The Next Wave of Goth Is Now

Goth music and culture has always been rooted firmly in the past. It often has felt this subculture awards time served in the scene and knowledge of the obscure history of the bands, clubs, and fashion of our progenitors. However in order for a culture to carry on it must evolve and strike a chord in future generations. This happened in the 90s, then again in the mid 2000’s as new waves of goth music found and audience. Each time adding to the story by paying homage to the generations before it. As time went on “Goth” has splintered into smaller subgenres which have pushed further from that original concept until a tangled and complex web reached towards the edges of other genres. I for one embrace how rich and diverse the concept of goth culture has become. In future articles I want to explore some of these subgenres and how they are impacting modern music. In this article I will be focusing on the return to the core. That first idea of guitar driven dark music, with throbbing basslines, ethereal keyboards, and haunted lyrics with romantic natures.

1st Wave: The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Killing Joke, Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, The Birthday Party, Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Fields of the Nephilim, The Mission.

2nd Wave: Rosetta Stone, Nosferatu, The Wake, Children On Stun, Dead Can Dance, Lycia

3rd Wave: Angels of Liberty, Merciful Nuns, Switchblade Symphony, O’Children, Ritual Howls, Pink Turns Blue, The Horrors, Sunshine Blind, Golden Apes, Black Tape For a Blue Girl, Razed In Black.

Finally a new slew of darklings is raising that torch and producing the next wave of goth rock. I think it is key that these are bands who came up listening to the post synthesis goth and found their way back to the root. It gets me excited for the future.

Sonsombre – Leading the charge in this next wave. A band now signed on goth mainstay label Cleopatra. Sonsombre brings back that electric tempo and graveyard theme with flickering guitar riffs that flow like a fencers duel. You can feel that early outlaw goth Fields of the Nephilim on their 4 amazing albums. With no sign of slowing down. If you are ready to jump into that next wave, this is a great place to start.

Brandon Pryus

https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/

The Kentucky Vampires: Hailing from shockingly, Kentucky, here is another band that brings old school sinister pipe organ and fire bright guitar riffs. From Secret Sin records the tone and emotion of their 5 records is everything true fans of 80’s death rock long for. Abbas has a haunting voice full of chorus and foreboding. Brandon of Sonsombre does mastering for them and helps add a sense of continuity to this new goth sound.

https://thekentuckyvampires.bandcamp.com/album/crimson-curse

Scary Black: Another amazing new goth act from Louisville KY. What the hell is in the water out there. This is a one person band that has such electric energy and frightening tone. Singer Albie has one of those deep baritone voices that comes from the bottom of a well and fills you up with emotion. 3 albums and the napalm fire single Starlight Dancer.

https://scaryblack.bandcamp.com/album/are-you-afraid-of-the-dark

Twin Tribes: These lovely lads from Texas have taken the world by storm. Dreamy private ritual sounds that bring the beauty and heartbeat of The Cure back into the mainstream. Tender poetry and swirling texture smoldering in a cauldron on a moonlit night. Already with two breakout albums and additional singles they are setting the standard for the softer side of gothic rock.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/album/ceremony

Black Angel: London UK artist Black Angel is putting the bat cave rock back into death rock. I feel so much of The Mission and later Sisters dancy flow to gothic rock. Their music reminds me so much of the goth club scene, swinging arms, leather and lace. Gothic music has always been tied to expression with the body, that is something Matt Vowel’s has grasp and fused into the future.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/kiss-of-death

IAMTHESHADOW: When I think of goth, I think of passion and vocals that capture a room. Lisbon Portugal’s IAMTHESHADOW does that in spades. Pedro Code has the best baritone in modern goth. It’s sexy, crooning, dangerous music that sounds like a full bodied red first touching your lips. It’s music to give yourself over and get lost in. Like the first time you heard Peter Murphy and thought this is the sound that encapsulates the image i want to see in the mirror. Now on Cold Transmission Music.

