I have been thrilled to watch as the Goth/Industrial community grows more diverse. Hats off again to Bandcamp for really putting their money where their mouth is to support both bands and the rights people of color. I will go through some of the things I am currently listening to so you can add to your list and support a great cause.
LEATHERS – Reckless – The long anticipated EP from Shannon of Actors. A unique departure from her other projects and really highlights her essence which is more collaborative in Actors. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s as light as an angel dancing on a pin. I love the silky billowing synths and how they flow off the shoulders of her voice. The sound is such an immersive dream which slides along the borders of reality. I spend moments dwelling on how something so beautiful manages to remain so relatable.
Favorite track: Take your pick, but I will go with Missing Scene. Something about this swooping shoegaze LUSH 4AD vibe. Her voice is reverberating like a tuning fork yet ringing so clearly. I hear this song and even on earbuds I feel like I’m in an old opera house with a towering sound system feeling wave after wave wash over.
October Noir – Cover Type O Negative: Love You To Death – Loving the sound of this band. Does it emulate the band they are covering in a lot of their sound. Yes. Type O is an amazing sound though. It’s ultra bass Steele vocals. It’s crunching power chords. It’s chest pounding bass guitar. This cover is rich with extra layers and complexity. It feels like a love letter to a band now beyond the veil. You can really feel the time and dedication placed on taking apart and reanimating every aspect.
Dea Decay – Magic Lantern – This is a beautiful fun romp from Florida artist Dea Decay that came out in December 2020. A spicy club crashing electronic explosion. No vocals but instead a steady stream of adorable wicked anime samples. It’s non stop energetic explosion of adorable imagery and and surreal colors.
Favorite Track: Catronica – A little secret here, when the new netflix She-Ra came out I was blown away. It’s so wonderful and pure. This song really captures that energy and highlights my favorite character Catra. It’s sharp claws bounding around with reckless abandon.
SHIV-R – Kill God Ascend – Brand new album from the Australian electronic apocalypse know as SHIV-R. I love the expansive fantasy metal destruction fed into a machine brain and turned loose on an unsuspecting populous. Pete Crane is a force of nature in the industrial scene and has a glorious gift for poetic imagery in his lyrics. If you are a fan of the violent industrial power of Front 242 and shaking your body in dangerous convulsions, this is your jam. I’m also impressed by the range shown on tracks like Spark, a truly lovely brain infecting track of pop industrial glory. Or Black Turns Blue a downtempo marching chant of a ballad. This record is a journey. Crane’s voice is one of those charismatic characters that feels at home in every setting the music places it. This is the wonder of modern industrial.
Black Angel – Prince of Darkness – I am LOVING this modern trend of returning to guitar driven true gothic rock. Matt Vowels has done it again. This is sizzling and sensual dark driving glory. I just don’t get to make this comparison enough but this album holds that emotive blistering power of Love and Rockets. Deep brooding rich vocals, whip snap percussion, but it always comes back to the V8 power of these guitars. Everything is foot to the floor speed and slides. It’s a non stop action flick of adrenochrome and dark intent.
Favorite Track: Serene – What a gorgeous highway 51 desert hard hitting ballad. The vocals croon and tantalize as the dust rolls by on an empty stretch. I love song for outlaws.
PALAIS IDEAL – The Art of Crashing – I’ve been waiting for the follow up to the 2019 release Pressure Points with baited breath. I was disappointed only by the fact it was three tracks and not twenty. This release is a perfectly blended sound of quality crafting, unique flavor, and infectious hooks. It’s one of those releases I can’t imagine who I could play this for and have them not enjoy it. It really has a universal appeal. It feels kinetic, like Depeche Mode “Construction Time Again”. I always enjoy John’s voice, but this EP really highlights how many different things he can do while sounding distinctly himself. It’s the true mark of a singer who has found his themselves and are owning it. The other greatest power of PI is, like all great prog genre, the two components know each other and their instruments so intimately. It really feels like two blended minds working without barrier. It makes the guitar and bass lines dart, bend, and twine together in perfect syncopation. I will be playing this…. A LOT.
Favorite Track: You can’t go wrong but Results is damn near perfection. From the opening guitar riff, the workout routine bassline, and John’s drive and grit. This song feels like an instant classic from out of time I somehow didn’t hear. It also holds the higher concept lyrics and hope PI always wins me over with. 10/10
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.
Industrial music is having a resurgence for me. Sometimes I have to put something on the shelf for a while and let a form of art grow on it’s own until I am ready to jump back in. This year in particular I have fallen so deep in the hole of new releases I couldn’t keep up. So I am going to fire through several reviews at once to try and touch on the wondrous new movement happening in this genre. This piece is a bit of the throwing several things in the blender and doesn’t have my usual formatting. It’s also two authors because Adrian Kjøsnes did the review for Moris Black.
