Fans of the movie (and comic book), The Crow, will appreciate this homage to the original soundtrack, courtesy of Distortion Productions. I’m sure for many of us, as well as many of the featured artists, this film was our first taste of some great and seminal music in our formative years. The songs are treated with reverence, but a definite youthful enthusiasm makes them seem fresh again; namely, Enchepalon’s take on the Joy Division staple, Dead Souls. Cocksure kicks the listener in the teeth with their rendition of The Cure’s Burn. I was amazed at how a band like Caustic could draw such a radical departure from Suicide’s (via Rollins Band) Ghost Rider. This is a fun ride that doesn’t sound like a rehash of 1990s alternative music. It easily stands on its own as well as being an excellent companion piece to the original soundtrack.
There are certain movies that change you, that leave an impression. This was The Crow for me in high school. To take the aesthetic and darkness of living outside the culture around me, and make that cool. If only for a moment. Add to that the setting of Detroit where I fled the suburbs on weekends to act out my misspent youth. Although Brandon Lee and his tragic story was an antihero I was drawn to. The real star character of this film was the soundtrack. A tape that lived in my cars tape deck playing over and over driving down Woodward Ave, seeing the passing street lamps, the mystery moisture rising from sewer caps. This soundtrack was an essential building block of who I was. Here Jim has brought together another team of amazing modern artists to fuse new life in the nostalgic images that still hold strong today. I will discuss a few of the 14 wonderful tracks each bringing their own take on a movie that revitalized a subculture.
Cocksure – Chicago Industrial legends Chris Connelly and Jason Novak take on The Cure “Burn“. A song so powerful and image-stirring that Robert Smith can’t remember writing it. Which I think says more about how many great songs The Cure have. Recently I saw Stabbing Westward play a cover of burn at Cold Waves. This version took a much different direction of electronic explosion. Connelly has a range to rival Smith’s and gives a cracking emotional delivery. A powerful beginning to the narrative.
Go Fight – Another Chicago industrial pioneer Jim Marcus takes on the slippery opium fueled slither of Stone Temple Pilots “Big Empty” . Marcus cuts through the haze of the original to season with sharper edges and gritty streets. I loved the clarity he brought with his voice and forceful drum strikes of this bright and cutting interpretation.
Null Device – Madison WI EDM artists Null Device did one of my underrated sneaky favorite tracks on this all star soundtrack “Color Me Once” by Violent Femmes. This ended up being my favorite cover of the many strong offerings. A bold shift from the original haunted folk alternative twang. Shattering strong drum beats and sweeping dynamic changes. Eric’s voice drips with anger and honey, contrasted by the harmonies of Jill Sheridan. I love that he keeps Gordo’s cadence while giving rich and beautiful tone. Sky splitting guitar solo to bring the action to a head. This one hit me hard in all the feels.
Panic Lift – Next up a New Jersey band I owe an apology to. I have criminally under covered them in spite of every time they cross my radar saying this is absolutely astounding I should listen to this all the time. James Frances and company had the unenviable task of taking on Helmet‘s “Milktoast“. Page Hamilton has a special place for me in being an artist who got placed between punk and grunge yet was one of the more complex progressive musicians of his time. So it was going to take a lot to impress me. I was duly impressed. Helmet has such an organic sound and the buzzing rippling electronic energy captured that constantly shifting time and chanting rhythm. I love the spinning siren effect. Softening the edges without decreasing the danger.
Leaether StripRed Lokust and Tragic Impulse – Jim Semonik (Distortion Records) who made this compilation possible teamed up with Claus Larson (Leatherstrip) and Pittsburgh’s Tragic Impulse to sonically assault the My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult song “After the Flesh“. So much happening in this rapid fire stinging whip lash electronic sensory explosion. Wonderful use of electronic drum sounds to create a small club punk rock tone. FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
ego likeness – Our dear friends Donna and Steven from Baltimore’s Ego Likeness added a dreamy mist sway version of Medicine‘s “Time Baby II“. Donna’s voice is warm and wispy cutting to the front more than the original and adding a nice resonance. The music holds that same bouncing tone from the bottom of a K hole. I expected nothing less, it’s Donna and Steven.
Jim does it again, fusing that place between my youth and the bands I love today. Just like the original soundtrack, this album is a great way to touch base with some of the hottest acts in the modern scene while playing your favorite scenes from the past.
I have been an enormous fan of this project for several years. Crying Vessel has raised the bar in terms of complexity, artistic vision, and glamourous pizazz in modern goth/darkscene. Making music that touches on the darkest concepts of human nature, while appealing to our desire for macabre beauty and human connection. In addition to the music, Slade and Basil have always been deeply influenced by cinematic narrative. Particularly facing fear and searching for beauty in the alien and unknown.
With the new single “Nevermind” we are drawn into a journey of mystical ritual and symbolism. Slade has constructed a world around his music and continued it through his novel “Truth of the Shadows”. Imagery of pushing the boundaries between this world and the next. You can feel the strength of intent that goes into each detail in both lyric and image. The Illustrator of the novel Fabio Rincones is also director for this video. I love the continuity of vision there.
COLD WAVES is a celebration of Chicago’s relationship with industrial music, the memory of a fallen brother, and a fundraiser for suicide prevention charities. In the summer of 2012, Chicago lost one of its most loved and respected sound engineers and musicians, Jamie Duffy. His work ethic and ingenuity in the local music scene was a gift to many musicians. His abrupt passing had a profound effect on the electronic and metal music communities he meant so much to. In need of healing and hope, we brought 14 bands together for one magical night that year to raise money for Jamie’s family and say goodbye. But in the end, it was more of an awakening… a rebirth… a breaking wave. The success of the show pushed us to build it into an annual event, stretching over a weekend and moving it to Chicago’s iconic Metro.
Cold Waves means a lot. It is a true culmination of everything great about this scene. People from all over the world coming together to meet and celebrate music, art, unity, and holding each other up through the darkest times. To remember Jamie and everyone who felt lost and alone. A hope that the scene will be there to lend strength to someone else in trauma tomorrow. It’s first and foremost a celebration of what makes life worth living. Music, art, friendship, and empathy. I attended this year Saturday and Sunday. To see old friends and new. To hear music that will lift my heart at a time I need it most. That is what really makes this special, more than a music festival. Especially in this time of pandemic when our online friendships have become something real to sustain us. This four day festival attended by fans and artists from all over the world turns faces on a screen into reality. A summer camp of outcasts that return each year to bask in the glow of music and lights. I previously covered Thursday and Friday so I will pick up on Saturday night.
“You’ll hear the term “family” thrown around Cold Waves a lot. It’s true. For a lot of us it’s the place we all have a reunion. I get to see friends in the crowd and on stage from all over the world, and since it’s in Chicago, the U.S. Mecca of industrial, you’ll see people from the Wax Trax hey day just walking around and chatting with everyone. There’s a real sense and respect for the history of industrial– past, present, and future. It’s always a joy being a part of it, whether performing or as a spectator.” Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack/Daddybear)
Panterah – Information about this Chicago electronic artists is a tad hard to track down. No bandcamp page, instagram, youtube. You can still find releases of their previous incarnation Fee Lion. Large crowd from the beginning drawn in to these razor nails up your back danger pop. Great set to fill you with intrigue for the future of this project and the future of the night.
Provoker – LA based slushy layered dark alternative casting smoky hues through color gels. Lovely range to the vocals but every part of that spectrum is gorgeous. On a night with so much electronic magnificence it was wonderful to hear this driving fuzzy guitar centered sound. I didn’t know much going in, but I was completely won over and eagerly await the new album.
ADULT. – So I have seen Detroit based ADULT 4 times, shockingly never in Detroit where I am from. Adult is one of those artist that is an experience more than a band. A stage show of bouncing bolts of electricity cascading around the room. Humming electronic waves that create a vehicle for high brow lyrical concepts and husky chanting vocals. I love how through decades they continue to find a way to be on the edge of an evolving scene. The performance sent people running to the stage wondering what is happening and how can I get more.
Barker and Connelly – Two living legends putting aside all pretention and just having fun together shredding the ever loving shit out of a set while the audience stared in raptured attention. Two members of Ministry just smiling and unloading sonic obliteration in a shimmering drift between styles and intensity. This performance was just what you would hope for. They are preforming for the LA Cold Waves and if you have the chance, trust me don’t miss this.
Front 242 – Speaking of living legends. Belgium EBM pioneers brought a performance energy and excitement and 25 year old would be proud of. Including unveiling a new track. It’s madness that in 2021 a band I saw when I was 15 is still unleashing such unbridled energy in a live performance. As Chase Dobson said “Front 242, yes that Front 242”
Before the performance Sunday I got to have another amazing experience. A chance to go have pancakes with Martin Atkins at the Post Punk Industrial Museum. It was a dream come true for the experiences and stories he shared. Everyone needs to see this for themselves.
WINGTIPS – Chicago breakout Dreamwave band I have seen two other times. Never like this though. This performance was another level. It just tells me that they keep growing and elevating. After witnessing some mainstays with decades of performance under their belts, to hear someone open Sunday night full of exponential growth built my excitement for the whole night. In my opinion it was the standout performance of the night. It can be a razor line riding between nostalgia and modern. Wingtips do that with fearless precision and theatrical flare. After just two albums, I hunger for what their future holds.
Riki – LA based song siren who I had shockingly never heard before the festival. I think the best word to describe this performance is vibrant. The music has a very new wave throwback sound and the vocals are delivered with a series of bright and brilliant hues. The call and answer dueling delivery was a dialog full of soul and passion. I was an instant fan. A crackling sexy energy that flows through your limbs and demands movement.
Bootblacks – Brookland post punk darlings are on a rocketship of growth and excitement. They have the look, they have the moves, they have a sound that rings unique in a rising tide of the post punk style. Every time I see them I am watching a better band. Larry is an absolute beast on the drums, maybe the best in the scene. When you build on a base of that much fury and power, it makes everything else ring out with a performance that leaves you changed. The communication between each part is a type of family energy from the band that can’t be faked. The way each transition and timing happens without a pinprick of space between. Panther’s confidence and ownership of the audience has reached a real maturity and control. It feels like seeing Nick Cave, in his ability to make a large room feel intimate. Barrett and Alli are playing a complex match of high speed electric tennis sending melodies and leads back and forth in neon chaos. This is one of those bands people will be saying “I was there that night” ten years from now.
