One of the things I love most about the current Goth/Industrial is the sense of community. If there is pettiness or competition between this wave of post goth, I am yet to see it. Having that level of support for each others projects can lead to some beautiful artistic cross over and collaboration. Michael Louis of Twilight Chronic took a twisted ritual dagger and jammed it in his own ego to birth the modern goth superband Shadow Assembly.
Arcane Fusion is the sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction with Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre. This new album opens the portal of darkness even further by using a different vocalist/lyricist for every track. This album is not only a prism of the wide varieties in modern gothic rock, but also a who’s who of the vocal talent of the current scene. I will act as your ferryman on the River Styx as I lead you through each track on this modern classic.
Beneath The Rows: Feat (Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre) When you think gothic rock in 2020 you think of Brandon. This opening track is a rumbling mid tempo growler perfectly suited to Brandon’s voice. It’s a cloak flapping in the wind, booted feet crushing worms on grave dirt. It’s icy wind on your face and howling a ghostly whisper in your ear. This hard stomping concept is a rethought soundtrack for Children of the Corn.
Plaything: Feat (Marselle Hodges of The Blue Hour) What a lovely transition. This is the first video from the album. It’s a sexy Switchblade Symphony style banshee swamp ballad. Full of mist and silk. I love the blend of sizzling guitar rifts and ghostly wails. This track made me an immediate fan of Marselle.
Down With The Dead: (Feat vISION) This is a fierce chanting call from a squirming mass grave. A lot of mid 2000 shock goth flavor. A mass grave rave rolling through the mud with lost souls and carrion creatures.
My Ophelia: (Michael Louis of Twilight Chronic) Absolute banger old school gothic rock. The palm muted guitar riff here just drives on an empty street full of twists and turns. Michael’s voice is a depthless echo calling out a deathwish in the labyrinth darkness. You really hear the soul poured into this song.
Cult of Ishtar (Feat: Ariel Manikj and the Black Halos) This track is a ritual of summoning. Ariel’s vocals are exotic and delivered with intention. The bass line here is darkfunk explosion. A lost ruin of wild vines and blood sacrifice. I found myself wondering back into this sinister scene again and again. Time for me to start diving into Costa Rica goth.
Release The Ravens (Feat: Ken Magerman of Amaranth) Ok this is weird, I can’t review because…it’s me. I will talk about it though. I was highly honored when ask to be a part of this. Doing guest vocals and lyrics on someone else’s music is always bizarre. I tried to summon someone else, outside my usual style for Amaranth. Michael crafted this beautiful ballad and I kept picturing this person in isolation sending messenger ravens to a lost love now beyond their reach. Collin really captured a different me like the pro he is. Goth music really falls into that crooning baritone these days and I wanted to use my sing songy higher range. I feel like it had that perfect blend of cheese and power.
Green Farie (Feat: Nino Sable of Aeon Sable) If you have ever chased the green farie you know the surreal slither of the veil between worlds. Nino has that perfect muted horn twang to their voice. The lovely harpsichord sound of this delicate ballad is the adhesive that holds this evaporating beauty in tact. A very Dead Can Dance medieval goth resurgence. I can’t get enough of this track.
Dr. Dealer (Michael Louis) Another track from Michael this one slow and brooding with a slushy trancelike guitar riff. His voice is a chorus and of demonic voices in a psychedelic swirl. Mainline a spike of shadows and sink into the floor.
Lost Places, Forgotten Faces (Feat: Andrey Agapitov of Raven Said) One of the most underrated bands in the goth scene from Russia. This one is a spiral staircase spinner. Andrey whispers and croons from beneath shadows. The keyboard and guitars lull you into dream until the verse strikes again with a fearful energy. This song was meant for spinning on the dancefloor.
