We love music because it has the power to change the energy inside us. To enhance, diminish, alter, the sounds and stories built by artists change our emotional chemistry. Emileigh Rohn (US/ Chiasm) and Jean-Marc Lederman (Belgium/ The Weathermen, Ghost & Writer) have found a balance in their own artistic chemistry beginning in 2021 Venus Chariot on COP International which has continued to refine in a centrifuge into a potent emotional catalyst. With this newest release “RAGE!” they have bottled a frantic and aerodynamic monorail careening over changing landscapes.
All tracks are: Emileigh Rohn: vocals and lyrics Jean-Marc Lederman: music and production
Except “Pets” written and composed by Perry Farrell, Stephen Perkins, Martyn LeNoble and Peter DiStefano
I would consider myself a coinsurer of the duo’s collaboration. How is RAGE! different from the previous releases? By being the culmination of a series of experiments to produce a sleeker, faster, more agile vehicle. To refine the fuel of Emileigh‘s lyrics into something that burns hotter with honesty and volatility. The songs all contain a defiance and anger. Not a heavyweight clumsy, smashing anger. A precise, defined glowing fury of purpose. The details and subtilty of the music are built like a virus in their elegance and destructive nature. The vocals hold a sharp edge without bubbling over. It adds a tension that forms the shading of the grand design.
Top Tracks: (Honorable Mention) – I’ll start with the Porno For Pyros cover which was a song I always loved and had forgotten about. This interpretation found a perfect home amongst the core concept on the album. Emileigh really captured the dark levity of Perry Farrel. I really enjoyed the rising tempo as a contrast to the underwater quaalude of the original.
This Ones My Own – I love the confrontational power here. The train is leaving the station, rising off the ground, gaining speed. There is a staggering gentle tapping baseline, a light contrast I found to be haunting. Awesome 99 Degrees Susanne Vega vibes. A winding track so smooth it never touches the ground.
March Right Through The Fire – This track marches forward with an unyielding determination. Full of pride and courage it treads through heavy water. The kind you courage you need to convince yourself to believe. The music is a constant motion machine of stabbing probes. With equal and opposite reaction. Something about the tempo and hint of snarl in the vocals has this song in my rotation.
Rohn – Lederman has once again proven they have a special connection and collaboration which is on my automatic buy list until proven otherwise.
Curse Mackey has been has been a force in this scene for decades as a collaborator. Pigface, Evil Mothers, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult all bare the stamp of his powerful vocals and intense delivery. In 2019 he released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism” with instant critical success. September 9th we received his sophomore offering “Immoral Emporium” full of personal dissection and arterial spray.
The spiritual successor to Instant Exorcism moves beyond the prophesy of a post capitalism hellscape and dives into a meat and bone reality. A bizarre of debauchery and barter where every sin in imagination is on display and the price of souls are always plummeting. In a time of surface shimmer and digital commodity the Immoral Emporium casts a sharp reflection that burns to the core of the decay of empathy in the modern age. Instant Exorcism was raw and biting, a mad profit’s fervor. Immoral Emporium is a cleaner enticing beacon. Drawing the listener to their own corruption with shining golden salesmanship.
Produced by Curse Mackey and Chase Dobson Mixed by Chase Dobson at 1156HQ, Denver CO Mastered by Ken Marshall, HiWatt Labs, Vancouver BC Recorded at Omen View Studio, Austin TX and Tarantula Ranch, Tarantula TX Vocals recorded at Scary American Studios, Austin TX
The Dead Fingers Talk – Curse really shows his vocal range and lyrical depth in this Violator 90s flavored dance banger with light footed cadence. The imagery and liquid tempo are an immersive ride.
Immoral Imperium – The title track is a stripped down culmination of the core concept. I love the way it isolates and accents the sharply defined power of the vocals. The music is under constant assault from crackling Broken sample noise to bleed a chaotic backdrop for the lyrics. An instant banger with soul.
Curse will soon be out on a west coast tour with Clan of Xymox and A Cloud of Ravens catch this amazing album preformed live. As well as an upcoming interview on Sounds and Shadows Youtube Page. The follow up to a first successful album is always a frightening idea. Curse Mackey has managed to build and grow on a narrative that is keeping darkwave music fresh and challenging.
I haven’t been churning out reviews at my normal pace, but that does mean I have a glorious golden stack of darkscene music to prime your soul for the Halloween season. I have some long awaited releases to discuss. Some fresh new bands I have discovered. Some spooky new corners of music I have stumbled into. So let’s dive into some of the sexy dark sounds which are haunting the beginning of Autumn
Double Eyelid – Leaving These Stones Unturned – Do you know what I love to hear in the modern scene? An artist no afraid to unapologetically embrace the theatrical melancholy of goth. This is something Toronto based band Double Eyelid grasps well. Ian has a voice dripping with lost lament on a turbulent storm of bass. The song swells and collapses. The lyrics are a confession of buried truth too frightening to face. Powerful revelation in a time of surface reflection.
released August 16, 2022 written by Ian Revell ………………………………………………………. Ian Revell – Vocals, synth, programming Sky Shaver – Guitar Sean Beesley – Additional synth
Produced and mixed by Live Evil Productions Mastered by Noah Mintz for The Lacquer Channel
SINE – Mantis 2 – Follow up EP to Mantis 1 by the Texas chaos electronica artist Rona Rogueheart. Powerful resonating attacks open the experience. As though you peeled away the smooth edges of Portishead trip hop and revealed something crueler and jagged while maintaining the wet sensual humidity of a packed stone wall club.
Rona Rougeheart / lead vocals, drums, programming Words by Rona Rougeheart Music by Rona Rougeheart / Charles Godfrey Guitar on “Jetset” by Daniel Beaty
*Except: Written by: Robert James Smith, Steven Severin Music by Mark Pistel / Rona Rougeheart
Produced by Charles Godfrey / Rona Rougeheart Recorded at Omenview and Scary American, Austin, TX Mastered by Mark Pistel at Room 5, San Francisco, CA
Virtual Realitease – This track stalks with contrasts and extremes. The thundering club bass, the heavy shimmer of throaty vocals, the razor edge of alure and menace. I love the range of the EP which is always changing the journey. The pastel rain-streaked sorrow of “Je Suid“. This track just hits different though. I’m just not hearing this blend of sounds enough in the modern scene and it has me hooked.
ULTRA SUNN – Summer 22 – Belgian cold wave artist Ultra Sunn on Cold Transmission Music with a double single release that bops with Violator keyboard transitions and sizzling Gahan vocals. A purposeful driving beat of motion while keeping the tempo just below chaos. Expertly mastered by Pete Burns the tone flickers like a bright flame on a distant candle. These tracks both have a place on your summer darkscene party mix.
thePicassos – Exhumed – I love nothing more than the chance to shout to the sky about a gifted and haunting band in my own backyard of Michigan. We even have the honor of playing with them at Skull Festival 11/20/22 at Noir Leather in Royal Oak Michigan. This album which dropped August 2022 is a darting ebony fencing match of furious clashing metal that strikes and counters with such speed you lose sight of the precision in the illusion of chaos.
So many glorious and eclectic dark elements at play here. Twangy Latin spice notes in the guitar. Haunted murder ballad Nick Cave tones. The vocals are a roller coaster blend of Gordan Gano and Frank Black. Great use of guitars for percussion, not overdone and adding powerful accent. I looked online to learn more about the band and found little. Luckily I am set to interview them tomorrow for the podcast. Fills me with excitment for a bright future and I am so glad I found them in Michigan.
Favorite Track: Smoke and Mirrors – Part of my love here is the vast range from track to track. This one had huge Pixies “Doolittle” energy. Slashing guitars with a booming clean bass tone. A haunting effortless truth to the delivery. I enjoyed all the songs for different reasons, this one seemed to compile the best flavors of everything going right.
The Bellwether Syndicate – Dystopian Mirror – Chicago show stopper’s have a brilliant new single that roars like a muscle car charging down Woodward Ave. Flames spewing out the engine to chase back the darkness. William croons with an extra edge of piercing determination. The mix is clear but always feels like a toe on the line which makes it feel dangerous, on the verge of shattering the glass bubble. They just took this song on the road with Then Comes Silence from Sweeden. Of everyone I currently follow in the modern darkscene, no one has more “rockstar” energy than William with a mic in his hand.
Released August 5, 2022 William Faith: Vox • Guitars Sarah Rose Faith: Vox • Guitars • Corey Gorey: Guitars (live) Philly Peroxide: Keyboards • Percussion (live) Stevyn Grey: Drums (live)
Pilgrims of Yearning – Hadal – Long awaited release from Boston transplants POY which hits the mark perfectly. I love hearing a band grow from album to album by keeping the mystical wanderlust that made their sound stand out, yet graduating their production and layering to make the energy sharper. Juls voice captures a haunting Siouxsie “Superstition” 90s vibe while the guitar rhythms fold and dart like a weaver on a loom. This is a band that really exposes their story with brazen courage and beautiful delivery. A contagious spooky tendril of psychedelic darkness winding around your vision.
Favorite Track:Storms – One because I love the duet, two because I love a banger and this bassline is a live wire flapping on the street in a storm. It gets in your blood and never lets up. Like a jaguar running it is equal parts danger and beauty.
Riveting Music has offered up some excellent compilations in recent years, namely Tear Down the Walls: A Tribute to Pink Floyd. The goal of Riveting Music, much like ours here at Sounds and Shadows, is to put industrial and alternative music out to a wider audience. Their next undertaking is set to help fight back against the unfortunate overturning of Roe v. Wade, which has since endangered the reproductive rights of millions of Americans.
Regulate This: A Riveting Tribute to Girl Power is a compilation of twenty-one artists each covering a song dedicated to feminism, girl power, and standing up to the patriarchy. All proceeds from the release are going to the Global Fund for Women, While who is covering what hasn’t been released just yet, we know that the following artists are involved: Containher, Sapphria Vee, Caligulust, Demons Need Angels, Schedule IV, Society Burning, Fractured Machines, The Blue Hour, File Transfer Protocol, Mach FoX and Illuminate Steele, Latex, Machines With Human Skin, Out Out, Flood Damage, Fatigue, Sandi Leeper, Bellhead, Deconbrio, Alcestea, The Joy Thieves, and Eva X.
The following artists will be covered on Regulate This: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Portishead, Animotion, PJ Harvey, Bjork, Toni Basil, Garbage, Janet Jackson, Ani DiFranco, Bonnie Tyler, Pat Benatar, La Tigre, The Plasmatics, Kim Carnes, Fleetwood Mac, Laurie Anderson, Belinda Carlisle, Danielle Dax, Berlin, Dolly Parton, and The Eurythmics.
The full compilation will be released on September 9th, but to tide us over, we’ve gotten a taste of what is to come. The Joy Thieves have teamed up with I Ya Toyah for a rendition of Pat Benatar’s 1983 hit “Love is a Battlefield.” It’s faithful to the original, though an increased guitar presence helps kick things into another, more powerful gear. It brings the sound forward in time from the early Eighties new wave to a mid-Nineties industrial rocker, while remaining a loving tribute to Benatar’s original work.
Check out the track below, stay tuned for the music video on Friday, August 26th, and the full Regulate This compilation on Friday, September 9th. For more information on the Global Fund for Women, check out their website here.
It is once again time to celebrate the top 10 singles chosen by our group of DJs/Artists/Reviewers/Promotors/and Mega Fans. These are all tracks released in July chosen from the broad darkscene genre. If you are an artist or know one that has a release in August, make sure to join the Sounds and Shadows group on Facebook and submit it for consideration.
