Recently on the Sounds and Shadows group we had a discussion about the place of “Charts” like the DAC in the modern scene. A way to keep your finger on the pulse and help DJs see what tracks are trending by people in the know. I took a poll of our group of Dj’s, Musicians, Labels, PR companies, and superfans to pick their hottest releases in Sept-Oct of the modern Darkscene. We had a ton of stellar releases that were discussed but I have taken the top 10 chosen. I plan to do this once a month.
Moris Blak – Candyman –
The Joy Thieves – Nemesis – Armalyte Industries
Stoneburner – Apex Predator – COP International
Actors – Love You More – Artoffact Records
Wingtips – Run For Shelter – Artoffact Records
Bootblacks – Thin Skies (Twin Tribes Remix) – Artoffact Records
Curse Mackey – Lacerations – Negative Gain
Angelspit – Don’t Know Zero – BLACKPILLREDPILL
Gasoline Invertebrate – Scarlet Slip feat Chris Connelly (iVardensphere Remix) – Tigersquawk Records
Dread Risks – Trauma Ties – Re:Mission Entertainment
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.
In my youth I didn’t really have a punk rock phase. My angry phase was Industrial. Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, Test Dept, KMFDM, Die Warsaw, Lord of Acid,Neubauten, Front Line Assembly, Front 242,Leatherstrip, Chemlab, were the fiery steam fire oily sounds that spoke to my soul. As time went on my anger and napalm softened and I moved away from this soul. In the past few years I have found myself rediscovering and broader and more intricate hard electronic sound. Here are some of the echoing booms filling my warehouse.
SpankTheNun: The Texas industrial sensation from Eric Hanes is bringing Industrial back to it’s early core. It’s catchy and dancy, with steel jaws of metal drive guitars and distorted growl. I love the clarity achieved through modern tech that takes the early feel and refines it into the modern expectation of laser focus. The new album out “The Bunker Tapes volume 1” is a perfect homage to the past with a fresh hypersonic spin.
Stoneburner: Steven Archer of Ego Likeness started the project of to express a different aspect of his music. This is truly taking the concept of Industrial music into a higher form of evolving art. It’s high concept sci fi with tribal organic drum beats and lyrical poetry that pushes the boundaries of the human experience. The albums are ever evolving and are done with a vision. He also is a master of interactive experience and blending of visual and sonic art. Truly breaking ground for a new concept.
GoFight: It’s hard to think of Jim Marcus as “new” Industrial. Die Warsaw was one of those early bands that taught me the idea of Industrial music could mean something more than macho angry aggression. A beauty and subtlety that made me dance and sing along with glorious pop hooks while maintaining that furious grinding filth. Jim continues to write songs that capture the mind and infuse the body with buzzing chemical energy. A relatable idea with sharp edges and teeth. One of those beautiful ideas that blends accessibility with higher thought. Jim has always been the cutting edge of Chicago Industrial and has not missed a beat. New single out Freestate is another masterpiece of technique and torr ant.
I Ya Toyah: The one woman army from Chicago is a explosion of energy, love, and pain. It’s has a soul that really sets it apart from a lot of the genre. Ania has a voice and song writing style that captivates with it’s power and passion. The songs move with intention and the lyrics have a personal flavor that makes you a part of them. The live stage show is truly something to behold. She is a voice for the future of what electronic music is capable of.
The Joy Thieves: Another Chicago band ( A Lot of good Industrial came from Chicago). This one a super band helmed by Dan Milligan has brought amazing talents from several Industrial mainstays to ride that line between hard rock and industrial. I once describes them as Clutch beating the shit our of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat. It’s furious aggression, blistering guitar work, progressive percussion, and napalm vocals. It’s a compilation of talent to rival bands like Pigface with it’s own organic concept.
Fee Lion: Another Chicago act with more smooth cold blue edges. A powerful and sensual voice with distinctive electronic dance club explosions. Very avant garde and and invasive. A true master class in how to use push pull dynamics to pull in your audience. Only a few releases so far but already setting the stage for a power player in the genre.