Woman Torn (Feat: Rod Hanna of October Burns Black) Modern hard rock goth artists Hanna brings out that southern style Fields of the Nephilim dirge energy to this synth and guitar rich midnight sky ballad. I love the sliding effect on the guitars and how it blends with his chorus rich voice. Bringing the past into stark relief in the present
Overall this album is a synthesis of talent that really highlights what is possible when you have a maestro that knows and loves the music other artists make and finds a way to make each tone flow together to build something greater than the some of it’s parts. It is currently available on bandcamp for digital download and a CD run. If you want a good place to place your finger on the pulse of modern goth, this album is a great place to start.
I am not a baby bat, nor am I the most eldest goth in the crypt. I started discovering myself musically at the end of the 80’s. It was a glorious time to find dark music. However we didn’t have all the tools we have today. The internet was around (I’m not that old) but the BBS/AOL world was not the endless ocean of bands we have at our finger tips today. You really had three main options for discovering your next favorite band. 1) Have a cool older relative/friend. 2) Go to the club and ask annoying questions to the DJ (Hard when you are a teenager) 3) Buy the latest compilation from your favorite label and hope for the best. For me this meant A LOT of Cleopatra samplers.
I started wondering in this world of Spotify and ITunes hitting you with a fire hose of what you need to listen to next, where does the label sampler fit? Most of you that read this page know I recently put out a compilation myself called “Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us“. It really gave me an appreciation for both the power and effort it takes to put one together. So I thought I would share some of my favorite new compilations for a new generation of dark music fans.
Blood and Dust – Released on Venus Aeon 5/1/20 goth rock label of TG Mondalf. They do quite a few compilation as they seem to be one of those glorious outfits that really cares about sharing new music with the world above their bottom line. This compilation has a really special concept and drew in some of the hottest names in next wave gothic. I had a discussion with Brandon Pybus (Sonsombre) on our podcast about the close connection between southern outlaw county and Traditional goth. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, had a darkness, a mystery, a danger to their sound and aesthetic which carried into early goth lords like Fields of the Nephilim. Here at the crossroads of those genres where devil deals are stuck this huge assortment of talent pays homage.
October Burns Black – Ed Shorrock and company have stayed tried and true to purist gothic rock and bring that sizzle and lariat spinning overlapping guitar riffs. Organic snap and haunted vocal lines. This is the opening track for a reason, it grabs you and holds you in awe.
Sonsombre – (Slow Kill) Probably the hottest new name in Gothic Rock on Cleopatra records absolutely unloads on the scorched earth cover of Fields of the Nephilim. This track is so full of reverence for the source material, you can really hear they are true fans. It still manages to burn it’s own trail and have that unmistakable Sonsombre sound.
Raven Said – (Shadows on the Ceiling Shadows on the Floor) This Russian goth duo has a true wild sound. That ever present sense of a starving wolf just outside the view of your fire. I love the menace and venom.
Cliff and Ivy – (Eightstar) Alaska’s favorite goth couple brings the fury to this lawless land. I love the whip snaps and border war ferocity. The distorted guitar gallop at full tilt like a run away stallion.
Rainbow Goth Volume II – So lately compilations often come in the form of charity releases. This one which Amaranth took part in the last two years is put together by Cliff and Ivy for Identity Inc, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization which provides vital services to LGBTQ+ youth, elders, families and the community in Alaska. A great cause which has always been intricately laced with the goth community. 31 tracks that cover a lot of genre ground and highlights new talent.
The Dirty Horror – (23) LA death punk full of gnashed teeth and inky darkness. Danna Marie is a seething powerhouse of intensity and expression. Chunky machine gun guitar riffs firing out in circles.
Sombre – (Lindsey) – French ShadowWave with this beautiful melodic duet really breaks up the batcave intensity of the rest of the compilation. Flowing and warm the melting watercolor sound is lovely to the eye, heavy to the heart.
Burn The Earth – (Lockdown) – This LA/Melbourne team up has two tracks on the compilation. Really cool slushy delayed guitar sounds set the stage for Jeremy Bornstein clear ringing spoken word style melodies. Beautifully crafted songs which flow together in perfect measure to build towers of sound.
Look I hate to do this, but A Covenant of Thorns did an amazing remix of Amaranth‘s Deliverance and you really need to hear it. Scott David Allen absolutely killed it.
