I Took a Week Off To Promote My Mental Health. So Lets Review Some Music

It has been a tough few months. A Lot of stress, but also a lot of exciting news. Sounds and Shadows keeps finding new ways to grow like last months S & S Darkscene Chart. I did Bandcamp Friday reviews last week, but I wanted to write a few tonight and just spend some time with new music. As always reach out to me or one of our other reviewers if you have something you want to hear us write about.

Machines With Human SkinTransience – Brand new album from Chicago Industrial artist Adrian Halo. I’ve been spinning a bootleg CD copy of this Adrian handed me at Coldwaves festival. I’ve really loved watching his growth and progression. As a songwriter and producer I hear continual learning with every release. Such an underrated aspect or organic growth. I love how this album uses the power of a whisper. The power and anger comes forth, but not with exploding bass, ear splitting guitars, and screams. When you deliver lyrics with a breathy and melodic intensity it makes you lean in to listen. Makes you want to be inside the circle and absorb the emotion. The bounce of these basslines really create movement and give the wispy chant a vehicle. This is my favorite work MWHS have put out to date, it is effortless, soulful, and the mix really sits in the pocket without forcing the intent.

https://machineswithhumanskin.bandcamp.com/album/transience

Hey look, It’s Adrian and I in the Post Punk Industrial Museum

Favorite Track: Invisible – This song really struck me in part for the clean and focused tone. In part for the raw and exposed aspect of the lyrics. It’s glitchy with a high energy pace and curled lip defiance. A firehose of pressure and political discourse fired with crystal cool water and builds.

Recorded at Maynott Studios, Chicago, IL
Mastered by Jules Seifert at Epic Audio Media, London, UK
Artwork: Jim Marcus

Sequential ZeroSecond Sequence – Some of the great Australian goth talent teams up with Orcus Nullify axe master Bruce Nullify. Ant Banister of Sounds Like Winter provides a haunted, emotive delivery on vocals. The dark disco style Lenn drums create an abstract Cabaret Voltaire openness. The tracks are gripping hands of tension, holding the mind and forcing introspection. This release really excites me for the future of the project. So many talented voices finding a space together and lifting each other up.

https://sequentialzero.bandcamp.com/album/second-sequence

HelixBad 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.

Favorite Track: Run (Hallowed Hearts Remix) – These tracks have all really impressed me. This one though managed to take that same beaming energy and fire it through a violet lens of darkness. The shadowy tones open up even more space for Mari’s vocals to shine. I put this track up for the S & S Darkscene charts. These layered guitar leads add a whole other level.

https://helix.bandcamp.com/album/bad-dream

daddybearHypnotic (feat grabyourface) – It seems whenever Matt Fanale (Caustic/Klack) and Marie Dragontown (Grabyourface) team up glory ensues. This beat is grinding dance floor magic. Marie’s vocals are sensual and terrifying. The whole song is a promise of ill intent which remains tantalizing while communicating destruction. After a few collaborations anytime I see this team put out a new song, it is an automatic buy. I have been requesting it in every Twitch Dj stream I jump into.

https://daddybear.bandcamp.com/album/hypnotic-feat-grabyourface

Goth ProfessorSwamp Gothic (Halloween Single) – Unnerving atmospheric horror trance from Florida’s Goth Professor . I really didn’t know what to expect wadding into these swampy waters. If you want to invite 9 guests to a mansion, feed them delicacies, then commit a murder everyone remaining is left to solve. This is the soundtrack you need.

https://gothprofessor.bandcamp.com/album/swamp-gothic-halloween-single

Review of Creux Lies “Goodbye Divine”

By James Edwards (Male Tears)

Creux Lies (bandcamp.com)

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.

Though the synth work and programmed electronics by keyboardist, David Wright sit heavily in the mix, Clevenger’s voice remains at the forefront of every song. The instrumentation of the band truly serves at the setting for the singer’s vocal theatrics and heart-wrenching bellows that he projects from the soul. ‘Goodbye Divine’s most consistent feature is the young, adult loneliness portrayed by it’s sonic textures and lyricism. For those that wear black, we as the audience key-in on this theme despite much of the record’s pulsating dance rhythms and identify with the true meaning behind the band’s offerings, swaying and dancing in the throws of introspection.

