Sounds and Shadows Best Albums of 2021

This year has had the release of so many amazing albums. I’m a bit at a loss of how to do a Best Of List. I have so many records I loved after I made a list, then a list of another 100 I loved. It caused me anxiety thinking about how to categorize or order them. So instead I am going to treat this like a montage in no particular order. Just thinking about all the things that brought me joy in this dark year fills my heart with hope for the future. These are not singles, EPs or Full lengths released in 2021 with all genres mixed together in a blender like the Darkscene gods intended.

Actors – “Acts Of Worship” – This album is going to change the standard. Rather than think of it as an album out of time. Hear it as the type of puncturing emotional thought pieces we talk about as nostalgia from a previous era. I choose to see the hope it promises. To be a place where those that remember the past, and those that are blazing new ground in the future meet. Where they say this was the moment where the music we talk about twenty years from now with a new generation is remembered. It’s a powerful feeling that you can be apart of now. This is my album of the year. The second time I have given them this award.

https://actors.bandcamp.com/album/acts-of-worship

Creux Lies – Goodbye Divine – October was the month of spooks, a shaky return of Halloween since the long-endured pandemic and a myriad of releases by many artists within the undead world of dark-alternative music. Among the wave of new, brooding and shadow-y music unleashed upon the world shines one LP that stands apart from the cobwebs and screeching bats in the night; ‘Goodbye Divine’, the second album by moody, Sacramento post-punkers, Creux Lies. More than three years after the band’s debut record, ‘The Hearth’, Creux Lies brings us a new collection of eight tracks packaged with an avante-garde painting by Alex Kanevsky on the LP’s cover. Preceding the release, the “New Romantic” quartet appeared in promotional images portraying them as disaffected souls in serene, open fields; a fitting aesthetic theme for the music’s despondent sonic-template. “Jungle” kicks off the record with a wave of sinister keyboards before the rest of the band commences their wall of gray, foreboding rhythms, setting the tone for the LP’s thematic statement. By track four, we are treated to the bitter-sweet, emotional “PS Goodbye”. Singer, Ean Clevenger croons against the soft-rock instrumentation with lyrics, “Mercy you, you helped me shine. Although the last, it was the very first time.” One of the most distinguishing elements of Creux Lies’ sound is Clevenger’s vocal contributions. – James Edwards

https://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/album/goodbye-divine

Rohn – Lederman – Venus Chariot – My love for Belgian composer extraordinaire Jean-Marc Lederman is deeply known on this page. His previous work includes ( Fad Gadget, The The, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen) as well as some of the most thought provoking higher tier concepts in electronica music of the past 5 years. Teaming here with COP International and exceptional producer/Vocalist Emiliegh Rohn of Michigan they blend into a poetic electrified katana of grace and fury. I have spoken of this record in the Sounds and Shadows group but was shocked I had yet to write a formal review. When I hear someone of Jean-Marc’s pedigree say “This might be one of the most important albums I have ever released” it tends to make your ears perk up. This album is full of endless fusion energy both in the intricate hair splitting craft of the music, and Emileigh’s power whisper beauty. it’s the record I reach for whenever I need to force my body into action. A well of strength at your fingertips for these draining times. Greg Rolfes provides cover art to set the tone of this runaway stampede of electronic elegance.

https://rohn-lederman.bandcamp.com/album/venus-chariot

Black Rose Burning – The Wheel – George Grant of New York has taken an already amazing sound to a completely different level. This new album is progressive, complex, expertly executed emotional darkscene that permeates the skin and resonates in the chest. These vocals harken to a previous time of dripping Peter Gabriel emotion that spiral in crystal facets on top of shifting translucent hooks. It ebbs and flows through a stylistic spectrum and delivers with every memorizing tale. I continue to be blown away by one of the most criminally overlooked master songsmiths of our scene. This is a record that needs mainstream attention.

https://blackroseburning.bandcamp.com/album/the-wheel

The Joy Thieves – American Parasite – This album is an opus from Chicago Industrial Superband The Joy Thieves. Dan Milligan and crew mix the best of hard thrashing rock and Industrial electronic explosion. The amount of talent and fury unleashed on this record is staggering and at no point disappoints.

