This project will always strike a special chord in my heart. In 2020 my cat Freyja was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in her leg. It was a really dark time for me. She got an operation and I am overjoyed to report she is doing wonderful. When it happened A ton of generous souls in this scene stepped up to help me with a benefit album to offset costs. So many in fact I started running out of space. So I started pairing up artists for collaboration. One of those pairings was Chicago Industrial percussion master Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves) and romantic goth crooner Scott-David Allen (A Covenant Of Thorns). The team up started as a drop-dead gorgeous remix of “Dahlia“, then blossomed into a friendship which produced the 2020 self titled EP that became my favorite shoegaze album of the year “The Burying Kind”
I may be too close to this record. Enraptured by the story surrounding it. I can’t help but be struck by the staggering beauty and truth of it. It was this thing I got to watch grow and refine from infancy into something that mattered. Something that transcended genre and the music business. An abstract feeling that wells within you in solitary moments, a place of memory and blurry edges. This 12-track full length is a solitary lighthouse on a grey shore with Scott-David‘s romantic tragic poetry delivered with piercing emotional impact. The music is layered and complex for decerning listeners to unravel. I love nothing more in this high-speed age than hearing the time and intent that went into an artistic concept. It’s a presence and weight that gives every listen a reverence.
Coming Through – I know, picking the single first is lame, but this is absolutely gorgeous. The drums here are an absolute masterwork of movement. Scott-David’s voice is an expansive whisper that grows and pleads a self-reflective honesty that offers true soul.
Explode – Something about the frantic nature of this track really speaks to me. The drums have a front edge attack in the verse that allows the chorus to spread like liquid mercury in a sunbeam. It’s the extreme dynamics of emotion without ever raising the volume or tempo that gives it a special power.
Overall: This is an album for connoisseurs. For fans of My Bloody Valentine and The Cure a like. It is a place for diving into mystery and unraveling the depths of something that doesn’t come simple in a world where everything is designed not to make you think harder. We used to rejoice in music that made us swim beneath the surface. It’s time to rejoice in it once again.
This was an amazing month for new music heading into October the most goth month of the year. In September we had our highest vote count yet. All the songs below were Sept 2022 singles released in the broad “Darkscene” genre and voted on by the S & S collection of Djs, Artists, Promotors, Reviewers, and Superfans. A LOT of BANGERS here. Please take a listen, find something you enjoy, and support artists on Bandcamp. If you have a single releasing in Oct, or know someone who does, add it to the voting poll. Also it was a lovely feeling that the majority of the artists in the chart have done an interview with us.
Leathers – Ultraviolet – Artoffact Records
Caustic x Grabyourface – Not Your Body
A Cloud Of Ravens – The Blackest Mantra – Nexilis Records
Exa X – Control – Distortion Productions
Fatigue – Saudade (The Way Of Love)
Ashes Fallen – A New Normal
The Burying Kind – Coming Through
Mark E Moon – Dark Love – Cold Transmission Music
Curse Mackey – Smoking Tongues – Negative Gain Records
Cyborg Amok – Wicked Close
Junksista – Death By Heartache – COP International
LEATHERS – Ultraviolet – Brand new single from the Canadian synth extravaganza that is the project of Actors members and currently on tour with them. I love how if this was ever a “side project” it has evolved into a distinct powerhouse of twilight all on it’s own. There is a reason it was a definitive #1 in our most voted on chart to date. Force of nature single you need.
Caustic x Grabyourface – Not Your Body – This team up of Matt Fanale and Marie has evolved into an amazing partnership that just keeps rolling out hits. This one dropped at a perfect moment when a womans right to choose is under attack and this song hits back hard.
A Cloud of Ravens – The Blackest Mantra – I am so excited for the Brookland duo and all they have coming up. Jason Corbett of Actors mastered this at Jacknife Studios. The opening drums have this amazing old school Cult pulse and the guitar is a burning laser. Absolute banger of a single.
