of those artist that grabs hold of their own ribcage and rips themselves open to let you in on the guts and grime of everything inside them. This album forces you to feel things, to confront and absorb the empathetic tone within yourself.
7) Klack – Probably – The Wisconsin EDM sensation that brings together Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device). I’ve watched this project grow and blossom and this album really hit the perfect stride and balance of their styles. It’s clever, it’s electric, and the single Faith In Me is a glorious jam that could have been on a Depeche Mode album in the late 80s. I love when you hear a collaboration and can hear how much the artists respect and care about each other. It can’t be faked and this album brims over with it.
6) The Joy Thieves – A Blue Girl – Chicago superband led by drummer extraordinaire Dan Milligan has been garnering much deserved respect in Industrial circles. The way he blends old school Industrial with organic hard rock is an energy which is contagious. The contributor list is impressive and so long I won’t add everyone but names like Chris Connelly, Jullian Beeston, and Ania Tarnoska are just a few highlights. The title track is a slamming cut for the ages. If you don’t know about the next Pigface you need to get on board this train.
5) Klute – Queer For Satan – Claus Larson of Leatherstrip unleashed this gorgeous record of furious destruction and sensual magnetism. This year must have been one of the toughest things a person can go through for him and that unbridled emotion pours forth in a firehose of pain and fear. If you love Leatherstrip (and how could you not) this album is top of the game.
4) Stoneburner – Beauty Is Terror – Steven Archer has had multiple releases this year, all great. His ability as an artist and multimedia creator really is the top of the game for DIY synthesis of audio and visual. To me this record was the highest evolution of his style thus far. It’s hard, world view, narrative, intelligent music that conjures images like you are reading a novel. The single “Are you here the way I’m here” is a steampunk electrocore time travel head flip. This album truly pushes the boundary of what is possible in thought and feeling. You need it.
3) ESA: Electronic Substance Abuse – “Burial 10“ – EBM music is not my cup of tea. However, anything done at the top of the game is easy to know when you hear it. This album is hard, filthy, and so full of nuclear radiation it is impossible to not stomp your feet and dance to. The concept, power, and delivery are peerless in their execution. Add to that guest performances by Jo Hysteria, Cainlin Corlyx, and Lecture and you have one of the breakout album experiences of the year. This is one of those records I could listen to 100 times and hone in on a different detail each one.
2) The Jean Marc Lederman Experience – Letters to Gods and Fallen Angels – For all those wondering where are the albums touching on a higher artistic ideal in the modern age. This is it. The Belgian artists who’s resume has touched some of the most prolific music to occur in the electronic era has compiled a group of guest singers both legendary and future stars and ask them to write a letter to God or a fallen angel. The responses follow the course of human mysticism and discovery. This album is a true journey of thought and expression that touches on a myriad of styles and ideas. It’s been a long time since a record made me think and feel so much. Do yourself a favor and take this adventure.
Pig – Pain Is God – Some people had a punk rock phase in their angry youth. I had an industrial one. A big part of that was Raymond Watts. KMFDM and <PIG> was a remind that Industrial music could mean something else. That it was a music of synthesis between electronic dance beats and any other style you could imagine. Here he is reborn the swine lord persona with a heady blend of of gospel, hard rock, and neon gutter grime. This record was the open gate between my 2020 self and my 1993 self. A DeLorean that connected me to my ego and my wisdom. A glorious return for the master of swine.
What an amazing year for the Goth/Darkwave genre. A lot of fresh talent has come forth to leave their mark. In equal measure are long term veterans that have risen from the darkness to give new offerings. Our team took on the unenviable task of choosing the releases that moved us most. We are not including singles or compilations. These are not by any means every band I bought and loved in 2020 for goth. These are all bands that released an original album in the year 2020 that built a haunted house in the ruined graveyard of my head and I want to share with you now.
20) Raven Said – Beyond the Darkest Hour – My favorite of the amazing wealth of goth sounds coming out of Russia. This is a high energy shadow punk driving acid spit flavor of Misfits and Batcave. Andrey Agapitov vocals are sinister, fluid, and have a unique meter I am in love with. The guitar riffs are scorching. It keeps hitting different layers and hitting them hard. This album really shows how wide and beautiful this genre stretches.
19) The Wake – PERFUMES AND FRIPPERIES – This is another band that has a lot of accomplishment under their belts. They really optimize what I think of as the Midwest goth sound. The guitars have this awesome fire feel, like molten splatters flying towards you. The vocals are mature and a have a rich quality. Lots of organic sounding drums that give a urgency. This is a noteworthy return for a band that has stood the test.
18) Rosetta Stone – Cryptology – So Rosetta Stone have been around for the long haul. They continue to put out exciting music and have been a staple in the genre. This album has a wonderful stripped down flavor. It makes it feel very intimate. “Valiant Try” is a straight up jam. I think what really captured me was that this was a familiar voice but they really peeled the mask off and gave you a look at a deeper layer.
17) WitchHands- Unto Death – Call it Death rock, Doom rock, Goth, ect. Just make sure to call it one of our top albums this year. Thick rumbling bass, slashing energy whip guitars. All called forth by Ryan’s mad carnival caller vocals. He spins tales with the conviction and charisma of a tent revival preacher. I think the biggest thing to hear is the massive step forward for their production levels so you can hear the power of every aspect. It’s glorious to behold and makes me want more WitchHands.
16) The Kentucky Vampire – Crimson Curse – Hailing from shockingly, Kentucky, here is another band that brings old school sinister pipe organ and fire bright guitar riffs. From Secret Sin records the tone and emotion of their 5 records is everything true fans of 80’s death rock long for. Abbas has a haunting voice full of chorus and foreboding. Brandon of Sonsombre does mastering for them and helps add a sense of continuity to this new goth sound. This record really highlighted the return of wicked guitar riffs in modern goth music.
15) Astari Nite – Here Lies – This album has that captivating power of The Cure “Disintegration“. The music is like a tapestry woven before your eyes. The vocals are a heart cry that begs and pleads and owned me from the start. The guitar leads are a gorgeous second vocal melody that winds through the songs with an intricate voice of it’s own. This is more of the romantic aspect of goth music. Get ready to fall in a deep pool of meaning.
14) The Cult Sounds – The Cult Sounds – This was another pleasant surprise I got this year. Adrian got me into this band. The strength and range of the vocals here is astounding. I think the most amazing ability of this band was the ability to emote dynamics by changing the structure from verse to chorus. I love the retro power of a Black Sabbath power chorus back into a dreamy romantic goth style. You can really hear the ability of the musicians wielding their talent to maximum effect. I expect huge things for this band.
