Sounds and Shadows Top 20 Goth/Darkwave Albums of 2020

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 SaidBeyond 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.

https://ravensaid.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-darkest-hour

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.

https://thewakeus.bandcamp.com/album/perfumes-and-fripperies

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.

https://rosettastoneuk.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://witchhandsdxr.bandcamp.com/album/unto-death

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.

https://thekentuckyvampires.bandcamp.com/album/crimson-curse

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.

https://astarinitengp.bandcamp.com/album/here-lies

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.

https://thecultsounds.bandcamp.com/album/the-cult-sounds-remixed-remastered

13) 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.

https://pilgrimsofyearning.bandcamp.com/

12) Shadow Assembly – Arcane Fusion The sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction with Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre. 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.

https://shadowassembly.bandcamp.com/album/arcane-fusion

11) The Birthday Party MassacreDiamonds – 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.

https://thebirthdaymassacre.bandcamp.com/album/diamonds

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 DeclineFear of Feeling NothingJustification.

https://rosegardenfuneralparty.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-stake

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.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/album/the-spell-between

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!

https://soporaeternus.bandcamp.com/album/island-of-the-dead-2020

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.

https://maryofficial.bandcamp.com/album/die-before-death

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.

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/black

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.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/kiss-of-death

4) Crying VesselPleasures 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.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/album/pleasures-for-the-wicked

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.

https://music.nightnail.com/

2) IamtheshadowPitchblack – 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.

https://iamtheshadow.bandcamp.com/album/pitchblack-2

  1. Sonsombre1000 Graves – This album really shows a band finding themselves. I feel like the success of TVOE really gave a confidence to embrace more of what they are. The guitars are a giant black furred wolf growling with hair standing on end. The bass is a thundering storm bellowing out a foreboding prophesy of an uncertain future. The keyboard is rushing wind stirring the leaves on a damp autumn morning. Brandon’s voice is a dangerous and sinister whisper full of echo’s making a spectral challenge. These lyrics are a forgotten poetry of Byron and Poe singing to that darkest part of our nature. I know this review is starting to get pretty metaphorical but poetry demands poetry and Sonsombre makes me want to embrace the dark poet in my own heart. In my opinion no one is doing more to forward the rebirth of goth music in the modern era than Brandon and crew. They are leading the charge and wearing giant brimmed hats while doing it.

https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/album/one-thousand-graves-2

It’s Time To Bring the Romance Back To Goth Music.

So dark music/goth has always run a parallel for with me Romanticism. Love, loss, passion, distance, these ideas that Robert Smith perfected and were such a intimate part of that original concept. Then as the scene evolved and became broader the norm stretched further from that idea. Today as the wind is chill and the leaves have abandoned the trees I am thinking about bands that are still pluming the depths of this idea. As a song writer the most difficult thing for me to write is a genuine love song, that captures the feeling but doesn’t step over into cheese. I tried to come up with examples of releases I have not previously discussed on the page.

A Covenant of Thorns: Black – I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/black

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.

Creux Lies : Blue – New single out from Sacramento’s favorite dark dreamers has thundering drums to drive is golden thread poetry. It’s a thicker richer sound than phenomenal 2018 release “The Hearth“. Ean’s voice is wide as the ocean and and dances on the mist. It’s really hard to capture the range and beauty of Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I feel like that is exactly what happens. My secret favorite part is the outro with old school lofi keyboards. I need a whole hell of a lot more of this and I need it now!

https://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/

Twin Tribes (Cult of Alia Remix) : Perdidos – Twin Tribes has mastered the post punk passion and sultry beauty of bands like The Cure. This latest remix by Cult of Alia is a softer more subtitle ghostly whisper tantalizing love lost beyond the void. the pulsing keyboard rhythms take the place of driving bass and conjure images of haunted towers. I’m so hungry for another Twin Tribes album, but this was a welcome repose.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/track/perdidos-cult-of-alia-remix

Selofan: Partners in Hell – This gorgeous Greek darkwave really deserves it’s own full review. I am embarrassed to say I have not written a review of them yet and they really deserve it. Per the theme I am going to focus on the track “There Must Be Somebody“. Driving mod synth tones flow down a moonlit river while a women in white calls forth with longing. This is beauty and horror blended together in true gothic fashion. Joanna Pavlidou’s voice is heavy with heart and touches you with icy clarity. Pavlidis’s basslines and chorus of synthesizers create a water color image of stormy regret and movement. Why have I not spent more time with this band?