Eva X – Control – Another Canadian talent back in our chart again with digital assault pop. I really like the rubber bounce of this single and Gaby’s light touch on the delivery for the vocals. I also love seeing the top four are all bands we have interviewed 🙂
Fatigue – Saudade (The Way Of Love) – MA based Dj/Electronica artist with this fierce electronic builder that shimmers on the wire of a harp string. I love the breathy delivery on the vocals. What an infectious dance club banger. There is a breakdown around 2:50 that is pure artwork.
Ashes Fallen – New Normal – Usually when I am discussing Sacramento CA goth rockers Ashes Fallen it usually comes back to the guitars. On this new single it is all about the 16 wheel concrete crushing drive of the bass. Tight corners and overdrive to give you a thrill ride gripping the leather of the seats.
The Burying Kind – Coming Through – I will never tire of this story. A goth singer ( A Covenant of Thorns) and a Industrial drummer (The Joy Thieves) making gorgeous, romantic, spinning tapestry dreamgaze. This whole album is so deep with romance, anguish, beauty, and devotion. This one hits special.
Mark E Moon – Dark Love – From the Isle of Man off Cold Transmission Music a new single and definite new feel from Mark Sayle and crew. This single has a very 90s rebirth Duran Duran sensuality. Shelly Rourke vocal addition really adds another layer that is giving me goosebumps. Adding in Crying Vessel’s Slade Templeton is another shape on the powerful horizon. 10/10 banger.
Curse Mackey – Smoking Tongues – The Industrial legend from Texas returns for his sophomore solo offering. This single is a soulful narrative response to a world that wants art to become easier and easier to swallow. Even with slow dance singles Curse is showing trust in the intelligence of his audience to demand more.
Cyborg Amok – Wicked Close – New Jersey father/son prog goth duo with this dystopian sci fi single. I love the concept and the dramatic cape twirling creep surrounding the crunching Industrial guitars.
JUNKSISTA – Death By Heartache – Ok I am going to do a special mention here because we had a tie that came down to the decibel for the first time so I am adding the German dark pop siren on COP International to the 11 spot. Junksista is a talent I have never given their due in terms of listening time. I am always impressed with the perfect craft sound jewel shaping and dangerous delivery. This is a moment that I have experienced too often where I say “I need to listen to a lot more Junksista.
Growing up in the Velveeta Valley suburbs of Detroit in a time before the Google search, Spotify playlists, Youtube suggestions, and Sounds and Shadows I had a sacred ritual. Once a month I would coat myself in black from head to toe and pedal my bike to a mini mall which contained a record store. Here in the new CD releases I would take my caddie/busboy money and purchase the latest Cleopatra Records sampler. Now these compilations took many themes, tribute cover albums, up and coming goth bands. This was how you found the next band that connected you to the wider world. I would race back home, tear apart the packaging and dream of one day seeing my own name in the liner notes. This ritual mattered, it made me feel connected to other kids like me that I didn’t know. Somehow, I knew they were out there. When I saw Procession Magazine bring back this series of goth compilations, my faith was confirmed. To see one of our songs, appear here, that dream has finally come true. So, I welcome you all to join me in my room, as I light a candle, press play, and journey into the macabre world of “The Unquiet Grave” searching for dark diamonds in a cruel sea.
This album is massive in scope. Featuring 43 tracks from a wide variety of goth subgenres and cities. I can’t write about every single amazing band featured. A good portion of the fun of a compilation is the exploration of every track. Waiting for some to speak to you and searching for their album. I will call out some small portion that spoke to me.
NOIR – The Burning Bridge – From NYC the mastermind curator behind this compilation Athan Maroulis opens the journey with this writhing serpent of smoking desire. I can feel the fingerprints of Erik Gustafson (Adoration Destroyed) on the guitars and production which ebb and flow with crushing dark waters for Maroulis vocals to ride upon. A fitting tribute to David Bowie and a powerful opening volley to set the stage.
