Review of ELZ and the Cult: Psychodrama

Review by Ivan Delint

Band: ELZ and the Cult

Album: Psychodrama

Label: Ampirik Records

Members: ELZ

Eylul Deniz on synths

Efe Akincioglu on the bass

I walked into this review not knowing what I was really getting into, I heard a little bit from Ken, whom only said “try this one, I think you’ll really like this”. I dug it and I said sure why not. Was I in for a SURPRISE!

I like to dive into my reviews without knowing ANYTHING about the artist, as I listen to their music I hope that they invoke a sense of wonder from me, wonder that’ll ultimately will lead me to become obsessive with knowing everything I can about them. With ELZ, It was that but in a different way, I didn’t expect myself to hold off on knowing more about them, until after the listening. I found myself so lost in their sound and only their sound that I didn’t want any other information to possibly ruin that experience for me.

Here is my journey through ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ :

Invention of Faith – Faith is a recurring word in this album, as stated before I didn’t know much about ELZ and the Cult during this listen and as I write this I really wish I had lyric book of sorts to decipher what this space journey of delicious horror was all about. Great opening track, very Mass Effect, very Muse (if you’ve heard their new album you’ll know what I mean), very She Wants Revenge.

Faith in Me -A sort of continuation from the intro track, this cyber-punk/cyber-goth, vampires in a Ridley Scott space film sound is just a perfect kind of dark. The chorus is lovely. “I have lost faith in me”… preach!

Cold War – ELZ and the Cult, keeping with the persistence of that bass synth, moves more into an aggressive industrial beat with track two. The dirty vocals that become prominent throughout the ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ make their first appearance here. The track maintains a steady darkness while still being dance floor friendly, a nice mix that’ll fit any gothic DJ’s playlists. Goth Pop indeed.

Growing Pains -Wake up! The gunshot New Order-esque drum intro coming at you from a very very dark chord progression should keep you on your feet. The vocals maintain the grime, the style however moves into a Lebanonn Hannover with Russian Utro behind the mic area. I’m loving it. This song is ready for International goth floors. Dj’s, remix this, GET AT THIS.

Die Once More – With ‘Die Once More’ ELZ and the Cult give us a break. A brief of a lull in the aggression. (As if one could say that about this album). The entire release is very industrial and literally any track could be mixed/remixed into a club banger. Creating an accessible album like that is really difficult.

Last Family Supper – The intro here is something out of a 90’s cyberpunk video game and the album, when it decides to chill, is really just sci-fi/horror space ambient suspense music. Prepping us for something killer, no doubt. The vocals once again evoke a Lebanon Hannover vibe while the drums beat like a march. The lead synth keeping it all a touch away from depressing and into real of wonder and excitement. ELZ and the Cult spoke about dying once more and again and again in ‘Die Once More’ but here he speaks about not giving up, he cannot die, he will not die and he doesn’t know why. This person is conflicted and all this conflict is fighting a cold war within his heart and mind. ELZ is the fallout. This soul is burning hot and bright within the darkness that it expresses. My favorite track thus far.

We Never Met – Moving deeper into the record, ‘We Never Met’ gives us joyful, maybe hopeful, feelings and honestly everything about this album just bleeds a sense of happy sadness. I call that life. The vocals are now touching a The Horrors vibe, something I hadn’t thought about the first couple of listens. This is a really cool track that flowed and evolved beautifully. I feel that ELZ and the Cult got the bangers that they thought everyone would like out of the way and are now exposing their true self. This is what i wanted all along and I love it. If you’ve made it this far, they reward you and it’s that journey that we as the listeners must make and upon catharsis we land a very important connection with the artist. We are no longer just listening to ELZ and the Cult, we are now experiencing ELZ and the Cult.

Dreams in Their Darkest Moments – (Interlude) Interludes are amazing, they can do so much to an album in such a short amount of time. Refresh your pallets, friends. I feel a sense of movie soundtrack from this. This band not only makes banger club hits but can, and I’d put money on this, easily find themselves soundtracking the next block buster sci-fi/cyber noir.

Gremlins – Excellent transition into Gremlins, seamless. This song gets me moving, the lyrical melody is also great. I wish for more clarity in the voice, less grime, nevertheless he’s hitting all the right spots. This track is also the best example we have of EZL and the Cults melodic range.

Manipulation – Cool drum work on track ten. It seems that every song has some new sound, tone, synth sound in it. Keeps for very interesting listening the most minimal song in the album, for sure.

