Coitus Interruptus Productions quotes writer Steve Taylor from his 2006 book, The A to X of Alternative Music, as saying “Killing Joke have inspired all dark music since 1981” going on to posit that “Scrape the surface of just about any Industrial Metal or Alternative Rock band worth their salt, and you’ll find some aspects of the prolific and powerful Killing Joke.”
With that bold statement, they bring us Follow the Leaders (A Killing Joke Tribute), an 11 track compilation that dares to take on the challenge of honoring one of the greatest progenitors of the post-punk/industrial metal genre.
Snowbeasts start it off right with their take on the KJ classic Wardance. Primal rhythms with a darkly polished sheen. This wardance knows it’s not just about brutality and wounds its prey with subtle efficient strikes… Makes you wanna pogo along like a flashback to an 80’s punk show by way of a Berlin discotheque.
From there we move onto Element, and their version of Turn to Red. Element trades the punk reggae vibes of the original for more darkwave sound and turns up the dub a bit to make this one hard not bob your head to its tranced out vibe.
Next, The Blue Hour brings us The Gathering. I am not sure how they do it, but TBH takes this classic Killing Joke track, and channels the ghosts of Bow Wow Wow, and still makes the track sound fresh.
Riotgun takes on the herculean task of covering one of the most well known KJ tracks, Eighties. You have to give these guys credit… This is the one track that I had the most concern about when I heard about this compilation. Yet I think they do an admirable job of keeping the aggression in place and not turning in an unintentional parody of the original. Hats off to Riotgun… Well played!
Here in the middle of the group, we find three of the best tracks of the compilation in my opinion…
Shhadows brings us a dreamy, trip hop inspired version of my all time favorite Killing Joke song Love Like Blood. For all its dreamy, spaced out qualities, it still keeps its power.
Trance to the Moon tackles Love of the Masses. This song hits me with the same angst of a song like Love Like Blood from a new direction, and I feel the pain in every note that vocalist Monet Alarie hits. Like a love gone wrong, it leaves you longing for another kiss.
And rounding out this triad of greatness is The Joy Thieves (featuring I Ya Toya) with Money is Not Our God. Ania Tarnowska, takes no prisoners with her vocals on this bombastic assault against capitalism, propelled through the night by the punishing rhythms courtesy of Dan Milligan and crew.
On The Death and Resurrection Show, Missing Witness brings us a version of the song that we might have seen if Jaz and the Gang had gotten snared in the Wax Trax net circa 1986. The track evokes the feel of Ministry tracks The Angel and Over the Shoulder. Very cool old-school Chicago industrial vibes here.
The Raygun Girls bring those Big Paul Ferguson Beats to the front of the line on their take on Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. This is the most Killing Joke like track on the whole record, yet doesn’t cross that line over into cover band purgatory.
This World Hell by Dead Receptors is an interesting track full of contradictions. Its brutalist vocals and staccato clipped synths are weighted down by the sleazy/funky bass and drums that remind me of great tracks like Golgotha Tenement Blues from Machines of Loving Grace.
And finally, HadesMachine shows us out with Euphoria. A Goth rock banger tinged with siren call synths pleading for us to show some urgency, like a vampire biker gang racing against the dawn.
The first single from the new project of Illinois Industrial Metal artist David Ssd. Who has completely shifted gears with this slinky sensual atmospheric drift. A new EP forthcoming in December called “Graceful Isolation” featuring 6 original tracks, 3 of which feature vocals from Kimberly of BOW EVER DOWN with remixes from ASSEMBLAGE 23, THE JOY THIEVES, SPANKTHENUN, BLUE EYED CHRIST, MISSSUICIDE, MICROWAVED, Steven Olaf and AUDIO BUDDHA. Artwork is by Greg Rolfes of Eleven12 Design which will be unveiled soon. When you read the names that stepped up to be a part of this, you understand why it has the community buzzing with excitement.
The sound and video are a creeping unrelenting strength of movement and woven textures. A motion horror video game of strange lights and symbols tingling on the back of your spine. Kimberly’s emotive vocals sound like a lost record played on a haunted phonograph. Otherworldly and lost in time. They speak a warning to anyone that would dare stumble into her realm. The build and fall of measured electronic background against waving arms and murky waters. With sizzling will o wisp guitar leads lighting the way on this desolate journey. Assemblage 23 has been owning dancefloors for many years, they know just how to stir the pot of this heady brew. I look forward to the whole EP and future of Sys Machine.
All music written and performed by SPANKTHENUN. Lyrics by SPANKTHENUN and Claus Larsen. All tracks mastered by SPANKTHENUN.
