It is once again time to celebrate the top 10 singles chosen by our group of DJs/Artists/Reviewers/Promotors/and Mega Fans. These are all tracks released in July chosen from the broad darkscene genre. If you are an artist or know one that has a release in August, make sure to join the Sounds and Shadows group on Facebook and submit it for consideration.
Kill Shelter (Feat Stefan Netschio) – In This Place
Stoneburner – This Machine Kills
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall
Korine – Mt. Airy
Golden Apes – From The Sky
Eva X – Whipping Girl
Batavia – Mailman
Suzi Sabotage – I Am The Storm
Sawtooth & Gasoline Invertebrate – Gut Rehab
Plague Garden feat. Azy Bats – Pandora
Kill Shelter Feat (Stefan Netschio) – In This Place – I have a full review on S & S as well as an interview with Pete releasing tomorrow. However it is fitting this single off an early contender for album of the year is top song in July. Stefan of Beborn Beton delivers heavy resonant drops of tone into an unlit cave pool. 10/10 absolute banger
Stoneburner – This Machine Kills – The Wolf Lord Steven Archer come in second this month with a blistering club hit doused in political gasoline. You know that part in the movie where the barrel of the machine gun gets so hot that fire shoots out. Thats what I picture when I hear this track.
Sequential Zero – The Last One To Fall – Love to see this come in at #3. A team up of Australian Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter) and American Bruce Nullify (Orcus Nullify). It’s such a delicious blend of what I love about them individually. True old school batcave rough edge oil drenched attitude with cracking snares and crystal keys.
Korine – Mt. Airy – There really is nothing I don’t love put out by the Philly based death dream. Coming in at #4 it is another sizzling shock of step and turn. These vocals are pastel perfection blending with the music in color bleeding splendor. I love every note.
Golden Apes – From The Sky – Some real fierce competition this month has the Berlin Post Punk bard’s coming in at #5. I more crackling tempo full of uplifting rippling guitar staircases. Peer’s voice is that distinctive baritone rumble of honestly that makes every single feel distinct.
Eva X – Whipping Girl – #6 is Canadian siren and electronic producer Eva X. I just got a chance to interview her which we will release soon. We got to talk about this song and video, partially how every release is growing by leaps and bounds. I love how her skills at production are opening the possibilities for every new violet electrolash single.
Batavia – Mailman – The Florida Industrial power couple have called in their friends to lend a hand on this new EP. The first single of which features drum stylings from Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). Inspired choice to fire the first volley with a cover of The Jesus Lizard. 90’s skate grind vibes of chopping guitar over explosive percussion stomps. Terri’s riot Grrl sultry ferocity adds such a different tone. Fresh idea’s for a familiar classic.
Suzi Sabotage – I Am The Storm – Finnish TechPunk stands up for Ukrainian’s effected by Russian aggression with this slow build ice palace bop with operatic cries of anguish. I love the empathy, message, and power of delivery.
Sawtooth – Gut Rehab (feat. Gasoline Invertebrate) – MA based producer Lillian Edith Martin comes in at #9 with this sweat stealing banger she teamed up with Brian Graupner on. I absolutely love the powerful imagery in the lyrics. Absolutely bashing beats filthy with decay and rebirth. I could hear more of this team up.
Plague Garden feat. Azy Bats – Pandora – I was so excited to see this track from Colorado based frozen cemetery synth band collab with Azy (Obscura Undead) slide into #10. The lofi roaring guitar sound makes lovely dissonance from the pipe organ purity in the bass tone. Azy’s vocal confidence takes a bold stride forward and propels their presence to the front of a haunting tune.
With a new kitten, a sick elder cat, and Rachel’s bday I haven’t devoted much time to writing reviews. So it is time to start catching up on the giant stack of releases I let get away from me. I’ve got a few albums here I have been waiting on a long time. Please enjoy and comment below what albums you are listening to you think I should hear.
Hexheart – Funeral Flowers – Seatle WA SynthBard Jasyn Bangert has a June release of cybernetic serotonin pumped straight into your brain. I love the “Upstairs At Erics” bopping light synth and nostalgic warms. These tracks wrap around you like a favorite sweater. The AI captivating vocal effects are a fresh note contrasting the synthpop throwback. Every track feels like a cult 80’s film you are the only one who remembers.
