Sounds and Shadows Top Industrial/EBM/EDM of 2020

So many great Industrial/EDM/EBM albums this year. This is a genre that has been expanding and drawing fresh listeners all year. Again I can’t possibly include everything I loved, however these albums were the ones that fired a jolt of electricity into my spine and made my gears churn. These are all artists who had a full release in 2020.

20) Rabbit Junk – Xenospheres – Seattle based EBM/Metal dance explosion has been churning out explosive action movie soundtracks with razor sharp production. This album is swinging a sledge hammer around their heads on a leather cord. The cover of Iggy Pop’s “Kick It” with Peaches singing is worth the price of admission on it’s own.

https://rabbitjunk.com/album/xenospheres

19) eHpH – InfraredColorado band eHpH did this timely politically charged record that really captured the fear and division in the current climate. I think what I loved best were how wide the influences present were. Some melodic and post punk, some bright buzzing EBM. The whole record was full of intelligence and challenges the listener to face their own ideas about where the world is headed.

https://ehph.bandcamp.com/album/infrared

18) Seven FederationsHoly Orders – A wonderous sonic explosion from South Dakota. The vocals just crackle with electric ferocity from exploding transformers. Filthy basslines and wolf growl guitars. this album is the naughty demon on your shoulder whispering to you of sinful roads not taken. They might be the most underrated album on this list. People need to know about this record.

https://sevenfederations.bandcamp.com/album/holy-orders

17) Carrion – Testament Ov The Exiled – This is always such a hard review to write. Carrion is so powerful, so fresh, but just doesn’t fit into any box that makes sense within the mind. This textural terror noise has a level of intensity that demands recognition. How to quantify it I have no idea. Other than to say it is music that leaves you changed, afraid, praying for the dawn. Hide [Adrian] is creating on a level that artists and critics in the next decade may have artful words for. This whole record just leaves me moved and unsure how to describe. Best to bare witness for yourself.

PS: Carrion is already reissuing the album via Brutal Resonance Records, the `Revised Edition ` includes 5 bonus tracks!

https://brutalresonance.bandcamp.com/album/testament-ov-the-exiled-revised-edition

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/album/testament-ov-the-exiled

16) Corlyx – Together Apart World traveling EDM darkpop couple Caitlin and Brandon with their sophomore offering have captured the glory of pageantry in dark music. Caitlin has a beautiful voice that captivates and builds dreams in your mind. I love the dark LA gutter glamor this band always commands. They have added a level of clarity and refinement for this album and continue to evolve. Get in on the ground floor of these future stars.

https://corlyxngp.bandcamp.com/

15) Rottersand – How Do You Feel Today – The way this German band turns and twists on different axis within the same tracks is reality defying. The echoing chorus’s that have an intelligence and feel of Roger Waters bursting with electronic futurecore explosion. This album is a special journey with peaks and valleys that run the breadth of human experience. It is a modern album that has something for every kind of listener to enjoy.

https://rotersand.bandcamp.com/album/how-do-you-feel-today

14) Trevor Something Deep Wave Data Dark Web Deamons – Florida dance demon Trevor Something might be the sexiest thing I heard all year. The way they capture raw, grinding, sexual energy in sonic form is something of glory. It shakes your bone marrow awake and says you are an animal that hungers for flesh. Buy this record, shake a martini, and have a private dance party with your favorite partner.

https://trevorsomething.bandcamp.com/album/deep-wave-data-dark-web-daemons

13) 11 Grams – Humancide – The super combo of Rob and Simeon put out this long awaited album of everything you ever loved about old school industrial/electronica. It always has a toe over the line while sounding so familiar. Perfect execution and narrative intensity. This record is a rocket jocks sci-fi soundtrack to explore the speed of the stars.