https://iamtheshadow.bandcamp.com/album/pitchblack-2

Cliff and Ivy: Alaska’s favorite goth couple Cliff and Ivy have brought back the isolated howling wolf tooth and nail of goth. The punk blend of The Damned and Alien Sex Fiend. It’s raw, fierce, and unapologetic. Ivy takes the back of your head with her beautiful prose, then smashes your nose with a headbutt of power. Cliffs thick guitar riffs are a growling beast let off the chain. Iron Gauntlet in a velvet glove.

https://cliffandivy.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-cliff-and-ivy

Crying Vessel: Slade and Basil also bringing that softer dark edge to gothic rock. Horror author Slade is integrating imagery of the macabre an sinister with a glam razamtaz feel. Gorgeous layered production and flange rich echo’s that simmer with Bowie and Love and Rockets. That special darkness you find on the edge of a rainbow after a storm. Available on Cleopatra Records.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/album/pleasures-for-the-wicked

Mary: My newest goth obsession from Toronto. It is fast paced, spicy, with an old school New York feel. Strong sweeping vocals with a lot of depth and meaning. It also has a complete album feel with the sweeping tempo and dynamic shifts. Take me through the full range of emotions in one record. Another Cold Transmission signing. I expect big things in the future from him.

https://maryofficial.bandcamp.com/album/die-before-death

Death Loves Veronica: This lovely lady from Texas brings that same Souxie dripping soul and witchcraft elegance to modern goth. It’s smoky and pours straight from the vein into your ears. Really nice use of guitar to add weight in the right moments. Goth needs to echo through the listener on a personal level. You need to feel what they feel and that is what Veronica captures so elegantly.

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-silence

Sounds Like Winter: All the way from Australia Art Banister’s popping sharp edge retro feel goth rock has a lot of that true early Joy Division/Warsaw vibe in the drum and tempo. The vocals are forceful and ringing in a hopeless monotone. All that fuzz and emptiness given flesh.

https://sounds-like-winter.bandcamp.com/album/no-interest-single

Adoration Destroyed: Also from Texas this band is leather pants sexy in musical form. Masters of blending modern pop and old school shadow shock. It’s animalistic and winding with crackling electric dance destruction. Erik has a voice that calls to you come hither and has a 10/10 on the shake that ass factor.

https://adorationdestroyed.bandcamp.com/

Orcus Nullify: The doom and shattering gothic rock sound and poetry unafraid to lean into the cheese and imagery of early goth. Thunderous bass driven rock about bog witches and grave dirt. I love the courage and delivery of this South Carolina sensation

Witchhands: Colorado doom metal with raw open wound sounds full of decay and ritual. That place where early goth rock stayed into metal and pain. Spewing forth a filth and blood soaked pageantry with blistering guitars mashed with organs and echos.

Redwing Blackbird: Another Colorado band with blistering speed and The Damned edge punk feel mixed with true goth sensibility. This album picked me up when i am feeling low…and then sends me low again. Great production and electric tempo.

https://redwingblackbird1.bandcamp.com/album/too-klaus-for-comfort

Amaranth: Ken, do you have the strength of character to not engage in shameless self promotion and include yourself with this wave of goth bands? Fuck No! I feel good about the music we have made coming back. It veers from old school to proggoth/ to industrial but fuck it, it’s good. Give it a listen 🙂

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/album/spreading-the-charred-remains-of-hope

I also wanted to call out a few bands that rose from the grave to join the modern scene but have been making music all along 🙂

Caroline Blind: The stunning voice from Sunshine Blind has returned to cut an amazing solo album. Bringing in a who’s who from third wave goth to accompany her on this soulful and rich goth endeavor with a more organic feel. Her voice grabs hold of the heart strings and rides your into the ground. Breathtaking music contributions from Rich W. (The Wake), David Wolfenden (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry), Dave (The Dramedy), Ashe Ruppe (Delphine Coma), George Earth (Switchblade Symphony), Gordon Young (Pretentious Moi, Dream Disciples, Children on Stun), CWHK (Sunshine Blind), William Faith (Bellwether Syndicate, Faith and the Muse) and Geoff Bruce (Sunshine Blind, Faith and the Muse). Everyone who shows up hear really shows the impact of this artist on the scene and how much power this newest release packs.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/album/the-spell-between