“Getting to play Cold Waves the first time around in 2019, was a huge honor. It’s a perfect blend of some of our favorites as well as a new wave of fresh faces, many of whom we’ve had the pleasure of sharing stages with around the world. But in addition to the show itself, Cold Waves in general is a community of like minded lovers of the scene. Some of the friendliest people we’ve ever come across. We were welcomed with open arms the first time around, but to be invited to come back and play this year felt triumphant. The love we received the whole weekend after 2 years of not being able to play shows, was so reaffirming and desperately needed. Everyone involved, staff, crew, security, organizers, bands, and of course, the fans, all came together and gave us memories that we will hold onto for the rest of our lives. We are eternally grateful. Barrett Hiatt (Bootblacks)
Korine – The Philly based TranceGaze act which are beauty encapsulated in their sound and aesthetic. I had never seem them live before this night and it took my breath away. You can feel the sound pouring over your skin like cool clean water. Seeing that crowd sway in sync with each song, it was a psychic dream and we were all sharing it in that moment. I will never miss a chance to see this band again.
Stabbing Westward – Then a special treat happened. LA’s Electro rock masters SW took the stage and I was transported to my bedroom as a 16 year old kid, mad because some girl done me wrong. Chris’s voice isn’t just preserved, it’s sharper and cleaner. They played a cover of The Cure’s “Burn” and I don’t say this lightly, it sounded better than Robert Smith. I was even blown away when some tech issues arose and Chris shifted into stand up comedian story teller mode and kept the crowd in the palm of his hand. It was dynamic, it was emotional, it was everything you want from a rock show. My knees were shaking, and then they played “Save Yourself”…I tried hard not to be a mark for the single, but I couldn’t stop. I got misty and belted along.
This isn’t just a festival, it isn’t just four days of heat stopping music. It’s a scene coming together for a wonderful cause and embracing each other. Holding each other up in dark times and saying we share something. Music matters and can still be the bond that ties us. If you feel like this has been missing, plan a trip for 2022. We are all waiting for you. We are all ready to be your people.
In the summer of 2012, Chicago lost one of its most loved and respected sound engineers and musicians, Jamie Duffy. His work ethic and ingenuity in the local music scene was a gift to many musicians. His abrupt passing had a profound effect on the electronic and metal music communities he meant so much to. In need of healing and hope, we brought 14 bands together for one magical night that year to raise money for Jamie’s family and say goodbye. But in the end, it was more of an awakening… a rebirth… a breaking wave. The success of the show pushed us to build it into an annual event, stretching over a weekend and moving it to Chicago’s iconic Metro.
Cold Waves means a lot. It is a true culmination of everything great about this scene. People from all over the world coming together to meet and celebrate music, art, unity, and holding each other up through the darkest times. To remember Jamie and everyone who felt lost and alone. A hope that the scene will be there to lend strength to someone else in trauma tomorrow. It’s first and foremost a celebration of what makes life worth living. Music, art, friendship, and empathy. I will be returning for Saturday and Sunday. To see old friends and new. To hear music that will lift my heart at a time I need it most. Lets talk a bit about some of the bands and DJs preforming and think on friends both here and gone.
ALL COLD WAVES ATTENDEES MUST SHOW PROOF OF VACCINATION AT THE DOOR TO ATTEND THIS EVENT, NO EXCEPTIONS. 2. MASKS WILL BE MANDATORY TO ENTER, EXCEPTIONS WHILE IN OUTDOOR SIDE-LOT OR WHILE EATING/DRINKING 3. FINAL LINEUP NOW LISTED ABOVE!
The Pirate Twins: Chicago goths legendary couple William Faith and Dj Scary Lady Sarah of The Bellwether Syndicate. They have one of the best followed Twitch stream shows of the pandemic. Offering a blend of old school and new goth/post punk/synthwave. I don’t know if there is a finger more firmly planted on the pulse of the dark scene. The Pirate Twins are as much a part of Chicago as nuclear green relish on hot dogs.
Choke Chain : Milwaukee, Wisconsin razor edge EDM band who has been launching to notoriety with their new album ” Invoking Shadows“. Mark Trueman spews body shocking dance beats and venom charged vocals that infuse the audience with energy like a loa possession. This new EP is mastered by Eric Oehler of (Null Device and Klack) which bursts with a chaotic light and menacing intensity. A great way to set the tone for the festival. Choke Chain came on my radar from fellow Wisconsonite Benny Sweat of Sweat Boys, and has continued to be a rising star for this scene.
I ask Mark what playing Cold Waves meant to him: “Its a great opportunity and Its something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Finally being able to do it is very exciting”
Morgue VVitch – Kansas based haunting terror synth from artist Tara Saavedra. A wispy tendril of vocals rises from the metallic cauldron of rising synth sounds. Bubbling percussion pops and crackles from this heady brew and brings the energy to life. I continue to be impressed by their sound, as well as the industry greats who see such promise in Tara and offer remixes for this first single. Names like Ghost Youth, Slighter, Caustic, Stoneburner. When great artists see your value it should be a sign to fans of the genre.
The festival has a long journey ahead. Save some energy. Get a Lou Malnati’s pizza to build a carb base for the energy you will need ahead. Check in with us tomorrow for more tips and tricks for Fridays stacked lineup.
The modern Darkscene has always been a place to push the boundaries of standard definitions of gender and self concept. Exploration of what society has subscribed is called into question through self discovery. Much like the umbrella that is goth and the genres within the artists who create the music form a broad and complex spectrum. I don’t want to dive deeply or speak for those that make up this rich tapestry. Instead I will focus on shining a light on some of the great non binary artists I have discovered.
Mystic Priestess – Oakland California dark punk band brings a cobweb lace batcave chaos full of elder goth tones and floor shaking intensity. The percussion is a non stop primal assault. The effective use of time change and intensity make each song dynamic and captivating. The instrumentation used shows a range and craft to the rough and passionate style. Eternal Resurrection features a muted saxophone that perfectly contrasts and shows a depth beyond standard 4/4 punk. The vocals carry a chanting energy teeming with life and prowling danger. A creature from a buzzing bog moving with jerking purpose ready to strike out at anyone who makes eye contact. I love that no matter how deep I dove into this album, I never found the floor. There was always another layer.
Favorite Track: Christian Lies – This opening tom fill makes my heart beat fast. It’s one of those recorded tracks you can’t help but picture live. The energy is infectious and the breakdown at 1:40 just collapses the floor and leaves you in a free fall ready for the trap to spring. A politically charged flame thrower that holds the spirit of what punk was always suppose to mean. I want to hear this song as I charge up the hill to burn post world capitalism from the landscape.
Sister Sarin – I first became aware of this Baltimore artist when they played percussion for Steven Archer with his Stoneburner project. Hemlock has one of those terrifying and remarkable energies you can’t help but spot from across a room. The sound is immersive and textual. A carefully orchestrated journey that makes the abstract realm of emotion take on shape through tone and hook. I’ve always been fascinated with chimes. That place where percussion and melody meet. Hemlock has an amazing talent for creating a dance of these aspects that seem to always strike a cohesive picture in my mind. Right Where I Belong is one of the few tracks that feature vocals and they are gorgeous. A sort of David Gahan’s ghost calling from beyond the veil. This EP is my soundtrack to a steamy ivory bathhouse lit with candles. It’s a challenge, it’s a comfort, it’s real.
Favorite track: Tripwire – Here those amazing chimes are on display. The percussion is complex and in the front. It’s a mystery of anticipation I’m drawn to because I want to be surprised.
Vortex Empath Xen, Moira Scar – Another Oakland California talent. A very experimental and raw sound with a minimalist efficiency. Sometimes with something this raw in production it might have a hard time capturing me, the more i listened the more it grew on me. It feels like being invited into an underground lair of where a secret society is preforming Kaos majick with thick smoke and hundreds of flickering candles. The guitars growl firing around the room like a demon summoned by Raw Power. This was never intended to be an easy hook driven listen. I feel the intention is to be unnerving. The vocals are delivered with power and unity like a flung spell taking shape from the void. I found myself constantly wondering if a cleaner production would clarify or ruin the vibrating hunger. This is an album you need to be in the right place for, however if you are in this place, it’s staggering and emotive.
Vinsantos – I first witnessed NOLA artist Vinsantos opening for Peter Murphy in a Chicago church and my heart stood still. It was as though they grabbed ahold of the center of their rib cage, tore themselves open, and 1000 ravens and doves flew out. The entire catalog is masterful in a way that makes the hairs on my arms stand up. This single in particular is a blend of the conceptual story telling of Robyn Hitchcock and the effortless emotion of Q Lazzarus. This song builds, it delivers, it places it’s hands on the side of your head and makes you stare into the windows of it’s soul. You need this, everyone needs this.
HIDE – If there is something more intense, powerful, and visceral in the modern scene than HIDE, I am hard pressed to say what it is. The Chicago based duo play slow meatgrinder machinery sounds that roll towards your body and you watch yourself chewed away by the awesome, unstoppable force of the lyrics and soul splitting delivery. There is nothing fun or happy go lucky about this phycological assault on the senses. This is true high art delivered with a morning star to the face instead of a paint brush. Sometimes when you hear an album, you are changed forever and terrified to keep listening. This is one of those records. You need to summon your courage, you need to listen, you need to be changed.
Favorite track: Daddy Issues – Holy shit, a brutal and unapologetic judgement on modern society and rape culture and Brock Turner. The fury and delivery of his fathers quote is staggering in it’s force. They hold a mirror up to society and then smash society over the fucking head with it.
Synth Witch – An artist from Portland Oregon that does lovely slow creeping interstellar travel sounds. Gorgeous textured bleeps and bloops I want to fill my ears while constructing high risk plans in the dangerous far reaches of space. One of those artists that truly captures a visual wavelength without the use of lyrics to paint the picture. Set the controls for the heart of the sun and sail away.
Favorite Track:Dangerous – This immersive soundtrack for a space heist is effortlessly cool. Perfectly tailored leather jackets in dirty space.
Arden and the Wolves – Wonderful talent from Los Angeles that also does a podcast about magic and art(I linked it below) . They have a voice that absolutely drips with power. A look and sonic energy that resonates with every step. I found myself struck by the theatrical delivery and spiritual passion. It almost feels like the goth version of modern secular music delivered by a soloist in front of a choir . Shadowed by the mystical roots to make a contrast. This is a teaching sound, each time i listen I feel like I am unraveling a story.
DORIAN ELECTRA – Artist from LA doing a blood pumping spicy trip hop. I love the way they spray the sexuality around like a firehouse. The vocal timber has a really unique feel and the energy is pure darkpop adrenochrome pumped right in the vein. The album brims with guest artist which adds a lot of flavors and complexity. This has such glorious relatable pop sensibility but delivered with razor edge and soul.
Favorite Track:My Agenda (Feat: Village People and Pussy Riot) – This has such a slinky beat and a real fire in the vocal delivery while holding a smoldering flame of pop beauty.
Darkswoon – Portland artist with singer Jana Cushman who also has done soundtrack work for the film “My Summer As A Goth”. Smokey driving shoegaze flavor. I really love how the music has a wall of sound shoegaze feel but the vocals are very forward and ring clear like a bell. Andrew Michael really puts on a clinic with the movement of a fuzzy swelling bass tone.