Kill Shelter (Feat Stefan Netschio) – In This Place
Stoneburner – This Machine Kills
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall
Korine – Mt. Airy
Golden Apes – From The Sky
Eva X – Whipping Girl
Batavia – Mailman
Suzi Sabotage – I Am The Storm
Sawtooth & Gasoline Invertebrate – Gut Rehab
Plague Garden feat. Azy Bats – Pandora
Kill Shelter Feat (Stefan Netschio) – In This Place – I have a full review on S & S as well as an interview with Pete releasing tomorrow. However it is fitting this single off an early contender for album of the year is top song in July. Stefan of Beborn Beton delivers heavy resonant drops of tone into an unlit cave pool. 10/10 absolute banger
Stoneburner – This Machine Kills – The Wolf Lord Steven Archer come in second this month with a blistering club hit doused in political gasoline. You know that part in the movie where the barrel of the machine gun gets so hot that fire shoots out. Thats what I picture when I hear this track.
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall – Love to see this come in at #3. A team up of Australian Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter) and American Bruce Nullify (Orcus Nullify). It’s such a delicious blend of what I love about them individually. True old school batcave rough edge oil drenched attitude with cracking snares and crystal keys.
Korine – Mt. Airy – There really is nothing I don’t love put out by the Philly based death dream. Coming in at #4 it is another sizzling shock of step and turn. These vocals are pastel perfection blending with the music in color bleeding splendor. I love every note.
Golden Apes – From The Sky – Some real fierce competition this month has the Berlin Post Punk bard’s coming in at #5. I more crackling tempo full of uplifting rippling guitar staircases. Peer’s voice is that distinctive baritone rumble of honestly that makes every single feel distinct.
Eva X – Whipping Girl – #6 is Canadian siren and electronic producer Eva X. I just got a chance to interview her which we will release soon. We got to talk about this song and video, partially how every release is growing by leaps and bounds. I love how her skills at production are opening the possibilities for every new violet electrolash single.
Batavia – Mailman – The Florida Industrial power couple have called in their friends to lend a hand on this new EP. The first single of which features drum stylings from Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). Inspired choice to fire the first volley with a cover of The Jesus Lizard. 90’s skate grind vibes of chopping guitar over explosive percussion stomps. Terri’s riot Grrl sultry ferocity adds such a different tone. Fresh idea’s for a familiar classic.
Suzi Sabotage – I Am The Storm – Finnish TechPunk stands up for Ukrainian’s effected by Russian aggression with this slow build ice palace bop with operatic cries of anguish. I love the empathy, message, and power of delivery.
Sawtooth – Gut Rehab (feat. Gasoline Invertebrate) – MA based producer Lillian Edith Martin comes in at #9 with this sweat stealing banger she teamed up with Brian Graupner on. I absolutely love the powerful imagery in the lyrics. Absolutely bashing beats filthy with decay and rebirth. I could hear more of this team up.
Plague Garden feat. Azy Bats – Pandora – I was so excited to see this track from Colorado based frozen cemetery synth band collab with Azy (Obscura Undead) slide into #10. The lofi roaring guitar sound makes lovely dissonance from the pipe organ purity in the bass tone. Azy’s vocal confidence takes a bold stride forward and propels their presence to the front of a haunting tune.
With a new kitten, a sick elder cat, and Rachel’s bday I haven’t devoted much time to writing reviews. So it is time to start catching up on the giant stack of releases I let get away from me. I’ve got a few albums here I have been waiting on a long time. Please enjoy and comment below what albums you are listening to you think I should hear.
Hexheart – Funeral Flowers – Seatle WA SynthBard Jasyn Bangert has a June release of cybernetic serotonin pumped straight into your brain. I love the “Upstairs At Erics” bopping light synth and nostalgic warms. These tracks wrap around you like a favorite sweater. The AI captivating vocal effects are a fresh note contrasting the synthpop throwback. Every track feels like a cult 80’s film you are the only one who remembers.
Top Tracks: (bottom of) Below – This track is so dynamic without changing tempo or volume. The bursting fountains happen with a slow rolling subtilty. The vocals hold a fascinating mystery. I wish I could make out the lyrics more clearly, but the electronic whisper draws me in closer.
Erase Yesterday – This track really optimizes everything great about this album. A brilliant single can do that, bring all the tiny differences and brushstrokes of a cohesive record and shine the brightest aspects into one track. This song is bright/dark, fresh/nostalgic, organic and synthetic. Always running the duality in darting motions. This opening track paints the world and makes me excited to drive into it.
October Burns Black – Two Worlds Collide – I’m a little behind the mark reviewing this June 24, 2022 release from traditional goth stars October Burns Black. Goth is in it’s Rennaissance but things have fractured into sub genres so much it has become hard to even keep track of what goth means. OBB have turned the ebony run away train back to the core of guitar based gothic rock. James Tramel who plays bass for midwest goth legends The Wake brings that smooth void rumble that drives these tracks with an authentic old school precision. Rod Hanna ( Khaf’ji) gives a rich and rough baritone that harkens to Eldrich with a bit of broken glass danger. One of the things about early gothic rock was the way it had a western percussion gallop to the minor tones, it was an energy that was always running away without control. This is the magic that Lars, Tommy, and Gord have captured in the masterclass guitar of this album. We can have open hearts for a new infinite prism gothic rainbow, while remembering the roots of what made us fall in love with goth rock. Two Worlds Collide is an album that remembers. That whispers of forgotten truth.
Top Tracks: Regress – I love the blistering Cult drum napalm that Ollson uncorks for this song. It has a furious punk snarl cadence and some really subtle guitar overlays. It’s tight, nasty, and full of remorse. These riffs go straight to the vein.
Condemned – This song feels like a Highlander epic swordfight that ends with beheading. The guitars have an air support bagpipe rise and Hanna’s vocals find a perfect groove of chanting percussion. Snarling savagery and desperation with crackling energy that feels faster than it moves.
Rod Hanna – Vocals Lars Kappeler – Guitar Tommy Olsson – Guitar James Tramel – Bass Simon Rippin – Drums
Additional guitars on tracks 1, 4, 6 and 8 – Gordon Young
Produced and mixed by Simon Rippin Mastered by Gordon Young
Batavia – Batavia and their Friends Forever – Jacksonville Florida based electro chaos band continue to amaze me with every new release. This new release packs a tinted window red striped van with guest talent and pushed the pedal to the floor. Opening with a filthy crooning version of The Jesus Lizard was an inspired tone setter for this caper. Ed and Terri Cripps are a couple that expertly blend relationship and art until it feels like communication with it’s seamless delivery. Some remixes, some covers, just an explosive energy of fundustrial fury! Daddybear, Dread Risks, Gothsicles, Decent News, Syrinx, all see the writing that Batavia are poised to explode and wanted to jump on the rocket. I love the concept; I love the fact they took bold chances with the covers. I mean covering NINWish is a big brass balls move and they pull it off. Batavia has moved to my by every release sight unseen until they let me down list.
I honestly have no favorite track: You will not be let down if you turn it to 11 and just let it play
hororhaus – La Pisadeira – New York State terror texture electronica blending processed religious imagery and layered ethereal sampling. I found this artists through the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group and they impressed me with a unique vision and intense focus. Scott Harris has an elevated ear for sonic texture that inflicts feelings of unease and tension. Much like The Goblin’s of Italian horror mastery these songs are a lurking dread in the mind of the listener. Sounds that conjure emotion and spin a yarn of doom. It gets me hopeful for where this project develops.
Morningstvr – The New Salem – Chicago BlasphemeDustrial cult sonic artist takes the pageantry of an electronic cathedral then turns 180 degrees into an unholy void of bitter darkness. I love the slow black and white film flicker tempo the growling Peter Steel frozen metal edge to the vocal delivery. A shadow robed ritual which twists and turns from track to track as you descend a filthy staircase of Pandemonium.
Favorite Track:The New Salem – I love when the title track leads the charge of the overall theme. I love all of the tiny atmospheric touches the whispered chanting is fright evoking fascination. Poet nightmare fuel for a new generation.
Golden Apes – From The Sky – Criminally underrated post punk giants from Berlin. A band that needs to be added to the conversation of Actors, Bootblacks, Twin Tribes, Creux Lies as the next wave of history altering lifeblood of this scene. This is music to make your heart race with the driving guitar syncopation and boulder chasing you down a tunnel baselines. Peer Lebrecht has such a distinctive voice that resonates to hold your attention in a single moment. It’s always such a tour of geography and human experience when you listen to a Golden Apes album. “From The Sky” is no exception as it leaps with alien speed from landscape to landscape on a biodiverse unknown world.
Favorite Tracks: You can’t go wrong here. This six song EP is a journey. One worth taking.
A New Days Dawn – The overlay transition at the beginning of this is an absolute masterclass in song writing. Peer’s vocals are frantic and tinged with mania. This track has so much going on it is difficult to believe how efficient and powerful it strikes. Like one of those truly great movies I could watch 100 times and pick out a new moment with every viewing.
Injection: 01 | Kevorkian Death Cycle (bandcamp.com) California based Dancedustrial artist with a catalog going back to the early 90s have a new 4 song EP This team includes a family feel of collaboration. I’m overcome with excitement that none other than Roger Jarvis (Negative Gain Records) is one half of the original duo. I’m also left wondering if any of them spent time in Michigan for the Kevorkian reference. The music also has a Detroit techno energy clashing with Industrial and darktrance.
Favorite Track: Spring Heel Jack – I am always a sucker for folk lore and this red cap rampage industrial banger featuring the story of the British murder fairy Jack is a must hear. Filthy beats on top of boot stomp percussion and hurled metal shaving vocals.
Words: Ryan Gribbin Music: Roger Jarvis, Rob Robinson, Sean Whitman Mixing/Mastering: Rob Robinson Artwork Concept/Design: Ryan Gribbin and Sally Helena
In 2019 at the beginning of my goth renaissance UK producer Pete Burns released the album “Damage” in response to the trauma he was experiencing over the passing of his mother. He wrote the lyrics and music to each song while bringing in a different up and coming vocalist for every track. The result was a magical instant classic which became my top albums of the year for this review page. Damage was so far ahead of the game in what would become the new standard for both collaborative possibilities as well as a defining new tone in goth/post punk.
All songs written by Pete Burns except The Necklace – words by Johan Lange, music by Pete Burns
Backing Vocals by Lynsey Burns Concept and Artwork by Pete Burns Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Synths and Programming by Pete Burns Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Pete Burns at The Shelter
Fast forward to 2021 when Pete collaborated with one of the great guitar wizard of the modern Post Punk era Karl Morten Dahl of Antipole for “A Haunted Place“. A textural sonic painting where Pete took the helm of his own vocal duties. A flash negative exposed shadow dance. A beautiful departure with a focus on tone and abstraction.
Welcome to present day. Kill Shelter releases their third album Asylum, and the world has started to catch on to the soft-spoken genius setting the standard for this new wave. Featuring a slew of the biggest names of the scene: Stephan Netschio ( Beborn Beton) , Valentina Veil (VV & the Void), Karl Morten Dahl (Antipole) , Emanuel Åström (Agent Side Grinder) Alessandro Belluccio (Ash Code), William Faith (The Bellwether Syndicate), Ronny Moorings (Clan of Xymox). An impressive list of talent and experience which speaks to the respect Pete has catered as a producer and song writer. This album tackles an even darker theme of trauma and the most shocking pain of the human experience. Casting a light through a wide range of vocal prisms. The completion of a journey started just after Damage in 2019 and meticulously refined over four years.
One of the powerful aspects of Damage was how it used the vehicle of a record to expose new listeners to collaborators with projects that all demand attention. I found several new bands that helped bridge my way into the modern Darkscene. Previous to creating Damage, Pete partnered on a blog with Christian Schaefer called (Rule of Three) to discover cutting edge bands and share them with the world. I am going to explore some of these standout tracks and the singers with the compilation feel this album has.