https://thejoythieves.bandcamp.com/album/american-parasite

Dead Astronauts : SilhouettesA new release from our friends at Cold Transmission from Seattle WA. This record was a articulate and purposeful release that had a craftsmanship that placed it in the upper echelons. That made a lot of sense once I heard Slade Templeton (Crying Vessel) had a guiding hand involved. Florence, and Jared seem to have an instinct for where a song needs to go. Melody to melody, song to song, everything seems to flow in it’s perfect natural direction. It makes it so easy to fade away and become lost in the futuristic textures. They each have such a distinct and soothing voice. Made stronger by their combination and ability to hold the depth of a conversation instead of a monologue. The music has a lot of subtle dissonance and complex themes. What really makes it effective though is how these details are woven around straight forward pop hooks that remind me of Peter Hook’s Revenge , or Pet Shop Boys. This is a record that doesn’t need to scream to get your attention or convey emotion. It tells you everything without ever having to raise it’s voice.

https://deadastronauts.bandcamp.com/album/silhouettes

I Ya Toyah – Out Of Order – I am constantly memorized by the way Ania’s star keeps growing in size and brilliance. With Out of Order she travels away from the standard rock aspects to the other spectrum of her electronic abstract. It truely feels like a fusion between robotic precision and human heart glow.

https://iyatoyah.bandcamp.com/album/out-of-order

Kill Shelter & Antipole – A Haunted Place – Here it is, Pete Burns is operating on a level in modern postpunk/darkwave that is rewriting the script. Here instead of recruiting a variety of singers like his groundbreaking album Damage he takes the vocals upon himself. His voice is rich and rings with the power of a well aged bell. To build on that previous level of variety in the soulful lyrics, he has added possibly the top Post Punk guitarist in Antipole’s Karl Morton Dahl. It’s an effortless compliment which locks perfectly as a puzzle falling into place. Every track is done with such expert precision and runs the spectrum of emotion. This is an early contender for album of the year. Like an expertly honed novel I could hear this record 1000 times and find a new detail to zero in on each play through.

https://killshelter.bandcamp.com/album/a-haunted-place

Stoneburner – Apex PredatorThis 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.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/apex-predator

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. I feel like this EP has the raw power to be a game changer in a genre hungry for new sound.

https://dovetribe.bandcamp.com/album/all-in-the-waiting

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. 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

The Ending Nights – A Landscape To Die – The newest offering of Pedro Code (IAMTHESHADOW) of Portugal on Cold Transmission Music. A definingly dark apocalyptic disco drive produced and mastered by Pedro for a soul wrenching personal explosion. Jagged glass drenched in rainbow oil and water. How do you take one of the most distinctive voices in modern goth/darkwave when you find a way to make the steaming disco beats the star of the show you have really broken ground. This is a record that creates a world. Grime and desolation, the remaining survivors of a broken world follow the electric pulse of a melody from within. A perfect anthem for these fractured times.

https://theendingnights.bandcamp.com/album/a-landscape-to-die

PALAIS IDEAL – Negative Space – Palais Ideal is my favorite advanced evolution of progressive post punk. A calculated artificial intelligence writing out the history of humanity in reverse. This is thinking persons post punk for a modern era.

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/

SHIV-R – Kill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam.

https://blindmiceproductions.bandcamp.com/album/kill-god-ascend

LEATHERS – Reckless – Second time on this list for Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.

https://leathers.bandcamp.com/album/reckless

The Gothsicles – Animal Songs – Brian breaks ever barrier of what we think this scene means. A pure shot of rainbow bright laser explosions telling the tale of animals while making you shake that ass. A unique voice and vision in a carbon copy world.

https://thegothsicles.bandcamp.com/album/animal-songs

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.

https://boweverdown.bandcamp.com/album/let-it-burn

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.

https://acloudofravens.bandcamp.com/album/another-kind-of-midnight

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.

https://markemoon1.bandcamp.com/album/old-blood

Twin Tribes – Altars The beautiful lads of TX have released a remix album. Now I will always buy anything Twin Tribes put out sight unseen. I have to say this collection of remixes by some of the hottest names in darkwave was a special treat. The songs were big departures from the standard Twin Tribes style, but Luis voice still kept each song familiar. It included tracks from both previous albums placed lovingly up for sacrifice on the Altar to be transmuted and given back to the world.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/album/altars