The Witching Hour -We are now at song eleven and I must say the beat behind this, easily the most danceable song on this record. “In the witching hour the monsters come to play” So damn good. I have to be honest here, I started listening to ‘Psychodrama’ early in the morning here in Los Angeles. I had a nice cold dark brew. ELZ and the Cult, during the process of listening, have helped me upgrade from a dark roast coffee to a Dark Seas Mission Brewery Imperial Stout, ready to keep the death dance party going. Thanks!?

Dystopian Prayer – NIN all the way, with a tad of Vazquez’s The Soft Moon in it, the most different and experimental of all the tracks in my opinion. ‘Dystopian Prayer’ is a nice “near the finish line” song showing us what this project is capable of and perhaps what is yet to come.

Funeral of Queen Mary -Everything about this says the end. Finish line. Operatic! A Clockwork Orange! It’s epic and it’s majestic. Dark, evocative, dark pop at it’s finest. ’Psychodrama’ was a hell of an experience.

Overall this album was a powerful and diverse journey., in the way a film maker creates a story with a variety of shots and perspective ELZ and the Cult have created a musical journey that takes accessible dark pop and combines it with the challenge of raw emotion and dark sensual beauty.. It’s a broken roller coaster traversing a shattered futuristic city.. It builds, it fills, and it does not disapoint.. You need a ticket for this ride.

Post word by Ken Magerman

An interview with: Cold Transmission Records

So since we have started doing interviews with bands to add another layer of content to Sound and Shadows it got me thinking about all the other pieces that go into creating a vibrant and exciting music scene. Djs, promoters, and record labels. At the moment the world of music is changing to a focus on global reach and grass roots distribution. No one is doing more to build a base and put out great music for Post Punk/Dark wave/ Cold wave/ Shoegaze genre than Frankfurt Germany based label Cold Transmission Music. Run by Andreas and Suzy Herrmann with Yvonne Kiel as graphic designer, this label is on the forefront of the multimedia movement happening in dark music. They aren’t just a record company, they are music lovers that are looking to lift all ships and find exciting new ways to share the music they love with the world. They have made the idea of musical distribution into a family with a caring touch to foster the people on their label as much as putting out albums and compilations. The Cold Transmission playlists have come to set a standard for support of what is cutting edge. I had the opportunity of getting to know the people behind Cold Transmission a little better and want to share that experience with our readers. 
Bands currently on Cold Transmission Music: Elz and the Cult, White Mansion, Push Button Press, Carlo Onda, Rosi, Monographic, La Mécanique, Reconverb, S Y Z Y G Y X, Silent Runners, The Blue Beard’s Castle, Icy Men , Palais Ideal, Bedless Bones, Closed Mouth.
We have reviewed some of these bands and the more I hear from them the more I like, I can’t wait to continue working my way through their catalog.

This was a Cold Transmission/Sound and Shadows joint effort which includes some of our favorite new music for your listening pleasure. I think we had a wonderful mixture of bands from all over the globe. This show was 1st in the global post-punk chart, 1st in the global punk chart, 1st in the global indie dance chart, 4th in the global alternative chart and 5th in the global new wave chart.

(Ken) When did you start the label and what was your goal starting out with Cold Transmission?

(CT) In 2017 Cold Transmission began as a Mixcloud show because we had the burning desire to make more people aware of the new music and bands that were coming up in our scene. The shows were very well received on Mixcloud and the number of followers grew steadily so we created the name „Cold Transmission“ and launched the Facebook page. The next idea was to create a digital compilation, so our ZEITGEIST series was born. Although Andreas always thought about starting a label from the beginning, it was a spontaneous idea that evolved over time, a next logical step. We are still growing into it, learning new things every day about what it takes to be a label and it makes us very happy to support up-and-coming bands and help them grow. So our greatest respect goes out to all other independent labels that are doing this for many years now with enthusiasm and passion. It’s a lot of work especially when doing this next to your normal jobs. The music is our true satisfaction.

(Ken) I feel like goth music has always been a genre focused on the past, in the last couple years this style of music is seeing a huge resurgence with fresh new talent in unprecedented levels since the 80s/90s. What do you think is leading this? What do you see as Cold Transmissions role?

(CT) Yes, we have the same feeling about the scene. You can hardly find a band that is not referencing one of the 80s bands like Joy Division etc. Even our name is inspired by a Joy Division song! Those are all icons we really love but time doesn’t stand still and music is developing further with fresh impulses, techniques and sounds combined with the classic Post-Punk influences. Jason Corbett of ACTORS once called it Post-Punk 2.0 which is an apt description. When you go to parties or festivals a lot such as we have since the 80s we had the feeling of hearing the same music all the time in the last 10 years. We talked to many people from all over the world who had the same experience. Maybe people had gotten a bit fed up with this. We created Cold Transmission to show people from the scene what great new music is out there and what great new bands are surfacing from all parts of the world – through our Mixcloud shows, social media accounts and our label. We’re going to concerts and festivals, sometimes hosting them ourselves. We did a Cold Transmission party, re-invested the money we earned with it to buy new music to support the bands. We also see Cold Transmission not just as a label but as a platform to connect bands and supporters from all over the world. There is a great community of artists, labels, blogs, radio stations, growing up around us and we’re proud to be part of it and support it with all our energy. There also have been great collaborations between the bands already doing remixes of each others songs which is great to see. We created our t-shirts and sent them to supporters, bands and friends around the globe – for us it’s a statement of being part of a wonderful and growing community in our scene.