https://selofan.bandcamp.com/album/partners-in-hell

Mortal Boy: Chronoception – LA darkwave band which is beautiful as it is intense. I love the Richard Butler flavor to the vocals. The star strike guitars really add a wonderful contrast to the darkwave style. This is definitely music full of plum red wines and flickering candles. It drips of both passion and loss. Favorite track “Kiss Me Poison” which combines all the best parts of the vocals and woven tapestry. If you have a special goth partner in your life, this is the music they want to hear as you bring out a romantic dinner.

https://mortalboy.bandcamp.com/

The Secret French Postcards: Colours – New Cold Transmission Music release from Sweden. I love the post punk feel and organic drum sounds that add clarity and precision to this droning croon. This album is the moment in the movie where the protagonist looks across a crowded club and locks eyes with their soulmate. Olli’s vocals are drenched in warm and earnest love. Offset by resonating guitar lines and keyboard cascades by (IAMTHESHADOW) Pedro Code. It’s feels modern and fresh while the melodic vocal chant reminds me of Steve Kilbey (The Church). This is a band I keep feeling grow with every release. This one is out on 12/11/20 and preorder is available now.

https://thesecretfrenchpostcards.bandcamp.com/album/colours-2

Lust For Youth: Lust For Youth – Self titled album from the Danish synthpop band giving huge New Order vibes, which is never a bad thing. This record feels like staring at the sky while rain falls down. It’s cool, it’s stark, and it reminds you why you want to keep hoping for more. I was two tracks in and I’m already a believer. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing something familiar very well. A dark tone while centering in on lyrical hope. My favorite track was “Great Concerns“. This album was a journey of connection and the power of the human experience.

https://lustforyouth.bandcamp.com/album/lust-for-youth

Korine: The Night We Raise – I have been deeply in love with this band since Twin Tribes played them for me on our podcast. From Philly this band is glorious dark dream slush with encompassing vocals and swirling synths. This new album from Sept took another step forward in production and clarity. It also has a razor fang edge to the beauty of the music. Sometimes love bites hard and while wrapped in a velvet glove of tone Korine cuts you to the quick. This is a record you really need to spend the extra moment with and peal back the layers. The cotton candy sweet on your tongue is truly just the first layer.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/


What are your favorite romantic dark tracks I missed? Post them below 🙂

Before The Internet There Was The Label Compilation.

I am not a baby bat, nor am I the most eldest goth in the crypt. I started discovering myself musically at the end of the 80’s. It was a glorious time to find dark music. However we didn’t have all the tools we have today. The internet was around (I’m not that old) but the BBS/AOL world was not the endless ocean of bands we have at our finger tips today. You really had three main options for discovering your next favorite band. 1) Have a cool older relative/friend. 2) Go to the club and ask annoying questions to the DJ (Hard when you are a teenager) 3) Buy the latest compilation from your favorite label and hope for the best. For me this meant A LOT of Cleopatra samplers.

I started wondering in this world of Spotify and ITunes hitting you with a fire hose of what you need to listen to next, where does the label sampler fit? Most of you that read this page know I recently put out a compilation myself called “Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us“. It really gave me an appreciation for both the power and effort it takes to put one together. So I thought I would share some of my favorite new compilations for a new generation of dark music fans.

Blood and Dust – Released on Venus Aeon 5/1/20 goth rock label of TG Mondalf. They do quite a few compilation as they seem to be one of those glorious outfits that really cares about sharing new music with the world above their bottom line. This compilation has a really special concept and drew in some of the hottest names in next wave gothic. I had a discussion with Brandon Pybus (Sonsombre) on our podcast about the close connection between southern outlaw county and Traditional goth. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, had a darkness, a mystery, a danger to their sound and aesthetic which carried into early goth lords like Fields of the Nephilim. Here at the crossroads of those genres where devil deals are stuck this huge assortment of talent pays homage.

