Nothing Valentine is the latest project by Darrin Lewis who during the latter part of 2019 released the first single “#GothGirl“. Where the first single leaned towards a blend of industrial and pop Civil Unrest takes a que from Lewis`previous band Beside The Silence with more of a metal edge to it while still retatining its identity as its own seperate being.
The single begins with samples of the cheeto man himself, President Trump talking about employing the national guard in order to control the protests which have been going on for about a month now after the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other people of colour.
With the slithering tounge of a an angered Serpent Lewis`sings of the injustice of recent events and while there are surely an ocean of songs with similar topics it all hits a little differently when you know that this is happening right now and your friends being affected by it or even killed for standing up for their right to live and be free.
I hope to see more artists use their platform to bring attention to these issues, to use their chance to immortalize facts within their art, facts which will surely be twisted into something the ruling elite will be more comfortable with including in future historical books.
The single is available on all major streaming platforms and proceeds will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
For more information about Nothing Valentine check out the Sounds & Shadows interview from last year here:
The Cult Sounds is a band I dscovered somewhat recently and immediatly fell in love with. They make the most wonderfully dark yet dreamy rock music which leaves no question abou their influences and yet manage to carve out their own sound in the process.
Having one self-titled EP along with a string of singles and covers of some classic songs they`ve been off to a great start and is currently working on a full-lenght album taking their sound a few steps further.
I got in touch with Jordan Hagerman, the bands rythm guitarist and inquired as to wether or no they`d be up for a quick chat. Needless to say they most definetly were so read on and learn about this gem of a band.
Who is The Cult Sounds and where did it all start?
The Cult Sounds is a Dark Rock band based out St. Louis, Missouri consisting of Bennett Huntley on Lead Vocals, Ryan McBride on Lead Guitar, Jordan Hageman on Rhythm Guitar/Synths & Programming, Wyatt Eagen on Bass, and Justin Riley on Drums & Percussion
Jordan, Bennett, and Ryan met in 2012 during their freshman year of college at Webster University. We had wanted to do music together before since we all actively listen to vinyl together and go to shows or discover new bands together. The right circumstances and the write demos created the opportunity for The Cult Sounds to exist past just our original inclination of a studio project.
You`ve released a few covers by Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and Bauhaus, why did you choose those artists in particular?
Our cover choices usually come from us being interested in seeing what we could do with that song either adding elements, stripping it down, or adopting our style entirely to it. With these 3 – Bela Lugosi’s Dead is usually considered the first Goth song so it seemed like a good place to start for our first release, Rhiannon cams from our love of Fleetwood Mac and the arrangement is a fun take on that classic, and I’m Afraid of Americans came originally as a tongue-in-cheek jab at Americans for the coronavirus handling but ultimately morphed into something else with the murder of George Floyd.
Is there any symbolism behind the artwork for your self-titled release? it goes really well with the music and adds to the atmosphere.
Not particularly, the cover is more of an art piece Bennett created using a skull Ryan found and gave to him. It inspired all of us when we saw it and it seemed to just make sense with the tone and atmosphere of the music.
My favourite of yours thus far as to be “Anatomy Of A Car Crash” How did this song come about?
Originally the song came from a car accident Jordan was in coming home from an Alkaline Trio show. There was a desire to capture that anxiety and fear in a song. The main riff fell into place with the structure and the ghostly vocal inflections with the guitar solo section was just too perfect of a way to end it. What really makes that song feel so powerful is Ryan’s solo just cutting through and hanging over like the grim reaper. Ironically enough, not long after the song was finished, our old keyboardist and Bennett were also in a pretty awful crash on their way to rehearsal just before our second show. Lyrically it’s of course a bit of a double-entendre; a literal car crash and a wreck of a human being. The “white lines the dashboard” lyric was inspired by a time Bennett watched a friend snort coke off the dashboard of his car- THAT is the anatomy of a car crash.
What`s your take on current events? Do you think we will learn something from all this and perhaps be witness to the beginning of the end of the corrupted systems of the world or do you think we will simply forget and move on ending up treating this like just another trend?