It’s some of the harder-edged stuff I’ve heard lately. It makes me think of the days when I’d go see live industrial bands in the basement of old Club Soma in San Diego back in the early 90s. Industrial was still fun and new to me back then. SPANKTHENUN recaptures that feeling. This Dallas duo has been very busy during the lockdown with a string of releases throughout the last year. Their most recent single, ‘Off Beatings’, features their frequent collaborator, Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip. The Bunker Tapes VOL. II, the full album, is due at the end of October. Remixes by Batavia, Eva X, Hostile Architect, John Mirland and Rebel Empire guarantee there’s something here for anyone who wants to stomp the dance floor. It has a raw naked aggression that’s held together with a groove. Should be played loudly.
It is like the whole goth community got a birthday infusion. I am on a reckless spending spree of new music. Here is some of what I am listening to right now. As always if you have a band you want to see reviewed, comment below.
Lyres Of Ur – Escape From Modern Man – New single from our talented young contributor Lou Blacksail with cover art by Joshua McCallister. I continue to be impressed by the passion and vision of this young songwriter. A raw and bass driven wind tunnel of echo’s and sinister carnival keyboards. I can feel the snarl curled lip in every delivery. Sometimes when I hear a mix that has a raw feel, I am taken out of the moment. In this single that way different aspects charge to the front adds a boldness and bravado. I feel like this is an artist the shines with potential and leaves space to grow. The emotion and natural intuition for form and hook are unmistakable. I am more impressed by everything I hear.
Suzi Sabotage – Nazi Goths, Fuck Off – With everything facing our scene I am amazed no one has released a track like Finnish siren Suzi Sabotage that takes the blunt power of a barb wire baseball bat that attacks the worst aspects of goth with unbridled fury. A slinky dark synth build with a razor edge message that pulls no punches. The new generation of goths demand an anthem of political passion and Suzi has delivered. A perfect punch the masses can rise behind. Nazi Goths Fuck Off.
Precious Bones – MAGNA FRACTURA – I love the name, the concept, and sound of New Jersey barb wire rockers Precious Bones. Antoine Poncelet & Guy Tetro unleash an Iggy Pop/New York Dolls late 70’s chaos venom. A tight coil of front edge intensity and pulsing electricity. I love the call and answer style of the vocals which put me in mind of the Vaselines. It flows through the pipe of uplifting joy and angry edge. This whole album is such a runaway stage coach sparking cobblestones in a tight alley chase. The organic slicing fury mixed with dangerous violent stories that has a real murder ballads feel. I love how this tale keeps changing speed and turning. I never want to look away. Horror punk with a retro feel. August 2021 release. This album is dedicated to the memory of founder Guy Tetro, a tragic story and impressive release.
Favorite track: Mysterio – Thick pulsing baseline. Start and stop reckless abandon. The vocals are the perfect volley of story telling dialog. It’s engaging and edgy without trying to sound that way. It’s one of those tracks that hits perfectly on it’s intent while the listener is left feeling it was a perfect storm with no destination in mind.
Stoneburner – Spectrum – Another face blistering hurricane wind blast from Steven Archer. This time taking a revealing and visceral offering about mental health to offer connection through the turbulence. I love the wide prism of colors in tone for the single and remixes. When I think of Steven’s sound I use words like focus, contrast, and intensity. This track is a softer and varied concept which shows range and subtilty. The bsides Bahr Bela Ma and Open Letter redirect back to the percussion assault and rhythmic chant vocals I associate with Stoneburner. This unity with COP International continues to let the wolfcore off the chain and give a fertile field for raw creative energy to foster. John Fryer has once again found a laser prism to channel the emotion of Steven’s art.
Carrion – Shatter the Seals – New two track EP on Brutal Resonance from the charred angels of Carrion. I love the new direction. The monster is no longer lurking in the darkness, it’s sinister intention a slow whisper behind your back. Now the monster is charging towards you full speed with teeth barred and howling your doom. The vocals are a striking snake hiss. The drum beats are frantic and marching. Biggest of all this guitar distortion is clean, mean, and red eye glaring at you. The seals have truly been shattered and the demons unleashed on this plane. I’ve never heard Hide lash out with such unbridled intention. Buy this album, bath in blood, smash your meaningless possessions with a baseball bat.