The Wake: Speaking of The Wake, they have just unleashed a new album in 2020 and it is game changing outstanding. This record is going to get it’s own review but to not mention the power of this release would be an oversight. Such a sky opening laser of guitar beams interlaced with velvet smooth vocals and a canopy of bass to hold it inside. My breath is taken.

The Cassandra Complex: Rodney Orpheus of London’s Cassandra Complex has been keeping the goth sound alive for years. A tantalizing and sinister painting of sound with the history of human experience brought shining and new with each release. Recently on bandcamp he put out some remasters of those lovely goth anthems back into the light. A true crooner of the poetic experience of early goth music who actually toured with the early progenitors.

https://thecassandracomplex.bandcamp.com/album/wetware-2019-remaster

I didn’t come close to hitting everything, and with facebook now stopping videos, lists like this on our page might be the best bet for a full playlist of new music. So If I missed something you feel meets the requirement of guitar based goth made in the last 4 years. Please add in the comments and I will try and get it included. Much love, Precious Ken.

It’s Bandcamp Day and times are dark. So I am looking for ass shaking darkness.

Today is the day when Bandcamp (The one music streaming and distribution company that seems to care an iota for musician’s) waives it’s fees and gives everything spent, to those making the music. It’s been a tough few months in particular and I am in the middle of Sotember (The month each year where I recharge and drink nothing stronger than Earl Grey tea)

Death Loves Veronica : In The Silence

Newest single from Texas darkwave sultry star Veronica Campbell. This song has a brighter more open tone than previous offerings. It really highlights the elegant purity of her voice. Also included is a beautiful synth rich remix of “In The Silence”. A cascading waterfall of cool crystal sound.

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-silence

Danny BluThe Pale Horse

I have been waiting for someone to put raw emotion and sass back into the darkpop genre. This album crackles with mid tempo dance beats to fill the back walls of the club. The lyrics are an inward journey with an 80’s Madonna soul. Beautiful modern layered vocals to create movement and build. It’s one of those sounds that flows through your earbuds and into your nervous system and flexes attitude through your body. I feel like other people can hear these songs through my movements when I listen.

Fav Tracks: Paradise City/White Knight

https://dannyblu.bandcamp.com/album/the-pale-horse

Wingtips: Tears of Pearl

Chicago retro-synth dreamboats Wingtips have done this fitting tribute to criminally underrated 90’s Aussie pop band Savage Garden. I love the interlocking vocal duet here. The frosting sweet swirl of keyboards and chimes on this song make my heart dance with delight.

https://wingtips.bandcamp.com/track/tears-of-pearls-2

DJ Version 666Dance of the Profane

Firebrand driving doom dance with a nice sprinkle of Industrial guitar and finger firework keyboard work. I really like the effective chanting vocals which hit right on the needle of what I want from a club jam. Extra bonus remix layers on some teeth and glitch for a aggro feel. Stomp your feet and scream obscenity.

https://djversion666.bandcamp.com/album/dance-of-the-profane-single-and-remix

KlackProbably

Listen to Klack or I will attack, and you don’t want that. A fresh new feel here from Matt and Eric. I really have enjoyed every evolution of this project. This has a Construction Time Again DM flavor. It has clever carefully placed samples. The beats have a real shake that ass groove. The keyboard melody lines are beautiful retro hooks. I really fell hard for these breathy cleanly delivered vocals. It’s something I hadn’t heard from them before and immediately wanted more of. The lyrics really became a strong suit here. This is an album plucked out of the timestream and dropped hard in 2020.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/probably