https://11grams.bandcamp.com/album/humanicide

12) SpankTheNun – The Bunker Tapes Volume I – Hard and metal to the floor industrial from Texas. How do you find that line between crystal clear beats and filthy growling vocals? It’s right here. We aren’t reinventing the wheel here, we are greasing the axle to make it spin harder and faster. A bunch of amazing remixes from Blue Ant, Assemblage 23 , Melodywhore, Sapphirra Vee, show the faith and influence that this band commands in the scene.

https://spankthenun.bandcamp.com/album/the-bunker-tapes-vol-i

11) Caustic – A Succession Of Repetitive Beats – Our only double album winner in this genre is Matt Fanale. The return of Caustic and their DIY punk rock mentality with witty and humorous electronic slither is a breath of fresh air in the modern genre. The song Stale Semen, Shame, and Video Games is a poignant slam of the Incel culture. Make me dance and make me think. This is what Joe Strummer trained us for.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/album/a-succession-of-repetitive-beats

10) Sapphira Vee – The Mask – The smoky and subtitle voice of Sapphira Vee from Rochester NY has been tearing up the airwaves the last two months. A slow drink of whiskey in sonic form. It’s slow and grinding full of personal reflection and self realization. I had a small part guest vocal on this album and it’s a point of personal pride that I was involved with such a powerful release this year. I’ve bought multiple copies of this record to send to friends. This is a great example of why trip hop is the highest evolution of music.

https://sapphiravee.bandcamp.com/

9) Kanga – Eternal DaughterLA based artist wields this sonic saber like a charging cavalry officer charging by on a horse slashing on both sides. It’s that effortlessly cool beauty blended with icy dance beats. I’m not sure what category to put this in beyond excellent.

https://kanga.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-daughter

8) Grabyourface – Sea – Every once in a while some album comes along that is so fresh and honest you sit up in your chair and just feel something new. One of those artist that grabs hold of their own ribcage and rips themselves open to let you in on the guts and grime of everything inside them. This album forces you to feel things, to confront and absorb the empathetic tone within yourself.

https://grabyourfacengp.bandcamp.com/

7) Klack – Probably – The Wisconsin EDM sensation that brings together Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device). I’ve watched this project grow and blossom and this album really hit the perfect stride and balance of their styles. It’s clever, it’s electric, and the single Faith In Me is a glorious jam that could have been on a Depeche Mode album in the late 80s. I love when you hear a collaboration and can hear how much the artists respect and care about each other. It can’t be faked and this album brims over with it.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/probably

6) The Joy Thieves – A Blue Girl – Chicago superband led by drummer extraordinaire Dan Milligan has been garnering much deserved respect in Industrial circles. The way he blends old school Industrial with organic hard rock is an energy which is contagious. The contributor list is impressive and so long I won’t add everyone but names like Chris Connelly, Jullian Beeston, and Ania Tarnoska are just a few highlights. The title track is a slamming cut for the ages. If you don’t know about the next Pigface you need to get on board this train.

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

5) Klute – Queer For SatanClaus Larson of Leatherstrip unleashed this gorgeous record of furious destruction and sensual magnetism. This year must have been one of the toughest things a person can go through for him and that unbridled emotion pours forth in a firehose of pain and fear. If you love Leatherstrip (and how could you not) this album is top of the game.

https://leaetherstrip.bandcamp.com/album/queer-for-satan

4) Stoneburner – Beauty Is Terror – Steven Archer has had multiple releases this year, all great. His ability as an artist and multimedia creator really is the top of the game for DIY synthesis of audio and visual. To me this record was the highest evolution of his style thus far. It’s hard, world view, narrative, intelligent music that conjures images like you are reading a novel. The single “Are you here the way I’m here” is a steampunk electrocore time travel head flip. This album truly pushes the boundary of what is possible in thought and feeling. You need it.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/beauty-is-terror

