Always a chaotic and wonderful time of year. I’ve had a huge focus in my review writing lately around singles. I think the whole industry has felt a shift in this direction. That is why it is important to take time and celebrate artists who release full albums tied together with an idea. To recall times sitting together around the speakers with friends pulling apart the strands of lyrics and ideas. Before I work on the Oct Darkscene Singles Chart, I am going to dive into some more expansive work driving my mind. Be on the lookout as well for some exciting new interviews on our youtube channel. If you like what we do, feel free to support with our Patreon page below
genCAB – Signature Flaws – Philly based industrial synthwave full of jagged glass and insight on the human condition. had a new October release. David Dutton is a master at surfing the razor edge between pop hook and unnerving dissonance. Infectious drum beats that hang just outside of time, never allowing you to feel comfortable. Combining this with clear delivery and an emo cadence. A unique vision within a genre full of repetition. With this 3rd full album release I am ecstatic to see David lean further into the abstract edges that makes his music connect.
Album Flow: It really fits together. The sound has over-arching themes but the dynamics really take a journey. I also love the emphasis placed on lyrics. These songs really let you into the mind of the author, flaws and all. This is a record you can really feel the intent, and attention to detail that went into subtitle sounds. The order of delivery holds true meaning.
Signature Flaws II – This song is a total masterpiece, the perfect break and epiphany moment in the middle of the record. Beautiful soft fur behind razor teeth. The background of strange electronic harpsichord tones make perfect accents.
Cancer Causes Life – Just shimmering with spinning violet light. Gorgeous vocal shifts to really make this slow jam feel full of movement. As a song writer I just love to hear this level of craft and soul.
VNV Nation – Electric Sun – I recently got to do an interview with Rowen which will be released soon. This album came out April 2023 and has been spinning around my rotation ever since. This album has a dark color to it. Every track feels large in scope and sets a tone of impending doom. In true VNV nature, it also is a call for unity and hope. A desire to face this darkness hand and hand. The synth banks form towering shapes that rise in terrifying representations of order. The narrative quality of the lyrics and the expressive delivery of the vocals leave me feeling like a spectator in some grand playhouse. Watching the protagonist belt his sorrowful story to the back of the wall. Is that to say there aren’t club bangers? Of course not, the energy is infectious, stomp your feet. Just also take the time to sit on a rooftop in the evening air and reflect on the world rolling by while you take in every word.
The Game – A scathing view of the post Capitalist world. The gorgeous Peter Gabriel cadence makes the message here feel enormous. The back beat on the drums is a marching rhythm, constantly driving forward like the game itself. The house always wins. This one got under my skin.
Run – 100% Bonafide BANGER. The tempo is slow and crawling but this is a boot stomping through the concrete with water spraying overhead from the sprinklers as you spin in time. It builds you up, it breaks you down. The breakdown at the four minute mark is an emotional outpour into a sky splitting elation. I felt like my soul ran to the top of a mountain.
VEiiLA – Sentimental Craving For Beauty – VEiiLA is pronounced “Vay-la.” It’s a stylized reference to a Baltic mountain-dwelling demon that lures men into her cave by singing and then devours them. Don’t threaten me with a good time. A new album on Projekt Records sent to me by Sam which I feel headlong into. A delicate beauty with 90’s trip hop elements, including a sprinkling of Beth Gibbons in the vocal delivery. Twinkling light arpeggiation taking us to an other worldly fairy fire mystery. This album makes great use of the “whisper factor”. When you shout something to the rooftops people natural lose focus. When you whisper a secret, everyone wants to lean in to be part of the inner circle. Veiila makes you lean in close, hanging on that whisper, then explodes in a shower of color. The flow of this whole record always leaves you shrouded in mystery. The other master stroke is the jazzy loose guitar winding clean and instinctive tendrils around that voice.
I Had A Dream – This song is full of magic and dark whimsey. You follow that lovely sound into a shadowy place and suddenly you are lost. Menacing low synth bass sounds bounce against the tiny bell sound sparkles. This track is a expert class on how to build tension, hit a peak, and explode with energy. The whole record excels at this but this track hits you right in the iris.
Common Decency – Nice glitchy witchaus drum beat that really frees the vocals to shine. Range and soul in equal measure. One of those tracks that would be at home in almost every situation.
