The newest offering from Stoneburner now on COP International is now available and Steven Archer keeps finding ways to ferociously raise the bar in modern industrial music. Teaming with COP International and adding in a legendary producer like John Fryer [NIN, DM, Cocteau Twins, etc] pushed the precision and clarity of message. To create an album full of ruckus noise and chaos which focused on lyrical message about a giant wolf god reigning apocalypse on a world that had lost it’s way. The metaphor tackles hard truth in everything from feminism to mental health. Crushing percussion and uncharacteristic pop hooks combined with wry wit to sling shade at the industry from within.
In true Steven fashion there is also a mystery to solve within the album:
We offer the physical as well as a digital version of this album and tried to figure out what could entice you the unsuspecting fan to get the actual CD. So Steven came up with an elaborate scheme. Within the artwork of the CD version is a hidden puzzle. Solve the mystery and get eternal bragging rights! You will also get a secret email address. If you are the first person to crack the riddle you will receive the original piece of cover art.
Currently on a must see tour to support. Find Stoneburner passing through your city:
10/15 Fallout, Richmond VA10/21 Darkotica, Cincinnati OH10/22 Small’s Bar, Detroit MI10/29 Mr Small’s Funhouse, Pittsburgh PA10/30 Dracula’s Ball w The Crystal Method @ Underground Arts, Philadelphia PA10/31 Ivy City, Washington DC11/3 Red Sea, Minneapolis MN11/4 Liar’s Club, Chicago IL11/5 X-Ray Arcade, Milwaukee WI11/6 Black Circle Brewing Co,Indianapolis IN11/7 The Crack Fox, St Louis MO11/12- 11/14 Unconvention (also w Ego Likeness), Iselin NJ
Currently #3 on the Sounds and Shadows Darkscene Chart !
Favorite Tracks include:
No Light No Spark – I just adore the brutal tank tread juggernaut feel of this track against the melodic chanting. A vibrant explosion of energy against a desolate darkness.
Spectrum – Sharp striking dance track addressing the neurotypical and expanding understanding of brainwaves in the current world. Donna adds vocals here to add shining blade contrast and light.
Overall: This is Steven taken off the chain and turned to 11. Unapologetic making industrial music of wild machines and wires. Spewed forth with venom to a world without a concern to how it will land. This is the true punk rock ethos driving giant steam punk construction vehicles. This is the industrial that Joe Strummer prepared us for.
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.
I have not been great about writing reviews this month. However that has not stopped my compulsive purchase of badass new music. So I am going to delve into my cups as well as the latest in hot new tunes. I invite you to follow my meandering thoughts and broken sentence structure. It is my genuine hope you find something here that will inspire hope for you as the tension of the last year and a half seems to have a light in the distance. As always leave a comment below if you have an artist you would like to see me review in the future.
kenzifires – “Slumber Party” by Ashnikko – The amazing shooting star Æðra Justice Burke of FIRES has started a new WitchHouse project and blew my doors off out of the gate. These slinky flowing hip hop beats crisscross with waves of color and heat. I think the most amazing impact is the ability to stop everything, hang in silence a moment, then pirouette and walk away. I don’t know the original song well, but you can bet your sweet bippy I am looking it up now. Everything she touches is a laser beam right to my heart.
DoppelgängeR – Mercy and Eternity – Currently the hot topic in Post Punk/Darkwave is the amazing icy wind blowing out of Russia. Doppelganger has been leading that charge for a while now. Building an impressive catalog for 25 years and honing an impressive smooth icicle sound with a razor point. Rolling live drums with crisp transitions. Light shard guitar cadence. A bass line the drives the tempo with intuition and an unseen presence. The vocals are subtitle and hold a wisdom. When someone says you have an old soul, that is the effect these vocals create with me. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to find this band and if you haven’t heard them please don’t waste another day.
Dancing With Shadows – A flowing wisp of smoke with quick moving guitars and deceptive transitions. Another power of this band is that it sounds like itself. The vocals in particular could easily get lost in the “Baritone Post Punk” singer trope. It has instead a fresh confident take that is not another Ian Curtis/Andrew Eldrich.
