It is time once again for our monthly Darkscene singles chart. I did a recent interview with Michael Nagy where I mentioned how I have come to value doing this chart once a month. It really shines a light on great new bands that don’t always show up in other charts. All entries are “darkscene singles” a very loose term, released in April 2022. They are voted on by the Sounds and Shadows Facebook group members of Djs, Review Pages, Promotors, Bands, and Superfans. I compile them and post the results. If you have a single release in May, make sure to add it to the polling.
Stoneburner – Contracting Iris
Eva X – Body Talk
Mark E Moon – Blacklight
Death Loves Veronica – When I Was Dead
Silver Walks – Tear Me Down
I Ya Toyah – Vast Spaces (Joy Thieves Remix)
Scary Black – Transatlantic Tears
Sever The Servant – Nowhere
Der Prosector – Standing In The Embers
Angelspit – Stand In Line
Stoneburner – Contracting Iris – Steven Archer is always pushing the edge hard and furious. This time by interweaving with Sci Fi author Peter Watts with a punishing new sonic canvas so relevant to the emotional mindset of the population. This artistic journey keeps getting larger and more intricate. Also be on the lookout for Stoneburner back on tour with Chant. Always a must see show.
Stoneburner’s “Contracting Iris”, features 2 tracks and a full-hour audiobook story written by acclaimed science fiction author Peter Watts
“Contracting Iris”, the new single from Stoneburner, takes the listener on a cinematic journey to the beginning of a future pandemic. Combining the classic Arrakis-era style with industrial beats and vocals, the single is a cohesive representation of Steven Archer’s ever-evolving project.
Eva X – Body Talk – Another lovely shadow dance single from Canadian siren Eva X. I love hearing the soul and depth that keeps growing with every new release. Here making it to the #2 spot on the chart. This has a glorious submarine echo in pressurized depths flavor. Crystal mastering by Eric Oehler and enchanting video from Erik Gustafson.
Mark E Moon – BlackLight – This single absolutely shreds. In a world where goth gets more and more fractured into sub genres. This is a pure blast of that old school traditional. Mark’s voice is a powerful and resonant baritone blending with Shelly to ride the front of a crackling dark wave. This is an instant hit from Cold Transmission and The Isle of Man.
Death Loves Veronica – When I Was Dead (feat. Tim Skold) – Texas songsmith Veronica Campbell has teamed with Tim Skold to make this twisting black oil symbiont sound that drips with necromancy and danger. Loving this slashing whip quick guitar riff and the determination and movement of her vocals. A song that won’t stop scratching the back of your neck.
silver walks – tear me down – Daniel McCullough has been slowly teasing me with masterpiece of an album for too long. Every single is crafted with such obsessive precision. I love the flow, the impact, and the vocal resonance from Coral Scere. Mixed by the living legend John Fryer another reason this album is going to rock the landscape.
I Ya Toyah – Vast Spaces ( The Joy Thieves Remix ) – Well what isn’t to love here? The firework electronic one woman army spewing unmatched intensity, then amplified by the hairpin turning fury and percussion mastery of The Joy Thieves. Dee Nelson’s outro guitar solo is the fireball cherry on top of the sundae. Total Burner.
SCARY BLACK – Transatlantic Tears – Why everyone in this scene does not follow and know Louisville goth band Scary Black absolutely baffles me. Alphie is a cosmic force of genuine inflicted emotion, artistic expression, and perfect pop hooks. This is always some of the best new goth in the game and if you don’t know it you need to.
Sever the Servants – Nowhere – I love this glorious team up from Hide Tepes and Michael Nolan. It is sinister, textural, and seeping with mystery. New material keeps surfacing and all of it is a powerhouse of talent and edge.
Angelspit – STAND IN LINE – California digital psychedelic freedom rock. I love the chaos energy and foot stomping dance energy. Aside from the acid splash on the dance floor single this track also features 13 badass remixes.
I hope you found something wonderful here you didn’t know about. If you have a single in May you want to see added, go to Sounds and Shadows on Facebook. Support the scene, lift each other up, tell people about great new music. Also if you like Sounds and Shadows and want to support us, get a T Shirt in the link below.
