Sounds and Shadows Top Postpunk/Synthwave/Darkpop albums of 2020

Part 3 of this series might have been the toughest to write. There was such a wealth of great new albums in this genre I found myself at a loss to pick and choose my favorites. However tough choices need to get made. These are all records released in 2020 and not singles. I feel like everyone on this list did something very profound.

Black Rose Burning – Open the Gates – George Grant is doing amazing things using stripped down elements of dark post punk concepts. His voice has this scintillating David Bryne expressive lilt. It harnesses such energy with an acoustic guitar and a percussive gate. It’s romantic, not like a relationship, but the way Star Trek is romantic about the love of stars and exploration. I find myself constantly lost in the beauty of it.

https://blackroseburning.bandcamp.com/album/open-the-gate

SceniusEnough Fears – I found this album at the very end of the year but I have a feeling this will be on my heavy rotation the next few months. The Leeds band is a bending maze of emotion and turns that I found myself deeply immersed in. The vocals from Fab Nau were so original and cutting. Perfect dark trance resonance and endless builds. This is a band I will be paying close attention to in 2021. I feel the beginning of something beautiful starting.

https://scenius.bandcamp.com/album/enough-fears

Vlimmer – XIIIIIIII – This series of albums reaches it’s conclusion in glorious and staggering fashion. Alexander Donat has an amazing gift to take emotion and transfer it into sound seamlessly. Taking a tiny burning ember of idea and gentle blowing on that fire until it swells into a blaze. Truly a criminally underrated talent in modern artistic expression through sound.

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/xiiiiiiii-18

White Mansion – Human – Arkansas brings us this strong front to back traditional post punk. I love the bold transitions here and open air vocals. I think the name Human was perfect for this record because it is all about relationships. You can really follow the story. It’s organic, full of heart, and makes a connection.

https://whitemansion.bandcamp.com/album/human

The Secret French Post Cards – Colors – More glorious post punk darkness this time mixed and mastered by Pedro Code (Iamtheshadow). This record is so understated and comes at you in subtle ways. Olli Ohlander has a ringing and smoky delivery that chews up scenery like a master actor. Blended reverb and echo makes the guitar build tension that pulls you into the moment. Paint a picture in your mind with this record. Another Cold Transmission band.

https://thesecretfrenchpostcards.bandcamp.com/album/colours-2

Danny Blu – The Pale Horse – Crackling energy and neck grabbing hooks from NYC. Personal soul threaded into club kid sleek trance. This record is everything cool I want to give off. The smoky saxophone trills add a beautiful contrast note. The cadence they lyrics are delivered with are an extra percussion and rhythm. It leaves me longing for more.

https://dannyblu.bandcamp.com/album/the-pale-horse

Elz and the Cult – Bloodlines – Elz is one of those beautiful and unique humans that takes their internal light and bleeds it into every track they make. It has such a genuine and soulful flavor which modern darkpop is so hungry for. It is a record of personal intensity that stands out in the landscape. A true gamechanger record that everyone should experience. On Cold Transmission Music.

https://elzandthecult.bandcamp.com/album/bloodline

Korine – The Night We Raise – Philly based band that is taking the scene by storm for good reason. They have such a glamourous beauty. While the lyrics are full of edge and venom. They truly have mastered the idea of taking two things you wouldn’t think would make sense together and then synthesizing it perfectly. It’s elegant, profound, and makes you feel like you are on the inside of secret. Also it has that glorious shake that ass factor. You will dance to this record all night long. On Born Loser Records now.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/album/the-night-we-raise

Panic Priest – Second Seduction – Chicago based Jack Armondo finds himself once again on my albums of the year. This sophomore album uses his rich and powerful baritone to great effect but softens the edges of the guitars in the first album. Putting the synths forward really captures the neon industrial aspects of his city. I love the way he captured the concept of isolation in the middle of a populated concrete jungle that became so relevant to us all in 2020. An impressive offering both in connection and execution on Negative Gain Records.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/album/second-seduction

Soft Kill – Dead Kids R.I.P. City – Portland postwave glory with gorgeous and rich vocals and rainy flowing waves of synth sound. This record is so efficient and full of intention. This is one of those records it’s never a bad time for. It has that voice of a generation The Smiths sound but with a speed and energy of the modern era.