Top Tracks: (bottom of) Below – This track is so dynamic without changing tempo or volume. The bursting fountains happen with a slow rolling subtilty. The vocals hold a fascinating mystery. I wish I could make out the lyrics more clearly, but the electronic whisper draws me in closer.
Erase Yesterday – This track really optimizes everything great about this album. A brilliant single can do that, bring all the tiny differences and brushstrokes of a cohesive record and shine the brightest aspects into one track. This song is bright/dark, fresh/nostalgic, organic and synthetic. Always running the duality in darting motions. This opening track paints the world and makes me excited to drive into it.
October Burns Black – Two Worlds Collide – I’m a little behind the mark reviewing this June 24, 2022 release from traditional goth stars October Burns Black. Goth is in it’s Rennaissance but things have fractured into sub genres so much it has become hard to even keep track of what goth means. OBB have turned the ebony run away train back to the core of guitar based gothic rock. James Tramel who plays bass for midwest goth legends The Wake brings that smooth void rumble that drives these tracks with an authentic old school precision. Rod Hanna ( Khaf’ji) gives a rich and rough baritone that harkens to Eldrich with a bit of broken glass danger. One of the things about early gothic rock was the way it had a western percussion gallop to the minor tones, it was an energy that was always running away without control. This is the magic that Lars, Tommy, and Gord have captured in the masterclass guitar of this album. We can have open hearts for a new infinite prism gothic rainbow, while remembering the roots of what made us fall in love with goth rock. Two Worlds Collide is an album that remembers. That whispers of forgotten truth.
Top Tracks: Regress – I love the blistering Cult drum napalm that Ollson uncorks for this song. It has a furious punk snarl cadence and some really subtle guitar overlays. It’s tight, nasty, and full of remorse. These riffs go straight to the vein.
Condemned – This song feels like a Highlander epic swordfight that ends with beheading. The guitars have an air support bagpipe rise and Hanna’s vocals find a perfect groove of chanting percussion. Snarling savagery and desperation with crackling energy that feels faster than it moves.
Rod Hanna – Vocals Lars Kappeler – Guitar Tommy Olsson – Guitar James Tramel – Bass Simon Rippin – Drums
Additional guitars on tracks 1, 4, 6 and 8 – Gordon Young
Produced and mixed by Simon Rippin Mastered by Gordon Young
Batavia – Batavia and their Friends Forever – Jacksonville Florida based electro chaos band continue to amaze me with every new release. This new release packs a tinted window red striped van with guest talent and pushed the pedal to the floor. Opening with a filthy crooning version of The Jesus Lizard was an inspired tone setter for this caper. Ed and Terri Cripps are a couple that expertly blend relationship and art until it feels like communication with it’s seamless delivery. Some remixes, some covers, just an explosive energy of fundustrial fury! Daddybear, Dread Risks, Gothsicles, Decent News, Syrinx, all see the writing that Batavia are poised to explode and wanted to jump on the rocket. I love the concept; I love the fact they took bold chances with the covers. I mean covering NINWish is a big brass balls move and they pull it off. Batavia has moved to my by every release sight unseen until they let me down list.
I honestly have no favorite track: You will not be let down if you turn it to 11 and just let it play
hororhaus – La Pisadeira – New York State terror texture electronica blending processed religious imagery and layered ethereal sampling. I found this artists through the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group and they impressed me with a unique vision and intense focus. Scott Harris has an elevated ear for sonic texture that inflicts feelings of unease and tension. Much like The Goblin’s of Italian horror mastery these songs are a lurking dread in the mind of the listener. Sounds that conjure emotion and spin a yarn of doom. It gets me hopeful for where this project develops.
Morningstvr – The New Salem – Chicago BlasphemeDustrial cult sonic artist takes the pageantry of an electronic cathedral then turns 180 degrees into an unholy void of bitter darkness. I love the slow black and white film flicker tempo the growling Peter Steel frozen metal edge to the vocal delivery. A shadow robed ritual which twists and turns from track to track as you descend a filthy staircase of Pandemonium.
Favorite Track:The New Salem – I love when the title track leads the charge of the overall theme. I love all of the tiny atmospheric touches the whispered chanting is fright evoking fascination. Poet nightmare fuel for a new generation.