Hueco – Canciones de Oscuridad y Desaliento – One of the most important Mexican darkscene bands of the past few decades. Hueco brings forth a unique flavor and tells sinister ghost stories in a universal emotional impression. I love the Iggy Pop “Raw Power” driving wilderness rhythm section. A must own record.

https://hueco.bandcamp.com/

Helevete Inc – The Inevitability Ov Nothing – This is a new rerelease from Helevete Inc. We recently had the opportunity to interview them, so keep an eye out. I feel in love with the hard old school style of this band. This album was such a drastic departure and really shows the range they have. A rich and meaning drenched darkwave goth sound. TION shows a gripping and introspective melodic aspect of their voice. These songs have such a powerful authenticity of someone stepping outside of their wheelhouse, uncertain where the music would take them. Confronting the fear and darkness of that reality. I feel so deeply in entranced by this record. It showed me something, it had glorious imperfections which revealed the artists and left you gripped by the connection. The album also has fierce and snarling beauty in the form of guest vocals from Jenny Rae Mettee. This is one of the most underrated finds of the year.

https://hymnsovgolgotha.bandcamp.com/album/the-inevitability-ov-nothing

unitcode:machine – Themes for a Collapsing Empire – Dallas TX Industrial artist has been on my radar for a while. This new album hits a whole new gear. I remember being at Cold Waves this year and hearing person after person in the know say “Holy shit have you heard this album”. This is a masterclass in marble statue precision craftsmanship in electronic music. The vocals are melodic and driven in a way that haunts your head. I love how clearly the poetry of the lyrics rings out beyond music that fills every wall of a dance club. It follows the template of classical industrial while finding a tone distinctly it’s own. People need to know about this, it needs to be appreciated.

https://unitcode.bandcamp.com/

Bootblacks – Thin Skies RemixedRemix follow to the break out record Thin Skies. A who’s who of the modern darkscene reimaging an album that shook the foundations of the scene. Hear something you loved though a different lens.

https://bootblacks.bandcamp.com/album/thin-skies-remixed

Angelspit – Diesel Priest – Well this new Angelspit album is not pulling any punches sonically or politically. Zoog Von Rock has returned with an army of cyborg technicians of revolutionary destruction. Stomping machines of punk rock anti establishment zealots rolling on tank tread speed. It always leaves me stunned how something so fueled by chaos can fit in such a tight refined space. With every building track you never know where the creature will go next or who will be brought down in the explosion. I think the greatest power here is how the lyrics effect 16 year old me as long as 44 year old me with both the passion and intelligence. This album is an experience that hits on so many levels

https://angelspit-official.bandcamp.com/album/diesel-priest

WINGTIPS – Cutting Room Floor – I saw Wingtips this year and they had the best performance at Cold Waves. That is really saying something for this show. This record was the perfect storm of edge and refinement. It’s so explosive, beautiful, and tragic. So much is conveyed with two amazing humans in perfect harmony.

https://wingtips.bandcamp.com/album/cutting-room-floor

Dread Risks – Trauma Ties – Texas extreme crushdustrial band has taken several years of evolution and compressed them into a truly unique fury of sound. Music to smash your enemies with a sledge hammer with.

https://remissionentertainment.bandcamp.com/album/trauma-ties

Helix – Bad DreamIt surprises me I don’t think I have reviewed the powerhouse team up that is Mari Kattman and Tom Shear (Helix). I will rectify that now. Bright, bold, and teaming with energy. Mari has an elegance to her voice that feels like a bird of prey gliding on an air current. This is music that makes my legs pump with a desire to concur the world. I’m genuinely mad at myself I haven’t listened to them more before now. Track 2 Slip has a gorgeous triphop backbeat that captures the idea of movement on ice. I love the subtle changes in the vocals cadence, everything happening in the same volume and range, yet creating movement with tiny variations. Masterful songwriting and execution.

https://helix.bandcamp.com/album/bad-dream

HAEX – Aethyr Abyss Void – This is one of the meanest chaos cannon grimy warehouse fireballs I have heard in a long time. A forceful ritual of madness and terror pop sensuality. This is the soundtrack to your next Hellrazer Barker themed dance party. Inspired wall smashing guitar work and apocalypse chant vocals. I want more and want it now.