Klack: Madison WI collaboration between Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device) have formed up to make EDM for a new generation. It’s clever, conscience, and shoots a bolt of electricity into your spine that shakes that ass. The vocals are the perfect blend of both talents that brings the revolution and makes it fun. It’s an iron gauntlet in a velvet glove. Get Klacked and stay Klacked.
Moris Blak: Boston MA, Hard EDM industrial is not here to take you gently into emersion. It is fierce and limb flinging excitement adrenochrome shot into your mind and designed to make you let go of all control. He also does some intense remixes and mind bending live shows. This is not a throwback sound. It is straight alien brain melt.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – The British master of EDM dance club excitement. When using bass beats like a sonic weapon it is a true challenge to construct ear worm melodies that cut to the forefront. This music is a virus that infiltrates every cell of your being and demands you dance. The newest album “Eat Your Young” also features the amazing Caitlin of the band Corlyx. Immersive filthy grinding dance beats that ride you hard and put you away wet.
Curse Mackey: – This is a scene veteran that has been a key member of one of the biggest Industrial bands Pigface. He has recently released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism“. Aside from the amazing vocals and pedigree of this record, I think what really moves me are the thought and poetry of the lyrics. This is truly and out of the box thinking persons Industrial sound. A must have.
Silverwalks: Criminally underrated sci-fi electronic backdrop creator from Philly. This new single is “Lantern” is an absolute burner. One of those songs I can’t hit play enough times on. It has a true Gary Numan quality in it’s texture and flow. I loved it so much I had to have an Amaranth remix done. Transport yourself to an alternate sonic reality with this band.
Melodywhore: This glorious electronic music wizard has forged really taken the old Industrial concept of collaboration. Blending a softer more passionate dance grime energy. Using a variety of musicians and vocalists. This latest track for BLM charities is beautiful and powerful. Giving voice to rage using an intelligent whisper.
Dead Agent is the solo project of Ed Finkler, also known as Funkatron.
Musically it leans more towards the EBM side of the spectrum but manages to do so without feeling like something we`ve heard a thousand times before during the last X amount of years.
While its mainly instrumental there`s heavy use of samples and other sound design techniques to create the illusion of vocals as can be heard on the track “Frentik“.
Ed was once part of the band Cult Of Jester where we saw him in the role of a vocalist fronting an industrial rock band so to see him return to music in such a different yet at the same time familiar manner is definitely interesting. Dead Agent is a project to keep your eyes on going forwards.
From Connecticut we have Decent News who we have featured on the site before in various scenarios. They deliver a refreshing take on the blending on industrial and rock/metal. The guitar work especially stands out from the crowd as one can pick up on some clear early thrash metal influences at times as opposed to what has seemingly become the standard industrial guitar consisting of simply palm muting and tabs that look something like this: 0-000-00-0.
Having carved out their own sound they manage to evolve and progress with each release within the confines of their world which is quite an underappreciated talent.
From the UK comesVanity Killsdelivering some dirty, gritty rock n roll with filthy, dripping electronics sewn in like a patch on a vest.
They wear their influences on their sleeve and take it all the way whether that be sonically or visually, yet also manage to do things their own way and leave an open wound on the otherwise often too mechanical world of industrial rock.
While Darrin Lewis may have spent years as vocalist for the metal/deathcore band Beside The Silence he’s now working under the moniker Nothing Valentine creating what I‘m tempted to call a blend of pop and industrial but still retaining the heavy element of earlier projects.
Debuting with the song #GothGirl almost a year ago, he later followed up with the politically charged track “Civil Unrest” which showed a thematically and in many ways musically heavier side to NV which might not have been according to the audiences expectations after hearing the more light hearted first single but this is exactly why he`s on the list. Expect the unexpected whether it be in terms of music or the overarching themes.
Of course we have to include Blakmoth as we just did an interview with him.
Blakmoth creates what he refers to as “Doombient” consisting of heavy rhythmic drum work and droning ambient soundscapes all created with modular synths.
Having recently signed with Errorgrid Records and with a new release on the way despite having released “Deathshead” only a couple weeks ago Blakmoth is highly productive and is always seeking to push the envelope and challenge the audiences ideas.
