The newest offering from Stoneburner now on COP International is now available and Steven Archer keeps finding ways to ferociously raise the bar in modern industrial music. Teaming with COP International and adding in a legendary producer like John Fryer [NIN, DM, Cocteau Twins, etc] pushed the precision and clarity of message. To create an album full of ruckus noise and chaos which focused on lyrical message about a giant wolf god reigning apocalypse on a world that had lost it’s way. The metaphor tackles hard truth in everything from feminism to mental health. Crushing percussion and uncharacteristic pop hooks combined with wry wit to sling shade at the industry from within.
In true Steven fashion there is also a mystery to solve within the album:
We offer the physical as well as a digital version of this album and tried to figure out what could entice you the unsuspecting fan to get the actual CD. So Steven came up with an elaborate scheme. Within the artwork of the CD version is a hidden puzzle. Solve the mystery and get eternal bragging rights! You will also get a secret email address. If you are the first person to crack the riddle you will receive the original piece of cover art.
Currently on a must see tour to support. Find Stoneburner passing through your city:
10/15 Fallout, Richmond VA10/21 Darkotica, Cincinnati OH10/22 Small’s Bar, Detroit MI10/29 Mr Small’s Funhouse, Pittsburgh PA10/30 Dracula’s Ball w The Crystal Method @ Underground Arts, Philadelphia PA10/31 Ivy City, Washington DC11/3 Red Sea, Minneapolis MN11/4 Liar’s Club, Chicago IL11/5 X-Ray Arcade, Milwaukee WI11/6 Black Circle Brewing Co,Indianapolis IN11/7 The Crack Fox, St Louis MO11/12- 11/14 Unconvention (also w Ego Likeness), Iselin NJ
Currently #3 on the Sounds and Shadows Darkscene Chart !
Favorite Tracks include:
No Light No Spark – I just adore the brutal tank tread juggernaut feel of this track against the melodic chanting. A vibrant explosion of energy against a desolate darkness.
Spectrum – Sharp striking dance track addressing the neurotypical and expanding understanding of brainwaves in the current world. Donna adds vocals here to add shining blade contrast and light.
Overall: 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.
In a shocking twist of fate I finished my May Bandcamp Day reviews a week early. Which means I have time to do a part II of amazing new releases before Friday 5/7/21. As always I have gotten into my tiny goth boat to sail the seas of amazing music from around the world that stirred my heart like a bracing wind on stormy seas. So look with me to the stars as we navigate these choppy waters. Leave some of your great finds in the comments below, and as always keep it dark yo.
Big Time Kill – Recovery – Let’s jump in with a bang to the new EP by Boston based BTK. This EP absolutely floored me. It’s a ear worm blasting blend of catchy intense lyrics flicking through a rollercoaster dynamic ride with glam, electroclash, synthwave, and grunge. The way Adam Schneider and Ben Caccia bounce through effortless transitions is engaging and artistic. To cover so much ground in 4 tracks is a masterwork. I know I am using big shoes here but this journey holds the toothy refinement of Pretty Hate Machine. An early contender for surprise hit of the year.
Favorite track: Cliche’ – Whipping chains of ghost riding fire. Drops away with a crooning desire. The chorus is an expansive hit that taps deep into a feeling any artist in 2021 has looked down the barrel of. Bubbling guitar leads counteract with Adam’s piecing sky splitter voice. “What are you gonna do, when the world keeps coming for you”. Banging guitar solo 10/10 on the pump my fist in the air scale.
Sweat Boys – Adrenaline (feat. Valerie Abbey) – Blistering blaze single from Benny Sweat who has teamed up with Valerie of Abbey Death to tackle goth classic Rosetta Stone’s synth anthem. It’s fresh in it’s violet electric pacing and the wispy beauty of Valerie’s delivery. I love Ben’s gift for taking something untouchable and making it his own. It has reinvented the song as well as his own style. Everything about this cover feels fresh. The flowing keyboards step forward to take the place of the guitar line and turn the dark sky neon. This single is an instant club hit.
Era Nocturna – Hell – Another Boston artist Era has has returned from a 13 year hiatus to release a new single featuring three remixes. Her voice has the stalking power of a giant black wolf, blood dripping from it’s jaws. A sinister ferocity and stalking cadence. The whole sound feels cornered and dangerous while exposing a vulnerability. The lyrics are a poetic journey like Dante emerging from the inferno. It’s hard, it’s mean, and it happens in 4.5 minutes. I hope this spells the return of a powerful darkpop voice. Special shout out to the Lilith My Mother remix which softens the edges and adds blending of the grey hues to the music. This brings a clarity and resilience to Daeva’s voice. I can’t wait to see what style will be her next prey.