1.October Burns Black – Arrowhead 03:50info
2.Sonsombre – Slow Kill (Fields of the Nephilim Cover) ◊ 03:44
3.Black Angel – She (Deluxe Version) 05:24
4.Amautica – Estos Abismos (Silas J. Dirge Mix) ◊ 03:34
5.Raven Said – Shadows On The Ceiling, Shadows On The Floor 04:00
6.Dark Side Cowboys – Signs of Life 12:54
7.Cliff and Ivy – EightStar * 04:14
8.Caligulust – Drifter Δ 03:29
9.The Dust Ryde – Gunslinger 03:32
10.Guillotine Dream – Code 04:13
11.Silas J. Dirge – Ghost Town * 04:12
12.Tidal Baby – The Visitor * 04:56

https://venusaeon.bandcamp.com/album/blood-dust-a-gothic-western

Some Favorite Tracks:

October Burns Black – Ed Shorrock and company have stayed tried and true to purist gothic rock and bring that sizzle and lariat spinning overlapping guitar riffs. Organic snap and haunted vocal lines. This is the opening track for a reason, it grabs you and holds you in awe.

Sonsombre – (Slow Kill) Probably the hottest new name in Gothic Rock on Cleopatra records absolutely unloads on the scorched earth cover of Fields of the Nephilim. This track is so full of reverence for the source material, you can really hear they are true fans. It still manages to burn it’s own trail and have that unmistakable Sonsombre sound.

Raven Said – (Shadows on the Ceiling Shadows on the Floor) This Russian goth duo has a true wild sound. That ever present sense of a starving wolf just outside the view of your fire. I love the menace and venom.

Cliff and Ivy – (Eightstar) Alaska’s favorite goth couple brings the fury to this lawless land. I love the whip snaps and border war ferocity. The distorted guitar gallop at full tilt like a run away stallion.

Rainbow Goth Volume II – So lately compilations often come in the form of charity releases. This one which Amaranth took part in the last two years is put together by Cliff and Ivy for  Identity Inc, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization which provides vital services to LGBTQ+ youth, elders, families and the community in Alaska. A great cause which has always been intricately laced with the goth community. 31 tracks that cover a lot of genre ground and highlights new talent.

https://rainbowgoth.bandcamp.com/album/rainbowgoth-2

1.Sky Lee Vague – Vampire Winter 05:28
2.New Zero God – Hell Bet On Me To Lose 03:34 video
3.Ravens Moreland – Comes The Bite 04:41
4.The Dirty Horror – Twenty Three 05:10
5.Scarlet Fever – Sea of Mercury 04:42 video
6.Amaranth – Deliverance (A Covenant of Thorns Remix) 04:52
7.Burn The Earth – Resurrection 05:37
8.Sombre – Linsay 04:23
9.Count Vaseline – Texas Band 01:26
10.Lisafer’s Screech of Death – Candy Necklace 03:07
11.Swansect – Kaldt Kappell 03:46
12.Fudge Bubble – A Prayer to Fudge Bubble (Confessional Mix) 04:16
13.Frozen Charlottes – Residue 06:22
14.Burn The Earth – Lockdown 02:45
15.Das Funus – My Dark Shadows 04:11
16.Count Vaseline – What’s Your Name, Where Are You From, What Are You On? 01:42
17.Burn The Earth – This Broken Land Will Rise 05:33
18.Full Of Grace – If God Should Ask 04:53
19.Prague Dead Souls – Terminal Souls 04:58
20.Jexx Livzin – Petrified 03:13
21.Fatigue – Heresy 05:18
22.Vanessa Rowan – Voce Di Strega 03:49
23.Jay Draper and the Subterraneans – Land of Anxiety 04:32
24.Ascent – Starlet 03:57 video
25.Planet Glee – Prayer of The Elementals 03:48
26.Rob Byrd – Whisper Lake 05:19
27.The Gay Sportscasters – Cleo’s Gone 02:29
28.TUNNELMENTAL – Falling Up 03:22 video
29.Stardust Heroes – Bloodguilt 06:56
30.Caligulust – Depressor 04:01infobuy track
31.Cliff and Ivy – Velocity Drift 04:35

Some Favorite Tracks:

The Dirty Horror – (23) LA death punk full of gnashed teeth and inky darkness. Danna Marie is a seething powerhouse of intensity and expression. Chunky machine gun guitar riffs firing out in circles.

Sombre(Lindsey) – French ShadowWave with this beautiful melodic duet really breaks up the batcave intensity of the rest of the compilation. Flowing and warm the melting watercolor sound is lovely to the eye, heavy to the heart.

https://thebandsombre.bandcamp.com/album/linsay

Burn The Earth(Lockdown) – This LA/Melbourne team up has two tracks on the compilation. Really cool slushy delayed guitar sounds set the stage for Jeremy Bornstein clear ringing spoken word style melodies. Beautifully crafted songs which flow together in perfect measure to build towers of sound.

