Time for the Sounds & Shadows April Darkscene Singles Chart

It is time once again for our monthly Darkscene singles chart. I did a recent interview with Michael Nagy where I mentioned how I have come to value doing this chart once a month. It really shines a light on great new bands that don’t always show up in other charts. All entries are “darkscene singles” a very loose term, released in April 2022. They are voted on by the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group members of Djs, Review Pages, Promotors, Bands, and Superfans. I compile them and post the results. If you have a single release in May, make sure to add it to the polling.

  1. StoneburnerContracting Iris
  2. Eva XBody Talk
  3. Mark E MoonBlacklight
  4. Death Loves VeronicaWhen I Was Dead
  5. Silver WalksTear Me Down
  6. I Ya ToyahVast Spaces (Joy Thieves Remix)
  7. Scary Black – Transatlantic Tears
  8. Sever The Servant – Nowhere
  9. Der ProsectorStanding In The Embers
  10. AngelspitStand In Line

StoneburnerContracting Iris – Steven Archer is always pushing the edge hard and furious. This time by interweaving with Sci Fi author Peter Watts with a punishing new sonic canvas so relevant to the emotional mindset of the population. This artistic journey keeps getting larger and more intricate. Also be on the lookout for Stoneburner back on tour with Chant. Always a must see show.

Stoneburner’s “Contracting Iris”, features 2 tracks and a full-hour audiobook story written by acclaimed science fiction author Peter Watts

“Contracting Iris”, the new single from Stoneburner, takes the listener on a cinematic journey to the beginning of a future pandemic. Combining the classic Arrakis-era style with industrial beats and vocals, the single is a cohesive representation of Steven Archer’s ever-evolving project.

Contracting Iris | Stoneburner (bandcamp.com)

Eva XBody Talk – Another lovely shadow dance single from Canadian siren Eva X. I love hearing the soul and depth that keeps growing with every new release. Here making it to the #2 spot on the chart. This has a glorious submarine echo in pressurized depths flavor. Crystal mastering by Eric Oehler and enchanting video from Erik Gustafson.

Body Talk | Eva X (bandcamp.com)

Mark E MoonBlackLight – This single absolutely shreds. In a world where goth gets more and more fractured into sub genres. This is a pure blast of that old school traditional. Mark’s voice is a powerful and resonant baritone blending with Shelly to ride the front of a crackling dark wave. This is an instant hit from Cold Transmission and The Isle of Man.

Lux Vindictae | Mark E Moon (bandcamp.com)

Death Loves VeronicaWhen I Was Dead (feat. Tim Skold) – Texas songsmith Veronica Campbell has teamed with Tim Skold to make this twisting black oil symbiont sound that drips with necromancy and danger. Loving this slashing whip quick guitar riff and the determination and movement of her vocals. A song that won’t stop scratching the back of your neck.

When I Was Dead (feat. Tim Skold) | Death Loves Veronica (bandcamp.com)

silver walkstear me downDaniel McCullough has been slowly teasing me with masterpiece of an album for too long. Every single is crafted with such obsessive precision. I love the flow, the impact, and the vocal resonance from Coral Scere. Mixed by the living legend John Fryer another reason this album is going to rock the landscape.

tear me down | silver walks (bandcamp.com)

I Ya ToyahVast Spaces ( The Joy Thieves Remix ) – Well what isn’t to love here? The firework electronic one woman army spewing unmatched intensity, then amplified by the hairpin turning fury and percussion mastery of The Joy Thieves. Dee Nelson’s outro guitar solo is the fireball cherry on top of the sundae. Total Burner.

Vast Spaces ( The Joy Thieves Remix ) | I Ya Toyah (bandcamp.com)

SCARY BLACKTransatlantic Tears – Why everyone in this scene does not follow and know Louisville goth band Scary Black absolutely baffles me. Alphie is a cosmic force of genuine inflicted emotion, artistic expression, and perfect pop hooks. This is always some of the best new goth in the game and if you don’t know it you need to.

