Music I Found While Drowning In A Sea Of Bernie Sanders Memes.

It was a tough week for me. I think for a lot of people. It was also a time of hope and possibility. As so often I found myself taking refuge in the sounds of others, trying to feel something outside my own head. I have some releases here, some old, some new. May they offer you some comfort as they did to me at times I needed it most. I also wanted to say what a beautiful refuge our new Sounds and Shadows Facebook community has been to me. Many of these reviews were suggestions or submissions from new friends there. Keep sharing music and lifting each other up my friends.

https://deadastronauts.bandcamp.com/album/silhouettes

Dead Astronauts : Silhouettes– A new release from our friends at Cold Transmission from Seattle WA. This record was a articulate and purposeful release that had a craftsmanship that placed it in the upper echelons. That made a lot of sense once I heard Slade Templeton (Crying Vessel) had a guiding hand involved. Florence, and Jared seem to have an instinct for where a song needs to go. Melody to melody, song to song, everything seems to flow in it’s perfect natural direction. It makes it so easy to fade away and become lost in the futuristic textures. They each have such a distinct and soothing voice. Made stronger by their combination and ability to hold the depth of a conversation instead of a monologue. The music has a lot of subtle dissonance and complex themes. What really makes it effective though is how these details are woven around straight forward pop hooks that remind me of Peter Hook’s Revenge , or Pet Shop Boys. This is a record that doesn’t need to scream to get your attention or convey emotion. It tells you everything without ever having to raise it’s voice.

Favorite Tracks:

Strangers In A Room – I feel in love with this very funky dance beat. Jared’s voice is a sensual croon with muted horn synths behind. It sets a scene of adventure and tension. Florence is the low lights which create his shadows. Just expert construction and a hook that grabs you by the waist.

She Haunts Me – Holy fuk this is gorgeous. Dark synth driven ghostly introspection. This beautiful sense of ownership of action and the feeling of someone who is gone but still shapes you. The things you have acknowledged and learned to late. This idea hits so hard. The chorus highlights the depth of Jared’s voice which swells without ever losing it’s smooth contours.

Pain, I Know – The cadence of this song make amazing movement. Florence is a haunting presence that lifts this song on her airy ever shifting melodies. This one really tugs the heartstrings.

Overall this album is a total concept and a much needed blast of poetry and expression in the darkwave genre. It’s a great example of what you can create when you understand harmony and synthesis. I just keep coming back again and again.

Chant HYDRA – New album from Bradley Bills who’s pedigree is well known in the industrial scene as a drummer. This release is a venture deeply of his own device. It still starts with the power of of percussion. Just amazing and varied rhythms and mathematical constructs. The sound is massive. I picture a powerful sorcerer standing on a cliff face raising and lowering his hands while crystal shafts shoot forth tot he sky or crash back beneath the sea. The vocals are a raspy and passionate chant. I kept finding myself drawn and isolated on individual sounds and lines. Bills is a real magician when it comes to directing your focus while he is moving the next phrase behind your view. Some nice hard smashing guitars that hit and decay quickly. I think one of the most interesting aspects here is how the drums feel like melody and the guitars feel like percussion. The lyrics are very clever and poignant to the political and human issues of the moment from demagogues to media saturation.

https://chantproject.bandcamp.com/album/hydra

Favorite Tracks

President God – Powerful and lockstep. Again I can’t stress enough how much the drums take a front seat here in the best way possible. This paints a picture we are all familiar with in the last 4 years. A politician trying to move from elected official to dictator. Very cool old KMFDM feel with a stripped down clarity I found refreshing.

Primetime Annihilation – I’m loving this concept album story of this corrupt politician in the modern era. “The more you watch and the more you hate, the more that I get paid”. This song is such a bag of broken glass swung at your head like a mace. The edges hit hard but the melody is a beautiful hook that leaves you stomping your feet while it lives in your head.

Overall it is a politically charged chaos party of blasting beats and witty scathing one liners. I am here for it.

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/overcome

Broken NailsOvercome – New full album release from Swiss Dark Nights, a label I should really be talking about more. Great minimal old school synth sound here. Singer Kim Bell has this smoky throwback Missing Person vibe happening. I’m loving the collision of the very dungeon crawl obscure sound of the music splashed against her focused soulful pop voice. The result is a sound you can weave your arms to in the club. A club you need to travel down a flight of stairs and give a password to get into. I feel like this entire album is shrouded in mist. It’s dark, swirling, and always on the move.

Mirror – Opening track starting strong with a nice build and snapping snare. This song really puts Kim’s voice front and center which is when this band shines best. I really like the transitions and the strange millionth of a beat behind delivery on the phrases. It feels like a bizarre carnival house of mirrors you become lost in.

