It’s Friday night, what new music is stalking me like a beast in the night?

So since Thursday I have been tuning in regularly to the amazing streaming event Goths for Sanctuaries. I have been discovering amazing bands and Dj’s from all over the world. As well as a few things through the usual channels. So to take my mind off of my own nervous energy about playing Sunday night with Amaranth I figured I will try and get some reviews done.

The Vampires Of Rome: I saw this band in the streaming show and I was captured by the energy and beauty of their live performance. From Italy I’m currently only seeing the one single on bandcamp, but already they are creating a stir. The sound has an urgency to it’s tempo and a vocal cadence of batcave punk. I love the constant humming guitars and double time drums. Sometimes goth can get caged by it’s own tempo restraints. TVOR are pure unrestrained energy with the same dark seasoning. Early in the game but I see a bright future.

https://agogerecords.bandcamp.com/track/a-ghost-for-helen

Vision Video: Really cool band from Atlanta my friend Richeau turned me onto. I think what captured me was how familiar the sound was ( Cure/New Order) but also unique the flavor was. The drums and synth sounds had this lovely dreampop feel. A little Johnny Marr to the guitar. Dustin Gannon has a voice that dances on top of the rhythms. They have a very tight sound that transcend the 3 songs available on bandcamp. They really hit hard on that idea of bright shining beautiful sounds with intense dark lyrics to make a wonderful synthesis. I can’t wait to hear more.

https://visionvideo.bandcamp.com/album/in-my-side

Kiss of the Whip: I’ve been following Tristan and this amazing Baltimore based shadow synth project for a while now. “We’re Not Here” comes out on 10/23 and I have a pre-order in. In a world of neon pastel synth music KOTW is painting pictures with smokey grey charcoal. It’s music that just feels cool. When you listen to it driving down the street you feel like you are in on the secret. The edges aren’t sharp, it’s a fog that wraps around you and makes you the protagonist in a spy film. This record can’t arrive soon enough.

https://kissofthewhip.bandcamp.com/

Pretty Addicted: Fuck yes! This came to me courtesy of my friend Jeff Heveron. I need all the goth adjacent sounds with badass lady singers punching the status quo in the mouth. It’s dancable, it’s sexy, and it gives zero fucks. Great transitions with brutal intensity. I just found this band but I have a feeling I will be falling deep into this acid spewing K hole. Looks like a series of singles and I’ll be working my way back. Fuk me up with hot burning trash.

https://prettyaddicted.bandcamp.com/track/puppet-2

Preach, no one has time for that

Helvete Inc: Brand new Album called “The New Flesh” from Baltimore. I really enjoyed the 2018 release Filth for it’s biting sensual chaos. I LOVE seeing growth of sound and that is what I am feeling here. When you have a style based in noisy Skinny Puppy intensity it is a razor edge to smooth those edges without losing that rawness. That’s what I feel from this record. It’s intelligent, political, sensual, and angry in just the right measure. The cover of Prince’s “Controversy” (one of my favorite Prince Tracks) is a driving blend of sharp edges and crystal energy. I love hearing another layer on something I already love.

https://hymnsovgolgotha.bandcamp.com/album/the-new-flesh

Delphine Coma: Brand new single from goth/darkwave veteran Ashe Ruppe called Dissolve. This track really gets back to the proto-goth roots. It could have felt right at home on First Last and Always. Organic fender jazz tube amp guitar trills. The husky growl in the lowest of registers. A tone that searches the emptiness sightless and unsure. All too relatable in these times.

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/track/dissolve-2

DogTablet: New album from Martin King and company called “Tales From The Outlaw”. It’s hard to compare one album to another for Dogtablet because the range is so vast. Jared Louche (Chemlab) returns to add vocals. This time with a beauty of harmonies that tend more towards The Velvet Underground than Industrial. I suppose that is the great benefit of being genre royalty is you get to reinvent your own wheel. Track 2 includes vocals from talented electronic tune wizard Melodywhore. Again with such a gentle subtlety and hopeful tone in the downbeat tempo. The more I hear the more I impressed with his soothing and rich voice. Martin and Dogtablet continue to be one of those projects I can always count on while it is still in the decanter. Expertly crafted and creatively fresh with each passing release.