Ratio Strain – Century Of The Self – San Diego band I am just finding from the drummer of W.A.S.T.E. This release came out in January 2020 but i am glad to discover it now. 8 songs of mind shattering hard industrial which is going to hurl a challenge in your face like a gallon of moonshine to the eyes. The vocals are sample laden and I will admit made me blush several times. This is music intended to cause discomfort. It’s also slick tight dance beats that had my head bopping while I stood in fear and awe. The panning of the drums was an expertly done effect and really makes the room spin to the napalm explosions. You think, you dance, you shake, you break.
Favorite track: Objectify – This song made me wildly uncomfortable and unnerved. A real blinding light held up to the misogamy prevalent in he world. It is not a soft message and hurled with such strength and aggression it left me speechless. (Warning) Not safe for Work 🙂
Vlimmer – Meter b/w Kartenwarten – Alexander is back again, with a new two track EP and again stretching the range of one of the great sonic sculptors of our time. This is shake your ass club thump. The open expansive feel of the synths, the thunderous driving bass, I couldn’t help throw my hands in the air. Beautiful syncopation and vocal cadence. Track one Meter has a BlondieAtomic energy while pulsing in hues of violet and crimson.
Favorite Track: Kartenwarten – The glorious sway and slide of this track. I’m on a cliff staring at the sea, feeling the slow shifting power of dark water. So many textures and concepts bleeding together in harmony. A true work of beauty.
Lorelei Dreaming – Future Fables – Long have I awaited this 6 track EP complete with wonderful remixes by Chicago dystopian pop princess Laura. It’s so clear and textured from their previous release. Laura’s voice breaks through the wall and takes it’s rightful place on center stage. The album opens with an absolute banger in Of Stars. I’m loving the rippling synth sounds to add a fantasy feel. Each song is a striding step forward for an armor clad paladin facing down the demons surrounding her. This album was so worth the wait and every song is an adventure. The remixes are a brilliant contribution with the likes of Kanga, Sawtooth, Eva X, Angel Metro, and more. I love seeing so many top tier ladies involved.
Favorite Track: To Leave This Heaven – Sparkle explosion of dance delight and spinning cyclones. A real Violator Depeche Mode swagger with silk swirling gentle touch.
Komrads: The one man industrial crusade led by Zachary Burnett hailing from Rochester,NY recently signed to Negative Gain Productions and is not wasting any time. August 20th will see the release of the album “The Wolf”, the follow-up to 2018`s self-released “Resistor”.
I`ve trudged through the debris of broken analog synthesizers, drum machines and ash to find front-man/leader of the revolution, Zachary Burnett and interrogate him about his latest collection of machine-driven hymns and the Komrads agenda.
Let`s start off with something fairly simple, what is the origin of the name Komrads
– I picked the name for a couple reasons. The main inspiration was Waynes World 2 when Wayne holds a fundraiser at a Soviet Union themed club called Comrades to raise money for Waynestock. I changed the spelling because if Korn could do it then why can’t I? Also it’s a gender neutral pronoun, an all inclusive term. When you’re at a Komrads show, we’re all comrades.
You started out as a full band and eventually ended up as a solo project which seems to be the opposite of how things go in thisscene with bands often started as a solo thing and evolving into a full band later on, how do you think you`ve benefited from this move?
The main reason I went solo was because of the relentless touring schedule I was working up to. My previousband members, Jesse Halstead and Joe Sexton, we’re great sports and I couldn’t have gotten this project rolling without them. But life happens and spending months on the road with an unsteady income is less than appealing to most sane people understandably. The biggest benefit of being solo is I have little to no overhead cost and if I wanna pull over and go to Starbucks for the third time that day there’s no one to argue with.
Your new album “The Wolf” shows great musical range, opening track “Crossfire” setting the tone with it`s doomsday sound design, “Exile” showcasing the rock/metal influence and “The Cure” seemingly living in between post punk and industrial. To what do you attribute this seamless slithering between the worlds?
It’s mostly to keep things interesting for myself. I’m a fan of all genres within the “Goth” realm and I love to pick elements of each and mash them together. Sometimes it turns out great, other times not so much. I started this project without really picking a direction to point myself fully at. It’s definitely been an experimental journey trying to figure out exactly what Komrads is to me. With this album I’ve found a lot more confidence in what I want this project to sound like.
This is your first time operating within the industrial borders [or lack-thereof] what made you wanna go this route? What about the industrial concept so to speak was it that attracted you to it?
What really pushed me into this territory was the fun factor. Maybe not a whole lot of people think of the word “fun”when they hear industrial. I’ve been drifting back and forth between the post punk/darkwave and industrial realms for a few years. After touring with Skold and opening for Pigface, Suicide Commando, and Psyclon Nine I found myself enjoying the energy output at those shows more and more. It seems more fitting for me to pursue that route given I already instinctively have an angsty, aggressive approach when I produce electronic music. So diving deeper into Industrial just seemed like the next logical step for me.