https://haex.bandcamp.com/album/aethyr-abyss-void

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.

https://loreleidreaming.bandcamp.com/album/future-fables

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.

https://morisblakngp.bandcamp.com/album/irregular-revisions-vol-ii

Dead Animal Assembly Plant – Bring Out The Dead Another bone jarring hit from our friends at Armalyte Industries. This album is venturing a little closer to the metal aspects of industrial/metal than I tend to go. Sometimes in life you just need music to smash shit to, and that’s what the Portland band is bringing with rapid fire whole sale destruction. What leaves me impressed isn’t the moments it hits hard, it’s in the subtitle intelligence where pulls back and lulls you into a false sense of security just to swing the bat at you again with reckless abandon. Another great highlight is the cover of the folk song “Gods Gonna Cut you Down”. They say when Johnny Cash covers a song he makes it his own. Sometimes though you need to rip it out of his hands and shake the shit out of it with blistering guitars and fiercely whispered vocals by Time Bitch.

https://deadanimalassemblyplant.bandcamp.com/album/bring-out-the-dead-2

Push Button Press – Black SwanThis is a long awaited album from our friend Jim Walker and Cold Transmission record. The title really sets the tone for an amazing artist which has been a bit misunderstood and on the fringe. Writing music that was visionary and a bit progressive for some audiences. Right from track one The End of Time we are pressing our foot steady on the gas and gaining speed with clarity and purpose. I am feeling a lot of smooth spreading bassline and Jim has a stabbing staccato. That blend calls to mind early Psychedelic Furs. I think the thing that strikes me most in track 2 Trace are the crisp and driving drum beats. It really adds a powerful element of rock to the post punk concept. Title track 6 Black Swan lays open the the heart of the band. For every truth there is a black swan. The transitions here are so abrupt but maintain a silky smoothness that create constant motion. The guitar work here has a lot of early punk elements with heavy rhythm guitars. It feels like jumping across fast moving water from stone to stone. Always a sense of danger and concentration.

https://pushbuttonpress1.bandcamp.com/album/black-swan

Stabbing Westward – I Am Nothing – Ok this was only an EP, but the amount of nostalgia and lightspeed rockdustrial perfection was impossible not to mention. Chris Hall is a voice that keeps getting more impressive by the year. Listening to this record can take 10 years age off your swagger.

https://stabbingwestward.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-nothing

Long After Midnight – PainkillerReally liking how much rock is mixed into this Industrial Rock. The mastering was done by Jules Seifert so everything is smooth as an Aston Martin’s fender. Ross Martin’s vocals are crisp and powerful to cut through the progressive hard edge of the music. Mike Nolan is juggling a lot of moving parts here to give the music a sense of complexity and movement. Really exciting taste of more great things to come. I need to play with these cats once shows start again.

https://longaftermidnight.bandcamp.com/album/painkiller-ep

The Cult SoundsDeath of a Star – A haunted carnival of opaque modern rock sounds and blistering originality. This album felt so fresh I had no idea how to categorize it beyond being firmly in the camp of yes please. It’s dirty, mean, and dangerous with a cult energy I want to join up with.

https://thecultsounds.bandcamp.com/album/death-of-a-star

Red MeatHomo Vulgaris – Manchester UK’s dancetastic hard edge industrial is a album every DJ needs to download and use to blow the walls apart of every dance club in the world. Rhys Hughes has that filthy Uncle Al sex voice which makes you want to shake your body harder and meaner than you ever have before. It’s that perfect mix of glam and grime skirting a razors edge of the danger you want to stick around for. I love hearing music that isn’t my style, but is delivered with such quality I can’t help myself being drawn in by it. This whole album is pure club magic that makes me long for sweaty bodies spasmodically jerking in time while the crumbling walls of a filthy warehouse thrum in the darkness.

https://dronemcr.bandcamp.com/album/homo-vulgaris

The Burying KindThe Burying Kind – Ok, do I have a personal stake in this album ? Sure. It was still something I always reached for all year long. One of my favorite modern goth singers Scott-David Allen and Industrial musicians Dan Milligan coming together to make the best Shoegaze album of 2021. What is not to love about this entire concept. It’s passionate, it’s expressive, it’s perfect. You need to give this album a try, it will change you.

