The Black Rose by Black Angel

Black Angel would have sounded right in place along side such powerhouse English alternative 80s acts as The Cult and The Sisters Of Mercy. Their sound even brings to mind acts from this side of the pond such as Screaming Trees and Mary My Hope. And that’s okay because this is album takes me back to the 80s in the GOOD way.

The Black Rose was released on April Fool’s Day but there’s nothing to laugh at on this record. These rhythm-oriented songs are nice and ballsy and incorporate the darker elements of bar rock. The gothic elements are there present. This record digs deeper to give you something that sounds like a backcountry balladeer set against a wall of guitar riffs. And the bass on songs like All Or Nothing conjure images of the tipsy dancer in the bar who refuses to sit down until her song on the jukebox ends.

Take Me Down is more solemn and the lyrics flow like an old singalong folk song. I caught myself singing along to the chorus. The lyrics on Look Me In The Eye carry the recurring theme throughout the album; as though addressed to a lady of dubious intention who’s done wrong, or maybe about to be done wrong. The same is true for the subsequent track, Sinner. Carnival Man opens with a dark organ and sits you down to tell the tale of a festive killer.

All in all, The Black Rose satisfies. This album works in a goth club, a biker bar, or on your car stereo.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-rose

In addition to the review Jaret had a chance to interview Matt of Black Angel 🙂 Please enjoy

Jaret : What inspired ‘The Black Rose’?

Matt: Good question, there wasn’t anything specific, I just have to keep writing, as soon as I finish one album, I get right into the next one. With Black Angel I knew there would be a five album progression for sure and I had all the names of the albums mapped out years ago, so it just felt natural when I finished Prince of Darkness to start on The Black Rose. I always tell myself to give myself a breather for a few months but I can barely get past a few days.

Prince of Darkness | Black Angel (bandcamp.com)

Jaret: Who are your influences and what did you take away from those artists?

Matt: My influences are 100% Goth acts from the 80’s – to be specific, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, and The Damned, those are my keys influences, they wrote the best Gothic music – and in my eyes that has never been surpassed. Before I start writing I tend to listen to the these guys, in fact I just listen to their music all the time anyway, whether I’m writing or not – and each of them has something a little bit different – for example Billy Duffy from The Cult is my guitar hero, Peter Murphy is a vocal gymnast, Siouxsie has this fantastic intricate song writing ability, The Damned are just all out hundred percent top bollocks and energy and The Sisters of Mercy, especially on Floodland just encapsulated what Gothic Rock really was for me.

Billy Duffy (The Cult)

Jaret: Do you draw inspiration from sources outside of music, per se?

Matt: I guess life…. Most of my songs in someway are about relationships with people – and of course we are always learning, so there is always something new to write about on each new record. When I write it’s always about personal relationships, I have no interest in politics or anything like that it’s always about life experiences, and they say that is the best thing to write about, what do you have experienced yourself.

Jaret: Please describe a typical day in the studio. What is the chemistry like?

Matt: That’s another good question, I found with my writing process that if I set time aside and I sit down and decide ‘this is the time I’m going to write’, I can pretty much guarantee that it is not gonna happen. I am in the fortunate position that I do have a studio on my property so whenever I feel the need I can get something down whether it’s a vocal or a drum idea etc. I also carry around a digital recorder as there’s nothing more frustrating than losing that pearl of wisdom idea that you just came up with just because you couldn’t find a way to capture it. The whole process is fairly solo from the beginning, I normally write about 40 songs and then cull about 30 of those down to a good solid 10, hopefully by that point I’ve got a rough outline of how I want the record to sound if not I keep deleting and I keep writing. It’s not until the music is nearly 100% finished that I send tracks over to Corey for him to do his vocal magic.

Jaret: What’s next for you? How are you forming/adapting your plans in the age of COVID

Matt: Covid isn’t an issue for us, since then and during that time, we’ve managed to put two records out. We did think we were going to embark on a major record label deal in the near future but these things are always hugely complicated and there are a lot of ramifications to think about, so that’s not gonna happen for right now. We are still interested in getting our music out to a wider audience so we will still be seeking a publishing deal with a label somewhere. We would also like to play some festivals, it’s tricky for us to tour right now as with our individual careers there are so many commitments that are difficult to get around – but! – we would like to play, and we are hoping that more people will invite us to do so. It’s defo on the cards and will happen for sure.

Jaret: What is your take on the current state of the dark music “scene”?

Matt: The good thing is that people can easily create and release music, and that is amazing in itself. The other side of that is I do think the music industry, Gothic and Darkwave / Post-punk included, that maybe there is so much music out there – is that good or bad? Only you can decide. If we were to specifically look at Gothic music, well, when I got into it, that started over 30 years ago and everything had a certain sound and a certain flavor, the ‘goth’ umbrella these days seems to have grown a little bit wider, but I’m certainly not a gatekeeper and things do change and develop. I would say that I was a fan of the whole process in the 80s where a band would be groomed and produced and the music that they put out is what we consider as the classic Gothic music of today – and frankly no one has even come close to surpassing that.