Black Angel – LASCIVIOUS – I know you were all starting to think, Ken, are you only reviewing electronic trance and future pop? Well count on Matt Vowles, Corey Landis, and Maneesha Jones to hit us with a hot dose of gothic rock wrapped in tight leather on the back of a roaring engine. The title drips with danger and sensuality. Cracking organic drum snaps. Overlapping guitar lines weaving around a race track. I really enjoy the way Corey’s vocals fit a very Eldrich rhythm while having a lip curl snarling tone of his own. This record runs around a lot of trad goth elements then sprays them down with late 80’s LA hedonism. The effect becomes a blend of stalking shadows and care free excess.
She’s My Suicide – Loving this filthy guitar sound with a slow Concrete Blonde crawl. Landis uncorks a mixture of burning beam and rusty metal. This song was made for loud club speakers.
Killer – The drums in the opening here scream Banger. Guitar riff is a drag race right down your throat. Jones does a nice chorus harmony here sprinkling some Vision Thing spice.
daddybear – IA MALI EN – A new release from Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) where he again teamed up with French revolutionary artist Marie (Grabyourface) to make fog machine sensual grindwave. The pairing produces something I can best describe as modern. Because there really isn’t anything like it. Glitterbomb gold raining on a floor of midnight epoxy. Marie’s vocals drip a haunting whisper muffled by a lit Gauloises dangling from their lip. It is so effortless, lounging within the slashing beat.
Bedless Bones – Mire of Mercury – Brand new record from my favorite band from Estonia. Kadri Sammel is a unique vocal experience in her timing and enchanted forest delivery. This record seems to follow itself in reaction like rippling currents on still water. Every shift setting up another variation. This isn’t an album for the thumping club speakers. This is a record for an exclusive party with friends on the rooftop overlooking ancient ruins. A shimmering atmospheric hallucination that echos faintly in your memory.
Blood Citadel – This track stands out for it’s immersive Projekt Records world beat transportive nature. Running barefoot through the night through ancient ruins listening to the whistling breath of yesterday’s spirits. Great use of toms thrumming to a build. It makes me feel lost with cold wind biting at my face.
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.
This year has had the release of so many amazing albums. I’m a bit at a loss of how to do a Best Of List. I have so many records I loved after I made a list, then a list of another 100 I loved. It caused me anxiety thinking about how to categorize or order them. So instead I am going to treat this like a montage in no particular order. Just thinking about all the things that brought me joy in this dark year fills my heart with hope for the future. These are not singles, EPs or Full lengths released in 2021 with all genres mixed together in a blender like the Darkscene gods intended.
Actors – “Acts Of Worship” – This album is going to change the standard. Rather than think of it as an album out of time. Hear it as the type of puncturing emotional thought pieces we talk about as nostalgia from a previous era. I choose to see the hope it promises. To be a place where those that remember the past, and those that are blazing new ground in the future meet. Where they say this was the moment where the music we talk about twenty years from now with a new generation is remembered. It’s a powerful feeling that you can be apart of now. This is my album of the year. The second time I have given them this award.
Creux Lies – Goodbye Divine – October was the month of spooks, a shaky return of Halloween since the long-endured pandemic and a myriad of releases by many artists within the undead world of dark-alternative music. Among the wave of new, brooding and shadow-y music unleashed upon the world shines one LP that stands apart from the cobwebs and screeching bats in the night; ‘Goodbye Divine’, the second album by moody, Sacramento post-punkers, Creux Lies. More than three years after the band’s debut record, ‘The Hearth’, Creux Lies brings us a new collection of eight tracks packaged with an avante-garde painting by Alex Kanevsky on the LP’s cover. Preceding the release, the “New Romantic” quartet appeared in promotional images portraying them as disaffected souls in serene, open fields; a fitting aesthetic theme for the music’s despondent sonic-template. “Jungle” kicks off the record with a wave of sinister keyboards before the rest of the band commences their wall of gray, foreboding rhythms, setting the tone for the LP’s thematic statement. By track four, we are treated to the bitter-sweet, emotional “PS Goodbye”. Singer, Ean Clevenger croons against the soft-rock instrumentation with lyrics, “Mercy you, you helped me shine. Although the last, it was the very first time.” One of the most distinguishing elements of Creux Lies’ sound is Clevenger’s vocal contributions. – James Edwards
Rohn – Lederman – Venus Chariot – My love for Belgian composer extraordinaire Jean-Marc Lederman is deeply known on this page. His previous work includes ( Fad Gadget, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen) as well as some of the most thought provoking higher tier concepts in electronica music of the past 5 years. Teaming here with COP International and exceptional producer/Vocalist Emiliegh Rohn of Michigan they blend into a poetic electrified katana of grace and fury. I have spoken of this record in the Sounds and Shadows group but was shocked I had yet to write a formal review. When I hear someone of Jean-Marc’s pedigree say “This might be one of the most important albums I have ever released” it tends to make your ears perk up. This album is full of endless fusion energy both in the intricate hair splitting craft of the music, and Emileigh’s power whisper beauty. it’s the record I reach for whenever I need to force my body into action. A well of strength at your fingertips for these draining times. Greg Rolfes provides cover art to set the tone of this runaway stampede of electronic elegance.