(Ken)You had a lot of success in 2018, I have watched your support base grow. What are you excited for on the horizon in 2019? What new albums are you looking to release this year?

(CT) In 2019 we’re looking forward to growing our label further – we will release the new albums by La Mécanique, White Mansion, The Blue Beard’s Castle and many more in the future. (Since this interview they had a very exciting release from Palais Ideal currently available) Also we will release four new ZEITGEIST compilations this year. And of course there will be our first little Cold Transmission Festival in Cologne, Germany in July. Still there is no 5-years-plan or anything for Cold Transmission. We love to see things develop organically – we have amazing friends around who are supporting us in so many ways, bands that became friends, interesting people that we are discussing partnerships with to allow us all new opportunities. We have hundreds of ideas in our minds and the day only has 24 hours so let’s see what happens!

(Ken) Recently I interviewed Jim Walker of Push Button Press (amazing new album) and Ashe Ruppe of Delphine Coma. Both are American bands that spoke of how happy they are signing with European labels. What do you think is drawing American bands to think of European labels for the dark music scene?

(CT) Since we are very new to that business we don’t really know about the major differences between European and American labels yet to be honest. We as Cold Transmission try to be as professional and committed as we can when signing bands to our label – a typical German attitude maybe. We are still a small label and the personal contact is very important to us and also to our bands. We want them to feel like they are part of a little family that believes in them and motivates them. A way of working that is maybe difficult when you are a bigger label with many bands. The scene in Europe is very old, still vibrant and much more concentrated simply because of the size of the continent compared to America. Maybe that is also a reason why so many bands are looking to Europe and has nothing to do with the differences between European and American labels in particular.

(Ken) What inspired you to become a part of this music scene? Was there a band in particular that let you know this was your chosen path in life?

(CT) We have to distinguish here between us due to our age difference of nearly ten years. Andreas was more into electronic music since 1980 starting with bands like Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire etc. In 1986 he was really convinced to be part of the scene through bands like Click Click, The Klinik, Skinny Puppy and Front 242. Suzy was more into guitar music, and a real 90s Dark Wave girl – so was Yvonne. Starting with Depeche Mode, The Smiths and Sisters of Mercy in the late 80’s her first „dark love“ was Deine Lakaien in the early 90’s

(Ken) Talk to me about the Post Punk/Darkwave scene in Germany, what is it like today and how has it changed in the last 20 years?

Cold Transmission with Antipole

(CT) The scene was always great in Germany from our point of view. You have so many huge festivals, concerts and parties in nearly every part of Germany. In particular the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig that has become the largest Gothic festivals in the world. As said before, from a music standpoint you had the feeling that nothing really changed in the last 20 years. Sure there were new bands surfacing all the time but not many people seemed to be really interested. Especially in the last few years there are new artists emerging and we get the feeling that more people are now open to finding new music. There are more small festivals coming up in Germany next to the big ones that give you a more traditional feeling. The Wave Gotik Treffen took notice of a lot of those bands and presented many of the newer acts in 2018. This is a trend we really hope to see continue.

Cold Transmission with Crying Vessel

(Ken) Along with putting out music you got your start in creating playlists and sharing music for bands in the genre. You even had Amaranth on a few, so thank you for that. What lead you to this idea and what role do you think it will play in the future of music?

(CT) The Mixcloud shows were the starting point of Cold Transmission. Andreas is a passionate music collector and spends a lot of time searching for interesting new music on the internet. The desire behind the playlists was to make people aware of that new music – Hey guys, listen, there is more to our scene than our beloved classics! A sort of modern mixtapes we did in the 80’s. Many people don’t have the time anymore to spend hours searching for music on the internet or in record stores – they have their music players and mobile phones, listening to playlists on Spotify or other platforms. This form of listening to music will continue to play an important role in the future.

Cold Transmission with Silent Runners

(Ken) You have a festival in Cologne this July featuring some amazing acts. I’m beyond excited that Rachel and I will be going to witness it. Tell me about it, who will be there, and what are you celebrating?