https://anopendoor.bandcamp.com/album/dead-kids-r-i-p-city

Idles – Ultra Mono – I love this album for the punk side of post punk. It’s intelligent, political, smash your fucking teeth in complex blasting rock. It has the true core of Fugazi. I wasn’t quite sure where to put this under but it belongs on some list.

https://idlesband.bandcamp.com/album/ultra-mono

Kiss of the Whip – We’re Not Here – Baltimore is doing some amazing things in the current scene and KOTW are near the top of that list. There is an amazing feeling when someone has such a wizardry of an instrument that it transcends and lefts everything in the song around it. That’s how I feel when Tristan Victor plays keyboards. The wide open textures and landscapes that flow through your mind at razor speed. His melodic whisper growl vocals really draw you in and let those complex synth changes do their work. I continue to be impressed with every new growth.

https://kissofthewhip.bandcamp.com/album/were-not-here

Spectres – Nostalgia – Sometimes I want a record that really pushes the edges of a genre. Sometimes I take comfort in bands that do a familiar sound with perfect execution. This album is so full of feelings that transport me back. Each song is original and new but the pallet of colors is brilliant with New Order, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen. The heartfelt homage to the music I grew up on cleaned and washed and sent straight to my heartstrings.

https://spectresvancouver.bandcamp.com/album/nostalgia

Loveblind – Sleeping Visions – What happens when a traditionally shoegaze label like Saint Marie Records puts together a superband of Shoegaze talent to make a darkpop album. In this case what happens is one of the most textural beautiful records of the year. Dorian Electique has a stunning and haunting vocal quality that floats on the waves of slushy wave crash guitars and striking drum beats. Every time I play this record I picture silk scarves flowing in my wake. it just makes life a little more beautiful.

https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-visions

Black Nail Caberet – God’s Verging On Sanity – This band from Hungary has been on my constant playlist. They had an album in my top list of 2019 as well. I love that they don’t sit idle and instead explore a new aspect of darkpop. Emese has a remarkable strength and depth to her voice that reminds me of Annie Lennox. The dance beats are a force to be reckoned with and are like a shot of energy in the arm. When I need to find a little something extra within myself this is the record I reach for.

https://blacknailcabaret.bandcamp.com/album/gods-verging-on-sanity

Algiers – There is No Year – If you have never witnessed Algiers live, once the world reopens that should be the top of your to do list. They are the best live show I have seen in the past 20 years. It’s breathtaking to behold. They are another band hard to put in a box in the most amazing away. Notes of Motown/Gospel/Post Punk/Electronica. It’s all thrown in the blender and spun to a smooth creamy glory. The lyrics are poignant, fresh, and delivered with a voice sorely lacking in this scene. This record is such an up and down journey through culture, injustice, and personal revelation. I really can’t stress the importance of this band enough.

https://algierstheband.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-no-year

Then Comes Silence – Machine – Swedish based dark rockers put out this album in March and I listened to it many times in it’s entirety. The single We Lose the Night is such a perfect jam it has to be my most earworm song of the year. Just walking through the world I found it constantly popping into my head. This record has what I think of as true Post Punk vibes. The bass is thunderous and driving. Vocals are enchanting and full of warm and captivating feeling. Also the track Ritual feat: Karolina Engdahl is a perfect duet to blend beauty and razor cuts. I was an instant fan for life.

https://thencomessilence.bandcamp.com/album/machine

Bootblacks – Thin Skies – NYC post punk stars took a giant leap forward in their evolution for this album. It truly takes it’s own life and direction. Adding on Jason Corbett (Actors) to chisel and magnify a sound that already had such a unique and dangerous flavor. It is sleek, mysterious, and is my number one soundtrack if I ever pull an elaborate jewel heist and car chase in the heart of New York City. I think the most magnificent part of this album is that it really took “Post Punk” someplace new. It’s easy to get hung up on nostalgia, and there is some of that here. There is also a sound so sensual and fresh. I can just smell the musk of this album. You need to feel it on your skin.

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

Our interview with Bootblacks

Empathy Test – Monsters – This album was my most played on bandcamp this year. I just couldn’t stop coming back to it. It holds a beauty and quality that touches on so many genres. It’s personal and full of imagery that transports you into a movie. Isaac has one of those once in a generation voices that speaks right to your heart. This record just struck a chord inside me like the first time I heard Radiohead The Bends. That feeling of dramatic intensity that makes me think of youth while the refined craftsmanship spoke to my changed perspective. This is a young band, and their potential to grow and make art on another level seems limitless.

https://empathy-test.bandcamp.com/album/monsters

Our Interview with Empathy Test

I Missed Posting For Bandcamp Day :( Yet here is some reviews.

