Review of Shadow Assembly: Arcane Fusion

One of the things I love most about the current Goth/Industrial is the sense of community. If there is pettiness or competition between this wave of post goth, I am yet to see it. Having that level of support for each others projects can lead to some beautiful artistic cross over and collaboration. Michael Louis of Twilight Chronic took a twisted ritual dagger and jammed it in his own ego to birth the modern goth superband Shadow Assembly.

Available here on bandcamp:

https://shadowassembly.bandcamp.com/album/arcane-fusion

Arcane Fusion is the sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction with Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre. This new album opens the portal of darkness even further by using a different vocalist/lyricist for every track. This album is not only a prism of the wide varieties in modern gothic rock, but also a who’s who of the vocal talent of the current scene. I will act as your ferryman on the River Styx as I lead you through each track on this modern classic.

  • Beneath The Rows: Feat (Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre) When you think gothic rock in 2020 you think of Brandon. This opening track is a rumbling mid tempo growler perfectly suited to Brandon’s voice. It’s a cloak flapping in the wind, booted feet crushing worms on grave dirt. It’s icy wind on your face and howling a ghostly whisper in your ear. This hard stomping concept is a rethought soundtrack for Children of the Corn.
  • Plaything: Feat (Marselle Hodges of The Blue Hour) What a lovely transition. This is the first video from the album. It’s a sexy Switchblade Symphony style banshee swamp ballad. Full of mist and silk. I love the blend of sizzling guitar rifts and ghostly wails. This track made me an immediate fan of Marselle.

Down With The Dead: (Feat vISION) This is a fierce chanting call from a squirming mass grave. A lot of mid 2000 shock goth flavor. A mass grave rave rolling through the mud with lost souls and carrion creatures.

My Ophelia: (Michael Louis of Twilight Chronic) Absolute banger old school gothic rock. The palm muted guitar riff here just drives on an empty street full of twists and turns. Michael’s voice is a depthless echo calling out a deathwish in the labyrinth darkness. You really hear the soul poured into this song.

Michael Louis

Cult of Ishtar (Feat: Ariel Manikj and the Black Halos) This track is a ritual of summoning. Ariel’s vocals are exotic and delivered with intention. The bass line here is darkfunk explosion. A lost ruin of wild vines and blood sacrifice. I found myself wondering back into this sinister scene again and again. Time for me to start diving into Costa Rica goth.

Release The Ravens (Feat: Ken Magerman of Amaranth) Ok this is weird, I can’t review because…it’s me. I will talk about it though. I was highly honored when ask to be a part of this. Doing guest vocals and lyrics on someone else’s music is always bizarre. I tried to summon someone else, outside my usual style for Amaranth. Michael crafted this beautiful ballad and I kept picturing this person in isolation sending messenger ravens to a lost love now beyond their reach. Collin really captured a different me like the pro he is. Goth music really falls into that crooning baritone these days and I wanted to use my sing songy higher range. I feel like it had that perfect blend of cheese and power.

Green Farie (Feat: Nino Sable of Aeon Sable) If you have ever chased the green farie you know the surreal slither of the veil between worlds. Nino has that perfect muted horn twang to their voice. The lovely harpsichord sound of this delicate ballad is the adhesive that holds this evaporating beauty in tact. A very Dead Can Dance medieval goth resurgence. I can’t get enough of this track.

Dr. Dealer (Michael Louis) Another track from Michael this one slow and brooding with a slushy trancelike guitar riff. His voice is a chorus and of demonic voices in a psychedelic swirl. Mainline a spike of shadows and sink into the floor.

Lost Places, Forgotten Faces (Feat: Andrey Agapitov of Raven Said) One of the most underrated bands in the goth scene from Russia. This one is a spiral staircase spinner. Andrey whispers and croons from beneath shadows. The keyboard and guitars lull you into dream until the verse strikes again with a fearful energy. This song was meant for spinning on the dancefloor.

Woman Torn (Feat: Rod Hanna of October Burns Black) Modern hard rock goth artists Hanna brings out that southern style Fields of the Nephilim dirge energy to this synth and guitar rich midnight sky ballad. I love the sliding effect on the guitars and how it blends with his chorus rich voice. Bringing the past into stark relief in the present

Overall this album is a synthesis of talent that really highlights what is possible when you have a maestro that knows and loves the music other artists make and finds a way to make each tone flow together to build something greater than the some of it’s parts. It is currently available on bandcamp for digital download and a CD run. If you want a good place to place your finger on the pulse of modern goth, this album is a great place to start.