Golden Apes – From The Sky – Criminally underrated post punk giants from Berlin. A band that needs to be added to the conversation of Actors, Bootblacks, Twin Tribes, Creux Lies as the next wave of history altering lifeblood of this scene. This is music to make your heart race with the driving guitar syncopation and boulder chasing you down a tunnel baselines. Peer Lebrecht has such a distinctive voice that resonates to hold your attention in a single moment. It’s always such a tour of geography and human experience when you listen to a Golden Apes album. “From The Sky” is no exception as it leaps with alien speed from landscape to landscape on a biodiverse unknown world.
Favorite Tracks: You can’t go wrong here. This six song EP is a journey. One worth taking.
A New Days Dawn – The overlay transition at the beginning of this is an absolute masterclass in song writing. Peer’s vocals are frantic and tinged with mania. This track has so much going on it is difficult to believe how efficient and powerful it strikes. Like one of those truly great movies I could watch 100 times and pick out a new moment with every viewing.
Injection: 01 | Kevorkian Death Cycle (bandcamp.com) California based Dancedustrial artist with a catalog going back to the early 90s have a new 4 song EP This team includes a family feel of collaboration. I’m overcome with excitement that none other than Roger Jarvis (Negative Gain Records) is one half of the original duo. I’m also left wondering if any of them spent time in Michigan for the Kevorkian reference. The music also has a Detroit techno energy clashing with Industrial and darktrance.
Favorite Track: Spring Heel Jack – I am always a sucker for folk lore and this red cap rampage industrial banger featuring the story of the British murder fairy Jack is a must hear. Filthy beats on top of boot stomp percussion and hurled metal shaving vocals.
Words: Ryan Gribbin Music: Roger Jarvis, Rob Robinson, Sean Whitman Mixing/Mastering: Rob Robinson Artwork Concept/Design: Ryan Gribbin and Sally Helena
In 2019 I took a life changing trip to Berlin where I learned a lot about myself, another culture, and music. I also started a love affair with one of the most underrated post punk bands in the modern scene Golden Apes. Peer Lebrecht has one of those few in a generation distinctive voices with an amazing ability to convey emotion and paint pictures in a listeners imagination. We can all look forward to future Golden Apes releases, in the meantime Peer has ventured into other soundscapes with the solo project Voyna. This album is a departure from GA more synthy darkwave sounds and bring a spotlight to Peer’s voice with an expansive alternative rock backing. Always one for metaphor in his poetry “The Cinvat Bridge” or bridge of judgement was a mythological passage which separated the land of the living from the dead. The album releases 3/21/21 but I was lucky enough to get an early glimpse. You can pre order in the link below.
Provenance – Opening with a walking bass in tiny footfalls. Two winding reverbed guitar lines building into a synth line of pure light. The the drums sizzle to the forefront. Masterful craftsmanship to create the tension and set the perfect opening for that dark chocolate and black coffee voice. As Voyna sets the scene of this desolate house everything comes to a crescendo just before it is stripped away to that simple intro bassline. Already I am plunging into these icy waters headfirst.
Refraction – A brighter striking tone to get the energy pumping. Peer goes into a a higher sharp edged register. I love the way we are already showing the range in styles that seem to be going so many places, none of them Golden Apes. The breakdown here is a spiral that just stops time and stretches that lovely hook chorus into infinity. Then the time cuts and a rush of energy sends you galloping into the close.
The Sky And A Grain– Wow this is a gorgeous new wave vibe with tones of Flock of Seagulls , Echo and the Bunnymen, OMD. Basically this is the prom song of a John Hughes movie that was never actually made. Just a rushing wind racing hook. I love the distortion effect on the chorus vocals. This is a total banger.
Fractal King – Another huge sound shift. This is a smoky lounge at 2am. Walking bass and tremolo Twin Peaks vibes. Filthy intentions and slow sultry danger. “I’m bleeding from the heart, from all the pain in me, I’m sinking like a stone for all the pain in you”. The ending of this song is gut wrenching and visceral.