I have never been a huge fan of “Charts”. As month 5 of me putting this out rolls around I always pause for a moment to reflect on do I want to keep doing this and why? Each time when I look at the bands who are featured I say to myself, this matters. Everyone here is chosen by the Dj’s, Reviewers, Bands, and Superfans who are all deeply invested in Darkscene music. There is no financial motivation. No Politics. Just who has our group excited. I’m always inspired to see how the bands chosen shine a light on music that needs to be heard. As always these are singles released in the month of March 2022. Rated by your votes.
Lycia – Simpler Times
Eric Oberto – Closer Than Ever Before
Scary Black – Tragedy
Christian Death – Beautiful
Dread Risks – Machine Identity
Object X – Coasting
Fatigue – The Fall (Pierce Me)
Tenderlash – Zombie (Cranberries Cover)
Night Sins – Violet Age
Thieve 6 – Inside Out (The Heart In A Blender Song)
Lycia – Simpler Times – A triumphant return for the Arizona based trance coldwave band. This track is a perfect blend of pastel light and dark hues. Oil spreading in a rain puddle. Mike VanPortfleet‘s vocals sit deep within the mix to create a gentle specter haunting your mind. I love seeing a band I loved in my youth break new ground while keeping their soul.
ERIC OBERTO – Closer Than Ever Before – Texas composer, film maker making a bold return to music and immediately taking our chart by storm two months in a row. I love the way that Eric paints images and feelings with sound and vocal effect. This single makes wonderful use of a prowling tension that is always pushing forward but never losing it’s cold control. We had a recent interview with Eric where he shares his history and experience. Look for his music in upcoming horror movie projects.
SCARY BLACK – Tragedy – Another amazing single from one of the most underrated voices in the modern goth scene Albie Mason. I love the pounding thrum and vibrating batcave guitar. Albie has an abyssal sensuality so dripping and raw like blood drenched fangs. If you love goth music and haven’t heard Scary Black, that is the first thing you should do today.
Christian Death – Beautiful – Living Legends of the goth genre come forth from beyond the veil with a second single from the upcoming album. I was at a loss for what to expect and nothing could have prepared me for this rich blend of organic strings, dark blue guitar waves, and venom dripping vocal chants from Maitri. As a 17th album I was immediately struck by how powerful Valor and Christian Death continue to strike. The contrast on the chorus is a sky splitting gorgeous hook, inspiring beauty on black feathered wings. “I want you to look beautiful, at my funeral”. I’m actually interviewing Valor tomorrow and I can hardly contain myself.
Dread Risks – Machine Identity – Another two time winner the Doomdustrial band from Texas with a second single off of Automated Disappointment. This release comes courtesy of label Re:Mission Entertainment. It’s brutal, cruel, and furious with a chanting cadence of nearly hip hop horror. Dread Risks are doing something fresh and special the world needs to be aware of.
Object X – Coasting – So I don’t know much about the Reno NV band, so lets learn together. I love that is a father daughter project, I fully support that kind of purity. This is a dreamgaze indie float through amber waves of grain. Rachael Fuhs has a bright and captivating vocal style. I look forward to more.
Fatigue – The Fall (Pierce Me) – DJ Sawtooth of Massachusetts additional project. Loving the dark water currents and hovering trance vocals. Great synth builds and dance floor power. The final build gathers speed and energy in the perfect moment. I love when an artist understands timing composition.
Tenderlash – Zombie – North Carolina darkwave artist covering the 1994 classic from the Cranberries. Candy really put their own spin on this, a slower minimalist grind of ringing synth bells and wispy phantom fury. Another great band from Swiss Dark Nights label that I will be digger further into.
Night Sins – Violent Age – First single from the upcoming June release of Philly dark dance act Night Sins. Huge 80’s Depeche Mode vibes. I love the thumping drive of this baseline. A familiar retro vibe but a nice execution with a lot of heart. I’m a fan.
