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 Timewe 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 Traceare 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.
Jay Draper & The Subterraneans – Behind 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 Anxietyhas 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 YazUpstairs 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.
Antipole – Marble – New 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.
Wandering Stars – Somnambule – 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.
Programmable Animal – One 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.
So many great Industrial/EDM/EBM albums this year. This is a genre that has been expanding and drawing fresh listeners all year. Again I can’t possibly include everything I loved, however these albums were the ones that fired a jolt of electricity into my spine and made my gears churn. These are all artists who had a full release in 2020.
20) Rabbit Junk – Xenospheres – Seattle based EBM/Metal dance explosion has been churning out explosive action movie soundtracks with razor sharp production. This album is swinging a sledge hammer around their heads on a leather cord. The cover of Iggy Pop’s “Kick It” with Peaches singing is worth the price of admission on it’s own.
19) eHpH – Infrared – Colorado band eHpH did this timely politically charged record that really captured the fear and division in the current climate. I think what I loved best were how wide the influences present were. Some melodic and post punk, some bright buzzing EBM. The whole record was full of intelligence and challenges the listener to face their own ideas about where the world is headed.
18) Seven Federations – Holy Orders – A wonderous sonic explosion from South Dakota. The vocals just crackle with electric ferocity from exploding transformers. Filthy basslines and wolf growl guitars. this album is the naughty demon on your shoulder whispering to you of sinful roads not taken. They might be the most underrated album on this list. People need to know about this record.
17) Carrion – Testament Ov The Exiled – This is always such a hard review to write. Carrion is so powerful, so fresh, but just doesn’t fit into any box that makes sense within the mind. This textural terror noise has a level of intensity that demands recognition. How to quantify it I have no idea. Other than to say it is music that leaves you changed, afraid, praying for the dawn. Hide [Adrian] is creating on a level that artists and critics in the next decade may have artful words for. This whole record just leaves me moved and unsure how to describe. Best to bare witness for yourself.
PS: Carrion is already reissuing the album via Brutal Resonance Records, the `Revised Edition ` includes 5 bonus tracks!
16) Corlyx – Together Apart – World traveling EDM darkpop couple Caitlin and Brandon with their sophomore offering have captured the glory of pageantry in dark music. Caitlin has a beautiful voice that captivates and builds dreams in your mind. I love the dark LA gutter glamor this band always commands. They have added a level of clarity and refinement for this album and continue to evolve. Get in on the ground floor of these future stars.
15) Rottersand – How Do You Feel Today – The way this German band turns and twists on different axis within the same tracks is reality defying. The echoing chorus’s that have an intelligence and feel of Roger Waters bursting with electronic futurecore explosion. This album is a special journey with peaks and valleys that run the breadth of human experience. It is a modern album that has something for every kind of listener to enjoy.
14) Trevor Something – Deep Wave Data Dark Web Deamons – Florida dance demon Trevor Something might be the sexiest thing I heard all year. The way they capture raw, grinding, sexual energy in sonic form is something of glory. It shakes your bone marrow awake and says you are an animal that hungers for flesh. Buy this record, shake a martini, and have a private dance party with your favorite partner.
13) 11 Grams – Humancide – The super combo of Rob and Simeon put out this long awaited album of everything you ever loved about old school industrial/electronica. It always has a toe over the line while sounding so familiar. Perfect execution and narrative intensity. This record is a rocket jocks sci-fi soundtrack to explore the speed of the stars.
12) SpankTheNun – The Bunker Tapes Volume I – Hard and metal to the floor industrial from Texas. How do you find that line between crystal clear beats and filthy growling vocals? It’s right here. We aren’t reinventing the wheel here, we are greasing the axle to make it spin harder and faster. A bunch of amazing remixes from Blue Ant, Assemblage 23 , Melodywhore, Sapphirra Vee, show the faith and influence that this band commands in the scene.
11) Caustic – A Succession Of Repetitive Beats – Our only double album winner in this genre is Matt Fanale. The return of Caustic and their DIY punk rock mentality with witty and humorous electronic slither is a breath of fresh air in the modern genre. The song Stale Semen, Shame, and Video Games is a poignant slam of the Incel culture. Make me dance and make me think. This is what Joe Strummer trained us for.
10) Sapphira Vee – The Mask – The smoky and subtitle voice of Sapphira Vee from Rochester NY has been tearing up the airwaves the last two months. A slow drink of whiskey in sonic form. It’s slow and grinding full of personal reflection and self realization. I had a small part guest vocal on this album and it’s a point of personal pride that I was involved with such a powerful release this year. I’ve bought multiple copies of this record to send to friends. This is a great example of why trip hop is the highest evolution of music.
9) Kanga – Eternal Daughter – LA based artist wields this sonic saber like a charging cavalry officer charging by on a horse slashing on both sides. It’s that effortlessly cool beauty blended with icy dance beats. I’m not sure what category to put this in beyond excellent.
8) Grabyourface – Sea – Every once in a while some album comes along that is so fresh and honest you sit up in your chair and just feel something new. One of those artist that grabs hold of their own ribcage and rips themselves open to let you in on the guts and grime of everything inside them. This album forces you to feel things, to confront and absorb the empathetic tone within yourself.
7) Klack – Probably – The Wisconsin EDM sensation that brings together Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device). I’ve watched this project grow and blossom and this album really hit the perfect stride and balance of their styles. It’s clever, it’s electric, and the single Faith In Me is a glorious jam that could have been on a Depeche Mode album in the late 80s. I love when you hear a collaboration and can hear how much the artists respect and care about each other. It can’t be faked and this album brims over with it.
6) The Joy Thieves – A Blue Girl – Chicago superband led by drummer extraordinaire Dan Milligan has been garnering much deserved respect in Industrial circles. The way he blends old school Industrial with organic hard rock is an energy which is contagious. The contributor list is impressive and so long I won’t add everyone but names like Chris Connelly, Jullian Beeston, and Ania Tarnoska are just a few highlights. The title track is a slamming cut for the ages. If you don’t know about the next Pigface you need to get on board this train.
5) Klute – Queer For Satan – Claus Larson of Leatherstrip unleashed this gorgeous record of furious destruction and sensual magnetism. This year must have been one of the toughest things a person can go through for him and that unbridled emotion pours forth in a firehose of pain and fear. If you love Leatherstrip (and how could you not) this album is top of the game.
4) Stoneburner – Beauty Is Terror – Steven Archer has had multiple releases this year, all great. His ability as an artist and multimedia creator really is the top of the game for DIY synthesis of audio and visual. To me this record was the highest evolution of his style thus far. It’s hard, world view, narrative, intelligent music that conjures images like you are reading a novel. The single “Are you here the way I’m here” is a steampunk electrocore time travel head flip. This album truly pushes the boundary of what is possible in thought and feeling. You need it.
3) ESA: Electronic Substance Abuse – “Burial 10“ – EBM music is not my cup of tea. However, anything done at the top of the game is easy to know when you hear it. This album is hard, filthy, and so full of nuclear radiation it is impossible to not stomp your feet and dance to. The concept, power, and delivery are peerless in their execution. Add to that guest performances by Jo Hysteria, Cainlin Corlyx, and Lecture and you have one of the breakout album experiences of the year. This is one of those records I could listen to 100 times and hone in on a different detail each one.
2) The Jean Marc Lederman Experience – Letters to Gods and Fallen Angels – For all those wondering where are the albums touching on a higher artistic ideal in the modern age. This is it. The Belgian artists who’s resume has touched some of the most prolific music to occur in the electronic era has compiled a group of guest singers both legendary and future stars and ask them to write a letter to God or a fallen angel. The responses follow the course of human mysticism and discovery. This album is a true journey of thought and expression that touches on a myriad of styles and ideas. It’s been a long time since a record made me think and feel so much. Do yourself a favor and take this adventure.
Pig – Pain Is God – Some people had a punk rock phase in their angry youth. I had an industrial one. A big part of that was Raymond Watts. KMFDM and <PIG> was a remind that Industrial music could mean something else. That it was a music of synthesis between electronic dance beats and any other style you could imagine. Here he is reborn the swine lord persona with a heady blend of of gospel, hard rock, and neon gutter grime. This record was the open gate between my 2020 self and my 1993 self. A DeLorean that connected me to my ego and my wisdom. A glorious return for the master of swine.
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)
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
So the final Bandcamp day of 2020 is upon us. This whole year feels like an absurd blur. I continue to beat the drum hard for all Bandcamp does to support artists all year round. This day each month has become something I cherish as it usually leads to several new releases. As usual I am up at midnight firing through whiskey and trying to share some of the new music that is filling my heart with fire. As the possibility of Facebook turning away from artists sharing their work I urge you to follow the page and comment below the review music that is inspiring you that I might put it in future reviews.
Codename: Lola – Lets start out with this badass cover of one of my favorite bands Ultravox in one of their more underrated songs. The single features fireball vocals from Gothzilla frontman Tim Jarvis. It’s got a glorious walking gansta style and a wailing guitar solo. Just blistering energy that never lets up and fills me with excitement for the future of this project. Currently it is free on bandcamp and is a must grab.
Vlimmer: Alexander has done it again. His ability to crank out albums at the highest quality in record speed leaves me speechless. This latest release “XIIIIIIII” has his textured emotive stark imagery. Opening with an urgency and seamless blend of guitar slush with cascading keyboards. It’s gorgeous, immersive, and never disappoints. I am always shocked by how far from the previous concept each release leaps. This one highlights the vocals and has a brighter indie rock sensibility. I’m in awe, how does he have so many ideas that always sound so fresh.
The Funeral March of the Marionettes – New single from the Illinois post punk band called “Useless”. It’s brash and melodic with 80s Killing Joke feel. That driving bassline that never lets up and chanting devil may care vocals that add weight by floating on the wave of sound.
Dissonance Feat: Kurt Larson: If there are three things I love it is 1) Kate Bush 2) Kurt Larson (Information Society) 3) The soulful smokey croon of Cat Hall. It’s a song that has seen covers before but this one is special for the vocal duet and digital downpour of sound falling on us while we are running up that hill. A special release from one of the most underrated voices in this scene. This single comes off an amazing compilation of cover songs by electronic artists called “Numbers Covered”. A great value here but if you have to check just one track it is this.
Vertical Patrols – Another single from the San Diego synthwave artist. It’s warm and puts me in mind of catchy New OrderTechnique until the vocals drop with a unique accented feeling of frustration and loss. It grabs hold of your lapels and shakes you furiously searching for it’s own answers. It’s one of those bands where I hear what is coming, as much as what I am hearing. This single paves the way for something exciting in the future.
Damien Done : My fellow Michigan native has released 3 new demos songs in November. It’s always a great experience when you have an artists that you have followed the evolution of their sound. Moyal has had an impressive career with a wide range of styles. His voice really has so many tricks in the bag and shifts from album to album and even within single tracks. An impressive talent and lyrical storyteller that drenches each canvas with rich and immersive imagery. My favorite of the three tracks was “Always On Fire” with featured this beautiful harp sound. His voice takes on a rich Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) lilt. Then shifts into a powerful growl at just the right moment as a booming trip hop drum beat sinks in. A Master of the song writing craft Damien does not disappoint. The blistering guitar solo in the outro is a scorching flame on oil soaked waters. Powerful.
Dead Astronauts: New release out of Seattle from Cold Transmission Music called “Silhouettes“. This one is a pre order not available until January but it already has me bubbling with excitement. First single is “Chauffer and the Flame” ok to start with I love that song title. This is hungry and sensual. It features a beautifully matched duet vocal that creates duality and tension. These drum beats come from within you and burst out of your chest. The sleek electronic style feels like I am in the Tron stadium racing in a light motorcycle with everything on the line. It’s hot, tantalizing, and leaves me hungry for more.
Modal Citizan : New album Control After Delete from chaos dark grunge out of Virginia Beach. So this was admittedly a little closer to metal edge than I generally venture. My first inclination was to kick it over to Collin or Adrian. However I found it growing on me as I played it more and more. The thick as fuck crunching guitars took me back to Bad Motorfinger from Soundgarden. The vocals while full of screech and growl, also found tones of gentle beauty which rode that razor edge never quite crossing over into something to hard for me to relate to. It was one of those records I kept expecting to want to get off the ride, but found myself clutching the bar and feeling myself pulled deeper. I always know something is impressive when it is obviously out of my wheelhouse but I keep coming back to it. Even now I am not sure how I feel, other than I was never bored or lost. I think this is a record I will find me daring myself into exploring again and again in the future.
Sapphira Vee: Ok there are a lot of reasons I am excited for this album “The Mask” due out 12/15/20. One of which are the bevy of awesome collaborators including Spankthenun, The Joy Thieves, Melodywhore, and yes Amaranth. I even do a bit of guest vocals on the track “World My Voice“. Sapphira has a voice and energy that fills a room. It’s dangerous and calls you like a siren from the rocks. These tracks are so personal and really tear her open as she holds out her heart in her hand. I love the throwback tone of dropped beat triphop. It really highlights the power of her controlled elegance. It’s music that gives you a shiver. A tension in the air. An inhaled breath with every roll of the dice. In a world of darkpop about escape, this album demands your focus. It’s hard pressed to pick a favorite track, but “Mask of Happy” is such a creeping and subtle jam you don’t realize has ahold of you until it is too late. A powerful release that belongs in your collection.
Grabyourface: French ultraviolet blade runner who has just signed with Negative Gain records will release an eagerly anticipated new album 12/18/20 called “Sea“. This record is gorgeous from the get. The spoken word poetry style is engaging and draws attention to the lyrics. It’s a drowning plea cutting through an ocean of depression, trying to break the water. The music is a slow electronic cascade weathering down the rocks. I really found myself getting lost in this. Sonically it’s like the other side of the same spectrum as Mr.Kitty. My pick for favorite track was “So”. The mixture of piano sound and florescent fog synths give a beautiful setting for the melody rap poetry. Overall this is an impressive offering and one I will definitely be getting preorder for.
Caustic: Matt Fanale also of Klack released a new 5 song pandemic club massacre ep. Rhythmic robot signal beamed into your brain guiding your body as a marionette. My jam was Tu Madre. It was so hard to stop my feet from stomping and waking the house. The AI efficiency of the music is memorizing. There is so much movement with so few different sources carrying it. Around 2:50 the blasting toms start and kick the floor from under you. You also get Matts clever humor in songs like Stale Seman, Shame, and video games. The whispered secret, and old school dancedustrial beat are a delicious combination. Matt is really one of the leaders in the charge of current industrial/edm.
In my youth I didn’t really have a punk rock phase. My angry phase was Industrial. Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, Test Dept, KMFDM, Die Warsaw, Lord of Acid,Neubauten, Front Line Assembly, Front 242,Leatherstrip, Chemlab, were the fiery steam fire oily sounds that spoke to my soul. As time went on my anger and napalm softened and I moved away from this soul. In the past few years I have found myself rediscovering and broader and more intricate hard electronic sound. Here are some of the echoing booms filling my warehouse.
SpankTheNun: The Texas industrial sensation from Eric Hanes is bringing Industrial back to it’s early core. It’s catchy and dancy, with steel jaws of metal drive guitars and distorted growl. I love the clarity achieved through modern tech that takes the early feel and refines it into the modern expectation of laser focus. The new album out “The Bunker Tapes volume 1” is a perfect homage to the past with a fresh hypersonic spin.
Stoneburner: Steven Archer of Ego Likeness started the project of to express a different aspect of his music. This is truly taking the concept of Industrial music into a higher form of evolving art. It’s high concept sci fi with tribal organic drum beats and lyrical poetry that pushes the boundaries of the human experience. The albums are ever evolving and are done with a vision. He also is a master of interactive experience and blending of visual and sonic art. Truly breaking ground for a new concept.
GoFight: It’s hard to think of Jim Marcus as “new” Industrial. Die Warsaw was one of those early bands that taught me the idea of Industrial music could mean something more than macho angry aggression. A beauty and subtlety that made me dance and sing along with glorious pop hooks while maintaining that furious grinding filth. Jim continues to write songs that capture the mind and infuse the body with buzzing chemical energy. A relatable idea with sharp edges and teeth. One of those beautiful ideas that blends accessibility with higher thought. Jim has always been the cutting edge of Chicago Industrial and has not missed a beat. New single out Freestate is another masterpiece of technique and torr ant.
I Ya Toyah: The one woman army from Chicago is a explosion of energy, love, and pain. It’s has a soul that really sets it apart from a lot of the genre. Ania has a voice and song writing style that captivates with it’s power and passion. The songs move with intention and the lyrics have a personal flavor that makes you a part of them. The live stage show is truly something to behold. She is a voice for the future of what electronic music is capable of.
The Joy Thieves: Another Chicago band ( A Lot of good Industrial came from Chicago). This one a super band helmed by Dan Milligan has brought amazing talents from several Industrial mainstays to ride that line between hard rock and industrial. I once describes them as Clutch beating the shit our of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat. It’s furious aggression, blistering guitar work, progressive percussion, and napalm vocals. It’s a compilation of talent to rival bands like Pigface with it’s own organic concept.