Overall as much as I am impressed by all the things The Cinvat Bridge is, I am equally moved by how much it strays from Golden Apes. It spans a journey of eternity walking down this bridge and touches on so many aspects of the human experience. Peers voice is the unmistakable star of the show, but these songs are so lovingly crafted and brimming over with emotion and higher artistic concept. A surprise early contender for album of the year and it doesn’t even release until March 21st. You need this in your collection.
As the scene of Goth/Industrial/Darkwave/Post Punk/Shoegaze music continues to experience an amazing renaissance, live shows are becoming a haven for the masses of fans to connect. This year boasts a boatload of amazing festivals where bands and fans can meet and share their love of this scene, so I will try and put together a guide of some of the great ones so you can plot a trip full of memories to last a lifetime.
Dark Spring Festival– (Boston) I am super excited for and will be at this one. This a brand new festival is anticipating its first year and they are already starting out strong with an amazing lineup including some of my favorite up-and-coming bands, mixed with long-term favorites. Great town with a cool scene. *Best New Festival
Dark Spring Festival Berlin – This brilliant festival inspired the aforementioned Boston one. It was started by Christian of Golden Apes and features Swiss darkwave act Hapax, Finnish Goth Rock elders Two Witches, Russian New Wave quintet Brandenburg, and French No Wave duo Dear Deer. Lots of Representation from Switzerland’s ‘Dark Nights’ label.
Absolution Fest– (Tampa Bay, FL) Located in Tampa’s legendary club The Castle, this festival started last year and works closely with our friends at Obscura Undead. Tampa Bay has an outstanding scene, and this lineup is off the chain. I mean, fucking Drab Majesty! This one was spectacular last year and every band who played it told me how inspiring it was. Plus, you’re in Florida heat at one of the most renown goth clubs in the US. *Best Value
Cold Waves– (Chicago) – So we went to this show last year and it was a life changing experience. The scene, the venue, the cause, the history, this is everything you hope for from a top-notch music fest. This one has been doing it right for a long time, and the lineup is absolutely stacked. Phenomenal mix of goth and industrial, old and new, plus the fact that Chicago, as a city, is so deeply entrenched in music history. Finally, Jim Marcus is doing a DJ set and I am here for that content! *Best Lineup
Convergence – (Louisville KY) Interesting new venue for this long running festival. Amaranth applied for this one but sadly didn’t make it this time. Maybe next year. However when I look at this boss lineup I can’t feel mad. They packed this show with top talent in lots of genres. *Great lineup Fresh New Scene
Cold Transmission Fest – (Cologne Germany) – Our dear friends at Cold Transmission records started their first festival last year and we had the opportunity to cover it. It was amazing. The way people traveled from all over the world to come together and share a passion for great music. After the success of last year Suzy, Andy and team have expanded and have another wonderful lineup and more to be announced. My heart will be with them again. *Great Lineup, Intimate show
ASH CODE BEDLESS BONES IAMTHESHADOW MARK E MOON DILK
Dark Side of the Con – (Parsippany NJ) – Another long running festival I hear everyone rave about year after year but I’ve never attended. I need to get this on my list. This year it is a who’s who of 3rd wave goth and industrial. Big line up with lots of established acts. If this time period in goth was your jam you can’t beat this. Plus it has a convention feel with a lot of things beyond the music (panels, art, DIY, access to bands)
Out From the Shadows Fest – (Portland) – Another festival I have heard wonderful things about from a great music city. This lineup is stellar and really runs the entire frequency of music styles. Great focus on fresh bands doing 3 stacked nights of music. Huge lineup with a lot of bigger named acts blending well with fresh faces. Plus Portland is just a great place to have a vacation if you are goth.
SYZYGYX (Wash. DC) FEARING (LA) KOMRADS (Rochester NY) LOVE HATE AFFAIR (Austin) THE ELECTRIC WEST (LA) PHYSICAL WASH (PDX) RITUAL VEIL (PDX) – TBD –
BODY OF LIGHT (Arizona) AUTOMELODI (Montreal) SSLEEPING DESIRESS (SF) MAYFLOWER MADAME (Oslo) PUSH BUTTON PRESS (Tampa) V.E.X. (members of MOIRA SCAR) (Oakland) VERSARI (Paris) WE ARE PARASOLS (PDX)
RITUAL HOWLS (Detroit) TEARFUL MOON (Austin) KORINE (Philadelphia) ASTARI NITE (Miami) SICK WISH (Boise) SEVENTEEN AT THIS TIME (Paris) MR WRONG (PDX) LIES WE WERE TOLD (PDX)
San La Muerta Festival – (Austin Tx) Austin is probably one of the best cities for goth industrial in the US. The list of bands currently out of this town is staggering. Great DJ support. I imagine this party is off the chain. They boast a monster lineup from all over the globe. The Vanishing doing a reunion and Shes Past Away.