I hope that with time well see more modular based artists pop up and break out of lighthearted bleeps and bloops for just a moment to explore the dark side of synthesis that Blakmoths music beckons us towards.
From Denver, Colorado comes the duo known as Echo Beds with amplified oil barrels, broken tapes and generally less than perfect instruments they create noisy yet catchy and often strangely melodic tunes reminiscent of early Swans meets EBM or something along those lines. Visceral yet danceable, not too harsh for the new comers to the experimental part of the industrial genre but just enough to entice you to go deeper and explore a side of it which is often forgotten about these days despite being the source of the genre. This one is truly DIY or die voltage therapy.
Industrial Rock isn`t exactly what Norway is known for musically although one might be able to draw comparisons between the early days of industrial and black metal in terms of extremity ,avant garde-esque tendencies and against the grain approach.
Carrion, lead by S&S writer Hide [Adrian Kjøsnes] blends elements of traditional rock n roll with a tad of 90s Nine Inch Nails style steeped in occult philosophy and mysteries.
Having just released the album “Testament Ov The Exiled” now is the perfect time to check them out if you haven’tt already to hear Hides most recent experiment mixing distorted guitars and modular synthesis into a blend of structured yet still chaotic noise and…Power ballads. Yes, you read that right.
Having recently released the single “Blithe Din” along with a ton of remixes [Including Dead Agent and Decent News] this Florida based aggrotech band is perfect for those who love catchy synth lines that worms their way into your ear while banshee like vocals speak of biblical themes full of symbolism painstakingly researched for accuracy and adopted to whatever vocalist Richie V. Suriv attempts to express.
Having already built a following within the U.S alternative scene playing with acts like Psyclon Nine, Dope, Skold, Combichrist and more this is not one to miss, oh, and they`ve got their keyboards on a chain swingset 😉
Zwaremachine: Loud and nasty from Minneapolis, this band is a grinding tidal wave of shrapnel and hiss. It rolls over you in slow driving sludge and flashing lights. Bringing gore and empty warehouse space into stark relief that transports you back to a 90’s rave in Detroit. Join in the chant and leave your inhibitions at the door.
11 Grams: The team up between Rob Early and Simeon Fitzpatrick that cuts the clean razors of electronic science fiction and dance club fury. This is two masters of production riding an electric wave of futuristic beauty and construction. It’s transformative and honed to make rooms sizzle.
StatiqBloom: This New York band is frightening and cold. It’s movement is infectious but the tone is dark. A Sinister horror film brought to life. Definitely EDM dance movement but one that leaves you anxious and clawing at the wall. You can’t sleep because you can’t relax in this terrifying landscape.
TH Inc: Chicago, Illinois Hailing from the beating heart of American Industrial music comes the sonic power house TH Inc. Electronic music pioneers Christopher Turner (of Nookleptia and the mixcloud show The Garbageman Show) & Robert Hyman (Drummer of Mr. Russia, member of Melter and owner of Lens Records) first came on the scene with the darkly haunting 8 minute “Drawstring” and the pair continue to dish out fresh dark DIY industrial reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle, Brighter Death Now, and the edgier side of COIL. If you missed out on or just miss the raw paranoid energy of early industrial and noise, but need a taste of something new, look no further. 2020 has seen the Release of 2 albums the gritty pulsing Circuit Flare, and the epic droning of The Tarkovsky Suites.learn more @ thincband.com
Bellhead: Chicago, Illinois Also from the land of WAX TRAX, this 2 Bass & a Drum Machine, Male/Female duo gave us their first taste of their mix of industrial sleaze with the thick dirty sound of “Fire Control“. Bellhead have kept it up with a hand full of releases including the 2020 EP “Unicorn Bones” and the Single “Sanity Assassin” an edgy in you face cover of the Bauhaus song.Keep you eyes on Bellhead, especially if you are a fan of the 90’s industrial rock style of Orgy and Snake River Conspiracy and even later Thrill Kill Kult.
eHpH: Denver, Colorado By now I am sure you have noticed we here at Sounds and Shadows are fans of eHpH and Bleeding Light Music in general. I feel I cannot say enough about eHpH, they come to the table with a fresh take on EBM and the darker side of synth driven industrial. From track to track you feel something that could have easily hit the dance floors of 90’s/2000’s goth industrial clubs and yet sounds strangely original. eHpH is that seductive dark stuff that draws you into this world.
