He learned about this when I spied him out from the audience during the PIL set in 1989. I held up a banner saying “Peter Hook you the greatest” (misspelled, but he got the message). He talked to me for a minute and signed it, mostly to get a freaked-out 15-year-old fanboy to shut up. When I met him again in 2013, I mentioned that to him, he said “Wait, was that you?” I said “Yes,” and he said, “Well you fucking grew up then”.
When I was interviewing dUg Pinnick from the prog metal band “King’s X” we talked about other bassists. Pinnick himself, a legend in so many circles said “Man, Peter Hook is so innovative, he invented a style, and championed it, his work stands out in bass playing”. (He also said that Killing Joke was one of his favorite bands too, seriously high praise)
In the long history of “Non Top 40” music, there have been few bands to hold the title to have conquered the music world, and influenced so many bands, as have the Joy Division flowchart.
Joy Division was the 2nd only to The Velvet Underground as far as who influenced so many bands that said ” I can do that”, and then tried, and so many succeeded, and we have all been blessed by it. None of us can say we don’t owe it to the Manchester band that shook the world for music fans.
We know the story of “Joy Division”, in the tragedy of the death of Ian Curtis, rising from the ashes to become “New Order”, then to move into countless other bands and projects.
For now, we have Peter Hook, the bassist who created his signature sound, that inspired so many, but no one has been able to steal his sound. He has everything in the world to be proud of for that.
Peter Hook picked up with a local music school project in Manchester England, called “The Light” to do a cover with Rowetta of Joy Division’s haunting epic “Atmosphere” which sparked the urge for Hooky to pull “The Light” into a long-term touring outfit, with grueling tours, playing marathon sets of the New Order and Joy Division catalog.
Living in Germany at the moment, I saw that Hooky was playing a gig just over the border in Strasbourg France, another country I once called home. I have been ALL THINGS PETER HOOK, for 36 years, so naturally, I had to go.
I drove down with a friend from high school, and we got in line and met punters from Germany, France, Belgium, and even England.
While I was in the pit waiting I spoke to some punters who were much older than I am. One guy told me he had seen Joy Division in Paris, and Brussels, among countless Hooky and New Order shows. It seemed a strange honor to meet someone who had seen Ian Curtis perform. This guy had a solid opinion on the subject.
As I waited, I saw the venue was half full 10 mins to showtime. I was thinking this was going to be a bust, then 5 minutes to showtime, the venue filled in. I had no idea you could fit so many people in a venue like that.
Hooky came onto the stage with the same classical horn music for the intro he has had for years. He greeted the crowd with “Bonne Soire” and kicked off the “Substance” set thumping out on the two lowest strings, playing the tune I know so well, the first New Order song I ever learned to play “Ceremony”. From the 2nd note, the crowd went mad. Peter Hook sang the first verse then at the chorus “I bring them down, no mercy SHOWN!!!” The entire venue erupted with “HEAVEN KNOW’S IT’S GOT TO BE THIS TIME!!!”
I have seen Peter Hook & The Light several times, and a privilege every time, this was by far the loudest I have ever experienced.
“Everything’s Gone Green” did exactly what it was supposed to, we all found ourselves in a trance with the early new wave/post-punk synth on dark foreboding basslines that once they were first played, no one knew what to think. 40+ years later, we still don’t, just let the beats take over, and feel what the song makes you feel. “No More Mistakes”, it’s not a song to remember the lyrics, or even make meaning of them, they just take over your mind while you sway to the music.
My 2nd fave song, which is a staple of every show “Temptation” began and the punters were all howling the “Ooo ohhhh oooh oooh” so loud Hooky and the Bernard “Stand in” David Potts was overpowered. It is one of those songs that everyone knows, and we sang with them, it was a loud joyous experience. In taking on lead vocals, Hooky has been singing this one with as much intensity as when they recorded it in 81. We didn’t feel the haunting from the original version, but were thrilled to be in the substance version of this great song. A song about someone in your life that you can’t live without, never invited, always welcome, but as much as this person means to you, there is no place for them in your life. This song is an anthem to the great friendships that you just can’t understand. During Temptation Hooky came right in front of me and posed with his guitar as if it was a weapon or a Harley Davidson. Only Hooky could be so cool.
Everyone danced their way through “Blue Monday” with Hooky’s most famous bassline, half James Bond, half surfer rock.
David Potts, Hooky’s right-hand man since the Revenge project in 89 took lead vocals for “Thieves Like Us”, a song that had escaped setlists for New Order for a very long time, and it is always a welcomed tune in the Hooky setlists, otherwise no one hears it anymore live.
A gem from the “Low Life” album “A Perfect Kiss” rode on top of the Bach-esque synth lines, and is the only New Order song that Hooky played “Traditional” bass in sound, and technique, up till the haunting bass solo, among so many other greats on the most underrated album in the world. This was New Order’s intensity at its purest given to us in those basslines.
By the time we got to “Bizarre Love Triangle” the venue was bouncing up and down through the intro, and the fun nuances added into the “Substance” album. However, by this time I found it hard to dance when the place was so packed you couldn’t fit a razor blade between the punters.