Industrial music has generally been something nostalgic for me. The music of my jaded youth. My aggression, my frustration, a remembrance of a young man lashing out with fire at the world. Then like many things from my youth I put aside that fire and found myself drawn in new directions. Maybe I felt I had outgrown Industrial. this year that changed for me with Stoneburner’s “Technology Implies Belligerence”. This was an album that kindled that fire and chaos once again. This time with an intelligence and focus that made Industrial feel mature. When Steven told me he had a new EP already I will admit I was skeptical. How do you follow an album I thought of as groundbreaking so soon? “Massdriver” to my amazement and excitement has done just that.
Currently out on a US tour Stoneburner is bringing to life this throwback to old school rhythms and noise with modern production and lyrics that matter. With “Technology Implies Belligerence” we were assaulted with abstract concepts of progressive thinking persons blends of sound and image. Drawing on world beat drums and samples. “Massdriver” takes this idea, but clarifies it. Pushes the poetry and emotion of the vocals to the front where Industrial has been afraid to go. To create a psychic assault so powerful that a piece of the artist is left resonating in your mind after the show.
I had a chance to discuss this tour and record with Steven a bit and here are some insights.
(Ken) Why is this album and tour special for You?
(Steven) The album and tour are special because they are the culmination of 35+ years of listening to electronic music. When I sat down to write this record, well these records, wanted to address the lack or originality and grit that seeing to have pervaded their genre.
(Ken) How has your stage setup changed for this tour?
(Steven) The stage setup has grown. My drummer Hemlock is playing my old hand drum rig and I’ve built a new one out of sheet metal and triggers. Which frees up, or at least changes the performance dynamic.
(Ken) What material (books) (music) were you drawing from when you composed this album?
(Steven) The recent full length from this summer, “technology implies belligerence,” is based in large part on the book “Blindsight” by Peter Watts. Essentially I wanted to write a record with footnotes.
I was lucky enough to see the kick off show of this tour. The emotional and visual offering put on display in an intimate setting. Here is something I haven’t witnessed in a long time. Every aspect of what you see and hear is painstakingly constructed by hand and with extreme meaning. Also the live show features percussionist Hemlock MacNamara, who throws so much intensity into smashing mic’d up pieces of sheet metal I am tired just thinking about it. She is a force of nature. Steven is truly bringing fresh artisanal farm to table locally sourced sonic explosion right to your doorstep. Don’t miss this tour.
Nov 10 KC MO @ The Riot Room Mon
Nov 11 St. Louis MO @ The Crack Fox Wed
Nov 13 Houston TX@ Super happy Funland Thurs
Nov 14 Austin TX @ Texas Mist Fri
Nov 15 San Antonio TX @ The Amp Room Sun
Nov 17 New Orleans LA @ The Goat Mon
Nov 18 Tallahassee FL @ 926 Bar & Grill Wed
Nov 20 Knoxville TN @ The Concourse Fri
Nov 22 Nashville TN @ The East Room Sat
Nov 23 Chattanooga TN @ ziggys music box Thurs
Nov 28 West Palm Beach FL @ Respectable street Fri
Nov 29 Jacksonville FL Bay Street bash Mon
Dec 2 Raleigh NC @ Legends Fri
Dec 6 Richmond VA @ Fallout Sat
Dec 7 Charlottesville VA @ Holly’s Diner Sun
8 DC @ The Pie Shop
All The Wells Are Poison Now – Fierce and dangerous in it’s pacing with a lovely echo chant. “You will always curse the ones you love”. It is an infectious hook with building intensity. Goddamn this made me dance hard live.
First World Murderer – Breakneck attack right out the gate. This track really shows Stevens love of east coast intellectual rap like Public Enemy. They lyrics strike forth in a rhythmic cadence assault. It really reminds me of the common ground between well done rap and well done industrial.
The name Jim Marcus is such an integral part of Industrial music. For me personally seeing Die Warsaw in my formative years opened my mind to how wide the range of Industrial music could be. Go Fight also put out an amazing album last year Tokyo Sexwale. The follow up Anthem was fairly uncharted ground for Jim in that it is an album of covers. One of the powers of great industrial music has always been to take something old and wonderful. Run it through machines, effects, and sludge and make it new and glorious again. This is what Jim achieved by taking his most influential songs of the 80’s. Showing you the music that fueled him in his art and feeding that energy through a giant battlemech. You recognize these “Anthems” but they are dancing towards you with cybernetic tank tread power.