Control The Delusion – Wonderful 80’s throwback. Here Kim does her dreamy Terri Nunn sound. Then the music does a well executed phase shift and she goes into a chanted affirmation.

I feel like this band is yet to hit their ceiling, that leaves me excited for the future.

https://nu-n.bandcamp.com/album/remember-me-ep

NU:NRemember Me – I knew there was some beautiful goth music coming out of Portugal that was not IAMTHESHADOW. Right off the bat what I love is that this is powerful unapologetic old school gothic rock. Precision striking bass and teardrop razor guitar lines. Oliver Heuer has a voice that is captivating and romantic. The whole sound has a beautiful throwback of early 90s Rosetta Stone An Eye for the Main Chance era. This EP only contains 2 songs and remixes but it left me hungry for more. I could have devoured 8 more tracks of these lush sorrow dripping cemetery jams. The great power is in the authenticity. They are on the serious side of the emotional gothic line. Hungry and longing with a sinister edge.

https://cherimondisj.bandcamp.com/album/cherimondis-unleashed

CherimondisUnleashed – Ok is this a little outside our usual wheelhouse? Yes. Is it absolutely brilliant and I can’t stop listening to it? Also yes. Gorgeous soulful beyond their young years cabaret trip hop sounds with poetic lyrics and an angels voice. I dare you to listen to this and not feel immediately moved and connected to it’s power. Derek Christopher (The Joy Thieves) does the mastering and leaves the edges sharp and jazz chaotic letting the immense power of Cherimondis voice shine like a glorious beacon in the tempest. I hear enough music to know a future star when i hear one and this is a star.

Wolf – A skipping quirky Dresden Dolls husky jerky glory. The pixie light vocals grow into a stalking beast. I love the dancing piano and flowing bassline. I could play this 1 million times and never regret it.

Mind Over Matter – Strutting backbeat and a affirming optimism. The lyrics are delivered in a rhythmic hurricane in a bottle of control behind a thin layer of glass. This song is a perfect portrait of the artists and makes a spiritual connection with all who listen.

I except we will also be hearing big things from this 21 year old future star.

What Are They Up to: Interviews with Vanity Kills, Ashes Fallen, and Black Rose Burning

Vanity Kills

[Photo Credit: Cameron Rhys McNamara]

Vanity Kills is the intense, cyberpunk-industrial band of Joe “Crow” Aaron. S&S has already covered them on several occasions: an interview from 2019, a review of album Chapter 2: Enemy, and a shoutout in the Halloween Compilation Release.

The band has been a friend of S&S for years. But where are they now? I reached out to Joe Crow himself to figure out what he’s been working on since the release of his last album. In the works are: 1- a third chapter album, 2- a B-sides album, and 3- a collection of covers.

The covers are being release intermittently on YouTube with the intent to compile them on Bandcamp upon completion. The B-sides, which are, according to Crow, “a collection of songs that didn’t make it on to the last album, alternate versions of previously released songs and remixes,” most likely going to be released in March. Chapter three’s release is as of now still uncertain.

Onto the topic of the B-sides and third chapter, do you see yourself exploring some uncharted creative territory?

Definitely. The b sides record is definitely a product of experimentation. There’s some more mellow moments there, some really dark stuff and some stuff that’s just outright weird.

The third chapter also tonally different to the second and first. It feels kind of like a 90s industrial album with modern production techniques. Sort of going back and taking influence from the places that first got me into the genre when I was in my teens.

It’s likely the B sides record will be a Bandcamp exclusive as a companion piece to Chapter 2. So everyone who has that will receive it automatically and be included with future purchases.

Regarding production, have you indulged yourself in any new equipment?

Nothing too extravagant. Picked up a Roland r8 for a bargain and a tb303 clone. I’ve also invested in a good amount of software instruments. As much as I’d love to get into more hardware it’s just not feasible at the moment and the ability to create new patches without routing audio and midi each time helps me stay in the zone with my limited attention span.

So, on your previous album and in a previous interview, you cited bands like Stabbing Westward, Ministry, and even Prince as having influenced you. Since the third chapter is going to be comparative to a “90s industrial album,” is there any new set of artists behind its inspiration?

Well all of those are there, probably more than the last record. As well as things like My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Circle of Dust, Nine inch Nails early material, through to the more electronic rave artists like the Prodigy, Underworld etc.

Gosh I love that early NIN stuff

Pretty hate machine and the broken EP will always stick in my mind as my personal image of NIN. I love damn near everything else but those are 2 I can go to any day in any mood.