They finished out the New Order Set with “True Faith” with Pottsy singing the higher vocal sections, and he did sing the original lyrics “When I was a very small boy, a very small voice talked to me. Now that we’ve grown up together, they’re all taking drugs with me”. Giving it to us the way they meant to all those years ago.
A short intermission, and the crowd wasn’t going to back off, I managed to get back up front for more pics, but the bouncers wouldn’t let the photographers back into the pit. So I stood right in front of the PA system for the Joy Division segment. We all knew what was coming, and were fine with knowing what was coming. For shows like this, there is no pressure to get in the songs from the “New Album”, we were all there to hear these songs. So many of us never got the opportunity to hear the Joy Division songs, so this is something that fans will jump on to get in to hear these songs that never got played, or run their course like other great music. We all wanted to hear these live, and Peter Hook is giving that to us almost 50 years later.
They gave us “New Dawn Fades” to sheer AWE, at this moment the crowd became irreverent showing their appreciation for this number, then without missing a beat we got “From Safety to Where..” then “Failures” songs normally missing from some of the Joy Division “Substance” sets I have heard over the years, but no one was complaining.
They played “Disorder” the opening track from “Unknown Pleasures”, and I have heard it performed by Peter Hook & The Light, and even by “The Slaves of Venus” but tonight it was so powerful, we felt like we were on a space ship being catapulted through space for this song. For some reason, this performance of the song could have been the audio soundtrack to a Stanley Kubrick flick.
He played “Warsaw” the opening song, sort of out of sequence, but what was so cool about it this evening was Hooky was playing it with the “New Order-esque” sounding bass, and it was so amazing hearing it this way, I had to snag this on my phone and share it here, for you all to “Get it”. I was honored to hear them mixing the New Order sound into the Joy Division songs. Somehow it felt like this was the way it was supposed to sound, or would have if Joy Division had stayed the course, thank you Hooky.
At “Digital” there was a supplied chorus singing “Day In, Day Out, Day In, Day Out”, as the band watched us kind of smiling knowing that we were going to be doing those parts for them. Maybe this one stood out to New Order fans because of the way it caught the moment watching the semi-biopic film “24 Hour Party People”. ( I have spoken to several people who were in that story, and they all said it didn’t happen quite that way, but it was a great movie anyway and caught the spirit of the story, even though as Hooky has said they got much of it DEAD WRONG.) This time “Digital” had more of the “Tuned” bass from the “Brotherhood” vintage.
Now, I will just describe it as this, a completely packed venue, covering the span of age from teenagers, to people well into their 60s, all howling along “Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! TO THE RADIO” in perfect key as if it was a well-orchestrated sing-along, imagine that, because that is exactly how it was.
Hooky in his book “Substance, INSIDE NEW ORDER” realized how hard it was being the one to sing and play guitar. I have noticed that singing on top of basslines is really out of the wheelhouse of rock and roll. The bass is to give a rhythm for the guitar to ride on top of, but not play the notes that the vocalist had to focus on. Hooky has been able to master doing this with a 2nd bassist who can play the lines exactly from the album to play off of, while he also sings. In the multiple shows I have seen of Peter Hook & The Light, I have come to appreciate the “Jam” band experience of having two bassists in there playing the same style off each other. If you are a Peter Hook bass line fan, seeing them live like this is rather a remarkable experience. It’s not just the bass player’s ego, it’s how these songs were meant to be played, and adding to the dynamic like this makes the music almost 3 dimensional.
During “Dead Souls” Peter Hook walked over and pounded the electric drum pad with his fists, off of Paul Kehoe the drummer, smiling at him also looking like he was taking out aggression and smacking them so hard.
For anyone who has seen Peter Hook perform live, you know that the guy has this charisma on stage, in how he plays, moves around, and interacts with everyone. He has a serious amount of swagger that I don’t see in bassists, but more in vocalists. His stage presence is tantamount to guys like David Gahan, Peter Murphy, and even Mick Jagger. He is on stage, and you just watch him while he does his thing, strangely, he has always been that charismatic frontman.
He closed out the show, dedicating the song “Atmosphere” to the memory of Ian Curtis, stating that it was no different tonight than any other performance of the song. We all enjoyed it and respected the performance for what it was.
The 16th beat and world-famous chords on the bass started the anthemic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. The masterpiece of history, that will go down in the annals of music with Beethoven’s 9th, and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny Be Good”, and I’m sure with Handel Messiah too. It is the most covered non-pop song of all time. It has stood the test of time and will live on long after any of us. It was just an honor to hear it played by one of the original musicians.
Peter Hook & The Light gives you the nostalgia for the music you got to hear as New Order, and the music few ever got to hear live as Joy Division. I have flown to San Francisco, and Denver to see them, and now even driven to France. Once you see them live, you will understand why.
I once worked in a restaurant that served a peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich; at least once a day a customer made a nauseated face and asked me if anyone actually ordered it. I always explained that we often enjoy contradictory flavors. The Elvis, as we called it, merely combined sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, like the sandwich equivalent of a chocolate covered pretzel. We find this everywhere, from mango habanero buffalo wings to most Indian food, but still some combinations, no matter how delicious they ultimately taste, can still seem like strange ideas at first.
