Greetings my friends, it is once again time for the S & S Darkscene singles chart. The top 10 singles in February 2023 chosen by our group of Artists, Djs, Producers, Promotors, and Super Fans. We receive no compensation and every month I am astounded to find an incredible new bands I was not aware of. I welcome you all to do the same and dive in for the best new Goth, Industrial, New wave, Post Punk, Darkwave, Witchaus, or any other genre we decide suits our fancy. If you have a single in March or know someone who does, join the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group and add them to the poll.
AL1CE – The Lucky Dead Theme Song
IAMWARFACE – Say My Name
Sawtooth (feat. Sapphira Vee) – Walk Into The Ocean
Matt Hart (feat. Daniel Graves) – To The Core
Microwaved (Featuring Gaby Gustafson of Eva X) – Propaganda
Bellhead – I Would Die 4 U (Prince Cover)
A Cloud Of Ravens – Requiem for the Sun
Self Titled Album – The Unicorn Tornado Of Hurt
The Picassos – Under The Floorboards (With You)
Carrion – THERE IS ONLY HELL
The Bellwether Syndicate – We All Rise –
AL1CE – The Dead Lucky Theme Song – (Los Angelos CA) Animated raindrop synthwave track with an explosive bassline and jet engine guitar roar. I love the multi media connection to a comic called The Lucky Dead by Melissa Flores. Tash’s vocals are elegant and abstract weaving an image over the rhythm sections drive. Every new track I hear impresses me more.
IAMWARFACE – SAY MY NAME – (Brighton UK) – This one surprised me from the first beat. A blistering prog pulsed synth slammer that teetered between live and electric drums. The vocals are outstanding with a real Brett Anderson energy and sass against the hard rock thunder. Writing this down on paper this should not be my cup of tea, with every choice and change I kept finding myself won over. The quality and complexity on display here are undeniable.
Sawtooth – Walk Into The Ocean (feat. Sapphira Vee) – (Lowell, Massachusetts) – I love everything about this team up. Two amazing people that impress me every time working together. This beat slithers like an anaconda slithering along a slutty muted trumpet. Knowing both these artists, the way both voices shine is my favorite thing about this heavy air banger.
MATT HART – TO THE CORE (AESTHETIC PERFECTION REMIX) – (London UK) – Industrial Pop tender destruction remixed by the master of the genre. Glitchy and cruel with crystal clarity. This is not Matt hart’s first trip to our singles chart, it most certainly won’t be his last. The rising strikes like visible heat rising from the pavement. The bassline is a diamond tipped drill seeking out minerals below the curst.
Microwaved – Propaganda (Featuring Gaby Gustafson of Eva X) – (Des Moines, Iowa) – Gabe Wilkinson teaming up with Gaby is a beautiful synthesis of deadly EDM beats and a gatling gun cadence from the breathy vocals. Music to hunt the wastelands to.
BELLHEAD – I Would Die 4 U – (Chicago IL) – My favorite Chicago double bass duo with a Prince cover that is weird, disturbing, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work. Ivan Russia summons some Steven Malkmus vocal delivery that leaves such a dissonate aftertaste to the familiar melody. I don’t know what I was expecting, it wasn’t this, it somehow hit for me on every level.
A Cloud of Ravens – Requiem for the Sun – (Brooklyn, New York) – what a bright future the Brooklyn post punk standouts have. Leaving for tour and every new single that comes out on this record is a bonfire banger. This bassline is Peter Hook worthy crude oil pipe. Matt’s vocals show range and creativity. People really need to get on board with this band. Don’t be the last.
Self Titled Album – Unicorn Tornado of Hurt – (Price, Utah) – Ok number 1, I didn’t think Utah had sweet bands. number 2, The title of this song is epic. That is before I even hit play. This track is a fuzzy level of bass I have not heard since Monster Magnet. Filthy and psychedelic with a retro 90’s engine.
thePicassos – Under the Floorboards (With You) – (Detroit MI) – One of my favorite haunting indie shadow sonic flavors from Detroit. Organic, emotive, and original driving into a concealed truth without fear. Charle’s vocals and haunting and original. Every time I hear this band I wonder where they have been all my life.