Any closing remarks for your fans?

The support we’ve had for this album has been immense. I didn’t expect it after so many years if inactivity but old and new have come out in support and I’m eternally grateful. We’re going to finish off the album cycle with videos for every song from chapter 2 and swiftly onto the next chapter. So there’s plenty still to come. With some surprises along the way and one day more shows. Thank you so much and stay safe.

Ashes Fallen

Ashes Fallen is a California-based gothic rock band composed of James Perry (lead vocals, guitar), Jason Shaw (guitar), and Michelle Perry (vocals, percussion, keyboard, art).

S&S has previously reviewed their album Ashes Fallen as well as Thy Will be Done.

Their most recent release, We Belong Nowhere, was put out this august.
So, what have they been up to since then? I reached out to member James Perry to investigate.

Recently, they were part of the ARG (Anti-Racist Goths) streaming festival. It took place on January 1st, but you can watch their segment of it here.

“It was a real honor to be a part of it,” member Perry tells me. “Davey Bones and company are great.” The band performed their songs “We Belong Nowhere,” “Blood Moon,” and “Unrequited.”

How has it been adapting to virtual/streaming instead of live concerts?

I guess the main thing I’d want to add around that is just that the fact that we’ve been able to put on virtual performances has opened some doors for us and enabled us to participate in some really great events including being on the bill with some acts we really love and that influenced us, so while it’s unfortunate we can’t get out there in person, the situation has also presented some great opportunity for us. I don’t see livestreaming as a “replacement” for in person live shows, just another vehicle we can use to create and get our music out there. Michelle has always wanted to be able to design stage shows for us but it’s just not practical when you’re going on second out of four bands on a Tuesday night and you have 10 minutes to set up, but when we’re performing at home, we can have all the time we want to make something special visually! Last September, Michelle and I moved to a turn of the 20th century converted church and have made that our home base for the band, and it’s been a great space for online performances!

Do you have plans to take part in any more online streaming festivals?

We will be playing at Virtual Temple 3 at the end of January (January 30th, at 7 PM Pacific / 10 PM Eastern), hosted by Temple in Salt Lake City. We’ve been lucky enough to be invited to perform at all three of their “Virtual Temple” events and they’ve been great, a lot of fun. We go way back with DJ Mistress Nancy, she’s a good friend. Hopefully someday we’ll get out to Salt Lake City to perform in person, and get to meet all the new people we’ve met online through live-streaming performances and virtual club nights and everything! That’s all we have scheduled for now though. We’ve been working hard on writing our next album, and we’ve decided to take a break from performance to allow ourselves time to get it finished.

I’d like to hear more about that next album. What new creative directions are you exploring with it?

We were a brand new band when we recorded and released our new album, and most of the songs were songs I’d already written and had performed as a solo artist, and we’d only played a few shows together. We all think our sound has evolved some, although I don’t think people who liked our first album will be disappointed or anything! We’ve made a conscious decision to simplify and strip down our sound somewhat. The arrangements aren’t nearly as busy. We’re still very much a gothic ROCK band with two guitar players, but we won’t be relying on thick, metal-type guitars so much of the time. Michelle and Jason are both contributing more to the songwriting this time out, and Michelle’s going to be doing more singing on this album.

As far as subject matter goes, the last couple of years have given us an awful lot to talk about! We’ve got songs in the works about the political situation in this country, letting go of the past and moving on, the pandemic, as well as the passing of my mother just a few months ago. She was the sweetest person you could ever hope to meet and my first inspiration to become a musician. We’ve also got a song in the works about Maila Nurmi, better known as Vampira. Michelle really wanted us to record an ode to her, and it should be a fun track! It’s not so much about the Vampira character, but the woman who created her, and how she created this amazing legendary vision that was so influential, and yet she had her creation essentially stolen from her, and then lived in utter poverty and isolation for decades before finding some modicum of recognition in her final years.

Wow, that sounds like a lot to look forward to. Any estimate on when it’ll be released?                               

It’s a little hard to say. We haven’t been able to get together as often as we’d like because of the pandemic and because “real life” gets in the way so often! We’re just about done writing it though, and just need to spend some time getting it all together. I’m hopeful we can have it out the first half of the year.

The singles we put out last year, “Thy Will Be Done” and “We Belong Nowhere” will be on the album too, and hopefully they give some indication as to where our sound is heading.

Thanks! Last question- any closing remarks for your fans?

Thank you all for your support and please stay healthy! We can’t wait to be able to perform in person again and dance and celebrate the darkness together again.