Thieve6 – Inside Out – Ken, are you the type of asshole who would include your own single on a chart you put out? If people vote for it you are godamn right I am. Amaranth + The Joy Thieves have teamed up to form Thieve 6, releasing a electropunk cover of 1998 Alt rock classic Inside out while donating all proceeds to humanitarian relief in Ukraine. It’s a great cause, the track slaps, and it answers the question once and for all “Do you like the heart in a blender song”
I will have the voting available in the Sounds and Shadows facebook group for April if you have a single you are releasing or love then stop on by and cast your vote. Keep supporting underground music.
An album is a multi-faceted piece of art. There’s the lyrics, the music (instruments, vocals, effects, mixing), and then there’s the visual side of things. Today, we’re exploring some great pieces of cover art shared in the Sound & Shadows group.
To start off, this is the cover to Automata by Confusion Inc. “The artwork to my Automata album is special to me, because the original image used was a photograph of my mother’s artwork,” Colin Cameron says. “She’s an abstract expressionist – life long painter. I love the stone-looking background here, as well as the several dimensions of glitchy-ness added over it. This is an elegant cover with a heart-warming backstory.
Next up is the cover to The Fire Within by Vaselyne. This piece is a self portrait by Yvette Winkler. The photography here is excellent. It is still, yet in a day dramatic and dynamic. I love how the picture fades so seamlessly into the black void background. It altogether creates some emotion I can’t quite name.
Here’s the art for Plague Garden’s upcoming album. The piece was done by Albie Mason. I’ve got several aesthetics on the tip of my tongue while looking at it. It’s visually striking. There are many elements at play here, but they all form a wonderful cohesion under the vintage-feeling grain. It reminds me of browsing the sci-fi section at an old bookstore tucked away somewhere.
Inertia by We Are Parasols is coming in hot with this rainbow orb! The art was created by Daniel Kopton . This feels like something I could see in a museum. It would make a great desktop background, too. A poster, even. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I love looking at this. The choice of using a bar code instead of text is bold, but I think it works well.
Changing gears a bit, let’s take a look at Sea Lungs. This art was done by one of the band’s own members. It has a slight comic book cover vibe to it, I think, in how perspective and action are both played with. I’ll admit when I first glanced at it, I thought of astronauts due to the suits, the crater-like ground, and the star-like bubbles. I think this ambiguity adds to it, though. After all, space exploration and deep sea exploration are both equally terrifying intrusions into the harsh unknown.
Here’s a shocker. The album cover to Batavia and Their Friends by Batavia. No, you didn’t suddenly get transported back to the 1970s. “Nobody we showed this to thought we would actually use this and risk losing 200% of our goth credibility,” says band member Ed Cripps. “Risk is the spice of life.” That it is, Ed, that it is. I applaud this bold stylistic choice and devotion to an artistic direction here! I love it.
Another strong artistic direction is shown here in the album Leyendas de las Almas Perdidas by Valentina Maurino. “Endăley (fairy of the souls) is the one I portrayed here, the one who tells the stories of the lost souls behind each song, and these lost souls are represented through objects on the little table (it’s a telephone seat), some of these appear in my music videos too, I love symbolism,” Maurino tells me. I absolutely adore the whimsical handwritten wording. The broom-like hands, the table ornaments, the lighting…it all comes together and, I agree, tells a story.
“I wanted to convey the question that was arising for so many women at the time, myself included – is our sexual objectification and submission hot, or is it violent? Does it depend on who’s doing the choking? How can we be sure of the person’s intentions? Are we getting off, or are we endangering ourselves? As it turns out, in the following four songs on the EP that I would write between 2016-2017, I ended up unearthing and purging all my relationship trauma, and recalling a memory I’d suppressed – one where I was choked in anger by a dominant male partner I’d been financially supporting as his submissive. Through the course of the album writing and recording process, I answered the question “who can you trust” and I learned discernment. When the EP was released in early 2018, we were four months in to the crest of the #MeToo movement, and it was right on time.”
More information about Arden and the #MeToo movement can be read here.
Lastly for today, here’s the cover of Nervous Prayers by Sweat Boys featuring the logo work of Jim Marcus. This piece is serene yet dangerous. The imagery is drowning and, yet, reaching for help all at once. I am reminded of the hand of Adam reaching towards God as the Sistine Chapel.