3) ESA: Electronic Substance Abuse – “Burial 10 – EBM music is not my cup of tea. However, anything done at the top of the game is easy to know when you hear it. This album is hard, filthy, and so full of nuclear radiation it is impossible to not stomp your feet and dance to. The concept, power, and delivery are peerless in their execution. Add to that guest performances by Jo Hysteria, Cainlin Corlyx, and Lecture and you have one of the breakout album experiences of the year. This is one of those records I could listen to 100 times and hone in on a different detail each one.

https://esangp.bandcamp.com/album/burial-10

2) The Jean Marc Lederman Experience – Letters to Gods and Fallen Angels – For all those wondering where are the albums touching on a higher artistic ideal in the modern age. This is it. The Belgian artists who’s resume has touched some of the most prolific music to occur in the electronic era has compiled a group of guest singers both legendary and future stars and ask them to write a letter to God or a fallen angel. The responses follow the course of human mysticism and discovery. This album is a true journey of thought and expression that touches on a myriad of styles and ideas. It’s been a long time since a record made me think and feel so much. Do yourself a favor and take this adventure.

https://wool-e-discs.be/album/wed077-letters-to-gods-and-fallen-angels

  1. Pig – Pain Is God – Some people had a punk rock phase in their angry youth. I had an industrial one. A big part of that was Raymond Watts. KMFDM and <PIG> was a remind that Industrial music could mean something else. That it was a music of synthesis between electronic dance beats and any other style you could imagine. Here he is reborn the swine lord persona with a heady blend of of gospel, hard rock, and neon gutter grime. This record was the open gate between my 2020 self and my 1993 self. A DeLorean that connected me to my ego and my wisdom. A glorious return for the master of swine.
See our interview with Raymond Watts here

https://pigindustries.bandcamp.com/

I didn’t include singles in this list. However important mentions: Silverwalks, Melodywhore, and Der Prosector.

https://silverwalk.bandcamp.com/

https://melodywhore.bandcamp.com/

https://derprosector.bandcamp.com/

It’s Bandcamp Day and times are dark. So I am looking for ass shaking darkness.

Today is the day when Bandcamp (The one music streaming and distribution company that seems to care an iota for musician’s) waives it’s fees and gives everything spent, to those making the music. It’s been a tough few months in particular and I am in the middle of Sotember (The month each year where I recharge and drink nothing stronger than Earl Grey tea)

Death Loves Veronica : In The Silence

Newest single from Texas darkwave sultry star Veronica Campbell. This song has a brighter more open tone than previous offerings. It really highlights the elegant purity of her voice. Also included is a beautiful synth rich remix of “In The Silence”. A cascading waterfall of cool crystal sound.

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-silence

Danny BluThe Pale Horse

I have been waiting for someone to put raw emotion and sass back into the darkpop genre. This album crackles with mid tempo dance beats to fill the back walls of the club. The lyrics are an inward journey with an 80’s Madonna soul. Beautiful modern layered vocals to create movement and build. It’s one of those sounds that flows through your earbuds and into your nervous system and flexes attitude through your body. I feel like other people can hear these songs through my movements when I listen.

Fav Tracks: Paradise City/White Knight

https://dannyblu.bandcamp.com/album/the-pale-horse

Wingtips: Tears of Pearl

Chicago retro-synth dreamboats Wingtips have done this fitting tribute to criminally underrated 90’s Aussie pop band Savage Garden. I love the interlocking vocal duet here. The frosting sweet swirl of keyboards and chimes on this song make my heart dance with delight.

https://wingtips.bandcamp.com/track/tears-of-pearls-2

DJ Version 666Dance of the Profane

Firebrand driving doom dance with a nice sprinkle of Industrial guitar and finger firework keyboard work. I really like the effective chanting vocals which hit right on the needle of what I want from a club jam. Extra bonus remix layers on some teeth and glitch for a aggro feel. Stomp your feet and scream obscenity.