Electronic Saviors VI – So when it comes to compilations that give back to charity, this is the gold standard. Jim Semonik of Distortion Productions started this compilation several years ago while battling cancer to raise money and awareness for research. This 68 song Goliath of the biggest names in Goth/Industrial is the final addition of the project and a must have for anyone with an ounce of rivethead in your heart. The artist list is downright staggering. I wouldn’t begin to know how to choose favorite tracks. Other than Steven Archer who assures me always has the best tracks. Honestly I probably need a separate review just for this compilation and it would take me 6 hours to do it justice. In the meantime just trust me, go to the link, pick a random name, and leap into the chasm.
Cold Transmission(Spotlight) – Ok I might be jumping the gun here. This release is not available until 6/25/20. However the amount of talent, diversity, and creative freedom that CTM has built into their stable has made them one of the most respected voices in darkwave/post punk/cold wave. They have earned a level of trust from me like those old Cleopatra compilations of the 90’s. When they tell me I need to hear a new band, I need to hear that new band. You need to hear that new band.
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
Who are the compilations you are currently trusting to bring you that next band you are in love with that you didn’t know about yet? Comment below
So during the current pandemic when artists are taking a hit from an inability to tour and play out, Bandcamp the music distribution platform that seems to actually care about artists waived their fees for a day. Honestly the fees they charge are pretty fair but anything to get people excited to support bands. So here is some of what caught my fancy on the first day of May.
Panic Priest – (Second Seduction) what a strong second offering from Jack. This album really took the sound in a sleeker, stronger, synth driven new direction. His voice remains one of the strongest baritones in the scene but here it is piled on layer after layer of textural experience and the experience is amazing. Extra Credit for the cool fan sourced music video on the single Lonely City.
Blood and Dust – (Compilation) This is such an awesome comp put out by out by TG Mondalf of Venus Aeon. I was just talking to Brandon of Sonsombre on the podcast about the connection of southern sound and goth…which i call Outlaw Goth. This comp is absolutely jam packed with fire tracks of some of the hottest names in new goth rock doing southern style. October Burns Black/Sonsombre/Black Angel/Raven Said/Cliff and Ivy/Guillotine Dream and many more. A cool concept and great execution.
Delphine Coma – (Secondary Eyes) Long awaited EP from Ashe Ruppe. Two tracks and two remixes with that true deep darkwave sound. Rolling baselines and Ashe’s deeper than then earths core voice ringing icy and clear. Yes please.
Orcus Nullify – (Pandemonic ) A poignant track for the current situation. Much more stripped down and electronic feel for doom rocker Bruce Nullify yet holding true to that buzzing noise sword guitar. This one strikes hard and takes no prisoners.
Vlimmer – (Pulmo) Shadow Sound architect Alexander Donat continues to spew forth such a steady stream of quality material at a rate that defies imagination. Here he stays between tighter lines than some of his more psychedelic offerings. The drum beats are tight and the guitars are cold vibrating lasers cutting through the dark din. I really like how the bass walks in track two Sonnenspeer.
The Black Capes – (Lullabies For The Dead) Old school gothic rock from the land of history Athens Greece. Like a big black wolf snarling and writhing these crushing beats and vicious growling vocal delivery is the sound of night creatures baying. It has tender moments of light strings and contrast. Another band embracing the glory of the past to create a dark future. The sound put me in mind of the wild rural parts of my home in Michigan. The land of Iggy Pop.
Ashes Fallen – (Thy Will Be Done) Sinister guitar lord James Perry put out a new single today full of a lot more menace than the last album. I feel like Michelle and Jason have really had an effect on the tone for this single. The guitar and baselines still include a lot of movement and technique. The keyboards fill the space to give those hard down strokes more accent. The vocals are not a clean alternative romanticism I heard and enjoyed on the last record.. They are dark, full, gritty, and not what you want to meet in a dark alley. Love the direction.