Favorite Song:The Flesh – Huge 10,000 maniacs meets Kevin Shields vibes. This song is a twisting mechanical snake with Jane pouring visceral soul from their mouth. Chefs Kiss.
Sawtooth – New England EDM artist Lillian Edith Martin that does a body shaking synth heavy dance drive. I love the labyrinth of staircases and moving paths. It’s glorious to hear dance music take on such a fantasy tone. It’s like listening to imagination. Some great collaboration with Juliet Brownell-Lee (Gorgeous vocals) and John Greene (Makes my arm hairs stand up). I have gotten lost in each of these tracks in different moments for different reasons.
Favorite Track:Crawling Towards the Light Feat: Juliet Brownell-Lee – Such a perfect homage to fantasy and nostalgia with modern dance flavor and perfect movement. This song is such a journey.
grabyourface – Marie does the most amazing sad industrial hybrid music. Tortured soul bearing poetry poured over a beat like blood down a fountain. Hearing the courage with which they reveal the most intimate aspects of their soul in every song fills me with strength every time I hear it.
Favorite Track: Shore – From the album Sea in 2020. When you think of a song as haunting and revealing. Every time I hear this is leaves me shook. The imagery, the self reflection, the tone.
Shadows Beloved – My dear friend Adrian Auchrome from Maine does such an amazing job of resurrecting old school traditional goth like Rossetta Stone and seasoning it with anguished vocal delivery. What really hits my heart every time is the guitar tone perfection that blisters to the front to take center stage. This album is so under appreciated in the discussion of the modern goth renaissance. Emotional abstracts and artisan crafting in perfect blend.
Favorite Track:All We Want – Adrian is at their best when letting their beautiful voice be itself and ring forth. This song captures that. The guitar solo is a powerful masterclass in modern traditional goth.
Sloar&Mordor – Wisconsin artists Matt Florence andSvea Tiberius Trzebiatowski bring their love of Science fiction and pop culture into this dungeon synth art house explosion of Easter eggs and shake that ass beats. I love the spoken word delivery and raindrop synth sounds.
Kali Ra – Oakland California artist does amazing offbeat driving guitar slather that I want to be my entrance music when I walk into a party. It’s dark and has it’s own saunter. David Goad has a 30’s phonograph sex appeal on their voice. It’s breathy, beckoning, and full of temptation. The album “The Monarch” leaps around between tone and style ranging from 90s goth pop to 70s Glam rock. Their voice is the one thing that ties together all these colorful threads stretching out on a loom of sound.
Favorite Track:Gaslight – The spirit of Brian Eno has been summoned and infused with youth to entertain me in the modern age. I also love what a contrast this is to the other tracks.
Dea Decay – Florida Dj/Artist Dea does this lovely candy sweet synthpop full of magic and color. If I had to choose a word to describe their sound it would be vibrant. It features samples and head bopping energy.
Favorite Track : Catronica – Look I love the new She-Ra and in particular Katra. Feel good adorable energy and breakneck fun pacing. Yes please.
WINGTIPS – Chicago synthdriven apocalyptical dreampop which captured my heart a few years back and continue to impress. Gorgeous flowing imagery turned into sound and fired out of a smoke machine to create a shimmering wave of deeper dreaming. One of the truly exceptional performances to see live in the modern scene. One of those bands that continues to evolve in complexity with every passing year.
Favorite Track:Last Minute – They have had so many amazing songs since, but you never forget your first love. When I heard this track I was instantly transported to the post apocolyptic John Hughes prom and I never wanted to leave. It’s unforgettable beauty.
Since I have come this far 🙂 I also want to give a shoutout to three Djs very near and dear to my heart that help make this scene what it is 🙂 Pat Allen, Kate Mior, and Azy Bats. All of them are great ways to hear the best in new music and keep your finger on the pulse of the modern scene. Pat 626, Darkness Forever, and Obscura Undead.
Thought provoking new video by California goth band Ashes Fallen from their new album “A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream”. The opening guitar riff is classic traditional goth. James vocals take on a seriousness and edge that show the introspection on the growing apathy of a homelessness problem that confronts America. I think it is important in this stark black and white video that shines a light on the troubles of the displaced on the streets, not showing faces or invading the privacy of those enduring the struggle. A powerful track which is accentuated by the visuals of the parts of California streets not shown in TV and movies. It’s a grim shocking picture that the dark hook of the music keeps playing in your mind.
James: “When I started writing this song, I was thinking about the San Francisco Bay Area, where Jason and I grew up. We along with so many childhood friends have been pushed out by the crazy cost of living, it’s just not the place it used to be anymore. There used to be an idealism in Silicon Valley but now there’s just so much greed. But as the song developed, I got to thinking about the people who don’t have the means to escape from gentrification, and how poor and marginalized people are being forced out of their communities everywhere, sometimes with no options and nowhere to go. And the more time goes on, the more relevant the song feels in so many different ways.”
Michelle: “I never cease to be shocked and grieved to see the poverty in this country. I just really wanted to show what we see through our eyes just driving around the streets. People pushed out of the city limits into the outskirts like they don’t exist. These are the faceless and voiceless people. I didn’t want to show their faces, so we showed ours instead.”
Check here for top charities to help assist the homeless.
It is like the whole goth community got a birthday infusion. I am on a reckless spending spree of new music. Here is some of what I am listening to right now. As always if you have a band you want to see reviewed, comment below.
Lyres Of Ur – Escape From Modern Man – New single from our talented young contributor Lou Blacksail with cover art by Joshua McCallister. I continue to be impressed by the passion and vision of this young songwriter. A raw and bass driven wind tunnel of echo’s and sinister carnival keyboards. I can feel the snarl curled lip in every delivery. Sometimes when I hear a mix that has a raw feel, I am taken out of the moment. In this single that way different aspects charge to the front adds a boldness and bravado. I feel like this is an artist the shines with potential and leaves space to grow. The emotion and natural intuition for form and hook are unmistakable. I am more impressed by everything I hear.
Suzi Sabotage – Nazi Goths, Fuck Off – With everything facing our scene I am amazed no one has released a track like Finnish siren Suzi Sabotage that takes the blunt power of a barb wire baseball bat that attacks the worst aspects of goth with unbridled fury. A slinky dark synth build with a razor edge message that pulls no punches. The new generation of goths demand an anthem of political passion and Suzi has delivered. A perfect punch the masses can rise behind. Nazi Goths Fuck Off.
Precious Bones – MAGNA FRACTURA – I love the name, the concept, and sound of New Jersey barb wire rockers Precious Bones. Antoine Poncelet & Guy Tetro unleash an Iggy Pop/New York Dolls late 70’s chaos venom. A tight coil of front edge intensity and pulsing electricity. I love the call and answer style of the vocals which put me in mind of the Vaselines. It flows through the pipe of uplifting joy and angry edge. This whole album is such a runaway stage coach sparking cobblestones in a tight alley chase. The organic slicing fury mixed with dangerous violent stories that has a real murder ballads feel. I love how this tale keeps changing speed and turning. I never want to look away. Horror punk with a retro feel. August 2021 release. This album is dedicated to the memory of founder Guy Tetro, a tragic story and impressive release.
Favorite track: Mysterio – Thick pulsing baseline. Start and stop reckless abandon. The vocals are the perfect volley of story telling dialog. It’s engaging and edgy without trying to sound that way. It’s one of those tracks that hits perfectly on it’s intent while the listener is left feeling it was a perfect storm with no destination in mind.
Stoneburner – Spectrum – Another face blistering hurricane wind blast from Steven Archer. This time taking a revealing and visceral offering about mental health to offer connection through the turbulence. I love the wide prism of colors in tone for the single and remixes. When I think of Steven’s sound I use words like focus, contrast, and intensity. This track is a softer and varied concept which shows range and subtilty. The bsides Bahr Bela Ma and Open Letter redirect back to the percussion assault and rhythmic chant vocals I associate with Stoneburner. This unity with COP International continues to let the wolfcore off the chain and give a fertile field for raw creative energy to foster. John Fryer has once again found a laser prism to channel the emotion of Steven’s art.
Carrion – Shatter the Seals – New two track EP on Brutal Resonance from the charred angels of Carrion. I love the new direction. The monster is no longer lurking in the darkness, it’s sinister intention a slow whisper behind your back. Now the monster is charging towards you full speed with teeth barred and howling your doom. The vocals are a striking snake hiss. The drum beats are frantic and marching. Biggest of all this guitar distortion is clean, mean, and red eye glaring at you. The seals have truly been shattered and the demons unleashed on this plane. I’ve never heard Hide lash out with such unbridled intention. Buy this album, bath in blood, smash your meaningless possessions with a baseball bat.
Ratio Strain – Century Of The Self – San Diego band I am just finding from the drummer of W.A.S.T.E. This release came out in January 2020 but i am glad to discover it now. 8 songs of mind shattering hard industrial which is going to hurl a challenge in your face like a gallon of moonshine to the eyes. The vocals are sample laden and I will admit made me blush several times. This is music intended to cause discomfort. It’s also slick tight dance beats that had my head bopping while I stood in fear and awe. The panning of the drums was an expertly done effect and really makes the room spin to the napalm explosions. You think, you dance, you shake, you break.
Favorite track: Objectify – This song made me wildly uncomfortable and unnerved. A real blinding light held up to the misogamy prevalent in he world. It is not a soft message and hurled with such strength and aggression it left me speechless. (Warning) Not safe for Work 🙂
Vlimmer – Meter b/w Kartenwarten – Alexander is back again, with a new two track EP and again stretching the range of one of the great sonic sculptors of our time. This is shake your ass club thump. The open expansive feel of the synths, the thunderous driving bass, I couldn’t help throw my hands in the air. Beautiful syncopation and vocal cadence. Track one Meter has a BlondieAtomic energy while pulsing in hues of violet and crimson.
Favorite Track: Kartenwarten – The glorious sway and slide of this track. I’m on a cliff staring at the sea, feeling the slow shifting power of dark water. So many textures and concepts bleeding together in harmony. A true work of beauty.
Lorelei Dreaming – Future Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.
Favorite Track: To Leave This Heaven – Sparkle explosion of dance delight and spinning cyclones. A real Violator Depeche Mode swagger with silk swirling gentle touch.
There is a shift that has happened in modern music, of how music is released. A focus on speed and constant content of singles in the streaming world. The art of tension and anticipation between releases has become an artform which has fallen by the wayside. In 2018 Actors released “It Will Come To You”. It captured the imagination of the scene which propelled them as a modern voice for a genre based in nostalgia. Three years later that title that won over new wave of Post Punk/Synth fans has come to ring all the more true. The slow gleaming trickle of singles leading to the promise of a sophomore album have fallen like individual raindrops on the thirsty tongues of their growing fanbase. The addition of a new bass player Kendall Wooding adds another element to the chemical reaction. The patient crafting of new songs which hold that emotional connection, while growing in complexity and range. The story of Actors has always been one of communication and relationships within the human experience. “Acts of Worship” elevates that connection to explore the spiritual macro concepts which bind us together.