Carrion – THERE IS ONLY HELL – (Kingdom of Norway) – Our moderator and reviewer Hide has been locked away drinking torture juice pressurizing emotion for a new string of synth driven terror abstraction. Vocally flinging broken glass at our jugular at random precision. It’s always new, always distinct.
For this month I am going to add a special mention. The Bellwether Syndicate had a new single release that didn’t come out until 2/24/23 but it is such an absolute BANGER it felt wrong not to mention. The tone of this guitar is like walking in your door after an especially long day of work. William Faith’s voice is distinctive and raw. These drums slash us in reckless assault. A modern day classic.
Two things I love dearly are goth compilations and Florida based review/interview page Obscura Undead. Azy and friends have been such amazing supporters of the scene. They are a huge inspiration for me, and this is the fourth volume of awesome new Darkscene music. I’m so angry at my laziness that I didn’t submit an Amaranth song to be added. Compilations like this are so important to helping fans cut through the tidal wave of new music and find things that inspire. So I am going to take this journey that Obscura Undead laid out and find some great new bands I love.
Obscura Undead is a collective of goth creators passionate about new and obscure goth, darkwave, post-punk, and other dark alternative music. Created by Tampa, FL DJs Maus and Azy and backed by passionate fans turned writers from all over the world.
Draining Kiss – Draining Kiss – Gainesville, Florida artist with a lovely ambient EDM shadowsynth blended with Projekt Records romantism. The five song E.P. was released Oct 2022. The music has a vibrating 90’s techno feel with wonderfully layered vocals of ringing clarity. This appears to be the debut EP, but it gets me excited for things to come.
Chrysanthemum Ballroom – Mirrorball Explodes – Fortunate that the Chapel Hill, North Carolina band had just reached out for review which I can do now. So this track has a lovely ringing organic death rock feel. The vocals stood out in a unique and captivating Brian Eno way. I just don’t hear enough of this cadence and inflection in the modern darkscene. The guitar and basslines twirled and overlapped with cascading echos. I was an instant fan.
Element 104 – Blue In Heaven – Miami Florida fury tempo synthwave artist with wispy climbing Cocteau Twins ethereal vocals. Blending boot stomping dancetensity with effortless grace. Djs take note, this needs to spin in your clubs.
hororhaus – bloodlust (feat. Tokyo Teens) [Jimmi B. vocal version] – Woodstock, New York artist and frequent S & S contributor Scott Harris with this thrumming heart hammer dance beat. A runaway ghost train on a laser track. One of those tracks that packs a dancefloor.
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall – Multi country collaboration with Aussie Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter) , Bruce Nullify (Orcus Nullify) , and Colin Gallagher (Burnt Souls AU) form up for this spiraling darkwave single. Thick resonant vocals with great Mark Burgess flavor and 80s Killing Joke frantic turns. This crew never disappoints.
Cyborg Amok – Black Well House (A Ghost Story) – New Jersey father son duo with this bleak and beautiful building ballad. I love the power of the drums while maintaining this slow droning tempo. Understated and haunted vocals, the chorus harmony in particular create an emotive blend. An edgier Psychedelic Furs feel that lives up to the name ghost story.
Flores de Tchernobyl – Black Plague – Lots to be excited about here. There is always something when you get a new compilation where you stop and say holy crap how have I never heard this. Plus they are from Mexico and I am always looking to shout from the rooftops that people need to pay attention to Mexican Darkscene music. Also I LOVE the cover art. So this track is electronic brush rolling across the desert. Powerful sultry vocals and a nice cold minimal build. The voice rings with such power and creates bold contrast to the beats behind them. This was an instant buy for me.