In this Place: Featuring Beborn Beton – Singer Stephan Netschio of the German darksynth band has a voice that coasts the perfect line between grit and ice. Unnerving tension meets guitar percussion that staggers and ripples. I love the way it builds and expands without increasing in volume or speed. A masterclass in emotional impact with subtle elements.
Queen of Hearts (Feat: Valentina Veil) – Domestic violence is a difficult topic to address. Clashing fronts of synth and percussion is given gravitas by Valentina‘s overlapping vocal performance. A disassociated wispy dream with retro energy of Projekt Records. The entwined guitar lines feel like two rippling ropes shaken in alternate succession by someone working out. The spoken word section delivered in another tone solidify the duality of concept. Valentina was meant to be on Damage, it is so fitting she finally makes an appearance on a Kill Shelter album.
Buried Deep (Feat: Antipole) – This track could have been on “First and Last and Always” with it’s bottom of the well bass resonance and shadow ripple guitar leads. In that vein Pete summons a cyborg Eldrich delivery both haunting and frozen as it faces a heavy weight too much to bare.
The Necklace (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – Swedish synthrock darlings with dance club scintillation and unique vocal tone/cadence that I could always pick out of the lineup. ASG vocals always feel like chorus vocals, but I have no reason to confirm. The same spotlight production that sounds on another level. This track has a switchblade danger to it’s tone that stands the hairs on my arm up.
Feed The Fire (Feat: Ash Code) – The shooting star Italian Darkwave band that has become a scene force in record time preparing is for a tour of Central and South America collaborated on this sleazy shadow disco track. Explosive rising synth spell strikes and particle accelerator guitars. The vocals capture the effortless cool dynamic Ash Code are famous for. Another heart wrenching concept done with razor sharp execution.
Cover Me (Feat: The Bellwether Syndicate) – If you were to ask me who gives off the most live rockstar energy in the modern darkscene, the answer is William Faith. This is another true club jam that will send folks charging to the floor. William‘s vocals are sheer romantic goth perfection. The lyrics are a darker poetry which helps form the complexity of meaning. William is a legend and Pete gave him an Aston Martin as a vehicle to drive to the front of the club and shine.
All Of This (Feat: Clan of Xymox) – To say Ronny Morning was a definitive voice in the scene is a vast understatement. One of the inventers of darksynth post punk. This jam is a charging quartet of apocalyptic horses. A culmination of dark tides eroding an unforgiving shore. The progressive time changes and subtitle phrasing are a work of genius and emotional impact that hits you when you least expect it.
Overall: Kill Shelter has done it again. Creating a personal emotional journey through post-traumatic stress with expert production and collaborative vocal performances that shine a light on some of the top singers in the scene. I can’t wait to release and rare upcoming interview on the Sounds and Shadows youtube page. We dig deeply into the process and feelings of one of the most important artists the modern era. When we speak to future musicians who are in the know about what influenced them in our time. Kill Shelter will be the Joy Division like name that trend setters were appreciating in the present.
It is once again time to reveal the winners of our monthly darkscene singles chart chosen by the Sounds and Shadows collective. Each month we take submissions for the top single releases in Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Coldwave/Shoegaze/EDM whatever. Then votes our cast by the Artists, Djs, Fans, promotors, reviewers in our group. This month of course since my band Amaranth had a single in the chart, I am way behind. This chart seems to always elevate the cutting edge in what is happening in our scene. Below you will find the chart and a link to all the bands that won in June. If you have a release in July, make sure to post it in our Facebook group.
Dead Cool – Send Me An Angel (Real Life Cover)
Blood Dance – Wicked King
The Amaranth – Gothtimist
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace
Vaselyne – Here To Begin
Silver Walks – Albatross
Bellhead – No Dead Horses
La Muerta – Headhunter
Spankthenun – I Self Me
Sea Lungs – Truffle Pig
DEAD COOL – Send Me An Angel – From Wilmington, North Carolina the darkwave duo of Johnny and AngelaYeagher made this broken glass glittering on concrete version of the 1989 Real Life dance classic. A cool take on the original with much more menace to change the feeling. The band continues to be a fan favorite with our listeners and a number 1 single win speaks to their bright future.
Blood Dance – Wicked King – Having the Mexico City Electro Goth make #2 on our chart is a big deal to me. Casting a light on the incredible Latin darkscene movement has been a major goal of mine this year. Seeing our members embrace this sinister blend of traditional goth and cold wave atmosphere fills my heart with delight. Only a few singles out for the band so far and already they are turning heads in the scene.
The Amaranth – Gothtimist– Now it is always awkward tooting your own horn. This is the first time our band Amaranth from Kalamazoo MI has had a song in the chart. This one is really special for me. It is the idea behind Sounds and Shadows in sonic form. Bringing together an enormous crew of guest musicians, artists, producers, and friends. To create a song which speaks to the importance of our friends in the scene listing us up when times are darkest.
Jason Corbett (Actors) , Jean-Marc Lederman (The The; Gene Loves Jezebel; Fad Gadget; The Weathermen; Rohn-Lederman), Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves; The Burying Kind), Kimberly Kornmeier (Bow Ever Down), Katy May (Katy Needs A Life), Saphira Vee, Brian Graupner (gothsicles; Gasoline Invertebrate) , Ryan Flint (WitchHands), Matt McIntosh (A Cloud of Ravens). Cover Art: Albie Mason (Scary Black) Mastering : Pete Burn (Kill Shelter)
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace – Speaking of Pete Burn the incredible Scotsman who made the #1 album of 2019 “Damage” has returned to that core concept with the latest single. Much of Pete’s work features guest vocalists. This first single off the upcoming 7/15/22 album Asylum has world renown Swedish Post Punk band Agent Side Grinder. Crashing and slashing with emotion and runaway train basslines. The melody here is infectious and twists suddenly through old city streets. To say I am waiting for this album with baited breath is an understatement. We have an upcoming interview with Pete. If Kill Shelter isn’t firmly on your radar they need to me.
Vaselyne – Here To Begin – From Amsterdam, Netherlands this is the second month in a row the COP International band has had a single high in the charts. Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig have another soulful organic that harkens to early Projekt record sounds. Crashing waves of sound and salt battering the rocks in an endless struggle that feels epic in scope. I feel like Frank takes all the right turns here. Including a blistering solo around 3 minutes. Yvette gets to show her vocal range and soul on this track. I see a widow on the cliffside tearing at her hair in anguish, waiting for a ship she knows is never making it back to shore.
silver walks – Albatross – New resident of New York Daniel McCullough has assembled an Avengers team of electronic talent to release this long awaited album. This month’s single is another textural story delicately crafted. This psychedelic electro goth just stands out fresh against the backdrop. I love the politically charged themes beneath the historical feel. This record is an early contender for top albums of the year.
Silver Walks is Dan Mccullough with Tim Heireth, Ian Staer, Eva X, Stella Soleil, Marc Heal, James Francis, John Jacobus, Ryan Mast, Coral Scere and you
Bellhead – No Dead Horses – Special release from Chicago double bass duo Bellhead on Give/Take records. I really like the theatric dark indie style here. Karen and Ivan always know how to find a new swing to their core concept. This single has some Nick Cave meets Jesus and Mary Chain vibes set in the south-west desert wasteland. They have a brilliant chemistry of call and answer vocals that reminds me why i fell in love with the Pixies.
LA MUERTE – Headhunter – This Belgian band has been a part of the scene a long time. In June they released a new album on COP International which features this cover of the Front 242 classic. This is a great call in of legendary industrial classic to create a fire wizard space rock version of the chant. La Muerte is smashing walls to get back into your life or opening a door to find an underground classic for the first time.
spankthenun – I Self Me – Incandescent post apocalypse burner from Texas Industrial guru Eric Hanes. Badass sledgehammer smacks on the Depeche Mode dance club. I love the filthy edge that Eric soaks every delicious pop hook in. An innovator and hat aficionado you need to be aware of.
Sea Lungs – Truffle Pig – An amazing new Australian super band with another smash single. This is a criminally underrated band with a unique throwback shadowy madness that darts between ahead of it’s time and raw with nostalgia. Ant Bannister does a masterful job of mixing to create a strange stomping Syd Barret fighting The Damned in an Ed Wood film sound. Is that description as strange as it feels. Good, unique sounds should feel that way. Jarrad Robertson and Andi Lennon are a song writing force that needs attention.
It has been a moment since I had a chance to sit down and talk about exciting new music that has come out recently. Bands are starting to go back on the road and that means new releases. Instead of doing a Bandcamp Friday this month instead Bandcamp is donating a portion of proceeds to NAACP for Juneteenth. They continue to be the best way to buy music while supporting artists and important causes. We also had our May Darkscene Singles Chart which is on the webpage as well as new podcast interviews. So check those out to support us, like and subscribe.
silver walks – various positions – I met Daniel McCullough near a dumpster behind Cold Waves in 2019 and heard “Lantern” in 2020. Immediately I knew this album was going to be something special. Dan is one of the most underrated song writers in modern electronica. The people in the know, they understand this. I hope this album is what makes that clear to the scene at large. I think one of the first points to strike me, all but one song are over 5 minutes. In a world of short singles, Various Positions is stretching your dance floor endurance. While making EVERY song a banger. Infectious dance beats that ebb and flow in texture, with razor blade twists. You can really hear the patient precision that went into each song’s construction. There is a thematic post apocalypse spiritual journey that makes me close my eyes and get lost in the story, while stomping in time to infectious hooks. This whole album rides a highspeed tightrope between progressive and ear candy.
This album also has a spicy list of A + contributors to bring Dan’s vision to light. Stella Soleil , Coral Scere, Tim Heireth, Marc Heal, James Francis, Eva X, and many more mixed lovingly by living legend John Fryer. Part of the testament to this albums power are the names that agreed to be a part of it. Album art & layout // Joshua Mccallister silver walks logo by Jim Marcus. Eric Oehler wizard shimmers the mastering. Photo of Dan // Kirsten Miccoli I just saw Dan thanked me in the liner notes, so now I am crying.
Favorite Tracks: This is truly difficult. There is not a throw away track on this album. A wise woman once wrote “The first cut is the deepest” So I will choose where it began for me.
Lantern – This track just hits different. I story woven of a time lost in a desert place of which taps into a fury against injustice. The music here is captivating and lives in my head. This song slaps on the level of Gary Numan doing My Name Is Ruin.
Overall: This is a record I will be visiting all year long until December when it comes time discuss albums of the year.
Cyborg Amok – Cyborg Amok – Self titled release from the New Jersey Father/Son duo which came to my attention courtesy of Michael Nagy. I recently got to interview the band for the Sounds and Shadows podcast. A heavy hitting dystopian future progressive gothic style. I immediately was put in mind of Palais Ideal by the complexity and science fiction concepts. Greg Bullock has a dream whisper voice and a bardic soul. I feel in love with the purity of a father and son bridging generations to find a place of compromise between their influence. Taking that space epic Rush 70’s feel and blending a modern darkscene compression.
Favorite Track: Choice Not Taken – This one was just so powerful once I learned the story behind it. The connection between men discussing their trials with candor out front of a powerful spine of percussion.
jluc Courchet aka SPIRYT – BLOOD TWINS – Featuring the phenomenal vocals of Kimberly from Bow Ever Down French electronic shadow Cabaret led by Jluc Ciurchet is weaving soul and atmospheric beauty in the smooth seductive style of 90’s trip hop. Unlike the smooth smokey flow of Portishead, the duo ruffles the waves of dark water with unsettling tension that never allows your heart to rest. I love the scope of instrumentation full of color and percussion. Kimberly has a voice that is remarkable for both it’s quality and the honesty of her delivery. Truly spellbinding she needs to be in the discussion of the top women in the scene.