Coor Brow-Obles – MacGuffin Baby – Bopping new gothglam single from Gillingham UK. I always love the high range old school croon of Coor’s voice. The tongue and cheek of beauty against S & M concept. Put your hands on me and choke me softly. I think Coor has a true star quality and I want to see the production level find the same heights of cleverness as the songs. A fun ride between Bowie and Syd Barrett that leaves me hungry for more.
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.
Favorite Track: Spindein – Such a deliberate, calculated crawl of leather and feathers. When they say a song can get under your skin, this is what they mean. “Nothing dies, the way you do” I love the buzzing guitars at the halfway point. It really adds a second act to the story of the song. Light the candles, pour a glass of wine, get seduced by the power of music.
WeirdWolves – Overdrive – First single from the Austin TX band which combines Raphael Colantonio and Ava Gore (Daughter of Depeche Modes Martin Gore). It’s a nice early 2010’s electrosmasher club killer. Nice duet blend vocals. I had to really force myself to hear it on it’s own merit and not the power of it’s royal blood. Top notch production and some lovely giant mechanical snake sidewind slither. It was a brief but tantalizing introduction. You have my attention, but the bar will be high. I want to see open veins and dynamic power from a full length release.
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.
Favorite Track: Sacred Disgrace – It’s all the power and fury of the other tracks, with Lulu Black adding an eerie and off putting violin line which makes the vocals spew forth with added vigor. A crushing dirge of power and beauty.
blackcell – Burn the Ashes – Ok this came to me as a hot tip from Michael Smith. Just to discover it is a collaboration of Eric Isbell and Matt Jones. Mastered by Chase Dobson. Dark, dripping, delicious death disco that I didn’t know how much I needed in my life. Take one part Ultravox, one part Cabaret Voltaire, a dash of modern production to sooth the lofi edges and you have the recipe for your next low key sexy dance party. A twisted carnival of Andy Warhol’s most fiendish nightmares made of shadows and spun in technicolor. I was not ready for this and fell deep. Prepare to hear a lot more about this band from me in the future. This gets the where have you been all my life award.
Favorite Track: Creep Like Fire – This is the song playing when John Travolta stumbles into the Black Lodge of David Lynch and wanders aimlessly while a thin man in a suit speaks in reverse.
So dark music/goth has always run a parallel for with me Romanticism. Love, loss, passion, distance, these ideas that Robert Smith perfected and were such a intimate part of that original concept. Then as the scene evolved and became broader the norm stretched further from that idea. Today as the wind is chill and the leaves have abandoned the trees I am thinking about bands that are still pluming the depths of this idea. As a song writer the most difficult thing for me to write is a genuine love song, that captures the feeling but doesn’t step over into cheese. I tried to come up with examples of releases I have not previously discussed on the page.
A Covenant of Thorns: Black – I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)
but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression
Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.
Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.
Creux Lies : Blue – New single out from Sacramento’s favorite dark dreamers has thundering drums to drive is golden thread poetry. It’s a thicker richer sound than phenomenal 2018 release “The Hearth“. Ean’s voice is wide as the ocean and and dances on the mist. It’s really hard to capture the range and beauty of Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I feel like that is exactly what happens. My secret favorite part is the outro with old school lofi keyboards. I need a whole hell of a lot more of this and I need it now!
Twin Tribes (Cult of Alia Remix) : Perdidos – Twin Tribes has mastered the post punk passion and sultry beauty of bands like The Cure. This latest remix by Cult of Alia is a softer more subtitle ghostly whisper tantalizing love lost beyond the void. the pulsing keyboard rhythms take the place of driving bass and conjure images of haunted towers. I’m so hungry for another Twin Tribes album, but this was a welcome repose.
Selofan: Partners in Hell – This gorgeous Greek darkwave really deserves it’s own full review. I am embarrassed to say I have not written a review of them yet and they really deserve it. Per the theme I am going to focus on the track “There Must Be Somebody“. Driving mod synth tones flow down a moonlit river while a women in white calls forth with longing. This is beauty and horror blended together in true gothic fashion. Joanna Pavlidou’s voice is heavy with heart and touches you with icy clarity. Pavlidis’s basslines and chorus of synthesizers create a water color image of stormy regret and movement. Why have I not spent more time with this band?
Mortal Boy: Chronoception – LA darkwave band which is beautiful as it is intense. I love the Richard Butler flavor to the vocals. The star strike guitars really add a wonderful contrast to the darkwave style. This is definitely music full of plum red wines and flickering candles. It drips of both passion and loss. Favorite track “Kiss Me Poison” which combines all the best parts of the vocals and woven tapestry. If you have a special goth partner in your life, this is the music they want to hear as you bring out a romantic dinner.