https://theburyingkind.bandcamp.com/releases

LINGUA IGNOTAAGNUS DEI – Every time I think we as a species have hit the wall of new kinds of music we can make, someone surprises me. This year that surprise came from Lingua Ignota. It you took the hair wrenching sound of a morning party on an Italian cliffside at midnight and blended it with Peter Murphy doing electronic performance art. You might be in the ballpark. This record isn’t easy listening. It’s hard, glorious, mind expansive listening.

https://linguaignota.bandcamp.com/album/agnus-dei

Death Loves VeronicaChemical – The first album from the glorious union of the Texas siren and Cold Transmission Music. I love the crashing tide synth drive and the contrast of warm whiskey sliding down the back of your throat. A ritual incantation and self realization. Every time Veronica announces a new release I am left wondering what new territory her voice will take me. Pre Order is currently available with the first two singles “Burn” and “Spindein”. The power of this album is how instead of you studying the painting while listening. The stalking control and awareness in the eyes of the music is staring back at you. You are the one on display and the tendrils of the music creep towards you and wrap you up.

https://deathlovesveronica.bandcamp.com/album/chemical

SlighterVoid

LA electronic songsmith producer with another powerful release. Colin Cameron is an absolute maestro of riding the razors edge between drifting spaceship on the edge of the known galaxy and that hook that gets stuck in your mind for days. The true modern day composer commanding a symphony of expression at the tips of his keyboard. The aptly named Void is a lost soundtrack of space horror like Event Horizon. Cameron has a sexy whisper voice that leads you like a siren into the unexplored darkness. Brilliant use of guest talent like Vocals on “Spill Blood” by R.A. Desilets. Proving again to be at the top of the game while drawing far outside the lines.
I continue to be impressed by LA song crafter Colin Cameron. He takes an approach to music akin to graphic design. Every weighted aspect seems to bring contrast and focus to both the positive and negative space within a sound wave. This track is the perfect journey track to travel the stars on an extended tour of the universe. A hit of peace, a hint of madness, drifting into the beyond behind the hum of subspace engines.

https://confusioninc.bandcamp.com/album/v-o-i-d

DogtabletPearldrop Blue – So many amazing elements in one place that connect all the tiny synapses in my mind and unleash a flood of dopamine right in the brainstem. Scene legends Martin King, Roberto Soave, and Jared Louche, have teamed up once again to bring out all the best in each other and we are reaping the sonic benefits. I’ve had a hole in my heart as Jared has been quiet lately. Hearing his mad prophet poet spinning spiderweb dreams again takes me on a fantastical journey

https://dogtablet.bandcamp.com/album/pearldrop-blue

MALE TEARS – Trauma Club – LA synth stars who captured my heart with this slithery filthy synthwave sin. It’s the old effect, but in the modern light. James voice rings bright and tortured with beautiful poetry and anguish you can feel in your bones.

https://maletears.bandcamp.com/album/trauma-club

Jean-Marc Lederman ExperienceThe Raven – The living legend keeps finding ways to show me there are whole other levels of composition and concept us mere mortals have only begun to scratch. Another concept album where he uses guest singers to express a central theme he has written. This one the Poe infused macbre holding court in the modern electronic era. The list of contributors is a fitting testament to the brilliance of the composer.

https://copinternational.bandcamp.com/album/the-raven

Sapphira VeeDuets – NY siren Sapphiria uses another great talent beyond her production and vocals. She draws people to her with her light. In this case a plethora of industry greats to place their voice next to hers in a duet. Mike Reidy, Jim Semonik, Chris Connelly. Turning the monolog into a glorious dialog.

https://sapphiravee.bandcamp.com/album/duet

BataviaMythos – Ed and Terri Cripps have found something between medieval bard and smashing industrial noise. I don’t know how to put a finger on it but I don’t ever want it to stop. It’s so gorgeous and original. It’s full of hope and inspiration. This is what I listen to when i need to be inspired to write music.