Black Rose Burning – The Wheel – George Grant of New York has taken an already amazing sound to a completely different level. This new album is progressive, complex, expertly executed emotional darkscene that permeates the skin and resonates in the chest. These vocals harken to a previous time of dripping Peter Gabriel emotion that spiral in crystal facets on top of shifting translucent hooks. It ebbs and flows through a stylistic spectrum and delivers with every memorizing tale. I continue to be blown away by one of the most criminally overlooked master songsmiths of our scene. This is a record that needs mainstream attention.
The Joy Thieves – American Parasite – This album is an opus from Chicago Industrial Superband The Joy Thieves. Dan Milligan and crew mix the best of hard thrashing rock and Industrial electronic explosion. The amount of talent and fury unleashed on this record is staggering and at no point disappoints.
Dead Astronauts : Silhouettes– A new release from our friends at Cold Transmission from Seattle WA. This record was a articulate and purposeful release that had a craftsmanship that placed it in the upper echelons. That made a lot of sense once I heard Slade Templeton (Crying Vessel) had a guiding hand involved. Florence, and Jared seem to have an instinct for where a song needs to go. Melody to melody, song to song, everything seems to flow in it’s perfect natural direction. It makes it so easy to fade away and become lost in the futuristic textures. They each have such a distinct and soothing voice. Made stronger by their combination and ability to hold the depth of a conversation instead of a monologue. The music has a lot of subtle dissonance and complex themes. What really makes it effective though is how these details are woven around straight forward pop hooks that remind me of Peter Hook’s Revenge , or Pet Shop Boys. This is a record that doesn’t need to scream to get your attention or convey emotion. It tells you everything without ever having to raise it’s voice.
I Ya Toyah – Out Of Order – I am constantly memorized by the way Ania’s star keeps growing in size and brilliance. With Out of Order she travels away from the standard rock aspects to the other spectrum of her electronic abstract. It truely feels like a fusion between robotic precision and human heart glow.
Kill Shelter & Antipole – A Haunted Place – Here it is, Pete Burns is operating on a level in modern postpunk/darkwave that is rewriting the script. Here instead of recruiting a variety of singers like his groundbreaking album Damage he takes the vocals upon himself. His voice is rich and rings with the power of a well aged bell. To build on that previous level of variety in the soulful lyrics, he has added possibly the top Post Punk guitarist in Antipole’s Karl Morton Dahl. It’s an effortless compliment which locks perfectly as a puzzle falling into place. Every track is done with such expert precision and runs the spectrum of emotion. This is an early contender for album of the year. Like an expertly honed novel I could hear this record 1000 times and find a new detail to zero in on each play through.
Stoneburner – Apex Predator – This is Steven taken off the chain and turned to 11. Unapologetic making industrial music of wild machines and wires. Spewed forth with venom to a world without a concern to how it will land. This is the true punk rock ethos driving giant steam punk construction vehicles. This is the industrial that Joe Strummer prepared us for.
Dove Tribe – All In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
Ashes Fallen –A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream – The Sinister Guitar Lord of Sacramento CA James Perry returns with a long anticipated album. I’ve been a fan of the hard rock edge and dark overtones of Ashes Fallen for a while now. This new record finally fully embraces the goth aspects of the gothic rock. I feel like the scene has been so hungry for a voice of processive morals and guitar driven dark music. The other major step forward for this release is the collaboration heard on keyboard and additional guitars by Michelle and Jason. The seamless blend of these other voices in the song writing process really elevate and highlight the best aspects of James talent. The mastering by Gordan Young crackles with deep lines and definition. James voice has really found it’s internal confidence and writhes and strikes like a sea serpent bursting through phrases and throwing weight on those show stopping fretboard fireworks
The Ending Nights – A Landscape To Die – The newest offering of Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) of Portugal on Cold Transmission Music. A definingly dark apocalyptic disco drive produced and mastered by Pedro for a soul wrenching personal explosion. Jagged glass drenched in rainbow oil and water. How do you take one of the most distinctive voices in modern goth/darkwave when you find a way to make the steaming disco beats the star of the show you have really broken ground. This is a record that creates a world. Grime and desolation, the remaining survivors of a broken world follow the electric pulse of a melody from within. A perfect anthem for these fractured times.
