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.
I rarely get that feeling in the goth scene always driven by nostalgia that someone is ascending with every release. That every new album finds new colors and expression. It makes me wonder where the ceiling for Mark E Moon is. This is hungry music, to revel in, but never to sit comfortably with. It’s an energy that is always stalking over the next hill. Searching for a deeper more visceral pain.
In the past 4 years German based label Cold Transmission has been responsible for amassing and growing some of the greatest talent in the modern darkscene. Andreas and Suzy Herrmann have created a music label experience that feels like family. With a hawk’s eye for talent and a focus on growing creative expression. They have built up an amazing roster of talent around the world. Here in their second compilation to celebrate their releases you can experience some of the best and brightest for one low price. Mastered by the talented Pete Burns of Kill Shelter and featuring artwork of Yvonne Kiel this CD is a who’s who of the modern darkscene. In addition to the amazing music compiled, a portion of the proceeds is donated for humanitarian purposes in Ukraine. I wish I could review every track on this stellar offering, but I will shine a light on a few highlights.
IAMTHESHADOW – On Winter Leaves Embrace – Pedro Code has a once in a lifetime voice. The Portuguese darkwave artist is the flagship of Cold Transmission. An emotive passion sailing a turbulent sea of beauty and melancholy that moves the heart of everyone who hears it.
NIGHT NAIL – Co-Morbid – Our dear friends in Berlin the abstract shadow rock of Night Nail. I love the complex and unique beauty with a focus on emotional impact over hook. Dynamic and courageous changes with interesting instrumentation. Night Nail treads fresh ground like protogoths Bauhaus while creating a style solely their own.
Camlann – I’m Nobody – The ridiculously talented young folk from Indonesia. How I wish that I sounded this way when I was their age. It is sleek, passionate, and overflows with a unique darkness. This band has such a bright future set out before them.
The Ending Nights – A Landscape To Die – Another project of Pedro Code. This a apocalypse death disco offering to sum up the last few years. Precision , Execution, Beauty, Passion, swirling in a violet fog. A transcendent art piece to speak to turbulent times.
PALAIS IDEAL – Age Of Intransigence – Netherlands post prog rockers John Edwards and Richard van Kruysdijk continue to create some of the most dynamic and intelligent science fiction thought rock in the scene. This is music that displays technique and ability while challenging you to higher thought.
MARY – Devouring Me – I genuinely feel this 2020 release from Toronto is one of the most underrated records in recent time. Driving and intense basslines that cast rippling waves is a crystal pool. I love the cadence and timber of the vocals. This feels like 4 clashing brilliant minds carried out by one train of thought. I really hope we get another album from Mary soon.
Mark E Moon – Hearts Keep Bleeding – From the Isle of Man this track is a demo version of the crooning old school goth style of Mark Sayle. Their album Old Blood in 2021 was a true opus for one of the strongest examples of trad goth in the modern age.
DEAD LIGHTS – Plastic Girl – London based sinister synths that recently had a top single on the S & S darkscene charts. It is dance and deadly with captivating vocals that lift your feet off the ground. The type of glamourous dance floor beats that cannot be ignored.
Dead Astronauts – She Haunts Me – Seattle dark synth stars continue to sound years ahead of their time. 2021 album Silhouettes is a memorizing conversation of internal dialog and duet relationship that sends the listener on a journey. I highly recommend that journey.
Death Loves Veronica – Burn – The Texas demon lounge smoky vocal tendrils paint sinister pictures with visceral imagery and stained glass synth walls. The German label supports many American talents and Veronica continues to grow and impress.
I could have easily talked about several more bands here I love. The point is this compilation and this label are offering a gate way into some of the best darkscene music the world has to offer. 38 tracks for 15 dollars is an absolute steal.
Another Wed in mid November and I have the Oscura Festival fast approaching. This may be my last chance until December to write some reviews of the glorious new music that is being released. As always these are darkscene bands that have caught my attention and need to be shared. If you have a release we need to hear hit us up on Sounds and Shadows.