Fee Lion: Another Chicago act with more smooth cold blue edges. A powerful and sensual voice with distinctive electronic dance club explosions. Very avant garde and and invasive. A true master class in how to use push pull dynamics to pull in your audience. Only a few releases so far but already setting the stage for a power player in the genre.
Klack: Madison WI collaboration between Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device) have formed up to make EDM for a new generation. It’s clever, conscience, and shoots a bolt of electricity into your spine that shakes that ass. The vocals are the perfect blend of both talents that brings the revolution and makes it fun. It’s an iron gauntlet in a velvet glove. Get Klacked and stay Klacked.
Moris Blak: Boston MA, Hard EDM industrial is not here to take you gently into emersion. It is fierce and limb flinging excitement adrenochrome shot into your mind and designed to make you let go of all control. He also does some intense remixes and mind bending live shows. This is not a throwback sound. It is straight alien brain melt.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – The British master of EDM dance club excitement. When using bass beats like a sonic weapon it is a true challenge to construct ear worm melodies that cut to the forefront. This music is a virus that infiltrates every cell of your being and demands you dance. The newest album “Eat Your Young” also features the amazing Caitlin of the band Corlyx. Immersive filthy grinding dance beats that ride you hard and put you away wet.
Curse Mackey: – This is a scene veteran that has been a key member of one of the biggest Industrial bands Pigface. He has recently released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism“. Aside from the amazing vocals and pedigree of this record, I think what really moves me are the thought and poetry of the lyrics. This is truly and out of the box thinking persons Industrial sound. A must have.
Silverwalks: Criminally underrated sci-fi electronic backdrop creator from Philly. This new single is “Lantern” is an absolute burner. One of those songs I can’t hit play enough times on. It has a true Gary Numan quality in it’s texture and flow. I loved it so much I had to have an Amaranth remix done. Transport yourself to an alternate sonic reality with this band.
Melodywhore: This glorious electronic music wizard has forged really taken the old Industrial concept of collaboration. Blending a softer more passionate dance grime energy. Using a variety of musicians and vocalists. This latest track for BLM charities is beautiful and powerful. Giving voice to rage using an intelligent whisper.
Dead Agent is the solo project of Ed Finkler, also known as Funkatron.
Musically it leans more towards the EBM side of the spectrum but manages to do so without feeling like something we`ve heard a thousand times before during the last X amount of years.
While its mainly instrumental there`s heavy use of samples and other sound design techniques to create the illusion of vocals as can be heard on the track “Frentik“.
Ed was once part of the band Cult Of Jester where we saw him in the role of a vocalist fronting an industrial rock band so to see him return to music in such a different yet at the same time familiar manner is definitely interesting. Dead Agent is a project to keep your eyes on going forwards.
From Connecticut we have Decent News who we have featured on the site before in various scenarios. They deliver a refreshing take on the blending on industrial and rock/metal. The guitar work especially stands out from the crowd as one can pick up on some clear early thrash metal influences at times as opposed to what has seemingly become the standard industrial guitar consisting of simply palm muting and tabs that look something like this: 0-000-00-0.
Having carved out their own sound they manage to evolve and progress with each release within the confines of their world which is quite an underappreciated talent.
From the UK comesVanity Killsdelivering some dirty, gritty rock n roll with filthy, dripping electronics sewn in like a patch on a vest.
They wear their influences on their sleeve and take it all the way whether that be sonically or visually, yet also manage to do things their own way and leave an open wound on the otherwise often too mechanical world of industrial rock.
While Darrin Lewis may have spent years as vocalist for the metal/deathcore band Beside The Silence he’s now working under the moniker Nothing Valentine creating what I‘m tempted to call a blend of pop and industrial but still retaining the heavy element of earlier projects.
Debuting with the song #GothGirl almost a year ago, he later followed up with the politically charged track “Civil Unrest” which showed a thematically and in many ways musically heavier side to NV which might not have been according to the audiences expectations after hearing the more light hearted first single but this is exactly why he`s on the list. Expect the unexpected whether it be in terms of music or the overarching themes.
Of course we have to include Blakmoth as we just did an interview with him.
Blakmoth creates what he refers to as “Doombient” consisting of heavy rhythmic drum work and droning ambient soundscapes all created with modular synths.
Having recently signed with Errorgrid Records and with a new release on the way despite having released “Deathshead” only a couple weeks ago Blakmoth is highly productive and is always seeking to push the envelope and challenge the audiences ideas.