https://batavia.bandcamp.com/album/mythos

Black Angel – Prince of Darkness – It’s so good to have the ROCK back in gothic rock. La sleezy thrashing darkness that reminds us where we came from in this genre. It’s pumping hearts in barb wire and leather. Feel undead in the anarch LA streets of darkness.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/prince-of-darkness-2

Vision VideoInked in Red – Glorious throwback 80’s glory full of The Cure/Smiths/ sad beauty you want to follow the violet winding star beam into the night to. Creeping comfort of a dream I needed to remember.

https://visionvideo.bandcamp.com/album/inked-in-red

Bedless BonesBending The Iron Bough – My favorite band from Estonia. The wind rustles gentle through purple grains. The chant grows in electric power and swirls with spiritual majesty. Another one of those fresh sounds that sparks the heart with exploration.

https://bedlessbones.bandcamp.com/album/bending-the-iron-bough

Sing Me Songs That Make Me Feel Something

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.

ChiasmMissed 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.

Top Tracks:

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.

https://chiasm.bandcamp.com/album/missed-the-noise

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/ BlakmothFilther – 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.

https://blakmoth.bandcamp.com/album/filther

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*SunCouldn’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.

https://nuclearsun.net/album/couldnt-have-said-it-better-vol-1

Top Tracks:

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.

https://boweverdown.bandcamp.com/album/lost-in-the-woods

Top Tracks:

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.

https://acloudofravens.bandcamp.com/album/another-kind-of-midnight

Favorite Tracks: All of them

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 MoonOld 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.

https://markemoon1.bandcamp.com/album/old-blood

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 CodeFear – 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.

https://ashcode.bandcamp.com/album/fear

Favorite Track:

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.

Get to Know The Family of Cold Transmission Music

If you follow this page at all you know our close relationship with Cold Transmission. They are a new kind of label for a new wave of dark music. They have continued to compile top talent and provide them with artistic freedom to make the albums they want to make. Now they have released a label sampler which features those talents with exclusive tracks from Kiss of the Whip, iamnoone, IAMTHESHADOW, Control Room, and Mark E Moon. Also featured are remixes and several previous tracks from their diverse stable. This two CD set is a great way to know the Cold Transmission family as well as get a round view of the current branches of dark music.

Recent Interview with Cold Transmission Music

https://coldtransmissionmusic.bandcamp.com/merch/spotlight-a-cold-transmission-label-compilation-double-cd?fbclid=IwAR0i5syO5plsQGQQK2LnbfmNl5x0x6h4NKkm0OgsjjcMbDGcwbNGdOtl07U

Purchase the compilation “Spotlight” here

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

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

So obviously a lot of ground to cover here. I’m going to try and give you a quick impression of some of my favorites 🙂 Needless to say this is a great value and a way to turn yourself into an instant expert of the current scene.

S Y Z Y G Y XKill the Pain – DC based electronic duo full of slither and sex appeal. Luna’s husky whisper is both tantalizing and full of imagery. Beautiful synth sizzle and ass shaking dance beats. This track is great because it has a duet vocal from Josh that really shows the beautiful relationship on feature in this band.

ELZ and the CULT – HORRIFIED – Turkish sassafras sensation rich with pop hooks and slithering nightmare delivery. Gorgeous visuals and truth saber delivery that always leaves you wanting more.

Kiss of the Whip – Put You In The Past (exclusive) – Baltimore Synth lords bring a sweeping club collapse in a snow storm. They really turned the edge up for this track along with Tristain’s lovely new wave vocals cutting through the din.

HALLOWS – Subtle – Brand new signing from Seattle WA this duo is bringing a post punk stripped down stark haunted energy. Vanee and Dom do a wonderful switch off vocal intensity which feels like a conversation in a room of smoke and prism.

Bedless Bones – Split – My favorite band from Estonia. This track has a ringing tribal ceremonial feel. Kadri Sammel has such a unique vocal delivery and the EDM beats hold the reins of a fiery energy chopping the bit to break free. This is one of the most underrated bands in the scene and will be breaking to that next level soon.

La Mécanique – Dernier Voyage – This Montreal band does an upbeat post punk with a connoisseurs ear. I love the melodic French art house vocal cadence. I always say that hearing this band is like you went on holiday. They transport you with every song.

iamnoone – Stranger (exclusive) – I don’t think I have ever reviewed iamnoone before, which is a slight anomaly for a Cold Transmission band. This is one of the exclusive tracks and a burner. I love this upbeat pogo dance beat. Silky smooth vocals with a staccato quick delivery. A beautiful ice dance of cool blues and minty greens. This could have been a New Order solo project you never heard.