Uncanny Chamber – Escaping The VoidFeat: Pedro Code – From Portugal another band I didn’t previously know, one thing I know very well is that Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) makes everything he is involved in amazing. This track is of course no exception. Ethereal still water expanding in every direction while Pedro poles this boat through the darkness. I now have another darkscene band in Portugal to be excited about.
Byronic Sex & Exile – Taking it back to where it all begin in Leeds, I’m not sure how I first found this band but I was blown away. Delicate and engaging like a lace cuff with a hint of mystery. The piano line for this track is captivating and the baritone croon is a magnificent contrast. I dare you not to fall in love with this band.
I feel like I could be here all day writing about every band on these compilations. Azy and crews taste is always first rate so everything here is worth trying. I hope you take the journey and support the wonderful community at Ubscura Undead.
This past weekend I traveled back to my roots. To a goth industrial festival in downtown Detroit. My first in many years. I grew up going to the legendary City Club, travel regularly to see bands at Smalls. I still have a nostalgic tie to East Michigan. I learned about the Skull Fest late, yet quickly was got excited at the idea of an ambitious goth industrial festival in Detroit. I quickly reached out to offer support anyway I could. I was welcomed with open arms both as a pretend music journalist and getting to play with my band Amaranth. Those of you that follow our blog and podcast know that I have a dreamer’s optimism about our scene. In B.P. LeGault I felt the kinship of a mutual dreamer dedicated to bringing together our community while creating an inclusive environment. Four days, major acts, vendors for art, fashion shows, giving a chance to goth adjacent new sounds sometimes over at festivals. He also did something I feel is important to a festival’s success, he included and promoted local talent. Detroit artists were a prominent part of the stacked lineup. I was also impressed by outside the box thinking. Day four, Sunday was an all-ages show. Taking a chance to help encourage both young fans, and parents who love the scene but have a hard time attending a music festival which often start around 9pm and go until 2-3am. This allowed them to take part and share an experience they love with their kids. This also was wonderful for goths who don’t drink and feel uncomfortable. I got the chance to attend on Friday and Sat, then play on Sunday with our amazing photographer Whitney Flaherty. So please follow along for the highlights of a truly uplifting experience for the goth scene.
So I didn’t get to attend Thursday, but I wanted to share what was there 🙂
-Noir Leather Stage- CYANOTIC, Chicago Second Salem, Detroit Eprom Colony, Detroit Triangulations, Tri Cities Access to Concrete, Ypsilanti EnD, Ypsilanti Opening Ceremony House Deejay: Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti
-Russell Industrial Stage- Darks Choir, Ination, Toledo Havok, Ination, Toledo Audioflesh, Ination, Toledo Misanthropia Narcissus, Detroit Gates Of Janus, Novi
Friday 11-18-22 *Fetish Night 6pm-Midnight 18+
-Noir Leather Stage- HIDE, Chicago Noelle Solringen, Detroit Crune, Detroit Noir Leather Fashion Show B.P. LeGault, Detroit Vazum, Detroit House Deejay: Raedy Lex
-Russell Industrial Stage- EXT EST, Detroit Justin Carver, Something Cold, Hamtramck Marc Church, Detroit Engine, Detroit Udenjoe, Detroit
Walking in the door I was greeted by the liquid translucent shadowgaze sounds of our friends Vazum local to Detroit. Zach and Emily bring an organic and emotional DIY style that always stands out. It feels like the prevailing wind in goth is to emulate the 80s synth or early Batcave sound. Vazum shows their influence more in slushy guitar-based shoegaze with dark themes and balanced communicative vocals. They have a new EP out called “The Precious Ones” with a punk rock tempo and thundering drumbeats. Vazum is a staple of the new Detroit goth scene. The live show feels so thunderous and organic. If you are 3 feet away from the stage or 100 feet, a Vazum show always feels intimate.