Going to do something a little different for this review because I am so invested. A song by song breakdown of my impressions:
Love U More – A delicate symphonic intro that opens the curtain. Jason’s voice is sorrowful and and ripe with longing. The chorus is a perfect way to display this fresh sound of collaboration. A true harmony of individual styles. Shannon’s vocal’s fire forth with a confidence and balance that leaves you looking up to the sky. I love the clear heavy footed walk of the bass. The flickering electric street lights of the guitar lead. This track is here to set the scene. To re-introduce beloved characters and place them in a new adventure. The most striking aspect is how much the concept of the song feels uncharted. The genre is familiar. The style distinctly Actors. The texture and melody feels like the future. Something we have yet to hear.
Like Suicide – It can be hard to separate an artist from art. When people hear “The Joshua Tree” by U2 these days the first thing that pops to mind is a Bono joke. The impact that album had with it’s ballads in particular. A voice so dripping with mystery and unfettered passion. A romantic beauty in a time of consumerism. That lost concept is what stirs within me in this soul barring heart dancer. It’s a catchy croon that glows with soul. That place where what is pleasing to the ear and painful to the heart go to share the struggle and triumph of life.
Cold Eyes – A forceful driver of city lights blurring as a they pass by the passenger window. Love this overlapping guitar part between muted crunch and crackling lead. The singing has a voices in your head surrealism. A hallucination effect that leaves you questioning what is real. I think this song has a classic Actors feel which helps connect “Acts of Worship” to “It Will Come To you”. This is the preservation of continuity song.
Obsession – This song felt personal for me. We all have felt this isolated time to dwell on people or things we are missing. Swirling shadows in the water, violet hues and reflected neon light. Jason’s voice takes on that airy Ian McCulloch beauty. Letting you sink within your own destructive thoughts and lose yourself between the water and the mist. One of the deepest most revealing moments of honesty. This song in particular felt like a real look behind the bands eyes.
Death From Above – What a glorious tone shift. I found myself transported like a World War 2 fighter pilot blazing towards a synthwave animated landscape. The hook and harmony of this track is captivating. The strong down strike percussion that personifies the aerial assault. The record player effect of the vocals enhanced the vintage feel to create a sharp contrast against the digital soul of the music.
Killing Time – Strong opening of magnetic fuzz on the guitars. The shifting polarities kept me bouncing around the room. The last two years has seen time slipping past us. Days bleed together and we need to force ourselves into these moments. I love the tension breaking shouts of “Hey” to stir a unity and freeze frame. An anthem to stop the push and pull of life and hold us in this moment until the pull sends us back into a volley. I am impressed by the ambition of this track. It pulls off the difficult task of complexity without sounding complex.
Only Lonely – The bouncing funky bass line of this track has huge John Taylor emotions. Jason swings into a husky whisper on vocals. A secret that pulls you in and sets you up for the call and answer chorus. A much brighter and meringue peaked dessert tone. The lyrics still deliver a pang of longing to add shape and depth to one of the most tender fashion walk singles on the album.
Strangers – Another engulfing single on an album full of singles. Strangers hits on all cylinders. The lyrics paint a picture in beautifully blended water colors. The music is that razors edge of expansive synthetic beauty and sizzling rock energy. I feel like this is Jason’s strongest vocal performance. Utilizing everything he does well at it’s highest peak. It is decisive, emotional, and resonates with a concept which relates and challenges. This is the type of powerful track lost in the modern age full of poetry and delivery. A true modern classic. My top track on a top album.
End of the World – A nice tension building intro for a cosmic journey watching the world grow small. The radio announcer crackle effect on the vocals creates weight and acceptance of a world slipping away. That progressive keyboard line pushes to center stage and sets the tone of emotional longing for La petite mort. As life hurtles towards uncertainty we take a journey of acceptance. This was one of the most musically powerful tracks. A haunting tone of post apocalyptic hope in a desolate moment.
Once More With Feeling – The ending of a journey of one of the most complete records of the modern era. To say it leaned into the epic and expansive is an understatement. This song has a true OK Computer emotional range and scope. We have witnessed the end of the world, but are left with a resurrection and resilience. To push on, to survive while towers of magma shoot into the sky of a new world. I love that instead of going out on a single, instead we are played out into a promise of future adventure. A glimpse on the horizon of a world to come.
“Acts of Worship” Is going to change the standard. Rather than think of it as an album out of time. Hear it as the type of puncturing emotional thought pieces we talk about as nostalgia from a previous era. I choose to see the hope it promises. To be a place where those that remember the past, and those that are blazing new ground in the future meet. Where they say this was the moment where the music we talk about twenty years from now with a new generation is remembered. It’s a powerful feeling that you can be apart of now.
It’s been a tough few months. Finding the spoons to write with my voice has been a challenge. So I have a lot of albums stacked up in my Bandcamp list. I’m feeling hopeful tonight. Going to try and summon that spark and share some of what is making these dark days bearable. As always if you have something you want to see reviewed put it in the comments below.
Manticore Kiss – Intertwined – I am genuinely upset this EP has not gotten more attention. The Vancouver duo was recorded by Jackknife studios. As we all know everything Jason touches is gold. The band features Kat Bastow – Vocals, Keyboard, Electronics and Ari Mansell – Vocals, Cello, Violin. It has a unique and expansive electronic sound of world beat synthpop somewhere between the soulful depth of Dead Can Dance and shimmering beauty of Erasure. Both vocalists are talented and inspired. A crystal ballroom waltz in perfect syncopation. This album was a magical pool to dive into and transport you to a fantasy world of beauty and lost romanticism. I was staggered by how immersed in a dream every song left me. These are dark and challenging times. To create music so easy to get lost in is a balm I didn’t realize how much I was longing for until I was lost in it. The harmonies were a true dialog that added depth and perspective to the story. A captivating surprise that made an instant fan of me.
Favorite Track: Forever – This dark tone and winding melody was absolutely mesmerizing. The synth pads were full of movement and gorgeous refracted light. The lyrics are imagery rich poetry and painted by perfectly synched harmony. This is like a Tolkien prose in musical form. The chorus is a spiritual hymn that makes your heart thump in your chest.
Jean-Marc Lederman – The Bad Tempered Synthesizer – It can be so difficult to review Belgium composer Jean Marc Lederman, it seems everything new he does pushes hard against the caul of artistic boundaries as to what I think of as “songs” in the traditional sense. Every new release is such a dynamic experience that teaches me something as a songwriter as well as about my own human journey. This 12 song album was is an homage to Wendy Carlos an American composer who helped develop the original Moog. A true pioneer who changed the face of modern electronic music in so many ways. Jean Marc spins a bleep bloop tale of expression and change without ever uttering a word. It feels like a racecar driver putting a prototype car through it’s paces, taking what the engineer had made and conducting a series of tests that showed the absolute limitations of sound and emotions capable by a single instrument. I feel like every new release is a challenge to what is possible to create within the concept of being a musician. An unfettered freedom of firing a rocket towards the sky not caring where it comes down. It makes me hopeful that this kind of courage and ambition can still be celebrated in the modern era. Where it feels everything has been done. The past, the future, the respect to those who came before, and the brazen chaos. All here in a glass bubble, frozen in a moment in time. This record is not pop hits, not hooks, even though the songs are pleasing. This is high art, designed to set you on the road, and allowing you to take your own journey.
Abbey Death – Death is For the Living – July 2021 single from Darktonica independent couple Abbey Death. I really love the lofi minimalist tone for how much is going on. Valarie is a tempting whispery invitation luring you towards deaths sweet embrace. Nex descends on the chorus with a harsh jagged glass terrifying tone. The blend is a culmination of the romanticism and fear or the unknown in one. The late 90s flavor guitar lead builds the tension for the layered vocal choir at the end. It’s nostalgic in a way seldom seen, a throwback to the late 90s’s early 2000s. A Steel teeth and silk cloth style that flows and leaves me excited for what is next.
Armalyte Industries – This is an amazing celebration at an outstanding price. Armalyte is setting a standard for boutique labels and celebrating 20 years of putting out music that carves the line between rock/metal/industrial. 24 tracks with some of the biggest names in the genre, and some of the hungriest new sounds for the future. The online live stream highlighted the best aspects of the current industrial scene, lifting each other up. This compilation is sawblade sharp and electrically charged. An old school exhibition that puts on display all the label has to offer. A chance to hear collaborations by the likes of <PIG> and The Joy Thieves, Industrial mainstays like Spankthenun, and exciting new trend setters like Der Prosector. This is a must have to find 5 new bands you didn’t know were your future favorites. I love the quality, the execution, and what a compilation like this represents. Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media.
Monsieur Pompier’s Travelling Freakshow – Teatime Terrors – Wow what a fresh fun take. The fever dream carnival cacophony of sound. Elements of of Zappa, Man Man, synthwave, and Syd Barrett. The lyrics are a clever, humorous, psychedelia space opera. It’s so exciting to see a band throw caution to the wind and create something truly strange and beautiful. I think the greatest power of this record is the creativity of the characters. Each song is a page from a vibrant comic book concept transported into pixilated retro mono synth songs. I really hope to see this album played live someday, because it sounds like a magical party brought to life. On Cleopatra records.
nino sable – The AHHH – New lofi minimalist terror trance single from Nino. This track is straight up nightmare fuel with a haunting growl and skin crawling poetic lyrics. You need to listen to this track, not right before you go to bed, but you need to listen to it.
Rohn – Lederman – Watch Out – I know, I have already talked about Jean Marc in this review. Michigan native Emileigh Rohn has an uplifting electricity in her voice that fills me with hope and energy. Her recent tracks with John Fryer’s my new favorite get stuff done music. Now she teams with another living legend in Lederman to focus that fire into a swirling slow motion golden whip. Add in top tier remixes from Assemblage 23, Mark Hokings, and Leatherstrip and COP has put out another home run single. After working with electrosynphonic masters to create emotive sonic paintings like this, the only question that remains is. What will she do next?
Cult Of Alia – Offerings – New grinding mist rolling future sounds from David Wright on Cold Transmission. I love the fusion of darkscene genres here. The vocals drip from the microphone with sensuality. The songs all hold this enveloping mist quality filling the city streets and holding it’s listeners hostage in the darkness. The creative use of digital sounds add a deliciously unplaceable flavor and build the tension. Split Seconds in particular is such a cerebral thriller of fear and longing. This makes me want to slow goth wave my arms on a dancefloor.