That’s a pretty tough question. You hope things will change, and I think every time something like this comes around we all think “this is it, this is the moment.” And maybe it is. Hopefully it is. I think we’re heading in the right direction, and I think if we continue to fight we can bring change. But I think that all depends on how much we all commit ourselves to the cause and how long our country’s often incredibly short attention span can hold all this in view.
You`ve been working on a new album recently as well as music videos to accompany it, how far are we from getting to hear some new stuff and does it have a title yet?
The album is called “Death of a Star” and hopefully we can release it in the fall and actually play shows here and on the road to promote it. It’s very near and dear to us. As far as singles go, there should be one coming within the next month or two, hopefully. COVID has somewhat marred a lot of our plans. But we do have a music video in pre-production for one of the singles being handled by the creative/conceptual team behind the short film “Follow Me.”
How does the new album differ from your current discography?
The album contains 11 songs that each explore our sound. It’s our most dynamic material thus far – containing our heaviest music, our softest music, our fastest, and our slowest. We really let our Dark Rock sound permeate our outside influences of everything from Punk to old Country to Metal to Industrial to Space Rock to everything in between. We felt more comfortable as a band this time around and really explored ideas and ended up with around 35-40 different songs and ideas we optioned for the record. The songs you hear on the record are the ones that inspired us the most as well as fit the concept we were going with for “Death of a Star” and reflected the themes or ideas therewith-in.
“Death of a Star” represents a lot of different ideas on the record – some being celebrity worship, fame-chasing, literal death and how unprepared we are for it no matter what we do, death of relationships and connections, and the idea of the death of a dream that was never attainable to begin with. So, clearly it’s a happy record.
I caught a few of those classic Davey Havok “Oh`”`s in some of your songs so I take it AFI is an influence but who else would you say influences your sound and style?
AFI is absolutely a massive influence on us as a band, particularly Bennett and Jordan but as far as our biggest influences and inspirations musically (that are mutual across the board) we’d have to say David Bowie is in the fabric of everything we do, The Cure, Type O Negative, Bauhaus, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Joy Division, Tribulation, My Chemical Romance, King Diamond, Sisters of Mercy, Ghost, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Alice In Chains, Danzig/Samhain, Nine Inch Nails, The Beatles, The Doors, and Depeche Mode. We listen to so much different music all the time, that we really pull from every decade of music from the 50’s to now.
Style comes a lot of from the idea of the “rock show” of the 70’s which doesn’t really exist as much anymore. People love music with substance and people love a spectacle and a show – why not give them both? It’s fun for us to dress up, wear makeup, have fog onstage, candles, lights, incense, etc. It gives the audience something to remember and tell others about. This idea is nothing new, obviously, we’re pulling from the masters – Alice Cooper, Ghost, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, David Bowie, and KISS. Regionally, no one in St. Louis does that live show aspect with outfits and makeup so naturally we wanted to do that in a way that would compliment our Gothic aesthetic.
Why did you name yourself The Cult Sounds?
We’re actually named after a record released by a very small previously-defunct-now-active Australian label called Aberrant. It’s a compilation of recordings from some, let’s say “spiritualists,” such as Anton La Vey, David Koresh, and Heaven’s Gate. You can’t really find the album anywhere and it’s banned from sale on some sites, so if you find an actual copy please let us know.
You`re based in St.Louis right? How`ve you been handling the protests there and how are things right now?
St. Louis is unfortunately fairly segregated and there are hard economic divides within the city, so to see people of all skin colors and walks of life coming together is beautiful. The world needs more love and unification, but, we cannot have any of that while people of color are not truly equal. It’s been 157 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and being white people, we have to be better. There’s no excuse. Racism, political corruption, and police brutality is a disease that must be dealt with.
As we all know by now live shows have become pretty much extinct for the time being so how are you guys dealing with that? I
Not well – we love seeing bands live and we love playing shows, without that group catharsis and outlet it feels like there’s a huge void in our lives. It’s a scary and sad time. We just hope we can play a show again soon.
I tend to leave space after each interview for the artists to use for whatever they would like, The Cult Sounds chose to leave the following music reccomendation:
Polterguts, Abraxas, Time and Pressure, Direct Measure, Bellhead, Gary Robert & Community, Reaver, Luxora, Summoning the Lich, and David Bowie.
Keep up with The Cult Sounds via the following links:
The world of modular synthesis is a world of infinite possibilities.
To build your own personalized instrument with the ability to switch out each and every part as you go along you can truly craft your own sound which others will be hard-pressed to replicate.
While modular synthesis might summon either images of what looks like a telephone operator board or endless loops of ambient bleep bloops there is more to the art, something darker and more aggressive.
One of the first such modular artist I came across was TL3SS.
With black and white videos accompanied by the doom and gloom of a voltage controlled apocalypse TL3SS is the antithesis to everything people seem to imagine when they hear the term “Modular”.
I`ve been in touch with him sporadically over the past few months and as I await a cassette version of his debut EP to arrive from the U.S I approached him for an interview.
Let the ritual commence:
Who are you and what do you do?
-I’m TL3SS, and I make dark electronic music with mostly modular synthesizers.
What is TL3SS and how are we meant to pronounce it?
-TL3SS is kind of an accident. I returned to making music after a long hiatus, and a friend suggested I set up a SoundCloud account so he could listen to a track I was talking about. When I went to set up the account, all the names I tried to pick were taken, so I picked this as kind of a joke. At the time I had no idea that people would end up wanting to hear more of my music. Now I’m kind of stuck with it. There really isn’t a right way to pronounce it, but I personally pronounce it like the letter “T” and then the word “Less”.
How long have you been working with modular synths and what about the modular initially caught your interest?
-I’ve been working with Modular synths for a little over 3 years now. I started making music again about 4 years ago, and a Moog Sub-37 was the first synth I picked up. When I stopped making music years ago, everything was software based, and there were hardly any hardware based synths that I found compelling. I’m not a huge fan of sitting in front of a computer screen with a mouse trying to make music, so that was part of the reason I quit. For the next few years I completely ignored anything music production or synthesizer related, and honestly hardly listened to music at all – as I felt the majority of music that I had been hearing before I quit was uninspired and mostly sounded the same – probably due to the prevalence of VST instruments and endless amounts of presets. There were some gems here and there, but I was mostly disillusioned with the state of music styles that I usually listened to. Imagine my delight when I started feeling the urge again, and realized that there was a literal golden age of synthesis happening. There were so many options, and advancements, and they were more accessible than ever before. I have always been fascinated by modular synths, but back when I was looking at them they were completely unobtainable for me. As I got back into synthesis, I naturally explored what was available with eurorack and immediately fell deeply in love and fell down the rabbit hole. I think I watched at least a thousand hours of tutorials for various semi-modular synths and different modules before I made my first purchase.
Your sound is quite different from the usual ambient leaning bleeps and bloops most modular artists produce. Who are your influences and how did you begin to develop this sound?
-I like all kinds of music, but I’ve always been drawn to dark, sad or angry music. When I first started music a long time ago, I was really heavily into all kinds of Industrial music, as well as some IDM here and there. For specific artists I’d probably say Leæther Strip, Pain Station, Nine Inch Nails, Front Line Assembly, Scorn, Cabaret Voltaire, Dead Voices on Air, Numb, Gridlock, Dive, Ministry, Klinik, Nurse With Wound, Coil, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre. I also really enjoy listening to post-punk and goth music as well. I think my sound naturally developed as an extension of wanting to make what I wanted to hear.
You`ve done some demos for Noise Engineering in the past, what`s your relationship with the NE team and what about their modules specifically do you find so attractive?
-I haven’t actually done any official demos for Noise Engineering – I did do a guest post for their blog, however. It was about how much I love various types of distortion and some of the techniques I use. It’s just a friendly relationship – I really love the instruments they make, and they seem to appreciate the nasty sounds I make with them. I’ve gotten to know them a little bit and they’re really great people, and I want them to continue to be successful and keep making awesome modules for me to use. I was initially attracted to their modules for a variety of reasons – basically everything. I loved the company name immediately, and as I dug deeper into what they had to offer I found that I loved the sound of their oscillator modules, and their approach to utility modules. I also really connected to the visual aesthetic they use, and really enjoyed the naming conventions they use as well.
