With the final Negative Gain Productions release of the year, Philadelphia’s GENCAB has a winner on its hands. Altar of Progress has all the makings of a club DJ staple: a catchy, well-produced banger with lush keyboard melodies. The lyrics have that certain singalong quality that makes a song memorable, although the vocals are buried so deep in the mix of single version (from the forthcoming GENCAB album, Thoughts Beyond Words), I almost couldn’t make them out at first.
As I type this I’m on my third listen. The sound is so layered that I make out new things each time I listen. There’s a lot going on here. And the tempo changes break up the song nicely. It never stays in one place long enough to get tedious. I especially love the warm synth tone during the breakdowns.
And if that weren’t sexy enough, Aesthetic Perfection provides a remix that’s so hard-hitting, it’s easy to imagine a dancefloor full of rivetheads stomping away blissfully to the beat. It’s more straightforward than the single version, but don’t confuse straightforward with pedestrian. The keyboard lushness is stripped away in favor of rhythmic loops, a driving bass thump and a clever interplay of vocal effects.
If Altar Of Progress isn’t getting played by DJs looking to pump up the club with a new sound, it would be a criminal oversight.
This is our second S & S Darkscene chart chosen completely by the Djs, Bands, Reviewers, Artists, and Super Fans, of the international group Sounds and Shadows. This features singles from any country and any genre within the loose darkscene category (Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Postpunk/EDM/EBM/Electronica).
The Joy Thieves(feat. I Ya Toyah) – Money Is Not Our God (Killing Joke Cover) by Coitus Interruptus Productions – Chicago superband The Joy Thieves return to this chart with a blistering cover of the Killing Joke classic. This entire compilation is full of banger tributes to one of the great names of the scene. Ania (I Ya Toyah) unleashes a terrifying and powerful rendition full of punk rock snarl and sky splitting technicolor. Milligan puts on a loving masterclass in syncopation on drums.
daddybear(feat grabyourface) – Hypnotic – Madison WI – I love this team up more every time it happens. Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) dropped this immediate dance floor classic with frequent contributor Marie (Grabyourface) on vocals. It’s a buzzing electronic zapper you can’t help buzz towards your destruction on. Whispy sensual, destruction core vibes. A must own banger.
Aesthetic Perfection (feat. Isaac Howlett) – Save Myself – Austria – The king of pop industrial teams up with glorious songsmith Isaac Howlett (Empathy Test) to create this perfect style blend duet. It cooks and yanks the hell out of your heart strings as two of the great voices of the modern scene push and pull a furious cyclone of exploding energy.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – From COP International LA Progdustrial sensation continues to prove they are a force of challenge and artistic expression in 2021. It’s fierce guitars and laser burn vocals from Chris Hall, who remains one of the best in the business.
Helix – Run (Hallowed Hearts Remix) – The husband/wife team up of Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) & vocalist Mari Kattman are one of those things I am embarrassed I waited so long to get on board with. It is sledge hammer dance beats smashing ice castles of precision and fractal light beam beauty. Spinning motion I never want to put down.
S Y Z Y G Y X – Light You On Fire – I have been so excited to hear where Luna and Cold Transmission Music would go next with this project. This scorching sensual growl of death disco minimalist glory. I don’t even know how to categorize it. Only that I can’t get enough eagerly await the full album release this Friday .
grabyourface – Rob the Bank – The French Negative Gain artist makes their second appearance on the chart. This coldwave slow stomp single of revolutionary nihilism and burning intelligence is a smoldering exhibition on a post capitalism world.
PALAIS IDEAL – The Voice Of Reason – Cold Transmission progressive post punk artists have again produced a higher concept thinking dystopian sound for the modern age. Overlapping waves of technical excellence and poetic intent. Everyone in the genre wants to make the next Star Wars while John and Richard are creating Issac Asmov.
Sapphira Vee(Feat Cat Hall) – Breath of You – Distortion Records artists teams up with peer vocal power Cat Hall to belt this powerful single about the strength and perseverance of cancer survivors. The weight and emotion of this personal track is a crackling orb of enormous movement and resilience.
ULTRA SUNN – Young Foxes – Saucy Belgian cold wave trance from Cold Transmission. Sam Huge has a resonating voice that fills a room and stalks with intent. Pete Burns adds an elegant mastering to create cavernous echos.