2019 has been quite a year for my dream. It has found it’s tar dark wings and started flapping them to places I never imagined it would go. I have new writers like Collin, Katy, and Adrian. I have 4 times as many followers. Made new friends which I have come to love and value. Traveled to distant lands. Started a podcast. In general it gets me excited for the future that so many people all over the world have shared with me this love of what is happening in modern music.
Unlike last year when I did a top albums review all alone I know had a wine drenched democracy of shouting voices sitting in a room and debating what had moved them in this years music. It was an amazing feeling I had forgotten. I wanted to make this list hold weight. So we made hard cuts and decisions to get our list down to 4 genres and 10 albums per genre. Everyone had input and voice and no one 100% agreed. I love that. This was never suppose to be about me but about the celebration of art. I hope you find something new here. I know I did and it fills me with hope for places a song or album can still move me. We split it into 4 parts 1) Post Punk/Goth 2) Industrial/EDM 3) Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave 4) Wildcards
First up is Post Punk/Goth. This one is my primary wheelhouse so I took point here. There has been a true resurgence in this genre and this was a hard list to choose. The albums listed here are all amazing but we fought long and hard to try and pick some form of order. Here is what we found.
10) October Burns Black (Reflections) – London superband and Traditional goth act from London put out this amazing record this year. James Tramel (The Wake) has composed this album with Rod Hanna (Vox), Lars Kappeler (Guitars) and Tommy Olsson (Guitars) Simon Rippin. It is so full of flowing sinister goth sounds. It really holds true to the sounds of yesterday while forging new ground. Every song is an emotive blast.
9.5) Ritual Howls (Rendered Armor) – I know, i cheated. I just can’t leave this record off. We debated and argued so hard to get this list to 10. This album is just such a world beater. It’s Nick Cave putting on the armor of Echo and the Bunnyman. They are even Detroit fam. They are keeping a flame burning for a sound that cannot be forgotten.
9) Frozen Charlottes (Wax Venues) – Santa Ana post punk doom weavers Frozen Charlotte released this beautiful album in November of this year. I have been in love with Chandler Grace, Janell, and Sky’s savagely dark spit and vinegar punk goth style since their previous incarnation. With Wax Venus they really found a way to refine that edge to a razor point of intensity, Waxing and waning like the moon in a flowing dance around the fire witchcraft ritual.
8) La Me’canique (Dernier Voyage) – This is such a lovely record from Cold Transmission that really embraces the post punk ideals. It’s wide, flowing, and full of landscapes. It feels large and comes through the lens of a distant camera. I think of 80’s Duran Duran and the way they transported you to another place while listening to the songs. A vacation in musical form.
7) Mark E Moon (Refer) – Another exceptional album with a lot of traditional goth elements. Another Cold Transmission band on this list who has a wonderful vibe of old Peter Murphy but with a modern edge full of poetic lyrics and Mark’s deep resonant vocals. Lots of balance and pop hook in this record. I want to peel the layers of this onion and find the core of it’s art.
6) Crying Vessel (Illusions) Slade Templeton is bringing the glam razzle dazzle back into dark music. His dark rich voice climbs and slide around an impressive range. I found it in my heart, and building a place in my head. I had the wonderful opportunity to see them live in Germany this year and it really gave this record another plateau of range. A perfect mixture of previous styles and modern technology this record is a must have.
5) Golden Apes (Kasbek) – Berlin based post punk Golden Apes have been making music for a long time. To find an album of this power and depth of idea deep in a storied career is a noteworthy achievement. Peer Lebrecht has a voice so full of soul and power that it wraps you in it’s world. The music is a masterclass in what post punk can achieve in movement and embrace. I will finally get to see this played live in Boston this year for their first US tour. If you don’t know about this record plunge head first into one of the genres most exciting artists.