https://dogtablet.bandcamp.com/

11 Grams: Rob and Simeon have just released the long anticipated electronic mind shredder “Humancide” full of grinding industrial dance beats, guest vocalists and remixes. When I hear 11 grams I hear the work of master electronic engineers with savvy and intent addressing the human condition. Each track feels balanced on a pin with a blend of energy and elements that leap from track to track while existing in the same world. It’s a sonic science fiction novel compressed and downloaded into your mind.

https://11grams.bandcamp.com/album/humanicide

Review of Art Diktator: Isola

Art Diktator is a Turkish art-disco/electronica duo that started in 1997, through which husband and wife team Hakan and Ravenna have since been an intricate part of the Turkish underground music scene. Using self-drawn graphic videos and a high-energy stage show, they have been captivating audiences of many genres under one progressive sound.

https://artdiktator.bandcamp.com/album/isola

https://www.facebook.com/artdiktatorfanpage/

Last week, we did a podcast with the amazing Elz and the Cult. One of the bands they chose to share was Art Diktator, and Collin and I fell in love. This high art / quirky electronic dance sound is brimming over with artistic intrigue and dance floor electricity. It’s a tornado of different styles swirling with dark energy to the eye of the storm where beautiful melodies meet electro-punk danger. The voices form a wonderful call-and-answer duality and match dark sensuality with angelic beauty. I don’t understand most of the lyrics, but the power of delivery leaves me captivated.

Ravenna and Hakan

I found myself wrapped in their constantly bouncing lo-fi synth sounds and driving, dark bass lines. Hakan’s voice is a deep, rich snarl from the lowest register in a sinister chant below the music, while Ravenna is a melodic, lilting gust of wind over a barren city. Strikingly effective use of transition and phasing. All the artistic integrity of Black Tape for a Blue Girl-esque darkwave plus the tearing, dance drone of Sig Sig Sputnik is a lot to pack, but somehow Art Diktator finds that place. I love how each song changes tone and emotion so much and leaves me feeling like I am watching a foreign heist film with no subtitles. In the podcast, Collin called it “Angry ABBA” and I can think of nothing more apt.

Hakan’s artwork

Favorite Tracks:

Van Gölü Canavarı – This lovely, strange synthwave line comes in lulling you with its downturned tempo. Then, bam! everything speeds up and your body starts moving to the beat. Hakan croons with his deep, gravely voice and is answered with a robotic callback. The name means Van Lake Monster, which is a Turkish myth. I just kept getting lost in the furious motion and contrasting sounds.

Don’t Dream It, Be It Did I choose this one because I could understand the lyrics? Nope, I picked it because it’s a jam. The crisp waves of slithering sound mix with the xylophone-sounding ascending keyboard banks. It’s a mantra we can all understand. Made me feel like I was part of a Turkish remake of Beverly Hills Cop and the end salvo with Ravenna’s whispering chorus were a beautiful finish.

ZONE FATAL – I believe this was an older track, in which the vocals feel reminiscent of Andrew Eldritch. The lyrics are also very dark and poetic and the music is a driving dark city soundtrack. Lots of tight corners and slithering shadows.

Overall, discovering this band and the others Elz shared with us during the podcast has really opened me up to the rich and wonderful Turkish Underground scene. I’m going to have to dig deeper into this catalog because this album is a sizzling train ride into the dark.

Review of Sonsombre: One Thousand Graves

Band: Sonsombre

Label: Cleopatra Records

Home: Northern Virginia

https://sonsombre.bandcamp.com/album/one-thousand-graves-2

https://www.facebook.com/pg/SonsombreUS/about/?ref=page_internal

2019 brought the release of one of the most exciting things to happen to the goth genre in the last decade. Sonsombre‘s “The Veils of Ending” was the album I had been waiting for. Goth music has always drawn it’s mystique from history. The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, The Chameleon’s created a darker romantic form of rock music that explored the macabre which seemed hard to find again. After those gothfathers everyone wanted to reinvent goth music into something else. It got further and further from it’s form. I feel like the time has finally come for Sonsombre to bring things back to the roots. It leans in and captures that cemetery vine hanging from a forgotten temple aesthetic. With “One Thousand Graves” they have pushed through further beyond that veil into something dark and beautiful to challenge the senses and unlock the dark recesses of our hearts.