Black Rose Burning

S&S has written about Black Rose Burning before in a review of Open the Gate, listing it as one of the “Top Postpunk/Synthwave/Darkpop albums of 2020” at the end of December. High compliments! Open the Gate was released mid-November.

So, what have they been up to since then? I reached out to instrumentalist and producer George Grant for more information. Plan to expect, if all goes well, the release of a second record in spring.

Are you diving into any new stylistic territory or techniques on this new record?

I think it will retain my signature “sound” which I think is mostly my voice (I don’t hear too many – if any- like it in the genre, and I’ll probably be relying on a more synth-based production this time. A bit more experimental? Probably. Still infused with heavy hooks? Definitely also. I don’t think I’m ready to write my version of something like Pink Floyd’s Echo’s yet. But I will at some point.

You released a cover of Red Skies- The Fixx in the past. Any plans for more covers, potentially on this new record?

I have a few floating around on my drive – the one that looks most promising right now (if it ever actually happens) is what I think is a cool version of Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen in Love”. Anything else I’ve been toying with hasn’t gone far enough to even count yet.

Oh I absolutely love that song!

I also may be doing a collaboration with Scary Black closer to spring as well. We’ve talked on it – but haven’t made solid plans as of yet

That would be cool, I love Scary Black

Yeah I dig him a lot too. As a writer/musician and just as a person too

Now for a hardware question- have you treated yourself to any new gear in preparation for your upcoming music creation?

A LOT of software. I’m always looking for new sounds. The more ammo – the more sounds. As far as gear – I have so much already I couldn’t even think of what more I could need. I even dug out the theremin to see if I could use it on the new record! The recordings could easily turn into a free-for-all.

Yes! A theremin! I’ve got a kinda-theremin of my own, and it’s definitely great for weird noises. Can’t wait to hear you potentially use it. Any last thing you can tell your fans about the new album without spoiling too much?

If they liked the last one – this one will be even more epic. The first record was my training course...

The First Reviews of 2021

We are really excited by the success of our new Sounds and Shadows Facebook group. It has sent a ton of amazing new January releases for me to go through. This last year has given us a lot of great music but also a lot of anxiety. Lets hope 2021 is more focused on the first.

Push Button Press – Black Swan – This is a long awaited album from our friend Jim Walker and Cold Transmission record. The title really sets the tone for an amazing artist which has been a bit misunderstood and on the fringe. Writing music that was visionary and a bit progressive for some audiences. Right from track one The End of Time we are pressing our foot steady on the gas and gaining speed with clarity and purpose. I am feeling a lot of smooth spreading bassline and Jim has a stabbing staccato.That blend calls to mind early Psychedelic Furs. I think the thing that strikes me most in track 2 Trace are the crisp and driving drum beats. It really adds a powerful element of rock to the post punk concept. Title track 6 Black Swan lays open the the heart of the band. For every truth there is a black swan. The transitions here are so abrupt but maintain a silky smoothness that create constant motion. The guitar work here has a lot of early punk elements with heavy rhythm guitars. It feels like jumping across fast moving water from stone to stone. Always a sense of danger and concentration.

Jim’s voice is always just barely above the water of the mix and it lends a clarity to his words and allow the well written lyrics shine. Darkwave/Postpunk music is desperately in need of meaningful lyrics and Black Swan delivers. Although it is early in the year I expect this album will remain in my thoughts when it comes time to write best albums of 2021.

https://pushbuttonpress1.bandcamp.com/

Jay Draper & The SubterraneansBehind The Night – This album was sent to me courtesy of my friend Ryan Clark in Toronto. It features a slew of talented collaborators like Ian Revell (Double Eyelid), Paul Mercer (The Changelings) and Faith and the Muse. With all that talent what really makes this record jump out is the piercing glam rich voice of Jay Draper. The level of razzmatazz pizzazz is glorious to behold. Jay truly understands the emotional bandwidth of Dave Vanian and Brian Eno with laser lightshow blazing colors issuing forth in a rainbow. Belly of the Beast opens the album with a powerful build of a crooning pied piper leading you through the streets of a broken city. Such an immersive tapestry of expression with both voice and verse. Track 4 Land of Anxiety has this wonderful bouncing bassline and swelling keys while Drapers cadence is breathy and and happens in great leaps until the chorus explodes in a choir of ecstatic beauty. The album closes with You Must Be Mad, the operettic conclusion with a lovely synthwave power of Yaz Upstairs at Eric’s. I fell in love with the expansive growing journey of this album as I felt it sink through my skin into my bones. I think it would be easy for this record to go over the top, but for me, I found myself wanting to leap over that line and trust in Jay to take me to a fantastical place. I highly recommend you do the same. Releases on February 5th but one track is available on bandcamp now for preview.