PALAIS IDEAL – Negative Space – Palais Ideal is my favorite advanced evolution of progressive post punk. A calculated artificial intelligence writing out the history of humanity in reverse. This is thinking persons post punk for a modern era.
SHIV-R – Kill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam.
LEATHERS – Reckless – Second time on this list for Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.
The Gothsicles – Animal Songs– Brian breaks ever barrier of what we think this scene means. A pure shot of rainbow bright laser explosions telling the tale of animals while making you shake that ass. A unique voice and vision in a carbon copy world.
Bow Ever Down – Lost In The Woods– Kimberly Kornmeier sizzling darkpop from 2020 which left me swaying and captivated. The synthy star sparkle spins are a wonderful atmospheric journey. Their voice is an icy and bracing powerful clarity. They have a honesty and power that rings forth with every delivered line. It’s vulnerable and indomitable at the same fine. The music has a soulful and serious tone. A shattering crystal castle of faced disillusionment growth and regret. I also love the use of samples to set stories that allow the vocals to show the emotional range of the story portrayed.
A Cloud of Ravens – Another Kind of Midnight – New album from Brookland band ACOR, which has left me immediately captured and ready to dive into this deep pool. This record is a perfect blend of the homage to the past and the modern construction of the future. Well deep power and resonant vocals carry these stalking shadow woven songs. It’s concrete wilderness and Peter Murphy poetry. Ringing guitars and driving basslines carry a heroic journey through a desolate land. The power of this story is to make the situation always seem so bleak but leaves a glimmer of hope in every song. We have an interview coming out soon that provides a glimpse behind the curtain to this emotional hand quivering delivery.
Mark E Moon – Old Blood – Old and sinister music and vocals from Cold Transmission and the Isle of Man. I have been a fan or Mark E Moon for a while but this new record is a huge step forward in shadowy transmission and feeling that rips open your skull and pours raw unhinged emotion directly to your mind. It’s stomping, unforgiving and full of truth. I picked this record up and couldn’t find a way to put it down. Released on April 2nd you can get two tracks now with preorder. It has a sense of poetry and theater that has been lacking in the modern goth scene. It rides the line between beauty and grit. I can’t remember the last time I heard a band take such a monumental step forward from a previous album I enjoyed.
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.
Hueco – Canciones de Oscuridad y Desaliento – One of the most important Mexican darkscene bands of the past few decades. Hueco brings forth a unique flavor and tells sinister ghost stories in a universal emotional impression. I love the Iggy Pop “Raw Power” driving wilderness rhythm section. A must own record.
Helevete Inc – The Inevitability Ov Nothing – This is a new rerelease from Helevete Inc. We recently had the opportunity to interview them, so keep an eye out. I feel in love with the hard old school style of this band. This album was such a drastic departure and really shows the range they have. A rich and meaning drenched darkwave goth sound. TION shows a gripping and introspective melodic aspect of their voice. These songs have such a powerful authenticity of someone stepping outside of their wheelhouse, uncertain where the music would take them. Confronting the fear and darkness of that reality. I feel so deeply in entranced by this record. It showed me something, it had glorious imperfections which revealed the artists and left you gripped by the connection. The album also has fierce and snarling beauty in the form of guest vocals from Jenny Rae Mettee. This is one of the most underrated finds of the year.
unitcode:machine – Themes for a Collapsing Empire – Dallas TX Industrial artist has been on my radar for a while. This new album hits a whole new gear. I remember being at Cold Waves this year and hearing person after person in the know say “Holy shit have you heard this album”. This is a masterclass in marble statue precision craftsmanship in electronic music. The vocals are melodic and driven in a way that haunts your head. I love how clearly the poetry of the lyrics rings out beyond music that fills every wall of a dance club. It follows the template of classical industrial while finding a tone distinctly it’s own. People need to know about this, it needs to be appreciated.