Transatlantic Tears | SCARY BLACK (bandcamp.com)

Sever the ServantsNowhere – I love this glorious team up from Hide Tepes and Michael Nolan. It is sinister, textural, and seeping with mystery. New material keeps surfacing and all of it is a powerhouse of talent and edge.

Sever the Servants | Sever the Servants | Sever The Servants (bandcamp.com)

Der ProsectorStanding In The Embers – The electro intelligencia punk band with another long awaited single. Absolute banger. They always leave me hungry for more and infused with perspective.

Der Prosector (bandcamp.com)

AngelspitSTAND IN LINE – California digital psychedelic freedom rock. I love the chaos energy and foot stomping dance energy. Aside from the acid splash on the dance floor single this track also features 13 badass remixes.

STAND IN LINE (SINGLE) | Angelspit (bandcamp.com)

I hope you found something wonderful here you didn’t know about. If you have a single in May you want to see added, go to Sounds and Shadows on Facebook. Support the scene, lift each other up, tell people about great new music. Also if you like Sounds and Shadows and want to support us, get a T Shirt in the link below.

Standing the test of time. Two PreGoth bands still leading in this Darkscene Rennaissance

Goth music has always been a scene obsessed with the past. By nature it came from a literary concept of macabre themes. Many of the bands that started this movement have actively pushed back, famously Sisters of Mercy for example. This month two bands that were there in that early pre-goth era paving the road for the decades, creating a new wave of splintered darkscene sounds. I love in both cases, these are not fan service records standing on the name of their past. They are fresh new ideas, forged in the skill and intensity that decades of releasing albums provide. So let us discuss the latest offerings from The Cassandra Complex and Christian Death.

The Cassandra ComplexThe Plague – Rodney Orpheus and The Cassandra Complex have been entrenched in the concept of what we would later call “goth” music since before we had a word to describe it. They have toured with and played festivals with the biggest names in the scene. Starting in 1985 releasing 7 full albums and 3 live albums the last of which “Wetware” on Metropolis Records in 2000. 22 years we waited for a return with “The Plague” to burst forth with a ferocious new energy. Early releases like “Grenade” were thick with an aggressive political message. I fell instantly for this return of piss and vinegar spirit blended with fine blade refinement. A razor edge between emotional concept and ability. Although these are new songs tackling modern concepts of a post capitalism world, the album serves as a greatest hit record. Drawing on individual styles that run the range of their history. It doesn’t forget the tongue firmly in cheek humor, using wit to mock the face of power.

The Plague | The Cassandra Complex (bandcamp.com)

Released May 6, 2022

Rodney Orpheus: vocals, vocoder, synthesizers, drum machines
Andy Booth: guitar, keyboards
Volker Zacharias: guitar, bass, keyboards
Axel Ermes: synthesizers

Produced by Rodney Orpheus @ Magic Library Studio, London
Cover Art by Antony Johnston

Photo by Patrick Beerhorst

Standout Tracks: This is not an album of singles. No fractured thoughts of refracted light touching unrelated ideas. This is a record of intent meant to be played in succession. I must stress the importance of reading these chapters in order to understand the story. To say particular songs didn’t grab hold of my lapels and shake me with staggering force would be unjust as well. I will call out three.

Hotline To Elvis – Opening the album with this blistering gallop of southern twang guitar and hooved pounding bassline. Living in Kalamazoo MI I remember the Elvis hotline. It is often forgotten that bizarre conspiracy theories were not new ideas. When people want to believe something, no matter how absurd, they found a way. I love how Rodney takes on just enough southern lilt to summon the shaking spirit of the King. I blast of fire to set the scene.

We did this interview with Rodney in 2020. We have another soon to release 🙂

Speed Of Sound – Ok, this is that track. A swelling ballad that captures a relatable experience that just hits different. The heart grasping hook of this bassline, Rodney’s genuine and tragic delivery with a Lou Reed poetry in blue collar hues. I must have played this track 20 times. I feel myself well up for every single one. A modern classic.