HALLOWS – All That Is True Dies – New single from recently relocated Seattle band Hallows on Cold Transmission Music. In addition to the single you get two remixes by Dead Astronauts and Profit Prison. As well as exquisite mastering by Pete Burn and Slade Templeton. That is an all star team and gets me excited. The first time I heard this band I was struck by the glorious blend of vocal styles. It really creates a story between these voices. Like an other world echo of memory that haunts a home. I love the simple idea layered with tragedy and humanity. This is a song of reflection and immersion. After the banger club hit, that quiet moment when our characters lock eyes and get lost.
Into Grey – Waiting Here – So this is a band from Columbus Indiana that found it’s way to the Sounds and Shadows group and holy shit it is good. I’m working my way through the previous catalog. It is rainy days and water colors. Deep resonant vocals that put me in mind of Golden Apes. Cutting poetic lyrics of longing and doubt. A lot of overlapping busy guitar leads which create motion from an otherwise crushing weight. It’s a nice effect that draws a beautiful contrast. Quickly rising on my list of modern bands making goth romantic again.
Stoneburner – Sell Out – Steven is newly signed to label COP International and broke out the first single. To no ones surprise it is a total banger. It was produced by living legend John Fryer and features remixes by Klack, Stabbing Westward, and Sick Jokes. I love the crushing 100 MPH pop stinger tempo and tongue and cheek clever delivery. “I want to look good in the DJ booth” “You have to sit through my noisy ass shit”. This is a cleaner burning view into the wit and humor that Steven uses to connect with his audience outside of his music. I love the left turn in direction to show the range and endless creativity Stoneburner continues to bring.
Shadow Fashion – One Black Rose – San Antonio darkpop darlings have dropped a new single and this is my favorite of their releases to date. I fell deeply in love with this track. It hits on so many genres and decades in one dark clean insta classic. Huge John Hughes romantic swirling film feels. Patrick’s vocals are crisp and dreamy. It has a modern production with a nostalgic tone. This single really paves the way for a bright exciting future. I’m jaw dropped blown away by how much this track is stuck in my mind when I least expect it. Must have.
Dove Tribe – All In The Waiting – No one is a bigger fan of the artistic exploration of sound by Hide Tepes of Carrion than me. He is on a constant journey to create some of the most cutting edge sound crafting in the modern scene. So when I heard he was doing a new project with a more rock focused old school bat cave sound I knew to expect something exceptional. The song “New Cold War” is a powerful political statement with an emotional delivery that harkens me back to 1959 by the Sisters of Mercy. A track that transports you and paints a picture of strife and rebellion. It shows Hide’s voice in a completely new light that left me spellbound. Currently available for pre order for a 5/15/21 release. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.
Lyres Of Ur – I Look Good On You – I know, I know, you are thinking Ken are you just reviewing all of your contributors at Sounds and Shadows? No, this new single from Lou Blacksail is pure blazing fire and marks more young talent that is hitting a stride which strikes me deeply. The vocals are a sinister reflection of 80’s pop. I love how accessible the hooks and cascading synths feel while the vocals hint at something secret. A dangerous curl of the lip and arrogance of the eyes. As Lou continues to find his voice, I continue to be more invested and impressed by a future talent in this scene. Show support now for this “It” factor artist.
MORIS BLAK – Irregular Revisions Vol. II – Brand new remix album from Boston EDM wizard Brian Blacknoise. Powerful reimagining from 2019 The Irregularity of Being. This album is a epic dance journey where sounds are sculpted from chaos into form. A masterful job of enlisting vocal performances from the likes of Alicia May, Luna, and Pete Crane to add layers that elevate the intent and narrative. Finding a fresh image in songs you have previously done is no easy task, but this remix album cracks the standard code. It’s a collaboration that takes something wonderful and fires it through a prism.