Favorite Track: Breathing In Breathing Out – Again, this whole album is staggering and an inspired blend of two talents in Jluc and Kimberly. This song just hit with a weight of sorrow and depth I found myself staggered by. This is a song of finding steady ground. To look a trauma and terror in the eye. An inspirational energy to face down the darkness that surrounds.
Stoneburner / Chant – Stoneburner/Chant King of wolves tour freebie – Speaking of epic and exciting tours which are springing up. Two of the most exciting things happening in industrial music, Steven Archer‘s (Stoneburner) and Bradley Bills (Chant) touring together and unleashing percussion artillery meant to challenge your conceptions and shake your bones. This pre tour pay what you want digital release is the perfect introduction for anyone seeking the exciting new direction that Industrial music has evolved to. It is fierce, vibrant, and epic in scope. Highlighting the talent and different tone of both artists. This is a can’t miss live performance people will speak of in awe years from now
The Waning Moon – The Waning Moon – Wonderous new collaboration project from Zac Campbell(The Kentucky Vampires) , and Ariel Maniki (The Black Halos). Two powerhouse talents of the modern traditional goth scene forging an alloy of blackened metal which echos with loss and remorse. Unlike their more organic percussion based projects TWM features aa blistering tempo freight train which unshackles Campbell to terrorize the fretboard and Ariel to use a haunting cadence full of ice cold foundation and strength. Only 4 tracks on this EP, but each sets the tone for a future force that fills a need in fans who hunger for traditional goth.
Favorite Track: Talisman – I didn’t go for a deep cut here. This single that accompanies the really sums up the best of what these artists do. An arterial spray of viscera and poetic sorrow which work in harmony, to tell a story of anguish.
The Amaranth – Gothtimist – As always it feels weird to review yourself. So I won’t. This track off our upcoming album is special to me. It is the ideals of Sounds and Shadows put into sonic form. That the world is cruel, and promises get broken. Yet we can reach out to our friends in the darkest moments and find hope. This song features an amazing array of guest contributors which blows my mind every time I ready it.
Jason Corbett (Actors) , Jean-Marc Lederman (The The; Gene Loves Jezebel; Fad Gadget; The Weathermen; Rohn-Lederman), Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves; The Burying Kind), Kimberly Kornmeier (Bow Ever Down), Katy May (Katy Needs A Life), Saphira Vee, Brian Graupner (gothsicles; Gasoline Invertebrate) , Ryan Flint (WitchHands), Matt McIntosh (A Cloud of Ravens). As well as cover art by Albie Mason (Scary Black) and mastering by Pete Burns (Kill Shelter)
I continue to see the importance of putting out this monthly chart. One that is unique in our scene. I hope other people appreciate the songs chosen here for their quality. Every track here is voted on by Dj’s, Bands, Reviewers, and Superfans that represent the pulse of modern dark music.
Leathers – Runaway
Black Angel – Look Me In the Eye
The Cassandra Complex – Old Boys Network
HexHeart – Erase Yesterday
Moris Blak/Daddybear/GrabYourFace – Crimes Of Passion
Vaselyne – Shame
Iamnoone – The Need
Sever The Servants – Get In The Grave
Iamtheshadow – Remind Me
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace
LEATHERS – Runaway – Another gorgeous smash hit from Shannon Hemmett of Vancouver. As part of the darkscene darlings Actors this synthy dreamwave project continues to grow and impress with every release. Masterful execution with a personal delivery.
Black Angel – Look Me In The Eye – We have an upcoming interview with LA transplant Matt Vowles about the band putting the rock back into gothic rock. I love this slow grooving The Cult style flavored single with some sinister smokey backup vocals from Manheesha Jones. Absolute banger.
The Cassandra Complex – Old Boys Network -After 20 years the pre goth legends The Cassandra Complex dropped a new album and a scathing punk rock rebuke of modern post capitalism. This song has been sitting the top of the DAC chart as well all month long.
Hexheart – Erase Yesterday – Seattle WA sleek voodoo synth had this single to set the road for their 6/17/22 release “Funeral Flowers“. I love the smooth electronic soft serve retro feel. The lyrics have a wonderful Ducky in the rain poetry. This album will be a day one buy for me.
MORIS BLAK x DADDYBEAR x GRABYOURFACE – Crimes of Passion – Three heavy hitters of modern EDM/EBM who have teamed again to take our singles chart by storm. Each time they have gotten together it is an absolute banger offset by Marie’s crime croon vocals. This belongs on dancefloors everywhere.
Vaselyne – Shame (PJ Harvey Cover) – Early single release for the 6/3/22 EP “The Sea Says” is a cover of the mistress of raw alternative PJ Harvey. I love the percussive twang present throughout. The Dutch duo on COP International do a lovely vocal volley. I love the dusty humidity of the tone in this homage. Leaves me excited to review the album.
Sever The Servants – Get In The Grave – Another song on this chart from the partnership of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolan on their horror hue nightmare fuel project on Produkt 42. Normally I don’t answer orders to jump into the grave soil, but this charismatic call gets under your skin.
IAMTHESHADOW – Remind Me – Another gorgeous underground bop from the best baritone in modern goth Pedro Code. The Portuguese darkwave act continues to be the flagship of Cold Transmission. A darkwood ship rising and falling on synthetic waves.
Kill Shelter – The Necklace ft Agent Side Grinder – Finally the eagerly awaited master producer and composer Pete Burns returns to form with a single from the upcoming July album “Asylum” using guest vocals from the Swedish Synth star Johan Lange of Agent Side Grinder. This is an emotional tidal wave and leaves me ravenous for the full release. Pete is a wizard of drawing the best out of already talented people.
Had their 2019 untitled record been their last, I think fans would have been fine writing that line under Rammstein and celebrating the victory lap of one of the biggest international acts of all time. The matchstick-emblazoned seventh disc from the forefathers of Neue Deutsche Härte was a powerful statement, one that needed to be made after the band’s studio work lay dormant for a decade, owing to endless touring and myriad side projects. With the anthemic “Deutschland,” the unsettling “Hallomann” and “Puppe,” and the quintessential-sounding “Ausländer,” the untitled disc was a comeback record to end all.
So when the wait between records is cut to just shy of three years, color me and many others thrilled, as Zeit arrived this spring with a story to tell. Rather than weave the yarns as they’ve done inside of a song, such as “Rosenrot” or “Heirate mich,” this LP uses its title as a central theme. In several ways, the eleven tracks cover a lifespan, dealing with reflection, youth gone wild, and looking back on a life well spent. As the band comes up on nearly thirty years together, the lineup unchanged and the mission even less so, Till Lindemann and Co. aren’t above a song that would make any of those on the antiquated “Filthy Fifteen” blush, but even when things go fully X-rated, there’s a storyline purpose being served.
Having been around for as long as they have been, the band has made their own universe of sorts within their lyrics, and as such have no trouble referencing themselves or their past tracks. For one, “Schwarz,” adapted from one of singer Till Lindemann’s own poetry, features a line taken nearly word for word from the Rosenrot track “Hilf mir”:
“Denn immer, wenn ich einsam bin, zieht es mich zum Dunkel hin”
(Then whenever I’m alone, I am pulled in by the darkness)
In “Hilf mir”
“Immer wenn ich einsam bin, zieht es mich zum Feuer hin”
(Whenever I am alone, I’m pulled towards the fire)
In either case, the persona in the song is consumed by that which draws them in; that is, in “Hilf mir,” the fire literally consumes the persona, eliciting cries of the title, while in “Schwarz,” the persona finds a sort of uneasy comfort in the darkness.
We also see a couple of songs that feel like spiritual successors, if not direct ones, to previous hits. The sex-positive “OK” (standing for “ohne Kondom”) feels like part two to the controversial “Pussy,” while the far more straight-laced “Meine Tränen” feels like it picked up where the 2001 power ballad “Mutter” left off.
Musically speaking, the record leans a bit more into the theatrical and grand than previous offerings, and given Rammstein’s extensive catalog, that’s an achievement. For one, the horn section on the adipose anthem “Dicke Titten” adds a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor that put the band on the radar all those years ago, while it and its predecessor “Angst” employ a drop B tuning, something that I don’t believe the band has ever really messed with.
But if the song is called “Dicke Titten,” or “Big Tits” in English, shouldn’t it have been in D?
… moving on.
Of course, there is no shortage of snarling earworms of riffs, particularly in “Zick Zack,” the aforementioned “Angst,” and the explosive “Giftig.” Guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul Landers are riff lords for sure, and they live up to their collective reputation in spades here. There are a few surprises on the record, including a hilariously over-Autotuned Till on the penultimate song “Lügen,” which makes some sense, since the persona in the song is a pathological liar, and the argument for “Autotune isn’t an instrument” is still floating out there. A bit late to the draw for a band that was once ahead of its time, but point made and noted.
It should be pointed out that this album came about due to the lack of ability to tour during the pandemic. Think about this: this record, which is a good Rammstein record, thereby making it a great record by any other metric, was a “fuck it, let’s make an album” album. That the band can knock out a mostly killer disc like this for the hell of it is a testament to the lasting power of Rammstein. Even as most of the band members pass half a century in age each, if they’re putting out this level of material, then by all means, boys, throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.
… why do I read that back and fear that I’ve inspired a future music video?
It is time once again for our monthly Darkscene singles chart. I did a recent interview with Michael Nagy where I mentioned how I have come to value doing this chart once a month. It really shines a light on great new bands that don’t always show up in other charts. All entries are “darkscene singles” a very loose term, released in April 2022. They are voted on by the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group members of Djs, Review Pages, Promotors, Bands, and Superfans. I compile them and post the results. If you have a single release in May, make sure to add it to the polling.
Stoneburner – Contracting Iris
Eva X – Body Talk
Mark E Moon – Blacklight
Death Loves Veronica – When I Was Dead
Silver Walks – Tear Me Down
I Ya Toyah – Vast Spaces (Joy Thieves Remix)
Scary Black – Transatlantic Tears
Sever The Servant – Nowhere
Der Prosector – Standing In The Embers
Angelspit – Stand In Line
Stoneburner – Contracting Iris – Steven Archer is always pushing the edge hard and furious. This time by interweaving with Sci Fi author Peter Watts with a punishing new sonic canvas so relevant to the emotional mindset of the population. This artistic journey keeps getting larger and more intricate. Also be on the lookout for Stoneburner back on tour with Chant. Always a must see show.
Stoneburner’s “Contracting Iris”, features 2 tracks and a full-hour audiobook story written by acclaimed science fiction author Peter Watts
“Contracting Iris”, the new single from Stoneburner, takes the listener on a cinematic journey to the beginning of a future pandemic. Combining the classic Arrakis-era style with industrial beats and vocals, the single is a cohesive representation of Steven Archer’s ever-evolving project.
Eva X – Body Talk – Another lovely shadow dance single from Canadian siren Eva X. I love hearing the soul and depth that keeps growing with every new release. Here making it to the #2 spot on the chart. This has a glorious submarine echo in pressurized depths flavor. Crystal mastering by Eric Oehler and enchanting video from Erik Gustafson.
Mark E Moon – BlackLight – This single absolutely shreds. In a world where goth gets more and more fractured into sub genres. This is a pure blast of that old school traditional. Mark’s voice is a powerful and resonant baritone blending with Shelly to ride the front of a crackling dark wave. This is an instant hit from Cold Transmission and The Isle of Man.