https://jaydraperandthesubterraneans.bandcamp.com/album/behind-the-night

Antipole – MarbleNew EP just dropped from the post punk King of Norway Karl Morton Dahl. Antipole still holds the distinction of being our most reviewed band and it just keeps finding a new space. This album opens with the title track and frequent collaborator Paris Alexander of (Blue Door Productions) Marble and it is an absolute journey of a song. I really feel like I am in a giant glass bubble rolling down a mountain, across a snowy field, along a craggy beach. Karl is a wizard with overlaid texture guitars and does so much imagery with them alone. Paris has a deep resonant voice that leads you through your travels. The song also includes a remix by Molchat Doma that turns this post punk standard into a dance club jam. Song 3 Narcissus is a darker reflection with warm bass tones and Paris singing from deeper in the mix in a wispy haunting plea. I think Rachel told me that it all just sounds pleasant. In a good way, I just feel like these songs would improve almost any experience. Karl is a true master of putting everything in it’s proper place. I do think this is the furthest he has strayed from the older post punk sound and I love the bracing new direction. Another Antipole, another hit.

I’m going to start adding in my thoughts about album covers. I think this one really matches the sound. It’s a variance of dark color with sharp technique and open space.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/marble

Wandering StarsSomnambule – This is a band close to home in Ohio. It includes Joy Thieves member Derek Christopher. I immediately fell in love with with the jazzy trip hop flowing style. This isn’t a club thumping album, it’s a subtler more exclusive bar where you had to go down the back stairs and through a steel door to reach rich wood and velvet curtains. The duet vocals calling back and forth between Christopher and Lydia Brownfield are a perfect blend. He is smooth and resonant. She is sultry and glamourous. It has an amazing range of styles and elements. The album title means sleepwalker and that’s the journey it takes you on. Skipping from dream to dream. Opening with Anamnesis a flow down the 99 steps of deeper dreaming with the duet on full display and a lovely organic piano line. Track 4 Nina Bobok is this beautifully delivered ballad where Derek opens on this exposed and gently delivered plea. The subtle touch of violin really adds texture. Lydia comes in warm and shining. So many twists and turns they create with the always changing cadence. It’s one of those rare examples that you hear the genuine caring between the members. I’m definitely going to continue enjoying this and dig through the back catalog.

Love the cool steampunk metal work burned into parchment. A message just barely visible underneath. I think that speaks well to the layers present here.

https://wanderingstars.bandcamp.com/album/somnambule

Programmable AnimalOne Step to Hell – Unmistakable quality and execution from Chicago glam industrial Anthony Wonaitis now on Negative Gain. Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, 3TEETH, & No Doubt) has done an expert job mixing these large crashing emotions into a pristine balance. One Step To Hell explodes out of the gate with crashing drums and buzzing electrical texture. Wonaitis has a sensual vocal charisma which croons you towards him and then blasts you with a growling scream. This is the part in the movie where the hero stares out at a dark city from a vacant rooftop. Track 4 Sunset has a furious guitar lead that impacts your chest. Grungy Stabbing Westward/ Machines of Loving Grace vibe. I was really drawn in by the fresh glamourgrunge take on Industrial rock and the piercing clarity of message. The next time I need to drive through a city on my way to make an entrance this is my soundtrack.

Wow this is wicked AF. The sharp edges and dragon chasing it’s tale. A striking and terrifying future view.

https://programmableanimalngp.bandcamp.com/album/one-step-to-hell

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Sounds and Shadows Top 20 Goth/Darkwave Albums of 2020

What an amazing year for the Goth/Darkwave genre. A lot of fresh talent has come forth to leave their mark. In equal measure are long term veterans that have risen from the darkness to give new offerings. Our team took on the unenviable task of choosing the releases that moved us most. We are not including singles or compilations. These are not by any means every band I bought and loved in 2020 for goth. These are all bands that released an original album in the year 2020 that built a haunted house in the ruined graveyard of my head and I want to share with you now.