I was lucky enough to be at the CD release party and hearing this album blasting over club speakers was experience that fueled me with hope. There is still more ground to explore in Industrial, and GoFight is paving the way.
My Spine is the Bass Line (Shreikback) – Ok, Shreikback is one of my favorite things in this life. To hear GoFight add its filthy, sexy, dance groove to it left me speechless. Honestly I am not sure how to even process how excited this makes me.
Right Wing Pigeons (Dead Milkmen) – The Dead Milkmen are one of the most underrated bands of all time. They are a huge influence of mine and their versatility to flow between political punk and humor was so unique in a time desperate for satire. This cover is an almost unrecognizable re-imagining which GoFight truly made its own. It’s still so poignant, maybe even more so all these years later.
Here I get a two for one. I Ya Toyah remixed by Joy Thieves. These are two of the hottest new bands coming out of the Chicago Industrial scene. I had the amazing pleasure of sharing a stage with Ania last Saturday. I can’t remember the last time I faced that much terror having to follow someone on a stage. The amount of sound, emotion, and precision she achieves all by herself is nothing short of staggering. Having Dan of Joy Thieves who are amazing in their own right do this remix creates an absolute burner single. She is about to go on tour with Pigface and if you miss her live performance you have done a disservice to yourself.
I Ya Toyah leads well into the amazing new release from superband Joy Thieves from Chicago which features here. I just did a review of this release but it is putting the hard rock edge back into Industrial and music be checked out.
Moris Blak is an industrial artist based in Boston,MA who after the release of their “Dead Summer” EP began gaining a cult following within the scene of dark electronic based music.
November 8th saw the release of the debut album “The Irregularity Of Being” and that is what we will be dissecting here…
So, let the ceremony begin.
We begin with the intro track, just a few seconds over a minute long “Every Limb Into The Bottomless Pit” . I myself honestly tend to skip intro tracks as they`re often just not all that interesting but this one escapes the trap most intro/outros fall into. Big, chiming bell like sounds combined with the spoken word and sizzling electronics draws you in and anyone who chooses to not discover what follows would be just plain wrong to put it very lightly.
The intro leads us directly into “Druglicker” where we begin with a catchy sequence, a Silent Hill-esque siren sounds comes crawling in before the first punch of the beloved industrial beat. I do have to say that I myself do not always the most positive view or words regarding the current state of the industrial scene but Moris Blak quickly dispels any expectations I may have had by breaking the traditional and quite simplistic 4/4 kick drum over a series of arpeggios and/or sequences by giving us something more akin to glitched out industrial madness.
So far so good. After a glitchfest of an ever evolving buffet of sounds, bleeps, bloops and squeals regularly breaking into a sequenced bass synth the track slows down and enters noise tinged ambient realms for a moment before we enter back into industrial territory.
track number three is entitled “Pain” and features Angel Metro.
Here we begin by entering the church of synth, in fact, we`re crashing in right in the middle of choir practice. Ominous, choirs layered over samples, with a sequenced bass creeping in all slowly evolving into a slower paced beat.
And then come the sirens…
Female, and quite interestingly produced vocals is a pleasure to hear rather than your usual balding dude in camo pants screaming into a mic processed by the Boss SE 50 as with so many other bands within the genre….Moris Blak offers a great variety of vocals styles ranging from whispers to broken up, glitched out and pitch shifted . There`s even a small piano sample at one point for extra creep factor 😉 This track looks like it`ll be on my top three list when we reach the end but with how well this is going who knows? Maybe I`ll find something even better..
Next we got “Erase Displace” featuring Pete Crane of Australian electro act Shiv-R. There`s an element of horror score to the intro, which of course, is no complaint. Clean vocals draw you further in before the drums, which stay consistently big , punchy and bass heavy appears. Atmospheric melodies comes and goes before the drums speed up and drops us down into ambiance. A soft yet dark and beautiful pad accompanied by the vocals slithers around us…And then comes the drum attack, broken by what sounds like reversed and crushed samples before the vocals reappear and brings us to the end of the track.
It`s hard not to want to put this on the that top three list as well but I must resist in order to keep the space open for anything that may come next…
When I looked at the title of the next track I couldn`t help but smirk a little as I saw it features Amelia Arsenic of Angelspit. A band I was introduced to in my early teenage years by one of what must have been the only four (including myself) alternative people in the middle of nowhere town I grew up in… I`m a bit surprised to find out this track seems to, at least to start of, be more of a ballad.