I thought about this while absorbing ASSASSUN’s new LP, Chronic Quicksand Depression Morning. Vlimmer’s Alexander Leonard Donat has long boasted a reputation for strange music that defies and denies classification, and this synth-tinged side project proves no different in its sophomore release. Donat pairs standard synth-pop sounds with aggressive, pulsing beats and shouted lyrics more at home in a basement punk show than a dance club. This results in an almost familiar sound; we’re about 3 distorted layers away from industrial or harsh EBM. However, the cleanliness of the synths and vocals leaves us in an uncanny valley between familiar genres—just different enough to be disconcerting. Donat thrives on the unease of his listeners, doubling down with powerful imagery that bristles in all the right ways.
Such a gutsy experiment can lead to uneven results, and some tracks definitely land better than others. But when Donat lands, he does so with the poise and confidence of someone unafraid to challenge widely-held beliefs on key, song structure, and mixing. “The Ivories and I” drones like a classic Xymox track on a boombox with dying batteries, which fits the longing the lyrics deliver. “Shapeshifters” gives me electronic proto-industrial vibes, while “Joie de Vivre” is an 80s coming of age movie dragged through the gravel until it finally admits what reality actually looks like. When ASSASSUN brings his A game, we don’t just listen; the music transforms us with introspective emotions poured into our ears. I won’t claim it’s for everyone, but I will absolutely fight for Chronic Quicksand Depression Morning’s inclusion as a work of art.
Standout Track – “Fear Doubled”: I’m not sure anything in this album actually works in a club DJ set, but damn I would dance to this live. The synth pads give us a false sense of relaxed hope before joining the rest of this railroad song in pushing us over the edge. Sounding like a poisoned Fad Gadget, the music holds up Donat, who almost shouts at us before disdainly uttering, “Look what they’ve done to you.” Somewhere between a Nitzer Ebb chant song and a lecture, “Fear Doubled” echoes the disappointment a lot of us feel with current situations, including ourselves. I’d almost call it the pop song of the album; it uses more structure and hooks than most of the release. But Donat isn’t interested in being popular. He’s going to deliver a message whether we’re listening or not.
“I know I’m not quite in the pocket genre-wise,” L. Alexandra Manuel wrote to me when sending over Amethyst Deceiver, the latest album from her piano-heavy project Sold Kingdom. Despite this warning, I gave the otherwise unpromoted release from late 2022 a try, if just because I love supporting my Virginian musicians. I thus discovered that Manuel was wrong in that most delightful way: this is absolutely my bag and it needs to be yours too.
Manuel’s own lyrics sum up why Amethyst Deceiver succeeds musically in a variety of genres: “I used to think the rules should be upheld / Whether or not I played by them myself” (“Glamorous”). Manuel knows the regulations for piano singer/songwriter music, even playing by them sometimes, but usually poisons traditional pop, folk, and cabaret with dark twists. Subtle noise, troubling synths, soul-tingling harmonies, and diminished notes turn simple melancholy into depthless despair and joy into a nightmare. What remains is the soundtrack to every horror-movie carnival stripped down to its most distilled elements.
However, this side-show doesn’t showcase macabre monsters. Manuel instead leads us through a much more frightening tour: her insecurities, struggles, and the people who subjugate under pretenses of allyship. Anyone who has struggled with neurodivergence—walking the line between self-preservation and mastering social intricacies—will see themselves in “Affliction #2” and “Practicing Sabina,” as Manuel dissects herself with equal parts criticism and compassion. I locked on immediately to “Boys Club Masquerade,” which eviscerates those who show support “only until it cramps you.” This sentiment bookends well with the devastating last track, “The Very Same Poison;” Manuel draws a throughline from how someone who suffered the same oppression could shift into an oppressor themself. In all cases, the lyrics are blunt, cutting, and perhaps sometimes too on the nose.
If I have one complaint, it’s that most tracks on Amethyst Deceiver aren’t long enough. Manuel ignores traditional pop structure for better or for worse, ending songs once she’s said all she needs. While lyrically complete, this does mean I’m switching to a new tune right as I’ve started swaying to the previous one. I’m enjoying the experience so much that I don’t want it to end, but dealing with harsh truths, including endings, definitely runs through the whole record. Perhaps Manuel is making sure I learn the lesson.
Standout Track – “Yearning for Yearning”: A two-part examination of the inability to ever feel at home with anyone, the song oozes unease. First, a disquieting acapella disconcerts with beautiful, eerie harmonie as Manuel recounts the various outside forces which leave her knowing she “will always be a stranger.” Yet the second half, focusing on how her own behavior distances her, bristles in the opposite fashion. The vocals are now more direct, as clear with us as she is being with herself, while the piano provides a wonderful discord like something out of early Das Ich. There’s a playfulness to this ghostly soundtrack—a strange creature playing with its helpless food. In this case, Manuel is both devourer and meal; we cannot dare look away as we watch.