20) Raven SaidBeyond the Darkest Hour – My favorite of the amazing wealth of goth sounds coming out of Russia. This is a high energy shadow punk driving acid spit flavor of Misfits and Batcave. Andrey Agapitov vocals are sinister, fluid, and have a unique meter I am in love with. The guitar riffs are scorching. It keeps hitting different layers and hitting them hard. This album really shows how wide and beautiful this genre stretches.

https://ravensaid.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-darkest-hour

19) The Wake – PERFUMES AND FRIPPERIES – This is another band that has a lot of accomplishment under their belts. They really optimize what I think of as the Midwest goth sound. The guitars have this awesome fire feel, like molten splatters flying towards you. The vocals are mature and a have a rich quality. Lots of organic sounding drums that give a urgency. This is a noteworthy return for a band that has stood the test.

https://thewakeus.bandcamp.com/album/perfumes-and-fripperies

18) Rosetta Stone – Cryptology – So Rosetta Stone have been around for the long haul. They continue to put out exciting music and have been a staple in the genre. This album has a wonderful stripped down flavor. It makes it feel very intimate. “Valiant Try” is a straight up jam. I think what really captured me was that this was a familiar voice but they really peeled the mask off and gave you a look at a deeper layer.

https://rosettastoneuk.bandcamp.com/

17) WitchHands- Unto Death – Call it Death rock, Doom rock, Goth, ect. Just make sure to call it one of our top albums this year. Thick rumbling bass, slashing energy whip guitars. All called forth by Ryan’s mad carnival caller vocals. He spins tales with the conviction and charisma of a tent revival preacher. I think the biggest thing to hear is the massive step forward for their production levels so you can hear the power of every aspect. It’s glorious to behold and makes me want more WitchHands.

https://witchhandsdxr.bandcamp.com/album/unto-death

16) The Kentucky Vampire – Crimson Curse – Hailing from shockingly, Kentucky, here is another band that brings old school sinister pipe organ and fire bright guitar riffs. From Secret Sin records the tone and emotion of their 5 records is everything true fans of 80’s death rock long for. Abbas has a haunting voice full of chorus and foreboding. Brandon of Sonsombre does mastering for them and helps add a sense of continuity to this new goth sound. This record really highlighted the return of wicked guitar riffs in modern goth music.

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

15) Astari Nite – Here Lies – This album has that captivating power of The Cure “Disintegration“. The music is like a tapestry woven before your eyes. The vocals are a heart cry that begs and pleads and owned me from the start. The guitar leads are a gorgeous second vocal melody that winds through the songs with an intricate voice of it’s own. This is more of the romantic aspect of goth music. Get ready to fall in a deep pool of meaning.

https://astarinitengp.bandcamp.com/album/here-lies

14) The Cult Sounds – The Cult Sounds – This was another pleasant surprise I got this year. Adrian got me into this band. The strength and range of the vocals here is astounding. I think the most amazing ability of this band was the ability to emote dynamics by changing the structure from verse to chorus. I love the retro power of a Black Sabbath power chorus back into a dreamy romantic goth style. You can really hear the ability of the musicians wielding their talent to maximum effect. I expect huge things for this band.

https://thecultsounds.bandcamp.com/album/the-cult-sounds-remixed-remastered

13) Pilgrims of Yearning – Forsaken Lands

I have reviewed a few singles from the Boston witchy harvest dark rock. It’s striking and powerful, hints of Switchblade Symphony with a brighter flowing tang. Juls Garat has an angelic choir of a voice and gets offset by thunder rich basslines from Sean Woodbury. Claudio Marcio does a double duty on bonfire wall guitars and snapping drum sounds. I like the curt furious pace. This album was a long time coming and for an opening salvo it was really worth the wait. I love the Cure Standing on the Beach singles hectic jerk worldview to dark music. They really know how to strip it down and draw you in, then when they have you in the trap they spring the jaws. Favorite tracks: The Besieged Bachanalia, and The Visitor.

The standard is set for a new force in dark rock music. This is a journey worth taking with a very mystical and stormy feel. They are on my new list of must follows for all future release.

https://pilgrimsofyearning.bandcamp.com/

12) Shadow Assembly – Arcane Fusion The sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction with Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre. This new album opens the portal of darkness even further by using a different vocalist/lyricist for every track. This album is not only a prism of the wide varieties in modern gothic rock, but also a who’s who of the vocal talent of the current scene. I will act as your ferryman on the River Styx as I lead you through each track on this modern classic.