I also want to point out the production quality overall, the sound design of this release is interesting and fun in all the right ways, Moris Blak definitely has his “sound” I think it`ll be interesting to see what the future brings.
The ballad esque aspect leaves and introduce vocals reminiscent of Skinny Puppy nicely sprinkled around Amelia`s voice while the drums seemingly builds up towards something big only to drop us back down with high pitched piano sounds tricking us into that this is all nice and soft then hitting us with driving, pulsing synths beneath floating almost dreamy vocals. This track in particular seamlessly incorporates elements from a wide array of genre. Something not everyone can pull off and even less can make you want to listen to.Beat changes, style switches, every color of the proverbial crayon kit is used.
“Strange Eternal” features the trademarks of the 90s and early 2000s industrial scene, four to the floor and cut up vocal sample galore. Not my preferred form of the genre but MB hasn`t let me down thus far and so my hopes remain..
What I will point out however is that while Moris Blak does have his own style and ways of things it`s never predictable, each track serves you something new which keeps things interesting yet recognizable which can`t be said for that many.
“Strange Eternal” trudges along as what seems to be the more club oriented track this far, I may not be a clubgoer myself but I can easily envision the hordes of darkly inclined youth (and elders) enjoyment of this track on the dance floor of any given industrial night.
“The Violence” follows and features Slighter.
An instant improvement from the previous.
Clean, soft vocals always interest me in a genre riddled with screaming.
Musically it quickly changes from slow paced and atmosphere filled to drum driven and interestingly broken by glitchy sound design. The drum work in itself is interesting, yet another element that so often lacks in this genre. To hear something where you can`t always so easily predict the next hit of the drum, or the sound even, is definitely refreshing.
About three minutes and twelve seconds in is where for me at least this really shines. I`m loving the layering of the near seductive vocals as well. The track ends in a glory of ambiance and piano and leads us to the second to last track “Velvet Coil” which features Noire Antidote and Johnny E. Veil, the latter being a member of fellow industrial band MAN1K1N who I absolutely would recommend.
What sounds like lost souls screaming in despair greet us at the gate here with a melodic bass line almost hollow but the good kind. Trust and believe , I`m not happy about making this comparison but my immediate thought regarding certain aspects of the first seconds of vocals brings Marilyn Manson to my head.
I`ll see myself to the door…
Anyway, this track is a serpent slithering through each and every crack leaving a trail of reverberated melody before entering into a more danceable territory featuring cut up samples of the aforementioned choir of lost souls in despair.
We`re lead towards the end by drums and melody galore and enter the last track, being the albums title track clocking in at ten minutes and 49 minutes.
A drone greets us.
It presents us with malicious piano melodies, air raid siren esque synth sounds and heavy, slow ,draggin drums that quickly picks up it`s pace.
Full stop and only remains of ambiance and a fractured piano remains until we go back where we came from but this time there`s the sound of reversed samples to accompany us along the way.
Glitchy sound design, a steady beat that stops up here and there but not for more than a second at a time to keep dragging us into itself as a softer style synth sound floats over, witnessing our arrival at the end of days, or at least this album.
An array of sound comes in after a nicely timed build up, not too long, not too short, just right there at the sweet spot. At least for those of us with SASD (Short Attention Span Disorder)
Five minutes in and halfway to the end it`s clear that this track could only be described with one word: Grandiose. In fact, we could sum up the album as a whole using that very word.
Six minutes and six seconds in comes one of my favourite moments of this album.
The beat slow its pace, a haunting melody crawls ever near…Can you tell I`m a sucker for ballads yet?
It doesn`t last as long as I`d want it to but what follows isn`t bad so I won`t bitch too much about that..
Back to what I can`t help but describe as a more club oriented pace I`m a little surprised to see we`ve only got a couple minutes left `till it`s over. Longer tracks tend to bore me quite rapidly (see the aforementioned SASD) I`ll take this as a positive sign of that Moris Blak has managed to keep me interested, my attention has been firmly pointed towards the music rather than drifting off into thoughts of well, anything else really.
The album closes with large, atmospheric pads floating through a piano as the album title suggest this album is indeed an “Irregularity Of Being” in that it doesn`t lean and rely on old, trite genre tropes , it keeps itself exciting with its ever changing soundscape yet retains it`s identity for the full 45 minutes of running time.
Overall I would say this is definitely one of the better releases to come out of the current industrial scene yet it operates within the confines of the genre, the modern take on it that is…
We are just scratching the surface here of the exciting things happening in Industrial. If you are ready to take a dive back in with us these bands will give you the right starting point. What bands did I miss you are excited about? Leave a comment below. KM