Death Loves Veronica – When I Was Dead (feat. Tim Skold) – Texas songsmith Veronica Campbell has teamed with Tim Skold to make this twisting black oil symbiont sound that drips with necromancy and danger. Loving this slashing whip quick guitar riff and the determination and movement of her vocals. A song that won’t stop scratching the back of your neck.
silver walks – tear me down – Daniel McCullough has been slowly teasing me with masterpiece of an album for too long. Every single is crafted with such obsessive precision. I love the flow, the impact, and the vocal resonance from Coral Scere. Mixed by the living legend John Fryer another reason this album is going to rock the landscape.
I Ya Toyah – Vast Spaces ( The Joy Thieves Remix ) – Well what isn’t to love here? The firework electronic one woman army spewing unmatched intensity, then amplified by the hairpin turning fury and percussion mastery of The Joy Thieves. Dee Nelson’s outro guitar solo is the fireball cherry on top of the sundae. Total Burner.
SCARY BLACK – Transatlantic Tears – Why everyone in this scene does not follow and know Louisville goth band Scary Black absolutely baffles me. Alphie is a cosmic force of genuine inflicted emotion, artistic expression, and perfect pop hooks. This is always some of the best new goth in the game and if you don’t know it you need to.
Sever the Servants – Nowhere – I love this glorious team up from Hide Tepes and Michael Nolan. It is sinister, textural, and seeping with mystery. New material keeps surfacing and all of it is a powerhouse of talent and edge.
Angelspit – STAND IN LINE – California digital psychedelic freedom rock. I love the chaos energy and foot stomping dance energy. Aside from the acid splash on the dance floor single this track also features 13 badass remixes.
I hope you found something wonderful here you didn’t know about. If you have a single in May you want to see added, go to Sounds and Shadows on Facebook. Support the scene, lift each other up, tell people about great new music. Also if you like Sounds and Shadows and want to support us, get a T Shirt in the link below.
Goth music has always been a scene obsessed with the past. By nature it came from a literary concept of macabre themes. Many of the bands that started this movement have actively pushed back, famously Sisters of Mercy for example. This month two bands that were there in that early pre-goth era paving the road for the decades, creating a new wave of splintered darkscene sounds. I love in both cases, these are not fan service records standing on the name of their past. They are fresh new ideas, forged in the skill and intensity that decades of releasing albums provide. So let us discuss the latest offerings from The Cassandra Complex and Christian Death.
The Cassandra Complex – The Plague – Rodney Orpheus and The Cassandra Complex have been entrenched in the concept of what we would later call “goth” music since before we had a word to describe it. They have toured with and played festivals with the biggest names in the scene. Starting in 1985 releasing 7 full albums and 3 live albums the last of which “Wetware” on Metropolis Records in 2000. 22 years we waited for a return with “The Plague” to burst forth with a ferocious new energy. Early releases like “Grenade” were thick with an aggressive political message. I fell instantly for this return of piss and vinegar spirit blended with fine blade refinement. A razor edge between emotional concept and ability. Although these are new songs tackling modern concepts of a post capitalism world, the album serves as a greatest hit record. Drawing on individual styles that run the range of their history. It doesn’t forget the tongue firmly in cheek humor, using wit to mock the face of power.
Rodney Orpheus: vocals, vocoder, synthesizers, drum machines Andy Booth: guitar, keyboards Volker Zacharias: guitar, bass, keyboards Axel Ermes: synthesizers
Produced by Rodney Orpheus @ Magic Library Studio, London Cover Art by Antony Johnston
Standout Tracks: This is not an album of singles. No fractured thoughts of refracted light touching unrelated ideas. This is a record of intent meant to be played in succession. I must stress the importance of reading these chapters in order to understand the story. To say particular songs didn’t grab hold of my lapels and shake me with staggering force would be unjust as well. I will call out three.
Hotline To Elvis – Opening the album with this blistering gallop of southern twang guitar and hooved pounding bassline. Living in Kalamazoo MI I remember the Elvis hotline. It is often forgotten that bizarre conspiracy theories were not new ideas. When people want to believe something, no matter how absurd, they found a way. I love how Rodney takes on just enough southern lilt to summon the shaking spirit of the King. I blast of fire to set the scene.
Speed Of Sound – Ok, this is that track. A swelling ballad that captures a relatable experience that just hits different. The heart grasping hook of this bassline, Rodney’s genuine and tragic delivery with a Lou Reed poetry in blue collar hues. I must have played this track 20 times. I feel myself well up for every single one. A modern classic.
Old Boys Network – This song is about a collision of sounds and fierce satirical rebuke of the men in power which permeate and destroy every aspect of life. This synth line is a bouncing frenzy and Andy Booths guitar lines crackle with LA punk chaos. Rodney keeps the effect of clarity and grey pastel while spewing forth a Dead Kennedy’s rant.
Overall this is a triumphant return, an band that has earned the freedom and skill to treat their fans to a fearless and personal glimpse into the human experience in a failing system. It is my sincere hope that this is a path back for younger new fans to one of the bands that paved the way for the modern darkscene.
Christian Death – Evil Becomes Rule – The most recognized name of the American Proto goth scene from Los Angeles “Evil Becomes Rule” marks the 20th studio album in a legendary career. In our recent interview Valor told me about EBR being a continuation of 2015 The Root of All Evilution. It would be easy to appeal to longtime fans, putting out similar albums in a fan friendly style. Some artists have wonderful careers doing just that. This has never been the Christian Death way. Always slicing the edge in every incarnation. Evil Becomes Rule took me to a new place I never expected. A shadow psychedelic blasphemy of triumph blending world beat Dead Can Dance and roaring power of Judas Priest. Maitri’s vocals are highlighted like never before and cast a sinister ritual of power.
Recording lineup: Valor – Lead vocals, guitars, violin, cello, piano (inside and out), keyboards, percussion Maitri – Lead vocals, bass guitar Pao – Drums
Stand Out Tracks: It is so hard use objective judgement for a song writer I have this much respect for. I will try my best to pick a few favorite tracks that struck me hard and made me revaluate the idea of what Christian Death is.
Elegant Sleeping – This track is a stalking wolf in a swirling forest mist. Maitri delivers such a delicious snarl to split the space between the dervish guitar rhythm. The break down sails right off the rails in a savage cacophony of chaos. A blistering and explosive avant garde.
Beautiful – There are other singles on this record. This one just rings out with such beauty and clarity. The chorus hooked me in hard, I kept hearing it in my mind wherever I went. Cobra strike guitar lead, dancing beside a merciless chant of longing. The organic crashing drum sounds really find their form. This single is such a penetrating reminder of how complex and emotive Christian Death are. Shout out to this gorgeous video as well to bring the concept into stark relief.
Who Am I part I – Another aspect of CD has always been a clear understanding of the power of pageantry. Drawn bow strings and the call and answer dialog vocals of Valors Bowiesque glam dueling with Maitri’s storm winds challenge. Crashing contrasting voices meeting in the middle to erect a swirling tower. A final crescendo on this journey through past and future.
Overall: I am left astounded at Christian Deaths ability to always be growing, always raising a challenge. I saw the first night of the tour in Chicago and was overwhelmed by the presence they create. Valor and company are excited for this record. That enthusiasm bleeds into every word and note. Seek out a chance to witness this live, there just aren’t as many true rock stars in the world anymore. You still have a chance to see one in an intimate setting.
Growing up in the Velveeta Valley suburbs of Detroit in a time before the Google search, Spotify playlists, Youtube suggestions, and Sounds and Shadows I had a sacred ritual. Once a month I would coat myself in black from head to toe and pedal my bike to a mini mall which contained a record store. Here in the new CD releases I would take my caddie/busboy money and purchase the latest Cleopatra Records sampler. Now these compilations took many themes, tribute cover albums, up and coming goth bands. This was how you found the next band that connected you to the wider world. I would race back home, tear apart the packaging and dream of one day seeing my own name in the liner notes. This ritual mattered, it made me feel connected to other kids like me that I didn’t know. Somehow, I knew they were out there. When I saw Procession Magazine bring back this series of goth compilations, my faith was confirmed. To see one of our songs, appear here, that dream has finally come true. So, I welcome you all to join me in my room, as I light a candle, press play, and journey into the macabre world of “The Unquiet Grave” searching for dark diamonds in a cruel sea.
This album is massive in scope. Featuring 43 tracks from a wide variety of goth subgenres and cities. I can’t write about every single amazing band featured. A good portion of the fun of a compilation is the exploration of every track. Waiting for some to speak to you and searching for their album. I will call out some small portion that spoke to me.
NOIR – The Burning Bridge – From NYC the mastermind curator behind this compilation Athan Maroulis opens the journey with this writhing serpent of smoking desire. I can feel the fingerprints of Erik Gustafson (Adoration Destroyed) on the guitars and production which ebb and flow with crushing dark waters for Maroulis vocals to ride upon. A fitting tribute to David Bowie and a powerful opening volley to set the stage.
3) Byronic Sex & Exile – Cu Foc – From Goth City Records in Leeds UK this was definitely one of those magic moments where I knew nothing of this band going in and immediately fell deeply in love. Throbbing and melodic gothic rock with a touch of western Fields of the Nephilim guitar twang. Crooning clear vocal delivery with just enough grit to feel dangerous. First EP dates back to 2016 and I will definitely be placing this on my list for a back catalog deep dive.
5) Bedless Bones – Sad and Alone – This is an amazing track from an album I am quite familiar with. We reviewed it in 2019. Kadri Sammel and Bedless Bones have the distinction of being my favorite band from Estonia. I love the swarming dark forest life and creeping chaos. Kadri has a unique sizzling whisper of a voice with a cadence that makes it stand out in a crowd. Gorgeous witchcraft in midnight blue beams.
Slighter x Static Logic – Mirror In Darkness – Team up of LA based Cyberwizard Colin Cameron Allrich and James D Church to flip the script with this hurtling empty space driving beat spinning through a red light matrix. A synthetic breath on the back of your neck, a ghost in the machine.
A Cloud of Ravens – Flowers Melt Away – Our dear friends from Brooklyn Matt and Beth who are on Cleopatra Records have done this amazing tribute to Fahrenheit 451 the New York pre goth underground legends that included the previous mentioned Athan Maroulis on vocals. I really feel this slippery bassline and glam rich lilt of Matts vocals. I wonderful way to connect the past and future.
A Covenant of Thorns – Dahlia – This song holds such a special place in my heart. Scott-David Allen has brought the concept of romantic goth back into the forefront of the modern scene. Gorgeous heartfelt longing and loss, pulling apart your heart. This song was remixed on a compilation I put together at Sounds and Shadows which led to the collaboration The Burying Kind with Dan Milligan. If you have never explored the rich history of ACOT I really can’t speak highly enough of them.
Adoration Destroyed – Blackout Again – Glamdustrial rockers from Austin TX led by Erik Gustafson. Off their album Ritual Deconstruction. AD always brings such a punishing and powerful mixture of bass beats and heavy dark cloud guitars. An important voice in the modern goth scene.
Amulet – Last Ditch – Badass swamp curse energy from DC that again I am happy to say I found as a result of this compilation. Stephanie Stryker has one of those sky splitting voices that encompasses your entire sensory scope and this mello ground shaking bassline completes the ritual. I was an immediate fan.
Dover Lights – Memory Dissolves – So I was not trying to stumble on this band from the Ozarks. However when one finds a mixture between The Chameleons and Bruce Springstein it is unavoidable to call it out. I found this sound so mystifying and unique while pairing so many nostalgic feelings I couldn’t look away. This will definitely go on my deep dive list for later. I never knew I needed this, but I do.