Look I hate to do this, but A Covenant of Thorns did an amazing remix of Amaranth‘s Deliverance and you really need to hear it. Scott David Allen absolutely killed it.

Electronic Saviors VI – So when it comes to compilations that give back to charity, this is the gold standard. Jim Semonik of Distortion Productions started this compilation several years ago while battling cancer to raise money and awareness for research. This 68 song Goliath of the biggest names in Goth/Industrial is the final addition of the project and a must have for anyone with an ounce of rivethead in your heart. The artist list is downright staggering. I wouldn’t begin to know how to choose favorite tracks. Other than Steven Archer who assures me always has the best tracks. Honestly I probably need a separate review just for this compilation and it would take me 6 hours to do it justice. In the meantime just trust me, go to the link, pick a random name, and leap into the chasm.

https://metropolisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/electronic-saviors-electronic-music-to-cure-cancer-vol-vi-reflection

Cold Transmission (Spotlight) – Ok I might be jumping the gun here. This release is not available until 6/25/20. However the amount of talent, diversity, and creative freedom that CTM has built into their stable has made them one of the most respected voices in darkwave/post punk/cold wave. They have earned a level of trust from me like those old Cleopatra compilations of the 90’s. When they tell me I need to hear a new band, I need to hear that new band. You need to hear that new band.

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com/merch/spotlight-a-cold-transmission-label-compilation-double-cd?fbclid=IwAR0JSsmZ4_8tj9ZhMKeFUb39f9uDZR_HkvKHop8ouq76S1enBAIkfpPc94Y

CD 1:
1. S Y Z Y G Y X – Kill the Pain
2. ELZ and the CULT – HORRIFIED
3. Kiss of the Whip – Put You In The Past (exclusive)
4. HALLOWS – Subtle
5. Bedless Bones – Split
6. La Mécanique – Dernier Voyage
7. DILK – Pluto
8. iamnoone – Stranger (exclusive)
9. ICY MEN – Полупустые автобусы (Uninhabited Buses)
10. White Mansion – Clear Your Head
11. Iamtheshadow – Off My Hands (exclusive)
12. Clone Culture – You Are The One
13. Control Room – Are We All Alone (exclusive)

CD 2:
1. The Gathering – Trying To Call (Colibri Mix)
2. Palais Ideal – Erase (Original Mix)
3. Mark E Moon – Dancing (With The Lights On) (exclusive)
4. MARY – Frantic
5. The Bluebeard’s Castle – Plunge
6. The Secret French Postcards – Out Of You
7. Vestron Vulture – Hair On Fire
8. Silent Runners – Forgotten
9. Push Button Press – Mire And The Sea
10. Carlo Onda – Kopf oder Zahl
11. ROSI – Tanzen
12. Monographic – Addicted
13. Paradise Cove – Lost
14. Reconverb – Hem 

Who are the compilations you are currently trusting to bring you that next band you are in love with that you didn’t know about yet? Comment below

Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us

These tiny beings that we let into our lives change us in ways we cannot imagine. The relationships we build are the supporting blocks of our existence. That which gives it perspective and texture. When my three year old cat Freyja was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer in her leg the full power of how much we invest in our tiny companions really struck me. My fear of a future without her and the big questions of how to proceed. What that would mean weighed heavy on my soul. Cats were once worshiped by the Egyptians and many cultures as deities. There is no other creature save humans that truly embodies the idea of pride and love. When I created the review page Sounds and Shadows I found in my love for new music the power in hearing and understanding the lives of the artists who make it and shared that with people around the world. In these dark moments with Freja’s life hanging on a knife edge these artists who I had woven a connection with reached out to me and ask “How can I help?” This was an affirmation which touched me to my core at a time I needed most to believe in the importance of those around me. From around the world they came together in collaboration and kindness to offer their time, their art, and their charity. Freyja required an amputation of her leg which was successful and I am happy to announce saved her and left her the same glorious, loving ball of warm energy as she was before, albeit on three legs. The cost of her operation was quite substantial but it was a sacrifice worth making for my tiny goddess. Buying this compilation of songs contributed by dear friends is directly funding Freja’s care and operation. Any additional funds beyond direct medical costs will be donated to a non kill shelter charity to help other animals in need. A special thank you to Pete Burns for the immense task of mastering the compilation. Cate McFarland for the wonderful cover art which I feel really captures the concept. Slade Templeton for releasing it. Collin Schipper for being my rock and helping me put it together. As well as William Zimmerman for helping me promote. To anyone who has ever written a song, recorded it, and released it, you know how much effort goes into each one. How much love I have for all the artists below is hard to put into words. I never could have imagined something so beautiful and powerful could arise from this dark event. I hope it’s power touches you and reminds you to pay a special homage to your tiny God today.