It’s October my darklings, the month of spook, where goths can be goths. So I need to start thinking about my Halloween soundtrack. I’ll fire through the latest batwings and eye lashes of newt falling into my cauldron.

Swansect: Kill Pop Goth – Adrian is always thrashing like a madman in a new direction. Always producing something he hasn’t done and something I hadn’t heard a million times before. Track #1 Horse of Grass has this cool percussion driven guitar strike. Almost a folk goth tempo with vibrating underwater vocals. Track #2 Kain is my favorite and has this sinister Tones on Tail Daniel Ash sex appeal. The words are in Norwegian telling the story of Cain. I love the old school batcave rockabilly riff. Swansect always takes you to a place in your mind with the music, and usually that place is a nightmare.

https://swansect.bandcamp.com/album/kill-pop-goth

SpankTheNun: The Bunker Tapes II – This album is mixed by the legendary Claus Larson (LeatherStrip). Out of Texas Eric Hanes does a hard and nasty industrial, full of chant and eye beam precision. Track 2 Fight and Breed is a building whisper that holds aggression on a greasy chain to make a tension build you can feel on the back your neck. I think what really sets this above the bar are how clearly the vocals ring for industrial music. It has a bit of effect, but you can savor every growled line. Some amazing remixes here from Melodywhore, Sapphirra Vee, and Assemblage 23. My favorite track was Lies and Hate which unleashes a real Nitzer Ebb feel. I think what impressed me most of this album is how it never has to turn the volume up to 11 to hit you in the fucking teeth with it’s power. It’s a real skill to project that much rage without screaming.

https://spankthenun.bandcamp.com/album/the-bunker-tapes-vol-i

Vazum: Rated V – Ok I know I recently reviewed the Detroit band Vazum, but they did this new release specifically for Halloween with a monster/ghoul theme. It’s stalking creature abomination horror full of heavy guitars and sinister keys. Zach unleashes and inner demon from behind his usually lovely lilting vocals to send a shiver up the spine. I said the same about the previous album Vampyre Villa but I love the use of 90’s alternative mixed into the horror. Emily has a soulful Concrete Blonde vocal style that is the perfect offset in every song. Each monster has it’s own tone and flavor, my favorite was Werewolf . This one really let Emily shine on vocals and truly laid out the primal transformation. Cool lyrical poetry, “Copper turns to gold, sell our gold for silver”. There is so much going on here stylistically. We had an interview with them last week (which will post soon) I am really bummed I hadn’t heard this to discuss before hand.

https://vazum.bandcamp.com/

Vanity Kills : Chapter 2 Enemy – Hard rocking cyberpunk from Cardiff UK. The real beauty captured here is the driving rock 90’s aggression of Helmet phase shifting into pixilated time dilation of club smashing electro-core. The intensity almost rides the line of metal. Yet the distinctive dance stomp is catchy and clean. For personal preference I wish I could hear more of the lyrics and feel the melody lines. The music really placed me in an empty room of drywall I found myself smashing out of, I wanted to know more about why. Favorite track was “This is Gonna Hurt”, it had such a punch it made me picture Clutch smashing synthesizers on a flaming stage. This one shows great promise for the future.

https://officialvanitykills.bandcamp.com/album/chapter-2-enemy

UnderTheSkin: End This Summer – New single complete with some outstanding remixes from Poland. This one is a Cure heavy darkwave bird of prey soaring on a night sky. Mariusz has a beautiful and captivating voice. The bassline of the song is everywhere beneath the soaring wings. A powerful track in crafting and execution. So who could successfully remix such a track? Ash Code, Shad Shadows, Kill Shelter, and Antipole with Paris. Now that is a heavy weight endorsement of some of the great production tunesmiths of our scene. A lot of individual flavor here for each remix on an absolute scorcher of a track.

https://underskin.bandcamp.com/album/end-this-summer-ep

Razor Hawt video with this one too.