Friday 11/5 marks another Bandcamp day and I get to pour through a slew of amazing releases. Remember tomorrow all proceeds from sales on Bandcamp go directly to the artists who are in desperate need. We all need songs to fill our hearts in these days. Here are the ones filling mine.
MAN1K1N – Don’t Let Me Try – Brand new single from Boston shadowcrawl duo Man1K1n. Two ones to represent each of them. We have an upcoming webcast post with the act. This is a powerful song about personal loss Johnny E. Veil turned sonic and it really stirs the tendrils of emotion that suicide and mental health conjures for all of our lives. The percussion laid down by Cristian Carver is driving and precise, washing over in hurky jerky horror film atmosphere. Johnny’s vocals growl like a demon voice from within. I love the concept and how much genuine blood was poured into every word. This was an independent release but we have heard promise of an upcoming album ready to throw a match on this pooling shimmering gasoline.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – Brand new single from rockdustrial legends Stabbing Westward. I just saw them at Cold Waves in Chicago, not only have they not lost a step. This new material seems to add a layer of complexity and depth to everything they have been doing for decades. Chris Halls voice grows more powerful and bristling with clarity and violet laser focus. Add in production from the legendary John Fryer and a remix from Jim Marcus. I love the flurry of katana guitar slashes and cyborg samurai cadence. Stabbing Westward still finds a way to transport me back to my 16 year old bedroom and awash with emotions and glorious vampiric dark tones. COP continues to release the cutting edge of the growing Industrial Rock genre. SW is their flagship.
Carrion – Revenant – If you didn’t know S & S contributor Hide Tepes was a huge LA hard rock Motley Crue fan in addition to making experimental textural noise you will after this track. The hard and high energy strikes of the drums, the crunching metal intensity of the guitar riffs have a very Psalm 69 recklessness. The lyrics are delivered with a harsh chaos demon venom. There is something so powerful about hearing an artist get lost in the moment. This is not a performance, it is a summoning. Further energized with a remix by Texas band Dread Risks who add a further layer of tribal intensity. I will be deep diving this entire album as it unfolds. Hide lays out a track by track explanation below of this decent into ego destruction.
The whole album is going to be available to pre-order tomorrow for both CD and digital + doing a limited edition bundle where you get the CD of the new album, the cassette of the previous one as well as two patches.
Lyrics: Maggots crawl to kiss the feet of a new God Used and abused, to be disposed in the dark Sucked dry by the hordes of the revenants Another body in the grave of their shallow praise Die the death just to come back hollow Feral angels rise, ripe with decay. Pray to me, what you sow I will reap, Pray to me.
I Ya Toyah – Pray ( Stabbing Westward Remix ) – Chicago’s one woman army is back with a new remix from the previously discussed Stabbing Westward and their is nothing I don’t love about this song. The rises and falls of this high speed car chase give space and pacing for Ania to shine through city streets. her energy is a beacon that draws you in and fills you up every time you are near. Walter Flakus is a proven master of taking great vocal talent to it’s height. This remix makes me long for an Ania/Chris Hall duet. Make it happen.
WHITE NOISE TV – GENERATOR – Berlin band I have never reviewed before featuring: Oliver Staats, Bernd Abromeit, Lars Goehring. I really like the expansive opening salvo of high energy electronic sound. As the vocals come in they have a daring Peter Hook Revenge flavor. Melodic with a lashing edge. Production is top rate which is essential when blending the post punk vocal style and cascading EDM music. Great breakdown at the 2 minute mark to let the bottom drop out and stand on the hill in defiance. In general an impressive job of taking familiar ideas and stitching them into a fresh concept. I think the most ringing endorsement I can give this is I was three minutes into the first track and they had already won me over as a fan. Get ready to hear more about White Noise TV.
Bedless Bones – The Iron Bough – We already have a review posted of this album on Sounds and Shadows. My favorite band from Estonia on Cold Transmission. Set to release 11/25/21. Every time I take a moment to listen to BB I am always surprised I don’t think of them more. They have such a powerful and spiritual infused sound or organic soul with a lost age feeling. Kadri Sammel has one of those truly unique voices that stands out in a sea of similar postpunk/darkwave vocalists for their cadence and range. If you held a live wire up to Dead Can Dance or This Mortal Coil and shocked them with electric intensity, that would be the majesty of Bedless Bones. Cool green leaves dripping with rolling drops of water.