Pilgrims of Yearning – (Forsaken Land) – Pre release of the June 5th album offers a first track and single The Visitor. Juls Garat has a clear and slicing voice which knows how to shine light through every crack in the dark and driving bass wall. This was a taste that gets me excited for the whole meal and the future of an exciting sound.
Plague Garden – (Left in The Grave ) – Ok important question, how the fuck did I not know about Plague Garden? Paul Barker of Redwing Blackbird (who i love) is involved in this project. This is gorgeous, sinister, old school artistic almost Tones on Tail lo fi drone goth. Great use of changes and making every sound count. Goth with clinical efficient effect.
Caustic – (The King of EBM) So if Matt Fanale has a new EP and the title sounds like a play on Run DMC best believe I am here for this. Of course it is just what you would think. Look it is not an overstated boast to say The King. Infectious beats drive your body like a bolt of electricity from the sky awakening dead flesh. It’s Alive! It’s Alive! It’s blue collar, it’s high ideal, it’s everything I love about punk, and EDM and nothing I hate about either.
A Cloud of Ravens – (The Earthen Call) New York darkwave duo with a new single out. I really want to listen to this while doing ritualistic magic in a secret underground lair. Not that doing that doesn’t sound cool all the time, but to this song in particular. Love the walls closing in guitar for an otherwise traditional darkwave song. Gave the whole feel flaming wheels.
Raven Said – (Beyond the Darkest Hour) Ok, I have a confession/moment of self reflection on Raven Said from Russia. I have had 3 reliable people all tell me to listen to this record and just hadn’t gotten to it. I get a little full of myself sometimes from writing this page and start to think if it was really that good I would have found it right? Holy shit this is good. I hate myself for the moments I wasted not knowing about it. It’s driving through haunted woods chased by a ghost luxury automobile full of specters and demons on a foggy night. It bounces on tight coils like post punk but it has the soul of really spooky quirky bat cave. So don’t be dumb like me, buy this immediately.
From The Mouth Öv Belial – (Defied and Devoured) Have you ever wondered where modular synths go after they die if they have not lived a good and pure life? Adrian can show you. This is disturbing sonic nightmares given flesh. In fact I might have to write one more review just so this isn’t the last thing I hear before I pass out. Honestly he should have wrote the soundtrack for the Suspiria remake instead of Thom York.
Mindless Faith – (Insectual) Washington DC based electronic robot invasion music that makes me long for humanities inevitable collapse at the hands of our metallic superiors. I suppose it is easy for me to think of Rick Furr as part of Steven Archer’s posse. Here with Jason Sevanick, Paul Green and Chris Sevanick they have unleashed soulful energon cube filled landscape of precise mixing and slapping beats. I got half way through writing this and realized it came out last year, but somehow skipped past my notice. An endless tide of automation integrating your mind.
Well I didn’t come close to writing about everything I listened to this Bandcamp day (My new favorite holiday) I wrote a lot though. It’s a strange and scary world full of uncertainty. Listen to new music. Support the artists who make it. I suppose it is time for a little shameless self promotion.
Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us – I made a compilation, to save my cat. Beyond that it is really good. I honestly astounded how good. If you like Goth/Industrial/Post Punk/Darkwave/Coldwave A lot of the hottest new talent is here. $10 for 25 songs.
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.
When our friends at Cold Transmission release two compilations back to back like this two things are generally true. 1) They feature a perfect blend of some of the hottest new music available from around the world. 2) They have one volume dedicated to Goth/Post Punk/Cold Wave and the other primarily electronic. This ended up right to form. It’s about 40 songs total at an unbelievably low price so I can’t touch on every single track. However I made a picture of Bloody Mary, hooked up my good speakers, and I am going to see how many I can do in one review. Buckle in and lets go for a ride.
Volume 10: So the genre of “Gothic Rock” is one that has been sitting on the self for a few decades without nearly enough attention for my personal taste. I feel like it is really making a huge comeback in the modern scene. Bands are really coming forth with new and exciting things from wicked goth guitar riffs and driving bass lines. I was blown away at how this compilation captured so many of these great next wave Goth Rockers from all over the world in one place. If you call yourself “Goth” and want to have your finger on the modern pulse, Zeitgeist Vol 10 is a great place to start. It puts me in mind of those old Cleopatra Records comps I fell in love with all those years ago.