3) Byronic Sex & Exile – Cu Foc – From Goth City Records in Leeds UK this was definitely one of those magic moments where I knew nothing of this band going in and immediately fell deeply in love. Throbbing and melodic gothic rock with a touch of western Fields of the Nephilim guitar twang. Crooning clear vocal delivery with just enough grit to feel dangerous. First EP dates back to 2016 and I will definitely be placing this on my list for a back catalog deep dive.
5) Bedless Bones – Sad and Alone – This is an amazing track from an album I am quite familiar with. We reviewed it in 2019. Kadri Sammel and Bedless Bones have the distinction of being my favorite band from Estonia. I love the swarming dark forest life and creeping chaos. Kadri has a unique sizzling whisper of a voice with a cadence that makes it stand out in a crowd. Gorgeous witchcraft in midnight blue beams.
Slighter x Static Logic – Mirror In Darkness – Team up of LA based Cyberwizard Colin Cameron Allrich and James D Church to flip the script with this hurtling empty space driving beat spinning through a red light matrix. A synthetic breath on the back of your neck, a ghost in the machine.
A Cloud of Ravens – Flowers Melt Away – Our dear friends from Brooklyn Matt and Beth who are on Cleopatra Records have done this amazing tribute to Fahrenheit 451 the New York pre goth underground legends that included the previous mentioned Athan Maroulis on vocals. I really feel this slippery bassline and glam rich lilt of Matts vocals. I wonderful way to connect the past and future.
A Covenant of Thorns – Dahlia – This song holds such a special place in my heart. Scott-David Allen has brought the concept of romantic goth back into the forefront of the modern scene. Gorgeous heartfelt longing and loss, pulling apart your heart. This song was remixed on a compilation I put together at Sounds and Shadows which led to the collaboration The Burying Kind with Dan Milligan. If you have never explored the rich history of ACOT I really can’t speak highly enough of them.
Adoration Destroyed – Blackout Again – Glamdustrial rockers from Austin TX led by Erik Gustafson. Off their album Ritual Deconstruction. AD always brings such a punishing and powerful mixture of bass beats and heavy dark cloud guitars. An important voice in the modern goth scene.
Amulet – Last Ditch – Badass swamp curse energy from DC that again I am happy to say I found as a result of this compilation. Stephanie Stryker has one of those sky splitting voices that encompasses your entire sensory scope and this mello ground shaking bassline completes the ritual. I was an immediate fan.
Dover Lights – Memory Dissolves – So I was not trying to stumble on this band from the Ozarks. However when one finds a mixture between The Chameleons and Bruce Springstein it is unavoidable to call it out. I found this sound so mystifying and unique while pairing so many nostalgic feelings I couldn’t look away. This will definitely go on my deep dive list for later. I never knew I needed this, but I do.
Eva X – Canadian darkpop goddess changes the tempo of the compilation with this driving foot stomping club hit. I love the twists and turns of cadence and tone. I always picture Gaby dancing in an ice palace full of refracting lights.
Cliff and Ivy: Alaska’s goth duo – Bring Us The Night – Our dear friends the power goth couple from Alaska. Again a wonderful tempo and intensity change for this journey. Breakneck deathrock with scintillating guitars and Ivy’s rock smashing voice. This track is a runaway ride in a minecar down a shadowy mountain. Wonderful music by wonderful humans.
The Amaranth – Thighs – We have a song on this compilation. It is on our upcoming album Gothtimism. It’s weird talking about yourself. We write a goth song about waking up in a hotel with your partner and realizing a perfect imprint of your makeup pallet is on their inner thigh. The world needs more goth songs about going down.
Shadow Fashion – Children of the Night – I love the clash of emo and synthgoth from Texas based Shadow Fashion. Patrick the singer has an amazing voice and presence. It rides that perfect line between 2 kinds of nostalgia and a modern exuberant energy. Everything I hear from them is pure gold.