Iamtheshadow – Off My Hands (exclusive) – One of the flagship powerhouse bands of the label from Portugal. Another exclusive track and this one is a sizzler that rented a room in my head and will probably stay for months. Pedro Code as I often say has the best Baritone in modern dark music. This track is a synth driven croon that makes me long for the dance floor. Beauty, drive, and purpose. So much passion and power to hold such pop appeal.

Interview with Pedro of IAMTHESHADOW

Control Room – Are We All Alone (exclusive) – Another exclusive track and another band we have not reviewed from Hattiesburg Mississippi. I didn’t know they had darkwave there, but I am pleasantly surprised. This track is slithery serpent wall shadows and synth explosion. Nice low register baritone vocals and contrast. One of those cool bands with bright feel music and fallen in a well vocals and lyrics.

Palais Ideal – Erase (Original Mix) – My dear friends from the Netherlands that make post punk prog for deep thinkers. This track is a subtitle and delicious sonic wave full of winding changes and New Order Movement. It’s an Artificial Intelligence code creation of twisting layers and complex effects. Every time I hear it I think this is what creating on another level feels like.

Mark E Moon – Dancing (With The Lights On) – Isle Of Man dark wave dreamer with another exclusive track. This one is a racing wave with a darkabilly backbeat the rides the front of the crest. Mark’s ringing clear voice carries the action as the drums crash around him. This has a really cool U2 90’s before they sold out feel. Total ear worm glory.

The Secret French Postcards – Out Of You – Swedish post punk crooners unleash this lovely Echo and the Bunnymen dreamy dance ballad. It’s full of cascading waterfalls of sound and cooler than thou vocals. Once the chorus jumps up it really sets the hook in.

Push Button Press – Mire And The Sea – Florida’s own post punk paragon’s who are soon to release a new album I have been eagerly anticipating. I love the use of harp pluck strings and 80’s killing joke complexity. I am again impressed with how Cold Transmission embraces bands who want to step outside of the standard pop mold and trust that listeners long for complex concepts and delivery.

Monographic – Addicted – German based band that does an edgy Chameleons style post punk. I love these thick smashing toms and stabbing guitar downstrokes. Cracking energy and melodic intensity

2020 has some amazing music festivals. Here is our guide to help you get the most musical band for your duckets.

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

1. Un Hombre Solo (NYC)
2. Golden Apes (Berlin)
3. Sonsombre (VA)
4. Secret Shame (NC)
5. Shanghai Beach (NYC)
6. Pilgrims of Yearning (Boston)
7. Twin Tribes (TX)

https://www.facebook.com/events/2224829014290261

Golden Apes at Boston Dark Spring Fest
Dark Spring Festival Berlin

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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/bi-nuu/dark-spring-festival-2020-berlin-bi-nuu/1275406542622411/

Hapax at Dark Spring Festival Berlin

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

Pre-Party Lineup:
October 8th at Hooch and Hive
Mr.Kitty
Cold Medicine
Gulf Blvd with DJ MAUS

Day 1 Lineup:
October 9th at Crowbar
Hante.
Astari Nite
Rosegarden Funeral Party
Sonsombre
Die Robot
The Kentucky Vampires
Pass/Ages with
DJ Winters and DJ Black

Day 2 Lineup:
October 10th at The Orpheum
Drab Majesty
TRAITRS
The Bellwether Syndicate
S Y Z Y G Y X
Third Realm
The Purge
Mother Juno

https://www.facebook.com/events/2473284262889368/

Drab Majesty will be at Absolution Fest

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

http://coldwaves.net/

Stabbing Westward will be at Cold Waves Chicago

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

  • The Kentucky Vampires
  • Xorcist
  • The Rope
  • Wingtips
  • Scary Black
  • S Y Z Y G Y X
  • Sonsombre
  • Twin Tribes
  • Vyva Melinkolya
  • God Module
  • The Bellwether Syndicate
Twin Tribes at Convergence KY

https://www.facebook.com/events/471361446925391/

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

Ash Code will be at Cold Transmission festival

https://www.facebook.com/events/1417909858356678/

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)