https://djversion666.bandcamp.com/album/dance-of-the-profane-single-and-remix

KlackProbably

Listen to Klack or I will attack, and you don’t want that. A fresh new feel here from Matt and Eric. I really have enjoyed every evolution of this project. This has a Construction Time Again DM flavor. It has clever carefully placed samples. The beats have a real shake that ass groove. The keyboard melody lines are beautiful retro hooks. I really fell hard for these breathy cleanly delivered vocals. It’s something I hadn’t heard from them before and immediately wanted more of. The lyrics really became a strong suit here. This is an album plucked out of the timestream and dropped hard in 2020.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/probably

Broken Nails: Control the Delusion

Kim Bell and company have released this lovely shadowpop with misty daybreak darkness. It has a dreamlike quality, with a Til Tuesday retro flow. I really like the front edge of Kim’s delivery on the vocals. This really gets me excited for the future direction of the project. Now on Swiss Dark Nights

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/control-the-delusion

GoFight: Freestate

I will always buy every GoFight release. I will never regret my decision. Jim Marcus understands the blending of body gyrating dance music in the way an Indian executive chef understands the blending of spice. The layering of elements allows you to get lost in what kind of a song you are listening to. His voice is that perfect growling beauty snapping at your heart with desire and terror. Another single, another home run.

https://gofight.bandcamp.com/album/freestate

Mary: Die Before Death

I think this band from Toronto now on Cold Transmission takes the award of the day for something I had no idea I needed and now can’t live without. The scope of tempos here run from blistering car chase to lullaby shouting fuck. Gorgeous dreamy vocals that would make Robert Smith raise an eyebrow. I’m not sure where this was hiding but it just took my 2020 by storm.

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

I’ll Give You Something To Cry About

It’s been a really tough week for me. It’s been hard to find the motivation to write or do much of anything. Today was a little better. I haven’t found myself listening to less music, just finding it harder to hear the words to describe it in my mind. Today was the first time I had felt like I could talk again. So I have an enormous backlog of music to write about. Lets get some of that out now.

ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – “Eat Their Young” If ESA’s latest album Burial 10 was a barb wire wrapped bat beating the shit out of you with electronic destruction. The new EP Eat Their Young is the same effect with a razor sharp sword. It has a purpose and intent with it’s execution. Back again is Corlyx Caitlin Stokes adding a sensuality and velvet glove to the relentless destruction. Power and Beauty in equal measure in this must have EP from London England. Also the video for the single is a masterclass in modern music/image synthesis

https://esangp.bandcamp.com/album/eat-their-young-the-scorn-ep

Corlyx – “Together Apart” – Speaking of Caitlin, her and band mate Brandon Ashley are back for a follow up to their album “In2 The Skin” 1st single is out now for a Sept 15th release. It’s another burner. Porcelain Skin brings that same darkpop flavor of broken glass candy and ghostly light. Caitlin has a beauty and truth with crawls under your skin and infects you with a cracked mirror of perception. Can’t wait to hear how the rest shakes out.

https://corlyxngp.bandcamp.com/

MelodyWhore – “This Is How We Were Taught To Pray” New single release from electronic sin wizard MelodyWhore out of Texas. This single was written as a charity donation for BLM. Jimmy called in some of the top names in the scene to contribute with remixes and vocals. The song is a powerful hymn of equality in a call to take down an unfair establishment. This one gives me chills with it’s intensity and soul shaking faith. I was lucky enough to contribute myself on the Gothic Tabernacle Choir remix. A Great cause and outpouring of talent forged together into one of the most spine tingling singles of the year.

https://melodywhore.bandcamp.com/

Carrion – “The Tempest” Swirling ash and oblivion from Norway’s Carrion. A new single of slow fuse creeping doom that shows you the horror to come and leaves you chained waiting for the inevitable destruction.