Much love,

Ken Magerman

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/album/tiny-gods-who-walk-beside-us

Order Here 🙂

Also Here is the podcast Part 1 where we discuss the first 8 tracks

I wanted to do a quick breakdown of all the artists who contributed a song to save my baby. When I look at the list of the amount of talent here it is a bit staggering. We had submissions from all over the world and quite a few collaborations of people who never knew each other before this project.

  1. Lorelei Dreaming – (Edge of the World Dj Senseless mix) Chicago based dystopian electro dance. Comprised of Laura and AJ remixed by Madison WI’s Dj Senseless. This song is such a different sound for Lorelei Dreaming, it was the perfect opener with it’s emotional swell.

https://loreleidreaming.bandcamp.com/

2. Amaranth – (For Freyja) Goth/Industrial/Synth Rock from Kalamazoo MI. That’s us 🙂 I had some really deep emotions that needed uncorking with this song. Collin wrote a great song way out of our normal wheelhouse including Derick on a mandolin and Kam with some very delicate brushwork. It’s the loudest I ever screamed in anguish on a song. Hope you enjoy it.

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/

3. A Covenant of Thorns the lovely sweeping romantic goth synth from near Chicago. What an amazing voice with this song remixed by Chicago Rock/Industrial super group The Joy Thieves. This is my favorite ACOT song and I don’t know how I could have liked it more. Enter Dan Milligan, this remix found another level of what I already loved in beauty and clarity.

https://acot.bandcamp.com/

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/album/the-joy-thieves-a-blue-girl

4. Corlyx – England by way of LA and Berlin glitter grunge electronic duo remixed by EDM Industrial noise mechanics Electronic Substance Abuse (ESA). This song Deform is such a wonderful combination of both styles. Caitlin’s voice is ethereal and airy, floating through the void when the creeping digital build starts burrowing into your mind.

https://corlyx.bandcamp.com/

https://esangp.bandcamp.com/

5. Antipole – Norwegian post punk revivalist of Karl Morten Dahl. Ft Paris Alexander and Eirene are experts of taking what is glorious of the past and making it rise again into the present. They are the most reviewed band in Sounds and Shadows history and true masters of the music craft. This song is such a different flavor for them and one I immediately fell in love with. That same signature Karl guitar but with this crisp sizzling dance beat. Together with Eirene’s smokey sultry voice it’s a real burner.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/

6. Ego Likeness – Maryland dark rock industrial duo of Steven and Donna have been such an important part of this scene for decades. This Dräcos Deep remix by Sombre‘ of the song Darkness really places a cool highlight on Donna’s voice and a crisp dance beat.

https://egolikeness.bandcamp.com/

7. Machinery of Desire – Traditional goth rock of Adrian Auchrome. I trade music back and forth with Adrian often. I say as no light sentence I think this is the best song I ever heard from them. I was touched beyond belief that they shared it with me for the compilation. The vocals really cut loose and highlighted their unique and romantic darkness. Gentle crawling guitar lines of piercing intensity.

https://machineryofdesire.bandcamp.com/

8. Adoration Destroyed – The glamour gloom stars of Austin TX remixed by Philly’s Authentic Impulse. I really liked the way Erik’s voice sits on the bouncing glitchy effects and pounding drum beats. AD does such a great job on remixes themselves it was really cool to see what William was able to do with their song.

https://adorationdestroyed.bandcamp.com/

https://authenticimpulse.bandcamp.com/releases

9. Crying Vessel – Swiss dark glam star Slade Templeton gets a double credit here. Both for this amazing song remixed by Dead Agent, but also for helping me release the compilation. Ed Finkler (Dead Agent) did a sizzling breakneck dance song and let Slade’s voice ride on top like the crest of a wave. Such wonderful movement and balance. This was a beautiful team up that happened for the first time on this compilation.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/

https://deadagent.bandcamp.com/

10. I Ya Toyah – Chicago’s one woman sonic explosion Ania has been remixed here by Arcontas Blank for her single Code Blue. This sizzles with her intense soul and some intricate and beautiful synth pad work. I really love how varied and dynamic the different sounds used here are.