Overall this album is a synthesis of talent that really highlights what is possible when you have a maestro that knows and loves the music other artists make and finds a way to make each tone flow together to build something greater than the some of it’s parts. It is currently available on bandcamp for digital download and a CD run. If you want a good place to place your finger on the pulse of modern goth, this album is a great place to start.

https://shadowassembly.bandcamp.com/album/arcane-fusion

11) The Birthday Party MassacreDiamonds – Look they are one of the biggest names in the modern genre and that’s for good reason. The gorgeous production pushes this towards darkpop (which is not a bad thing). It’s driving, passionate, and the drum builds and transitions are ungodly. This record feels like running through the darkest parts of Hogwarts. Yes it has a child like innocence about it, but at the same time a depth and soul. TBPM still have a lot of ground to cover in their journey.

https://thebirthdaymassacre.bandcamp.com/album/diamonds

10) Rosegarden Funeral Party – At The Stake – I have shockingly never reviewed an album from the Dallas TX traditional goth explosion. I’ve heard singles but never dove in head first and I’m not afraid to admit that was dumb. Sinister reverb guitars, blistering transitions, and laser strike vocals. Leah  is a force of raw untamed storm winds striking out at an unsuspecting world. It’s haunting and full of driving pop hooks. Consider me won, consider me a fan. Favorite tracks : Torture DeclineFear of Feeling NothingJustification.

https://rosegardenfuneralparty.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-stake

9) Caroline Blind –The Spell Between – Caroline has been a mainstay for so long in this scene. Sunshine Blind “Liquid” was one of those albums that really showed me how much more the goth sound could be. This album features years of reflection and a power and beauty of delivery that makes me well up with emotion. The surrounding musicians she brought in to add depth and shading to the tracks are an all star list of talent. A powerful voice to remind us of the past and excite us for the future.

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

8) SOPOR AETERNUS & The Ensemble Of Shadows – Island of the Dead – Honestly this is one of those bands I am embarrassed I didn’t already know about. I heard this on the Pat 626 show and I fell instantly in love. It’s dark, quirky, and utterly unique. It has a mystical and theatrical quality full of poetry and intensity. Brooding and whip crack sharp with hammer dulcimers and vocal deliver as sharp as a dagger. Music like this is my dark secret passion. More Harpsichords in goth NOW!

https://soporaeternus.bandcamp.com/album/island-of-the-dead-2020

7) Mary – Die Before Death – My newest goth obsession from Toronto. It is fast paced, spicy, with an old school New York feel. Strong sweeping vocals with a lot of depth and meaning. It also has a complete album feel with the sweeping tempo and dynamic shifts. Take me through the full range of emotions in one record. Another Cold Transmission signing. I expect big things in the future from him. This album is my sleeper pick of someone I was not familiar with before but will be heavily invested in ever future release.

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

6) A Covenant Of Thorns – Black -I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)

Top Tracks: All of them…

but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression

Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.

Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/black

5) Black Angel – Kiss of Death – London UK artist Black Angel is putting the bat cave rock back into death rock. I feel so much of The Mission and later Sisters dancy flow to gothic rock. Their music reminds me so much of the goth club scene, swinging arms, leather and lace. Gothic music has always been tied to expression with the body, that is something Matt Vowel’s has grasp and fused into the future. The use of banging rock guitar riffs with a southern flare really created something fresh and memorable.

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

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

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

3) Night Nail – March to Autumn – Two things made this album incredible for me. 1) The complexity. The layers, instrumentation, lyrics, it all has a depth to it that doesn’t seem to be the goal of a lot of darkwave. 2) How genuine it feels. I have interviewed Brandon and I know he is one of those rare souls that when I hear his music, I feel like who I am seeing is the exact person on the album. The album also has the rich treat of Valentina (VV and the Void) providing additional vocals and keys for contrast and perspective that adds shading and definition. This is an album to think to.

https://music.nightnail.com/

2) IamtheshadowPitchblack – When I think of goth, I think of passion and vocals that capture a room. Lisbon Portugal’s IAMTHESHADOW does that in spades. Pedro Code has the best baritone in modern goth. It’s sexy, crooning, dangerous music that sounds like a full bodied red first touching your lips. It’s music to give yourself over and get lost in. Like the first time you heard Peter Murphy and thought this is the sound that encapsulates the image I want to see in the mirror. This album was a perfect bridge of the old school organic and the new school electronic. Like a chemist finding that perfect balance of styles. Now on Cold Transmission Music.

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

  1. Sonsombre1000 Graves – This album really shows a band finding themselves. I feel like the success of TVOE really gave a confidence to embrace more of what they are. The guitars are a giant black furred wolf growling with hair standing on end. The bass is a thundering storm bellowing out a foreboding prophesy of an uncertain future. The keyboard is rushing wind stirring the leaves on a damp autumn morning. Brandon’s voice is a dangerous and sinister whisper full of echo’s making a spectral challenge. These lyrics are a forgotten poetry of Byron and Poe singing to that darkest part of our nature. I know this review is starting to get pretty metaphorical but poetry demands poetry and Sonsombre makes me want to embrace the dark poet in my own heart. In my opinion no one is doing more to forward the rebirth of goth music in the modern era than Brandon and crew. They are leading the charge and wearing giant brimmed hats while doing it.

https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/album/one-thousand-graves-2

It’s Time To Bring the Romance Back To Goth Music.

So dark music/goth has always run a parallel for with me Romanticism. Love, loss, passion, distance, these ideas that Robert Smith perfected and were such a intimate part of that original concept. Then as the scene evolved and became broader the norm stretched further from that idea. Today as the wind is chill and the leaves have abandoned the trees I am thinking about bands that are still pluming the depths of this idea. As a song writer the most difficult thing for me to write is a genuine love song, that captures the feeling but doesn’t step over into cheese. I tried to come up with examples of releases I have not previously discussed on the page.

A Covenant of Thorns: Black – I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/black

Top Tracks: All of them…

but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression

Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.

Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.

Creux Lies : Blue – New single out from Sacramento’s favorite dark dreamers has thundering drums to drive is golden thread poetry. It’s a thicker richer sound than phenomenal 2018 release “The Hearth“. Ean’s voice is wide as the ocean and and dances on the mist. It’s really hard to capture the range and beauty of Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I feel like that is exactly what happens. My secret favorite part is the outro with old school lofi keyboards. I need a whole hell of a lot more of this and I need it now!

https://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/

Twin Tribes (Cult of Alia Remix) : Perdidos – Twin Tribes has mastered the post punk passion and sultry beauty of bands like The Cure. This latest remix by Cult of Alia is a softer more subtitle ghostly whisper tantalizing love lost beyond the void. the pulsing keyboard rhythms take the place of driving bass and conjure images of haunted towers. I’m so hungry for another Twin Tribes album, but this was a welcome repose.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/track/perdidos-cult-of-alia-remix

Selofan: Partners in Hell – This gorgeous Greek darkwave really deserves it’s own full review. I am embarrassed to say I have not written a review of them yet and they really deserve it. Per the theme I am going to focus on the track “There Must Be Somebody“. Driving mod synth tones flow down a moonlit river while a women in white calls forth with longing. This is beauty and horror blended together in true gothic fashion. Joanna Pavlidou’s voice is heavy with heart and touches you with icy clarity. Pavlidis’s basslines and chorus of synthesizers create a water color image of stormy regret and movement. Why have I not spent more time with this band?

https://selofan.bandcamp.com/album/partners-in-hell

Mortal Boy: Chronoception – LA darkwave band which is beautiful as it is intense. I love the Richard Butler flavor to the vocals. The star strike guitars really add a wonderful contrast to the darkwave style. This is definitely music full of plum red wines and flickering candles. It drips of both passion and loss. Favorite track “Kiss Me Poison” which combines all the best parts of the vocals and woven tapestry. If you have a special goth partner in your life, this is the music they want to hear as you bring out a romantic dinner.

https://mortalboy.bandcamp.com/

The Secret French Postcards: Colours – New Cold Transmission Music release from Sweden. I love the post punk feel and organic drum sounds that add clarity and precision to this droning croon. This album is the moment in the movie where the protagonist looks across a crowded club and locks eyes with their soulmate. Olli’s vocals are drenched in warm and earnest love. Offset by resonating guitar lines and keyboard cascades by (IAMTHESHADOW) Pedro Code. It’s feels modern and fresh while the melodic vocal chant reminds me of Steve Kilbey (The Church). This is a band I keep feeling grow with every release. This one is out on 12/11/20 and preorder is available now.

https://thesecretfrenchpostcards.bandcamp.com/album/colours-2

Lust For Youth: Lust For Youth – Self titled album from the Danish synthpop band giving huge New Order vibes, which is never a bad thing. This record feels like staring at the sky while rain falls down. It’s cool, it’s stark, and it reminds you why you want to keep hoping for more. I was two tracks in and I’m already a believer. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing something familiar very well. A dark tone while centering in on lyrical hope. My favorite track was “Great Concerns“. This album was a journey of connection and the power of the human experience.

https://lustforyouth.bandcamp.com/album/lust-for-youth

Korine: The Night We Raise – I have been deeply in love with this band since Twin Tribes played them for me on our podcast. From Philly this band is glorious dark dream slush with encompassing vocals and swirling synths. This new album from Sept took another step forward in production and clarity. It also has a razor fang edge to the beauty of the music. Sometimes love bites hard and while wrapped in a velvet glove of tone Korine cuts you to the quick. This is a record you really need to spend the extra moment with and peal back the layers. The cotton candy sweet on your tongue is truly just the first layer.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/


What are your favorite romantic dark tracks I missed? Post them below 🙂