Black Angel (blackangelmusic.com)

Jaret: Any final thoughts? (Impressions, opinions, funny thoughts, etc.)

Matt: I surely appreciate you reaching out for this interview and helping to keep the scene alive at Sounds and Shadows, I think this genre of music is really special and anything we can do to keep it going can only be a good thing…Black Angel will continue to do so for sure……

Sounds And Shadows March Darkscene Singles Chart

I have never been a huge fan of “Charts”. As month 5 of me putting this out rolls around I always pause for a moment to reflect on do I want to keep doing this and why? Each time when I look at the bands who are featured I say to myself, this matters. Everyone here is chosen by the Dj’s, Reviewers, Bands, and Superfans who are all deeply invested in Darkscene music. There is no financial motivation. No Politics. Just who has our group excited. I’m always inspired to see how the bands chosen shine a light on music that needs to be heard. As always these are singles released in the month of March 2022. Rated by your votes.

  1. LyciaSimpler Times
  2. Eric ObertoCloser Than Ever Before
  3. Scary BlackTragedy
  4. Christian DeathBeautiful
  5. Dread RisksMachine Identity
  6. Object XCoasting
  7. FatigueThe Fall (Pierce Me)
  8. TenderlashZombie (Cranberries Cover)
  9. Night SinsViolet Age
  10. Thieve 6 Inside Out (The Heart In A Blender Song)

LyciaSimpler Times – A triumphant return for the Arizona based trance coldwave band. This track is a perfect blend of pastel light and dark hues. Oil spreading in a rain puddle. Mike VanPortfleet‘s vocals sit deep within the mix to create a gentle specter haunting your mind. I love seeing a band I loved in my youth break new ground while keeping their soul.

https://lycia.bandcamp.com/album/simpler-times

ERIC OBERTOCloser Than Ever Before – Texas composer, film maker making a bold return to music and immediately taking our chart by storm two months in a row. I love the way that Eric paints images and feelings with sound and vocal effect. This single makes wonderful use of a prowling tension that is always pushing forward but never losing it’s cold control. We had a recent interview with Eric where he shares his history and experience. Look for his music in upcoming horror movie projects.

https://ericoberto.bandcamp.com/track/closer-than-ever-before

SCARY BLACKTragedy – Another amazing single from one of the most underrated voices in the modern goth scene Albie Mason. I love the pounding thrum and vibrating batcave guitar. Albie has an abyssal sensuality so dripping and raw like blood drenched fangs. If you love goth music and haven’t heard Scary Black, that is the first thing you should do today.

https://scaryblack.bandcamp.com/track/tragedy

Christian DeathBeautiful – Living Legends of the goth genre come forth from beyond the veil with a second single from the upcoming album. I was at a loss for what to expect and nothing could have prepared me for this rich blend of organic strings, dark blue guitar waves, and venom dripping vocal chants from Maitri. As a 17th album I was immediately struck by how powerful Valor and Christian Death continue to strike. The contrast on the chorus is a sky splitting gorgeous hook, inspiring beauty on black feathered wings. “I want you to look beautiful, at my funeral”. I’m actually interviewing Valor tomorrow and I can hardly contain myself.

Dread RisksMachine Identity – Another two time winner the Doomdustrial band from Texas with a second single off of Automated Disappointment. This release comes courtesy of label Re:Mission Entertainment. It’s brutal, cruel, and furious with a chanting cadence of nearly hip hop horror. Dread Risks are doing something fresh and special the world needs to be aware of.

https://remissionentertainment.bandcamp.com/track/machine-identity

Object XCoasting – So I don’t know much about the Reno NV band, so lets learn together. I love that is a father daughter project, I fully support that kind of purity. This is a dreamgaze indie float through amber waves of grain. Rachael Fuhs has a bright and captivating vocal style. I look forward to more.

https://objectx.bandcamp.com/track/coasting

FatigueThe Fall (Pierce Me) – DJ Sawtooth of Massachusetts additional project. Loving the dark water currents and hovering trance vocals. Great synth builds and dance floor power. The final build gathers speed and energy in the perfect moment. I love when an artist understands timing composition.

https://fatiguema.bandcamp.com/track/the-fall-pierce-me

TenderlashZombie – North Carolina darkwave artist covering the 1994 classic from the Cranberries. Candy really put their own spin on this, a slower minimalist grind of ringing synth bells and wispy phantom fury. Another great band from Swiss Dark Nights label that I will be digger further into.

https://tenderlash.bandcamp.com/track/zombie?fbclid=IwAR0SrJlJJsMe29ioS974Z90W1svHg9yvy8efNRdm6bC0SmVtWM6xP3QsYzo

Night SinsViolent Age – First single from the upcoming June release of Philly dark dance act Night Sins. Huge 80’s Depeche Mode vibes. I love the thumping drive of this baseline. A familiar retro vibe but a nice execution with a lot of heart. I’m a fan.

https://bornlosersrecords.bandcamp.com/album/violet-age

Thieve6Inside Out – Ken, are you the type of asshole who would include your own single on a chart you put out? If people vote for it you are godamn right I am. Amaranth + The Joy Thieves have teamed up to form Thieve 6, releasing a electropunk cover of 1998 Alt rock classic Inside out while donating all proceeds to humanitarian relief in Ukraine. It’s a great cause, the track slaps, and it answers the question once and for all “Do you like the heart in a blender song”

https://thieve6.bandcamp.com/releases

I will have the voting available in the Sounds and Shadows facebook group for April if you have a single you are releasing or love then stop on by and cast your vote. Keep supporting underground music.