Eva X – Canadian darkpop goddess changes the tempo of the compilation with this driving foot stomping club hit. I love the twists and turns of cadence and tone. I always picture Gaby dancing in an ice palace full of refracting lights.
Cliff and Ivy: Alaska’s goth duo – Bring Us The Night – Our dear friends the power goth couple from Alaska. Again a wonderful tempo and intensity change for this journey. Breakneck deathrock with scintillating guitars and Ivy’s rock smashing voice. This track is a runaway ride in a minecar down a shadowy mountain. Wonderful music by wonderful humans.
The Amaranth – Thighs – We have a song on this compilation. It is on our upcoming album Gothtimism. It’s weird talking about yourself. We write a goth song about waking up in a hotel with your partner and realizing a perfect imprint of your makeup pallet is on their inner thigh. The world needs more goth songs about going down.
Shadow Fashion – Children of the Night – I love the clash of emo and synthgoth from Texas based Shadow Fashion. Patrick the singer has an amazing voice and presence. It rides that perfect line between 2 kinds of nostalgia and a modern exuberant energy. Everything I hear from them is pure gold.
VAZUM – Unspoken – Glorious GothGaze duo from our home state Michigan that have continued to crank out dark slushy walls of sound in a steady stream since 2017. I love the monster theme and water color tone. A truly unique and powerful sound.
Doors In The Labyrinth – Dead Stars – The tragic and haunting gloom painting from Pittsburgh sonic texture artists Josh Loughrey. Powerful intensity that harkens back to Projekt records slow grinding emotional destruction. I’ve got to see them live before and the intensity of the experience is well worth the price of admission.
I wish I could write about everyone present here, because they all have something to offer. Instead, I will let you make your own way down this murky mist covered river. Thank you again to Procession Magazine and Athan for putting together this immense undertaking. In the comments below tell me about a new band you discovered.
Black Angel would have sounded right in place along side such powerhouse English alternative 80s acts as The Cult and The Sisters Of Mercy. Their sound even brings to mind acts from this side of the pond such as Screaming Trees and Mary My Hope. And that’s okay because this is album takes me back to the 80s in the GOOD way.
The Black Rose was released on April Fool’s Day but there’s nothing to laugh at on this record. These rhythm-oriented songs are nice and ballsy and incorporate the darker elements of bar rock. The gothic elements are there present. This record digs deeper to give you something that sounds like a backcountry balladeer set against a wall of guitar riffs. And the bass on songs like All Or Nothing conjure images of the tipsy dancer in the bar who refuses to sit down until her song on the jukebox ends.
Take Me Down is more solemn and the lyrics flow like an old singalong folk song. I caught myself singing along to the chorus. The lyrics on Look Me In The Eye carry the recurring theme throughout the album; as though addressed to a lady of dubious intention who’s done wrong, or maybe about to be done wrong. The same is true for the subsequent track, Sinner. Carnival Man opens with a dark organ and sits you down to tell the tale of a festive killer.
All in all, The Black Rose satisfies. This album works in a goth club, a biker bar, or on your car stereo.
In addition to the review Jaret had a chance to interview Matt of Black Angel 🙂 Please enjoy
Jaret : What inspired ‘The Black Rose’?
Matt: Good question, there wasn’t anything specific, I just have to keep writing, as soon as I finish one album, I get right into the next one. With Black Angel I knew there would be a five album progression for sure and I had all the names of the albums mapped out years ago, so it just felt natural when I finished Prince of Darkness to start on The Black Rose. I always tell myself to give myself a breather for a few months but I can barely get past a few days.
Jaret: Who are your influences and what did you take away from those artists?
Matt: My influences are 100% Goth acts from the 80’s – to be specific, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, and The Damned, those are my keys influences, they wrote the best Gothic music – and in my eyes that has never been surpassed. Before I start writing I tend to listen to the these guys, in fact I just listen to their music all the time anyway, whether I’m writing or not – and each of them has something a little bit different – for example Billy Duffy from The Cult is my guitar hero, Peter Murphy is a vocal gymnast, Siouxsie has this fantastic intricate song writing ability, The Damned are just all out hundred percent top bollocks and energy and The Sisters of Mercy, especially on Floodland just encapsulated what Gothic Rock really was for me.
Jaret: Do you draw inspiration from sources outside of music, per se?
Matt: I guess life…. Most of my songs in someway are about relationships with people – and of course we are always learning, so there is always something new to write about on each new record. When I write it’s always about personal relationships, I have no interest in politics or anything like that it’s always about life experiences, and they say that is the best thing to write about, what do you have experienced yourself.
Jaret: Please describe a typical day in the studio. What is the chemistry like?
Matt: That’s another good question, I found with my writing process that if I set time aside and I sit down and decide ‘this is the time I’m going to write’, I can pretty much guarantee that it is not gonna happen. I am in the fortunate position that I do have a studio on my property so whenever I feel the need I can get something down whether it’s a vocal or a drum idea etc. I also carry around a digital recorder as there’s nothing more frustrating than losing that pearl of wisdom idea that you just came up with just because you couldn’t find a way to capture it. The whole process is fairly solo from the beginning, I normally write about 40 songs and then cull about 30 of those down to a good solid 10, hopefully by that point I’ve got a rough outline of how I want the record to sound if not I keep deleting and I keep writing. It’s not until the music is nearly 100% finished that I send tracks over to Corey for him to do his vocal magic.
Jaret: What’s next for you? How are you forming/adapting your plans in the age of COVID
Matt:Covid isn’t an issue for us, since then and during that time, we’ve managed to put two records out. We did think we were going to embark on a major record label deal in the near future but these things are always hugely complicated and there are a lot of ramifications to think about, so that’s not gonna happen for right now. We are still interested in getting our music out to a wider audience so we will still be seeking a publishing deal with a label somewhere. We would also like to play some festivals, it’s tricky for us to tour right now as with our individual careers there are so many commitments that are difficult to get around – but! – we would like to play, and we are hoping that more people will invite us to do so. It’s defo on the cards and will happen for sure.
Jaret: What is your take on the current state of the dark music “scene”?
Matt: The good thing is that people can easily create and release music, and that is amazing in itself. The other side of that is I do think the music industry, Gothic and Darkwave / Post-punk included, that maybe there is so much music out there – is that good or bad? Only you can decide. If we were to specifically look at Gothic music, well, when I got into it, that started over 30 years ago and everything had a certain sound and a certain flavor, the ‘goth’ umbrella these days seems to have grown a little bit wider, but I’m certainly not a gatekeeper and things do change and develop. I would say that I was a fan of the whole process in the 80s where a band would be groomed and produced and the music that they put out is what we consider as the classic Gothic music of today – and frankly no one has even come close to surpassing that.
Jaret: Any final thoughts? (Impressions, opinions, funny thoughts, etc.)
Matt: I surely appreciate you reaching out for this interview and helping to keep the scene alive at Sounds and Shadows, I think this genre of music is really special and anything we can do to keep it going can only be a good thing…Black Angel will continue to do so for sure……
To know Rammstein is to, at the very least, know the megahit that is “Du hast.” Whenever I tell someone that I speak German, especially in a club setting, I get asked if I know what the song is really about, or what the singer is actually saying. It’s at this point that I usually inform them what “Mein teil” or “Bück dich” is about. But we’ll get to the latter of those later.
After the success of their debut album Herzeleid, the Berliner godfathers of NDH (that’s Neue Deutsche Härte, or new German heaviness) had to go bigger. Truth be told, the album wasn’t as massive of a seller as one might think, but the band’s live performances helped to garner attention amongst a growing industrial metal scene. Think back to 1995, when Herzeleid was released. This was one year after The Downward Spiral, Ministry’s Psalm 69 was already three years old, and Rob Zombie hadn’t quite gone solo yet. Industrial metal was very much alive and well, but it was about to go to the stratosphere in the year of our lord 1997.
What brought them to the dance? Herzeleid has plenty of the threads that we would see in the later years of Rammstein, but it is far from the theatrical, over-the-top showmanship and lyricism that we would see on Sehnsucht and beyond. It’s very much an industrial record first and foremost, though the guitar gets plenty of workout. There are even guitar solos on tracks such as “Weisses Fleisch” and “Du riechst so gut,” and the ballad “Seemann” has one of the best bass guitar melodies this side of Primus. The grandeur comes in on “Heirate mich,” with a larger concept and lyrical storytelling. We know that Rammstein gets X-rated better than most, and we need look no further than “Das alte Leid” and the aforementioned “Weisses Fleisch” for examples of good fuckin’ songs (emphasis on “fuckin’”).
Thematically speaking, the band was just getting warmed up on Herzeleid. The success of the album in their native Germany got them festivals such as Pink Pop, took them stateside for tours with Project Pitchfork and Clawfinger, and allowed the band to support The Ramones for eight shows on their 1996 “Adios Amigos” tour. David Lynch’s surreal Lost Highway also used “Rammstein” and “Heirate mich” on its industrial-heavy soundtrack. To say that the sophomore record was highly anticipated may be putting it gently, and that’s not a word that usually comes to mind when speaking of Rammstein.
In November of 1996, the band traveled to Malta and entered Temple Studio with producer Jacob Hellner to record the follow-up to Herzeleid. By the beginning of April 1997, the band had a single in “Engel,” featuring vocals from Bobo singer Christiane Hebold. Bobo’s drummer Sascha Moser previously played with Rammstein’s guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe in the funk-metal outfit Orgasm Death Gimmick, reinforcing ties from ODG’s origins in the early Nineties. Prior to release of the iconic “Du hast,” the band remixed Korn’s song “Good God,” as well as released a Fan Edition of the “Engel” single, featuring two non-album tracks in “Wilder Wein” and “Feuerräder,” the former of which was a staple of the band’s live performances. The month of the album’s release saw both Herzeleid and the “Engel” single read Gold certification, and on August 25th, 1997, Sehnsucht was unleashed upon the world to rave reviews.
The artwork for the album was done by Gottfried Helnwein, who drew inspiration from his own work on the cover of Scorpions’ Blackout some fifteen years prior. Using surgical implements from surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch, six different covers were made for the album, one for each member of the band. While many different versions of the album have made their way out, I will be focusing on the standard 11-track version for the purposes of this retrospective.
The title track wastes no time getting to the stomping rhythm and monster riffage, as if to say, “Last time we kicked this off, we had to make a statement. This time you know who we are, so let’s just get to it.” And while the last record just hinted at sex in the opening with “Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen?,” “Sehnsucht” is very clearly about blue balls and wanting to rekindle an old flame:
“Zwischen deine langen Beinen such den Schnee vom letzten Jahr, Doch es ist kein Schnee mehr da.”
“Between your long legs, I search for last year’s snow, But there’s no snow there anymore.”
Then we get to the would-be mega-single “Engel,” which I would make the case for being an industrial track with shades of metal. The guitars really only make an appearance during the post-chorus, and it’s the keys and synths that get any sort of “solo” before the final chorus. Lyrically, it’s hedonistic and anti-religion, with the baritone of Till Lindemann proudly declaring “Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein,” or “God knows I don’t want to be an angel.”
“Tier” is a song that could have easily been a thrashy, pedal to the metal banger that even starts out that way. Instead takes a mid-tempo route, and to its benefit, making for a more dance floor-friendly number. It’s one of two songs on the record that talk of incest, though the rape-revenge route that the second verse takes is at least justifiable.
“Bestrafe mich” is not a love song, it’s kinky and downright dirty in all the right ways. The bass guitar gets a rare moment to shine, with Oliver Riedel’s tight bassline driving the interludes between verse and chorus. There are readings of this song that make it about religion, a relationship between man and God (“der Herrgott nimmt, der Herrgott gibt,” or “the Lord takes, the lord gives,” a play on the old adage “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away”), and while it’s not my place to confirm this suspicion, it does hold water, holy or otherwise.