BP. LeGault who made this all possible did the next set. I was enjoying bopping around the dance floor when 50 absurdly hot people walked past in a large block. I remember thinking to myself something must be happening because that was too much attractiveness in one place. It of course marked the beginning of the visual extravaganza of Noir Leathers Fashion Show. If you grew up in the Detroit suburbs like me the Royal Oak store was a big part of your counterculture life. It was the main place to get alternative clothes and learn what was happening in the scene. This was an impressive spectacle, but also called attention that unlike other festivals I have attended the people of Detroit on average were all rocking a full-blown look. A commitment to the aesthetic I just don’t see all the time.
Crune – Next up was Detroit’s own CRUNE. I knew nothing about this band going in other than an introduction from amazing Dj Noelle Solringen. Without previous knowledge coming into this performance, I was absolutely floored. This band was my favorite surprise of the weekend. I couldn’t stop talking about it to anyone who would listen. “Sassy Yee Haw Goth with a Theremin” was something I had no idea I needed. I did. A searing energy captivating performance with engaging lyrics and a vocal delivery that made the hairs on my arms stand up. Do you know when you see “IT” even if you can’t put your finger on what that is? You know when you see it. Picture being a music reviewer that listens to 200 bands a month, then you feel “IT” happen. That was CRUNE for me. As gods are my witness I have made it my mission to make the scene aware how blistering talented this project is.
HIDE – After a Dj set from Noelle Solringen Chicago based electronica band HIDE took the stage. I have heard the legend of the intensity from their stage show. I have listened and loved their albums. Nothing I heard prepared me for the jagged glass introspective emotion which fell on me like a firestorm. If you have never seen HIDE play live, I don’t know how to describe the experience to you. I know others tried to describe it to me, and now I understand what an impossible task was being ask. It is not a simple thing to witness. It is the full intensity of overpowering conflicting emotions dragging you back and forth at maximum velocity while you question every truth you have been fed. Does that sound over the top? Well trust me, unless you have seen it and you know, you don’t know.
-Noir Leather Stage- COMFORT CURE, Detroit Textbeak, Cleopatra Records, Cleveland/Detroit Spike Hellis, Los Angeles Veganinblack, Chicago SOROS, Grand Rapids/Detroit Wraith & Remnant, Defiled, Ypsilanti Schedule IV, Detroit House Deejay: Niko Fierro
-Russell Industrial Stage- Absynthe Of Faith, Minneapolis Satanic Hispanic, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Plvgues, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Sain’t, Blvsphemy Records, Chicago Doc Colony, Detroit
So Saturday I knew my way around the festival site and was excited to take everything in. I knew I had to play on Sunday so I took at easy on the Maker’s Mark to be fresh for our performance. Saturday’s line up featured mostly bands I had not seen live yet. Once again, the surroundings were inclusive, friendly, and focused on highlighting new exciting dark music. I loved the shadow market of vendors featuring everything from bondage gear, art pieces, and magic. Noir Leather once again had a shop set up. A wonderful space set up to plunge in and out of performance engagement and leisurely stroll through darkscene art.
Schedule IV – Starting off with one of the most underrated talents in the Detroit scene. Powerful emotive lyrics and delivery by Steph Strange and precision post punk music that flows with the energy generation of a V8 engine. This was a new lineup from the last time I saw them play. When post punk music is done with this level of fine-tuned twists and turns it takes the listener on a journey. Schedule IV always brings that ferocious driving energy and it really set the tone for night 3 of the festival.
This festival featured two stages, one primary where full bands played. Then another for Djs and individual electronica artists. The set up again reminded me of old school raves. On Saturday this second stage was dominated by Blvsphemy Records from Chicago. Primarily known as a Chicago VVitchaus label with the added twist both sonically and aesthetically of Black Metal. As someone new to the Witch house scene it was amazing to see a “Goth/Industrial” festival embrace this subgenre and give it a place to bring in new fans. Seeing people catch word of the crackling energy and ritualistic thrum, packing the room with wide eyes and flailing limbs showed me that this is a part of the future of our scene.
Satanic Hispanic – Furious slow grinding back beats of house and triphop, with terrifying expulsion of anti religious emotional outbursts. The imagery and sonic assault projected a punk DIY ideal into a chaos magic lens. This set made me a believer in how this music fits into the future of the scene.
Plvgues – The final set from Blvsphemy was the Plvgues, which took the concept of everything the label had exposed me to, then turned it to 11. The massive presence of this hooded giant had an undeniable magnetism. His voice flowed beneath the sliding evasive beats to surface with shattered glass fury when you least expected it. Keep a close eye on this artist. They have star power.
Spike Hellis – Next up on the main stage is a LA based electronic explosion Spike Hellis. I have seen them before at Cold Waves, but never before in this intimate underground setting. In 2022 Atari Teenage Riot got involved in some NFT Crypto madness that tainted my image of furious electronic anarchy. Spike Hellis brought that sonic image back with crystal static anger and EMP pulse which writhed out in shockwaves to assault the adoring crowd. I enjoyed their performance at Cold Waves. I was memorized here. Impressive emotional transfer from stage to crowd. The aggression and intensity doing something this inclusive is a bizarre combination of feeling but the most accurate description.
TEXTBEAK – Another Detroit band. More festivals need to take note, if you are holding a festival in a city, then show love to the bands that are a part of that scene. I can’t remember a time I saw this ideal held up more than at the Skull Festival. Michael Szewczyk is such a warm overlapping part of the whole Detroit scene who’s talent and glowing spirit are never more on display that in his primary project Textbeak. As someone who grew up on Detroit electronica Michael seems to have the core concept written on his DNA. Every track has a brilliant and unique composure yet somehow resonates with that distinctive house sound that transports me to a warehouse on Hastings Street. Michael is also a part of the previously mentioned Crune and continues to impress with their talent and vision.
COMFORT CURE – Closing out the night was another Detroit talent. I am always left impressed lately by solo electronica artists who manage to unleash the energy necessary to captivate a crowd alone. Percussive EDM with a lashing distinctly Detroit beat and poetic vocal delivery that reminded me of Underworld. I didn’t know nearly enough about Comfort Cure going into the weekend. They left an impressive mark on me. As an added bonus while watching the set I noticed Detroit Electronic music royalty ADULT was standing in front of me enjoying the set. I love seeing artists I associate with a city coming out to support.
This Sunday matinee was special to me for many reasons. I got to play on the stage, I had just watched so many amazing bands. We got to open for one of my favorite bands in the modern darkscene Wingtips. I also appreciated the vision and concept of B.P. doing an all-ages daytime event as part of the festival. Too often it feels like goth culture is not focused on the next generation. It is a scene that tends to worship and embrace the past. Also A lot of folks my age do not get to attend goth festivals anymore because they have children. Who can get a sitter from 10pm-3am two or three days in a row? Having an event focused on family inclusion as part of a major festival spoke a lot about how this event felt different in thinking outside the box.
First act i saw Sunday was Detroit’s own The Picassos. A glorious darkternative band I recently discovered who seamlessly blend The Pixies, Nick Cave, and Violent Femms. I had the pleasure of doing an interview which I will post below. When I spoke to Charles and company they told me of their connection through theater. I loved seeing this translate into their stage show. A funeral set where all the listeners could take part in the production. The sound was everything I want in a live show of a band I know and love the recordings of. Everything I loved in the song writing and emotional connection was here, with an added layer of projection and emotion. Charles voice is unique and captivating. I found myself lost in the performance. This is a must-see live band if you ever get the opportunity.
FAUX FEAR – Next up was a post punk dark wave duo from Reading PA. I had the pleasure of speaking to them in the green room and instantly felt a kinship with their devotion to DIY inclusive grass roots promotion of the dark scene. The music was sleek and sophisticated with driving baselines and cascading synths. The vocals had a resonating Terri Nunn vibe with more understated delicacy. They did a fantastic Cure cover. This is a band I will be looking to connect with for a show exchange soon. My only regret is I had to spend part of the set behind stage getting ready to play.
We got to take the stage next. It was a great honor to play with so many talented people who I love. I grew up on this side of the state and being a part of the energy here was a transcendent feeling. The sound staff were all wonderful. We played songs about Ninjas, Assplay, Feminism, and Onlyfans. In my mind it was one of the best sets we ever played in modern Amaranth. After I helped get our gear off, I was walking with Collin. A young lady locked eyes and started walking towards me. I assumed I was in her way and tried to speed up and change direction. I turned back to Collin and she tapped me on the shoulder asking if she could take a picture with us. I get a bit of that from Sounds and Shadows at music festivals. This was for Amaranth, this was different, this was a young person who really enjoyed what we played enough to chase me crossed a warehouse. I forgot how special that can feel.
WINGTIPS – When I spoke to Hannah and Vincent after the show I told them something I aspire towards. I have seen them about 7 times live now, and every time I see them is the best time. The darkest side of retro melodrama and beauty blended with furious emotional outburst and shocking realism. The amount of star power dripping from this duo is something you feel in your bones. They closed with “Last Minute” which was my first introduction to them. The song that was my first love. The perfect close to a wonderful event of memories.
Images by Whitney Flaherty
Now a brief interview with B.P who made his dream a reality.
Ken: What made you first fall in love with this music and scene?
B.P: My passion for dark music is deep rooted. I started attending goth nights in Detroit back in the 90’s. The scene just felt like home. Goth nightlife, music, fashion, and subculture has been a part of my identity since those early days. As well as writing and recording dark-wave and industrial music. Throughput the years Detroit deejays and bands have kept the music alive in the underground. And I love that.
Ken: I really felt a sense of kindred spirit in you. You are a Dreamer like me. Tell me what you wanted to accomplish with this festival? What was your vision ?
B.P. : Thank you, Ken. After getting to talk with you a at the festival I felt that too. I remember telling someone, Ken is a great guy, he is sincere, passionate, and sees the big picture. The goal of SKULL was to bring together as much of the regional talent possible to provide an opportunity for Detroit’s goth music scene to build a stronger community and more support for the musicians and deejays as well as the artists, vendors, and lovers of all things goth. I truly hope everyone met someone great that they didn’t know before. Or made friends with an acquaintance. Because we have so many wonderful people in our scene.
Ken: Tell me about some of the people who helped you pull off this ambitious undertaking?
B.P. : Remnant aka Casey Discursion of Defiled was the first person I had a conversation with about bringing together the older and younger music fans of goth and industrial in Detroit. There is a great divide in ages and genres and he understood how all of the sounds could compliment each other and that creating a stronger community was possible. There are a couple silent partners behind SKULL that believe in the mission. The SKULL managers Xaina, Marie, Stacey, and Jai Jay all did an amazing job in their leadership roles. There were also several friends of mine and deejays that helped physically put the event together and promote it for months. I am grateful for all of their efforts.
Ken: Why was it so important to include an all-ages day for the festival? Why should more festivals do this?
B.P. : There are a lot of young goths out there. One, they deserve to have a place to experience the subculture, and two, they are the future of our community.
Ken: 5) What is your hope for the future of Skull Festival as well as the Detroit scene?
B.P.: We have several meetings coming up with the main people involved in SKULL and I know there are a lot of creative ideas floating around on what to do next. All things will be taken into consideration and once we decide on our next goth adventure we will make an announcement. Stay tuned Ken, thank you for your time and your efforts in the world of dark music.
One year ago in October I was discussing with Hide, do charts still matter in 2021? What is the point in modern times and do the current charts accurately represent what our scene values? It was a pretty good debate discussing pros and cons. In the end I decided to try letting the wise and tasteful members of our Sounds and Shadows group. Comprised of Djs, Reviewers, Bands, Promotors, and Super Fans that are the lifeblood of this scene. No pay for play. Just a simple vote on what music you are hearing that makes you feel something. I wasn’t sure this would be something I would continue to feel the value of. 12 months later, I have come to really appreciate what this chart brings to the scene. The way that amazing music gets recognized here that doesn’t find it’s way to other charts. As always these are all singles released in October and voted on by our group members.
Panic Priest – AngelSteal – Negative Gain
Object X – Out Of Place –
IAMTHESHADOW – The Wide Starlight – Cold Transmission Music
The Burying Kind – In Black And White
Dread Risks – Extinction Form – Brutal Resonance
Dog Tablet – Ashes –
Morgue VVitch X Allicorn – Higher
Actors + Bootblacks – Boys keep Swinging (Bowie Cover) – Artoffact Records
Carrion – Count The Scars – Produkt 42
Mona Mur – Dream Rider – Give/Take
Panic Priest – ANGELSTEAL – Jack has a gorgeous and razor streaming style between the cracks of the darkscene. Warm crooning Baritone, waterfall backdrop synths, and lightning crackle guitar leads. Panic Priest always needs more recognition and having this single as number 1 is a fitting start. People need to start recognizing Jack as one of the top voices in the modern scene.
Object X – Out of Place – From Reno Nevada a band I was not familiar with but shot to #2 on this chart. I really liked the single, a deep resonant poetry in the vocals and Nick Cave style organic ghost story style. I really love the vocal harmony here, as well as the horror movie samples from Bela Lugosi’s 1931 Dracula. The space opera bending guitars add a wonderful tension to the narrative. This track was a wonderful surprise I didn’t know I needed.
IAMTHESHADOW – The Wide Starlight – I talk a lot about the expectational song writing glory and passion of Portuguese band IAMTHESHADOW. I will always buy anything Pedro puts out on Cold Transmission unheard, because he has never let me down . What always astounds me is how different every new album sounds. This new single is such a contrast to “Pitchblack”. It is expansive, hopeful, and dynamic with the soul and accessibility of Psychedelic Furs. A band that is always taking you on a fresh emotional journey.
The Burying Kind – In Black and White – I love everything about this release. The quality of the song writing and musicianship. The method acting delivery of the lyrics. When a band can get lost in the emotion of their own release it is a powerful thing that cannot be faked. This album is up for top releases of the year. This single will transport you places.
Dread Risks – Extinction Form – New Video single from our favorite Texas DoomDustrial band. It’s hard, mean, creeping danger, which culminates in a sledgehammer delivery of broken pieces and mysterious questioning. This is a band I really need to see live.
Dogtablet – Ashes – Industrial legend Martin King who i recently had the pleasure of meeting in person at Cold Waves with this tantalizing delay deep space exploration single from the new EP. I always love tracks of this project where Martin lets his own voice shine. Every new song for this project feels like a hound off the chain running free, because these expert songsmiths have nothing left to prove and are releasing abstract concepts without limits.
Morgue VVitch x ΔLLICΘRN – Higher – New Collab of ethereal witchtrance crystal towers. Tara’s climbing vocal style paired with the sleek sky climbing synth structures and a glorious blend of dream inspiring fantasy. Two great artists leaving me hungry for what is next.
Actors + Bootblacks – Boys Keep Swinging – What is not to love about two of the top names in modern darkscene teaming up to cover a David Bowie deep cut while producing a gorgeous gender fluid video. This video is absolutely staggering. If somehow you don’t know about these bands, do yourself a favor and open up to the glorious new wave of modern postpunk
Carrion – COUNT THE SCARS – Wonderful crunchy horror synth from Hide Tepes. This new single is mixed and mastered by Mike Nolan in Michigan and adds a refinement and focus to the brilliant artistic expression that Hide hurtles with reckless abandon into everything he does. A storm of broken shards raining down.
Mona Mur – Dream Rider – Another single off the latest album of the Berlin electronic punk icon. Sparkling and jagged like a skiff hurtling through the desert. I love the purposeful force of this track, the way it doesn’t fit in any box but it’s own. This whole album is a modern classic. I did a recent interview with Mona and it gave me a fresh appreciation for her contribution to the modern scene.
This chart has been growing every month for a year. If you have a darkscene single release in November or know someone who does, make sure you add it to the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group, and support underground music.
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