Video Premier Of Ashes Fallen “We Belong Nowhere”

Thought provoking new video by California goth band Ashes Fallen from their new album “A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream”. The opening guitar riff is classic traditional goth. James vocals take on a seriousness and edge that show the introspection on the growing apathy of a homelessness problem that confronts America. I think it is important in this stark black and white video that shines a light on the troubles of the displaced on the streets, not showing faces or invading the privacy of those enduring the struggle. A powerful track which is accentuated by the visuals of the parts of California streets not shown in TV and movies. It’s a grim shocking picture that the dark hook of the music keeps playing in your mind.

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/a-fleeting-melody-out-of-a-fading-dream

Full review of the album

Quotes from the band about this new video:

James: “When I started writing this song, I was thinking about the San Francisco Bay Area, where Jason and I grew up. We along with so many childhood friends have been pushed out by the crazy cost of living, it’s just not the place it used to be anymore. There used to be an idealism in Silicon Valley but now there’s just so much greed. But as the song developed, I got to thinking about the people who don’t have the means to escape from gentrification, and how poor and marginalized people are being forced out of their communities everywhere, sometimes with no options and nowhere to go. And the more time goes on, the more relevant the song feels in so many different ways.”

Michelle: “I never cease to be shocked and grieved to see the poverty in this country. I just really wanted to show what we see through our eyes just driving around the streets. People pushed out of the city limits into the outskirts like they don’t exist. These are the faceless and voiceless people. I didn’t want to show their faces, so we showed ours instead.”

Interview with Ashes Fallen

Check here for top charities to help assist the homeless.

https://www.best-charities.org/find/processsearch.php?id=58

Ashes Fallen “A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream”

The Sinister Guitar Lord of Sacramento CA James Perry returns with a long anticipated album which releases June 4th 2021. I’ve been a fan of the hard rock edge and dark overtones of Ashes Fallen for a while now. This new record finally fully embraces the goth aspects of the gothic rock. I feel like the scene has been so hungry for a voice of processive morals and guitar driven dark music. The other major step forward for this release is the collaboration heard on keyboard and additional guitars by Michelle and Jason. The seamless blend of these other voices in the song writing process really elevate and highlight the best aspects of James talent. The mastering by Gordan Young crackles with deep lines and definition. James voice has really found it’s internal confidence and writhes and strikes like a sea serpent bursting through phrases and throwing weight on those show stopping fretboard fireworks.

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/a-fleeting-melody-out-of-a-fading-dream

Top Tracks: Honestly this who album is a front to back jam with 10 strong tracks.

Vampira (The ballad of Maila) – A lovely tribute to the horror film icon. Both in the lyrical content but also the absolute face melting riff and gothabilly guitar tone. The vocals are attitude, snarl, and croon. Michelle adds in a lovely offset tone on the chorus which swells and solidifies. The back and forth guitar solos on the bridge are an absolute masterclass in movement and melody. This song is a 10 on the AFB scale. (Absolute Fuking Banger)

We Belong Nowhere – Filthy hard edge guitar intro. James has more of a chanting subtlety and blend with Michelle’s harmonies. The chorus is a beautiful hook that pays the first 6 months rent in advance on an apartment in your head. The soul and anguish of old school goth with the complexity and precision of King Crimson.

Shout out for the Delphine Coma shirt

Overall: I was absolutely floored by the step forward this album took from a sound I already loved. I feel this record solidifies Ashes Fallen’s place as one of the premier voices in the modern gothic rock scene. This is not only a must have album of 2021, but one I strongly suggest getting on physical media. The album holds such layered and intricate texture, you will want to deconstruct it on your best sound system. I’m stoked to have the band on an upcoming episode of the Sounds and Shadows webcast.

Exclusive Video Premier of Black Angel “Animal”

When I ranked Black Angel “Kiss of Death” in the top 5 goth albums of 2020 it was largely due to their ability to bring back something to gothic music I feared lost forever. Adrenalin fueled hard rock. These are deep rich tones and sexy shadowy gothic concepts. With early Mission semi truck baselines and buzz saw guitar work cutting through your conciseness. The video is a beautiful high production old school MTV cinematic affair. True LA glamor style done with a London posh darkness.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/kiss-of-death

Currently the album is available here for digital release, CD, or in a slick gloss black vinyl.