Before The Internet There Was The Label Compilation.

I am not a baby bat, nor am I the most eldest goth in the crypt. I started discovering myself musically at the end of the 80’s. It was a glorious time to find dark music. However we didn’t have all the tools we have today. The internet was around (I’m not that old) but the BBS/AOL world was not the endless ocean of bands we have at our finger tips today. You really had three main options for discovering your next favorite band. 1) Have a cool older relative/friend. 2) Go to the club and ask annoying questions to the DJ (Hard when you are a teenager) 3) Buy the latest compilation from your favorite label and hope for the best. For me this meant A LOT of Cleopatra samplers.

I started wondering in this world of Spotify and ITunes hitting you with a fire hose of what you need to listen to next, where does the label sampler fit? Most of you that read this page know I recently put out a compilation myself called “Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us“. It really gave me an appreciation for both the power and effort it takes to put one together. So I thought I would share some of my favorite new compilations for a new generation of dark music fans.

Blood and Dust – Released on Venus Aeon 5/1/20 goth rock label of TG Mondalf. They do quite a few compilation as they seem to be one of those glorious outfits that really cares about sharing new music with the world above their bottom line. This compilation has a really special concept and drew in some of the hottest names in next wave gothic. I had a discussion with Brandon Pybus (Sonsombre) on our podcast about the close connection between southern outlaw county and Traditional goth. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, had a darkness, a mystery, a danger to their sound and aesthetic which carried into early goth lords like Fields of the Nephilim. Here at the crossroads of those genres where devil deals are stuck this huge assortment of talent pays homage.

1.October Burns Black – Arrowhead 03:50info
2.Sonsombre – Slow Kill (Fields of the Nephilim Cover) ◊ 03:44
3.Black Angel – She (Deluxe Version) 05:24
4.Amautica – Estos Abismos (Silas J. Dirge Mix) ◊ 03:34
5.Raven Said – Shadows On The Ceiling, Shadows On The Floor 04:00
6.Dark Side Cowboys – Signs of Life 12:54
7.Cliff and Ivy – EightStar * 04:14
8.Caligulust – Drifter Δ 03:29
9.The Dust Ryde – Gunslinger 03:32
10.Guillotine Dream – Code 04:13
11.Silas J. Dirge – Ghost Town * 04:12
12.Tidal Baby – The Visitor * 04:56

https://venusaeon.bandcamp.com/album/blood-dust-a-gothic-western

Some Favorite Tracks:

October Burns Black – Ed Shorrock and company have stayed tried and true to purist gothic rock and bring that sizzle and lariat spinning overlapping guitar riffs. Organic snap and haunted vocal lines. This is the opening track for a reason, it grabs you and holds you in awe.

Sonsombre – (Slow Kill) Probably the hottest new name in Gothic Rock on Cleopatra records absolutely unloads on the scorched earth cover of Fields of the Nephilim. This track is so full of reverence for the source material, you can really hear they are true fans. It still manages to burn it’s own trail and have that unmistakable Sonsombre sound.

Raven Said – (Shadows on the Ceiling Shadows on the Floor) This Russian goth duo has a true wild sound. That ever present sense of a starving wolf just outside the view of your fire. I love the menace and venom.

Cliff and Ivy – (Eightstar) Alaska’s favorite goth couple brings the fury to this lawless land. I love the whip snaps and border war ferocity. The distorted guitar gallop at full tilt like a run away stallion.