4) Antipole (Radial Glare) – Karl Morton Dahl of Norway holds the distinction of being the most reviewed artist on Sounds and Shadows. I feel moved by every album he has made. This one found a way to hit a special new level for me. Antipole is everything you love about post punk music like Joy Division and New Order. Karl is a true historian of the genre, but finds exciting new ideas about how to use modern technology to make the concept sharper and more intense. This record was such a wonderful tribute to his homeland. A record that transports you to that reflected, glittering place of dark ice. Paris Alexander and Eirene of Young and Cold records have added perfect vocal compliments to create one of this years stand out records.
3) The Dream Collision (The Certainty of Forever) – This album from Pedro Code of IAMTHESHADOW was a piece of art that left me changed and moved. Pedro has possibly the most beautiful and sensual voice in modern dark music. This record was so stripped down and exposed I found myself unforgettably moved. It is powerful and tender like Nick Cave but with the beauty and elegance of Ian McCullah. A truly moving offering.
2) Twin Tribes (Ceremony) – With their recent transition to Negative Gain Joel and Luis of Twin Tribes hold a special place here at Sounds and Shadows. Their Debut album “Shadows” was the inspiration for this webpage. They are bringing the concepts of spiritual post punk into the modern era. This sophomore offering was not a lull but a leap forward in concept, depth, and power. Rich and full of energy each song is a ritual to summon forth an intimate experience in the listener. You probably need this one on vinyl. Also they do a must see live show, find them in your town and bare witness.
Part II is the best Industrial/EDM – I grew up on industrial. It was my punk rock. My scream at the world release. Somewhere along the way i just drifted to other avenues. This year was a huge one for me to rediscover Industrial. Adding in Adrian and Collin to the family who are both stronger on Industrial than me have really helped me find this world again. The albums that have come out this year and bringing it back front and center for a lot of people. These were our top picks.
10) Klack (Introducing the 1984 Renault Le Car) – Matt and Eric are workhorses. They had a Daddybear album, Null Device, and another Klack album all this year which could have easily made this list. This album rose to the top for me. It’s perfect blend of retro and fresh feel with dance beats and unique concepts has become a go to for my listening parties. New ideas for the new industrial.
9) Lingua Ignota (Caligula) – I just found this through Adrian. Wow. It was like nothing I have heard. This is a sound so frightening and intense it gives The Goblins nightmares. It is the sound of a priestess ripping out her own eyes and bleeding from the sockets. Do not listen right before bed unless you want to be haunted by disturbing dreams. I speak from experience.
8) Kid Saint Nothing (Above_Below) – What a treat that I get to add a dear friend from Kalamazoo MI to this list. They belong here. This album is a raw heartfelt therapy session scream set to catchy dance beats. It’s wide and intense and needs to be played constantly on your listening device.
7) Dogtablet (Feathers and Skin) – Industrial music lords Jared Louche (Chemlab) and Martin King have worked with others to create this massively powerful record of animalistic spirit totem sounds. It feels like a creature speeding free under a moonlit sky. This album came late in the year but has been my constant companion ever sense.
6) FIRES (All My Dreams Are of This Place) – Aedra is a force of nature. Her intensity and vocals have really pushed the edges of the Industrial genre. This album has a tight mixture of early 2000 emo and electroclash force. Whenever I need to find my inner tiger to face the day this album is where I reach first.
5) Moris Blak (The Irregularity of Being ) – This album is a force of creative expression and cyber blending technology. Lots of amazing guest vocalists like Pete Crane, Amelia Arsenic, and Angel Metro. A true tapestry of electronic sound woven and blended with dance hall beats and shattering brash power. This needs to be in heavy rotation of every club you shake your ass at.
4) Curse Mackey (Instant Exorcism) – Curse has been a huge part of the industrial scene for a long time as Evil Mothers, Pig, Pigface, ect. This album represents his first solo offering and it is nothing short of breathtaking. This album has such a focus on lyrics with a true William Burroughs literary quality. Full of slashing beats and laser focused vocals. I own it on LP. You need it on LP.