I also thought I would include my review of their first album “The Hearth”

by Ken Magerman

I have been sitting on this too long but I am finally ready to post this review for the amazing Creux Lies. There will be an interview to follow soon but I didn’t want to wait any longer.

https://soundsandshadows.com/…/10/creux-lies-the-hearth/

Band: Creux Lies

Album: The Hearth

Label: Cleopatra Records

Members: Kyle Vorst, David Wright, Topher Snyder, Barry Crider, Ean Clevenger http://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/album/the-hearthhttps://www.facebook.com/creuxlies

There is so much beautiful and nostalgic to hear. What if you made The Cure Disintegration but gave it razor sharp teeth? The drums had more snap. The guitar lines had that same entrancing delay but with more motion. Ean Clevenger has an obvious Robert Smith quality to his voice, yet where Smith focused more on a tongue and cheek sass, Clevenger is bringing a piercing intensity and higher range of New Order Movement feelings of being lost. The driving bass , the rising synth phrases, those crisp bark beat snaps. It’s like hearing every album that got me through my formative years but done with the precision production of the modern age. Every song makes me want to fall in love but never find the courage to express it.

Lets talk a bit about what isn’t nostalgic, because there is plenty of fresh takes in this offering. Beautiful guitar leads full of glorious textural slush in a shoegaze slither. This record is bleeds of layered sounds so thick you want to run your fingers through them. Intricate drum beats with a symphony conductors precision control the movement of each track. Just like most albums that touch me deeply it usually comes back to a vocalist that can make me feel something. Who can take me on a journey with words and feelings and this album left me shook. Every phrase drips with tortured honey and sorrow. Sometimes as an older listener who has lived a bit you hear something that makes you feel young again. In the case of Creux Lies it is not with energy and power. It is by reminding you of how deep you used to feel things before the world tempered you. Hearkening back to The Cure again this album is full of pop hooks. Strong ones that grab the lapels and shake you. It’s hard to define when you hear something that is similar to plenty of music I am hearing, but has something extra, has IT.

I’m at a loss for words on how to express it but I do know it when I hear it. I heard it. There really isn’t a weak track on this album, but I’ll pick some favorites.

Portals – This is the obvious single, but it is that way for a reason. The beautiful New Order keyboard melodies are absolutely captivating. The lyrics “Did you fall in love with a killer at your door, while waiting for a lifetime to begin” pure poetry. The vocals in this track are a masterclass in sliding between the cracks in the wall of sound around you. The build on the end is a perfect tension and release. Staggering.

Virginity – This is such a gentle caress of an opening, that effectively smashes you in the face with a giant crashing wave of sound when you least expect it. The slow crawling tempo makes you sway like a leaf on the wind. It feels like the terrifying lack of control at a first love so powerful you don’t yet have a frame of reference for it. Clevenger reaches into some sky splitting notes in this one and laser burns them into your heart. Slow dance with yourself in this moment.

Aine’s Song – Tom fills, give me all these tom fills. Tiny dancing pin prick guitar lines doing a duelist routine with the bass and rhythm, “I saw your face again, I want to take you home” That feeling of being struck. We have all felt it but to blend the music and lyrics so seamlessly to express it. I love

Follow The Leaders (A Killing Joke Tribute)

Coitus Interruptus Productions quotes writer Steve Taylor from his 2006 book, The A to X of Alternative Music, as saying “Killing Joke have inspired all dark music since 1981” going on to posit that “Scrape the surface of just about any Industrial Metal or Alternative Rock band worth their salt, and you’ll find some aspects of the prolific and powerful Killing Joke.”

With that bold statement, they bring us Follow the Leaders (A Killing Joke Tribute), an 11 track compilation that dares to take on the challenge of honoring one of the greatest progenitors of the post-punk/industrial metal genre.