Rainbow Goth Volume II – So lately compilations often come in the form of charity releases. This one which Amaranth took part in the last two years is put together by Cliff and Ivy for  Identity Inc, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization which provides vital services to LGBTQ+ youth, elders, families and the community in Alaska. A great cause which has always been intricately laced with the goth community. 31 tracks that cover a lot of genre ground and highlights new talent.

https://rainbowgoth.bandcamp.com/album/rainbowgoth-2

1.Sky Lee Vague – Vampire Winter 05:28
2.New Zero God – Hell Bet On Me To Lose 03:34 video
3.Ravens Moreland – Comes The Bite 04:41
4.The Dirty Horror – Twenty Three 05:10
5.Scarlet Fever – Sea of Mercury 04:42 video
6.Amaranth – Deliverance (A Covenant of Thorns Remix) 04:52
7.Burn The Earth – Resurrection 05:37
8.Sombre – Linsay 04:23
9.Count Vaseline – Texas Band 01:26
10.Lisafer’s Screech of Death – Candy Necklace 03:07
11.Swansect – Kaldt Kappell 03:46
12.Fudge Bubble – A Prayer to Fudge Bubble (Confessional Mix) 04:16
13.Frozen Charlottes – Residue 06:22
14.Burn The Earth – Lockdown 02:45
15.Das Funus – My Dark Shadows 04:11
16.Count Vaseline – What’s Your Name, Where Are You From, What Are You On? 01:42
17.Burn The Earth – This Broken Land Will Rise 05:33
18.Full Of Grace – If God Should Ask 04:53
19.Prague Dead Souls – Terminal Souls 04:58
20.Jexx Livzin – Petrified 03:13
21.Fatigue – Heresy 05:18
22.Vanessa Rowan – Voce Di Strega 03:49
23.Jay Draper and the Subterraneans – Land of Anxiety 04:32
24.Ascent – Starlet 03:57 video
25.Planet Glee – Prayer of The Elementals 03:48
26.Rob Byrd – Whisper Lake 05:19
27.The Gay Sportscasters – Cleo’s Gone 02:29
28.TUNNELMENTAL – Falling Up 03:22 video
29.Stardust Heroes – Bloodguilt 06:56
30.Caligulust – Depressor 04:01infobuy track
31.Cliff and Ivy – Velocity Drift 04:35

Some Favorite Tracks:

The Dirty Horror – (23) LA death punk full of gnashed teeth and inky darkness. Danna Marie is a seething powerhouse of intensity and expression. Chunky machine gun guitar riffs firing out in circles.

Sombre(Lindsey) – French ShadowWave with this beautiful melodic duet really breaks up the batcave intensity of the rest of the compilation. Flowing and warm the melting watercolor sound is lovely to the eye, heavy to the heart.

https://thebandsombre.bandcamp.com/album/linsay

Burn The Earth(Lockdown) – This LA/Melbourne team up has two tracks on the compilation. Really cool slushy delayed guitar sounds set the stage for Jeremy Bornstein clear ringing spoken word style melodies. Beautifully crafted songs which flow together in perfect measure to build towers of sound.

Look I hate to do this, but A Covenant of Thorns did an amazing remix of Amaranth‘s Deliverance and you really need to hear it. Scott David Allen absolutely killed it.

Electronic Saviors VI – So when it comes to compilations that give back to charity, this is the gold standard. Jim Semonik of Distortion Productions started this compilation several years ago while battling cancer to raise money and awareness for research. This 68 song Goliath of the biggest names in Goth/Industrial is the final addition of the project and a must have for anyone with an ounce of rivethead in your heart. The artist list is downright staggering. I wouldn’t begin to know how to choose favorite tracks. Other than Steven Archer who assures me always has the best tracks. Honestly I probably need a separate review just for this compilation and it would take me 6 hours to do it justice. In the meantime just trust me, go to the link, pick a random name, and leap into the chasm.

https://metropolisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/electronic-saviors-electronic-music-to-cure-cancer-vol-vi-reflection

Cold Transmission (Spotlight) – Ok I might be jumping the gun here. This release is not available until 6/25/20. However the amount of talent, diversity, and creative freedom that CTM has built into their stable has made them one of the most respected voices in darkwave/post punk/cold wave. They have earned a level of trust from me like those old Cleopatra compilations of the 90’s. When they tell me I need to hear a new band, I need to hear that new band. You need to hear that new band.