Brandon is Goth as Fuck, you can tell because he has the widest hat brim since Andrew Eldrich

This album really shows a band finding themselves. I feel like the success of TVOE really gave a confidence to embrace more of what they are. The guitars are a giant black furred wolf growling with hair standing on end. The bass is a thundering storm bellowing out a foreboding prophesy of an uncertain future. The keyboard is rushing wind stirring the leaves on a damp autumn morning. Brandon’s voice is a dangerous and sinister whisper full of echo’s making a spectral challenge. These lyrics are a forgotten poetry of Byron and Poe singing to that darkest part of our nature. I know this review is starting to get pretty metaphorical but poetry demands poetry and Sonsombre makes me want to embrace the dark poet in my own heart.

Sonsombre

Top Tracks: Fuck me how to choose. Ok lets try

Slumber: I love the tolling bells opening this song. An ominous ringing to play herald to Brandon’s anguished cry. Stinging buzzing guitar. A true power balled for the ages that reminds me of Sisters of Mercy 1959.

Lights out: This anthem of dark power and midtempo drive keeps you on the edge of your own mind. “With the Lights out we can share the sorrow, we can live like no tomorrow”. I think this promise of hope in the face of so much darkness in Sonsombre’s songs is what really captures me every time. Gentle pin prick fender jazz tube amp walking guitar. Like vampires stalking in a New Orleans graveyard hunting for my eardrums and sinking in their teeth.

No Warning : One of the things I have come to associate with Sonsombre is the sheer breakneck speed while the low end owns the tone of the music. It burns with a violet fire. This song makes your heart race towards your own demise. The bassline is enormousness and always driving. Dance Club jam!

The future is dark again, the past is reborn in fire, and I am a believer in what Sonsombre means for the future of goth rock music. Buy this album and become a believer that goth is real and alive in 2020.

Review of Scary Black: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Scary Black

From: Louisville KY

Release date: 12/26/19

https://scaryblack.bandcamp.com/album/are-you-afraid-of-the-dark

https://www.facebook.com/scaryblack502/

This is a really exciting new traditional goth release from Louisville KY band Scary Black. I love the return to early roots I am seeing in the scene as of late. Rich and flowing with that Sisters of Mercy fender jazz tube amp guitar sound. Filled in with delicate and impact heavy synth lines. The album is diverse and places a huge emphasis on lyrics and poetry. Singer Albie Mason has a powerful and deep bass voice that really holds in place all the high end moving parts. It has the quality of a large moving glacier full of ice and magnitude crawling towards you with cold beauty.

I found myself in love with the ability of the songs to be modern and direct. Then switch hard to a campy Anne Rice Vampiric romanticism. I’m a huge fan of bands that can go over the top without losing meaning and credibility and Scary Black really drives that stake through the heart. A lot of bands these days can create a beautiful sound that pays homage to the past. It seems the harder task is to have poetic lyrics that capture that same level of meaning as The Cure and Sisters. That to me was the true magic of this record.

This is a complete album (One that made me upset I had already completed albums of the year when it released). Here were some stand out tracks.

Stay in Your Lane – Those beautiful muted guitar lines with sinister delay. Albie’s voice sinks to the lowest register and bellows out a powerful whisper full of menace and beauty at the same time. The synth lines are gorgeous with a very New Order feel to add a New Wave feel.

A Few Things I Hate – Holy creeping through the cemetery drinking a bottle of Merlot and smoking clove cigarettes. This song really transported me back in time. A horror movie soundtrack feel full of foreboding atmosphere. The vocals whisper a secret you have to reach for and it creates a powerful effect.

Are you Afraid of The Dark – The title track is such a beautiful break from form. Those creeping pan pipes sound build a lead in with a melody that sticks with you. Then the trademark delay sliding guitars. This one has so much of that overt vampire novel feel. It tells a story and one I am here for.

Overall I was immediately drawn in and in love with this record. It’s lovely, layered, and will require many more listens in the coming months to unpack. I questioned bringing this up but I think it is important to acknowledge. The Goth rock genre can feel fairly underrepresented by people of color and I love when an album of this quality also brings a perspective to this scene which hasn’t been heard enough. I really look forward to hearing many future releases from Scary Black.

Editorial: Goth Culture is it time to bury the past?

When i write reviews one of the common traps I try hard not to get lost in is comparing every new band I review to one of the sacred dark gods of the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a pretty common tactic and lets face it an effective one. It’s easy to associate with what is familiar. Often feels like the world of goth/industrial/darkwave/new wave/ect has pretty much been discovered and artists are searching for ways to test the boundaries of what is possible and find some new ground. I figured I would take a moment to acknowledge this is a reality for a lot of people.

Continue reading “Editorial: Goth Culture is it time to bury the past?”