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/

Hallowed HeartsInto The Fire” I really like the way this album bends the line between goth and post punk with a slight lean towards goth. It’s emotional and flows like a rippling black ribbon. The melody lines are captivating and seamless. Some beautiful guitar rock elements with gentle curves to match the tight post punk base lines. Impressive.

https://hallowedhearts.bandcamp.com/

Stoneburner – “Dark Ambient Album” Steven Archer is always twisting the joint to find a new position. Never comfortable in one concept he is an ever moving force. This new 6 song EP steers away from the vocal driven industrial of the last few albums into texture sonic painting. Full of strong effects and video game soundtrack pastels. From one mountain many rivers may flow.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

EchoBeryl – “The Awakening Of The Mutant” From Cold Transmission this French synthtrance retro dance dream keeps the imagination flowing. The album is an homage to 50’s and 60’s sci-fi drama. It’s a modern concept through a retro lens. Set to release Aug 21st currently 2 tracks are available for pre order and both are a teleport beam to both the past and the future.

Tomorrow is Bandcamp Day! Instead of Ken’s Hot Releases. I’m going to write about OUR hot releases Comrades.

So the other day I posed a challenge on Facebook to send me a band you are loving that you are not in. You did not disappoint! So I will fire through a bunch of quick shot reviews sent to me by our readers! Music for the people!!! Remember tomorrow Bandcamp waves their fees and gives all revenue to artists.

BootblacksTraveling Light – Ok this is my personal pick, new single drops tomorrow. I have been eagerly anticipating this album for so long. Produced by Jason Corbett of ACTORS this whole album is a game changer. I will be pre-ordering on vinyl immediately. This is the sound you have always heard in your minds soundtrack. Panther’s voice is let off the chain and the effect is engulfing. This first single feels like The Happy Mondays on Adrenochrome.

https://bootblacks.bandcamp.com/

L’AvenirRequiem – Not a new release but a great one. Suggested by my friend Michelle Shaw. Lovely buzzing synth textures from Barcelona. This album had a really cool Ultravox vibe. Not a comparison I use loosely. Beautiful, murky, full of secrets.

https://coldbeatsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/requiem

Flesh FiendsBleed For Love – Scorching single from Kansas City from my friend Mason Monigold. I was an instant fan from the gate. The name is a great alliteration. Plus they are a band that seems to put the character in their sound. It is spooky chained to the wall sexy raunchy ghoul synth. Love the concept, love the execution, this will get bought.

https://fleshfiends.bandcamp.com/track/bleed-for-love?fbclid=IwAR1YW8hnt3UFMI5HAMpIO5P11UI2I9f7V2d7ZNbM-k1Ds1lBXyyBxIU6pWo

We Are ParasolsOrphaned – This recommendation from Chase Dobson who knows electronic music as well as anyone I can name. This is a beautiful dripping slush of dark pastels. An instrumental movie sound track for that moment of introspection before a protagonist stands up and dusts themselves off. We could definitely use some of that in these times.

https://weareparasols.bandcamp.com/?fbclid=IwAR1kn0RiGcx2TEyQIjsg0SIjS5_-47Hs-ZCtNhJoAEXX1dn2ioRT31JseAc

KorineThe Night We Raise – So this was a recommendation from Karl of Antipole. If i had to choose one band that other great bands I love recommend the most it is Korine. The album pre-order is up but one single is out now called Fate. Such gorgeous streaming ribbons that wrap around your arms and legs and make you dance with reckless abandon. Seriously if you are not in the know about this band buy the whole catalog. Will not disappoint.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/

Black AngelANIMAL – Uk goth stars dropped this single in June. It’s everything you loved about old dance club goth of The Mission/Sisters of Mercy. Pulverizing bass lines and resonant vocals. Hooks and builds to spin you around while opium incense burns.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/track/animal-single-edition

RotersandHow Do You Feel Today? – Recommendation from Dana Leigh Cooper. Another great Philly band that cuts the edge between traditional goth rock and darkwave. I love the barb wire beauty of the vocals. A lot of range in styles and infectious energy. Every song I hear makes me fall further in love.

https://metropolisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/how-do-you-feel-today