The Secret French Postcards: Colours – New Cold Transmission Music release from Sweden. I love the post punk feel and organic drum sounds that add clarity and precision to this droning croon. This album is the moment in the movie where the protagonist looks across a crowded club and locks eyes with their soulmate. Olli’s vocals are drenched in warm and earnest love. Offset by resonating guitar lines and keyboard cascades by (IAMTHESHADOW) Pedro Code. It’s feels modern and fresh while the melodic vocal chant reminds me of Steve Kilbey (The Church). This is a band I keep feeling grow with every release. This one is out on 12/11/20 and preorder is available now.
Lust For Youth: Lust For Youth – Self titled album from the Danish synthpop band giving huge New Order vibes, which is never a bad thing. This record feels like staring at the sky while rain falls down. It’s cool, it’s stark, and it reminds you why you want to keep hoping for more. I was two tracks in and I’m already a believer. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing something familiar very well. A dark tone while centering in on lyrical hope. My favorite track was “Great Concerns“. This album was a journey of connection and the power of the human experience.
Korine: The Night We Raise – I have been deeply in love with this band since Twin Tribes played them for me on our podcast. From Philly this band is glorious dark dream slush with encompassing vocals and swirling synths. This new album from Sept took another step forward in production and clarity. It also has a razor fang edge to the beauty of the music. Sometimes love bites hard and while wrapped in a velvet glove of tone Korine cuts you to the quick. This is a record you really need to spend the extra moment with and peal back the layers. The cotton candy sweet on your tongue is truly just the first layer.
When i write reviews one of the common traps I try hard not to get lost in is comparing every new band I review to one of the sacred dark gods of the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar. Often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for ways to test the boundaries of what is possible and find some new ground. I figured I would take a moment to acknowledge this is a reality for a lot of people.
So this review is for a wonderful band A Covenant of Thorns which was a late release of 2018. I was lucky enough to get an early copy and have got several listens in the last few weeks. I feel like “goth” music has always had certain concepts or tones that are really getting broken down by a lot of new bands in the scene. One of the things that stood out to me so much in this album was its romantic dark beauty. That feeling in goth of lace, velvet, tortured anguish of love from afar. Such an integral idea associated with the goth movement which the music has seemed to somewhat move on from. Shadows and Serenades is rich with these concepts and since it just isn’t heard as much it made the record sound so fresh. Allen is an amazing song writer and these pop hooks are done with a clarity and quality of production that builds weight to the songs and gives a seamless flow between tracks. It’s not a dynamic album, the feel is very much an even and measured voice. Again I found myself impressed with how effective this was because as a song writer this would be so difficult for me to make drip with emotion and passion like he does.
His voice is a rich, lovely and full of silky crooning. It was stripped down and left bare to the listener. To stand alone against the expertly mixed keyboard swells and driving drum loops. His lyrics were true masterful poetry which rings with clarity and heartbreak. When you have a great vocalist that sings with sensitive beauty it is a true seduction of the listener. That’s how I felt when I heard his voice. It has some tones of Martin Gore. That other side of Depeche Mode too often overlooked. Yet it has it’s own unique quality which made the songs sound very personal. I feel like the singular tempo and feel of the songs really gives you a chance to focus in on the words being sung. Because the lyrics need to be appreciated for themselves. This might be too much info but it has become my favorite bubble bath and bottle of red wine all to myself album. My private treat to me I share with no one. I highly suggest you share it with yourself. I had some standout tracks I felt really spoke to me:
Torn in Two – The opening track has an upbeat dancy feel reminiscent of New Order technique, with beautifully crafted keyboard leads. Then you hear his voice for the first time and it is transported to a dark and expressive place. “Street lights cast the shadows frozen in time, you don’t want it all you just want whats mine” Gorgeous, the breakdown totally changes the tone to a brighter feel. Masterfully done. An Open Letter – This is a dark minimalist builder. With simple and elegant keyboard tones. Breathy and shadowed vocals that speak of empathy for someone facing great loss and regret. Then at about 1:16 a new drum beat comes in and adds a tension and pulse to the same gentle feel. Again the work of a song writer who is using craft and experience to create a lovely experience.
The Distance Between us – This is the album closer. Things take a sinister turn here. The vocals come at you through a veil from miles away. About a dying friendship and feelings of betrayal. It’s such an expressive song for an accessible theme so many have felt. Huge keyboard swell for the chorus which gives both hope and defiance. Leaving us on a high note for the future.
Overall this album is a breath of fresh air by using masterfully crafted modern technique and hearkening back to the ancient truth of goth music. A time of beauty, tragedy, darkness, and romance. Song after song tugged at my heartstrings and pulled me back in time for when everything just felt stronger and more intense. I highly recommend taking this journey with Scott-David Allen.