The wolf as a symbol is found throughout time in nearly every culture, which interpretation, if any, influenced the album to the point of choosing it as its title?
I chose to name the album after the track I had titled The Wolf. It was the last song I had written for the album and it’s deeply personal about my resentment and outright hatred for someone close to my immediate family. I won’t go into details about this specific person but due to a series of events over the course of many years, this persons involvement within my family has left me sort of cast out, a lone wolf you might say.
Who is responseable for the albums artwork and what was the idea behind it?
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed as I often do and I came across this outrageously badass drawing of my favorite Pokémon (Haunter). I immediately followed Keith West/HangxFang after checking out the rest of their work. I asked if they could draw up something for me with a Wolf as the focal point in a cemetery of sorts and barely a week later I’m looking at what would become my album cover. I’m planning on working with this artist again and I highly recommend them. Very friendly and fast turnaround for quality work.
The music of Komrads is largely built on hardware equipment and heavy use of sampling, was this a conscious decision? Why not simply open Fruity Loops and program up a beat or two?
I guess you could say it was a conscious decision to use hardware instruments as opposed to software. I played guitar in punk and metal bands for years, some drums too so having a hands on approach just made more sense to me. I want to physically feel the instruments I’m playing, twist the knobs and push the pads myself. Maybe my performance will be less precise and limited but that brings me back to the fun factor. Physically hammering on MPC pads and dialing in the synths and drums as they’re looping brings me a lot of joy that I don’t feel when just sitting in front of a computer screen. My DAW is largely just a means to record the outputs of my gear.
On the topic of equipment, which piece of gear would you say was essential to the creation of this album and why?
I couldn’t have made this record without my Akai MPC 2500. That is the key to all of my operations for this project. I’ve compiled tons of samples on it and I love the workflow. Aside from that I heavily used a Roland SE-02 and Korg Minilogue and often ran them through an Industrialectric Incinerator silicon fuzz pedal. I practically made those synths scream and chug like guitars.
You`ve played a fair amount of shows and tours, opened for several well known acts within the scene and have a tour of your own coming up in October. Being a solo act how do you go about translating the music for the stage? Do you have a live line-up with you and if so, who does it consist of currently?
As of right now I perform solo live as well. I used to bring all of my gear with me and that became a massive headache. Now I have a minimalist rig put together so I can get on and off of stage in less than five minutes to make way for the other acts. I run backing tracks, several pedals I process my vocals through, and a synth or two for some extra flair and performance. I also supply and operate my own lighting rig. I’ve spent countless hours dialing in lights that bring a lot of movement and life to my stage performance.
Having a consistent flow of releases whether it be stand alone singles, EP`s or whatever else, what do you have planned after the album drops?
I have a couple things in the early stages of planning but nothing set in stone. I am planning on releasing remixes off of this album in one form or another. I also have plans to collaborate with a few other artists but I won’t be divulging any further information on that at this time. I’m lending my vocals for a few features that will be out late this year or early next year as well.
As you know, Sounds & Shadows is all about supporting smaller artists/bands from around the globe. Who are some of the current underground acts you`re into these days that you`d want our readers to check out?
STCLVR (pronounced Street Cleaver) is easily one of my favorite underground acts in the scene right now. They’re a solo industrial artist based out of Jamestown, NY. They slam out releases quickly one after another lately and each one blows me away. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re into harsh industrial. Some other favorites I highly recommend are 6th Circle, Bustie‘, and The Russian White. All three of those acts vastly differ from each other but they’re all among my favorites that I think deserve a little more credit
When industrial was but a foetus [pun intended ; ) ] there was various political as well as spiritual and occult ideologies tied in to the music whether that be in terms of the creators outlook or the methods and equipment used to record said music, while this seems to have taken the back-seat in the modern era in favour of the more club-friendly interpretations of the genre I`d wanna know if the ways of old has any influence on how you create, think about and execute your art?
I think a lot of the original and older acts in the Industrial genre had no intentions of receiving club play. I don’t set out to write music with a political agenda but sometimes, and more so especially on this record, that’s exactly what happens. When I’m not yelling about my personal feelings my anger/grief usually finds itself pointed at political issues. I do appreciate when my music is played in clubs and I do strive to write hooks now and then but I’m writing this music to build a connection with an audience. I’m of course influenced by the likes of Skinny Puppy, NIN and Ministry, but I want to take that influence and combine it with everything else that makes me who I am, and put it out there as something new and fresh.