In the past four years the “Darkscene” goth adjacent movement has continued to expand at a glorious rate. Here at Sounds and Shadows I have seen a similar growth of our Music Review/ Webcast/ Facebook Group/ grow at an equally surprising rate. Trying to choose top albums of the year when the rate of interesting worthwhile music is firing out of a fire hose of content at an unprecedented rate is an increasing challenge. As always, I will do my best to draw attention to glorious new music that has moved me in some way. Thank you to all our supporters and please keep this scene alive. You are the lifeblood that makes it happen.
This is always so hard, I love so much new music. I started with about 136 bands I reviewed. With hard choices got down to about 60. I really want to make the bands I picked feel really special. Have you all know, I felt pain with every cut. So I am going to break this into genre categories a little.
Gothic Rock/Post Punk/Shoegaze
Kill Shelter – Asylum – 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.
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.
Has it really been 13 studio albums for Aurelio Voltaire? This review is special to me. As someone who writes “Goth music with a heavy dose of humor” it is hard not to give credit to the OG that inspired me all those years ago. Here he taps into his own inspiration from an artist and film that burned a codpiece shaped scar into every 90’s goths soul. It appears we also share a passion for collecting every talented guest star he could cram into this shadow glass menagerie. Let’s have a look at this list.
15 members of David Bowie’s band spanning nearly every era of the Starman’s career from the pianist on 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars to the saxophone player on Black Star, Bowie’s last album. The Black Labyrinth was co-produced by Mark Plati who produced the 1997 Bowie album, Earthling as well as the post humus release, Toy.
Other guest musicians included members of My Chemical Romance, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Vision Video, The Cog is Dead, Frenchy and the Punk, violinist extraordinaire Mia Asano, Ally the Piper, D and D songstress Ginny D and an international cadre of musicians making up the orchestra and choir.
The 20 song release is clean like twilight in a fantasy world briming with the mystery of a firefly forest and the pageantry of a catholic funeral. Voltaire’s iconic is the ringleader that ties together the spectacle. If you don’t know Voltaire, you have missed one of the most gloriously self-aware experiences in the dark scene. If you do you are in for a journey with one of the great bards of our time. Let goth music be fun. Let it be the giant melting black candle musical theater it was always meant to be. I both teared up and laughed out loud listening to it. You need this album.
3) Secret Shame – Autonomy – I am constantly amazed by the slippery edges and bursting intensity of the NC band. I’m just blown away by how many sonic emotions are crammed into this firefly jar. The haunting lilt of the vocals, the gnashing wolf jaw guitars, the shifty darting baselines. The production here is razor sharp. Anyone who says modern music lacks complexity is not listening to this. This is songwriting that is emotive, that transports you out of your own mind. Blending the best aspects of four genres to create something fresh and provoking. 10/10
4) IAMTHESHADOW – The Wide Starlight – Things you can always count on from a new IAMTHESHADOW release: 1) Pedro delivering the richest baritone in modern darkwave. 2) Soul baring poetry 3) Perfect precision of mix and master. Everything else about the sound is completely in the air. “The Wide Starlight” is an expansive new sounds full of twinkling stars over violet plains. The album came out on 10/14 and marks a turn towards hope which my soul has hungered for. Cold Transmission Music has been a fertile creative ground for Portugal’s premier darkscene act. This is a band that has continued to set the standard in European darkscene music that is constantly pushing their own boundaries and core sound. The truly greats make powerful songs while always redefining who they are
5) 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.
6) Golden Apes – From The Sky – Berlin Germany based band which remains one of the most underrated post punk bands in the world. With Peer Lebrecht unmistakable and encompassing voice crooning poetic romantism that seeps under your skin. I loved the brighter expansive hope Christian, Gerrit, and Frank infused the guitar lines with. The change in concept from “Kasbek” displays another prism of range and proves Golden Apes story is far from over. I’m excited we will get an interview with them in 2023.
7) 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.
8) 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. This is a band I have watched grow and refine. It fills my heart to watch the maturity and ascension of their sound and wisdom. I can’t wait to see the next path of their journey.
9) The Burying Kind – Tragic Airwaves – I may be too close to this record. Enraptured by the story surrounding it. I can’t help but be struck by the staggering beauty and truth of it. It was this thing I got to watch grow and refine from infancy into something that mattered. Something that transcended genre and the music business. An abstract feeling that wells within you in solitary moments, a place of memory and blurry edges. This 12-track full length is a solitary lighthouse on a grey shore with Scott-David‘s romantic tragic poetry delivered with piercing emotional impact. The music is layered and complex for decerning listeners to unravel. I love nothing more in this high-speed age than hearing the time and intent that went into an artistic concept. It’s a presence and weight that gives every listen a reverence.
This is an album for connoisseurs. For fans of My Bloody Valentine and The Cure a like. It is a place for diving into mystery and unraveling the depths of something that doesn’t come simple in a world where everything is designed not to make you think harder. We used to rejoice in music that made us swim beneath the surface. It’s time to rejoice in it once again.
10) Mark E Moon – Lux Vindictae – New lineup, new sound, and explosive delivery from Isle of Man shadow croon gothic rock Mark E Moon on Cold Transmission Music. A blazing light of vindication as the title states. The first single Blacklight bursts through a wall with shaking intensity. The drums pound relentlessly as Mark delivers confident sadness tinged with raw fury. Phil is spinning barb wire distortion in precision loops. The black mirror reflection of Shelly Rourke on vocals as contrast Mark’s cavern shaking Eldrichesque power. As the engine roars down an unlit highway this album swerves in tone and style without warning leaving you always on your heels. Mark really throws his soul into the vocal delivery. The tracks are all pure heat and poignant, each under 5 minutes.