Broken Nails: Control the Delusion

Kim Bell and company have released this lovely shadowpop with misty daybreak darkness. It has a dreamlike quality, with a Til Tuesday retro flow. I really like the front edge of Kim’s delivery on the vocals. This really gets me excited for the future direction of the project. Now on Swiss Dark Nights

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/control-the-delusion

GoFight: Freestate

I will always buy every GoFight release. I will never regret my decision. Jim Marcus understands the blending of body gyrating dance music in the way an Indian executive chef understands the blending of spice. The layering of elements allows you to get lost in what kind of a song you are listening to. His voice is that perfect growling beauty snapping at your heart with desire and terror. Another single, another home run.

https://gofight.bandcamp.com/album/freestate

Mary: Die Before Death

I think this band from Toronto now on Cold Transmission takes the award of the day for something I had no idea I needed and now can’t live without. The scope of tempos here run from blistering car chase to lullaby shouting fuck. Gorgeous dreamy vocals that would make Robert Smith raise an eyebrow. I’m not sure where this was hiding but it just took my 2020 by storm.

https://maryofficial.bandcamp.com/album/die-before-death

I find myself yearning for sonic texture paintings. Stoneburner/Carrion/eHpH

Lately I have really been immersed in music that takes me somewhere. A picture of sound that swirls and shakes me. Something where I don’t focus on the words or melody but drown myself in the image from 1000 miles away. Trying to see it all. Here is some of what is taking me there.

Stoneburner – (Beauty Is Terror) I feel like watching this project from Steven Archer is like seeing a blacksmith always sharpening a blade with a whetstone. Each album just keeps getting cleaner and sharper. You really can see the sound itself gain more technique and mastery with every release. It builds on itself and takes new shapes. In particular the vocals on this album are both more of an instrument but also crisper and more distinct.

Beauty Is Terror – Title track slams hard out the gate. I’m hit first by the construction. The efficiency of every sound there. Nothing overpowers or takes away. Keep yourself from fucking up. The cymbal crash sounds seem to strike at just the right moment to feel like the sound is cooking but the tempo is in reality a steady medium groove. This song feels like the early moments of an origin story. Someone just coming into their power in defiance.

Are You There The Way I’m Here – This his me like a concrete brick sledge hammer. It’s so different from everything Stoneburner. It’s smooth, sleek, sexy, it’s almost like Peter Gabriel doing triphop industrial. Again I love the connected story of this record. It isn’t so much the lyrics as the natural progression of each songs sound. Two stars synchronized across the black.

London – I love when songs are places. When you hear a song and are immediately been to a place you have been. Wet old brick walkways in a dark city full of tight alleys. The doubled vocals here, one electric and buzzing. Another chanting and organic to make a glorious effect. This song is a reflection, both the puddles on the street and the way it leaves you thinking about actions.

I know I often gush about Steven’s work, but I really believe this is the best music I have ever heard him produce to date. Take my recommendation and buy it. You won’t be sorry.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

Carrion – (Testament Ov The Exiled) If Stoneburner was a hero’s journey rising then Testament ov The Exiled is the hidden horror lurking in that alley. It drones and stalks, but with the smoothness of a predator you never see. Whispering to you. Just the quick glimpses of Flashing yellow eyes in slashing distortion. It’s the atmosphere that builds the horror here. Like an old Vincent Price movie that never needed to show you the monster to scare you. This is music to test your bravery against. Light a single candle. step outside the comfort of your door, and test the strength of your courage.

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/

eHpH – (Infrared) – This is a turbulent time, you can taste it in the air. Division and fear are everywhere in the soul of America. This album takes that tension and spins it into thread. Weaving a tapestry. Heavy use of samples and thick pad sounds. Who says you can’t dance and think at the same time. This is a sound hungry for revolution. Fernando’s vocals come from behind a distorted shadow but ring clear. The fighters of freedom wear masks and carry an axe. I love challenge and FLA dance beats.

https://ehph.bandcamp.com/album/infrared

After 2 Weeks of Slumber I Awake From My Coffin To Review New Music

So this last two weeks has been hard. I’ve had some personal tragedy that has made it hard to write. The work we do is important, and great music is being made. So I will try to fight through that and give some impressions of what i am currently listening to.