Bootblacks – Thin Skies Remixed – Remix follow to the break out record Thin Skies. A who’s who of the modern darkscene reimaging an album that shook the foundations of the scene. Hear something you loved though a different lens.
Angelspit – Diesel Priest – Well this new Angelspit album is not pulling any punches sonically or politically. Zoog Von Rock has returned with an army of cyborg technicians of revolutionary destruction. Stomping machines of punk rock anti establishment zealots rolling on tank tread speed. It always leaves me stunned how something so fueled by chaos can fit in such a tight refined space. With every building track you never know where the creature will go next or who will be brought down in the explosion. I think the greatest power here is how the lyrics effect 16 year old me as long as 44 year old me with both the passion and intelligence. This album is an experience that hits on so many levels
WINGTIPS – Cutting Room Floor – I saw Wingtips this year and they had the best performance at Cold Waves. That is really saying something for this show. This record was the perfect storm of edge and refinement. It’s so explosive, beautiful, and tragic. So much is conveyed with two amazing humans in perfect harmony.
Dread Risks – Trauma Ties – Texas extreme crushdustrial band has taken several years of evolution and compressed them into a truly unique fury of sound. Music to smash your enemies with a sledge hammer with.
Helix – Bad Dream – It surprises me I don’t think I have reviewed the powerhouse team up that is Mari Kattman and Tom Shear (Helix). I will rectify that now. Bright, bold, and teaming with energy. Mari has an elegance to her voice that feels like a bird of prey gliding on an air current. This is music that makes my legs pump with a desire to concur the world. I’m genuinely mad at myself I haven’t listened to them more before now. Track 2 Slip has a gorgeous triphop backbeat that captures the idea of movement on ice. I love the subtle changes in the vocals cadence, everything happening in the same volume and range, yet creating movement with tiny variations. Masterful songwriting and execution.
HAEX – Aethyr Abyss Void – This is one of the meanest chaos cannon grimy warehouse fireballs I have heard in a long time. A forceful ritual of madness and terror pop sensuality. This is the soundtrack to your next Hellrazer Barker themed dance party. Inspired wall smashing guitar work and apocalypse chant vocals. I want more and want it now.
Lorelei Dreaming – Future Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.
MORIS BLAK – Irregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.
Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Bring Out The Dead – Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down”. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.
Push Button Press – Black Swan – This is a long awaited album from our friend Jim Walker and Cold Transmission record. The title really sets the tone for an amazing artist which has been a bit misunderstood and on the fringe. Writing music that was visionary and a bit progressive for some audiences. Right from track one The End of Time we are pressing our foot steady on the gas and gaining speed with clarity and purpose. I am feeling a lot of smooth spreading bassline and Jim has a stabbing staccato. That blend calls to mind early Psychedelic Furs. I think the thing that strikes me most in track 2 Trace are the crisp and driving drum beats. It really adds a powerful element of rock to the post punk concept. Title track 6 Black Swan lays open the the heart of the band. For every truth there is a black swan. The transitions here are so abrupt but maintain a silky smoothness that create constant motion. The guitar work here has a lot of early punk elements with heavy rhythm guitars. It feels like jumping across fast moving water from stone to stone. Always a sense of danger and concentration.
Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – Ok this was only an EP, but the amount of nostalgia and lightspeed rockdustrial perfection was impossible not to mention. Chris Hall is a voice that keeps getting more impressive by the year. Listening to this record can take 10 years age off your swagger.
Long After Midnight – Painkiller – Really liking how much rock is mixed into this Industrial Rock. The mastering was done by Jules Seifert so everything is smooth as an Aston Martin’s fender. Ross Martin’s vocals are crisp and powerful to cut through the progressive hard edge of the music. Mike Nolan is juggling a lot of moving parts here to give the music a sense of complexity and movement. Really exciting taste of more great things to come. I need to play with these cats once shows start again.
The Cult Sounds – Death of a Star – A haunted carnival of opaque modern rock sounds and blistering originality. This album felt so fresh I had no idea how to categorize it beyond being firmly in the camp of yes please. It’s dirty, mean, and dangerous with a cult energy I want to join up with.
Red Meat – Homo Vulgaris – Manchester UK’s dancetastic hard edge industrial is a album every DJ needs to download and use to blow the walls apart of every dance club in the world. Rhys Hughes has that filthy Uncle Al sex voice which makes you want to shake your body harder and meaner than you ever have before. It’s that perfect mix of glam and grime skirting a razors edge of the danger you want to stick around for. I love hearing music that isn’t my style, but is delivered with such quality I can’t help myself being drawn in by it. This whole album is pure club magic that makes me long for sweaty bodies spasmodically jerking in time while the crumbling walls of a filthy warehouse thrum in the darkness.