I think two main changes stand out in contrast to 2021 release “Old Blood ” 1) the extreme nature of the peaks and valleys in tempo and style. This album runs the spectrum where Old Blood worked to perfect a singular idea. 2) Rourke’s vocals have really found a sharp and resilient force to break the power of Mark’s tide. In particular track 4 Drowning is a gorgeous ballad of imagery that highlights the new sound with strongly defined lines. It shows a passion and maturity of song writing that portrays subtle differences in depth as you sink below ever darker waters. I love the panning synth lines. The background to those glimmering delayed guitars flickering through the pressurizing water.
11) Black Angel – The Black Rose – I know, I did an 11th album. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave this record off the list. It is so haunting and rock heavy in a time goth music wants to be anything but. Matt has this amazing ability to capture the sleazy opaque waterfall of endless motion regardless of tempo. The vocals by Corey Landis and Maneesha Jones are the perfect seasoning on the dish. I have a confession that will probably have me cancelled by the true metal folks, my favorite Ozzy is “No More Tears” and that includes Sabbath. This album hit with that same timeless power. As long as Matt Vowels is cranking out records, this guy is buying them. Someone really needs to sign him.
(Special Mention) Cleopatra Records – The Unquiet Grave – 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.
Curse Mackey – Immoral Emporium – 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.
There is something about the level of narrative imagery and production expertise that stuck me about this album. It haunted me like a re-occurring nightmare, a prophesy of danger that hangs above our future. Curse has been such an impressive part of shaping Industrial music while a part of someone else’s project. It is incredible to see the darkness he is able to articulate when left at the helm of his own vision.
2) ESA – Designer Carnage – if you are talking about the modern evolution of EBM (Electronic Body Music) British act ESA and Jamie Blacker have to be part of the opening discussion. This is an artist who has truly defined a genre by meticulous craftsmanship of the musical and visual idea of bass beats so shattering, you feel them in your bones. This album had multiple singles in our Darkscene Singles Chart. Jamie continues to be an innovator in the field of expanding the definition of Electronic music for another generation.
3) <PIG> – The Merciless Light – Raymond Watts has continued to evolve at an exponential rate. Rather you are speaking of music, personal growth, or human interaction. The industrial progenitor has bounced around the boundaries of what this genre entails for decades, to keep the punk rock ethos of the original concept alive. I love the crushing jagged grind of this record, while hushing the edges, letting the menace whisper and hang in the air. Bringing in an all-star line up of contributors Abbie Aisleen, Jim Davies, En Esch, Mark Heal, Jimmy Livingstone, Mona Mur, Mike Watts. This album brings so many emotive hooks that really highlight how good Raymod has always been at conveying emotions in a compressed infectious package.
4) 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.
5) Dread Risks – Automated Disappointment – GiddyYip this DeathRock Electro Cowboy shit!” A wise man once said about Texas IndustroDoom band Dread Risks. That wise man was me. Releasing 3/25/22 on Re-Mission this album is a return to the meaner barb wire aggression of industrial music. As an evolution from the past this aggression is no longer aimed outward but directed at addressing and concurring personal trauma. I love the molten glass cutting attack and melodic beauty of the vocals. The overhand bastard sword swing of the drumbeats. Berserker rage in clean focus. This is the next great wave in electronic musical concept. I am enthralled with the idea that Industrial music still has fertile land to create new artistic ideas. I even got a thank you in the liner notes, my heart cries.
6) KMFDM – Hyena – This album brings you much of what you love if you are a fan of KMFDM. Bonfire bright drum beats overlayed with trash compactor crushing guitars. I think the biggest change from the KMFDM of my youth is the maturity of Sasha’s voice. It is a more mellow growl without losing the glistening sharp metal. This record is a culmination of injected circulation right into the dance gland. I really keep expecting for a lot of these old school Industrial bands to lose the modern pulse, I keep being surprised. I feel like this is a ban that grew up with me. Their sound evolved at the same rate I needed it to.
7) AUTHOR & PUNISHER – KRÜLLER – San Diego, California artists put out this album that is a bit absurd in it’s scope. On paper doing captivating emotive singles in the 5-8 minute range should not work in 2022. Yet, anyone who hits play on this 8 song album is immediately captivated and washed over by the unnerving perfection of these hooks. This truly is something else no one is doing. It is so mysterious and fresh I don’t know how to process it. Which is a rare feeling in 2022.
8) Spike Hellis – Spike Hellis – After seeing them at the Skull Festival in Detroit this year, I haven’t been able to put this away. LA based electronic flamethrowers who answered the question if Alec Empire hadn’t pulled a 180 and became a cryptobro what would a cleaner crisper refinement of the magma fury become? Hearing Spike Hellis really helps me understand what is meant by “Electronic Body Music”. It is felt in the tissue as much as heard in the ears. The range of feeling on this chaotic labyrinth darts through every hidden crack of the human experience. It really must be heard live to fully comprehend ,but having a map of the recorded experience can go a long way towards grasping the subtilty of what is happening. I really need to line up an interview with this band in 2023.