Modal Citizan – Idolatry – The lads from Virginia beach have released a new 4 song EP. Have you ever wondered what if NIN “The Downward Spiral” and Clutch engaged in unholy union to spew forth a jagged baseball bat rolled in broken glass and started taking wild swings at an unsuspecting populous sounded like? Now you need not wonder. Horror film builds and chaotic drum beats, thunderous funk metal bass from Sean Waff, and screeching heart string vocals from Ryan Jones. I love the tight turn into electronic dance beats from their November 2020 album “Control Alter Deplete“. They really comprehend the power of dynamic contrast to tell a story. Adam Fueston unleashes slashing electro whip guitars that pick just the right moment to sear their impact. It’s mean, it’s jaded, it’s rowdy.
Favorite Track: Expanse – A true emotional firehose that encapsulates the anger and aggression while baring the quiet emotional turmoil of keyboards and poetry. Jones goes deep into character thrashing and jerking like a person processed by a demon riding a bull.
Sapphira Vee – Breath of You – I always love a new single from Sapphira, I especially love it when it goes to such an important cause. Cat Hall, a cervical cancer survivor, agreed to collaborate on this single, as well as our good friend Jim Marcus of Go Fight contributing a remix, having lost his mother to cervical cancer. This single is being released in the month of October, in observance of Women’s Cancer Awareness Month. The track also has remixes from frequent contributor Melodywhore, Ratio Strain, and Federico Balducci. Sapphira shows a Cheshire cat grin to her voice. The deep buzzing pad synths move like columns of stone while the chanting words preach a resilience and vulnerability. Each version creates a vastly different tone to the core concept. Another spot on powerful offering blending dancefloor accessibility and personal trauma.
Favorite Track:Breath of You ft. Cat Hall/Dissonance – The blending of two powerful woman producers/vocalists will leave me floored every time. Add onto that the warrior princess delivery and subject matter and you have a cocktail which is smoky, burning, and filled with introspection.
Rohn – Lederman – Venus Chariot – My love for Belgian composer extraordinaire Jean-Marc Lederman is deeply known on this page. His previous work includes ( Fad Gadget, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen) as well as some of the most thought provoking higher tier concepts in electronica music of the past 5 years. Teaming here with COP International and exceptional producer/Vocalist Emiliegh Rohn of Michigan they blend into a poetic electrified katana of grace and fury. I have spoken of this record in the Sounds and Shadows group but was shocked I had yet to write a formal review. When I hear someone of Jean-Marc’s pedigree say “This might be one of the most important albums I have ever released” it tends to make your ears perk up. This album is full of endless fusion energy both in the intricate hair splitting craft of the music, and Emileigh’s power whisper beauty. it’s the record I reach for whenever I need to force my body into action. A well of strength at your fingertips for these draining times. Greg Rolfes provides cover art to set the tone of this runaway stampede of electronic elegance.
Destruction and More – This is a faster paced defiant and layered builder. The music keeps stepping forward a heavy foot at a time through gale winds. Ending in a fist raised chant of war. A true tribute to Athena in it’s brazen energy and feminine power.
The Ending Nights – A Landscape To Die – Pre-Order available for the newest offering of Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) of Portugal on Cold Transmission Music. A definingly dark apocalyptic disco drive produced and mastered by Pedro for a soul wrenching personal explosion. Jagged glass drenched in rainbow oil and water. How do you take one of the most distinctive voices in modern goth/darkwave when you find a way to make the steaming disco beats the star of the show you have really broken ground. This is a record that creates a world. Grime and desolation, the remaining survivors of a broken world follow the electric pulse of a melody from within. A perfect anthem for these fractured times.
Favorite Track: No Light – Hearing something so melodic and pure as Pedro’s voice swimming through a channel of filth and grit that is beautiful and terrifying. This macbre nightmare of insomnia and slow grinding destruction. Another layer of depth and complexity for a proven talent.