Modular synthesis allows for quite a vast amount of experimentation, improvisation and just stumbling across greatness on the road to who knows where. Would you say you have a technique for approaching the instrument or do you just kinda go with the flow and let it carry you away?
-It depends, sometimes I set out with a specific goal in mind (which usually ends up sounding NOTHING like I had in mind), and other times I’ll be away from my modular and realize “you know, I haven’t ever tried plugging X into Y – I need to try that when I get home”. Other times I get a craving to hear a particular module and so will just start patching with it and see where things end up.
I believe I saw you say somewhere you wouldn’t be too comfortable with the idea of live performances due to shyness. How does this affect you now as you`re starting to gain some traction and people in the community know your work?
-It’s a question I get asked more and more frequently. Part of it is that I am a perfectionist when it comes to performance, and I feel that modular by default is not a perfect performance tool. Trying to recreate something you have patched up at home is difficult to do at home, let alone performing. We will see what the future holds, I’m not ruling it out – but for now I’m content to focus on recording as opposed to preparing for live performances.
What would you recommend to someone looking to get started in modular as far as gear and just general advice?
-Use the resources that are available to you. There is a wealth of knowledge out there on various forums and youtube channels. Educate yourself before you jump in and spend tons of money. The way I approached it was learning about the various semi-modular synths that were available and picking one based on what I felt sounded the best to me. From there you’ll experiment and some of the concepts will begin to click, and you’ll hit a point where you feel limited with just the semi-modular and you’ll want to expand to do something that’s impossible currently.
You`ve released three EP`s thus far. Are we gonna be seeing a fourth one anytime soon or perhaps a full album?
-I have a single with some remixes releasing later this month on Errorgrid Records. I plan to release another EP later this year. I’ve thought about doing a full album, but for the moment I’m enjoying the EP approach.
The space below is yours to use for whatever you desire, promote anything or anyone you can think of or just leave a quote for the readers to ponder on. I’m really thrilled to be a part of the Errorgrid roster. I think there’s going to be some amazing music coming out in the next few months. It’s very exciting.
Add 1 part vodka, 1 part lemonade, 1 part ice tea, 1 part these sweet new sounds. Shake that ass, and pour into the internet to share the party with the world.
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.
Sappira Vee(My Game/Game Changers) – Rochester NY Siren Sapphira is one of those talents like Hante‘ or Black Nail Cabaret that has such an effortlessly cool sound. It transports me to a hip party I could never get into. Smashing EDM triphop beats interlaced with gentle flamenco guitar sounds. Her voice is breathy and flowing as though she just set a martini down and leaned against a rotulet table in an underground casino in Monaco. Both the album and the brand new remix compilation exude silky sensual elegance. There is a reason why she attracts top talent in the electronica scene to work with her. (Dogtablet, The Joy Thieves, Migraine Robots Sounds, Adrian Halo, and Melodywhore) Iridescent smoke twisting around neon lights. Favorite Tracks from the new remixes: My Game(Dogtablet), Who Will I be Today (The Joy Thieves) , On Your Throne (Adrian Halo).
Both albums are a total hit play and go back to your party self sustained beauty. If you love electronic music you need this.
The Ghost of Bela Lugosi (Square Grouper) Is there anything that Vin can’t do? Just when I think I have his sound fingered out he busts out a new single that is a goth themed 90s hip hop full of scorpion stabbing lyrics. Just pure Vin swagger and perfect backbeats. My jaw is dropped, just fuck. Vin might be the most dangerous man in dark music.
Rosegarden Funeral Party(At the Stake) – Ok so far we did trip hop, rap, dark rock, do we still review goth on this page? Lets give it a try. 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. Mikka Vanya Brightheart is a force of raw untamed stormwinds 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 Decline, Fear of Feeling Nothing, Justification.
Joker Jasper (Turn of My Light) – New single from this Russian American dark pop crooner. I really like the soulful spewing vocals with a melodic feel on spoken cadence. The chorus jumps up with a lot of venom and intensity. I look forward to more from this talented song writer.