MalefixioCulto a lo Invisible – Recommendation from Fernando Altonaga of EhPh. Another band from Barcelona Spain, what is happening in the music scene there? This has a stomping cadence and freaky vibro guitars. The vocals have this delicate lifting version of Lords of Acid. It’s strange, it’s sinister, it’s going in my collection.

https://malefixio.bandcamp.com/album/culto-a-lo-invisible?fbclid=IwAR1kn0RiGcx2TEyQIjsg0SIjS5_-47Hs-ZCtNhJoAEXX1dn2ioRT31JseAc

CAVALCADESonic Euthanasia – This one comes from Ben Boggs, who is about the only human I take metal recommendations from. It’s big, loud and nasty. I really like the balance though. It’s not just a napalm wall of sound with throw up vocals. The twisted goblin screaming away can be understood and those chunky guitar riffs are axe trigonometry.

https://cavalcade.bandcamp.com/album/sonic-euthanasia?fbclid=IwAR0MfgYCiW4tq1-DWfGtDTC0eTd5Hy1bjHKFKcivoO1P_Meon0UZdgXxKNE

Arya ZappaDark Windows – From Damien Moyal (Damien Done) this German shadowpop is like a slow drink of whiskey. It’s smokey and smooth and warms my insides. Full length album just released in June. I really like the poetry of the lyrics too. This one needs a lot more reflection.

https://aryazappa.bandcamp.com/album/dark-windows

Wires & LightsA Chasm Here And Now – More Berlin goodness recommend by Adrian Auchrome. This is a speed ball spiraling towards you with great post punk tone and crisp drum sound that makes me want to drive fast. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard this, know that I will own it tomorrow.

https://wireslights.bandcamp.com/releases

Well this was a blast. I’m not even half way through the list so I will post it now for bandcamp day and pick back up tonight. Support new music Comrades!

Review of Electronic Substance Abuse : BURIAL 10

ESA – are an English dark industrial / electroclash project by Jamie Blacker, which started in 2002. This new album is called Burial 10 and features vocals from Jo Hysetria (Massenhysteria), Caitlin Stokes (Corlyx), and Lecture.

https://esangp.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ElectronicSubstanceAbuse/

So right out the door this album is coming at you like a speeding train through a tunnel. It’s driving pistons and screeching metal furiously charging down your throat with reckless abandon. It would be easy to feel like that was chaotic because that is the emotional response it summons. This is a focused and precise weight of speed and power with intent and form. I feel like i am describing a high end automobile not a record, but this is the feeling of Burial 10.

ESA has been around a good while and gone through different styles. I feel like this album ran a bit of that spectrum on it’s own. It twists, writhes, and thrashes like a cornered animal. Unpredictable and fierce. Great use of guest vocalist like Jo Hystaria and Caitlyn to add more surprise twists to this story. The pulsating beats are a relentless onslaught which attack from so many directions. Gentle synth tones carefully placed expose the belly of the beast and add style and craft to this fierce creature.

Upcoming tour schedule

Favorite Tracks :

You are Safe Here (Feat: Caitlyn Corlyx) – I, of course, had to choose this one because it features the angelic, sensual voice of the amazing Caitlyn. This has the intense EDM drive but is tempered by her striking laser-fire voice. This is a club hit made to shake floors supporting giant speakers.

Caitlyn Corlyx

Burial 10 – The title track is a driving march. I really like the bizarre off-kilter chanting sample vocals. Part of the fun of ESA is they never seem to take the foot off the pedal. Even when breaking down with the spoken word vocal sections. Lots of high energy, never-let-up Prodigy feelings.

Blessed With Bruises – A nice change up here, bringing the tempo down and the trip hop feeling up while keeping the same steady crashing waves of sound. Instead of a high-speed chase, this is a slow, smooth roll, sliding around corners, channeling Massive Attack’s effortless cool.

Jamie Blacker

Overall this is a fury of intensity sure to make your club walls shake. Find the biggest speakers you can and crank this until the neighbors cry.