The Cult Sounds – Now i can say I was officially surprised by this cover. I think of St Louis The Cult Sounds of an edgy dangerous take on the post punk concept. The Moody Blues are a definite guilty pleasure of mine. This holds so true to the psychedelia beauty and romantic nature of the original. It also really shows off the talent and chops of the band in such a different vein than their amazing progressive album “Death Of A Star”
kid.saint.nothing – Disgust – Ok I know this is a friend from Kalamazoo, but I am always astounded by the truth and delivery of Reggie. An exceptional talent in the scene returning once again with a passionate fury of raw veined exposure. It’s music that has that fearless, nothing to lose realness that can’t be faked. Pounding low fi metal edge with poetic soulful lyrics that ring clear beyond the crunching chaotic distortion of the music. I love the drum transition from a backbeat hip hop into throbbing metal. Reggie’s ability to flow seamlessly between styles while exposing their truth of being always reveals a new aspect with every album. More people need to know about this. The Pixies cover sounds more like the original plot of the Pixies than the Pixies do .
The Wake – Emily Closer (Kill Shelter Remix) – New remix of legendary Ohio goth band The Wake by our dear friend Pete Burns (Kill Shelter). This song is such a driving dark jam, and Pete drives the car right into a crystal palace of reflections and crashes a dark fairytale ball. Splashes of keyboard color shine light on a dark canvas of surrealism. This track is welcome at my goth prom anytime.
Aesthetic Perfection Feat: Isaac Howlett – Save Myself – Here we have two of the top vocal talents in the modern scene teaming up to create something of staggering beauty. Empathy Test and Aesthetic Perfection share a lot of mutual space, both blending the lovely and pleasing with intense emotion to create a full pallet of human experience in song writing. They also couldn’t be more different stylistically in how they achieve this effect. This song really told a story to me, not just in the music and lyrics present. In the delivery, tone, and cadence that they volleyed then harmonized. Almost as though the perspective of what they were singing was shown through a alternate refraction. Plus it is so earth shattering pretty it made me warm inside. Musically I felt it swung more to the AP perfection side of the spectrum, but the vocal performance highlighted the contrast of two top level artists. I hope this is just the start of possible collaborations. I fully expect this will rocket to the top of the dark scene.
After the tidal wave of new releases from the last few weeks I get to settle down and deep dive some of the amazing things that I didn’t get to. Powerhouse albums from around the globe that are making my heart pitter patter for the exciting future of modern Darkscene. As always comment on the page who you think I need to review next and share these reviews so others can find them.
Sounds Like Winter – Fight The Stairs – I have been a fan of the Australia based traditional goth band for a while now. With their third album they have struck an amazing new chord that is the most impressive to date. One of the flavors I have always loved in SLW was the rough edges and old school feel. I never needed crystal clear production work to feel the passion driven low fi power of the songs. In an unexpected turn they have somehow unearthed the unorthodox blending genius of Martin Hannett to create the lost progression of Joy Division and A Certain Ratio. The drums are a crisp sizzle, the guitars a stabbing fencer in constant assault. Sian Williams walks up the down staircase with synergists motion and lead guitar bass. Finally Ant Banister has captured the soulful baritone resonance of Ian Curtis that so many in the current scene have tried to grasp. The entire effect is lightning in a bottle which is holding place between two times. I’m on my third playthrough and still find myself searching for details in a seamless delivery.
I would be remiss to not address the lyrics. This album has a crystal clear delivery with poetic flare for dark themes that keep bringing me back to Unknown Pleasures and Still. The wonderful lighting/Thunder offset of Andi Lennon‘s vocals add just the right amount of spice to this complex stew. My arms sway with reckless abandon and my mind swirls with the bleak and heady themes. People often talk about how much this scene leans on the past, but not enough on the ground left to go. This feels new.
Favorite Track: Fight The Stairs – The title track is the perfect blend of both tempo and Andi/Ant’s vocal style. A guitar riff is everywhere at once like a live wire catch the dragon by the tail. It’s a story you can follow and a sound to get lost in.