Goth music and culture has always been rooted firmly in the past. It often has felt this subculture awards time served in the scene and knowledge of the obscure history of the bands, clubs, and fashion of our progenitors. However in order for a culture to carry on it must evolve and strike a chord in future generations. This happened in the 90s, then again in the mid 2000’s as new waves of goth music found and audience. Each time adding to the story by paying homage to the generations before it. As time went on “Goth” has splintered into smaller subgenres which have pushed further from that original concept until a tangled and complex web reached towards the edges of other genres. I for one embrace how rich and diverse the concept of goth culture has become. In future articles I want to explore some of these subgenres and how they are impacting modern music. In this article I will be focusing on the return to the core. That first idea of guitar driven dark music, with throbbing basslines, ethereal keyboards, and haunted lyrics with romantic natures.
1st Wave: The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Killing Joke, Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, The Birthday Party, Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Fields of the Nephilim, The Mission.
2nd Wave: Rosetta Stone, Nosferatu, The Wake, Children On Stun, Dead Can Dance, Lycia
3rd Wave: Angels of Liberty, Merciful Nuns, Switchblade Symphony, O’Children, Ritual Howls, Pink Turns Blue, The Horrors, Sunshine Blind, Golden Apes, Black Tape For a Blue Girl, Razed In Black.
Finally a new slew of darklings is raising that torch and producing the next wave of goth rock. I think it is key that these are bands who came up listening to the post synthesis goth and found their way back to the root. It gets me excited for the future.
The Kentucky Vampires: Hailing from shockingly, Kentucky, here is another band that brings old school sinister pipe organ and fire bright guitar riffs. From Secret Sin records the tone and emotion of their 5 records is everything true fans of 80’s death rock long for. Abbas has a haunting voice full of chorus and foreboding. Brandon of Sonsombre does mastering for them and helps add a sense of continuity to this new goth sound.
Scary Black: Another amazing new goth act from Louisville KY. What the hell is in the water out there. This is a one person band that has such electric energy and frightening tone. Singer Albie has one of those deep baritone voices that comes from the bottom of a well and fills you up with emotion. 3 albums and the napalm fire single Starlight Dancer.
Twin Tribes: These lovely lads from Texas have taken the world by storm. Dreamy private ritual sounds that bring the beauty and heartbeat of The Cure back into the mainstream. Tender poetry and swirling texture smoldering in a cauldron on a moonlit night. Already with two breakout albums and additional singles they are setting the standard for the softer side of gothic rock.
Black Angel: London UK artist Black Angel is putting the bat cave rock back into death rock. I feel so much of The Mission and later Sisters dancy flow to gothic rock. Their music reminds me so much of the goth club scene, swinging arms, leather and lace. Gothic music has always been tied to expression with the body, that is something Matt Vowel’s has grasp and fused into the future.
IAMTHESHADOW: When I think of goth, I think of passion and vocals that capture a room. Lisbon Portugal’s IAMTHESHADOW does that in spades. Pedro Code has the best baritone in modern goth. It’s sexy, crooning, dangerous music that sounds like a full bodied red first touching your lips. It’s music to give yourself over and get lost in. Like the first time you heard Peter Murphy and thought this is the sound that encapsulates the image i want to see in the mirror. Now on Cold Transmission Music.
Cliff and Ivy: Alaska’s favorite goth couple Cliff and Ivy have brought back the isolated howling wolf tooth and nail of goth. The punk blend of The Damned and Alien Sex Fiend. It’s raw, fierce, and unapologetic. Ivy takes the back of your head with her beautiful prose, then smashes your nose with a headbutt of power. Cliffs thick guitar riffs are a growling beast let off the chain. Iron Gauntlet in a velvet glove.
Crying Vessel: Slade and Basil also bringing that softer dark edge to gothic rock. Horror author Slade is integrating imagery of the macabre an sinister with a glam razamtaz feel. Gorgeous layered production and flange rich echo’s that simmer with Bowie and Love and Rockets. That special darkness you find on the edge of a rainbow after a storm. Available on Cleopatra Records.