C Z A R I N A – Wonderland – I love a good dark pop as much as anyone. This new single from Czarzina is a napalm fire burst. Perfectly crafted, full of soul, and a hook that releases technovirus tendrils and plants itself in your head. We talked recently with her in a podcast that will come out Friday 8/7/21 about how this song was based on her experience of moving to Spain where she learned the spiritual history of the region. Easy on the ears, piercing to the mind. <chefs kiss>
Red Meat – Manchester UK’s dancetastic hard edge industrial is a album every DJ needs to download and use to blow the walls apart of every dance club in the world. Rhys Hughes has that filthy Uncle Al sex voice which makes you want to shake your body harder and meaner than you ever have before. It’s that perfect mix of glam and grime skirting a razors edge of the danger you want to stick around for. I love hearing music that isn’t my style, but is delivered with such quality I can’t help myself being drawn in by it. This whole album is pure club magic that makes me long for sweaty bodies spasmodically jerking in time while the crumbling walls of a filthy warehouse thrum in the darkness.
daddybear (Feat: Grabyourface) – Science Fiction – Wow Matt Fanale really brought it with this new single. Teaming up with Marie of Grabyourface was a perfect icing on the cake. This is a jam of hypnotic proportions and the message is you must move. Marie’s voice is a smoky sensual alien being both exotic and alluring. The single also has a really cool trance like bside and a holographic wavy Sawtooth remix. Turn the club speakers to 11 and feel it flow through you.
I have been thrilled to watch as the Goth/Industrial community grows more diverse. Hats off again to Bandcamp for really putting their money where their mouth is to support both bands and the rights people of color. I will go through some of the things I am currently listening to so you can add to your list and support a great cause.
LEATHERS – Reckless – The long anticipated EP from Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.
Favorite track: Take your pick, but I will go with Missing Scene. Something about this swooping shoegaze LUSH 4AD vibe. Her voice is reverberating like a tuning fork yet ringing so clearly. I hear this song and even on earbuds I feel like I’m in an old opera house with a towering sound system feeling wave after wave wash over.
October Noir – Cover Type O Negative: Love You To Death – Loving the sound of this band. Does it emulate the band they are covering in a lot of their sound. Yes. Type O is an amazing sound though. It’s ultra bass Steele vocals. It’s crunching power chords. It’s chest pounding bass guitar. This cover is rich with extra layers and complexity. It feels like a love letter to a band now beyond the veil. You can really feel the time and dedication placed on taking apart and reanimating every aspect.
Dea Decay – Magic Lantern – This is a beautiful fun romp from Florida artist Dea Decay that came out in December 2020. A spicy club crashing electronic explosion. No vocals but instead a steady stream of adorable wicked anime samples. It’s non stop energetic explosion of adorable imagery and and surreal colors.
Favorite Track: Catronica – A little secret here, when the new netflix She-Ra came out I was blown away. It’s so wonderful and pure. This song really captures that energy and highlights my favorite character Catra. It’s sharp claws bounding around with reckless abandon.
SHIV-R – Kill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam. I’m also impressed by the range shown on tracks like Spark, a truly lovely brain infecting track of pop industrial glory. Or Black Turns Blue a downtempo marching chant of a ballad. This record is a journey. Crane’s voice is one of those charismatic characters that feels at home in every setting the music places it. This is the wonder of modern industrial.
Black Angel – Prince of Darkness – I am LOVING this modern trend of returning to guitar driven true gothic rock. Matt Vowels has done it again. This is sizzling and sensual dark driving glory. I just don’t get to make this comparison enough but this album holds that emotive blistering power of Love and Rockets. Deep brooding rich vocals, whip snap percussion, but it always comes back to the V8 power of these guitars. Everything is foot to the floor speed and slides. It’s a non stop action flick of adrenochrome and dark intent.
Favorite Track: Serene – What a gorgeous highway 51 desert hard hitting ballad. The vocals croon and tantalize as the dust rolls by on an empty stretch. I love song for outlaws.
PALAIS IDEAL – The Art of Crashing – I’ve been waiting for the follow up to the 2019 release Pressure Points with baited breath. I was disappointed only by the fact it was three tracks and not twenty. This release is a perfectly blended sound of quality crafting, unique flavor, and infectious hooks. It’s one of those releases I can’t imagine who I could play this for and have them not enjoy it. It really has a universal appeal. It feels kinetic, like Depeche Mode “Construction Time Again”. I always enjoy John’s voice, but this EP really highlights how many different things he can do while sounding distinctly himself. It’s the true mark of a singer who has found his themselves and are owning it. The other greatest power of PI is, like all great prog genre, the two components know each other and their instruments so intimately. It really feels like two blended minds working without barrier. It makes the guitar and bass lines dart, bend, and twine together in perfect syncopation. I will be playing this…. A LOT.
Favorite Track: You can’t go wrong but Results is damn near perfection. From the opening guitar riff, the workout routine bassline, and John’s drive and grit. This song feels like an instant classic from out of time I somehow didn’t hear. It also holds the higher concept lyrics and hope PI always wins me over with. 10/10
It was a long hard week for me. Time to lose myself in someone else’s head. Who are the songs transporting me to another place?
FIRES – Changeling – New single from Aedrea. The title here really tells the story. Such a bold metamorphic shift in sound. In particular the vocals have this wispy Chelsea Wolfe quality full of fairy fire flickering promise. The music is a shifting fantasia, almost an entire film score journey in five minutes. Tender raindrop keys, crushing storm front guitars, and bisecting buzzsaw percussion. A cacophony of sound and beauty. As an added bonus it contains a Bside called “exit/Void” with a spoken word poem surrounded by sinister overtones. Another glorious example of the captivating burning mind.
hallowed hearts – Ruins – NYC’s Hallowed Heart have a new 5 track EP. I love the opening concept of ruins. The things we left behind. The memory of who we were for future strangers to find and wonder at. These are not songs for the dance club. An energetic medium tempo darkwave for walking the dark streets. Pulling the collar of your coat up to stave off a bracing wind. A grey and bleak musical tone offset by the courage of Alex Virlios vocals that cover a wide range and spew forth challenge to cast light on the sullen path.
Supernova – A lovely beckoning open with locomotive punching guitar sounds. Virkios vocals start by painting a rich baritone at home in the post punk style, but then crackle with energy for the chorus. I loved the punch and diversity of sound here. Real feelings of introspection and self discovery.
Circle – Beautiful firefly rising ballad to break the pace of the EP. I love the way the guitar lines push forward and guide the voice here. It’s a beautiful and maudlin song of spiritual longing. Two minutes in the ballad takes on real power and teeth.
Overall: This is an album that takes you to very specific moments and paints a picture in the mind. It’s a journey worth taking and a moment worth looking for.
IAMTHESHADOW – Everything in this Nothingness [Still] – I have waiting long for this release on Cold Transmission Music. A re-release of the Portuguese darkwave darlings debut 2016 album. Pedro and company have been tantalizing fans with rich passionate heart bursting serenades. Getting to return to the opening stanza of their journey and combining it with the years of experience and musical wisdom is an experience to waken the ears and minds of their fans. The music is a crystal pool of water on an autumn night. Beautiful, bracing, and teeming with life. I’m going to now repeat a sentence I have uttered in every Iamtheshadow review I have written. “Pedro Code has the best baritone voice in modern goth/darkwave.” It is a force of nature that moves the heart like a poem by one of the great masters.
Wait, thats not all. In addition to the album, they released a companion remix album and it is such a brilliant homage by some of the top artists in the scene….and me 🙂 It Includes Kill Shelter, Thewalkingicon, Antipole, Crying Vessel, The Frozen Autumn, and yes Amaranth.
I think what was so impressive with this was the extreme level of talent, as well as a deep personal admiration everyone involved had for Iamtheshadow. There is nothing more engaging for a remix album than when you can really hear a reimagining full of love for the source material. I’ll be selfish for a moment and say getting to sing a duet with Pedro was a dream come true and a terrifying challenge. Collin did a masterful job remixing the song as well. Again hard to choose a standout track, because every song was a passionate love letter to an artist we deeply respect.
White Cauldron – Nine Hells – Wicked release from last year that somehow fell through the cracks on me. The nearby Colombus Ohio band is really hard to place in a box. Sharp spinning blades of Industrial, clashing with jittering witchouse, textural keyboards, and a coven choir of misty swirling vocals. Throwing so many elements together could cause you to be lost in the miasma, but the mix is precise and razor blended to let every element find a voice. I’m not sure how many members the band has beyond Bess but the ultimate power of the release is that feeling of 20 clashing minds swirling around and finding focus like a spectral eruption in a cemetery.
Empty Tomb: This song is the cacophony at it’s best. The overlapping harmonies ranging from Nu Metal spitting to banshee haunt wails are a powerful and unnerving effect I found myself captivated by.
Die This Death: This opening bassline has such a filthy stank on it. It rises and grooves like a buzzing swamp consuming a corpse. The rapped out vocals almost put me in mind of Cypress Hill. Just such a unique and conjured ritual of darkness and decay.
Overall: This is a complex listen for all it’s parts. It often rides the line between background chill and chaos dance mix. With everything going on I found myself constantly surprised how easy it was to get lost in the flow of it. I want to take this ride again.
Astari Nite – Pocket Full of Posies – Look if Astari Nite has a new single, I am here for it. That said, holy crap this is a jam. An enchanting garden of mythic colors and romantic poetry. It bounces between complex layers and stripped down emotional delivery. The vocals are that beautiful teardrop smooth Robert Smith croon which makes my heart well. This band continues to impress with every release.
After the tidal wave of new releases from the last few weeks I get to settle down and deep dive some of the amazing things that I didn’t get to. Powerhouse albums from around the globe that are making my heart pitter patter for the exciting future of modern Darkscene. As always comment on the page who you think I need to review next and share these reviews so others can find them.
Sounds Like Winter – Fight The Stairs – I have been a fan of the Australia based traditional goth band for a while now. With their third album they have struck an amazing new chord that is the most impressive to date. One of the flavors I have always loved in SLW was the rough edges and old school feel. I never needed crystal clear production work to feel the passion driven low fi power of the songs. In an unexpected turn they have somehow unearthed the unorthodox blending genius of Martin Hannett to create the lost progression of Joy Division and A Certain Ratio. The drums are a crisp sizzle, the guitars a stabbing fencer in constant assault. Sian Williams walks up the down staircase with synergists motion and lead guitar bass. Finally Ant Banister has captured the soulful baritone resonance of Ian Curtis that so many in the current scene have tried to grasp. The entire effect is lightning in a bottle which is holding place between two times. I’m on my third playthrough and still find myself searching for details in a seamless delivery.
I would be remiss to not address the lyrics. This album has a crystal clear delivery with poetic flare for dark themes that keep bringing me back to Unknown Pleasures and Still. The wonderful lighting/Thunder offset of Andi Lennon‘s vocals add just the right amount of spice to this complex stew. My arms sway with reckless abandon and my mind swirls with the bleak and heady themes. People often talk about how much this scene leans on the past, but not enough on the ground left to go. This feels new.