San La Muerte Fest 2020 Sept. 17th – 19th Austin Texas
-This year SLM proudly presents: from Spain ANA CURRA (formerly of Paralisis Permanente, Alaska y Los Pegamoides, Los Seres Vacios) Ana Curra will perform Friday Sept. 18th, 2020 in Austin Texas Venue: TBA Tickets available now on SLM website
-SHE PAST AWAY One of the best current Darkwave Post Punk bands. Only Texas Show! All the way from Turkey! Sept. 19th with The Vanishing Elysium Austin Texas
-THE VANISHING (San Francisco) 20 YEAR REUNION! Only Texas Date! The Vanishing will be playing Saturday Sept. 19th alongside She Past Away! Venue:Elysium Tickets available now on SLM website
Dark Malta Festival – (Malta) Great mixture of Euro darkness. Some big names in goth/Industrial/ and metal here. Plus it is in Malta in April which i imagine is gorgeous. If you have the means, I highly recommend checking it out, so choice 😉
2019 has been quite a year for my dream. It has found it’s tar dark wings and started flapping them to places I never imagined it would go. I have new writers like Collin, Katy, and Adrian. I have 4 times as many followers. Made new friends which I have come to love and value. Traveled to distant lands. Started a podcast. In general it gets me excited for the future that so many people all over the world have shared with me this love of what is happening in modern music.
Unlike last year when I did a top albums review all alone I know had a wine drenched democracy of shouting voices sitting in a room and debating what had moved them in this years music. It was an amazing feeling I had forgotten. I wanted to make this list hold weight. So we made hard cuts and decisions to get our list down to 4 genres and 10 albums per genre. Everyone had input and voice and no one 100% agreed. I love that. This was never suppose to be about me but about the celebration of art. I hope you find something new here. I know I did and it fills me with hope for places a song or album can still move me. We split it into 4 parts 1) Post Punk/Goth 2) Industrial/EDM 3) Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave 4) Wildcards
First up is Post Punk/Goth. This one is my primary wheelhouse so I took point here. There has been a true resurgence in this genre and this was a hard list to choose. The albums listed here are all amazing but we fought long and hard to try and pick some form of order. Here is what we found.
10) October Burns Black (Reflections) – London superband and Traditional goth act from London put out this amazing record this year. James Tramel (The Wake) has composed this album with Rod Hanna (Vox), Lars Kappeler (Guitars) and Tommy Olsson (Guitars) Simon Rippin. It is so full of flowing sinister goth sounds. It really holds true to the sounds of yesterday while forging new ground. Every song is an emotive blast.
9.5) Ritual Howls (Rendered Armor) – I know, i cheated. I just can’t leave this record off. We debated and argued so hard to get this list to 10. This album is just such a world beater. It’s Nick Cave putting on the armor of Echo and the Bunnyman. They are even Detroit fam. They are keeping a flame burning for a sound that cannot be forgotten.
9) Frozen Charlottes (Wax Venues) – Santa Ana post punk doom weavers Frozen Charlotte released this beautiful album in November of this year. I have been in love with Chandler Grace, Janell, and Sky’s savagely dark spit and vinegar punk goth style since their previous incarnation. With Wax Venus they really found a way to refine that edge to a razor point of intensity, Waxing and waning like the moon in a flowing dance around the fire witchcraft ritual.
8) La Me’canique (Dernier Voyage) – This is such a lovely record from Cold Transmission that really embraces the post punk ideals. It’s wide, flowing, and full of landscapes. It feels large and comes through the lens of a distant camera. I think of 80’s Duran Duran and the way they transported you to another place while listening to the songs. A vacation in musical form.