Mary: My newest goth obsession from Toronto. It is fast paced, spicy, with an old school New York feel. Strong sweeping vocals with a lot of depth and meaning. It also has a complete album feel with the sweeping tempo and dynamic shifts. Take me through the full range of emotions in one record. Another Cold Transmission signing. I expect big things in the future from him.
Death Loves Veronica: This lovely lady from Texas brings that same Souxie dripping soul and witchcraft elegance to modern goth. It’s smoky and pours straight from the vein into your ears. Really nice use of guitar to add weight in the right moments. Goth needs to echo through the listener on a personal level. You need to feel what they feel and that is what Veronica captures so elegantly.
Sounds Like Winter: All the way from Australia Art Banister’s popping sharp edge retro feel goth rock has a lot of that true early Joy Division/Warsaw vibe in the drum and tempo. The vocals are forceful and ringing in a hopeless monotone. All that fuzz and emptiness given flesh.
Adoration Destroyed: Also from Texas this band is leather pants sexy in musical form. Masters of blending modern pop and old school shadow shock. It’s animalistic and winding with crackling electric dance destruction. Erik has a voice that calls to you come hither and has a 10/10 on the shake that ass factor.
Orcus Nullify: The doom and shattering gothic rock sound and poetry unafraid to lean into the cheese and imagery of early goth. Thunderous bass driven rock about bog witches and grave dirt. I love the courage and delivery of this South Carolina sensation
Witchhands: Colorado doom metal with raw open wound sounds full of decay and ritual. That place where early goth rock stayed into metal and pain. Spewing forth a filth and blood soaked pageantry with blistering guitars mashed with organs and echos.
Redwing Blackbird: Another Colorado band with blistering speed and The Damned edge punk feel mixed with true goth sensibility. This album picked me up when i am feeling low…and then sends me low again. Great production and electric tempo.
Amaranth: Ken, do you have the strength of character to not engage in shameless self promotion and include yourself with this wave of goth bands? Fuck No! I feel good about the music we have made coming back. It veers from old school to proggoth/ to industrial but fuck it, it’s good. Give it a listen 🙂
I also wanted to call out a few bands that rose from the grave to join the modern scene but have been making music all along 🙂
Caroline Blind: The stunning voice from Sunshine Blind has returned to cut an amazing solo album. Bringing in a who’s who from third wave goth to accompany her on this soulful and rich goth endeavor with a more organic feel. Her voice grabs hold of the heart strings and rides your into the ground. Breathtaking music contributions from Rich W. (The Wake), David Wolfenden (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry), Dave (The Dramedy), Ashe Ruppe (Delphine Coma), George Earth (Switchblade Symphony), Gordon Young (Pretentious Moi, Dream Disciples, Children on Stun), CWHK (Sunshine Blind), William Faith (Bellwether Syndicate, Faith and the Muse) and Geoff Bruce (Sunshine Blind, Faith and the Muse). Everyone who shows up hear really shows the impact of this artist on the scene and how much power this newest release packs.
The Wake: Speaking of The Wake, they have just unleashed a new album in 2020 and it is game changing outstanding. This record is going to get it’s own review but to not mention the power of this release would be an oversight. Such a sky opening laser of guitar beams interlaced with velvet smooth vocals and a canopy of bass to hold it inside. My breath is taken.
The Cassandra Complex: Rodney Orpheus of London’s Cassandra Complex has been keeping the goth sound alive for years. A tantalizing and sinister painting of sound with the history of human experience brought shining and new with each release. Recently on bandcamp he put out some remasters of those lovely goth anthems back into the light. A true crooner of the poetic experience of early goth music who actually toured with the early progenitors.
I didn’t come close to hitting everything, and with facebook now stopping videos, lists like this on our page might be the best bet for a full playlist of new music. So If I missed something you feel meets the requirement of guitar based goth made in the last 4 years. Please add in the comments and I will try and get it included. Much love, Precious Ken.
Extremely excited for our 10th podcast featuring Sonsombre on Cleopatra records. I really feel like Brandon represents the future of traditional goth music. Here we have a wonderful discussion about the past and future of goth music, his hat, and festivals he is excited for in the coming year. Below are links to Sonsombre and all the bands we discuss.