Review of Sonsombre: One Thousand Graves

Band: Sonsombre

Label: Cleopatra Records

Home: Northern Virginia

2019 brought the release of one of the most exciting things to happen to the goth genre in the last decade. Sonsombre‘s “The Veils of Ending” was the album I had been waiting for. Goth music has always drawn it’s mystique from history. The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, The Chameleon’s created a darker romantic form of rock music that explored the macabre which seemed hard to find again. After those gothfathers everyone wanted to reinvent goth music into something else. It got further and further from it’s form. I feel like the time has finally come for Sonsombre to bring things back to the roots. It leans in and captures that cemetery vine hanging from a forgotten temple aesthetic. With “One Thousand Graves” they have pushed through further beyond that veil into something dark and beautiful to challenge the senses and unlock the dark recesses of our hearts.

Brandon is Goth as Fuck, you can tell because he has the widest hat brim since Andrew Eldrich

This album really shows a band finding themselves. I feel like the success of TVOE really gave a confidence to embrace more of what they are. The guitars are a giant black furred wolf growling with hair standing on end. The bass is a thundering storm bellowing out a foreboding prophesy of an uncertain future. The keyboard is rushing wind stirring the leaves on a damp autumn morning. Brandon’s voice is a dangerous and sinister whisper full of echo’s making a spectral challenge. These lyrics are a forgotten poetry of Byron and Poe singing to that darkest part of our nature. I know this review is starting to get pretty metaphorical but poetry demands poetry and Sonsombre makes me want to embrace the dark poet in my own heart.


Top Tracks: Fuck me how to choose. Ok lets try

Slumber: I love the tolling bells opening this song. An ominous ringing to play herald to Brandon’s anguished cry. Stinging buzzing guitar. A true power balled for the ages that reminds me of Sisters of Mercy 1959.

Lights out: This anthem of dark power and midtempo drive keeps you on the edge of your own mind. “With the Lights out we can share the sorrow, we can live like no tomorrow”. I think this promise of hope in the face of so much darkness in Sonsombre’s songs is what really captures me every time. Gentle pin prick fender jazz tube amp walking guitar. Like vampires stalking in a New Orleans graveyard hunting for my eardrums and sinking in their teeth.

No Warning : One of the things I have come to associate with Sonsombre is the sheer breakneck speed while the low end owns the tone of the music. It burns with a violet fire. This song makes your heart race towards your own demise. The bassline is enormousness and always driving. Dance Club jam!

The future is dark again, the past is reborn in fire, and I am a believer in what Sonsombre means for the future of goth rock music. Buy this album and become a believer that goth is real and alive in 2020.

Fuck that guy by Steven Archer

Metropolis Records re-release of the first Ego Likeness full length from 2001 ‘Dragonfly’”.

Yo, people who are just starting down this “electronic music path.”

You’re gonna play your shit for people and they will nitpick bullshit production stuff. Like…”oh, well your snare sucks or if you cut X frequency on this fuckin thing than I will like it more until I figure out another thing to take personally and bitch about.”

Don’t fuckin worry about that shit.

Learn to write songs that matter to you.
That’s the only important thing.

Because if they matter to you, you will be satisfied and keep going.

I’m not saying they have to make you happy. There are always going to be things you want to make better. But if they don’t resonate with you, they sure as shit won’t resonate with an audience.

And your audience is there.

It may not be huge. Who the fuck knows?
But it is there.
I mean, shit, 311 still has a fan base, right?

Don’t worry if your gear isn’t the best. Hell, we wrote our demos on a four track, our first full length was run through a 16 channel boss mixer to a stereo pair and recorded over. It wasn’t until our second record that we were able to sync our gear with our computer.

Our computer was one of the original pentium one laptops. I used a sound blaster usb Soundcard with $60 hacked drivers that I got from some dude in Germany, that allowed me to get my latency down to a reasonable size.

We recorded vocals in our kitchen and most of the strings were from a Casio keyboard with speakers in it.

By contrast now, I have a shit ton of gear and still write almost everything on my laptop.

Point being that these days you are far more likely to have someone come at you about some sort of bullshit production thing than you are about song writing.

But here’s the kicker.
That demo? And that first record?
They are still in print (along with the rest of our catalog) from our record label Metropolis records. And I don’t mean still as in they have always been. I mean still as they were rereleased as special sets.

Meaning they think they can make money on them. Because they will sell, because we have an audience, because we wrote good songs.

Am I a better songwriter now?
But I learned to be one because of all of the material I wrote back then. And even now when I go back to, it still functions. It sounds the way it was supposed to sound.

So, just remember the following three words when that comes up ,”fuck that guy.”

Say it with me ,”fuck that guy.”

No, I’m not saying ignore a legit critique and advice. But seriously, fuck that guy on the industrial darkwave bullshit wave forum that’s bitching about your frequencies.

Steven Archer is a Stoneburner, one half of Ego Likeness, a visual artist, and has several published works. For more information try:

Exciting new releases to cling to as the world slides into oblivion.

Here I sit again with a tequila in hand sifting through all the glorious new sounds that crossed my electronic desk in the past few weeks. Already 2020 has promised to be an adventure of new music.

Sonsombre – “Lights Out” The hottest band in traditional goth revival have done it again. Fresh off their groundbreaking album “The Veils of Ending” Brandon Pybus and company have released a new single with that beautiful breakneck paced goth glory building anticipation for a new album. I love the staccato guitar pinpricks and Brandon’s deep rich croon. A promise of a world emerged in darkness waiting for you to join in this reborn culture outside the sun. This track makes me so hopeful for the future of goth music.

Caroline Blind (Sunshine Blind) – “Heaven” – The third single from goth/Industrial royalty Caroline Blind. Continuing on with this acoustic shadow witch Stevie Nicks vibe of her recent releases. Caroline’s voice is a beautiful gift full of emotion and nostalgic blanket wrapping warmth. Ritch W of (The Wake) provides these driving rhythmic acoustic harp strike guitars to propel Caroline’s angelic vocals. While the winding dream of David Wolfenden (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry) electric leads wrap like tendrils on your sleeping mind. I keep being more and more impressed with each new single.

Dilk – “Hardship” – Sassy new release from our friends at Cold Transmission. Spanish based DILK has a breakneck electronic drum beat that put me in mind of Devo or Sigue Sigue Sputnik but with this rich darkwave edge to the vocals that held a melodic beauty keeping these sizzling dance beats in check. Something fresh and glorious to spice up your Saturday darkness.

Helvete Inc. – “Filth” I loved this fierce mouth punch industrial tire fire from Baltimore. It has a definite NIN Broken feel with dangerous themes, slashing electronic noise attacks, and sinister counter culture poetry. I listened to this before going into work to dwell on my own hypocrisy. It’s sexy, filthy, and unapologetic with songs like “Goddess Heathen Fuck Machine”

Klack – “Move Any Mountain” Industrial dance gurus Klack doing The Shamen’s hit which is the most remixed song of all time. This scintillating dance drone with Eric and Matt chanting away to the cascading waves of retro synth glory. Yes please, every time.

Dread Risks – “Errorcode” (Remix by Adoration Destroyed) I speak from experience when I say Erik and Ritch of Adoration Destroyed do the best remixes. This track is sinister, sultry, and full of snap beat attacks. The vocals are a whisper growl of agony full of broken glass and torture while the keyboards flow in lovely melody. Dance floor this now.

Electronic Substance Abuse Feat: Caitlyn of Corlyx – “You are safe here” This is a fearsome dance jam with vocals from the lovely and talented Caitlyn Stokes. It’s a floor destroying audio assault full of velvet and exploding sparkles. Turn it to 11 and stomp your feet.

Review pf Glass Apple Bonzai : The All​-​Nite Starlite Electronic Café

Band: Glass Apple Bonzai

Album: The All-Nite Starlite Electronic Cafe’

Label: Artoffact Records

So my first introduction to Glass Apple Bonzai was through this collaboration and I immediately fell in love. This song is beautiful, deep, and textured in a way that pays respect to the past. Yet was fresh and original. I had to apologize to Daniel. This album came out in 2019 and somehow just slipped through my fingers. So I started listening tonight and Holy shit, this is up there with the best Synthwave albums I heard in 2019. It’s passionate, it’s powerful, it’s crafted by a master of Synthesizer architecture. The idea of Synthwave music is such a carefully formulated construction of building blocks in perfect precision that even to a rookie it is so easy to hear when something is out of place. On this record nothing is ever out of place even for a moment. Daniel is an artist who uses every sound, every effect, every word to razor wire effect.

Sometimes in 2020 it is easy to get caught up in the fact that artists are creating music on the shoulders of artists 20-30 ect years gone. That we have this pressure to re-invent the wheel and say that we are doing something fresh that isn’t effected by the things we loved in the 80’s that came before us. I think one of the most entrancing aspects of this record is the unapologetic way it embraces it’s homage to the past while finding it’s own voice. The concepts, sounds, even vocal patterns pull heavily from 80’s pop music. Yet the concepts here are fresh. The vocals and lyrics are heartfelt. The technology allows for new possibilities. It’s like Daniel traveled to the past, had modern tech not available to musicians then, then wrote about life in 2019 within that framework. It’s not easy to pull this off and Daniel is a craft person who pulled together a difficult idea.

Favorite Tracks:

Radio: Gorgeous synth magnificence straight out of a John Hughes movie. It’s expansive, it’s beautiful, and it burrows into your head with lovely pop hooks. I can’t never get enough of this track.

Stormy Weather: I love the sensitive power of this track. It has a wonderful lyrical poetry. It builds and uses harmony like a synth itself. This was 80’s Duran Duran at it’s best and yet a song I never heard and wanted to.

The Fire (Of Giant Red Stars) – I love the change up here. The beats are off kilter and the background takes a dark tone in spite of the bright music. This song has wonderful layers. Reminds me of Pet Shop Boys in the hurtful intensity of the lyrics against the bright synths and dance beat.

Overall I can’t believe I never dived into this album in 2019. It should have been on my top 2019 list but I am making up for lost time. Find this record and play it often.

Unsigned Underground things you need to hear

So I am locked in my bedroom on kitten nurse duty. Bottle of whiskey and cup of tea. Obviously 2020 has been a tough year to find time to write with the my kitties surgery. So lets fire through all the new stuff I am listening to right now and get a few thoughts 🙂

Band: Redwing Blackbird

Written by : Paul Baker

Lets start out with Colorado band Redwing Blackbird and their album “Too Klaus For Comfort”. So I’m not sure what is happening in Colorado but everything I hear from that state is blowing me away. Paul Baker has put together this self aware album full of camp, and spiraling darkness. Almost a batcave goth meets 90’s britpop. The guitars are thick and lofi in the best possible way. The vocals and lyrics are diverse in scope and never settle into a rut. It has a lot of progish complexity to the song writing with a lot of piss and vinegar to keep it real. I think the biggest compliment I can give this record is I can’t quite seem to put my finger on it no matter how many times i listen. Everytime I think the words to describe it are on my tongue it turns into a thousand spiders and slips through my fingers. It’s not clean or overproduced but in this case that works to advantage not defeat.

Favorite Tracks: The Spectacular Death of Margaret Fuller ; Too Klaus for Comfort; Devils Horns.

Band: Bring Her

Hometown: Pittsburgh

Next up is an album I should have already written about by now but have been in love with a while Pittsburgh’s Bring Her. Self titled album is out on digital and LP. The record has a very dark-electro disco feel. Nadine J has this lovely waterfall chant voice. It cuts through the synth waves like a knife and strikes and parries like a fencer. Puts me in mind of Kim Gordan from Sonic Youth. They really succeed in finding the place between obscure pretension and ear catching dance beats. I think it is a record that adds to every party and takes nothing away. It knows just how to fit in it’s own pocket. I love this is another self release underground gem.

Favorite Tracks : Curses Not Promises; Choose Me Move Me; Unholy Awake

Band: Shadows Beloved

Album: The Quiet Machines

Hometown: Maine

Next up is The Quiet Machines from Maine. This one is personal, a dear friend Adrian Auchrome who I learned of as a Dj but was blown away by their original offerings. I love when a vocalist really finds their own path among the standard definition of what is suppose to be goth/industrial. Adrian has this wonderful over the top cabaret feel to the sinister dance vibe and old school goth. Their slushy meandering phrasing lines really carry you through ideas with a lot of emotion and grab hold of your heart strings like a horses reins. This was another 2018 release which I am just writing about now but I have had the chance to hear some of the new releases and they are a amazing progression from this already great concept. I love an artist that leaves everything on the floor and crawls towards you with reckless abandon and that is what Adrian has achieved.

Favorite Tracks: Chemistry (All I need); The Quiet Machines; The Formula

Band: Cliff and Ivy

Album: The Best of Cliff and Ivy

Cliff and Ivy from Alaska have been such an essential part of the Goth scene this decade. We have review two of their albums and come to appreciate the way they lift everyone in the scene around them. This latest offering is a compilation of their albums in one steam lined offering of horror punk, goth, poetic glory. I really can’t think of an example of anyone who keeps in as real. They are authentic, brash, fierce, and always 100% in sync. This album really touches on all of their diverse styles and emotional intensity. Ivy is a poet of abstract imagery with her lyrics. This is a great way to experience all of their many masks and hardcore glory.

Favorite tracks: Superclass; Fossil Fuel; In Your Hands

Band: JH-X9

Album: Crime of Science

Hometown: Detroit (represent)

Well this is awkward. My friend Victor Montes from Arizona sent me the EP from JH-X9 called “Crime of Science” and they are from my home state MI. This is some first rate dark digital snake slither darkwave. I love the confident spoken word chant vocals and static progression keyboards. Lots of sinister trip hop flow here. Only two songs on the EP but this is full of potential and all over my radar now.

Favorite Track : Crime of Science

In 2020 the music game is changing. We are lucky to have many great labels embracing and supporting bands. Lots of bands choose to go their own way and often it is these that push the boundaries and find new ground. Give a spin to these records and discover some today.