https://iyatoyah.bandcamp.com/

11. Twin Tribes – (Dark Crystal) The lovely princes of Texas darkwave. Twin Tribes was the first band we reviewed for Sounds and Shadows and they remain one of the bands that inspires me in the modern scene. This track is a beautiful, swirling ritual of emotion and pageant. The future is so bright for this band.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/

12. Radiograph – (Catnipped) This is the solo project of John Edwards Palais Ideal in the Netherlands. I love this sizzling disco prog synth with a early New Order guitar line. Palais Ideal is always finding ways to step outside the box of what post punk could be.

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/

13. Caustic – (Fuck that Fascist Beat) Silverwalks Remix – Madison WI old school Industrial/EDM brings an intense shoulder tackle political hailstorm. Remixed in a smoother synth slither dance style by Pennsylvania based Silver Walks. This track slams so hard both in your mind, and in dat ass.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/

https://silverwalk.bandcamp.com/

14. Seven Federations – (Syzygy) – North Dakota based goth Industrial full of rolling bluesy soul and electronic glitch. I love how hard it is to classify what I am hearing. This song has a really cool sample/spoken word effect that reminds me of 90’s VAST.

https://sevenfederations.bandcamp.com/

15. Vlimmer – (Schnittstelle) – Alexander’s Berlin based ambiant darkwave project is a masterclass in structure and sound creation. The rate and quality of the music he puts out never ceases to amaze me. This song is a intense and terrifying well of emotion and abstract prism to twist the mind.

https://repartiseraren.bandcamp.com/album/angststand

16. Dogtablet – (Showtime Melodywhore Slave Remix) – The project of industrial titans Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King (Test Dept) created this wondrous album based on the concept of totemism. Every track feels like a different creature embodied. This track is a sultry triphop prancing creature of grace and agility. It has a very feline quick quality.

https://dogtablet.bandcamp.com/album/feathers-skin

17. Kiss of the Whip – ( The Pain is Ours) – I have been a fan of the Baltimore based retro synth weavers on Cold Transmission for a while now. Beautiful familiar feels with modern edge and a layered beauty. This track is a roller coaster of peaks and valleys gliding though a rainbow landscape of color.

https://kissofthewhip.bandcamp.com/

18. Steven Archer – (The Showroom) – The amazing artist of (Ego Likeness and Stoneburner) appear once again showing his range in this synth prog builder. I really love how different his vocals come across in this song. Theatrical and with a Nick Cave flare. What is it he can’t do?

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

19. Cliff and Ivy – (Will to the Power) – Alaska’s darkest couple have been creating batcave punk fueled witchcraft for over a decade. It is raw, fierce, and intelligent. I love the drive and bloody claws of this track. Ivy and Cliff really show the power of two people in perfect lockstep making eachothers art stronger.

https://cliffandivy.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-cliff-and-ivy

20. Orcus Nullify – (March of the Lost) – South Carolina’s Bruce Nullify creates a brand of unapologetic terrifying rumble of old school death rock. I love the over the top imagery and slashing guitars. I feel like this track perfectly captured that style but with a focused clarity which added extra weight and power.

https://orcusnullify.bandcamp.com/

21. Ritchual – (You Lied) – Austin TX based Ritch Napierkowski of Adoration Destroyed and Nimbus has done this synthwave solo project and it is absolutely lights out. This song could have been a missing track on Depeche Mode “Sounds of Faith and Devotion” Just a delicious dark ear candy jam.

https://ritchual.bandcamp.com/

22. Sister Sarin(Split) – Baltimore Percussion specialist Hemlock has done this solo project where she weaves intricate texture and pulsing drum beats to create lovely isolated sonic paintings. This song has a driving dance beat and saber slash keyboard melodies to create an instrumental full of movement and dynamics.

https://www.facebook.com/SisterSarin/

23. Swansect – (Clovermouth) – Norwegian noise artists Adrian Kjosnes of Missfit Toys and writer for Sounds and Shadows unleashes this terrifying and avant garde solo project. It has this brimming intense Goblins feel of sinister noise and stealthy builds. This track is a haunting horror movie soundtrack to grab your nightmares with it’s claws and leave you screaming for more.