Night Nail – (FTL) – American transplants in Germany Night Nail have released another shadowsynth single. This time, their first foray with Cold Transmission and producer Pete Burn (Kill Shelter). It’s delicate, dark, and Brandon’s yearning vocals add depth and emotion. The video features Justin in more saxophone in darkwave music. I want all of this I can take. I feel this spells big things to come with their creative freedom on Cold Transmission.

https://nightnail.bandcamp.com/

My Velvet Cage (A tribute to Venus in Furs) – I often expound the idea that being focused on the past doesn’t help our way forward in this scene. However paying homage to the past is important. In this case a band of the past Venus in Furs who paid homage to The Velvet Underground now having homage paid to them in this tribute is a beautiful thing. This release off Wave Noir is a spellbinding bent knee compilation of talent showing love to a band important in this scene. It includes frequent friends of the page: Paris Alexander and Erine, The Stave Church, Human, Pilgrims of Yearning, Shad Shadows, UIU, and Ash Code, offering gorgeous renditions of these post punk classics. A must have for fans of old school post Punk.

https://wave-noir.bandcamp.com/album/my-velvet-cage-a-tribute-to-venus-in-furs

The Cult Sounds: – What Gets Done At Night – New single from Saint Louis traditional goth rockers The Cult Sounds. I love the bracing chopping finger pressing guitar. “The Devil he knows what gets done in the night”. Forcefully delivered lyrics with a midwest post punk seasoning. Bennett Huntley has a clear and ringing vocal style that pulls you in the laser beam. Everything I hear from this band makes me more excited.

https://thecultsounds.bandcamp.com/track/what-gets-done-in-the-night?fbclid=IwAR2ZwnW6dZ54OQUTKMdfHMnqBp8a-Mo17PF4oCRY-Ezhorqz6eO1RDuzMeA

Crying VesselPleasures For the Wicked – The newest release from darkwave masters Crying Vessel. Newly signed to Cleopatra Records. They have a deep horror movie creeping terror style. With dark pop sensibility and an emotionally narrative journey. Slade has one of those voices that adds pizzaz and theatrics in vocal inflection that keep you engaged and comfortable to let down the defenses and follow this emotional rollercoaster where it takes you. I feel so many retro Stranger Things feels with this record.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/album/pleasures-for-the-wicked

StoneburnerSoundsystem – Another new Steven Archer release, another completely new direction. Yes here you get the percussion body quivers I have come to associate with Stoneburner. It’s a cover album that really goes around the horn of his genre influence. Tracks like Frozen Sky from cEvin Key and Ohgr with a brash rising wave. KMFDM covers like Godlike are an explosive artillery assault. Then switching gears to goth rock cowboys Fields of the Nephilum with a measured ballad. The whole record is a prayer to the music that has moved him, and a vision of the future to come.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

Hate Dept: New Ghost – Ok this isn’t technically something new. However Hate Dept and Steven Seinbold have been an important fixture of the Industrial scene for a decades. Recently he released a few of their early albums on bandcamp and holy shit. This was the intense sleazy industrial I didn’t realize my heart was yearning for. It’s broken glass and sassafras, full of dance drive and venom. If you are backfilling your collection with the past, I highly recommend. Also if you don’t have his solo project synth Stand Alone, you need to grab that as well. This was a golden ago and done at the top of the curve.

https://hatedept.bandcamp.com/

Vazum (Vampyre Villa) – The newest record from our friends in Detroit Vazum. I feel like this band is on the cusp of 90s retro. Everyone is currently on 80’s homage and they are leaning into grundge/Shoegaze. It’s a fresh and familiar addition with a very dark tone. I think this album could be a real breakout for them. In particular the goth anthem “Schema” is a true emotional show stopper.

https://vazum.bandcamp.com/

Steven Archer Rants: Writers Block

One of our most popular segments the thoughts and musings of Artist, Writer, Musician Steven Archer (Stoneburner/Ego Likeness). This time discussing writers block. A topic that has surely plagued me the last two weeks.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

The Creative Block

This is for those of you who identify as artists. You know who you are.