Favorite Track: Fight The Stairs – The title track is the perfect blend of both tempo and Andi/Ant’s vocal style. A guitar riff is everywhere at once like a live wire catch the dragon by the tail. It’s a story you can follow and a sound to get lost in.
Overall: This is the new standard for a band hitting on all cylinders
Dogtablet – Pearldrop Blue – A lot to unpack here. So many amazing elements in one place that connect all the tiny synapses in my mind and unleash a flood of dopamine right in the brainstem. Scene legends Martin King, Roberto Soave, and Jared Louche, have teamed up once again to bring out all the best in each other and we are reaping the sonic benefits. I’ve had a hole in my heart as Jared has been quiet lately. Hearing his mad prophet poet spinning spiderweb dreams again takes me on a fantastical journey. The album features a plethora of amazing guest vocals from S & S favorites Cat Hall, Coral Scene, Sapphiria Vee/MelodyWhore, and Groovie Mann. Another amazing addition was mastering by sonic wizard Pete Burn. How they take all these elements and make the chaotic fever dream sound so clean and cohesive is beyond me, but I suppose that is why they are legends. The entire album builds like a cinematic human drama touching gentle notes like taste buds on the tongue.
Favorite Track: Impossible to choose from this ensemble cast of talent. Every Little Lie – Featuring frequent collaborators Sapphiria and Melodywhore is crystal cocktail party of balance and trip hop fantasy. Star – Is a deep and introspective prayer to the connection of spirit. Silver strands winding through the universe while light bounces off at a million sparkling moments. Heavy Gravity has a more traditional Dogtablet feel, with Louche in full moonbeam madness and William Borough’s cosmic streams of conciseness.
Overall: Another smash hit with the complexity of craft you would expect from veteran masters, and the dangerous psychedelia artistic courage of people beyond the game. You will be changed by this.
Aesthetic Perfection – Gravity – Houston we have lift off. The newest single from Daniel Graves featuring Swedish death metal axe master Sebastian Svalland holds the speed and power to break the atmosphere. I almost had a dance related injury the first time I spun it. Graves touches on an emo punk lilt to the vocals that gives an original modern bite to the Pop-Industrial equation. Get strapped in, and peer out the window as the pinpricks of light race by at blazing speed. I know I was late to the game for Aesthetic Perfection, the more I hear, the more I love.
Sega Lugosi – Un-Undead EP – Wow, the ultimate goth diss album from the hidden part of The Gothsicles. If you ever wanted in on the inside joke of modern EDM, now is your chance. Epic in scope chocked full of nerd culture reference. Everything you love about Klack/Caustic/The Gothsicles put in a blender on frape and poured on a Genesis consul until it sparks and burns. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick Taco Tuesday is a jam. It really isn’t the humor, because the songs are funny. It’s how good the songs are in spite of the humor. “Sunday ain’t my day to pray, It’s Tuesday that makes me sashay.”
Curse Mackey – Submerge Remix – How do you find new space in my favorite track of 2019 breakout album Instant Exorcism? Have sound engineer extraordinaire and close friend Chase Dobson do a remix, and give him a new guitar line from Ronny Moorings of Clan of Xymox. Where the original track was a slow and crushing descent. Here you are in open water, looking at the expanse of nothing but dark blue for miles. Gorgeous lapping waves of delayed guitar the only sensation tying you to life and you sing down in ice waters. I love feeling something I am already in love with deeper. Discover it again.
In a shocking twist of fate I finished my May Bandcamp Day reviews a week early. Which means I have time to do a part II of amazing new releases before Friday 5/7/21. As always I have gotten into my tiny goth boat to sail the seas of amazing music from around the world that stirred my heart like a bracing wind on stormy seas. So look with me to the stars as we navigate these choppy waters. Leave some of your great finds in the comments below, and as always keep it dark yo.
Big Time Kill – Recovery – Let’s jump in with a bang to the new EP by Boston based BTK. This EP absolutely floored me. It’s a ear worm blasting blend of catchy intense lyrics flicking through a rollercoaster dynamic ride with glam, electroclash, synthwave, and grunge. The way Adam Schneider and Ben Caccia bounce through effortless transitions is engaging and artistic. To cover so much ground in 4 tracks is a masterwork. I know I am using big shoes here but this journey holds the toothy refinement of Pretty Hate Machine. An early contender for surprise hit of the year.
Favorite track: Cliche’ – Whipping chains of ghost riding fire. Drops away with a crooning desire. The chorus is an expansive hit that taps deep into a feeling any artist in 2021 has looked down the barrel of. Bubbling guitar leads counteract with Adam’s piecing sky splitter voice. “What are you gonna do, when the world keeps coming for you”. Banging guitar solo 10/10 on the pump my fist in the air scale.
Sweat Boys – Adrenaline (feat. Valerie Abbey) – Blistering blaze single from Benny Sweat who has teamed up with Valerie of Abbey Death to tackle goth classic Rosetta Stone’s synth anthem. It’s fresh in it’s violet electric pacing and the wispy beauty of Valerie’s delivery. I love Ben’s gift for taking something untouchable and making it his own. It has reinvented the song as well as his own style. Everything about this cover feels fresh. The flowing keyboards step forward to take the place of the guitar line and turn the dark sky neon. This single is an instant club hit.
Era Nocturna – Hell – Another Boston artist Era has has returned from a 13 year hiatus to release a new single featuring three remixes. Her voice has the stalking power of a giant black wolf, blood dripping from it’s jaws. A sinister ferocity and stalking cadence. The whole sound feels cornered and dangerous while exposing a vulnerability. The lyrics are a poetic journey like Dante emerging from the inferno. It’s hard, it’s mean, and it happens in 4.5 minutes. I hope this spells the return of a powerful darkpop voice. Special shout out to the Lilith My Mother remix which softens the edges and adds blending of the grey hues to the music. This brings a clarity and resilience to Daeva’s voice. I can’t wait to see what style will be her next prey.
Coor Brow-Obles – MacGuffin Baby – Bopping new gothglam single from Gillingham UK. I always love the high range old school croon of Coor’s voice. The tongue and cheek of beauty against S & M concept. Put your hands on me and choke me softly. I think Coor has a true star quality and I want to see the production level find the same heights of cleverness as the songs. A fun ride between Bowie and Syd Barrett that leaves me hungry for more.
Death Loves Veronica – Chemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein“. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.
Favorite Track: Spindein – Such a deliberate, calculated crawl of leather and feathers. When they say a song can get under your skin, this is what they mean. “Nothing dies, the way you do” I love the buzzing guitars at the halfway point. It really adds a second act to the story of the song. Light the candles, pour a glass of wine, get seduced by the power of music.
WeirdWolves – Overdrive – First single from the Austin TX band which combines Raphael Colantonio and Ava Gore (Daughter of Depeche Modes Martin Gore). It’s a nice early 2010’s electrosmasher club killer. Nice duet blend vocals. I had to really force myself to hear it on it’s own merit and not the power of it’s royal blood. Top notch production and some lovely giant mechanical snake sidewind slither. It was a brief but tantalizing introduction. You have my attention, but the bar will be high. I want to see open veins and dynamic power from a full length release.
Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Bring Out The Dead – Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down“. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.
Favorite Track: Sacred Disgrace – It’s all the power and fury of the other tracks, with Lulu Black adding an eerie and off putting violin line which makes the vocals spew forth with added vigor. A crushing dirge of power and beauty.
blackcell – Burn the Ashes – Ok this came to me as a hot tip from Michael Smith. Just to discover it is a collaboration of Eric Isbell and Matt Jones. Mastered by Chase Dobson. Dark, dripping, delicious death disco that I didn’t know how much I needed in my life. Take one part Ultravox, one part Cabaret Voltaire, a dash of modern production to sooth the lofi edges and you have the recipe for your next low key sexy dance party. A twisted carnival of Andy Warhol’s most fiendish nightmares made of shadows and spun in technicolor. I was not ready for this and fell deep. Prepare to hear a lot more about this band from me in the future. This gets the where have you been all my life award.
Favorite Track: Creep Like Fire – This is the song playing when John Travolta stumbles into the Black Lodge of David Lynch and wanders aimlessly while a thin man in a suit speaks in reverse.
I have not been great about writing reviews this month. However that has not stopped my compulsive purchase of badass new music. So I am going to delve into my cups as well as the latest in hot new tunes. I invite you to follow my meandering thoughts and broken sentence structure. It is my genuine hope you find something here that will inspire hope for you as the tension of the last year and a half seems to have a light in the distance. As always leave a comment below if you have an artist you would like to see me review in the future.
kenzifires – “Slumber Party” by Ashnikko – The amazing shooting star Æðra Justice Burke of FIRES has started a new WitchHouse project and blew my doors off out of the gate. These slinky flowing hip hop beats crisscross with waves of color and heat. I think the most amazing impact is the ability to stop everything, hang in silence a moment, then pirouette and walk away. I don’t know the original song well, but you can bet your sweet bippy I am looking it up now. Everything she touches is a laser beam right to my heart.
DoppelgängeR – Mercy and Eternity – Currently the hot topic in Post Punk/Darkwave is the amazing icy wind blowing out of Russia. Doppelganger has been leading that charge for a while now. Building an impressive catalog for 25 years and honing an impressive smooth icicle sound with a razor point. Rolling live drums with crisp transitions. Light shard guitar cadence. A bass line the drives the tempo with intuition and an unseen presence. The vocals are subtitle and hold a wisdom. When someone says you have an old soul, that is the effect these vocals create with me. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to find this band and if you haven’t heard them please don’t waste another day.
Dancing With Shadows – A flowing wisp of smoke with quick moving guitars and deceptive transitions. Another power of this band is that it sounds like itself. The vocals in particular could easily get lost in the “Baritone Post Punk” singer trope. It has instead a fresh confident take that is not another Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldrich.
HALLOWS – All That Is True Dies – New single from recently relocated Seattle band Hallows on Cold Transmission Music. In addition to the single you get two remixes by Dead Astronauts and Profit Prison. As well as exquisite mastering by Pete Burn and Slade Templeton. That is an all star team and gets me excited. The first time I heard this band I was struck by the glorious blend of vocal styles. It really creates a story between these voices. Like an other world echo of memory that haunts a home. I love the simple idea layered with tragedy and humanity. This is a song of reflection and immersion. After the banger club hit, that quiet moment when our characters lock eyes and get lost.
Into Grey – Waiting Here – So this is a band from Columbus Indiana that found it’s way to the Sounds and Shadows group and holy shit it is good. I’m working my way through the previous catalog. It is rainy days and water colors. Deep resonant vocals that put me in mind of Golden Apes. Cutting poetic lyrics of longing and doubt. A lot of overlapping busy guitar leads which create motion from an otherwise crushing weight. It’s a nice effect that draws a beautiful contrast. Quickly rising on my list of modern bands making goth romantic again.