Twin Tribes: Shadows(Matte Black remix) – Holy shit how did I not know this was coming out? Also why does Matte Black get to remix Twin Tribes and I don’t? Ok now that petty jealousy is out of the way, this is my favorite Twin Tribes song. The song I discovered them from. I didn’t even recognize it at first in the best possible way. This is everything I want from a remix. It has taken their glorious violet energy and fired it through a prism to create something new and beautiful. I am jaw dropped on the floor right now. Buy this immediately.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/

Panic Priest: When Daylight Disappears – Brand new single from Jack, and it’s another burner. Such a master of blending sizzling guitar licks and neon streaming synths. His bellowing baritone voice is an trap I can’t stop falling into. This song is a prayer to the darkness that surrounds us. I want to sit on a Chicago roof staring at the moon as the city sleeps below.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/track/when-daylight-disappears-demo

Klack: Two Minute Warning (Depeche Mode Cover) – This is a beautiful cover with a beautiful and tragic story behind it. Claus Larsen (Leatherstrip) recently lost his husband Kurt after a long battle with sickness. It left a lot of medical bills and the community really rallied around him in this tough time. All proceeds go to assist their family. I’ve always loved this song and Klack of course didn’t disappoint to capture it’s energy and majesty.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/two-minute-warning

Bandcamp Day was a smashing success. What was hot?

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.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/

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.

https://venusaeon.bandcamp.com/album/blood-dust-a-gothic-western

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.

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/secondary-eyes

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.

https://orcusnullify.bandcamp.com/track/pandemonic

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.

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

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.

https://theblackcapes.bandcamp.com/album/lullabies-for-the-dead

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.

https://ashesfallenmusic.bandcamp.com/track/thy-will-be-done?fbclid=IwAR3BuaA3tjcyuKJLP42cPJspG6gQeMmdYw3vbS_lY30355dxCup4ZqGT5uo

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.

https://pilgrimsofyearning.bandcamp.com/album/forsaken-lands

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.

https://plaguegarden.bandcamp.com/releases

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.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/album/the-king-of-ebm

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.

https://acloudofravens.bandcamp.com/track/the-earthen-call

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.

https://ravensaid.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-darkest-hour

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.

https://fromthemouthovbelial.bandcamp.com/track/defied-devoured

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.

https://alterculture.bandcamp.com/album/insectual

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.

https://theamaranth.bandcamp.com/album/tiny-gods-who-walk-beside-us

Sometimes the best in what is new feels quite familiar.

Working from home has left me stir crazy with too much time alone. What a perfect time to fire through some quick reviews of what I am listening to at the moment. Tonight I went digging through Bandcamp recommendations for some new sounds. I have been a bit disenfranchised lately with the idea of nostalgia and retro. I’ve been wanting to hear fresh new ideas and not have the same conversation about the same records I’ve had before. Partway through as the things I was hearing had a very retro vibe I remembered. Avoiding the past can be just as bad as staying trapped in it. These record all had something very old and familiar in them. At the same time, the reason some ideas come around again, is because they were great ideas.

Spectres – (Nostalgia ) – The Vancouver band recorded by Jason Corbett of Actors at Jacknife Studio. Brian Gustavson was not trying to be subtle with his intent on this album. It’s like catching a whisper of a bunch of songs you know well, that stick on your head. They aren’t those songs though. Bernard Sumner rips his mask away to reveal it was something else all along. Beautiful and precise in the recording. It’s contagious and familiar in a way you can’t quite hold in your grasping hands. For those of you that want New Order and The Smiths thrown in a blender and spun on REM but don’t want to hear the same album for the 10 thousandth time, this is the jam for you.

https://spectresvancouver.bandcamp.com/?fbclid=IwAR3pE74uVVy34l2l9zOeU3VimY3v69RYbZ0gj0Yc5iXcU59plvFlnpJxAyY

Panic Priest – (Nighthunter) – Ok I love Panic Priest debut album. Jack’s deep rich baritone is the thing of dreams. This new single is a whole new level though. He has found such a cannon of range with his voice and the perfect blend of synthwave and his magnificent rock style. Hearing this song is like being the hero in your own coming of age story in 1984. It’s raindrops on my face and a twitch in my hips. I can’t wait for more.

https://panicpriest.bandcamp.com/track/nighthunter-single

Caustic(Quarantine Tracks) – Matt is back at it again blasting out furious beats to keep us shaking in our bunkers. Some cool low key grooves here as well like Cardiac Unrest. As always from Caustic a great mixture of percussion not found in the standard sound bank that build and rise with a grinding energy. This EP definitely feels subterranean with a unique unlit blend. Have you ever wanted to drink four pots of coffee, and play VR Dig Dug in a warehouse at 2am? I never really thought about that until I heard this album.