Favorite Track: I have a tossup here. Between Alicia May‘s vocal delivery of empowerment and grace on Burying Place, and the and the HAEX remix of of Erase Displace. Both brought such a fresh vision to Brian’s vibrating walls of earthquake destruction. Honestly I am hard pressed to find anything here I didn’t enjoy.
ΣΕΘ(SET) – Disorders Of The Heart feat. Morgue VVitch – So this was a powerful and abstract find from Arizona featuring Morgue VVitch. An unnerving and beautiful forest of terrifying Will o Wisp lights. Goblins horror texture blended with dungeon synth adventure. I loved the spoken word intro and the fingers on your spine chime movement. What left me enthralled by this was how unfamiliar and dangerous it felt. A chilling feeling of desperation leaving me hungry for life. I want to explore deeper in this haunting mystery.
Red wine and a shining moon. Here I sit once again after a long and chaotic week. I reach out for the solace of other peoples dreams and thoughts in music. The world is waking up from a long nightmare. The scene is wonderfully awash with exciting new talent and ideas. Here are some of the glorious sounds I am hauling into my boat.
Chiasm – Missed The Noise – Always excited to see amazing art created by a fellow Michigander like Emileigh Rohn. This album is arranged by legendary producer John Fryer. There is nothing better than two top talents forming a bond and producing something better than the sum of the parts. Emileigh has a voice that gives you a gut punch of energy with every phrase. This feels like the montage scene in a film where our heroine levels up her power. It feels like actualization with every electric build and feint. The music is so finely honed, each song a story that digs it’s hooks in and allows the charisma of the vocals to shine like a beacon.
Noise – The glorious workout of crackling electric light. This song just blasts in wave right out of the gate. The vocals are power animal bright light. If I had to pick one word to describe, inspiring.
Missed – A total shift to darkpop drifting glory. The opening chimes and quacky sounds. I think you strangled my sweet mind. This is such a dynamic and visual sound. Windblown flowing silk in a posh apartment watching the worlds spin past. This song really puts on display the powerful teamwork of these musicians. Again with the powerful mantra of self actualization. Those deep vocal contrasts really add a noticeable line between the experience and viewpoint.
Overall appeal: This is a album for everyone. It has lots of delicious pop and feminine power with an expert craft and emotional energy. Highly recommend.
Hide Tepes/ Blakmoth – Filther – The back and forth rocking sonic duel of our own Hide Tepes and Maryland’s Blakmoth. A wonderful collaboration of oily sonic darkness. There is a wisdom achieved at a certain point in life where you realize you can no longer walk the journey of those making music at the absolute cutting edge of modern music. If you listen though, you still know when you hear it. That difference when someone is truly taking the adventure for you and exploring new and terrifying ground. That’s the feeling inspired by this subtitle and and creeping Synth driven psychological terror. It’s music that grabs your hair and smashes your face in a mirror. Leaving you exposed to gasp at the bloody mess and the terror in your own eyes. This is not a casual listening album. It’s a test of your empathy and fortitude.
Overall Appeal: This is not a pop album for easy listening. It’s a blending introspection of abstract thought and feeling. Enter at your own risk. If you do find yourself of a courageous heart and an open mind. This is the cutting edge music of tomorrow.
Nuclear*Sun – Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself – So cover albums are a tricky thing, often you are getting someone at a lower experience level trying to find new space in an established song that meant something to them. Tal Kliger has brought a talent and hungry energy to covers of friends as well as inspiration. The overall sound razor skates that place between EBM and Industrial with a highspeed light footed agility. Bouncing vocals skipping between a growl and a ringing clarity. You can really hear the love and devotion to the musical process in these tracks. it’s blazing heat and energy that captured me and left me hungry.
February War – A cover of Rabbit Junk. This was driving punk rock stinging beats and glitchy vocals. Stabbing and edge of control flavor. I love the guitar bends and smashing drums. A poignant assault on the senses and emotions.
Insurgence – A cover of Sean Payne but with smashing and razor sharp execution. Grab a bat and start smashing. Hard leaning Front Line Assembly vibes full of high concept and obliteration. I loved the parking lot fist fall energy and dark streetlight tone.