Overall: This is the new standard for a band hitting on all cylinders
Dogtablet – Pearldrop Blue – A lot to unpack here. So many amazing elements in one place that connect all the tiny synapses in my mind and unleash a flood of dopamine right in the brainstem. Scene legends Martin King, Roberto Soave, and Jared Louche, have teamed up once again to bring out all the best in each other and we are reaping the sonic benefits. I’ve had a hole in my heart as Jared has been quiet lately. Hearing his mad prophet poet spinning spiderweb dreams again takes me on a fantastical journey. The album features a plethora of amazing guest vocals from S & S favorites Cat Hall, Coral Scene, Sapphiria Vee/MelodyWhore, and Groovie Mann. Another amazing addition was mastering by sonic wizard Pete Burn. How they take all these elements and make the chaotic fever dream sound so clean and cohesive is beyond me, but I suppose that is why they are legends. The entire album builds like a cinematic human drama touching gentle notes like taste buds on the tongue.
Favorite Track: Impossible to choose from this ensemble cast of talent. Every Little Lie – Featuring frequent collaborators Sapphiria and Melodywhore is crystal cocktail party of balance and trip hop fantasy. Star – Is a deep and introspective prayer to the connection of spirit. Silver strands winding through the universe while light bounces off at a million sparkling moments. Heavy Gravity has a more traditional Dogtablet feel, with Louche in full moonbeam madness and William Borough’s cosmic streams of conciseness.
Overall: Another smash hit with the complexity of craft you would expect from veteran masters, and the dangerous psychedelia artistic courage of people beyond the game. You will be changed by this.
Aesthetic Perfection – Gravity – Houston we have lift off. The newest single from Daniel Graves featuring Swedish death metal axe master Sebastian Svalland holds the speed and power to break the atmosphere. I almost had a dance related injury the first time I spun it. Graves touches on an emo punk lilt to the vocals that gives an original modern bite to the Pop-Industrial equation. Get strapped in, and peer out the window as the pinpricks of light race by at blazing speed. I know I was late to the game for Aesthetic Perfection, the more I hear, the more I love.
Sega Lugosi – Un-Undead EP – Wow, the ultimate goth diss album from the hidden part of The Gothsicles. If you ever wanted in on the inside joke of modern EDM, now is your chance. Epic in scope chocked full of nerd culture reference. Everything you love about Klack/Caustic/The Gothsicles put in a blender on frape and poured on a Genesis consul until it sparks and burns. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick Taco Tuesday is a jam. It really isn’t the humor, because the songs are funny. It’s how good the songs are in spite of the humor. “Sunday ain’t my day to pray, It’s Tuesday that makes me sashay.”
Curse Mackey – Submerge Remix – How do you find new space in my favorite track of 2019 breakout album Instant Exorcism? Have sound engineer extraordinaire and close friend Chase Dobson do a remix, and give him a new guitar line from Ronny Moorings of Clan of Xymox. Where the original track was a slow and crushing descent. Here you are in open water, looking at the expanse of nothing but dark blue for miles. Gorgeous lapping waves of delayed guitar the only sensation tying you to life and you sing down in ice waters. I love feeling something I am already in love with deeper. Discover it again.
Another Friday night finds me tipsy and alone behind this keyboard. However I am never truly alone when I have great music and all of you to share it with. I have all my latest Bandcamp purchases, a few of which are absolutely smash hits. Please leave a comment below of who you would like to see me review in the future.
Twin Tribes – Altars – The beautiful lads of TX have released a remix album. Now I will always buy anything Twin Tribes put out sight unseen. I have to say this collection of remixes by some of the hottest names in darkwave was a special treat. The songs were big departures from the standard Twin Tribes style, but Luis voice still kept each song familiar. It included tracks from both previous albums placed lovingly up for sacrifice on the Altar to be transmuted and given back to the world.
Remixers Include:Skeleton Hands, Geometric Vision, Luz Futoro, Ash Code, NITE, Wingtips, Matte Blvck, Dave Parley, She Passed Away, Bootblacks, and Creux Lies. Yes you read that right. I think the power house of performers here really speaks to the immense effect Joel and Luis have had on this scene in such a short time.
Upir (remixed by NITE) – Damn this is gorgeous. This slow drifting synths remind me of a quiet corner in a buzzing high energy club. The beat then kicks in with a lovely synth line. Just such a bold shift from an already amazing song. This is the most I can ask for in a remix. I true homage while breaking a new vision.
Shadows –Matte Blvckremix – Shadows was the song that started my deep love of Twin Tribes. It holds a very personal place in my heart. To have it transformed in this way and still hold such an intense emotional impact is something glorious. This is that secret cult but no longer around a ancient tree but now in a lush modern club. Full of velvet and burning incense. A beautiful and dangerous collision of past and future.