https://caustic.bandcamp.com/album/quarantine-tracks

The Birthday Massacre(Diamonds) – So there is a reason that The Birthday Massacre is one of the biggest names in new goth. It’s because it’s bloody brilliant. I admittedly have never written much about them but it isn’t from lack of listening. Maybe I just felt like I was needed more elsewhere, this album is a burner though. Chibi has a vocal style full of such captivating energy and is a master of making goth fun. I think that can be a real challenge because dark sounds don’t make people naturally get up and jump around. These basslines are freight train speed, and the guitar riffs have retro hotrod power. I hear this album and just get lost in it like a labyrinth of subtle turns and walls of sound.

https://thebirthdaymassacre.bandcamp.com/album/diamonds

PHAZER AXE(Synths & Tapes) – What would you hear from a record called Synths & Tapes? About what you would guess. I think this had some really masterful drum fills and keep the feel spicy. This all musical pixel smashing space journey is a fun and glitchy time slide.

https://synthesizer.bandcamp.com/album/318-phazer-axe-synths-tapes

Boy Harsher – (R.O.V. New Beat Edit:Part Time Punks Session )– Two things I love are Boy Harsher and everything PTP puts out. This song is a sleek and sexy ooze across the floor of the club, under the door, and into the night. It’s stripped down and full of crackling menace. I love the powerful Grace Jones feel of their voice here. An inspired oily concept and I am here for it.

https://boyharsher.bandcamp.com/track/r-o-v-new-beat-edit-part-time-punks-session

Loveblind(Sleeping Visions) – Holy fuck this album is a vision plucked out of time and raising the bar of music in 2020. I might be a little bias as this band features Josh Garman (Ex Amaranth Guitarist) as part of it’s super band lineup. However my journalistic integrity need not be swayed because this album is a game changing synthesis of 90’s shoegaze, flowing ethereal modern dream pop, and dark electronic club extravaganza. It’s Ice, it’s fire, it’s sonic texture you can chew on. This album is a filling meal of beauty and heart wrenching human emotion. It’s an early contender for top 10 albums of the year. Must have.

https://saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-visions

If you want to be featured on Sounds and Shadows reaching out to me or one of our writers is a great way to make that happen. We love new music.

Reasons To Strive In A Decaying World

I can’t sugar coat this. The world is frightening and hard right now. People are scared for their financial future, their health and safety. Usually in times like these I turn to music more than ever. Even that has not been enough to inspire me. Tonight is the first time I am taking a stab at writing in a few weeks. Looking at the enormous wealth of material piled up in my inbox seems a daunting task. Tonight though, I felt that glimmer again. That need to share with you what is making me shine and feel connected in these dark times. Artists need to feel our love more than ever. Reach out and tell them you are listening. Show them you support them by buying their merchandise. Let them know culture still matters and the beauty of the world is still alive. Here is what touched me lately.

AttritionThe Great Derailer , This EP single from Martin Bowes Feat: Emese Árvai-Illés of Black Nail Cabernet is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m an enormous fan of her voice and style. This razor wire blend of Martin’s sandpaper and her silk to Industrial post modern jazz sounds is so fresh and so nostalgic. I have played this so many times in the last two weeks. Also the video is a must see piece of art on it’s own.

https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-derailer

I Ya Toyah – Released Code Blue Reloaded: The one woman sonic army has uncorked this series of remixes from industry leaders like Skold, Joy Thieves, Adoration Destroyed, and Xentrifuge to bring re imaginings of 2018 emotional explosion Code Blue. Ania is currently shooting like a rocket to the top of the EDM /Electroclash world with her fearless emotional style. If you don’t know about I Ya Toyah know that your world could be brighter.

https://iyatoyah.bandcamp.com/album/code-blue-reloaded

Joy ThievesA Blue Girl : New release from the Chicago Industrial superband The Joy Thieves. Led by Dan Milligan and featuring industrial titans like Chris Connelly, John Fryer, Ania Tarnowska, Gordon Young, and many more. This album is that seamless place where 90’s electronic industrial meets hard rock and organic excitement to find a blistering percussion express train to shake that assville.