Old Boys Network – This song is about a collision of sounds and fierce satirical rebuke of the men in power which permeate and destroy every aspect of life. This synth line is a bouncing frenzy and Andy Booths guitar lines crackle with LA punk chaos. Rodney keeps the effect of clarity and grey pastel while spewing forth a Dead Kennedy’s rant.

Overall this is a triumphant return, an band that has earned the freedom and skill to treat their fans to a fearless and personal glimpse into the human experience in a failing system. It is my sincere hope that this is a path back for younger new fans to one of the bands that paved the way for the modern darkscene.

Christian Death Evil Becomes Rule – The most recognized name of the American Proto goth scene from Los Angeles “Evil Becomes Rule” marks the 20th studio album in a legendary career. In our recent interview Valor told me about EBR being a continuation of 2015 The Root of All Evilution. It would be easy to appeal to longtime fans, putting out similar albums in a fan friendly style. Some artists have wonderful careers doing just that. This has never been the Christian Death way. Always slicing the edge in every incarnation. Evil Becomes Rule took me to a new place I never expected. A shadow psychedelic blasphemy of triumph blending world beat Dead Can Dance and roaring power of Judas Priest. Maitri’s vocals are highlighted like never before and cast a sinister ritual of power.

Evil Becomes Rule | Christian Death (bandcamp.com)

Recording lineup:
Valor – Lead vocals, guitars, violin, cello, piano (inside and out), keyboards, percussion
Maitri – Lead vocals, bass guitar
Pao – Drums

Live at Reggies in Chicago

Stand Out Tracks: It is so hard use objective judgement for a song writer I have this much respect for. I will try my best to pick a few favorite tracks that struck me hard and made me revaluate the idea of what Christian Death is.

Elegant Sleeping – This track is a stalking wolf in a swirling forest mist. Maitri delivers such a delicious snarl to split the space between the dervish guitar rhythm. The break down sails right off the rails in a savage cacophony of chaos. A blistering and explosive avant garde.

Beautiful – There are other singles on this record. This one just rings out with such beauty and clarity. The chorus hooked me in hard, I kept hearing it in my mind wherever I went. Cobra strike guitar lead, dancing beside a merciless chant of longing. The organic crashing drum sounds really find their form. This single is such a penetrating reminder of how complex and emotive Christian Death are. Shout out to this gorgeous video as well to bring the concept into stark relief.

Who Am I part I – Another aspect of CD has always been a clear understanding of the power of pageantry. Drawn bow strings and the call and answer dialog vocals of Valors Bowiesque glam dueling with Maitri’s storm winds challenge. Crashing contrasting voices meeting in the middle to erect a swirling tower. A final crescendo on this journey through past and future.

Overall: I am left astounded at Christian Deaths ability to always be growing, always raising a challenge. I saw the first night of the tour in Chicago and was overwhelmed by the presence they create. Valor and company are excited for this record. That enthusiasm bleeds into every word and note. Seek out a chance to witness this live, there just aren’t as many true rock stars in the world anymore. You still have a chance to see one in an intimate setting.

Aethyr Abyss Void by HAEX

You know how you have music playlists for certain activities? There’s your music for exercising, for driving, for getting your freak on, etc. It’s especially nice when you find a band that works for you on more than one level. LA’s HAEX clicks many of my checkboxes for music that’s good in the car, the shower, or just simply blasting loudly to annoy your neighbors.

December of 2021 saw the release of Aethyr Abyss Void, HAEX’s full-length debut effort. Adam V. Jones and Sarah Graves are the creative forces behind HAEX and have carved a nice niche of themselves in the LA scene. This album is relentless. The beats pummel you into submission. The vocals have the growl of an underworld demon calling from the depths to claim your soul. The songs are heavy and dark with aggressive guitars that work well alongside the electronic assault.

Aethyr Abyss Void is one of my recommended albums of 2021/2022. You will not be disappointed. Just put it on and enjoy, no matter what activity it’s providing background music for. And you can never go wrong by giving it your complete, undivided attention as well.