Overall Impact: Generally speaking I am not a huge fan of “just remix” albums. I really love remixes included with an EP or something fresh. However as is often the case Twin Tribes have become the expectation that proves the rule. They took songs I love and collected most of the top names in modern darkwave. If you don’t know some of the bands here, you need to let this album lead you back to them. It’s very accessible and has a nice variance of sound. General fans will enjoy, fans of Post Punk/Darkwave will love.
the Dramedy – And The Light Goes White – New album from Dave Dramedy, who I recently saw playing bass for Caroline Blind in Detroit. This was a strange and experimental album that never left me bored. Dave surely has a power and range to his voice that rides the line of Mark Burgess and Iggy Pop punk edge. I really like the blend of rhythmic acoustic and harder driving bass guitar sounds. This is an album that grows on you. It seemed to get better with every listen. Like a favorite film where you notice a new detail every time you watch and always feels fresh.
Parasite: It’s hard to put my finger on it. The inflection in the vocals. The ring of the drums. The chopping downward acoustic guitar. This song although having a very dark edge, carries a vibe of 60’s Height Ashbury psychedelia. Of the Mamas and the Papas. It covers a lot of ground stylistically. The vocals are full of piss and vinegar for how beautiful and resonant they are. This song is a jam that is hard to place in the box. Other than the box of I love this fuking song.
What’s left To Say – Just stabbing sun shard energy right out of the gate. Total bop feel with flaming guitar lines, biting vocals, and late 90s Brit Pop hooks. I just couldn’t stop my leg shaking on this one.
Overall Impact: This album is so full of twists and turns. A definite nostalgia feel, as well as a region one. I really felt the California connection in every song. I think this record is very accessible despite the complexity. It is a hard sound to describe but if The Church were being yelled at by Iggy pop to stop changing time signature and just play bops. That’s what I feel.
Christian Death – Spectre (Love Is Dead) Kill Shelter Remix – This song is a classic. Probably my favorite CD track. So how do you re-imagine something iconic? Give it to Pete Burns. Pete is such a master of the sonic scalpel cutting away tiny bits until you are left with such a precise and streamlined modern wave beam. If I had it in my heart to toss a grenade over my shoulder and purposefully stroll from a collapsing building, this is the track I want playing. It’s pure energy and dangerous intent. 10/10.
Overall Impact: Everyone will love this track. It’s very fresh, it’s very way back. It’s just a slamming banger from start to finish.
Deadlight Holiday – Blood // Body – Our dear friends from West Michigan uncorked this badass single with some slamming sounds of Nu Metal and sizzling tempo Stabbing Westward vibes. Great production in the breakdown swirl. Loving these scratchy tear your head off vocals blistering past the crunching guitar. Also a gasoline covered dead man’s dance remix by Angelspit. I sense big things on the horizon from these young folk and I look forward to sharing a stage with them again soon.
Raichyl Sinversa – You Tell Me (Re-Mastered) – Remastered single from Raichyl of Philly. This is a nice crooning darkpop head bopper with an empowerment edge of 90s grunge. The guitar work is napalm scorched earth to contrast the lovely lifting vocals. A little bit of southern sass in the tone puts a nice edge to this “I’m not falling for your shit again” boot stomping driver.
Aesthetic Perfection – Automaton (feat. Sebastian Svalland) – Ok I have a confession that will not win me any goth points. Aesthetic Perfection sort of happened right in the moment between when I gave up on discovering new music and the time I listened to nothing but. Daniel Graves has become a leader of the modern dark scene for a reason. So getting to hear this new single without much context is a really interesting way to stumble into the band. This track is a bop. With firecracker exploding chain guitar work by Sebastian Svalland. It is also produced by Front Line Assembly legend Rhys Fulber. So I went in blind expecting cold razor precision on the production. Which is exactly what I got. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the range and voice charisma of Graves. It oozes with thick viscus grime and light footed cadence that keeps the energy constant and focused. The song also gives a tight compressed poetry of lyrics that convey a relatable idea in the modern era without an abundance of words. There is a special anticipation when you discover a band with a rich history later in their career and get to work your way back. I may have to do some of my reaction videos to some Aesthetic Perfection classics. Put your favorites below in the comments. Also buy this track immediately because it is a slam.