The Burying Kind – The Burying Kind – Ok, do I have a personal stake in this album ? Sure. It was still something I always reached for all year long. One of my favorite modern goth singers Scott-David Allen and Industrial musicians Dan Milligan coming together to make the best Shoegaze album of 2021. What is not to love about this entire concept. It’s passionate, it’s expressive, it’s perfect. You need to give this album a try, it will change you.
LINGUA IGNOTA – AGNUS DEI – Every time I think we as a species have hit the wall of new kinds of music we can make, someone surprises me. This year that surprise came from Lingua Ignota. It you took the hair wrenching sound of a morning party on an Italian cliffside at midnight and blended it with Peter Murphy doing electronic performance art. You might be in the ballpark. This record isn’t easy listening. It’s hard, glorious, mind expansive listening.
Death Loves Veronica – Chemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein”. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.
LA electronic songsmith producer with another powerful release. Colin Cameron is an absolute maestro of riding the razors edge between drifting spaceship on the edge of the known galaxy and that hook that gets stuck in your mind for days. The true modern day composer commanding a symphony of expression at the tips of his keyboard. The aptly named Void is a lost soundtrack of space horror like Event Horizon. Cameron has a sexy whisper voice that leads you like a siren into the unexplored darkness. Brilliant use of guest talent like Vocals on “Spill Blood” by R.A. Desilets. Proving again to be at the top of the game while drawing far outside the lines. I continue to be impressed by LA song crafter Colin Cameron. He takes an approach to music akin to graphic design. Every weighted aspect seems to bring contrast and focus to both the positive and negative space within a sound wave. This track is the perfect journey track to travel the stars on an extended tour of the universe. A hit of peace, a hint of madness, drifting into the beyond behind the hum of subspace engines.
Dogtablet – Pearldrop Blue – 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
MALE TEARS – Trauma Club – LA synth stars who captured my heart with this slithery filthy synthwave sin. It’s the old effect, but in the modern light. James voice rings bright and tortured with beautiful poetry and anguish you can feel in your bones.
Jean-Marc Lederman Experience – The Raven – The living legend keeps finding ways to show me there are whole other levels of composition and concept us mere mortals have only begun to scratch. Another concept album where he uses guest singers to express a central theme he has written. This one the Poe infused macbre holding court in the modern electronic era. The list of contributors is a fitting testament to the brilliance of the composer.
Sapphira Vee – Duets – NY siren Sapphiria uses another great talent beyond her production and vocals. She draws people to her with her light. In this case a plethora of industry greats to place their voice next to hers in a duet. Mike Reidy, Jim Semonik, Chris Connelly. Turning the monolog into a glorious dialog.
Batavia – Mythos – Ed and Terri Cripps have found something between medieval bard and smashing industrial noise. I don’t know how to put a finger on it but I don’t ever want it to stop. It’s so gorgeous and original. It’s full of hope and inspiration. This is what I listen to when i need to be inspired to write music.
Black Angel – Prince of Darkness – It’s so good to have the ROCK back in gothic rock. La sleezy thrashing darkness that reminds us where we came from in this genre. It’s pumping hearts in barb wire and leather. Feel undead in the anarch LA streets of darkness.
Vision Video – Inked in Red – Glorious throwback 80’s glory full of The Cure/Smiths/ sad beauty you want to follow the violet winding star beam into the night to. Creeping comfort of a dream I needed to remember.
Bedless Bones – Bending The Iron Bough – My favorite band from Estonia. The wind rustles gentle through purple grains. The chant grows in electric power and swirls with spiritual majesty. Another one of those fresh sounds that sparks the heart with exploration.
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.
Hearing a band from Estonia doesn’t happen every day around here. So I was intrigued by a band that hails from Tallinn, Estonia and what this Baltic region band has to offer. ‘Ashes Indigo’ is the first single from the forthcoming release, scheduled for mid-November. An ethereal and ambient aesthetic permeates this track with an 808 kick holding down the rhythm. The dreamy female vocals compliment it well, giving the song a pop sensibility without being trite. Interesting layers and textures are at work along with tranquil melodies. It’s easy on the nerves but with a subtle edginess to it.