Adam and Sarah answered some questions from us when we spoke earlier in February…

  • Who are your influences and what did you take away from those artists?
    Adam: We’re both pretty eclectic in our music tastes. Both of us enjoy Industrial but we are also influenced by Black Metal, Hardcore, Hip-Hop and Pop.
  • I get a cinematic feel from your music. Do you draw inspiration from sources outside of music, per se?
    Sarah: We’re inspired by emotions which are inspired by energy, like a coiled serpent
    Adam: Sounds in general inspire us, we’ve made tracks that started from non-musical ideas, more than musical ones. We sample every interesting sound we can.
  • Please describe a typical day in the studio. What is the chemistry like?
    Adam: Generally our most productive work is when we’re in the same room. We prefer to prepare an atmosphere that allows the music to come naturally to us, we kill the lights and lite candles and incense and the music writes itself.
  • What’s next for you? How are you forming/adapting your plans in the age of COVID?
    Sarah: What’s next is taking this album into the live realm and working it on the road
    Adam: In a city near you wink
  • What is your take on the current state of the dark music “scene”?
    *Impressions, opinions, funny thoughts, etc.
    Adam: Some reptiles bury themselves in a hole every winter, the only difference between cold-blooded and warm-blooded mammals is we make this look good.

https://haex.bandcamp.com/album/aethyr-abyss-void

I Am Tired, Oh I am Weary, I Could Sleep For 1000 Years, but that Won’t stop me from sharing Hawt new Music :) Bandcamp Friday Approaches

So the world is in turmoil with war and pain. It has seeped into our scene and cast a wicked shadow over our lives around the globe. In addition the news that Bandcamp has been bought by Epic Games. A large company known mostly for Unreal Engine and Fortnite. I don’t pretend to know what this will mean for the future of independent music. Generally speaking in my experience involving a big company in something doesn’t make it better. However the technology of Bandcamp has not really progressed much in the past few years as it has grown. Perhaps the resources and tech of Epic will improve the experience of Bandcamp while maintaining it’s independent opportunity . For now I shall remain optimistically terrified and keep writing reviews of the glorious new darkscene music I am finding.

Sidewalks and SkeletonsExorcism – I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sidewalks and Skeletons for the webcast and was really excited to expand my knowledge of the “WitchHaus” genre. When I first decided to dive in I reached out to a few friends: Kenzi Burke (FIRES) and Hunter Hunter (W/O) for suggestions. Sidewalks and Skeletons of England was one of the first suggested. I suppose going in I had some pre conceived notions of what “WitchHaus” meant, but I have to say I was presently surprised by the texture and diversity of sound on this album. From track one “Exorcism” a glitchy sliding bass beat slither of technomancer energy tendrils, to “Shadow” feat: Goo Monday with it’s throbbing electronic club pulse, this album rings with a clarity and precision that tells a winding story of internal energy. I kept being struck by influences I never expected to encounter like shoegaze and ethereal which gave the entire journey a slick and winding synthesis. I am always impressed when in 2022 I hear something new. A fresh blend of ideas from a chemist taking previous concepts and making new science. It doesn’t happen enough. It is happening here.

Ok I picked Eternal rest but this was such a close second. I want to wear a black turtleneck and do a jewelry heist listening to this track. Then escape in a high speed chase in a mini Cooper.

Favorite Track: Eternal Rest (With CashforGold) – This is what I was searching for with WitchHaus. Violet mist rising from a concrete floor. Ice rink backbeats sliding effortlessly around strobing lights. I was also introduced to the breathy beautiful vocal stylings of CashForGold who I learned was a Detroit native. Subtle electronic textures you can feel.

https://remissionentertainment.bandcamp.com/album/exorcism?fbclid=IwAR1I8OeIQpXQO_4qv2hFA63RG5H5S50DClXwiFhpyulzlA66ijEHETqI_XQ

https://sidewalksandskeletons.bandcamp.com/album/exorcism

Morgue VVitchLore – New three song EP from Tara Saavedra who I got to see at 2021 Cold Waves in Chicago. I feel like the buzz around this talented artists continues to expand with every telling. Much like the title of this new EP their Lore is being whispered around the scene like a guarded secret we cannot help but share. These tracks are a transportation to a garden of shadow dreams. A spinning layer of veils and enticing vocals that remind me of Tina Root with their charismatic enchantment and alien foreboding. A dark Grimm fairytale of electronic texture. Experts Production by Tara, as well mastering by Francisco Mendez. The future is so bright for this project.