7) Mark E Moon (Refer) – Another exceptional album with a lot of traditional goth elements. Another Cold Transmission band on this list who has a wonderful vibe of old Peter Murphy but with a modern edge full of poetic lyrics and Mark’s deep resonant vocals. Lots of balance and pop hook in this record. I want to peel the layers of this onion and find the core of it’s art.
6) Crying Vessel (Illusions) Slade Templeton is bringing the glam razzle dazzle back into dark music. His dark rich voice climbs and slide around an impressive range. I found it in my heart, and building a place in my head. I had the wonderful opportunity to see them live in Germany this year and it really gave this record another plateau of range. A perfect mixture of previous styles and modern technology this record is a must have.
5) Golden Apes (Kasbek) – Berlin based post punk Golden Apes have been making music for a long time. To find an album of this power and depth of idea deep in a storied career is a noteworthy achievement. Peer Lebrecht has a voice so full of soul and power that it wraps you in it’s world. The music is a masterclass in what post punk can achieve in movement and embrace. I will finally get to see this played live in Boston this year for their first US tour. If you don’t know about this record plunge head first into one of the genres most exciting artists.
4) Antipole (Radial Glare) – Karl Morton Dahl of Norway holds the distinction of being the most reviewed artist on Sounds and Shadows. I feel moved by every album he has made. This one found a way to hit a special new level for me. Antipole is everything you love about post punk music like Joy Division and New Order. Karl is a true historian of the genre, but finds exciting new ideas about how to use modern technology to make the concept sharper and more intense. This record was such a wonderful tribute to his homeland. A record that transports you to that reflected, glittering place of dark ice. Paris Alexander and Eirene of Young and Cold records have added perfect vocal compliments to create one of this years stand out records.
3) The Dream Collision (The Certainty of Forever) – This album from Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW was a piece of art that left me changed and moved. Pedro has possibly the most beautiful and sensual voice in modern dark music. This record was so stripped down and exposed I found myself unforgettably moved. It is powerful and tender like Nick Cave but with the beauty and elegance of Ian McCullah. A truly moving offering.
2) Twin Tribes (Ceremony) – With their recent transition to Negative Gain Joel and Luis of Twin Tribes hold a special place here at Sounds and Shadows. Their Debut album “Shadows” was the inspiration for this webpage. They are bringing the concepts of spiritual post punk into the modern era. This sophomore offering was not a lull but a leap forward in concept, depth, and power. Rich and full of energy each song is a ritual to summon forth an intimate experience in the listener. You probably need this one on vinyl. Also they do a must see live show, find them in your town and bare witness.
Part II is the best Industrial/EDM – I grew up on industrial. It was my punk rock. My scream at the world release. Somewhere along the way i just drifted to other avenues. This year was a huge one for me to rediscover Industrial. Adding in Adrian and Collin to the family who are both stronger on Industrial than me have really helped me find this world again. The albums that have come out this year and bringing it back front and center for a lot of people. These were our top picks.
10) Klack (Introducing the 1984 Renault Le Car) – Matt and Eric are workhorses. They had a Daddybear album, Null Device, and another Klack album all this year which could have easily made this list. This album rose to the top for me. It’s perfect blend of retro and fresh feel with dance beats and unique concepts has become a go to for my listening parties. New ideas for the new industrial.
9) Lingua Ignota (Caligula) – I just found this through Adrian. Wow. It was like nothing I have heard. This is a sound so frightening and intense it gives The Goblins nightmares. It is the sound of a priestess ripping out her own eyes and bleeding from the sockets. Do not listen right before bed unless you want to be haunted by disturbing dreams. I speak from experience.
8) Kid Saint Nothing (Above_Below) – What a treat that I get to add a dear friend from Kalamazoo MI to this list. They belong here. This album is a raw heartfelt therapy session scream set to catchy dance beats. It’s wide and intense and needs to be played constantly on your listening device.
7) Dogtablet (Feathers and Skin) – Industrial music lords Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King have worked with others to create this massively powerful record of animalistic spirit totem sounds. It feels like a creature speeding free under a moonlit sky. This album came late in the year but has been my constant companion ever sense.
6) FIRES (All My Dreams Are of This Place) – Aedra is a force of nature. Her intensity and vocals have really pushed the edges of the Industrial genre. This album has a tight mixture of early 2000 emo and electroclash force. Whenever I need to find my inner tiger to face the day this album is where I reach first.