VAZUM – Unspoken – Glorious GothGaze duo from our home state Michigan that have continued to crank out dark slushy walls of sound in a steady stream since 2017. I love the monster theme and water color tone. A truly unique and powerful sound.
Doors In The Labyrinth – Dead Stars – The tragic and haunting gloom painting from Pittsburgh sonic texture artists Josh Loughrey. Powerful intensity that harkens back to Projekt records slow grinding emotional destruction. I’ve got to see them live before and the intensity of the experience is well worth the price of admission.
I wish I could write about everyone present here, because they all have something to offer. Instead, I will let you make your own way down this murky mist covered river. Thank you again to Procession Magazine and Athan for putting together this immense undertaking. In the comments below tell me about a new band you discovered.
One million years ago before the internet it was a lot harder to find the greatest new music. We would head down to the record store and buy the latest compilation from our favorite record labels. Cleopatra and Wax Trax were mine. Streaming services made this a bit of a lost art. COP International has started a new series of comps called “Broken Hearts and Robot Parts“. I beam with pride that I got to choose the name. Christian Petke and team have done a smaller more focused spotlight on label bands and future unsigned talent. It’s great to see a label with a storied history and powerhouse producer like John Fryer take an interest in growing new bands for the sake of the scene. This is the future I have longed for where labels fulfil the promise of family and support so many of us dreamed of. Amazing artwork from Greg Rolfes ties together the concept. Let’s dig in to Part I.
The production levels of everything here are outstanding. I love that COP made sure everyone added to this comp where putting their best foot forward and highlighting each band at their best performance. The music has a diverse range but a cohesive idea of guitar focused rock music blended with electronic elements.
Johnny Tupolev – Shot In Black and White – Out the gate with a strong delivery from a COP International artist. The German performer opens with a tension building breathing vocal and then explodes into a crushing crowbar guitar riff. The vocals have expressive Mike Patton flare. I love the hard Alt rock flavor with electronic elements and a introspective message of ego death.
Suicide Queen – Swan – Truly a dripping oily black horror sound held in a white lace glove. The Oakland CA band delivers beautiful New Order keyboard melodies, washed over by Kay Dolores filthy and distinct rasping growl. It creates fierce contrast that leaves you both lulled and unnerved. This track is a rush of wind at your back, pushing your spread wings to a danger you are trying not to face.
Machines With Human Skin – Watch It Burn – The project of our dear friend Adrian Halo of Chicago. A furious cyclone of fire and wind. I love the wispy style vocals and digital drive. Great use of dynamics that cause the chorus to hit hard with fist pump and boot stomp moments. Wicked overlapping guitar solo around the 3 minute mark give an organic blast to the cold electronic swirl.
unitcode:machine – Paper Empires (Regional Adjunct Remix by GW Childs) Dallas Texas cyber wizards set loose this stop and start bleep bloop broken mechanical dance. I love the way Eric is spinning an static buzz story with his voice and the even cadence walk.
The Burying Kind – Falling Over – One thing I will never stop screaming from the rooftops is about the Chicago duo of Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves) and Scott-David Allen (A Covenant of Thorns) . They both took the leap, trusted in each other and made one of the best Shoegaze albums I have heard in over a decade. This track in particular highlights the romantic gothic beauty of Allen’s vocals and the grey pallet tapestry of Milligan’s production. I love using this as an outro to this emotional journey.
What an amazing year for the Goth/Darkwave genre. A lot of fresh talent has come forth to leave their mark. In equal measure are long term veterans that have risen from the darkness to give new offerings. Our team took on the unenviable task of choosing the releases that moved us most. We are not including singles or compilations. These are not by any means every band I bought and loved in 2020 for goth. These are all bands that released an original album in the year 2020 that built a haunted house in the ruined graveyard of my head and I want to share with you now.