Curse Mackey – Lacerations – Brand new single and remixes from legendary Texas Industrial artist Curse Mackey (Pigface, My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult, Evil Mothers). Featuring remixes by Twin Tribes, Steven Olaf, and Chase Dobson. I love the concept shift from gothic electro ritual on “Instant Exorcism” into nihilism Tokyo drift shadow synthwave. A effortless cool grinding prayer as the world crashes down and leaves you nothing to lose.
El Clan – Somos Nuestro Peor Miedo – New album from legendary Mexico City dark rockers El Clan. There is something distinctive and powerful with true shadow swirl ritual rock delivered in Spanish. The fluttering trill of the guitar. The heavy strikes on backbeat snares. Gustavo Perez Ramirez has such a unique and dynamic range to his vocals. Rumbling growls, silver shining melodies, and sand swirling blasts of power. El Clan continues to encapsulate a burning flavor and haunting sound that puts them on a pinnacle of Mexican darkscene .
Favorite Track: Dios Universo – The opening light touch driving guitar riff set a tone of danger and action. Gustavo growls out a opening salvo of edge and anger. Then quickly changes lanes to a sorrowful melody. It’s a perfect homage to historical hard rock feel and modern dark progressive.
Black Rose Burning – The Wheel – George Grant of New York has taken an already amazing sound to a completely different level. This new album is progressive, complex, expertly executed emotional darkscene that permeates the skin and resonates in the chest. These vocals harken to a previous time of dripping Peter Gabriel emotion that spiral in crystal facets on top of shifting translucent hooks. It ebbs and flows through a stylistic spectrum and delivers with every memorizing tale. I continue to be blown away by one of the most criminally overlooked master songsmiths of our scene. This is a record that needs mainstream attention.
Favorite Track: An Anthem For The Strange– When the title says anthem, they are not exaggerating. These drums are rolling and trance building. George’s vocals ring through with a clarity and power that convey emotion. A warm and glowing starlight that wraps all of us freaks and outliers together in a sparkling blanket of togetherness.
Coitus Interruptus Productions quotes writer Steve Taylor from his 2006 book, The A to X of Alternative Music, as saying “Killing Joke have inspired all dark music since 1981” going on to posit that “Scrape the surface of just about any Industrial Metal or Alternative Rock band worth their salt, and you’ll find some aspects of the prolific and powerful Killing Joke.”
With that bold statement, they bring us Follow the Leaders (A Killing Joke Tribute), an 11 track compilation that dares to take on the challenge of honoring one of the greatest progenitors of the post-punk/industrial metal genre.
Snowbeasts start it off right with their take on the KJ classic Wardance. Primal rhythms with a darkly polished sheen. This wardance knows it’s not just about brutality and wounds its prey with subtle efficient strikes… Makes you wanna pogo along like a flashback to an 80’s punk show by way of a Berlin discotheque.
From there we move onto Element, and their version of Turn to Red. Element trades the punk reggae vibes of the original for more darkwave sound and turns up the dub a bit to make this one hard not bob your head to its tranced out vibe.
Next, The Blue Hour brings us The Gathering. I am not sure how they do it, but TBH takes this classic Killing Joke track, and channels the ghosts of Bow Wow Wow, and still makes the track sound fresh.
Riotgun takes on the herculean task of covering one of the most well known KJ tracks, Eighties. You have to give these guys credit… This is the one track that I had the most concern about when I heard about this compilation. Yet I think they do an admirable job of keeping the aggression in place and not turning in an unintentional parody of the original. Hats off to Riotgun… Well played!
Here in the middle of the group, we find three of the best tracks of the compilation in my opinion…
Shhadows brings us a dreamy, trip hop inspired version of my all time favorite Killing Joke song Love Like Blood. For all its dreamy, spaced out qualities, it still keeps its power.