Then we get to “Du hast,” the song that launched a million German students or more. The double-meaning in the pronunciation is worth pointing out to the uninitiated; that is, as the song title is written, it means “you have,” but “hassen,” the word for “hate” is pronounced no differently, and the band even plays with this in the lesser-known English version of the song. The main riff is iconic, the drums that precede the verse serve as a warning to what comes next, and the showmanship and theatricality is classic Rammstein.
Then we get to “Bück dich.” Just as “Weisses Fleisch” was the sex song of its record, this song is, well, something else. Its neck-snapping pace and punishing riffing fit the loveless thrusting of its subject, sodomy. This song is infamous for getting the band in trouble during live shows, as Till has simulated anal with keyboardist Christian Lorenz, complete with squirting strap-on dildo and all the tender loving care that comes with that. In June 1999, this act would land the two in jail in Worcester, MA for the night due to the city’s stricter decency laws. The song was never released as a single, but it has a reputation all its own.
“Spiel mit mir” is as cinematic as it gets for the early Rammstein records. The strings plinking away between Till’s talk-sung lines and stanzas make for an uncomfortable listen, and given this is incest song number two, that tracks. Disturbing, haunting, and thematic is the name of this song’s game, and the line “Vater, Mutter, Kind” makes for a worthy crowd sing-along for live shows.
“Klavier” is to this record what “Seemann” was for Herzeleid, a power ballad about obsession turned deadly. Slow songs aren’t Rammstein’s usual modus operandi, but when they do decide to bring down the pace, they do so masterfully.
“Alter Mann” is a rarer cut, once again more of a techno / electronic song than a metal one. Dealing in old age, wisdom, and possession, this is a creepy track for sure, unfortunately lost to stronger efforts on this album. “Eifersucht” walked so that “Mein teil” from 2004’s Reise, reise could run. It deals in cannibalism, murder, and jealousy, and it’s a song that feels like it may have been left off of Herzeleid for whatever reason.
We close with “Küss mich (Fellfrosch),” and this is straightforward industrial metal. Samples, a heavy main riff, and more bassy goodness from Oli Riedel. Allegedly, this song has never made the band’s live setlist, and that’s a damn shame given its crowd-popping potential and accessible groove.
This album has stood the test of time for a couple of reasons. The taboo material the band wrote and played about, the blending of metal and industrial music, and a fresh sound not felt stateside in some time. Sehnsucht allowed Rammstein to tour with the likes of Hanzel und Gretyl, Skunk Anansie, Soulfly, and even a couple of Latin American dates opening for KISS. Stateside, the band found its way to the Family Values Tour in 1998, and “Du hast” landed the band’s first of two Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance in 1999. Rammstein also earned an ECHO Award for Most Internationally Successful German Artist, and the Live aus Berlin concert film that followed went on tour, and was released on DVD and VHS.
The band wouldn’t return to the studio to record their next album, Mutter, until May of 2000, allowing for three years of touring, airplay, and publicity out of this landmark record. Is Sehnsucht their strongest record? Maybe, though some would say that the best would be yet to come, but twenty-five years later, Sehnsuchtist doch so grausam, und wir sind dafür besser.
I have never been a huge fan of “Charts”. As month 5 of me putting this out rolls around I always pause for a moment to reflect on do I want to keep doing this and why? Each time when I look at the bands who are featured I say to myself, this matters. Everyone here is chosen by the Dj’s, Reviewers, Bands, and Superfans who are all deeply invested in Darkscene music. There is no financial motivation. No Politics. Just who has our group excited. I’m always inspired to see how the bands chosen shine a light on music that needs to be heard. As always these are singles released in the month of March 2022. Rated by your votes.
Lycia – Simpler Times
Eric Oberto – Closer Than Ever Before
Scary Black – Tragedy
Christian Death – Beautiful
Dread Risks – Machine Identity
Object X – Coasting
Fatigue – The Fall (Pierce Me)
Tenderlash – Zombie (Cranberries Cover)
Night Sins – Violet Age
Thieve 6 – Inside Out (The Heart In A Blender Song)
Lycia – Simpler Times – A triumphant return for the Arizona based trance coldwave band. This track is a perfect blend of pastel light and dark hues. Oil spreading in a rain puddle. Mike VanPortfleet‘s vocals sit deep within the mix to create a gentle specter haunting your mind. I love seeing a band I loved in my youth break new ground while keeping their soul.
ERIC OBERTO – Closer Than Ever Before – Texas composer, film maker making a bold return to music and immediately taking our chart by storm two months in a row. I love the way that Eric paints images and feelings with sound and vocal effect. This single makes wonderful use of a prowling tension that is always pushing forward but never losing it’s cold control. We had a recent interview with Eric where he shares his history and experience. Look for his music in upcoming horror movie projects.
SCARY BLACK – Tragedy – Another amazing single from one of the most underrated voices in the modern goth scene Albie Mason. I love the pounding thrum and vibrating batcave guitar. Albie has an abyssal sensuality so dripping and raw like blood drenched fangs. If you love goth music and haven’t heard Scary Black, that is the first thing you should do today.
Christian Death – Beautiful – Living Legends of the goth genre come forth from beyond the veil with a second single from the upcoming album. I was at a loss for what to expect and nothing could have prepared me for this rich blend of organic strings, dark blue guitar waves, and venom dripping vocal chants from Maitri. As a 17th album I was immediately struck by how powerful Valor and Christian Death continue to strike. The contrast on the chorus is a sky splitting gorgeous hook, inspiring beauty on black feathered wings. “I want you to look beautiful, at my funeral”. I’m actually interviewing Valor tomorrow and I can hardly contain myself.
Dread Risks – Machine Identity – Another two time winner the Doomdustrial band from Texas with a second single off of Automated Disappointment. This release comes courtesy of label Re:Mission Entertainment. It’s brutal, cruel, and furious with a chanting cadence of nearly hip hop horror. Dread Risks are doing something fresh and special the world needs to be aware of.
Object X – Coasting – So I don’t know much about the Reno NV band, so lets learn together. I love that is a father daughter project, I fully support that kind of purity. This is a dreamgaze indie float through amber waves of grain. Rachael Fuhs has a bright and captivating vocal style. I look forward to more.
Fatigue – The Fall (Pierce Me) – DJ Sawtooth of Massachusetts additional project. Loving the dark water currents and hovering trance vocals. Great synth builds and dance floor power. The final build gathers speed and energy in the perfect moment. I love when an artist understands timing composition.
Tenderlash – Zombie – North Carolina darkwave artist covering the 1994 classic from the Cranberries. Candy really put their own spin on this, a slower minimalist grind of ringing synth bells and wispy phantom fury. Another great band from Swiss Dark Nights label that I will be digger further into.
Night Sins – Violent Age – First single from the upcoming June release of Philly dark dance act Night Sins. Huge 80’s Depeche Mode vibes. I love the thumping drive of this baseline. A familiar retro vibe but a nice execution with a lot of heart. I’m a fan.
Thieve6 – Inside Out – Ken, are you the type of asshole who would include your own single on a chart you put out? If people vote for it you are godamn right I am. Amaranth + The Joy Thieves have teamed up to form Thieve 6, releasing a electropunk cover of 1998 Alt rock classic Inside out while donating all proceeds to humanitarian relief in Ukraine. It’s a great cause, the track slaps, and it answers the question once and for all “Do you like the heart in a blender song”
I will have the voting available in the Sounds and Shadows facebook group for April if you have a single you are releasing or love then stop on by and cast your vote. Keep supporting underground music.
Jean-Marc Lederman – Night music for seahorses and manatees – Legendary Belgian producer from COP International has created a new aquatic themed electronic voyage to the depths of the unknown. I don’t speak of it much but I have had a fascination with sea life that bordered on addiction. There is something about the alien danger and beauty in the unreachable ocean depths that has always captured my imagination. I love how Jean Marc has captured the constant execution of concept.
Sharks: We’re Gonna Need Bigger Slippers – Ok this song is a Jaws reference which is always a powerful nostalgic start. Where much of this album breaths with a sun filtered bright colorful contrast to Ledderman’s last few darker ideas. This song is a stalking predator of fast moving tension and deep shadowed water. A thirsty darting unease that is ever present in the sea.
Night Music for Seahorses and Manatees – The title track which encapsulates the bright alien exploration of the world within a world. An homage to both the Sealab ideals and to French electronic artist Philippe Zdar. I’m always amazed that legend though he is, Jean Marc’s humility seeks out ways to lift up others who have inspired him.
Song To The Siren (Feat: Emilegh Rohn) This team up of COP International artists Emilegh Rohn (Chiasm) and Jean Marc has turned out to be one of the most powerful and seamless collaborations of the last 3 years. Here a cover of the TimBuckely song from 1970 “Starsailor” made popular by This Mortal Coil in David Lynch“s 1997 film Lost Highway.
In 2022 many artist have managed to stay relevant through nostalgia and delivery of what has been successful for them in the past. The thing that has left me in continual awe of Jean Marc Ledderman is his ability to always explore new ground with wreckless abandon. Each new album is a fresh idea, not just for him, but for the world of music.
in 1996 Canadian terror tech artist Craig Joseph Huxtable issued a politically charged molotov cocktail upon dance clubs around North America. The influence of that sizzling motion puzzle is still felt on the modern scene today. Today Sounds and Shadows is proud to premier a remixed video for “No Cable”. The track will be released on bandcamp 4/15/22 and features additional remixes by Urceus Exit, Caustic, The Gothsicles, and Slighter. Pristine enhanced production by Chris Peterson allows the thunderous bass beat to burst into your chest. The video by Jason Chaos features a robo stegosaurus made of cars, exploding rockets, and more profanity than is recommended to play in your work cubical. An eerie and aggressive fever dream set to trance synths. Anyone who has ever had to call Charter customer service can instantly relate. I am eagerly awaiting what this team of electropunk luminaries unleashes with the unburied source material. Watch and Burn my friends.
Tomorrow April Bandcamp Day embraces us. I returned from a desperately needed weekend getaway to see Actors at Smalls. Out at a bar, seeing one of my favorite bands playing live. With my friends around me, dancing, smiling, drinking. Ok the drinking got to be a bit over the top and I got sloppy gushing to Jason after the show. I think you take my point, it felt like fun was in the world again. Feeling locked away for so long. Work, isolation, trying to finish an album, seeing so much music come sailing over my head at the speed of light. Wanting to share but not finding the spoons to write reviews. Kicking the can down the road until tomorrow. Seeing that show though, it reminded me why I started. This new album was a progressive step forward for Actors, the excitement of a new member, music into energy, into joy, into energy returned. I came home reminded I needed to stop. Stop pushing myself to write because I had so many bands to share, so many friends to send my love to, and just stop. Stop and listen to music. Write about it after. It would be done when it was done. I might not finish for Bandcamp Day. When I do finish, I will tell you about the songs I stopped to listen to, alone in the silence.
Gasoline Invertebrate – Cracked Wax Battery – Brian Gaupner (The Gothscicles, Space Couch, TigerSquak Records) holds a special place in my heart. I feel a bit of twin spirit in how he approaches music. That feeling that music is an experience better shared. The visual of a Cracked Wax Battery is such a striking image. That bleeding yellow goop pouring out of an old battery carcass. Bringing in great artistic names that are also friends of a mutual vision like: Gopal Metro , Ed Cripps, Zoog Von Rock, and MORIS BLAK. A plasma whip of electronic dance beats cracking the air with aerobic intensity. Brian takes some of the jovial madness of Gothscicles off his voice and replaces it with hissing menace. The NES throwback energy of these synth lines are a nerdcore street cred of belonging. Gasoline Invertebrate always makes you feel inside the curtain.