20) Raven Said – Beyond the Darkest Hour – My favorite of the amazing wealth of goth sounds coming out of Russia. This is a high energy shadow punk driving acid spit flavor of Misfits and Batcave. Andrey Agapitov vocals are sinister, fluid, and have a unique meter I am in love with. The guitar riffs are scorching. It keeps hitting different layers and hitting them hard. This album really shows how wide and beautiful this genre stretches.
19) The Wake – PERFUMES AND FRIPPERIES – This is another band that has a lot of accomplishment under their belts. They really optimize what I think of as the Midwest goth sound. The guitars have this awesome fire feel, like molten splatters flying towards you. The vocals are mature and a have a rich quality. Lots of organic sounding drums that give a urgency. This is a noteworthy return for a band that has stood the test.
18) Rosetta Stone – Cryptology – So Rosetta Stone have been around for the long haul. They continue to put out exciting music and have been a staple in the genre. This album has a wonderful stripped down flavor. It makes it feel very intimate. “Valiant Try” is a straight up jam. I think what really captured me was that this was a familiar voice but they really peeled the mask off and gave you a look at a deeper layer.
17) WitchHands- Unto Death – Call it Death rock, Doom rock, Goth, ect. Just make sure to call it one of our top albums this year. Thick rumbling bass, slashing energy whip guitars. All called forth by Ryan’s mad carnival caller vocals. He spins tales with the conviction and charisma of a tent revival preacher. I think the biggest thing to hear is the massive step forward for their production levels so you can hear the power of every aspect. It’s glorious to behold and makes me want more WitchHands.
16) The Kentucky Vampire – Crimson Curse – Hailing from shockingly, Kentucky, here is another band that brings old school sinister pipe organ and fire bright guitar riffs. From Secret Sin records the tone and emotion of their 5 records is everything true fans of 80’s death rock long for. Abbas has a haunting voice full of chorus and foreboding. Brandon of Sonsombre does mastering for them and helps add a sense of continuity to this new goth sound. This record really highlighted the return of wicked guitar riffs in modern goth music.
15) Astari Nite – Here Lies – This album has that captivating power of The Cure “Disintegration“. The music is like a tapestry woven before your eyes. The vocals are a heart cry that begs and pleads and owned me from the start. The guitar leads are a gorgeous second vocal melody that winds through the songs with an intricate voice of it’s own. This is more of the romantic aspect of goth music. Get ready to fall in a deep pool of meaning.
14) The Cult Sounds – The Cult Sounds – This was another pleasant surprise I got this year. Adrian got me into this band. The strength and range of the vocals here is astounding. I think the most amazing ability of this band was the ability to emote dynamics by changing the structure from verse to chorus. I love the retro power of a Black Sabbath power chorus back into a dreamy romantic goth style. You can really hear the ability of the musicians wielding their talent to maximum effect. I expect huge things for this band.
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.
12) Shadow Assembly – Arcane Fusion –The sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction. This new album opens the portal of darkness even further by using a different vocalist/lyricist for every track. This album is not only a prism of the wide varieties in modern gothic rock, but also a who’s who of the vocal talent of the current scene. I will act as your ferryman on the River Styx as I lead you through each track on this modern classic.
Overall this album is a synthesis of talent that really highlights what is possible when you have a maestro that knows and loves the music other artists make and finds a way to make each tone flow together to build something greater than the some of it’s parts. It is currently available on bandcamp for digital download and a CD run. If you want a good place to place your finger on the pulse of modern goth, this album is a great place to start.
11) The Birthday Party Massacre – Diamonds – Look they are one of the biggest names in the modern genre and that’s for good reason. The gorgeous production pushes this towards darkpop (which is not a bad thing). It’s driving, passionate, and the drum builds and transitions are ungodly. This record feels like running through the darkest parts of Hogwarts. Yes it has a child like innocence about it, but at the same time a depth and soul. TBPM still have a lot of ground to cover in their journey.