Trance to the Moon tackles Love of the Masses. This song hits me with the same angst of a song like Love Like Blood from a new direction, and I feel the pain in every note that vocalist Monet Alarie hits. Like a love gone wrong, it leaves you longing for another kiss.
And rounding out this triad of greatness is The Joy Thieves (featuring I Ya Toya) with Money is Not Our God. Ania Tarnowska, takes no prisoners with her vocals on this bombastic assault against capitalism, propelled through the night by the punishing rhythms courtesy of Dan Milligan and crew.
On The Death and Resurrection Show, Missing Witness brings us a version of the song that we might have seen if Jaz and the Gang had gotten snared in the Wax Trax net circa 1986. The track evokes the feel of Ministry tracks The Angel and Over the Shoulder. Very cool old-school Chicago industrial vibes here.
The Raygun Girls bring those Big Paul Ferguson Beats to the front of the line on their take on Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. This is the most Killing Joke like track on the whole record, yet doesn’t cross that line over into cover band purgatory.
This World Hell by Dead Receptors is an interesting track full of contradictions. Its brutalist vocals and staccato clipped synths are weighted down by the sleazy/funky bass and drums that remind me of great tracks like Golgotha Tenement Blues from Machines of Loving Grace.
And finally, HadesMachine shows us out with Euphoria. A Goth rock banger tinged with siren call synths pleading for us to show some urgency, like a vampire biker gang racing against the dawn.
The incredible Belgian band, Slow Crush, has been making a name for itself in the post-punk and shoegaze scenes for the last few years. They’ve been called “My Bloody Valentine with a post-hardcore edge” by Guitar World and are described as “the sound to a beautiful alternate reality” by Kerrang. Now they’re bringing their dreamy and abrasive sound to the next level in their latest full-length album “Hush”.
I can’t start to tell you how much I love this album. After listening through it the first time, I was hooked. If you’re a lover of pedal driven music, you will too.
This album will take you many places with it’s simultaneous offering of harsh abrasiveness and delicate dreaminess. While the instruments are fluid and the vocals are angelic, the entire album has a pleasing fullness and overarching heaviness that makes even the harshest sounds favorable and welcomed in abundance.
“Hush” is the sophomore album by Slow Crush which exceeds it’s incredible predecessor “Aurora”. With shimmering melodies, soothing vocals by Isa Holliday, noise and chaos added on top, this album brings next-level emotion and intensity. The album was born from the ideas floated around between tour gigs in the beforetimes and brought to life by the worldwide lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s because of these circumstances that the album can both be light and melodic while carrying the weight of the world outside.
Drown: The opening track of the album which sets the tone for the what follows. With shimmering guitars and whirling noises, this song makes me feel like I’m seeing the world through frosted glass. There’s no way to describe how beautiful this track is. With dual vocals, a simple strumming guitar, and keyboard creating a lush atmosphere, I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t wait to hear the rest.
Swoon: This songs pace is a little faster. Opening with a crash of noise and drum fills, this track quickly takes a dark, pulsating turn. Throughout the song, there’s an amazing showcase of grinding guitars, obscure noises, and dissonant vocals that somehow create an absolutely beautiful post-rock track.
Lull: This is the first single released off the album and it’s the perfect track to showcase how heavy and beautiful this band can be. The song starts and it seems like it’s going to be soft and pretty. When the drums and guitars kick in, the song layers up. Without lacking in beauty, the overdriven guitars create a wave of loudness that gives me goosebumps. Check out the video below!
This album will surely make your album of the year list if you love shoegaze and post-punk. With walls of sound, celestial-like vocals, and shimmering instruments, “Hush” will throw you back to your favorite artists like My Bloody Valentine and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, while adding some new spices to the mix.
“Hush” will be available October 22, 2021 on vinyl, cd, and digital download via Quiet Panic. Also, stay tuned for updates on the bands upcoming WORLD tour!