Favorite Track: Lore – The title track is such a haunting and dynamic resonance of phantom images. I love the way drums/synths/vocals all sit in the mix in even measure until you are captured in a virtual sonic reality.

https://subgoth.bandcamp.com/album/lore

Dread RisksAutomated Disappointment – “GiddyYip this DeathRock Electro Cowboy shit!” A wise man once said about Texas IndustroDoom band Dread Risks. That wise man was me. Releasing 3/25/22 on ReMission this album is a return to the meaner barb wire aggression of industrial music. As an evolution from the past this aggression is no longer aimed outward but directed at addressing and concurring personal trauma. I love the molten glass cutting attack and melodic beauty of the vocals. The overhand bastard sword swing of the drumbeats. Berserker rage in clean focus. This is the next great wave in electronic musical concept.

S

https://remissionentertainment.bandcamp.com/album/automated-disappointment

Récipe MoradoRe•Habilitación – The Oscura Festival introduced me to Venezuelan post-punk band Recipe Morado, and I was immediately entranced. Relentless basslines follow you like a bloodhound while Siniestra’s spectral vocals ripple like an aftershock Even with a limited understanding of the lyrics I felt the pull of emotion and energy. The snare beats snap with crisp intensity on “Vueltas en Sante Fe” pushing the pedal to the floor with 90’s dark rock flavor. I love the bounding chaotic style changes throughout the album. A darting shadow always changing form. The Central/South American darkscene is a rich and fertile land I must continue to explore.

https://recipemorado.bandcamp.com/album/re-habilitaci-n

SnogEight Offerings For The Undead – From Australia artist Vince Valentini of Fate Razor places you in an intimate craft and pushes you a pole at a time down a winding River Styx. Leaning into crafted poetry and slow grinding rhythms. This is a whispering demon of Nick Cave void seeking sensuality blended with the clean complexity of Robyn Hitchcock story telling. With track 4 “Domesticated” the tone does a hard turn into slow sewer sludge industrial crawl. I love the twists and turns of this journey. An introspective thought piece that follows the journey rather than steers the course.

Favorite Track: (I Am Not) An Algorithm – A beautiful oscillating electronic pulse with overlapping vocal melody repeating a self actualizing chant . Hands reaching out to touch reeds on still water. I felt like this track connected all the parts reaching for light in the combined concept.

https://schmerkindustries.bandcamp.com/

Ashes FallenStand Your Ground – Always impressed by the ever expanding range of Cali goth rockers Ashes Fallen. They also seem to always be actively seeking ways to address the pain and injustice in the world. Here with a new single with all proceeds going to Direct Relief for their humanitarian mission in Ukraine. I love the punchy Dave Vanian snarl to James vocals. As well as the blended harmonies from Michelle and Jason. A very throwback Synthpunk edge which feels relevant to the world situation. A bonus remix by The Axiom Divide to cast a shadow against the fire.