I hope that with time well see more modular based artists pop up and break out of lighthearted bleeps and bloops for just a moment to explore the dark side of synthesis that Blakmoths music beckons us towards.
From Denver, Colorado comes the duo known as Echo Beds with amplified oil barrels, broken tapes and generally less than perfect instruments they create noisy yet catchy and often strangely melodic tunes reminiscent of early Swans meets EBM or something along those lines. Visceral yet danceable, not too harsh for the new comers to the experimental part of the industrial genre but just enough to entice you to go deeper and explore a side of it which is often forgotten about these days despite being the source of the genre. This one is truly DIY or die voltage therapy.
Industrial Rock isn`t exactly what Norway is known for musically although one might be able to draw comparisons between the early days of industrial and black metal in terms of extremity ,avant garde-esque tendencies and against the grain approach.
Carrion, lead by S&S writer Hide [Adrian Kjøsnes] blends elements of traditional rock n roll with a tad of 90s Nine Inch Nails style steeped in occult philosophy and mysteries.
Having just released the album “Testament Ov The Exiled” now is the perfect time to check them out if you haven’tt already to hear Hides most recent experiment mixing distorted guitars and modular synthesis into a blend of structured yet still chaotic noise and…Power ballads. Yes, you read that right.
Having recently released the single “Blithe Din” along with a ton of remixes [Including Dead Agent and Decent News] this Florida based aggrotech band is perfect for those who love catchy synth lines that worms their way into your ear while banshee like vocals speak of biblical themes full of symbolism painstakingly researched for accuracy and adopted to whatever vocalist Richie V. Suriv attempts to express.
Having already built a following within the U.S alternative scene playing with acts like Psyclon Nine, Dope, Skold, Combichrist and more this is not one to miss, oh, and they`ve got their keyboards on a chain swingset 😉
Zwaremachine: Loud and nasty from Minneapolis, this band is a grinding tidal wave of shrapnel and hiss. It rolls over you in slow driving sludge and flashing lights. Bringing gore and empty warehouse space into stark relief that transports you back to a 90’s rave in Detroit. Join in the chant and leave your inhibitions at the door.
11 Grams: The team up between Rob Early and Simeon Fitzpatrick that cuts the clean razors of electronic science fiction and dance club fury. This is two masters of production riding an electric wave of futuristic beauty and construction. It’s transformative and honed to make rooms sizzle.
StatiqBloom: This New York band is frightening and cold. It’s movement is infectious but the tone is dark. A Sinister horror film brought to life. Definitely EDM dance movement but one that leaves you anxious and clawing at the wall. You can’t sleep because you can’t relax in this terrifying landscape.
TH Inc: Chicago, Illinois Hailing from the beating heart of American Industrial music comes the sonic power house TH Inc. Electronic music pioneers Christopher Turner (of Nookleptia and the mixcloud show The Garbageman Show) & Robert Hyman (Drummer of Mr. Russia, member of Melter and owner of Lens Records) first came on the scene with the darkly haunting 8 minute “Drawstring” and the pair continue to dish out fresh dark DIY industrial reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle, Brighter Death Now, and the edgier side of COIL. If you missed out on or just miss the raw paranoid energy of early industrial and noise, but need a taste of something new, look no further. 2020 has seen the Release of 2 albums the gritty pulsing Circuit Flare, and the epic droning of The Tarkovsky Suites.learn more @ thincband.com
Bellhead: Chicago, Illinois Also from the land of WAX TRAX, this 2 Bass & a Drum Machine, Male/Female duo gave us their first taste of their mix of industrial sleaze with the thick dirty sound of “Fire Control“. Bellhead have kept it up with a hand full of releases including the 2020 EP “Unicorn Bones” and the Single “Sanity Assassin” an edgy in you face cover of the Bauhaus song.Keep you eyes on Bellhead, especially if you are a fan of the 90’s industrial rock style of Orgy and Snake River Conspiracy and even later Thrill Kill Kult.
eHpH: Denver, Colorado By now I am sure you have noticed we here at Sounds and Shadows are fans of eHpH and Bleeding Light Music in general. I feel I cannot say enough about eHpH, they come to the table with a fresh take on EBM and the darker side of synth driven industrial. From track to track you feel something that could have easily hit the dance floors of 90’s/2000’s goth industrial clubs and yet sounds strangely original. eHpH is that seductive dark stuff that draws you into this world.