9) Dogtablet – Ashes – New 5 song EP from Industrial legends Martin King and Jared Louche. I had the pleasure of attending a listening party at the Post Punk Industrial museum where Martin provided some background for these songs. I love the grinding and deliberate nature of these tracks. Track 3 “Careless” Feat: Coral Scere is a haunting and memorable collaboration that shows how Martin continues to get the best out of everyone he works with. Another amazing EP from a legend let off the chain to work with whoever he wants in a style completely their own.
10) Deathline International – Pax Americana – Basically a COP International all-star collaboration which includes living legends like John Fryer, GW Childs IV, Angela Goodman, Steve Watkins, Licia Johnson, sinister guitar lords James Perry & SLam, and vocals by Th3Count. Transporting us to a smashing old school Industrial runaway train with modern clarity and aerodynamic tempo. I think the biggest challenge when bringing together this much talent and trying to give everyone a voice, is the director aspect. Giving everyone a chance to shine in the spotlight. This album really feels like a collaboration. Mutual respect placed in the atom smasher and obliterated into something fresh.
Special Mention: 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.
Brian Graupner is inspiring to me in particular for proving to the goth community that our scene can be silly as hell and that is ok. I equally love that he has a project so serious and old school industrial crunch that it leaves no choice but to acknowledge his talent and craft. So, when he makes a Gothsicles album you know it was because he chose to be goofy as hell, which adds a layer of punk rock power.
Panic Priest – PSYCHOGORIA – Speaking of world class baritone voices Jack never disappoints. New album released10/21/22 on Negative Gain featuring the crooning beauty and slashing guitar mastery of Jack Armond. The Chicago based songsmith always layers the club friendly dance beats with a healthy dose of guitar accents to make a truly distinctive blend. The tempo here is a fast-paced bop, but the bottom of a chasm on the vocals gives every track a sense of soul and foreboding. Every album gets tighter and smoother. Jack’s voice is one of those definitive sounds and elevates everything it touches, and his blend of organic guitar licks and prism explosion synths makes every album memorable. Psychogoria is the most impressive evolution yet. It’s time for everyone to recognize one of the great talents out our modern scene. I just interviewed jack and it will release soon.
2) Vision Video – Haunted Hours – Athens, Georgia pop goth stars have grown more in the last few years than anyone in my memory. The music is nostalgic, expertly crafted with the newest techniques, and delivered with a romantic stirring beauty too often lost in the modern scene. Dusty has an infectious glowing moonbeam of a personality which has made him a public figure outside of music. This band has truly achieved a fresh interpretation of everything you loved in 80’s goth spun in a centrifuge and launched back at you with electron energy.
3) Rohn-Lederman – Rage – 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.
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.
4) The Birthday Massacre – Fascination – Chibi and company has done more to expand the cone of what is goth music than anyone in the last decade. This new album infused an intensity of emotion due to the band facing some serious real-life trauma. It is explosive like a foam cannon of feeling sprayed on a receptive crowd. There are certain records that ride the line between fantasy and precision execution so perfectly it is hard to see the lines. That is how this album feels. I keep waiting for TBM to run out of gas, and they keep lighting bon fires.
5) Null Device – The Emerald Age – Wisconsin based dark synth band with a new driving political statement full of spiraling hooks and razor edge tapestry. The perfect mix of this album is so economical it makes the motion and pace feel like a UFO that darts and accelerates in a way modern technology has not produced. The vocal duties bouncing between Eric and Jill feels like a conversation of perfect syncopation. This album came out in Nov 2022 and every time I hear it holds a familiarity and nostalgia that defies logic.
6) Minuit Machine – 24 – This release combining the amazing talents of Hélène de Thoury and Amandine Stioui is staggering for its quality as well as tragic because it might be the last pairing the two. Helene has suffered some health issues which have caused her to step back from the project for the time being. This EP is nothing short of breathtaking in it’s seamless pulsing sophistication. Every track harnesses an effortless magnetic vouge you can’t help but want to be close to. Amandine’s vocal’s ring through the air with every phrase like a struck chime. A haunting electronic overture that paints a perfect moment while promising what could have been.
7) 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. I really want to hear a cleaner vocal for the next album, because it is the final step towards perfection.
8) Sapphiria Vee – Aerial Human – Sapphiria Vee has sprouted wings and taken to stormy skies with the newest release “Ariel Human“. A bracing new pace and sinister promise. Featuring a rouges gallery of impressive collaboration from Jean Marc- Lederman, Roger Ebner, then Mixed and mastered by sonic wizard Jules Seifert. Send your mind a flight. Sapphira’s ability to draw talent towards her with both her powerful voice and magnetic personality gives her access to a wide brigade of masterwork tools. As a producer she knows just when and where to implement each sound like a conductor in a symphony.
9) Eva X – I Dream Of Reality – The progression of shadow pop artist Eva X has been a magnificent sight to behold. After a series of singles and videos this full albums with impressive remixes really shows the elevation Gaby can achieve. A poetic blend of vulnerable beating heart, and higher concept science fiction that paints a wonderful journey while keeping the hooks high and tight.
10) Junksista – OA – This German based band on COP International is one I haven’t given nearly enough press to. Every time I hear them I am absolutely floored by the razor wire combination of owning a space in your head pop melodies and the way too cool to hang out with me punk rock attitude. It just drips with effortless expression and after party in the know. It is hard to hear this and not feel inside the most exclusive salon where everyone is invited. Speaking of invited the album features a who’s who of guest talent. This album deserves a special award for band I put off the longest to deep dive into that left me regretting every moment I wasted not knowing them.
Sidewalks and Skeletons – Exorcism – I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sidewalks and Skeletons for the webcast and was really excited to expand my knowledge of the “WitchHaus” genre. When I first decided to dive in I reached out to a few friends: Kenzi Burke (FIRES) and Hunter Hunter (W/O) for suggestions. Sidewalks and Skeletons of England was one of the first suggested. I suppose going in I had some pre conceived notions of what “WitchHaus” meant, but I have to say I was presently surprised by the texture and diversity of sound on this album. From track one “Exorcism” a glitchy sliding bass beat slither of technomancer energy tendrils, to “Shadow” feat: Goo Monday with it’s throbbing electronic club pulse, this album rings with a clarity and precision that tells a winding story of internal energy. I kept being struck by influences I never expected to encounter like shoegaze and ethereal which gave the entire journey a slick and winding synthesis. I am always impressed when in 2022 I hear something new. A fresh blend of ideas from a chemist taking previous concepts and making new science. It doesn’t happen enough. It is happening here.
2) Mona Mur – Snake Island – German Electro punk Icon released this guitar heavy banger of an album featuring Goldkind. I love the Avant guard crunchy slam poetry punk ethos feel. The individual tracks capture such a range of furious emotions but in the end always return to being a hard rock album. In a time where music is so plentiful and genres are so fractured, it feels refreshing to hear hard rock. The cover of Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades” the dripping with venom and intensity. The single Schieldwall is sun gleaming on a silver hammer smashing the quarry with reckless abandon. This record encapsulates what previous generations artists have to teach the next about how music can be the spearhead of a movement.
3) Josie Pace – IV0X10V5 – 2022 was such a big year for Josie and Ken, Detroit’s Industrial Pop darlings. Fresh off a tour with Aesthetic Perfection they are winning over every crowd they are in front of. Josie is drenched in “It” factor from her voice, attitude, and look. This record is brimming with infectious singles, slamming beats, and a voice that laser cuts the darkness. Now on Negative Gain they are strapped to a rocket ship speeding towards superstar. IVOX10V5 is the perfect refinement album that will finally show the world what Detroit audiences have seen for a while.
4) Kali Dreamer – October Requiem: 1988 – Derek Christopher turned me on to this Columbus OH artist who is doing a truly unique blend of old school goth and hip hop cadence with a macabre edge. I was immediately hooked, the poetry of the lyrics with the truthful confidence of cadence. You can’t mistake the terror rap elements of Esham in the dark lyric style but the talent and beauty of Kali’s vocals add a modern and gorgeous element. I was truly floored by the quality of this. I just don’t hear enough to surprise me with it’s uniqueness anymore. This album achieved that.
5) Katy Needs A Life – With Friends Like Bees – This is another special release. I feel like I watched it grow up. Born here right in Kalamazoo MI, in Collin Schipper‘s (Amaranth) studio, done by Katy May (Sounds and Shadows). This record is everything I love about ultra sad dreamgaze pop, with none of the pretention I often associate with the genre. Every song is a flailing arms, heart flinging, explosion of narrative intensity. The music of Reggie, David, and Jake is a furious and frantic cohesion of chaos and pastel dreams. Katy has a voice full of purity and unapologetic raw truth that blasts through a sea of cold ultra-produced crystal. This is such wonderous walking around with your own thought’s music.
This record is the first full length with the entire band and spells a glorious future for Katy and company. On top of that it is expertly mastered by none other than Jason Corbett (Jackknife Sound Studios) (Actors). I think sometimes those of us that do musical support of others get lost when it comes to our own projects. This is an unforgettable must have record.
6) Lorelei Dreaming – Retold Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.
7) SINE – Mantis Complete – Texas nightmare whisper artist Rona Rogueheart dropped this culmination of the Mantis journey in November. A thrumming David Lynch fever dream impossible to place in a category box. The album cover is so appropriate as an angler fish draws you through the underwater darkness with a glittering light, only to open it’s jaws and bite down on you. It’s sinister subterfuge with the electric tension of a great thriller. This record also includes some unreal remixes by the likes of Clan Of Xymox and Leatherstrip. A couple different singles here which placed on the S & S darkscene singles chart like my favorite track “Je Suis”. Another album that charts its own course into mystery.
8) The Picassos – 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. Charles is a master chef of sound, taking ingredients with familiar tastes and adding a pinch here and a skosh there. Some Pixies, Nick Cave, Violent Femms, flamenco guitars, stirred in a pot, raising the heat. The result is a powerful and heady stew served with pageantry and soul. This is truly one of Detroit’s great talents of the decade.