Track 1: A Projection – Stockholm Sweden post punk artist off of Tapete Records. What a strong start this song is. It bounces and the snapping of those live snares gives a furious pace. This track had a lot of The Mission UK flavor and a beautiful melody. I became an instant fan. Lots of depth, lots of rawness.
Track 3: Mark E Moon – This is a previously unreleased track Delta of Venus of this Cold transmission act from the Isle of Man is a gasoline fire of dark driving poetry. I love the lyrics, the cascading synths, and Mark’s Jaz Coleman style vocals. Total Burner
Track 4: Sonsombre – Fear is a a slow driving goth rock modern classic from North Virginia revivalist Brandon Pybus. I really feel like Sonsombre are leading the charge for this next wave of goth music. Lots of Sisters of Mercy/Mission/Rosetta Stone ballad feel on those sweeping light finger drip guitars. This song makes me howl at the moon at 3am.
Track 6 : October Burns Black – Cast Aside is a “Proper” Goth rock track in every old school sense. This super band made up of bits and pieces from all around are giving you the real deal right out of 1981 preserved in dark crystal and given new life in the present. A mournful emotional outburst full of texture and power.
Track 7: Astari Nite – Dearly Beloved, This crooning shadowy ballad from Miami Florida’s robust goth scene. A lot of David Bowie/Roxy Music glam to this dark winding tale of loss.
Track 8 : Secret French Postcards – The most recent signing for Cold Transmission from Baltimore Maryland. Make Me Bleed is a beautiful track with very dark overtones but an ethereal shoegaze backdrop. One of those tracks that hits you on different layers every time you listen.
Track 9 : Icy Men – Another amazing Cold Transmission band hailing from Keiv Ukraine. They have another just released single I need to review. I love this minimalist bleak tone of isolation and desperation. I can’t understand the lyrics but i still find myself moved by the power of the delivery. The bending low range guitars create a great movement in a place devoid of hope.
Track 13: Caidas Libras – Post punk from Costa Rica. This song Poderes Simples has an intense and driving bass groove that charges through the track like a raging bull. The vocals are very whispered and low fi. I found myself wishing to hear more of it. The music has an undeniable groove and a sinister tone.
Track 14 : Paradise Cove – Inside is another previously unreleased track on Cold Transmission. I love the distorted voice and punk rock vibe. Very Alien Sex Fiends buzzing club jam feel. Slick as an oil spill on an a frozen lake.
Track 15 Scary Black – Louisville KY goth masters Scary Black bringing one of my favorites on this compilation of goodness with Starlightdancer. Those reverb dreamy guitar riffs, the sinister low register vocals, and the ringing chime bells. So old school, so fresh, I can’t get enough.
Track 17: The Gathering – Building a Bridge is the slashing builder and breaker from Vancouver also on Cold Transmission. It’s so open and harmonic, almost feels pop punk but with such perfect instrumentation and looming dark tones.
Track 20: Death Instinct – Hide is a track from Pittsburgh PA’s dark rock band Death Instinct. I love the Steven Morris drum builds. The echoing vocals with a slight lilt giving just enough glimpse of light to add some extra spice to the cold wave feel.
Track 23: Amaranth – My Turn Again is a song from Kalamazoo MI goth rockers. The singer sounds like a pretentious prick. Fuck that guy. The bass player seems hot though.
Track 25: The Bluebeard’s Castle – Another Cold Transmission band this time from France. I love this old bat cave feel yesteryear goth. Also the vocals have a touch of Jello Biafra in them which is awesome. I love the cadence and the bass underneath driving it.
I’m going to try and go back and fill in the bands I missed but this was just a marathon of reviewing. Needless to say I put in this much time because everything on this compilation is worth exploring and it takes you on a journey across the world. It makes me excited for what the goth scene is still capable of in 2019.