3) Bones UK (Bones UK) – More of a big label offering but a straight burner. This album is on the top of Collin’s list this year. I love the ladies getting representation in this genre and this album cooks from front to back. Lovely pop hooks to really add some mainstream club vibe, and we unapologetically love that.
2) Stoneburner (Technology Implies Belligerence) – This record changed the game for me. It made me fall back in love with Industrial music. It has that same old school flavor, but takes such incredible chances. A thinking persons industrial with a concept and follow through. Steven Archer of Ego Likeness has unleashed something transcendent and powerful and managed to save enough in the tank to follow the record with another this year “Massdriver”. Both are incredible pieces of art you need to explore but you never forget your first love. This record was that for me.
Go Fight (Anthem) – Jim Marcus and Die Warsaw were a part of my first obsession with Industrial music. A titan in the genre and one of the great humans who holds this scene together. This record is all covers of the 80’s songs that helped build his musical life. It’s perfectly crafted. It’s full of soul. It finds a way to make something of the past connect with my present. I mean any time i can hear two of my favorite things in this life Go Fight and Shriekback happen simultaneously consider me hooked. Nothing on this record doesn’t immediately send my body into motion. This is the work of a master crafting a love letter to the things that built him.
Next up is Synthwave/Darkwave/Coldwave: Another brutal list to try and widdle down to 10 albums with everything wonderful released this year. As genres have expanded and new ground was broken the resulting art which is dreamy and beautiful has grown with it. This is a list of our favorites.
10) Lilith My Mother (Her Fall) – Beautiful dance magic with clear pop beauty infused with midnight dark lyrics and fallen angel vocals. Every song fills me up and has me asking questions. Do not sleep on this amazing artist.
9) Corlyx (In 2 the Skin) – Sexy LA sludge grunge is my weakness and this album is the cure. It’s sensual, powerful, and forces your body into motion. Caitlin has a voice that wraps around you and stirs that hairs on the back of your neck. Doesn’t your party deserve to be this hot?
8) Standalone (Standalone) – Steven Seibold of Hate Dept has unleashed this solo project so delicious and stripped down with beautiful synth sounds crafted with a wizards touch. It’s so personal and easy to relate to at once. The vocals are smooth and elegant and hold your heart with tender timing. So underrated.
7) Boy Harsher (Country Girl Uncut) – The feels of this record. It’s a smokey dimly let exclusive club that would turn me away at the door in music form. It’s efficient in the use of layers and sounds and has gorgeous imagery in the lyrics. I love everything about the crafting done on this record.
6) Agent Side Grinder (A/X) – Oh the delicious post punk infused stabbing drum beats. The dynamic vocals have a dark tone and emotional delivery. It’s full of songs that always feel like they are moving faster than they are. It’s that energy and crackling synth pad sound that makes ASG have such a unique sound. This album builds on everything that makes them one of the biggest names in the genre.
5) Sweat Boys (Nervous Prayers) – This record off of Give/Take strikes a special chord with me. Sitting in my room listening to Yaz “Upstairs at Erics” was such an impact on me. Waiting to hear a synth driven album that captured that same purity and exposed feeling has been something i have searched for a long time. With this record my search finally ended. It’s beautiful, electric, and makes me jump up and down like only a 260lbs man on a pogo stick can. If yuo care at all about synth pop you need this in your ears.
4) Drab Majesty (Modern Mirror) – Drab Majesty off Dais records isn’t just an album, it’s an experience. Knowing the exact amount of every sound to use to get a perfect blend is such a difficult art form. The harmonies, and flowing lush beauty. They are like aliens operating at another level from us common music plebs. This album is staggering and unique in it’s beauty and darkness.
3) Mr.Kitty (Ephemeral) – 31 tracks, all of them good. Take that in for a moment. This album was such a memorizing accomplishment. It’s an artist exposing themselves and making it sound lovely and pure. I played this record so many times this year I feel like I have a personal relationship with the artist and I have never spoken to them. If you don’t have this you need to make that a priority.