Maybe you do it as a hobby, maybe full time. But that is how you see yourself.

“But Steven I don’t see myself as that.”

Then don’t fuckin worry about it. You’re either saying that because you really mean it, and that’s totally fine. Or you’re saying that as a way of staying safe, so that if someone calls you on something that you make you can say “well I’m not really an artist.” In which case, you are correct. You’re a student, (totally fine, we are all students) someone who just doodles for fun (also fine if you enjoy it) or a coward (much less fine, commit to the bit, let yourself get hurt.)

The medium you work in, or the tools you use are irrelevant. They do not define your job. They might from a marketing standpoint, but not internally, inside you’re just one of the tribe.

The physical act of making the thing, it’s a just a small part of your real actual job which is… ideas.

Playing ,”what if,” or “make believe,” or whatever you want to call it.

“But Steven I do photorealistic illustrations.”

Good for you, it’s still the same thing, because you are drawn to specific things to do those illustrations of. What you put out into the world is still influenced by you and your aesthetics if not ideas.

Why am I talking about this?

Because some of you are running around saying “I have a creative block! I can’t come up with new ideas!”

Shut up.

Of course you can.

You already have.

You have tons of ideas, and if you don’t, then you may want to reevaluate how you see yourself.

Because, again, it’s your job.

Here’s the situation.

It’s not that you don’t have ideas.

It’s that you are scared to implement them because you are worried you will get laughed at by…. someone?! Who, dunno.
But for some reason you just don’t see yourself as the type of person who does ,”X.”

Too bad.

The world needs more ,”X.”

And if you are reeeeeeally really stuck, and just can’t produce something you’ve already done, the problem isn’t the ideas, it’s you.

Garbage in, garbage out.

If you keep rehashing the same shit, it’s because you aren’t feeding your brain new information. Pick up a book. Pick up ten, twenty, five hundred, live other people’s lives, write their songs, paint there stories, look through their eyes.

You need to be fascinated by things.

And the more things that you are fascinated by, the wider the range of ideas you have to draw from.

Otherwise you’re not making art.

You’re performing a trick.

It may be a good trick, but if it’s the only one you know, then that’s all it is.

It’s a craft.

A series of actions that anyone can do that will eventually yield a similar result.

Like basket weaving.

Which is, again, totally fine.

If you want to weave baskets, fuckin do it.
But don’t run around expecting applause.

Because in the end, art is as much about the person that the work is filtered through as it is about the work itself. And the wider the width and breadth of your interests and knowledge the larger the vocabulary you will have available to express your ideas about a wider range of subjects.

“But steven, all I do is paint the same thing over and over with vaguely different permutations.”

That’s not art.

Even if people put it up on their walls.

Now, the fact that you have convinced people that your trick is worth spending money on and putting on their walls… that could very well be art. In which case, well fuckin done.

*Yes yes, baskets can be art.

Look, I get it, you vaguely feel attacked, so you want to try to pedantically find little shit to bitch about, because if you can tear down one aspect then hopefully the rest will fall down and you don’t have to take it seriously and you can keep just farting around and blaming other shit for your shortcomings. But that is just Soooooo fuckin tedious. If you used the time and effort you put into your defense mechanisms to pop a few humility pills and just got to work, we wouldn’t even be having this hypothetical conversation.

Really. Try it.

Or keep making excuses while knowing down in your secret heart that you’re just a coward.