Snowbeasts start it off right with their take on the KJ classic Wardance. Primal rhythms with a darkly polished sheen. This wardance knows it’s not just about brutality and wounds its prey with  subtle efficient strikes… Makes you wanna pogo along like a flashback to an 80’s punk show by way of a Berlin discotheque. 

From there we move onto Element, and their version of Turn to Red. Element trades the punk reggae vibes of the original for more darkwave sound and turns up the dub a bit to make this one hard not bob your head to its tranced out vibe.

Next, The Blue Hour brings us The Gathering. I am not sure how they do it, but TBH takes this classic Killing Joke track, and channels the ghosts of Bow Wow Wow, and still makes the track sound fresh.

Riotgun takes on the herculean task of covering one of the most well known KJ tracks, Eighties. You have to give these guys credit… This is the one track that I had the most concern about when I heard about this compilation. Yet I think they do an admirable job of keeping the aggression in place and not turning in an unintentional parody of the original. Hats off to Riotgun… Well played!

Here in the middle of the group, we find three of the best tracks of the compilation in my opinion…

Shhadows brings us a dreamy, trip hop inspired version of my all time favorite Killing Joke song Love Like Blood. For all its dreamy, spaced out qualities, it still keeps its power.

Trance to the Moon tackles Love of the Masses. This song hits me with the same angst of a song like Love Like Blood from a new direction, and I feel the pain in every note that vocalist Monet Alarie hits. Like a love gone wrong, it leaves you longing for another kiss.

And rounding out this triad of greatness is The Joy Thieves (featuring I Ya Toya) with Money is Not Our God.  Ania Tarnowska, takes no prisoners with her vocals on this bombastic assault against capitalism, propelled through the night by the punishing rhythms courtesy of Dan Milligan and crew.

On The Death and Resurrection Show, Missing Witness brings us a version of the song that we might have seen if Jaz and the Gang had gotten snared in the Wax Trax net circa 1986. The track evokes the feel of Ministry tracks The Angel and Over the Shoulder. Very cool old-school Chicago industrial vibes here.

The Raygun Girls bring those Big Paul Ferguson Beats to the front of the line on their take on  Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. This is the most Killing Joke like track on the whole record, yet doesn’t cross that line over into cover band purgatory.

This World Hell by Dead Receptors is an interesting track full of contradictions. Its brutalist vocals and staccato clipped synths are weighted down by the sleazy/funky bass and drums that remind me of great tracks like Golgotha Tenement Blues from Machines of Loving Grace. 

And finally, HadesMachine shows us out with Euphoria. A Goth rock banger tinged with siren call synths pleading for us to show some urgency, like a vampire biker gang racing against the dawn.

Overall this compilation curated by Coitus Interruptus Productions is a worthy tribute to one of the great pioneers of the post-punk/industrial sound. Go pick it up as a pay what you want offering at: https://coitusinterruptusproductions.bandcamp.com/album/follow-the-leaders-a-killing-joke-tribute

Le critère de Griffith by Attention fête

Coming from an experimental music background myself, I was quick to appreciate this latest mindbender from Attention fête. “Le critère de Griffith” creates images of walking down a long dark hallway with a sinister unknown waiting at the end. All four tracks on this EP were created solely using improvised treated clarinet sounds. It’s amazing and almost hard to believe that everything heard on these recordings was made without the use of synths or samples of any kind. With “3,6 × 10⁹ Pa”, the longest track at 6:24, the whole thing is delivered with a digestible brevity; a sampling of sounds and textures that stimulate yet mystify.

This Montreuil, France band wears its admiration for, and influence from, British sound art pioneers Coil on its sleeve. The title of “The last five minutes before death” is an obvious nod to Coil’s 1986 sonic tour-de-force Horse Rotorvator.

While not what I would strictly classify as an Ambient recording, the songs seem to hover in mid-air with a presence; like trying to ignore the ghost in the room while it makes the listener’s hairs stand on end.

https://attentionfete.bandcamp.com/album/le-crit-re-de-griffith

Bending The Iron Bough by Bedless Bones

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.

https://bedlessbones.bandcamp.com/album/bending-the-iron-bough