Stoneburner – Sell Out – Steven is newly signed to label COP International and broke out the first single. To no ones surprise it is a total banger. It was produced by living legend John Fryer and features remixes by Klack, Stabbing Westward, and Sick Jokes. I love the crushing 100 MPH pop stinger tempo and tongue and cheek clever delivery. “I want to look good in the DJ booth” “You have to sit through my noisy ass shit”. This is a cleaner burning view into the wit and humor that Steven uses to connect with his audience outside of his music. I love the left turn in direction to show the range and endless creativity Stoneburner continues to bring.
Shadow Fashion – One Black Rose – San Antonio darkpop darlings have dropped a new single and this is my favorite of their releases to date. I fell deeply in love with this track. It hits on so many genres and decades in one dark clean insta classic. Huge John Hughes romantic swirling film feels. Patrick’s vocals are crisp and dreamy. It has a modern production with a nostalgic tone. This single really paves the way for a bright exciting future. I’m jaw dropped blown away by how much this track is stuck in my mind when I least expect it. Must have.
Dove Tribe – All In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. Currently available for pre order for a 5/15/21 release. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
Lyres Of Ur – I Look Good On You – I know, I know, you are thinking Ken are you just reviewing all of your contributors at Sounds and Shadows? No, this new single from Lou Blacksail is pure blazing fire and marks more young talent that is hitting a stride which strikes me deeply. The vocals are a sinister reflection of 80’s pop. I love how accessible the hooks and cascading synths feel while the vocals hint at something secret. A dangerous curl of the lip and arrogance of the eyes. As Lou continues to find his voice, I continue to be more invested and impressed by a future talent in this scene. Show support now for this “It” factor artist.
MORIS BLAK – Irregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.
Favorite Track: I have a tossup here. Between Alicia May‘s vocal delivery of empowerment and grace on Burying Place, and the and the HAEX remix of of Erase Displace. Both brought such a fresh vision to Brian’s vibrating walls of earthquake destruction. Honestly I am hard pressed to find anything here I didn’t enjoy.
ΣΕΘ(SET) – Disorders Of The Heart feat. Morgue VVitch – So this was a powerful and abstract find from Arizona featuring Morgue VVitch. An unnerving and beautiful forest of terrifying Will o Wisp lights. Goblins horror texture blended with dungeon synth adventure. I loved the spoken word intro and the fingers on your spine chime movement. What left me enthralled by this was how unfamiliar and dangerous it felt. A chilling feeling of desperation leaving me hungry for life. I want to explore deeper in this haunting mystery.
So this has been a tough two weeks. It lead to a lot of introspection and will hopefully turn into growth. Just like all the toughest times for me, music has been that companion that is always there when I need it. This last few weeks saw many amazing releases and I will talk about some of them now. Please check out the bands, leave comments of what you liked. Send me things you are listening to you think I might not know.
Helevete Inc – The Inevitability Ov Nothing – This is a new rerelease from Helevete Inc. We recently had the opportunity to interview them, so keep an eye out. I feel in love with the hard old school style of this band. This album was such a drastic departure and really shows the range they have. A rich and meaning drenched darkwave goth sound. TION shows a gripping and introspective melodic aspect of their voice. These songs have such a powerful authenticity of someone stepping outside of their wheelhouse, uncertain where the music would take them. Confronting the fear and darkness of that reality. I feel so deeply in entranced by this record. It showed me something, it had glorious imperfections which revealed the artists and left you gripped by the connection. The album also has fierce and snarling beauty in the form of guest vocals from Jenny Rae Mettee. This is one of the most underrated finds of the year.
Favorite Tracks: Fades to White and On The Other Side
Overall Appeal: Enormous, I really enjoy Helevete but it hasn’t set out to be accessible. Most of the albums are very aggressive and challenging. This album really laid out connectable songs with the same level of emotion. The music was smooth, dark, and expertly crafted. This is an important modern artist making music for the sake of art. I really can’t recommend the impact of this album enough.
Cliff and Ivy: Alaska’s goth duo – Bring us the Night – Brand new single from my favorite goth couple in Alaska. They often straddle the line between Goth and Punk and this time they are leaning very punk. This is a furious tempo cursing the daylight and celebrating the night. Bang you head and paint up your eyes. Ivy’s machinegun fire poetry assaults you in waves and has an anthem cadence. I think the extra layer of cheese and fun really puts me over the top for this scorched earth hot single.
Gloom Wizard – The Beast Of Victor – Unnerving and ferocious single from Anibal our Sounds and Shadows moderator. This throwback sizzler has the tension and emotional recklessness of NINBroken. Yet maintains a lo fi analog dissonance. It’s brings you to the brink of aggressive explosion then drops the floor out with horror movie effects and video game synth feel. The chaos and tempest are tempered by Anibal’s powerful vocal performance which carries you through this terrifying journey of reflection. This song fills me with anticipation for future releases.
DIAF – Weida – So this review comes with a great story. The recommendation was from Elitist Joe. If you doth travel in thine goth circles you know we have now always seen eye to eye. One of the best parts of the last two weeks has been finding our common ground. So DIAF was a spot on recommendation. It is unique and intense. The vocals have that I have not heard this a million times entrancing flavor. It definitely holds a distinctly 90’s goth flavor, but with dance beat electronic boot stomping power. The melodies are captivating even where the language escaped me. In a world of remakes this album truly took me somewhere new.
Favorite Tracks:Erbsundt and Splitter – Two tracks that could not be more stylistically different bit both resonated with a truth and impact.
Overall Appeal : Strong, this is extremely varied, but the unique flavor of each track only increased the appeal. Everything is expertly played and mixed. An outstanding recommendation which also holds the meaning of a new friendship.
Blood Dance – Child of Fear – So this was a band I found on the compilation Escena Oscura Mexicana Vol. 1. I have been really digging into Mexican Goth/Industrial lately and this band grabbed me hard. Ultra deep Peter Steele vocals that creep like an onyx tank rolling over stone. Sultry post punk guitar lines and expressive synths. The vocals bounce up and down in range but never waiver in effect. This was another find that I fell hard for and will be looking for all future releases.
Black Rose Burning – Shout – Sometimes you just get a banger. This is one of those times. George of Black Rose Burning has assembled an all star cast of Brian Vigilone (Dresden Dolls) Anka McGowen (The Long Losts) Alex and Andrew (Hallowed Hearts) James Perry (Ashes Fallen) and Adrian Auchrome (Machinery of Desire) to reimagine the Tears for Fears classic Shout. The song remains just as poignant as at it’s release. George has a encompassing voice which both soothes the soul and splits the sky. The abrupt transitions keep a constant motion and the layered guest vocals pay homage to the wonderful harmonies of the original. I really loved the organic and driven feel of the drums. The guitar solo was a inspired addition and added a current and red toothed power. An amazing rendition that hit on all cylinders.
Herr Nox – Where Shadows Fade – I am in love with this new trend in talented song writers pulling in a variety of guest vocalist to splash paint upon the canvas and expand the range of their own art. This album is a haunted house of textured rooms. With patterned guitars and sultry saxophones. The album pushes the darkwave concept with progressive rock inlays. An avenue I have seldom seen explored. This album featured a complexity of 80’s Killing Joke and an expansive feel of 90’s industrial. It’s a varied catalog of rooms to explore. An album that can’t be appreciated in one sitting.
Favorite Tracks: Black Butterfly – A power ballad rock anthem with electronic sensibility. Gotta Light – Rare I would pick an instrumental track but the saxophone swaying sultry feel left me captured and transported.
ACTORS – Like Suicide – This album keeps flowing in one single at a time. Each one leaves me more impressed than the last. The gorgeous synth line and delayed guitar blending hits a razor edge I haven’t heard since U2 Boy. Jason and company are writing songs at a level that shows there is still places to explore in 2021. The heavy concept here of facing a hopeless cloud and trying to find strength. This song conjures that same lost beauty of Joy Division but with an elegant construction. I am truly at a loss for how they continue to push their own goal post and expectations with every release.
Kill Shelter & Antipole – A Haunted Place – Here it is, Pete Burns is operating on a level in modern postpunk/darkwave that is rewriting the script. Here instead of recruiting a variety of singers like his groundbreaking album Damage he takes the vocals upon himself. His voice is rich and rings with the power of a well aged bell. To build on that previous level of variety in the soulful lyrics, he has added possibly the top Post Punk guitarist in Antipole‘s Karl Morton Dahl. It’s an effortless compliment which locks perfectly as a puzzle falling into place. Every track is done with such expert precision and runs the spectrum of emotion. This is an early contender for album of the year. Like an expertly honed novel I could hear this record 1000 times and find a new detail to zero in on each play through.
Best Tracks:Raise the Skies – This single is a masterwork. It is the song equivalent of a perfectly crafted watch. Every gear an intricate motion happening in exactly the right time. Of Roses and Thorns – I loved how stripped down this felt. It allowed the chorus to open so much space and Pete’s voice went to a higher more delicate range.
Another Friday night finds me tipsy and alone behind this keyboard. However I am never truly alone when I have great music and all of you to share it with. I have all my latest Bandcamp purchases, a few of which are absolutely smash hits. Please leave a comment below of who you would like to see me review in the future.
Twin Tribes – Altars – The beautiful lads of TX have released a remix album. Now I will always buy anything Twin Tribes put out sight unseen. I have to say this collection of remixes by some of the hottest names in darkwave was a special treat. The songs were big departures from the standard Twin Tribes style, but Luis voice still kept each song familiar. It included tracks from both previous albums placed lovingly up for sacrifice on the Altar to be transmuted and given back to the world.
Remixers Include:Skeleton Hands, Geometric Vision, Luz Futoro, Ash Code, NITE, Wingtips, Matte Blvck, Dave Parley, She Passed Away, Bootblacks, and Creux Lies. Yes you read that right. I think the power house of performers here really speaks to the immense effect Joel and Luis have had on this scene in such a short time.
Upir (remixed by NITE) – Damn this is gorgeous. This slow drifting synths remind me of a quiet corner in a buzzing high energy club. The beat then kicks in with a lovely synth line. Just such a bold shift from an already amazing song. This is the most I can ask for in a remix. I true homage while breaking a new vision.
Shadows –Matte Blvckremix – Shadows was the song that started my deep love of Twin Tribes. It holds a very personal place in my heart. To have it transformed in this way and still hold such an intense emotional impact is something glorious. This is that secret cult but no longer around a ancient tree but now in a lush modern club. Full of velvet and burning incense. A beautiful and dangerous collision of past and future.
Overall Impact: Generally speaking I am not a huge fan of “just remix” albums. I really love remixes included with an EP or something fresh. However as is often the case Twin Tribes have become the expectation that proves the rule. They took songs I love and collected most of the top names in modern darkwave. If you don’t know some of the bands here, you need to let this album lead you back to them. It’s very accessible and has a nice variance of sound. General fans will enjoy, fans of Post Punk/Darkwave will love.
the Dramedy – And The Light Goes White – New album from Dave Dramedy, who I recently saw playing bass for Caroline Blind in Detroit. This was a strange and experimental album that never left me bored. Dave surely has a power and range to his voice that rides the line of Mark Burgess and Iggy Pop punk edge. I really like the blend of rhythmic acoustic and harder driving bass guitar sounds. This is an album that grows on you. It seemed to get better with every listen. Like a favorite film where you notice a new detail every time you watch and always feels fresh.