Overall Appeal: If you like it hard and nasty with a familiar feel this is your jam. Fans of Industrial/EBM/ Metal edge will find red burning glory here.
Bow Ever Down – Lost In The Woods – Kimberly Kornmeier sizzling darkpop from 2020 which left me swaying and captivated. The synthy star sparkle spins are a wonderful atmospheric journey. Their voice is an icy and bracing powerful clarity. They have a honesty and power that rings forth with every delivered line. It’s vulnerable and indomitable at the same fine. The music has a soulful and serious tone. A shattering crystal castle of faced disillusionment growth and regret. I also love the use of samples to set stories that allow the vocals to show the emotional range of the story portrayed.
Bury my Body – This song is full of that glorious smashing glass effect. It’s as beautiful as it is cruel. A challenge with sharpened blade to anyone that would dare step inside this protected circle. Kimberly’s voice is emotive and clear as ice.
Grey – More raw wound self introspection. Intense and powerful vocals delivered with beauty and subtilty. The concepts are timeless and modern. “I’m a monster and I’ll kill you from the inside out”
Overall Appeal: Definitely pop hook appeal. Definitely has soul. A nice organic quality added by the vocals. If you like darkpop with a strong female protagonist these are stories you can relate to and drive down a dark road summoning your strength.
A Cloud of Ravens – Another Kind of Midnight – New album from Brookland band ACOR, which has left me immediately captured and ready to dive into this deep pool. This record is a perfect blend of the homage to the past and the modern construction of the future. Well deep power and resonant vocals carry these stalking shadow woven songs. It’s concrete wilderness and Peter Murphy poetry. Ringing guitars and driving basslines carry a heroic journey through a desolate land. The power of this story is to make the situation always seem so bleak but leaves a glimmer of hope in every song. We have an interview coming out soon that provides a glimpse behind the curtain to this emotional hand quivering delivery.
Overall Appeal: Fans of old and new school goth will find a beautiful blend in this release. I feel into it’s grasp deeply and had a huge replay factor.
Mark E Moon – Old Blood – Old and sinister music and vocals from Cold Transmission and the Isle of Man. I have been a fan or Mark E Moon for a while but this new record is a huge step forward in shadowy transmission and feeling that rips open your skull and pours raw unhinged emotion directly to your mind. It’s stomping, unforgiving and full of truth. I picked this record up and couldn’t find a way to put it down. Released on April 2nd you can get two tracks now with preorder. It has a sense of poetry and theater that has been lacking in the modern goth scene. It rides the line between beauty and grit. I can’t remember the last time I heard a band take such a monumental step forward from a previous album I enjoyed.
Overall Appeal: Huge, if you love goth and darkwave this is exceptional execution with poetic and romantic lyrics. It’s fresh and furious with driving guitar lines that set a standard for future genre releases.
Ash Code – Fear – Dark and dangerous new EP from the always impressive Italian act Ash Code. More racecar raw energy and city slick metro tone. I also feel a lot more edge in these tracks that the warmer synthesized last release. This just dropped yesterday and already is calling to me for constant playtime. Wonderful blending of vocals and sound. I hate to use another car metaphor but when you have a perfectly tuned engine and everything is humming just right. That is the sense of craftsmanship and streamlined beauty of Ash Code. The movement and transitions are effortless and graceful. It’s an effect that feels perfect in a club or at home over a bottle of wine. On top of that they pulled out all the stops having the songs remixed by top name artists like Clan of Xymox, Molchat Doma, and Forever Grey.
Indifference – Beautiful whispered vocals behind rapid fire heavy bass line. The rising synths are walls of color on a grey ground. I find myself getting lost in the beauty of construction. Listening to Ash Code makes me feel cooler than I am. That’s the true power of this band. To transfer some of their effortless appeal just by listening.
Overall Appeal: Immense, this is for fans of Post Punk/Darkwave/Synth but really has a relatability to fans of any dark music. It’s just well done. This is a band at the top of the game in their genre.