5) Moris Blak (The Irregularity of Being ) – This album is a force of creative expression and cyber blending technology. Lots of amazing guest vocalists like Pete Crane, Amelia Arsenic, and Angel Metro. A true tapestry of electronic sound woven and blended with dance hall beats and shattering brash power. This needs to be in heavy rotation of every club you shake your ass at.
4) Curse Mackey (Instant Exorcism) – Curse has been a huge part of the industrial scene for a long time as Evil Mothers, Pig, Pigface, ect. This album represents his first solo offering and it is nothing short of breathtaking. This album has such a focus on lyrics with a true William Burroughs literary quality. Full of slashing beats and laser focused vocals. I own it on LP. You need it on LP.
3) Bones UK (Bones UK) – More of a big label offering but a straight burner. This album is on the top of Collin’s list this year. I love the ladies getting representation in this genre and this album cooks from front to back. Lovely pop hooks to really add some mainstream club vibe, and we unapologetically love that.
2) Stoneburner (Technology Implies Belligerence) – This record changed the game for me. It made me fall back in love with Industrial music. It has that same old school flavor, but takes such incredible chances. A thinking persons industrial with a concept and follow through. Steven Archer of Ego Likeness has unleashed something transcendent and powerful and managed to save enough in the tank to follow the record with another this year “Massdriver”. Both are incredible pieces of art you need to explore but you never forget your first love. This record was that for me.
Go Fight (Anthem) – Jim Marcus and Die Warsaw were a part of my first obsession with Industrial music. A titan in the genre and one of the great humans who holds this scene together. This record is all covers of the 80’s songs that helped build his musical life. It’s perfectly crafted. It’s full of soul. It finds a way to make something of the past connect with my present. I mean any time i can hear two of my favorite things in this life Go Fight and Shriekback happen simultaneously consider me hooked. Nothing on this record doesn’t immediately send my body into motion. This is the work of a master crafting a love letter to the things that built him.
Next up is Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave: Another brutal list to try and widdle down to 10 albums with everything wonderful released this year. As genres have expanded and new ground was broken the resulting art which is dreamy and beautiful has grown with it. This is a list of our favorites.
10) Lilith My Mother (Her Fall) – Beautiful dance magic with clear pop beauty infused with midnight dark lyrics and fallen angel vocals. Every song fills me up and has me asking questions. Do not sleep on this amazing artist.
9) Corlyx (In 2 the Skin) – Sexy LA sludge grunge is my weakness and this album is the cure. It’s sensual, powerful, and forces your body into motion. Caitlin has a voice that wraps around you and stirs that hairs on the back of your neck. Doesn’t your party deserve to be this hot?
8) Standalone (Standalone) – Steven Seibold of Hate Dept has unleashed this solo project so delicious and stripped down with beautiful synth sounds crafted with a wizards touch. It’s so personal and easy to relate to at once. The vocals are smooth and elegant and hold your heart with tender timing. So underrated.
7) Boy Harsher (Country Girl Uncut) – The feels of this record. It’s a smokey dimly let exclusive club that would turn me away at the door in music form. It’s efficient in the use of layers and sounds and has gorgeous imagery in the lyrics. I love everything about the crafting done on this record.
6) Agent Side Grinder (A/X) – Oh the delicious post punk infused stabbing drum beats. The dynamic vocals have a dark tone and emotional delivery. It’s full of songs that always feel like they are moving faster than they are. It’s that energy and crackling synth pad sound that makes ASG have such a unique sound. This album builds on everything that makes them one of the biggest names in the genre.
5) Sweat Boys (Nervous Prayers) – This record off of Give/Take strikes a special chord with me. Sitting in my room listening to Yaz “Upstairs at Erics” was such an impact on me. Waiting to hear a synth driven album that captured that same purity and exposed feeling has been something i have searched for a long time. With this record my search finally ended. It’s beautiful, electric, and makes me jump up and down like only a 260lbs man on a pogo stick can. If yuo care at all about synth pop you need this in your ears.
4) Drab Majesty (Modern Mirror) – Drab Majesty off Dais records isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. Knowing the exact amount of every sound to use to get a perfect blend is such a difficult art form. The harmonies, and flowing lush beauty. They are like aliens operating at another level from us common music plebs. This album is staggering and unique in it’s beauty and darkness.