https://swansect.bandcamp.com/

11 Grams – (DNA) Half Washington DC half Australia the industrial electronica dance floor lords have been a part of this scene for a long time and always bring the highest level of precision and technique. This track is a slow dark builder that crackles with life and a whisper that draws you in.

https://11grams.bandcamp.com/

Sombre’ – French post punk with a very cool organic world beat feel. They always remind me a bit of the Happy Mondays. Cedric has a resonant and soothing voice and the baselines always really drive. Here he does a wonderful remix of Ego Likeness. I really love how Donna’s vocals are highlighted here.

http://www.sombre-official.com/?fbclid=IwAR1a_8Enr6qCrdl7VbWjx5hnHqKXgNJVtY7ETw5-HtOqJUa0rWtZIaafzsk

This entire compilation was mastered artfully by Pete Burns of (Kill Shelter) with cover art by Cate Mcfarland. Released by Slade Templeton.

https://killshelter.bandcamp.com/

Review of A Covenant of Thorns: Shadows & Serenades

Band: A Covenant of Thorns
Album: Shadows and Serenades
Label: A Handful of Nothing 
Members: Scott-David Allen
Mastered: Gordon Young

https://www.facebook.com/ACovenantOfThorns/

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/shadows-serenades

So this review is for a wonderful band A Covenant of Thorns which was a late release of 2018. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and have got several listens in the last few weeks. I feel like “goth” music has always had certain concepts or tones that are really getting broken down by a lot of new bands in the scene. One of the things that stood out to me so much in this album was its romantic dark beauty. That feeling in goth of lace, velvet, tortured anguish of love from afar. Such an integral idea associated with the goth movement which the music has seemed to somewhat move on from. Shadows and Serenades is rich with these concepts and since it just isn’t heard as much it made the record sound so fresh. Allen is an amazing song writer and these pop hooks are done with a clarity and quality of production that builds weight to the songs and gives a seamless flow between tracks. It’s not a dynamic album, the feel is very much an even and measured voice. Again I found myself impressed with how effective this was because as a song writer this would be so difficult for me to make drip with emotion and passion like he does.

His voice is a rich, lovely and full of silky crooning. It was stripped down and left bare to the listener. To stand alone against the expertly mixed keyboard swells and driving drum loops. His lyrics were true masterful poetry which rings with clarity and heartbreak. When you have a great vocalist that sings with sensitive beauty it is a true seduction of the listener. That’s how I felt when I heard his voice. It has some tones of Martin Gore. That other side of Depeche Mode too often overlooked. Yet it has it’s own unique quality which made the songs sound very personal. I feel like the singular tempo and feel of the songs really gives you a chance to focus in on the words being sung. Because the lyrics need to be appreciated for themselves. This might be too much info but it has become my favorite bubble bath and bottle of red wine all to myself album. My private treat to me I share with no one. I highly suggest you share it with yourself.
I had some standout tracks I felt really spoke to me:

Torn in Two – The opening track has an upbeat dancy feel reminiscent of New Order technique, with beautifully crafted keyboard leads. Then you hear his voice for the first time and it is transported to a dark and expressive place. “Street lights cast the shadows frozen in time, you don’t want it all you just want whats mine” Gorgeous, the breakdown totally changes the tone to a brighter feel. Masterfully done. 
An Open Letter – This is a dark minimalist builder. With simple and elegant keyboard tones. Breathy and shadowed vocals that speak of empathy for someone facing great loss and regret. Then at about 1:16 a new drum beat comes in and adds a tension and pulse to the same gentle feel. Again the work of a song writer who is using craft and experience to create a lovely experience.

The Distance Between us – This is the album closer. Things take a sinister turn here. The vocals come at you through a veil from miles away. About a dying friendship and feelings of betrayal. It’s such an expressive song for an accessible theme so many have felt. Huge keyboard swell for the chorus which gives both hope and defiance. Leaving us on a high note for the future.

Overall this album is a breath of fresh air by using masterfully crafted modern technique and hearkening back to the ancient truth of goth music. A time of beauty, tragedy, darkness, and romance. Song after song tugged at my heartstrings and pulled me back in time for when everything just felt stronger and more intense. I highly recommend taking this journey with Scott-David Allen.