9) 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.
10) Sever The Servants – Sever The Servants – Brand new collaboration that sprung from the Sounds and Shadows group. A world grinding doom tank apparatus rolling through a nightmare hellscape of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen imagination. Stone walls on all sides as Hide starts filling the room with dank modular synth water. Mike who doesn’t usually do vocals hisses out a poisonous danger that left me floored and impressed. I hungrily await the future offerings of this project. A perfect synthesis of styles to form a stronger bond.
11) Assasun – Sunset Skull – German song architect Alexander Donat of Vlimmer has changed gears once again with such a massive swerve proving once again there is nothing he cannot do. This new project is a psychedelic electro punk disco with shades of Tuxedomoon, Legendary Pink Dots, and Coil. It never solidifies into something familiar, it never quite strays into madness. A tightrope walk underwater. This record is almost disturbing in it’s creative Germaness. I can’t wait to hear what is next.
12) Vaselyne – The Sea Says – The Dutch duo Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig with the eclectic blend of rolling foam over a dark sea. This world beat blend of orchestral synth and organically woven vocals which hold a history in their entrancing delivery. Contrasted by sharp and vibrant guitar lines to add modern rock to the ancient mysteries. The PJ Harvey cover hits hard on my nostalgia bone but crafts a fresh and unique lens to the alt rock classic. If I ever go into a cave overlooking the sea and light a fire to dance shadows into the morning, this is the record I’ll bring.
Nearing the end of the year and just in time for Bandcamp Friday we have the latest addition of the S & S chart. November was an amazing month for new music. I found a ton at the Detroit Skull Fest which I will be putting an article out about soon. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to support our scene by listening to these singles chosen by our group of Artists, Djs, Promotors, Reviewers, and Super Fans. Each song here is a single released in Nov 2022 and voted on by our group. If you have a single release in December, or know someone who does, post it in the December poll.
Matt Hart – Terraform
Derision Cult (Feat: Chris Connelly and Gabriel Reeves) – Deaf Blood
ST///LL – Darkened Eyes
Minuit Machine – Follower
Anti-Social Club – Empty
SINE – Je Suis
STAER – Manifold
Mari Kattman – Fever Shakes
Null Device – For You
Mechanical Vein X Moris Blak – Cemetary Wind
MATT HART – Great to see UK artist Matt Hart get the number 1 spot. This single is a banging narrative short film in sonic form. Dystopian sci fi full of underground machinery, perseverance and rebirth. I love the sharp edges and skull smashing mid-tempo beats.
Derision Cult – Deaf Blood – West Chicago Industrial band with an all star contributor list of Chris Connelly and Reeves Gabrels. Slamming drum progression and wicked guitar solo with the iconic Connelly vocals, what is not to love?
st///ll – Darkened Eyes – UK band I wasn’t aware of before they popped onto the chart. Really cool slushy Chameleons meets The Dammed post punk vibes. The basslines here in particular are really infectious. You have my attention.
Minuit Machine – Follower – French based ultra-cold wave with the always amazing Hélène de Thoury of Hante with vocals from Amandine Stioui. An icy gust of winding motion and shimmer. This album is so effortlessly cool. I feel like the slickest version of myself when I am listening to it.
Anti-Social Club – Empty – Really cool project from two group members Pete and Greg. Sweet throwback synthgoth anthem, I love the vocals here, big Peter Murphy energy with harmonies from Rachael Fuhs. This track is the perfect blend of fresh and familiar. That chorus drops like an A bomb.
SINE – I recently got to discuss this single with Rona in an upcoming interview we will be releasing. Slow steps over smoking volcanic earth with whispered vocals that declare I am. I love how this powerful and sensual confidence oozes in waves while making a sound impossible to place in a box.
ST∆ER – Manifold – I was so excited to see electronic texture artist Ian R. Staer crack the singles charts. This isn’t a “typical” single bopper. It is emotional landscape painting in sonic form. Stretching and breathing with a story created in the listeners mind. I really love that our listeners are picking songs this cerebral.
Written, performed, and recorded by Ian R. Staer.
Mixed by Chris Vrenna at Bluebird Studio, Huntsville AL.
Mastered by Eric Oehler at Submersible, Madison WI
Mari Kattman – Fever Shakes – One of my favorite humans in the scene, the amazing burning energy of Mari releases this stomping shadowpop single full of bopping beats and furious delivery. A picture Mari in silver robot armor with a blue electric broadsword carving a swath through her enemies.
Null Device – For You – The mostly Wisconsin based electronic band with this gorgeous old school synth single that puts me in mind of Depeche Mode “Construction Time Again” blended with powerful Annie Lenox style vocals from Sheridan. Powerful and emotive this whole EP is a must have. Which is why I have it
Eric Oehler – Vocals, Synths, Violin, Guitars Jill Sheridan – Vocals, Lyrics, Synths Eric Goedken – Lyrics, Additional Production Kendra Kreutz – Cello
Mechanical Vein x MORIS BLAK – Powerhouse team up from England and Boston for this stabbing cadence with some electro Nu Metal energy. This is a positive banger. Glitchy, bass pounding goodness to set your dancefloor ablaze.