Fav Track: Please Rate Your Pain – This song is everything the album is striving for, distilled down into a concentrated idea. The samples which raise a gallows humor poke at society. The rippling checkered cloth of constant motion. Brian’s continuous chant against the monetized concept of pain Olympics in modern society.
silver walks – tear me down – Dan McCullough the recent New York resident has continued to blow me away with every thread he slowly unravels for this album. This latest single out 4/8/22 is a super band level support cast to bring the shimmering sand swept race through grains of time to life. Coral Scere delivers a breathy elegant leaping vocal performance. In fact this single features an all star cast.
music written and arranged by Daniel Mccullough vocals and lyrics by Coral Scere backing vocals by Tim Heireth additional noise loops – Steven Archer
all tracks mastered by Eric Oehler at submersible studios, Wisconsin artwork by Steven Archer silver walks logo by Jim Marcus
I really feel this in my bones. Dan has been taking his time to hone each song to perfection. The attention to detail and craft show. This is special.
Panic Priest – Second Seduction – So this is a 2020 release from Chicago synth crooner Jack Armondo, one of the best baritone voices in the modern darkscene with an amazing ear for melody and construction. This album released on Negative Gain was a forceful step forward for the artist. It has a cavernous echo of isolation which was so relatable and present for many in 2020. The guitar work was an ever twisting glass staircase of builds and contact. Adam Black of Midnight Mannequin Records took on the mission of bringing this powerful album into vinyl format with this re release. The expansive warmth really deserves this hand held delivery. Looks like I need to buy this record again.
Black Angel – The Black Rose – Dark rock deity Matt Vowles has released another new album, honestly I don’t know where he finds the depths and time to keep churning out this much material at a high level. Where 2021 Prince of Darkness had a very LA hard rock 90s flavor, The Black Rose goes back even further with a modern gothic slant on early devil rock like Black Sabbath. It creeps in like a dream with slow stinging drums, deep lacerating guitar riffs, and a staggering vocal melody somewhere between Ozzy and Lane Staley. Someday soon a wise label is going to snatch up Black Angel and push them to the moon.
All tracks written, recorded and produced by Matt Vowles on behalf of Solid Recordings Publishing 2022 Vocals by Corey Landis and Maneesha Jones Album cover by Eshmoon DM
Vaselyne – Here To Begin – New 2 track EP out from Amsterdam based new members of the COP International family Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig (ex Clan of Xymox). I love the forceful proclamation of a title “Here To Begin”. All sales from this EP will be donated to support The Ukrainian People in their struggle for freedom. I’m always an enormous fan of bands that step up for their beliefs. The music has a travelers sung story around a crackling fire feel. Faces wreathed in shadows with distant pounding toms and blended finger pick acoustic and slushy growling wolf guitars. It builds like a spell into a gorgeous blown glass solo. I love the warmth and organic construction. This begins an intriguing new sound for the diverse COP roster.
Latenite Automatic – Statues – So I am standing near the merch booth at the Actors show in Detroit, and Jason introduces me to this handsome young rake and says “Ken, this is Scott, you need to check out his band”. Well I am always going to take that recommendation. Thus I was led to Canada based Latenite Automatic. I was struck first by the dangerous blend of club beats and rock and roll attitude. The vocals are a dark growling vibration sitting under the surface of the mix. Breaking the water in parts to create tension and intensity. The solo of this track sets the fretboard on fire. You have my attention gentlemen, time to dig through the back catalog.
Stoneburner – Contracting Iris – I know, Ken, you are always talking about Stoneburner. Well, have you heard Stoneburner? There is a reason. A new 2 track EP based on the science fiction story by Peter Watts. I love the ambitious artistry of this concept, where music is inspired by the written word, they find each other and build a stronger broader idea. The story now has an audiobook version with Steven’s score and Donna reading. I hope Steven has pioneered another idea that catches on in the scene. The music conjures images of Lynch “Dune” with it’s post apocalyptical chaos and danger, set against a background of high leather fashion. I kept picturing Sting doing a knife dance in a pit of unworthy opponents.
Sever The Servants – Nowhere – Second single from the powerhouse team up of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen. A mechanized iron lung terror track. A shambling chant of desperation and quest for meaning. I love hearing two artist I am a fan of individually finding ways to smooth each others edges and improve the effect of both. Now on Produkt 42 a new label getting big steam in the scene.
PSY’AVIAH – Bittersweet – Massive new 42 track release from Yves Schelpe led project Psy’Aviah. This is bursting with guest talent like Claus Larssen (Leætherstrip), Mari Kattman (Helix) , Cat Hall (Dissonance), Kimberly (Bow Down Ever) and so many more. I don’t have time on bandcamp day to give the true deep dive of justice this release deserves. It is glorious higher thinking trip hop electronica with a poets soul. A robust and soulful stew of Portishead, Suzanne Vega, with modern spice and production. I’m honestly floored by the world building ground covered in this single release. It feels like 3 albums of contrasting and quality material. We should all pick this up and explore it deeper together.
The world is a bit scary right now. A lot of giant dark clouds hang over us. What is happening to the people of Ukraine is first and foremost in many minds. Art/Music has always been a means of expression for the suffering of the world. As well as a way to give hope. So as reports started coming in several bands in the darkscene released singles with proceeds going to support humanitarian efforts. I will share some of those now
Lifeline International – Come Together – So I will age myself here, but back in 1985 the famine happening through out Africa gained public attention when pretty much every popular star in music came together to preform a single called “We Are The World”. When I heard this Beatles cover electrified and amplified by Christian Petke (COP International) and Legendary producer John Fryer my heart stood on it’s edge in that same way as in 1985. This track features : members of Faith No More, Stabbing Westward, Rammstein, The Hardkiss (Ukraine), Revolting Cocks, Filter, Pigface, Agnostic Front, Basement Jaxx, Gravity Kills, The Cassandra Complex, Mesh, blackcarburning, The Joy Thieves, Deathline International, Vaselyne, and Black Needle Noise. I know that might not feel like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Kenny Rogers to the rest of the world. To Goth/Industrial fans, it’s pretty close. Massive fuzzy funk riffs, earth shaking percussion explosions, vocals that deliver distinctive sounds and seamless overlap. The opening track of Abbey Road which was supposedly written for Timothy Leary’s attempt to become Governor of California has always struck an emotional chord of counter culture rising up for change. The addition of Queen’s We Will Rock You at the end is a fitting signature to the journey. There is a VERY good reason this has remained the number one seller on Bandcamp in any genre.
A Cloud of Ravens – The Call Up – Brooklyn NY goth rockers ACOR follow up their stand out album Another Kind Of Midnight with this shadow disco flavored cover of legendary punk act The Clash. Mathew’s vocals are a crooning whisper in contrast to the original, yet never lack for intensity. A cutting electronic veil of synths and foot stomping percussion. They are donating all proceeds to International Rescue Committee. This transitioned from a 4/4 vamp banger into a elastic and textured dance floor electricity. I think Strummer would have appreciated.
Ashes Fallen – Stand Your Ground (for Ukraine) – This single from California goth rockers Ashes Fallen was featured on their album “A Fleeting Melody Out Of A Fading Dream“. This version with all proceeds to Direct Relief for their humanitarian mission in Ukraine. It features a remix by The Axiom Divide. The original is such a mist rising from concrete dark edge call to arms banger. The remix pulls back the teeth to reveal James emotional vocal performance and subtle colliding synth streams. It adds a reflection of sorrow to the aggression of the original.
Ashes Fallen is James Perry, Michelle Perry, and Jason Shaw. The Axiom Divide is Jay Tye, Brent Heinze, and Misti Laubscher.
Warm Gadget – Lost Weekend – So this is an enormous value compilation for $12 featuring 99 tracks. All proceeds go to Vostok SOS and the Ukrainian Red Cross. An ambitious undertaking in it’s scope and delivery. With contributions from more than 27 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA and others. There is too much here to go through every individual band. I will focus on this one track from Oregon based hammering hard rock synergy Warm Gadget. I always get chunky Helmet slither math vibes from them. I love the stretch and build happening here. You would be seriously hard pressed to get a better musical value to support the cause.
Thieve6 – Inside Out – Ok, this is shameless self promotion. However it is also a single with all proceeds going to Razom, a humanitarian relief charity chosen by Myah who had just lived in the Ukraine as part of Peace Corp. Those that follow Sounds and Shadows have probably heard of my fanboying for 90s Alt rocker Eve 6 and his twitter page. It has gotten to be a bit of a running bit in the Facebook group. So when Dan Milligan of Joy Thieves/The Burying Kind fame about doing a cover, Collin and I (Amaranth) went to work. We had no idea when we started what Dan would eventually bring together. I’m proud of the result, and proud to raise money for the cause it goes to. We also got to bring in the talented Whitney Flaherty to produce the inspired cover art. I’m still waiting for Max to ask me :If I like the Heart In A Blender Song“.
Ken Magerman: lead and backing vocals, clips and phrases Collin Schipper: guitars, backing vocals, wicker cabinet James Scott: bass guitar, origami Myah VanTil: backing vocals, faith in nothing Damien Faust: guitar, finalistic rendezvous Dan Milligan: drums, guitar, synths, ginger ale
Now for those of you that prefer a more direct support. I will call out some bands in our scene in the Ukraine that are suffering and could use your support.
Icy Men – Low Light – Based in Kyiv/Kiev our friends on Cold Transmission Music Lytvyn and Den Stavitskiy who we have reviewed previously do a frozen darkness coldwave that resonates in the heart. The driving bass in abandoned subways, pounding movement. Frosty breath vocals delivered with cutting logic. I fell in love with this record in 2020 and hold a good thought for the next release.
BlazerJacket – Get Out (feat. Dirty Bird 13) – Another artists from Kyiv Denis Cherryman has a new retrowave shimmering single of oil on water in the morning sun. Creating an image of serenity before the violent guitar crunch and broken glass vocals shatter the surface of the water. Without warning another change from Psalm 69 Ministry fury to hypnotic retro melody hook. I love the bold transitions, I love the message of warning. Have a thought for Denis, I look forward to his next release.
Sexual Purity – Suffer | Hope – I love the erratic percussion builds from Dnipro based Coldwave artists Sexual Purity. Anastasia has a captivating and emotionally tortured voice. It drips with animal hunger and menace. The style is very minimalist like a swirling nightmare you can’t hold in your mind. I look forward to more exploration of diverse styles in the future offerings. I was haunted and intrigued. Track 3 “In The Ocean” was a standout for me in the way the vocals took a more jagged and dangerous edge.
Music by Oleksii Donets Vocal and Lyrics by Anastasia Romanova
When the world is suffering it is often artists who put the emotions into a physical form. Here we are just scratching the surface of amazing bands that offered up their art to support the people effected by this horrible conflict. Hopefully one of these offerings inspired you to do something for those suffering. Please if you know of another artists doing a song with the proceeds going to humanitarian relief leave a link and comment below
In the past 4 years German based label Cold Transmission has been responsible for amassing and growing some of the greatest talent in the modern darkscene. Andreas and Suzy Herrmann have created a music label experience that feels like family. With a hawk’s eye for talent and a focus on growing creative expression. They have built up an amazing roster of talent around the world. Here in their second compilation to celebrate their releases you can experience some of the best and brightest for one low price. Mastered by the talented Pete Burns of Kill Shelter and featuring artwork of Yvonne Kiel this CD is a who’s who of the modern darkscene. In addition to the amazing music compiled, a portion of the proceeds is donated for humanitarian purposes in Ukraine. I wish I could review every track on this stellar offering, but I will shine a light on a few highlights.