The Birthday Massacre
Cruxshadows
suicide commando
GRENDEL
DAS ICH BAND
God Module
Bella Morte
Echo Black Ego Likeness The Gothsicles
The Rain Within Astari Nite Chmcl Str8jckt
Methodical Devil-M DaGeist Ghostfeeder
00tz 00tz Die Robot Cliff and Ivy Stoneburner
Abbey Death Peter Turns Pirate Tragic Impulse
The Mary Lous Red Lokust

The Birthday Massacre will be at Dark Side of the Con
Out From the Shadows Fest

https://www.facebook.com/events/2556610007786941/?active_tab=about

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.

Thursday:

SYZYGYX (Wash. DC)
FEARING (LA)
KOMRADS (Rochester NY)
LOVE HATE AFFAIR (Austin)
THE ELECTRIC WEST (LA)
PHYSICAL WASH (PDX)
RITUAL VEIL (PDX)
– TBD –

Friday:

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)

Saturday:

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)

Ritual Howls will be at Out of the Shadows Fest
San La Muerta Festival

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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/573222733407494/

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

The Vanishing at San La Muerte Fest

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 😉

https://www.facebook.com/events/428462821068850/?active_tab=discussion

Solar Fake is at Dark Malta Festival

I will continue to update this as lots of the big festivals have not announced lineups yet. Wave Gothic, Sanctuary, Machinefest.

Sounds and Shadows 2019 albums of the year.

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.

https://octoberburnsblack.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://ritualhowls.bandcamp.com/album/rendered-armor

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.

https://frozencharlottes.bandcamp.com/album/wax-venus

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.

https://lamecanique.bandcamp.com/album/dernier-voyage-2

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.

https://markemoon1.bandcamp.com/album/refer

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.

https://cryingvessel.bandcamp.com/album/illusions-ep

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.

https://goldenapes.bandcamp.com/album/kasbek

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.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/radial-glare

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.

https://thedreamcollision.bandcamp.com/album/the-certainty-of-forever

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.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/introducing-the-1984-renault-lecar

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.

https://linguaignota.bandcamp.com/album/caligula

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.

https://kidsaintnothing.bandcamp.com/releases

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.

https://dogtablet.bandcamp.com/album/feathers-skin

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.

https://firesngp.bandcamp.com/album/all-of-my-dreams-are-of-this-place

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.

https://morisblakngp.bandcamp.com/album/the-irregularity-of-being

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.

https://cursemackeyngp.bandcamp.com/album/instant-exorcism

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.

https://stoneburnerngp.bandcamp.com/album/technology-implies-belligerence

  1. 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.

https://gofight.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://lilithmymother.bandcamp.com/album/her-fall

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?

https://corlyx.bandcamp.com/album/in2-the-skin

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.

https://standalonengp.bandcamp.com/album/standalone

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.

https://boyharsher.bandcamp.com/album/country-girl-uncut

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.

https://agentsidegrinder.bandcamp.com/album/a-x

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.

https://sweatboys.bandcamp.com/album/nervous-prayers

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.

https://drabmajesty.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://mrkittyngp.bandcamp.com/album/ephemeral

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.

https://hante.bandcamp.com/album/fierce

  1. 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.

https://wingtips.bandcamp.com/album/exposure-therapy

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.

https://scaryblackssr.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/xiiiii

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.

https://thepurgeva.bandcamp.com/album/rain

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.

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/track/joy-thieves

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.

https://syzygy-x.bandcamp.com/album/fading-bodies

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.

https://ghostoflugosi.bandcamp.com/

5) Sea of Worry (Have a Nice Life) – Topsy turvy and wondrous. This one is very dark but doesn’t fit in a box. That’s part of it’s power. Fierce drum beats and spectral vocal lines.

https://haveanicelife.bandcamp.com/album/sea-of-worry

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

https://hide3.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://elzandthecult.bandcamp.com/album/psychodrama-cold-transmission-edition

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

https://palaisideal.bandcamp.com/album/pressure-points

  1. 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.

https://mesaluna.bandcamp.com/

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.