Dissonance (Precipice) – New single from a Dallas talent this one with several remixes from top Industrial talent like Joe Haze and Adrian Halo again. Cat has a rich lovely voice that fills an opera hall of a room. I love the glitch and shift style here that puts you on the ledge of a great city scape looking down. It’s constant motion and full of feeling. Like two great forces pushing in on each other. Beauty and vibrating uncertainty. A great talent who knows how to surround herself with other great talent for maximum effect,
Thee Elder Gods(I Am Satan) Sometimes I need it loud and nasty. I do not apologize for this. Kalamazoo native punk rock explosion keeps it old school furious. In these times of darkness sometimes you just need to grab a can of lawn mower gasoline and pour your anger on the world with slashing guitars, baseball bat smacking bass and napalm explosion vocals. 2 minutes and 22 seconds of walk away while the world blows up.
So here we are my friends. Another night of me spewing drunken ramblings into the interweb about what I am listening to. I have to admit I have been stepping outside the box a lot this week Stretching the boundaries of my usual genres. Which is a great feeling. Also if you read this page and feel like you know a type of music which doesn’t get good representation here, why stand for that? Reach out to me. I am always looking for new writers who know about things I am not well versed in. Lets dive in.
Masina – Awake Again With You – So I came across this criminally underrated band from London when they did a remix of our friends Loveblind. They released this EP in January full of soulful triphop with rich beautiful piano tones and slick feather floating vocals. Kayleigh and Jo have a fencer vocal style of sharp strikes and deceptive flourishes. I really fell into the constant heartbeat of these songs. It has a light airy expansive style but the constant drive of the drums keeps the blood pumping in your finger tips while the vocals float on top like a cloud.
(Side Note) Amaranth is working on a remix for them and they are looking for more remixes. If you are an artists, reach out. These sounds are hot.
Guillotine Dream – Damaged and Dammed – July release from the Welsh traditional goth band. I love this heavy handed mudslinging spookfest right from the start. It’s urgent, sensual, and hums like a spectral generator keeping the lights on in a cemetery. Arc growls away with a rough and ready metal vocal feel. I really liked the feel of “Hidden Rooms“. It had this cool glam Scary Monsters flavor. those guitars just keep ringing out like bell chimes. This is one of those bands that is making goth claw it’s hands through the earth and rise from the grave.
Damien Done – To Night – Our fellow Michigan band has a new EP release from May. I really love the singer songwriter style of this band that has clear, clever pop hooks which have evolved and expanded into ultra dark ringing shadow soul theatrical goth. The dynamic shift of these songs are a master class in how to yank the emotions of your listener like a stallion on the bit. Thick heavy baselines that rumble and echo to drive each track forward. Damien has a rich and lovely baritone that spews poetry and clever transition. Everytime I hear this band I think to myself why am I not listening to more of this band. It’s like Voltaire with more spit and vinegar.
Big Time Kill – Burn Out – Boston MA electro grunge has a new EP out. It’s a beautiful energy full of peaks and valleys. It’s electric and full of sizzle and shriek. I love the introspective lyrics and 2000s guitar shredding emo thunder. Adam has a true laser beam belt that helps carry the message with napalm intensity.
Skull Family – SPhone – Arkansas dance weavers released a new EP in April. It’s breathy, wicked, and full of dark intent. I love the energy of the opening track Void . The slick even shadow pop is full of dynamics and explosive crescendos. I really enjoy the trilling guitar word and synth builds.
The Walking Icon – III for the Past – New single for the Russian dreampop duo. It is dancy, delicious and full of swirling air, and purple lightning tempo. Sasha has a voice that is striking and warm with a dash of echo effect. I look forward to future releases.
Pigs of the Roman Empire – Seasick – Ok this band from Australia first captured me with a brilliant name, but quickly I was drawn into the post punk alt dark slither. I love the harmony vocal separation offsetting the low ket drone guitars. Just a four song EP but a brilliant swirling tornado of 90’s aly rock and 80’s post punk. It spins with reckless abandon until you can’t see the lines between meshing styles.