10) Rosegarden Funeral Party – At The Stake – I have shockingly never reviewed an album from the Dallas TX traditional goth explosion. I’ve heard singles but never dove in head first and I’m not afraid to admit that was dumb. Sinister reverb guitars, blistering transitions, and laser strike vocals. Leah is a force of raw untamed storm winds striking out at an unsuspecting world. It’s haunting and full of driving pop hooks. Consider me won, consider me a fan. Favorite tracks : Torture Decline, Fear of Feeling Nothing, Justification.
9) Caroline Blind –The Spell Between – Caroline has been a mainstay for so long in this scene. Sunshine Blind “Liquid” was one of those albums that really showed me how much more the goth sound could be. This album features years of reflection and a power and beauty of delivery that makes me well up with emotion. The surrounding musicians she brought in to add depth and shading to the tracks are an all star list of talent. A powerful voice to remind us of the past and excite us for the future.
8) SOPOR AETERNUS & The Ensemble Of Shadows – Island of the Dead – Honestly this is one of those bands I am embarrassed I didn’t already know about. I heard this on the Pat 626 show and I fell instantly in love. It’s dark, quirky, and utterly unique. It has a mystical and theatrical quality full of poetry and intensity. Brooding and whip crack sharp with hammer dulcimers and vocal deliver as sharp as a dagger. Music like this is my dark secret passion. More Harpsichords in goth NOW!
7) Mary – Die Before Death – My newest goth obsession from Toronto. It is fast paced, spicy, with an old school New York feel. Strong sweeping vocals with a lot of depth and meaning. It also has a complete album feel with the sweeping tempo and dynamic shifts. Take me through the full range of emotions in one record. Another Cold Transmission signing. I expect big things in the future from him. This album is my sleeper pick of someone I was not familiar with before but will be heavily invested in ever future release.
6) A Covenant Of Thorns – Black -I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)
Top Tracks: All of them…
but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression
Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.
Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.
5) Black Angel – Kiss of Death – London UK artist Black Angel is putting the bat cave rock back into death rock. I feel so much of The Mission and later Sisters dancy flow to gothic rock. Their music reminds me so much of the goth club scene, swinging arms, leather and lace. Gothic music has always been tied to expression with the body, that is something Matt Vowel’s has grasp and fused into the future. The use of banging rock guitar riffs with a southern flare really created something fresh and memorable.
4) Crying Vessel – Pleasures For The Wicked – Slade and Basil also bringing that softer dark edge to gothic rock. Horror author Slade is integrating imagery of the macabre an sinister with a glam razamtaz feel. Gorgeous layered production and flange rich echo’s that simmer with Bowie and Love and Rockets. That special darkness you find on the edge of a rainbow after a storm. Available on Cleopatra Records.
3) Night Nail – March to Autumn – Two things made this album incredible for me. 1) The complexity. The layers, instrumentation, lyrics, it all has a depth to it that doesn’t seem to be the goal of a lot of darkwave. 2) How genuine it feels. I have interviewed Brandon and I know he is one of those rare souls that when I hear his music, I feel like who I am seeing is the exact person on the album. The album also has the rich treat of Valentina (VV and the Void) providing additional vocals and keys for contrast and perspective that adds shading and definition. This is an album to think to.
2) Iamtheshadow – Pitchblack – When I think of goth, I think of passion and vocals that capture a room. Lisbon Portugal’s IAMTHESHADOW does that in spades. Pedro Code has the best baritone in modern goth. It’s sexy, crooning, dangerous music that sounds like a full bodied red first touching your lips. It’s music to give yourself over and get lost in. Like the first time you heard Peter Murphy and thought this is the sound that encapsulates the image I want to see in the mirror. This album was a perfect bridge of the old school organic and the new school electronic. Like a chemist finding that perfect balance of styles. Now on Cold Transmission Music.