I have reviewed a few singles from the Boston witchy harvest dark rock. It’s striking and powerful, hints of Switchblade Symphony with a brighter flowing tang. Juls Garat has an angelic choir of a voice and gets offset by thunder rich basslines from Sean Woodbury. Claudio Marcio does a double duty on bonfire wall guitars and snapping drum sounds. I like the curt furious pace. This album was a long time coming and for an opening salvo it was really worth the wait. I love the Cure Standing on the Beach singles hectic jerk worldview to dark music. They really know how to strip it down and draw you in, then when they have you in the trap they spring the jaws. Favorite tracks: The Besieged , Bachanalia, and The Visitor.
The standard is set for a new force in dark rock music. This is a journey worth taking with a very mystical and stormy feel. They are on my new list of must follows for all future release.
12) Shadow Assembly – Arcane Fusion –The sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction with Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre. This new album opens the portal of darkness even further by using a different vocalist/lyricist for every track. This album is not only a prism of the wide varieties in modern gothic rock, but also a who’s who of the vocal talent of the current scene. I will act as your ferryman on the River Styx as I lead you through each track on this modern classic.
Overall this album is a synthesis of talent that really highlights what is possible when you have a maestro that knows and loves the music other artists make and finds a way to make each tone flow together to build something greater than the some of it’s parts. It is currently available on bandcamp for digital download and a CD run. If you want a good place to place your finger on the pulse of modern goth, this album is a great place to start.
11) The Birthday Party Massacre – Diamonds – Look they are one of the biggest names in the modern genre and that’s for good reason. The gorgeous production pushes this towards darkpop (which is not a bad thing). It’s driving, passionate, and the drum builds and transitions are ungodly. This record feels like running through the darkest parts of Hogwarts. Yes it has a child like innocence about it, but at the same time a depth and soul. TBPM still have a lot of ground to cover in their journey.
10) Rosegarden Funeral Party – At The Stake – I have shockingly never reviewed an album from the Dallas TX traditional goth explosion. I’ve heard singles but never dove in head first and I’m not afraid to admit that was dumb. Sinister reverb guitars, blistering transitions, and laser strike vocals. Leah is a force of raw untamed storm winds striking out at an unsuspecting world. It’s haunting and full of driving pop hooks. Consider me won, consider me a fan. Favorite tracks : Torture Decline, Fear of Feeling Nothing, Justification.
9) Caroline Blind –The Spell Between – Caroline has been a mainstay for so long in this scene. Sunshine Blind “Liquid” was one of those albums that really showed me how much more the goth sound could be. This album features years of reflection and a power and beauty of delivery that makes me well up with emotion. The surrounding musicians she brought in to add depth and shading to the tracks are an all star list of talent. A powerful voice to remind us of the past and excite us for the future.
8) SOPOR AETERNUS & The Ensemble Of Shadows – Island of the Dead – Honestly this is one of those bands I am embarrassed I didn’t already know about. I heard this on the Pat 626 show and I fell instantly in love. It’s dark, quirky, and utterly unique. It has a mystical and theatrical quality full of poetry and intensity. Brooding and whip crack sharp with hammer dulcimers and vocal deliver as sharp as a dagger. Music like this is my dark secret passion. More Harpsichords in goth NOW!
7) Mary – Die Before Death – My newest goth obsession from Toronto. It is fast paced, spicy, with an old school New York feel. Strong sweeping vocals with a lot of depth and meaning. It also has a complete album feel with the sweeping tempo and dynamic shifts. Take me through the full range of emotions in one record. Another Cold Transmission signing. I expect big things in the future from him. This album is my sleeper pick of someone I was not familiar with before but will be heavily invested in ever future release.
6) A Covenant Of Thorns – Black -I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)
Top Tracks: All of them…
but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression
Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.
Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.
5) Black Angel – Kiss of Death – London UK artist Black Angel is putting the bat cave rock back into death rock. I feel so much of The Mission and later Sisters dancy flow to gothic rock. Their music reminds me so much of the goth club scene, swinging arms, leather and lace. Gothic music has always been tied to expression with the body, that is something Matt Vowel’s has grasp and fused into the future. The use of banging rock guitar riffs with a southern flare really created something fresh and memorable.
4) Crying Vessel – Pleasures For The Wicked – Slade and Basil also bringing that softer dark edge to gothic rock. Horror author Slade is integrating imagery of the macabre an sinister with a glam razamtaz feel. Gorgeous layered production and flange rich echo’s that simmer with Bowie and Love and Rockets. That special darkness you find on the edge of a rainbow after a storm. Available on Cleopatra Records.
3) Night Nail – March to Autumn – Two things made this album incredible for me. 1) The complexity. The layers, instrumentation, lyrics, it all has a depth to it that doesn’t seem to be the goal of a lot of darkwave. 2) How genuine it feels. I have interviewed Brandon and I know he is one of those rare souls that when I hear his music, I feel like who I am seeing is the exact person on the album. The album also has the rich treat of Valentina (VV and the Void) providing additional vocals and keys for contrast and perspective that adds shading and definition. This is an album to think to.
2) Iamtheshadow – Pitchblack – When I think of goth, I think of passion and vocals that capture a room. Lisbon Portugal’s IAMTHESHADOW does that in spades. Pedro Code has the best baritone in modern goth. It’s sexy, crooning, dangerous music that sounds like a full bodied red first touching your lips. It’s music to give yourself over and get lost in. Like the first time you heard Peter Murphy and thought this is the sound that encapsulates the image I want to see in the mirror. This album was a perfect bridge of the old school organic and the new school electronic. Like a chemist finding that perfect balance of styles. Now on Cold Transmission Music.
Sonsombre – 1000 Graves – This album really shows a band finding themselves. I feel like the success of TVOE really gave a confidence to embrace more of what they are. The guitars are a giant black furred wolf growling with hair standing on end. The bass is a thundering storm bellowing out a foreboding prophesy of an uncertain future. The keyboard is rushing wind stirring the leaves on a damp autumn morning. Brandon’s voice is a dangerous and sinister whisper full of echo’s making a spectral challenge. These lyrics are a forgotten poetry of Byron and Poe singing to that darkest part of our nature. I know this review is starting to get pretty metaphorical but poetry demands poetry and Sonsombre makes me want to embrace the dark poet in my own heart. In my opinion no one is doing more to forward the rebirth of goth music in the modern era than Brandon and crew. They are leading the charge and wearing giant brimmed hats while doing it.
So dark music/goth has always run a parallel for with me Romanticism. Love, loss, passion, distance, these ideas that Robert Smith perfected and were such a intimate part of that original concept. Then as the scene evolved and became broader the norm stretched further from that idea. Today as the wind is chill and the leaves have abandoned the trees I am thinking about bands that are still pluming the depths of this idea. As a song writer the most difficult thing for me to write is a genuine love song, that captures the feeling but doesn’t step over into cheese. I tried to come up with examples of releases I have not previously discussed on the page.
A Covenant of Thorns: Black – I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)
but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression
Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.
Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.
Creux Lies : Blue – New single out from Sacramento’s favorite dark dreamers has thundering drums to drive is golden thread poetry. It’s a thicker richer sound than phenomenal 2018 release “The Hearth“. Ean’s voice is wide as the ocean and and dances on the mist. It’s really hard to capture the range and beauty of Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I feel like that is exactly what happens. My secret favorite part is the outro with old school lofi keyboards. I need a whole hell of a lot more of this and I need it now!
Twin Tribes (Cult of Alia Remix) : Perdidos – Twin Tribes has mastered the post punk passion and sultry beauty of bands like The Cure. This latest remix by Cult of Alia is a softer more subtitle ghostly whisper tantalizing love lost beyond the void. the pulsing keyboard rhythms take the place of driving bass and conjure images of haunted towers. I’m so hungry for another Twin Tribes album, but this was a welcome repose.
Selofan: Partners in Hell – This gorgeous Greek darkwave really deserves it’s own full review. I am embarrassed to say I have not written a review of them yet and they really deserve it. Per the theme I am going to focus on the track “There Must Be Somebody“. Driving mod synth tones flow down a moonlit river while a women in white calls forth with longing. This is beauty and horror blended together in true gothic fashion. Joanna Pavlidou’s voice is heavy with heart and touches you with icy clarity. Pavlidis’s basslines and chorus of synthesizers create a water color image of stormy regret and movement. Why have I not spent more time with this band?
Mortal Boy: Chronoception – LA darkwave band which is beautiful as it is intense. I love the Richard Butler flavor to the vocals. The star strike guitars really add a wonderful contrast to the darkwave style. This is definitely music full of plum red wines and flickering candles. It drips of both passion and loss. Favorite track “Kiss Me Poison” which combines all the best parts of the vocals and woven tapestry. If you have a special goth partner in your life, this is the music they want to hear as you bring out a romantic dinner.
The Secret French Postcards: Colours – New Cold Transmission Music release from Sweden. I love the post punk feel and organic drum sounds that add clarity and precision to this droning croon. This album is the moment in the movie where the protagonist looks across a crowded club and locks eyes with their soulmate. Olli’s vocals are drenched in warm and earnest love. Offset by resonating guitar lines and keyboard cascades by (IAMTHESHADOW) Pedro Code. It’s feels modern and fresh while the melodic vocal chant reminds me of Steve Kilbey (The Church). This is a band I keep feeling grow with every release. This one is out on 12/11/20 and preorder is available now.
Lust For Youth: Lust For Youth – Self titled album from the Danish synthpop band giving huge New Order vibes, which is never a bad thing. This record feels like staring at the sky while rain falls down. It’s cool, it’s stark, and it reminds you why you want to keep hoping for more. I was two tracks in and I’m already a believer. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing something familiar very well. A dark tone while centering in on lyrical hope. My favorite track was “Great Concerns“. This album was a journey of connection and the power of the human experience.
Korine: The Night We Raise – I have been deeply in love with this band since Twin Tribes played them for me on our podcast. From Philly this band is glorious dark dream slush with encompassing vocals and swirling synths. This new album from Sept took another step forward in production and clarity. It also has a razor fang edge to the beauty of the music. Sometimes love bites hard and while wrapped in a velvet glove of tone Korine cuts you to the quick. This is a record you really need to spend the extra moment with and peal back the layers. The cotton candy sweet on your tongue is truly just the first layer.
So the final Bandcamp day of 2020 is upon us. This whole year feels like an absurd blur. I continue to beat the drum hard for all Bandcamp does to support artists all year round. This day each month has become something I cherish as it usually leads to several new releases. As usual I am up at midnight firing through whiskey and trying to share some of the new music that is filling my heart with fire. As the possibility of Facebook turning away from artists sharing their work I urge you to follow the page and comment below the review music that is inspiring you that I might put it in future reviews.
Codename: Lola – Lets start out with this badass cover of one of my favorite bands Ultravox in one of their more underrated songs. The single features fireball vocals from Gothzilla frontman Tim Jarvis. It’s got a glorious walking gansta style and a wailing guitar solo. Just blistering energy that never lets up and fills me with excitement for the future of this project. Currently it is free on bandcamp and is a must grab.
Vlimmer: Alexander has done it again. His ability to crank out albums at the highest quality in record speed leaves me speechless. This latest release “XIIIIIIII” has his textured emotive stark imagery. Opening with an urgency and seamless blend of guitar slush with cascading keyboards. It’s gorgeous, immersive, and never disappoints. I am always shocked by how far from the previous concept each release leaps. This one highlights the vocals and has a brighter indie rock sensibility. I’m in awe, how does he have so many ideas that always sound so fresh.
The Funeral March of the Marionettes – New single from the Illinois post punk band called “Useless”. It’s brash and melodic with 80s Killing Joke feel. That driving bassline that never lets up and chanting devil may care vocals that add weight by floating on the wave of sound.
Dissonance Feat: Kurt Larson: If there are three things I love it is 1) Kate Bush 2) Kurt Larson (Information Society) 3) The soulful smokey croon of Cat Hall. It’s a song that has seen covers before but this one is special for the vocal duet and digital downpour of sound falling on us while we are running up that hill. A special release from one of the most underrated voices in this scene. This single comes off an amazing compilation of cover songs by electronic artists called “Numbers Covered”. A great value here but if you have to check just one track it is this.
Vertical Patrols – Another single from the San Diego synthwave artist. It’s warm and puts me in mind of catchy New OrderTechnique until the vocals drop with a unique accented feeling of frustration and loss. It grabs hold of your lapels and shakes you furiously searching for it’s own answers. It’s one of those bands where I hear what is coming, as much as what I am hearing. This single paves the way for something exciting in the future.
Damien Done : My fellow Michigan native has released 3 new demos songs in November. It’s always a great experience when you have an artists that you have followed the evolution of their sound. Moyal has had an impressive career with a wide range of styles. His voice really has so many tricks in the bag and shifts from album to album and even within single tracks. An impressive talent and lyrical storyteller that drenches each canvas with rich and immersive imagery. My favorite of the three tracks was “Always On Fire” with featured this beautiful harp sound. His voice takes on a rich Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) lilt. Then shifts into a powerful growl at just the right moment as a booming trip hop drum beat sinks in. A Master of the song writing craft Damien does not disappoint. The blistering guitar solo in the outro is a scorching flame on oil soaked waters. Powerful.
Dead Astronauts: New release out of Seattle from Cold Transmission Music called “Silhouettes“. This one is a pre order not available until January but it already has me bubbling with excitement. First single is “Chauffer and the Flame” ok to start with I love that song title. This is hungry and sensual. It features a beautifully matched duet vocal that creates duality and tension. These drum beats come from within you and burst out of your chest. The sleek electronic style feels like I am in the Tron stadium racing in a light motorcycle with everything on the line. It’s hot, tantalizing, and leaves me hungry for more.
Modal Citizan : New album Control Alter Deplete from chaos dark grunge out of Virginia Beach. So this was admittedly a little closer to metal edge than I generally venture. My first inclination was to kick it over to Collin or Adrian. However I found it growing on me as I played it more and more. The thick as fuck crunching guitars took me back to Bad Motorfinger from Soundgarden. The vocals while full of screech and growl, also found tones of gentle beauty which rode that razor edge never quite crossing over into something to hard for me to relate to. It was one of those records I kept expecting to want to get off the ride, but found myself clutching the bar and feeling myself pulled deeper. I always know something is impressive when it is obviously out of my wheelhouse but I keep coming back to it. Even now I am not sure how I feel, other than I was never bored or lost. I think this is a record I will find me daring myself into exploring again and again in the future.
Sapphira Vee: Ok there are a lot of reasons I am excited for this album “The Mask” due out 12/15/20. One of which are the bevy of awesome collaborators including Spankthenun, The Joy Thieves, Melodywhore, and yes Amaranth. I even do a bit of guest vocals on the track “World My Voice“. Sapphira has a voice and energy that fills a room. It’s dangerous and calls you like a siren from the rocks. These tracks are so personal and really tear her open as she holds out her heart in her hand. I love the throwback tone of dropped beat triphop. It really highlights the power of her controlled elegance. It’s music that gives you a shiver. A tension in the air. An inhaled breath with every roll of the dice. In a world of darkpop about escape, this album demands your focus. It’s hard pressed to pick a favorite track, but “Mask of Happy” is such a creeping and subtle jam you don’t realize has ahold of you until it is too late. A powerful release that belongs in your collection.
Grabyourface: French ultraviolet blade runner who has just signed with Negative Gain records will release an eagerly anticipated new album 12/18/20 called “Sea“. This record is gorgeous from the get. The spoken word poetry style is engaging and draws attention to the lyrics. It’s a drowning plea cutting through an ocean of depression, trying to break the water. The music is a slow electronic cascade weathering down the rocks. I really found myself getting lost in this. Sonically it’s like the other side of the same spectrum as Mr.Kitty. My pick for favorite track was “So”. The mixture of piano sound and florescent fog synths give a beautiful setting for the melody rap poetry. Overall this is an impressive offering and one I will definitely be getting preorder for.
Caustic: Matt Fanale also of Klack released a new 5 song pandemic club massacre ep. Rhythmic robot signal beamed into your brain guiding your body as a marionette. My jam was Tu Madre. It was so hard to stop my feet from stomping and waking the house. The AI efficiency of the music is memorizing. There is so much movement with so few different sources carrying it. Around 2:50 the blasting toms start and kick the floor from under you. You also get Matts clever humor in songs like Stale Seman, Shame, and video games. The whispered secret, and old school dancedustrial beat are a delicious combination. Matt is really one of the leaders in the charge of current industrial/edm.
Sometimes being a music reviewer is hard. Mainly because I am lazy. So rather than digging through my stacks tonight in search of new music. I will turn to the very trustworthy source of Cold Transmission Music and their new Zeitgeist 13. CT takes great pride in their ear for fresh worldwide talent. So this compilation is a wonderful place to get 32 handpicked bands masterly mastered by the amazing Pete Burns for under $5. These were my first impression stand outs.
Hallow – Talk to Her – One of my favorite new CT bands. This song had a racing heartbeat and a booming Chameleon’s base wave. The vocals do this beautiful delayed explosion and drip with longing. Every time I started and stopped listening today, I always came back to this track.
Iamnoone– Solve et Coagula – Giving a little taste of Britpop Stone Roses flavor with a constant high speed Bernard Sumner guitar downward drone. Really keeps the cadence and lifeforce.
Raskolnikov – Fall Colors – Really cool Swiss band that caught my attention. This unceasing keyboard drone never lets to fall to the skeletons chasing you, or get to close to the one of your future. I love the lilting OMD sound in the vocals. There is a no trend I’m loving of beautiful melodic vocals in post punk. Let’s try and limit the amount of Ian Curtis baritone monotone. It really took me to an Autumn state of mind.
Echoberyl – Listen To Oblivion – This French duo really brings the heat. I feel like this should be the updated cyber sexy theme to Carmen Sandiego. Cecillia has a cold burst of sparkling air quality to her voice and adds depth and texture to the driving beat.
Paradise Cove – Lost – Sometimes you want to hear a band reinvent the wheel and sometimes you want the razor sharp syncopation of post punk. The the vocals come in with a passionate and pleading chant that hooks me in. It’s a slow burn scorcher worth the wait.
Cut City – Replacement – What a breath of fresh air in doom and gloom. This has the crisp drums and power push of post punk. It couples it with a bright and crackling sound. I think I heard major chords. I feel a lot of early 2000s New York here. Lovely crooning vocals to pair for a gripping and soulful smash. Must dig deeper into this band from Sweden.
Clone Culture – They Shoot, I Die – Italian Post punk rockers bring a nice dash of glam to this Nextwave ballad. I love when you hear a band just blends well. It really shines through when it is effortless like this. This track has one of those chorus hooks that sticks to your head like honey to the bowl.
Camlann – To Vatican – Absurdly young and talented Indonesian band unleashed this song that is both exotic and passionate. The vocals are haunting and expressive in a way that captures me. I have such high hopes for the future of darkwave with young spirits like these leading the charge into the future.
Empathy Test – Monsters – Look I have spent a lot of time talking about Empathy Tests titanic album Monsters. It’s a top contender for our album of the year. Basically if you don’t have Monsters, you need Monsters.
Bedless Bones – Creation – My hands down favorite band from Estonia has given an exclusive track for this compilation. They always have such a surreal swirl to their sound. The drums are built for war and the keyboards contract that primitive echo with an electronic wisp. This is dream fuel music.
Two Moons – Second Life – Had not heard this band before but it was a pleasant surprise. A totally unique quirk Nick Cave feel to the vocals. The music is cinematic and had perfect ebbs and flows. I will be immediately seeking out there catalog.
Plague Garden – Lost – Snake slither true traditional goth with darkwave dreams will always make my list. This done with expert precision by some dear friends from Colorado. This flowing narrative is rich and the setting is a desolate wasteland of sorrow. Love this band, love the track.
The Neu Neon – Crush – This Berlin band is scorching florescent motorcycle synthabilly brain candy. It’s driving, beautiful, and always feels inches from speeding off the cliff. This sound mixes the best parts of 10 things I love.
Kalte Nacht – Inmost Desire? – Hot sounds from Athens Greece. The vocalist has that Shannon Light Asylum force and 70’s punk rock aggression. It cooks a long at breakneck darkwave. I had never heard this band before but believe me they are on my radar now. This is the power of a good compilation.
Berlin Taxi – Count On U – Sleezy dark NOLA streets drip from these elegant and shimmering vocals. The music is wonderfully subtle and blends the power of the voice perfectly. I would like some more please.
Did I listen to every track? Your bet your sweet bippy I did. They were all worth it. However these are the songs that really grabbed hold. You are going to be hard pressed to get a better playlist for this price.
A name that needs no introduction a synonymous part of Industrial/Electronica music for as many decades as I have on this earth Raymond Watts has a new album. Rather as <PIG>, KMFDM, Schwein, or countless remix collaborations for everyone in the scene Pig has continued to leave a mark for the effective sound smiting and adventurous forays into every nook and cranny of the EDM spectrum. No filth or madness was too deep for his snout to seek out truffles in.
The new album is a 14 track journey “Pain Is God” through the sleaze glam neon dustbowl. Through all of it you hear a cleaner more blended offering than “Pigmartyr”. Even through the carnival of chaos the narrative of each song rings through the crunching haze of guitar and effect.
Doing this interview was a dream come true for 18 year old Ken. I feel like we had a wonderful discussion that revealed a lot about the man and what went into this album.
Pain Is God – We drop in on a booming bass wave rolling towards you like the ocean. Glitchy star holes of electronic sound build towards a chorus of gospel choir. Using the beauty of faith music as a sacrilegious tool of excess.
Rock and Roll Refugee – Rockabilly disco and palm muted gutter drive builds to a hook that gives ode to the power of rock. Our gospel choir returns to build the power. I love a good poetry serpent with a hard cadence delivery and this verse lays on the sickness.
Deliverance – I love this strange offbeat crooning ballad. Once the string sound drop in the tone shifts. This is the heart of the revival tent and the fever eyed preacher is working the thrum. Raymond’s voice takes a 90’s Leonard Cohen flavor. This one drips with soul and sends everyone’s voice calling to the sky.
Kicking Ass – Love the sample into old school 90’s industrial slash and burn. That guitar riff is thick as a vault door. I love the whisper of secret sins vocals. A lovely sheading blues guitar solo drops out of nowhere and takes over the tone.
I hear in this album an excited and invigorated Raymond Watts who has found his heart and centered his focus. It has a pulse, it sings a story, it reminded me what someone off the chain playing music they are in love with felt like. I want more and I want to breath it live. Long live the <PIG>
In my youth I didn’t really have a punk rock phase. My angry phase was Industrial. Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, Test Dept, KMFDM, Die Warsaw, Lord of Acid,Neubauten, Front Line Assembly, Front 242,Leatherstrip, Chemlab, were the fiery steam fire oily sounds that spoke to my soul. As time went on my anger and napalm softened and I moved away from this soul. In the past few years I have found myself rediscovering and broader and more intricate hard electronic sound. Here are some of the echoing booms filling my warehouse.
SpankTheNun: The Texas industrial sensation from Eric Hanes is bringing Industrial back to it’s early core. It’s catchy and dancy, with steel jaws of metal drive guitars and distorted growl. I love the clarity achieved through modern tech that takes the early feel and refines it into the modern expectation of laser focus. The new album out “The Bunker Tapes volume 1” is a perfect homage to the past with a fresh hypersonic spin.
Stoneburner: Steven Archer of Ego Likeness started the project of to express a different aspect of his music. This is truly taking the concept of Industrial music into a higher form of evolving art. It’s high concept sci fi with tribal organic drum beats and lyrical poetry that pushes the boundaries of the human experience. The albums are ever evolving and are done with a vision. He also is a master of interactive experience and blending of visual and sonic art. Truly breaking ground for a new concept.
GoFight: It’s hard to think of Jim Marcus as “new” Industrial. Die Warsaw was one of those early bands that taught me the idea of Industrial music could mean something more than macho angry aggression. A beauty and subtlety that made me dance and sing along with glorious pop hooks while maintaining that furious grinding filth. Jim continues to write songs that capture the mind and infuse the body with buzzing chemical energy. A relatable idea with sharp edges and teeth. One of those beautiful ideas that blends accessibility with higher thought. Jim has always been the cutting edge of Chicago Industrial and has not missed a beat. New single out Freestate is another masterpiece of technique and torr ant.
I Ya Toyah: The one woman army from Chicago is a explosion of energy, love, and pain. It’s has a soul that really sets it apart from a lot of the genre. Ania has a voice and song writing style that captivates with it’s power and passion. The songs move with intention and the lyrics have a personal flavor that makes you a part of them. The live stage show is truly something to behold. She is a voice for the future of what electronic music is capable of.
The Joy Thieves: Another Chicago band ( A Lot of good Industrial came from Chicago). This one a super band helmed by Dan Milligan has brought amazing talents from several Industrial mainstays to ride that line between hard rock and industrial. I once describes them as Clutch beating the shit our of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat. It’s furious aggression, blistering guitar work, progressive percussion, and napalm vocals. It’s a compilation of talent to rival bands like Pigface with it’s own organic concept.
Fee Lion: Another Chicago act with more smooth cold blue edges. A powerful and sensual voice with distinctive electronic dance club explosions. Very avant garde and and invasive. A true master class in how to use push pull dynamics to pull in your audience. Only a few releases so far but already setting the stage for a power player in the genre.
Klack: Madison WI collaboration between Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device) have formed up to make EDM for a new generation. It’s clever, conscience, and shoots a bolt of electricity into your spine that shakes that ass. The vocals are the perfect blend of both talents that brings the revolution and makes it fun. It’s an iron gauntlet in a velvet glove. Get Klacked and stay Klacked.
Moris Blak: Boston MA, Hard EDM industrial is not here to take you gently into emersion. It is fierce and limb flinging excitement adrenochrome shot into your mind and designed to make you let go of all control. He also does some intense remixes and mind bending live shows. This is not a throwback sound. It is straight alien brain melt.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – The British master of EDM dance club excitement. When using bass beats like a sonic weapon it is a true challenge to construct ear worm melodies that cut to the forefront. This music is a virus that infiltrates every cell of your being and demands you dance. The newest album “Eat Your Young” also features the amazing Caitlin of the band Corlyx. Immersive filthy grinding dance beats that ride you hard and put you away wet.
Curse Mackey: – This is a scene veteran that has been a key member of one of the biggest Industrial bands Pigface. He has recently released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism“. Aside from the amazing vocals and pedigree of this record, I think what really moves me are the thought and poetry of the lyrics. This is truly and out of the box thinking persons Industrial sound. A must have.
Silverwalks: Criminally underrated sci-fi electronic backdrop creator from Philly. This new single is “Lantern” is an absolute burner. One of those songs I can’t hit play enough times on. It has a true Gary Numan quality in it’s texture and flow. I loved it so much I had to have an Amaranth remix done. Transport yourself to an alternate sonic reality with this band.
Melodywhore: This glorious electronic music wizard has forged really taken the old Industrial concept of collaboration. Blending a softer more passionate dance grime energy. Using a variety of musicians and vocalists. This latest track for BLM charities is beautiful and powerful. Giving voice to rage using an intelligent whisper.
Dead Agent is the solo project of Ed Finkler, also known as Funkatron.
Musically it leans more towards the EBM side of the spectrum but manages to do so without feeling like something we`ve heard a thousand times before during the last X amount of years.
While its mainly instrumental there`s heavy use of samples and other sound design techniques to create the illusion of vocals as can be heard on the track “Frentik“.
Ed was once part of the band Cult Of Jester where we saw him in the role of a vocalist fronting an industrial rock band so to see him return to music in such a different yet at the same time familiar manner is definitely interesting. Dead Agent is a project to keep your eyes on going forwards.
From Connecticut we have Decent News who we have featured on the site before in various scenarios. They deliver a refreshing take on the blending on industrial and rock/metal. The guitar work especially stands out from the crowd as one can pick up on some clear early thrash metal influences at times as opposed to what has seemingly become the standard industrial guitar consisting of simply palm muting and tabs that look something like this: 0-000-00-0.
Having carved out their own sound they manage to evolve and progress with each release within the confines of their world which is quite an underappreciated talent.
From the UK comesVanity Killsdelivering some dirty, gritty rock n roll with filthy, dripping electronics sewn in like a patch on a vest.
They wear their influences on their sleeve and take it all the way whether that be sonically or visually, yet also manage to do things their own way and leave an open wound on the otherwise often too mechanical world of industrial rock.
While Darrin Lewis may have spent years as vocalist for the metal/deathcore band Beside The Silence he’s now working under the moniker Nothing Valentine creating what I‘m tempted to call a blend of pop and industrial but still retaining the heavy element of earlier projects.
Debuting with the song #GothGirl almost a year ago, he later followed up with the politically charged track “Civil Unrest” which showed a thematically and in many ways musically heavier side to NV which might not have been according to the audiences expectations after hearing the more light hearted first single but this is exactly why he`s on the list. Expect the unexpected whether it be in terms of music or the overarching themes.
Of course we have to include Blakmoth as we just did an interview with him.
Blakmoth creates what he refers to as “Doombient” consisting of heavy rhythmic drum work and droning ambient soundscapes all created with modular synths.
Having recently signed with Errorgrid Records and with a new release on the way despite having released “Deathshead” only a couple weeks ago Blakmoth is highly productive and is always seeking to push the envelope and challenge the audiences ideas.
I hope that with time well see more modular based artists pop up and break out of lighthearted bleeps and bloops for just a moment to explore the dark side of synthesis that Blakmoths music beckons us towards.
From Denver, Colorado comes the duo known as Echo Beds with amplified oil barrels, broken tapes and generally less than perfect instruments they create noisy yet catchy and often strangely melodic tunes reminiscent of early Swans meets EBM or something along those lines. Visceral yet danceable, not too harsh for the new comers to the experimental part of the industrial genre but just enough to entice you to go deeper and explore a side of it which is often forgotten about these days despite being the source of the genre. This one is truly DIY or die voltage therapy.
Industrial Rock isn`t exactly what Norway is known for musically although one might be able to draw comparisons between the early days of industrial and black metal in terms of extremity ,avant garde-esque tendencies and against the grain approach.
Carrion, lead by S&S writer Hide [Adrian Kjøsnes] blends elements of traditional rock n roll with a tad of 90s Nine Inch Nails style steeped in occult philosophy and mysteries.
Having just released the album “Testament Ov The Exiled” now is the perfect time to check them out if you haven’tt already to hear Hides most recent experiment mixing distorted guitars and modular synthesis into a blend of structured yet still chaotic noise and…Power ballads. Yes, you read that right.
Having recently released the single “Blithe Din” along with a ton of remixes [Including Dead Agent and Decent News] this Florida based aggrotech band is perfect for those who love catchy synth lines that worms their way into your ear while banshee like vocals speak of biblical themes full of symbolism painstakingly researched for accuracy and adopted to whatever vocalist Richie V. Suriv attempts to express.
Having already built a following within the U.S alternative scene playing with acts like Psyclon Nine, Dope, Skold, Combichrist and more this is not one to miss, oh, and they`ve got their keyboards on a chain swingset 😉
Zwaremachine: Loud and nasty from Minneapolis, this band is a grinding tidal wave of shrapnel and hiss. It rolls over you in slow driving sludge and flashing lights. Bringing gore and empty warehouse space into stark relief that transports you back to a 90’s rave in Detroit. Join in the chant and leave your inhibitions at the door.
11 Grams: The team up between Rob Early and Simeon Fitzpatrick that cuts the clean razors of electronic science fiction and dance club fury. This is two masters of production riding an electric wave of futuristic beauty and construction. It’s transformative and honed to make rooms sizzle.
StatiqBloom: This New York band is frightening and cold. It’s movement is infectious but the tone is dark. A Sinister horror film brought to life. Definitely EDM dance movement but one that leaves you anxious and clawing at the wall. You can’t sleep because you can’t relax in this terrifying landscape.
TH Inc: Chicago, Illinois Hailing from the beating heart of American Industrial music comes the sonic power house TH Inc. Electronic music pioneers Christopher Turner (of Nookleptia and the mixcloud show The Garbageman Show) & Robert Hyman (Drummer of Mr. Russia, member of Melter and owner of Lens Records) first came on the scene with the darkly haunting 8 minute “Drawstring” and the pair continue to dish out fresh dark DIY industrial reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle, Brighter Death Now, and the edgier side of COIL. If you missed out on or just miss the raw paranoid energy of early industrial and noise, but need a taste of something new, look no further. 2020 has seen the Release of 2 albums the gritty pulsing Circuit Flare, and the epic droning of The Tarkovsky Suites.learn more @ thincband.com
Bellhead: Chicago, Illinois Also from the land of WAX TRAX, this 2 Bass & a Drum Machine, Male/Female duo gave us their first taste of their mix of industrial sleaze with the thick dirty sound of “Fire Control“. Bellhead have kept it up with a hand full of releases including the 2020 EP “Unicorn Bones” and the Single “Sanity Assassin” an edgy in you face cover of the Bauhaus song.Keep you eyes on Bellhead, especially if you are a fan of the 90’s industrial rock style of Orgy and Snake River Conspiracy and even later Thrill Kill Kult.
eHpH: Denver, Colorado By now I am sure you have noticed we here at Sounds and Shadows are fans of eHpH and Bleeding Light Music in general. I feel I cannot say enough about eHpH, they come to the table with a fresh take on EBM and the darker side of synth driven industrial. From track to track you feel something that could have easily hit the dance floors of 90’s/2000’s goth industrial clubs and yet sounds strangely original. eHpH is that seductive dark stuff that draws you into this world.
Goth music and culture has always been rooted firmly in the past. It often has felt this subculture awards time served in the scene and knowledge of the obscure history of the bands, clubs, and fashion of our progenitors. However in order for a culture to carry on it must evolve and strike a chord in future generations. This happened in the 90s, then again in the mid 2000’s as new waves of goth music found and audience. Each time adding to the story by paying homage to the generations before it. As time went on “Goth” has splintered into smaller subgenres which have pushed further from that original concept until a tangled and complex web reached towards the edges of other genres. I for one embrace how rich and diverse the concept of goth culture has become. In future articles I want to explore some of these subgenres and how they are impacting modern music. In this article I will be focusing on the return to the core. That first idea of guitar driven dark music, with throbbing basslines, ethereal keyboards, and haunted lyrics with romantic natures.
1st Wave: The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Killing Joke, Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, The Birthday Party, Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Fields of the Nephilim, The Mission.
2nd Wave: Rosetta Stone, Nosferatu, The Wake, Children On Stun, Dead Can Dance, Lycia
3rd Wave: Angels of Liberty, Merciful Nuns, Switchblade Symphony, O’Children, Ritual Howls, Pink Turns Blue, The Horrors, Sunshine Blind, Golden Apes, Black Tape For a Blue Girl, Razed In Black.
Finally a new slew of darklings is raising that torch and producing the next wave of goth rock. I think it is key that these are bands who came up listening to the post synthesis goth and found their way back to the root. It gets me excited for the future.
Sonsombre – Leading the charge in this next wave. A band now signed on goth mainstay label Cleopatra. Sonsombre brings back that electric tempo and graveyard theme with flickering guitar riffs that flow like a fencers duel. You can feel that early outlaw goth Fields of the Nephilim on their 4 amazing albums. With no sign of slowing down. If you are ready to jump into that next wave, this is a great place to start.
The Kentucky Vampires: Hailing from shockingly, Kentucky, here is another band that brings old school sinister pipe organ and fire bright guitar riffs. From Secret Sin records the tone and emotion of their 5 records is everything true fans of 80’s death rock long for. Abbas has a haunting voice full of chorus and foreboding. Brandon of Sonsombre does mastering for them and helps add a sense of continuity to this new goth sound.
Scary Black: Another amazing new goth act from Louisville KY. What the hell is in the water out there. This is a one person band that has such electric energy and frightening tone. Singer Albie has one of those deep baritone voices that comes from the bottom of a well and fills you up with emotion. 3 albums and the napalm fire single Starlight Dancer.
Twin Tribes: These lovely lads from Texas have taken the world by storm. Dreamy private ritual sounds that bring the beauty and heartbeat of The Cure back into the mainstream. Tender poetry and swirling texture smoldering in a cauldron on a moonlit night. Already with two breakout albums and additional singles they are setting the standard for the softer side of gothic rock.
Black Angel: London UK artist Black Angel is putting the bat cave rock back into death rock. I feel so much of The Mission and later Sisters dancy flow to gothic rock. Their music reminds me so much of the goth club scene, swinging arms, leather and lace. Gothic music has always been tied to expression with the body, that is something Matt Vowel’s has grasp and fused into the future.
IAMTHESHADOW: When I think of goth, I think of passion and vocals that capture a room. Lisbon Portugal’s IAMTHESHADOW does that in spades. Pedro Code has the best baritone in modern goth. It’s sexy, crooning, dangerous music that sounds like a full bodied red first touching your lips. It’s music to give yourself over and get lost in. Like the first time you heard Peter Murphy and thought this is the sound that encapsulates the image i want to see in the mirror. Now on Cold Transmission Music.
Cliff and Ivy: Alaska’s favorite goth couple Cliff and Ivy have brought back the isolated howling wolf tooth and nail of goth. The punk blend of The Damned and Alien Sex Fiend. It’s raw, fierce, and unapologetic. Ivy takes the back of your head with her beautiful prose, then smashes your nose with a headbutt of power. Cliffs thick guitar riffs are a growling beast let off the chain. Iron Gauntlet in a velvet glove.
Crying Vessel: Slade and Basil also bringing that softer dark edge to gothic rock. Horror author Slade is integrating imagery of the macabre an sinister with a glam razamtaz feel. Gorgeous layered production and flange rich echo’s that simmer with Bowie and Love and Rockets. That special darkness you find on the edge of a rainbow after a storm. Available on Cleopatra Records.
Mary: My newest goth obsession from Toronto. It is fast paced, spicy, with an old school New York feel. Strong sweeping vocals with a lot of depth and meaning. It also has a complete album feel with the sweeping tempo and dynamic shifts. Take me through the full range of emotions in one record. Another Cold Transmission signing. I expect big things in the future from him.
Death Loves Veronica: This lovely lady from Texas brings that same Souxie dripping soul and witchcraft elegance to modern goth. It’s smoky and pours straight from the vein into your ears. Really nice use of guitar to add weight in the right moments. Goth needs to echo through the listener on a personal level. You need to feel what they feel and that is what Veronica captures so elegantly.
Sounds Like Winter: All the way from Australia Art Banister’s popping sharp edge retro feel goth rock has a lot of that true early Joy Division/Warsaw vibe in the drum and tempo. The vocals are forceful and ringing in a hopeless monotone. All that fuzz and emptiness given flesh.
Adoration Destroyed: Also from Texas this band is leather pants sexy in musical form. Masters of blending modern pop and old school shadow shock. It’s animalistic and winding with crackling electric dance destruction. Erik has a voice that calls to you come hither and has a 10/10 on the shake that ass factor.
Orcus Nullify: The doom and shattering gothic rock sound and poetry unafraid to lean into the cheese and imagery of early goth. Thunderous bass driven rock about bog witches and grave dirt. I love the courage and delivery of this South Carolina sensation
Witchhands: Colorado doom metal with raw open wound sounds full of decay and ritual. That place where early goth rock stayed into metal and pain. Spewing forth a filth and blood soaked pageantry with blistering guitars mashed with organs and echos.
Redwing Blackbird: Another Colorado band with blistering speed and The Damned edge punk feel mixed with true goth sensibility. This album picked me up when i am feeling low…and then sends me low again. Great production and electric tempo.
Amaranth: Ken, do you have the strength of character to not engage in shameless self promotion and include yourself with this wave of goth bands? Fuck No! I feel good about the music we have made coming back. It veers from old school to proggoth/ to industrial but fuck it, it’s good. Give it a listen 🙂
I also wanted to call out a few bands that rose from the grave to join the modern scene but have been making music all along 🙂
Caroline Blind: The stunning voice from Sunshine Blind has returned to cut an amazing solo album. Bringing in a who’s who from third wave goth to accompany her on this soulful and rich goth endeavor with a more organic feel. Her voice grabs hold of the heart strings and rides your into the ground. Breathtaking music contributions from Rich W. (The Wake), David Wolfenden (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry), Dave (The Dramedy), Ashe Ruppe (Delphine Coma), George Earth (Switchblade Symphony), Gordon Young (Pretentious Moi, Dream Disciples, Children on Stun), CWHK (Sunshine Blind), William Faith (Bellwether Syndicate, Faith and the Muse) and Geoff Bruce (Sunshine Blind, Faith and the Muse). Everyone who shows up hear really shows the impact of this artist on the scene and how much power this newest release packs.
The Wake: Speaking of The Wake, they have just unleashed a new album in 2020 and it is game changing outstanding. This record is going to get it’s own review but to not mention the power of this release would be an oversight. Such a sky opening laser of guitar beams interlaced with velvet smooth vocals and a canopy of bass to hold it inside. My breath is taken.
The Cassandra Complex: Rodney Orpheus of London’s Cassandra Complex has been keeping the goth sound alive for years. A tantalizing and sinister painting of sound with the history of human experience brought shining and new with each release. Recently on bandcamp he put out some remasters of those lovely goth anthems back into the light. A true crooner of the poetic experience of early goth music who actually toured with the early progenitors.
I didn’t come close to hitting everything, and with facebook now stopping videos, lists like this on our page might be the best bet for a full playlist of new music. So If I missed something you feel meets the requirement of guitar based goth made in the last 4 years. Please add in the comments and I will try and get it included. Much love, Precious Ken.
Today is the day when Bandcamp (The one music streaming and distribution company that seems to care an iota for musician’s) waives it’s fees and gives everything spent, to those making the music. It’s been a tough few months in particular and I am in the middle of Sotember (The month each year where I recharge and drink nothing stronger than Earl Grey tea)
Death Loves Veronica : In The Silence
Newest single from Texas darkwave sultry star Veronica Campbell. This song has a brighter more open tone than previous offerings. It really highlights the elegant purity of her voice. Also included is a beautiful synth rich remix of “In The Silence”. A cascading waterfall of cool crystal sound.
I have been waiting for someone to put raw emotion and sass back into the darkpop genre. This album crackles with mid tempo dance beats to fill the back walls of the club. The lyrics are an inward journey with an 80’s Madonna soul. Beautiful modern layered vocals to create movement and build. It’s one of those sounds that flows through your earbuds and into your nervous system and flexes attitude through your body. I feel like other people can hear these songs through my movements when I listen.
Chicago retro-synth dreamboats Wingtips have done this fitting tribute to criminally underrated 90’s Aussie pop band Savage Garden. I love the interlocking vocal duet here. The frosting sweet swirl of keyboards and chimes on this song make my heart dance with delight.
Firebrand driving doom dance with a nice sprinkle of Industrial guitar and finger firework keyboard work. I really like the effective chanting vocals which hit right on the needle of what I want from a club jam. Extra bonus remix layers on some teeth and glitch for a aggro feel. Stomp your feet and scream obscenity.
Listen to Klack or I will attack, and you don’t want that. A fresh new feel here from Matt and Eric. I really have enjoyed every evolution of this project. This has a Construction Time Again DM flavor. It has clever carefully placed samples. The beats have a real shake that ass groove. The keyboard melody lines are beautiful retro hooks. I really fell hard for these breathy cleanly delivered vocals. It’s something I hadn’t heard from them before and immediately wanted more of. The lyrics really became a strong suit here. This is an album plucked out of the timestream and dropped hard in 2020.
Kim Bell and company have released this lovely shadowpop with misty daybreak darkness. It has a dreamlike quality, with a Til Tuesday retro flow. I really like the front edge of Kim’s delivery on the vocals. This really gets me excited for the future direction of the project. Now on Swiss Dark Nights
I will always buy every GoFight release. I will never regret my decision. Jim Marcus understands the blending of body gyrating dance music in the way an Indian executive chef understands the blending of spice. The layering of elements allows you to get lost in what kind of a song you are listening to. His voice is that perfect growling beauty snapping at your heart with desire and terror. Another single, another home run.
I think this band from Toronto now on Cold Transmission takes the award of the day for something I had no idea I needed and now can’t live without. The scope of tempos here run from blistering car chase to lullaby shouting fuck. Gorgeous dreamy vocals that would make Robert Smith raise an eyebrow. I’m not sure where this was hiding but it just took my 2020 by storm.