https://armalyte.bandcamp.com/album/the-joy-thieves-a-blue-girl

ELZ and the CultHorrified: The Turkish electronic heartthrob is back with this creeping storm of broken glass and velvet vocals. This song oozes sex appeal and sinister intention. Dance hard and scrawl ancient runes upon thine wall.

https://elzandthecult.bandcamp.com/album/horrified

Caroline BlindThe Spell Between : The first new album from Caroline Blind of Sunshine Blind is about to drop and although too long a wait is well worth it. She has assembled a who’s who of the goth scene from The Wake, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Switchblade Symphony, Pretentious Moi, Bellwether Syndicate, Muse. Do I have your attention yet. The record has covers and several new songs so full of passion and emotion I got misty several times listening. This is one of the all time powerhouse voices in goth spewing forth decades of ideas in one offering. It runs the range of dance hall burner, to soul baring acoustic Stevie Nicks tear jerker. If you never spent your formative years listening to Liquid, drinking black coffee and smoking cloves you need to embrace this release of all that made goth great. This record stands on the shoulders of it’s own giants.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/track/first

Sopor AeternusIsland of the Dead : Honestly this is one of those bands I am embarrassed I didn’t already know about. I heard this on the Pat 626 show and I fell instantly in love. It’s dark, quirky, and utterly unique. It has a mystical and theatrical quality full of poetry and intensity. Brooding and whip crack sharp with hammer dulcimers and vocal deliver as sharp as a dagger. Music like this is my dark secret passion.

https://soporaeternus.bandcamp.com/album/island-of-the-dead-2020

Antipole – Perspectives II : Another album of steller remixes from Karl and Antipole. This one featuring Actors, Crying Vessel, SYZYGYX, ect. You may think, how does Karl manage to continue getting such incredible artists to remix his songs? Because they are so fracking good. I am hard pressed to think of anyone who has more of a scholars approach to taking the concepts of the past like Joy Division/New Order/Cure then holding that concept and breathing it forth as a new idea. So when you have that dedication to sonic texture, the line of people willing to take those building blocks and mix them into something that inspires them is endless. Prepare for another amazing offering. Starting with the first single by Actors.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/perspectives-ii

Black Angel The Widow: LA is doing a very bringing rock back to dark music thing at the moment. I hear a very psychedelic lizard king vibe happening here in this giant 16 song offering. Lots of steady movement and venom dripping from reverb laced retro amplifiers. I like the concept of a modern goth rock, but going back before Sisters of Mercy or Mission to a 60’s/70’s vide in dark music.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/releases?fbclid=IwAR3gQh6WUXsi2R5wzZVDukS1h8od9Kml_PP0G4c2kM6j5IewMwnIHjhkIhw

Panic Priest Nighthunter: A very different feel for Chicago darkwave Panic Priest on Negative Gain. Jack has a deep resonant voice dripping with sex appeal and introspective energy. This new single evokes a very 80’s Depeche Mode stack and build feel. I can’t wait to see what turns this new direction takes.

https://panicpriestngp.bandcamp.com/album/nighthunter-single

Ash Code1981 – Ash Code has released a new video and it is aesthetic and sonic glory. I always feel when i listen to them this ultra sleek coolness full of retro advent guard beauty and slithering excess that transports me and gives you a glimpse into an ultra hip life just beyond my pedestrian fingers. Just listening to this song makes me feel like a part of something more awesome than i am.

https://ashcode.bandcamp.com/

KlackDistancing : Klack is back with a twist on their single to remind you to give everyone a little space in these dangerous times. Love it.

https://klack.bandcamp.com/album/distancing

Goth Covered –  Oskar Terramortis the goth father of Europe has put together this stunning compilation of modern goth rock bands doing old school goth covers. My favorite is Sonsombre doing Nosferatu Dark Angel . The whole thing is magnificent as always. I’m just bummed it didn’t include our Peter Murphy cover

https://oskarterramortis.bandcamp.com/album/goth-covered

I have no shame, I’ll include it now. This is Amaranth‘s cover of Peter Murphy‘s I’ll Fall With Your Knife Feat: Lorelei Dreaming. DON’T YOU FUKING JUDGE ME

Listen Darklings, the world is cruel and promises get broken. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Band together, look out for each other, and keep sharing music that inspires you. We will get through this together.