Parasite: It’s hard to put my finger on it. The inflection in the vocals. The ring of the drums. The chopping downward acoustic guitar. This song although having a very dark edge, carries a vibe of 60’s Height Ashbury psychedelia. Of the Mamas and the Papas. It covers a lot of ground stylistically. The vocals are full of piss and vinegar for how beautiful and resonant they are. This song is a jam that is hard to place in the box. Other than the box of I love this fuking song.
What’s left To Say – Just stabbing sun shard energy right out of the gate. Total bop feel with flaming guitar lines, biting vocals, and late 90s Brit Pop hooks. I just couldn’t stop my leg shaking on this one.
Overall Impact: This album is so full of twists and turns. A definite nostalgia feel, as well as a region one. I really felt the California connection in every song. I think this record is very accessible despite the complexity. It is a hard sound to describe but if The Church were being yelled at by Iggy pop to stop changing time signature and just play bops. That’s what I feel.
Christian Death – Spectre (Love Is Dead) Kill Shelter Remix – This song is a classic. Probably my favorite CD track. So how do you re-imagine something iconic? Give it to Pete Burns. Pete is such a master of the sonic scalpel cutting away tiny bits until you are left with such a precise and streamlined modern wave beam. If I had it in my heart to toss a grenade over my shoulder and purposefully stroll from a collapsing building, this is the track I want playing. It’s pure energy and dangerous intent. 10/10.
Overall Impact: Everyone will love this track. It’s very fresh, it’s very way back. It’s just a slamming banger from start to finish.
Deadlight Holiday – Blood // Body – Our dear friends from West Michigan uncorked this badass single with some slamming sounds of Nu Metal and sizzling tempo Stabbing Westward vibes. Great production in the breakdown swirl. Loving these scratchy tear your head off vocals blistering past the crunching guitar. Also a gasoline covered dead man’s dance remix by Angelspit. I sense big things on the horizon from these young folk and I look forward to sharing a stage with them again soon.
Raichyl Sinversa – You Tell Me (Re-Mastered) – Remastered single from Raichyl of Philly. This is a nice crooning darkpop head bopper with an empowerment edge of 90s grunge. The guitar work is napalm scorched earth to contrast the lovely lifting vocals. A little bit of southern sass in the tone puts a nice edge to this “I’m not falling for your shit again” boot stomping driver.
Aesthetic Perfection – Automaton (feat. Sebastian Svalland) – Ok I have a confession that will not win me any goth points. Aesthetic Perfection sort of happened right in the moment between when I gave up on discovering new music and the time I listened to nothing but. Daniel Graves has become a leader of the modern dark scene for a reason. So getting to hear this new single without much context is a really interesting way to stumble into the band. This track is a bop. With firecracker exploding chain guitar work by Sebastian Svalland. It is also produced by Front Line Assembly legend Rhys Fulber. So I went in blind expecting cold razor precision on the production. Which is exactly what I got. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the range and voice charisma of Graves. It oozes with thick viscus grime and light footed cadence that keeps the energy constant and focused. The song also gives a tight compressed poetry of lyrics that convey a relatable idea in the modern era without an abundance of words. There is a special anticipation when you discover a band with a rich history later in their career and get to work your way back. I may have to do some of my reaction videos to some Aesthetic Perfection classics. Put your favorites below in the comments. Also buy this track immediately because it is a slam.
Red wine and a shining moon. Here I sit once again after a long and chaotic week. I reach out for the solace of other peoples dreams and thoughts in music. The world is waking up from a long nightmare. The scene is wonderfully awash with exciting new talent and ideas. Here are some of the glorious sounds I am hauling into my boat.
Chiasm – Missed The Noise – Always excited to see amazing art created by a fellow Michigander like Emileigh Rohn. This album is arranged by legendary producer John Fryer. There is nothing better than two top talents forming a bond and producing something better than the sum of the parts. Emileigh has a voice that gives you a gut punch of energy with every phrase. This feels like the montage scene in a film where our heroine levels up her power. It feels like actualization with every electric build and feint. The music is so finely honed, each song a story that digs it’s hooks in and allows the charisma of the vocals to shine like a beacon.
Noise – The glorious workout of crackling electric light. This song just blasts in wave right out of the gate. The vocals are power animal bright light. If I had to pick one word to describe, inspiring.
Missed – A total shift to darkpop drifting glory. The opening chimes and quacky sounds. I think you strangled my sweet mind. This is such a dynamic and visual sound. Windblown flowing silk in a posh apartment watching the worlds spin past. This song really puts on display the powerful teamwork of these musicians. Again with the powerful mantra of self actualization. Those deep vocal contrasts really add a noticeable line between the experience and viewpoint.
Overall appeal: This is a album for everyone. It has lots of delicious pop and feminine power with an expert craft and emotional energy. Highly recommend.
Hide Tepes/ Blakmoth – Filther – The back and forth rocking sonic duel of our own Hide Tepes and Maryland’s Blakmoth. A wonderful collaboration of oily sonic darkness. There is a wisdom achieved at a certain point in life where you realize you can no longer walk the journey of those making music at the absolute cutting edge of modern music. If you listen though, you still know when you hear it. That difference when someone is truly taking the adventure for you and exploring new and terrifying ground. That’s the feeling inspired by this subtitle and and creeping Synth driven psychological terror. It’s music that grabs your hair and smashes your face in a mirror. Leaving you exposed to gasp at the bloody mess and the terror in your own eyes. This is not a casual listening album. It’s a test of your empathy and fortitude.
Overall Appeal: This is not a pop album for easy listening. It’s a blending introspection of abstract thought and feeling. Enter at your own risk. If you do find yourself of a courageous heart and an open mind. This is the cutting edge music of tomorrow.
Nuclear*Sun – Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself – So cover albums are a tricky thing, often you are getting someone at a lower experience level trying to find new space in an established song that meant something to them. Tal Kliger has brought a talent and hungry energy to covers of friends as well as inspiration. The overall sound razor skates that place between EBM and Industrial with a highspeed light footed agility. Bouncing vocals skipping between a growl and a ringing clarity. You can really hear the love and devotion to the musical process in these tracks. it’s blazing heat and energy that captured me and left me hungry.
February War – A cover of Rabbit Junk. This was driving punk rock stinging beats and glitchy vocals. Stabbing and edge of control flavor. I love the guitar bends and smashing drums. A poignant assault on the senses and emotions.
Insurgence – A cover of Sean Payne but with smashing and razor sharp execution. Grab a bat and start smashing. Hard leaning Front Line Assembly vibes full of high concept and obliteration. I loved the parking lot fist fall energy and dark streetlight tone.
Overall Appeal: If you like it hard and nasty with a familiar feel this is your jam. Fans of Industrial/EBM/ Metal edge will find red burning glory here.
Bow Ever Down – Lost In The Woods – Kimberly Kornmeier sizzling darkpop from 2020 which left me swaying and captivated. The synthy star sparkle spins are a wonderful atmospheric journey. Their voice is an icy and bracing powerful clarity. They have a honesty and power that rings forth with every delivered line. It’s vulnerable and indomitable at the same fine. The music has a soulful and serious tone. A shattering crystal castle of faced disillusionment growth and regret. I also love the use of samples to set stories that allow the vocals to show the emotional range of the story portrayed.
Bury my Body – This song is full of that glorious smashing glass effect. It’s as beautiful as it is cruel. A challenge with sharpened blade to anyone that would dare step inside this protected circle. Kimberly’s voice is emotive and clear as ice.
Grey – More raw wound self introspection. Intense and powerful vocals delivered with beauty and subtilty. The concepts are timeless and modern. “I’m a monster and I’ll kill you from the inside out”
Overall Appeal: Definitely pop hook appeal. Definitely has soul. A nice organic quality added by the vocals. If you like darkpop with a strong female protagonist these are stories you can relate to and drive down a dark road summoning your strength.
A Cloud of Ravens – Another Kind of Midnight – New album from Brookland band ACOR, which has left me immediately captured and ready to dive into this deep pool. This record is a perfect blend of the homage to the past and the modern construction of the future. Well deep power and resonant vocals carry these stalking shadow woven songs. It’s concrete wilderness and Peter Murphy poetry. Ringing guitars and driving basslines carry a heroic journey through a desolate land. The power of this story is to make the situation always seem so bleak but leaves a glimmer of hope in every song. We have an interview coming out soon that provides a glimpse behind the curtain to this emotional hand quivering delivery.
Overall Appeal: Fans of old and new school goth will find a beautiful blend in this release. I feel into it’s grasp deeply and had a huge replay factor.
Mark E Moon – Old Blood – Old and sinister music and vocals from Cold Transmission and the Isle of Man. I have been a fan or Mark E Moon for a while but this new record is a huge step forward in shadowy transmission and feeling that rips open your skull and pours raw unhinged emotion directly to your mind. It’s stomping, unforgiving and full of truth. I picked this record up and couldn’t find a way to put it down. Released on April 2nd you can get two tracks now with preorder. It has a sense of poetry and theater that has been lacking in the modern goth scene. It rides the line between beauty and grit. I can’t remember the last time I heard a band take such a monumental step forward from a previous album I enjoyed.
Overall Appeal: Huge, if you love goth and darkwave this is exceptional execution with poetic and romantic lyrics. It’s fresh and furious with driving guitar lines that set a standard for future genre releases.
Ash Code – Fear – Dark and dangerous new EP from the always impressive Italian act Ash Code. More racecar raw energy and city slick metro tone. I also feel a lot more edge in these tracks that the warmer synthesized last release. This just dropped yesterday and already is calling to me for constant playtime. Wonderful blending of vocals and sound. I hate to use another car metaphor but when you have a perfectly tuned engine and everything is humming just right. That is the sense of craftsmanship and streamlined beauty of Ash Code. The movement and transitions are effortless and graceful. It’s an effect that feels perfect in a club or at home over a bottle of wine. On top of that they pulled out all the stops having the songs remixed by top name artists like Clan of Xymox, Molchat Doma, and Forever Grey.
Indifference – Beautiful whispered vocals behind rapid fire heavy bass line. The rising synths are walls of color on a grey ground. I find myself getting lost in the beauty of construction. Listening to Ash Code makes me feel cooler than I am. That’s the true power of this band. To transfer some of their effortless appeal just by listening.
Overall Appeal: Immense, this is for fans of Post Punk/Darkwave/Synth but really has a relatability to fans of any dark music. It’s just well done. This is a band at the top of the game in their genre.
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.