3) Mr.Kitty (Ephemeral) – 31 tracks, all of them good. Take that in for a moment. This album was such a memorizing accomplishment. It’s an artist exposing themselves and making it sound lovely and pure. I played this record so many times this year I feel like I have a personal relationship with the artist and I have never spoken to them. If you don’t have this you need to make that a priority.
2) Hante (Fierce) – The soundtrack to a film of a better life lived than mine. Just listening to the gorgeous vocals and visual sounds on this record fill me with hope. The creative force unleashed here is an epic achievement. It makes you think, it makes you believe.
Wingtips (Exposure Therapy) – Look I can tell you what I love about this music. To me the real power of this album is that so many great musicians I know all talk about how much this record meant to them. It has been mentioned and picked on our podcast by almost everyone we have interviewed. It’s perfect, nostalgic, fresh, and full of texture and intensity. Every track is a banger. Every line is a poem. This was our combined number one pick out of one of the hardest categories to judge.
Final Catagory Wildcards: This was all the things too far out of the box to fit anywhere else. In a way I feel like it made it really exciting and definitely some of my top overall picks.
10) Scary Black (Shadow Dwellers) – Kentucky sinister darkness Scary black released this shadow storm full of familiar elements and fantasy sparkles. It’s full of dangerous dreams and lovely rich vocal melodies. I really look forward to their future.
9.5) Vlimmer (XIIIII) – German sound wizard Alexander continues to spew forth the most gloriously textured collections of sounds with pull heart strings like a horses reins. It baffles me how good every single release is.
9) The Purge (Rain) – Strange winding electronic storms. This album feels like weather shifting and changing. It has a flavor of trauma and young love lost. Thomas does a beautiful job using his vocal range to tell stories and build tension. It’s my sad rainy day music.
8) Girl Band (The Talkies) – Strange twisting and powerful. I really liked the chant of this band and the abrupt changes. This one came courtesy of Katy. Really intense sound.
8.5) The Joy Thieves (This Will Kill That) – Again a little bit of cheating here but this EP needs to be on the list. Such a perfect blend of hard rock and industrial with some of the biggest vocal talent in modern industrial. It’s smash everything in this room music because you are happy. I first described it as Clutch beating the shit out of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat and I stand by that.
7) SYZYGYX (Fading Bodies) – One of the fastest up and coming bands in the scene. On both Negative Gain and Cold Transmission Luna and Josh are a sonic experience full of sexy dark disco grooves you would find in David Lynch’s private club at 3am. It breaks every mold and is always in my rotation.
6) The Ghost of Bela Lugosi – Ok technically not an album, but my house my rules. Australian based Vin Price has released about 12 singles this year and everyone of them is straight fire. It’s so punk rock, so raw, but so melodic and beautiful. It touches every part of every genre and I am here for all of it. It won’t play by the rules and that is part of it’s power.
4) Hide (Hell is Here) – Sheer unbridled power with a meaningful message. This is like nothing you have heard. Raw, intense, full of power tools. The vocals have more spit and acid than most metal. This album changed my world view
3) ELZ and The Cult (Psychodrama) – Visually, sonically, sassily, there is nothing about this album that does not completely enthrall me. It’s filthy, beautiful, it’s a horrible dream of a broken world that i can’t escape or look away from. I find a new layer to it every time i listen. You must have this.
2) Palais Ideal (Pressure Points) – I have been waiting to make this one of my top albums of the year all year long. This record broke all the boundaries of post punk. It’s thoughtful, precise, unique, and tells a story of some of the best science fiction I read in any novel. A thought provoking example of the power of music. Have this on LP and feel it’s warmth and glory as it was meant to be spun
Mesa Luna (Feel Nothing) – This one came to our attention courtesy of Jason Corbett (Actors). We didn’t have enough shoegaze representation here and this album was a stunner. #1 pick from Katy. It’s haunting, diverse and full of life. Take a journey with this record.
I had about 40 more albums this year that could have made this list. Maybe I will do an honorable mentions. I’m shredded though. There is currently a glorious revolution happening in music. Be a part of it. This list is a great place to start. Happy Holidays from us at Sounds and Shadows.