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com/merch/spotlight-a-cold-transmission-label-compilation-double-cd?fbclid=IwAR0JSsmZ4_8tj9ZhMKeFUb39f9uDZR_HkvKHop8ouq76S1enBAIkfpPc94Y

CD 1:
1. S Y Z Y G Y X – Kill the Pain
2. ELZ and the CULT – HORRIFIED
3. Kiss of the Whip – Put You In The Past (exclusive)
4. HALLOWS – Subtle
5. Bedless Bones – Split
6. La Mécanique – Dernier Voyage
7. DILK – Pluto
8. iamnoone – Stranger (exclusive)
9. ICY MEN – Полупустые автобусы (Uninhabited Buses)
10. White Mansion – Clear Your Head
11. Iamtheshadow – Off My Hands (exclusive)
12. Clone Culture – You Are The One
13. Control Room – Are We All Alone (exclusive)

CD 2:
1. The Gathering – Trying To Call (Colibri Mix)
2. Palais Ideal – Erase (Original Mix)
3. Mark E Moon – Dancing (With The Lights On) (exclusive)
4. MARY – Frantic
5. The Bluebeard’s Castle – Plunge
6. The Secret French Postcards – Out Of You
7. Vestron Vulture – Hair On Fire
8. Silent Runners – Forgotten
9. Push Button Press – Mire And The Sea
10. Carlo Onda – Kopf oder Zahl
11. ROSI – Tanzen
12. Monographic – Addicted
13. Paradise Cove – Lost
14. Reconverb – Hem 

Who are the compilations you are currently trusting to bring you that next band you are in love with that you didn’t know about yet? Comment below

Review of Sonsombre: The Veils Of Ending

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Band: Sonsombre

Album: The Veils Of Ending

All music written and recorded by Brandon Pybus at Sound Sorcery 


https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/album/the-veils-of-ending

It seems like the original goth music concept is becoming a bit of a forgotten relic from times of yore. It’s easy to forget sometimes as goth music is experiencing a resurgence that brought a shattering and synthesis of various styles to create new sub genres that the original fans of Sisters of Mercy (totally not goth just ask Andrew Eldrich), Fields of the Nephilim, Rosetta Stone , in the 80s are all elders at home on a Friday night. Even the generation after (which i am a part of ) are in our 40’s now. That is why when I heard this record from North Virginia doom rockers Sonsombre my heart soared with the idea that the new generation of “goth” is ready to come back to square one. To the place it all begin with some true dark unapologetic goth rock. Risen from the crypt and given shadowy wings to soar once again into our hearts. I am 100% ready for this and I think the world is as well.

Sonsombre means dark and somber and this record surely is. It is cold and menacing. Guitar lines twisting like serpents of smoke flowing with the sound of a fender jazz tube amp with poison fangs aimed for your head. Brandon Pybus voice echos and canters through poetic verses about a sinister world closing in. Up tempo rock beats with crisp sword dance snare beats snap you like a frothing horse running towards a cliff. This album feels more and more like an unearthed and forgotten magic which was always there sleeping but we had forgotten. I want to remember. I want this new generation to hear what goth meant to me, and Brandon has captured that sound in a bottle and spread it back into the world. How can a concept so old feel so fresh?

Ok top tracks, a lot of scorchers here but lets make hard choices 🙂

Night Child – Just listen to that opening guitar line dripping with sensual energy and dark foreboding. The driving baseline straight out of the Floodland playbook. Brandon’s voice is a pleading chant of deep and tortured challenge. “Night Child am I reaching you?” It comes in waves and erodes you as it washes over.

The Future is Black– The opening of the sinister music box tinkling. Building a tension until those slashing guitar sounds come racing towards you in a fury of cuts. The drums for this have a tight fierce pacing making a dance driving attacking feel. Try not to move your body while this washes over you. The future is black and I am hearing this kingdom collapse with fists raised and boots stomping. This song is so familiar , like a club anthem I had forgotten.

Matte Black – Taking the tempo down to a cursed dirge drive. The vocals charge to the front. This song is haunted and full of pageantry. Facing our own demons and acknowledging the romanticism found in a doomed and nihilistic world. Prybus is a true bard and this song is his heart song.

Overall this album was a remembrance I needed. If you were not old enough to feel the first two waves of goth than this record is a masterclass in how those songs inspired a movement. It isn’t a simple retread though, it is a sum of all the best parts of the music that inspired it. Using modern technique and technology to bring and energy and crackling life that I think was sometimes lacking in our ancient sacred fore bearers. The lyrics are poetic and poignant and I am filled with the possibilities that traditional goth rock has in the modern era. Fire this into your veins and sway your arms in burning ruins of future sounds.