(CT) The festival will be our first Cold Transmission festival. We are celebrating Andreas’s 50th birthday bash. We chose the Blue Shell in Cologne since we have very strong connections to that club and also close friends in Cologne since Suzy lived there for 20 years. The club has a storied history going back to the 80’s so they are quite experienced and passionate. Some really great bands which we also call our friends are playing live that night: Crying Vessel, IAMTHESHADOW, featuring members of Antipole, Joy/Disaster and Silent Runners. The after show party is hosted by our close friends of Disorder Cologne (Holger and Chantal) who have been successfully running that party for nearly 10 years now. We are also very proud and overjoyed to have a special DJ set by Pete Burns and Christian Schaefer of Rule of Three. A music blog that inspired us from the beginning. Pete recently garnered critical acclaim with his project Kill Shelter! Pete has also became very important to us personally at Cold Transmission through his friendship and guidance from our beginning. We have the feeling that this is not only a festival but also a way of connecting people with a common love of darkwave/postpunk music. People from all over the world are planning to come to Cologne to meet with bands and friends. For example Jim Walker from Push Button Press traveling all the way from Florida. It will be a great event and we are really looking forward to that! Glad that Rachel and you will also be part of it. Let’s make this a night to remember!


(Ken) What do you look for in a potential band to sign to Cold Transmission?

(CT) Since we like to call our label our “Cold Transmission family” We are currently signing bands whose music we really like and believe in. People that are as passionate with their music as we are. We have close contacts to all bands signed to our label and support them in any way we can in a variety of ways. Every success the bands have makes us very happy and proud. We want to grow up together with our bands so it’s symbiotic in a sense. We also aim for long-term partnerships to achieve that. Of course we also want to have a good mixture of different music styles from different countries on our label especially in the Post-Punk and Coldwave genre. In nearly every country of the world you can find bands and artists from our scene and we are happy to have some of them on our label to show the variety that is out there.

Cold Transmission with Jot Disaster

(Ken) If you could travel back in time and see any show ever in recorded history, what would it be and why?

(CT) That would be shows of today’s Post-Punks icons like Joy Division in the late 70’s and early 80’s. To see such a show in a small club with around 20 people, listening to the music and having the feeling that something great is happening. That would have been awesome.

Since this was our first interview with someone who wasn’t a band I thought it was important to share some perspective of some of the people who surround Cold Transmission. Musicians, artists, producers about what this label means to them. Here are some of those thoughts.

Andy and Monographic

Jim Walker (Push Button Press) “I will let a big secret about the label out of the bag, Suzy is the secret special sauce that makes everything fall into place.

(SYZYGYX) “Suzy’s and Andy’s passion for music shows in the way they treat their artists, we’ve been lucky to work with such amazing people and label, and look forward to continue working with them. They know the scene, they’re knowledgeable on how to target the audience and promote! Love Cold Transmission”

Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) “They are great enthusiasts of the dark Scene, wonderfull people and my friends. I knew them long before they started Cold Transmission, in WGT, Leipzig, 2017 but now its another level. They are growing and its a great thing for the dark scene in Europe hey are very passionate about the music being made. Its great for all the bands what they are doing, They once told me they had the idea of Cold Transmission, after we meet in WGT, 2017. :)”

Silent Runners “Like many people in the scene we met Andy and Suzy online, enthusiastically spreading our music on forums and groups within the scene. From the start they were the greatest supporters a band can hope for! They really have a personal love for music and the scene and want to spread it so other people can enjoy it as well. Since we met personally on WGT2018 we’ve been in touch weekly. Seems only logical that we recently took the next step and joined their great label family as band. We hope to do great stuff together in the future.”

Monographic “Cold Transmission is not a “normal ” record label! For us, its more a collaboration between friends for the most important thing… music!!! They’re doing a lot for new bands and for the underground scene. You can feel, its not about the money compared to other labels, its more about spreading the love … Suzy and Andreas are doing everything, for the bands to keep moving forward and you can see they are doing it right. We hope to be part of it in the many years to come and we look forward to the bright future of their label”

Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) “Andy and Suzy have been great supporters of both Rule of Three (which I run with my partner in crime Christian Schaefer) and also my personal Kill Shelter project so I can’t thank them enough for that really. They are extremely passionate, kind and energetic people and are always incredibly positive – you need unbridled enthusiasm and optimism to work in this industry and they have that in spades. I’ve been lucky enough to help them with engineering and mastering of some of their releases and that’s just been an absolute joy. I’m hoping we’ll do more of that in 2019. I’ll be heading to Germany in July for the Cold Transmission Festival & Disorder Party where Christian and I will be doing a special audio/visual DJ set and we have some surprises lined up for that. It will be an honor to be part of that event and I really hope they have a magical time – they deserve it.”