2) Hante (Fierce) – The soundtrack to a film of a better life lived than mine. Just listening to the gorgeous vocals and visual sounds on this record fill me with hope. The creative force unleashed here is an epic achievement. It makes you think, it makes you believe.
Wingtips (Exposure Therapy) – Look I can tell you what I love about this music. To me the real power of this album is that so many great musicians I know all talk about how much this record meant to them. It has been mentioned and picked on our podcast by almost everyone we have interviewed. It’s perfect, nostalgic, fresh, and full of texture and intensity. Every track is a banger. Every line is a poem. This was our combined number one pick out of one of the hardest categories to judge.
Final Catagory Wildcards: This was all the things too far out of the box to fit anywhere else. In a way I feel like it made it really exciting and definitely some of my top overall picks.
10) Scary Black (Shadow Dwellers) – Kentucky sinister darkness Scary black released this shadow storm full of familiar elements and fantasy sparkles. It’s full of dangerous dreams and lovely rich vocal melodies. I really look forward to their future.
9.5) Vlimmer (XIIIII) – German sound wizard Alexander continues to spew forth the most gloriously textured collections of sounds with pull heart strings like a horses reins. It baffles me how good every single release is.
9) The Purge (Rain) – Strange winding electronic storms. This album feels like weather shifting and changing. It has a flavor of trauma and young love lost. Thomas does a beautiful job using his vocal range to tell stories and build tension. It’s my sad rainy day music.
8) Girl Band (The Talkies) – Strange twisting and powerful. I really liked the chant of this band and the abrupt changes. This one came courtesy of Katy. Really intense sound.
8.5) The Joy Thieves (This Will Kill That) – Again a little bit of cheating here but this EP needs to be on the list. Such a perfect blend of hard rock and industrial with some of the biggest vocal talent in modern industrial. It’s smash everything in this room music because you are happy. I first described it as Clutch beating the shit out of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat and I stand by that.
7) SYZYGYX (Fading Bodies) – One of the fastest up and coming bands in the scene. On both Negative Gain and Cold Transmission Luna and Josh are a sonic experience full of sexy dark disco grooves you would find in David Lynch’s private club at 3am. It breaks every mold and is always in my rotation.
6) The Ghost of Bela Lugosi – Ok technically not an album, but my house my rules. Australian based Vin Price has released about 12 singles this year and everyone of them is straight fire. It’s so punk rock, so raw, but so melodic and beautiful. It touches every part of every genre and I am here for all of it. It won’t play by the rules and that is part of it’s power.
4) Hide (Hell is Here) – Sheer unbridled power with a meaningful message. This is like nothing you have heard. Raw, intense, full of power tools. The vocals have more spit and acid than most metal. This album changed my world view
3) ELZ and The Cult (Psychodrama) – Visually, sonically, sassily, there is nothing about this album that does not completely enthrall me. It’s filthy, beautiful, it’s a horrible dream of a broken world that i can’t escape or look away from. I find a new layer to it every time i listen. You must have this.
2) Palais Ideal (Pressure Points) – I have been waiting to make this one of my top albums of the year all year long. This record broke all the boundaries of post punk. It’s thoughtful, precise, unique, and tells a story of some of the best science fiction I read in any novel. A thought provoking example of the power of music. Have this on LP and feel it’s warmth and glory as it was meant to be spun
Mesa Luna (Feel Nothing) – This one came to our attention courtesy of Jason Corbett (Actors). We didn’t have enough shoegaze representation here and this album was a stunner. #1 pick from Katy. It’s haunting, diverse and full of life. Take a journey with this record.
I had about 40 more albums this year that could have made this list. Maybe I will do an honorable mentions. I’m shredded though. There is currently a glorious revolution happening in music. Be a part of it. This list is a great place to start. Happy Holidays from us at Sounds and Shadows.
Really excited for the podcast with DC band SYZGYX where they discuss Sierra, ELZ and the Cult, Moris Blak. As well as Pasta sauce, John Carpenter, and keyboards. As always linking the bands we discussed