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/stand-your-ground-for-ukraine

Sever The Servants – Brand new collaboration that sprung from the Sounds and Shadows group. A world grinding doom tank apparatus rolling through a nightmare hellscape of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen imagination. Stone walls on all sides as Hide starts filling the room with dank modular synth water. Mike who doesn’t usually do vocals hisses out a poisonous danger that left me floored and impressed. I hungrily await the future offerings of this project. A perfect synthesis of styles to form a stronger bond.

https://severtheservants.bandcamp.com/album/dread-bloom

ERIC OBERTOCloser Than Ever Before – Brand new single from ex Tungsten Coil star reborn. I had Eric on for an interview which will release tomorrow 3/4/22. I loved hearing the story of him coming back into the music scene with an emphasis on horror film soundtracks. This single is a glitchy prayer of longing into a dark starless sky. I defiance of mortality through acceptance. The track comes with a cinematic video co directed with Erik Gustafson of ADORATION DESTROYED.

https://ericoberto.bandcamp.com/track/closer-than-ever-before

SPANKTHENUN Blend Old-School Chiller and New-School Killer on ‘The Bunker Tapes Vol II’

From deep in the heart of Texas comes SPANKTHENUN, with an inkling for old-school EBM worship. Their previous full-length effort, volume one of The Bunker Tapes, saw production overseen by the legendary Claus Larsen. With a punishing lead single in “Dominate,” the group have put the dark electronic world on notice, and with The Bunker Tapes Vol II, they wage war with vintage weaponry. Invoking memories of Skinny Puppy and the darker, snarlier days of EBM, this collection of nine original tracks, joined by a handful of remixes by acts such as Mirland and Planet Damage, is just about as no-frills as classic industrial gets, even with the modern lens and production standards.

https://spankthenun.bandcamp.com/album/the-bunker-tapes-vol-ii

Starting off is the lead single “Off Beatings,” with vocals by the aforementioned Larsen. It’s a mid-tempo, focused dark electro number with a marching beat that burrows and settles in the chest, if only to allow the follow-up, “I Self Me” to let the synths breathe just a bit more. Whereas “Off Beatings” is an icepick to the brain, “I Self Me” is more of a cattle prod jabbed into the side, urging you to move along while inflicting uncontrollable movement with its tubular synth work and low, snarling verse vocals. To that end, “The Smoking Gun” is a blend of the danceable synth work and the stomping grooves seen thus far, with a creeping but simple bass line pushing things forward. 

Right Father” is easily one of my favorite songs from the disc, with its post-punk melody, dancing synth lines, and the reverb-laden snare that evokes memories of the old guard. It lends itself nicely to its successor “Sick Pathos,” with its two-note bassline and samples abound, making for an instrumental dance floor filler that is all killer. The theme of a two-note bass line continues with the schizophrenic “Man on the Moon,” another banger with a certain cyberpunk flare not felt thus far in the album. 

Perhaps the most mainstream-ready track is “Industrial Beats,” with a four on the floor groove and a message we all can understand: “Music gives me what I need / I need my industrial beats.” And was that a Bill Moseley sample I heard? At any rate, the bouncy, descending melody of “Lockdown” feels like it would really ramp a crowd up at a live performance, the slow build to the hook growing the anticipation. It’s a droning, burrowing piece with the reminder that we all, in fact, live in the broken machine-ah. We move forward into the mid-90s or so with the last original track “I Am The Fire,” with its slower pace making for more deliberate grooves. The vocals stand out here, a low talk-sung growl that lets things burn all the more brightly.

We then pivot to the remixes with Mirland’s remix of “Off Beatings.” It’s far more percussive than its album version counterpart, with more 808s and less of an overall melody. Next comes Nature of Wires remixing “Right Father,” adding realistic drums (insofar as they sound like they could be live) and taking some of the mud and distortion off of the vocals. Planet Damage’s take on “The Smoking Gun” feels like textbook 90s industrial, with plenty of flare and panache to take it to places the original mix didn’t need to go. We end on the Psychosomatik remix of “I Self Me,” which brings the war with machine-gun percussion, though it does so in a more club-ready fashion. 

Sounds and Shadow’s interview with SpanktheNun

My first taste of SPANKTHENUN was Glitch Burn Sin, and I’ve yet to be disappointed by them. Single after single, record after record, this is an act that turns out bangers that hold down the underground. This is a must-listen album for fans of industrial, new, old, and otherwise.

Check out The Bunker Tapes Vol II: