If I could describe Black Agent’s ‘Industrial Ruination’ with two words they would be, “HELL YEAH!!”; the beats, the cacophony, the lyrics, I could go on. In a world of Skinny Puppy soundalikes, Black Agent manage to carve out a unique sound within the industrial music world with songs that combine intelligent songcraft with solid production. By the time you get to ‘Dying Time’, the second track, you’ll know you’re in for a sonic treat. But the tone of this album isn’t all fun and games.
The album addresses subjects ranging from poverty to politics to police brutality to COVID to Jeffrey Epstein. However the lyrics on ‘Fallen’ seem to delve into the existential with such verses as:
Through the inside Pain then nothing more Flowers For the fallen Break the silence Don’t close the door
But what remains? What are we here for? What are the signs that you were ever here?
Parenthetically, I’ve been very impressed with the output from Re:Mission Entertainment, especially as of late, and this record is another feather in the cap for this noteworthy record label.
‘Feedback’ is an instrumental that smacks of Front 242 with a grating distorted guitar hiding deep in the mix.
Things take a turn for the funky with ‘Strange Like Me’, a danceable jam with moments of lyrical existentialism of its own:
Are you a stranger Stranger than me Or are we just the same
Are you strange Strange like me Or are we playing a game
Track 9 is ‘Murdering Truth’ (presumably the song about Jeffrey Epstein), a track with EBM-style arpeggios over a relaxed beat and comfortable tempo and the title to ‘Everything’s Wrong’ tells you everything you need to know about the tone of the song.
‘Hindsight’ is a strong closer, going all out with the creepiness and bombast to leave you feeling thoroughly pummelled.
All in all, these 13 songs are very satisfying musically with an appropriately gloomy outlook on life in the COVID years.
Ever since I heard the dark classic “These Remains” by the Thrill Kill Kult, I have been hooked on that sinister sound. It’s not quite dance music, but it’s not “not” dance music is it? It always made me feel like I was a character in a movie that snuck their way into the VIP room at the club only to find they stumbled into some modern pagan ritual, ala the masked ball from Eyes Wide Shut, but with the classical music soundtrack replaced by something akin to Skinny Puppy fronted by Chelsea Wolfe.
Take a ride with me and let’s listen to some of the artists that I think are exploring some of these same sonic pathways today…
Cult of Alia – The Only Angel – This new track from Cult of Alia, the side project of David Wright from Creux Lies, gives me the feeling of a being in a 80’s vampire flick where the blood junkie in question stalks his prey from across the crowded dance floor. They lock eyes and the hunt begins. Great synth sounds and the pulsing beat gets your butt moving… Definitely looking forward to more from this project!
Bara Hari – Weapon– Samantha Franco hits us with Weapon! Inspired by her experiences with the exploitative men in the music industry, she delivers an all too important (and honestly all too familiar) reminder that we need to get our shit straight and be fucking decent human beings to each other. But let’s be clear… This track is a serious jam. I love the video concept and I can totally see her kicking ass like the Bride in Kill Bill.
Owl Theory – Heaven in Reverse – This E.P. of dark, seductive, electronic pop came about from Jarod Gibson of Odonis Odonis doing a gothic / darkwave take on Harry Styles song ‘WOMAN‘. That track anchors a collection of dark pop that flows from the ambient soundtrack stylings of the title track, to the trip hop vibes of the track “Spin”. I love this record… once I start playing it I get lost in the sound and before i know it, it’s over and I gotta spin it again!
SØLVE – SVNT LACRIMÆ RERVM – Atmospheric synths paired with punishing industrial beats. This dark and powerful track is steeped in cinematic ritualism… Every time I listen to this song, it lingers in the corners of my mind and teases me with its aftershocks, making me want more.
Sidewalks & Skeletons – ETERNAL REST – This track, featuring frequent collaborator Cash for Gold, throws shades of Crystal Castles for me, but they pair it up with some thick urban beats and blazes a dark path of its own. I love how they can take an airy synth typically found in traditional dance music and make it heavy enough to smother you.
In my youth I didn’t really have a punk rock phase. My angry phase was Industrial. Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy, Test Dept, KMFDM, Die Warsaw, Lord of Acid,Neubauten, Front Line Assembly, Front 242,Leatherstrip, Chemlab, were the fiery steam fire oily sounds that spoke to my soul. As time went on my anger and napalm softened and I moved away from this soul. In the past few years I have found myself rediscovering and broader and more intricate hard electronic sound. Here are some of the echoing booms filling my warehouse.
SpankTheNun: The Texas industrial sensation from Eric Hanes is bringing Industrial back to it’s early core. It’s catchy and dancy, with steel jaws of metal drive guitars and distorted growl. I love the clarity achieved through modern tech that takes the early feel and refines it into the modern expectation of laser focus. The new album out “The Bunker Tapes volume 1” is a perfect homage to the past with a fresh hypersonic spin.
Stoneburner: Steven Archer of Ego Likeness started the project of to express a different aspect of his music. This is truly taking the concept of Industrial music into a higher form of evolving art. It’s high concept sci fi with tribal organic drum beats and lyrical poetry that pushes the boundaries of the human experience. The albums are ever evolving and are done with a vision. He also is a master of interactive experience and blending of visual and sonic art. Truly breaking ground for a new concept.
GoFight: It’s hard to think of Jim Marcus as “new” Industrial. Die Warsaw was one of those early bands that taught me the idea of Industrial music could mean something more than macho angry aggression. A beauty and subtlety that made me dance and sing along with glorious pop hooks while maintaining that furious grinding filth. Jim continues to write songs that capture the mind and infuse the body with buzzing chemical energy. A relatable idea with sharp edges and teeth. One of those beautiful ideas that blends accessibility with higher thought. Jim has always been the cutting edge of Chicago Industrial and has not missed a beat. New single out Freestate is another masterpiece of technique and torr ant.
I Ya Toyah: The one woman army from Chicago is a explosion of energy, love, and pain. It’s has a soul that really sets it apart from a lot of the genre. Ania has a voice and song writing style that captivates with it’s power and passion. The songs move with intention and the lyrics have a personal flavor that makes you a part of them. The live stage show is truly something to behold. She is a voice for the future of what electronic music is capable of.
The Joy Thieves: Another Chicago band ( A Lot of good Industrial came from Chicago). This one a super band helmed by Dan Milligan has brought amazing talents from several Industrial mainstays to ride that line between hard rock and industrial. I once describes them as Clutch beating the shit our of Stabbing Westward with a baseball bat. It’s furious aggression, blistering guitar work, progressive percussion, and napalm vocals. It’s a compilation of talent to rival bands like Pigface with it’s own organic concept.
Fee Lion: Another Chicago act with more smooth cold blue edges. A powerful and sensual voice with distinctive electronic dance club explosions. Very avant garde and and invasive. A true master class in how to use push pull dynamics to pull in your audience. Only a few releases so far but already setting the stage for a power player in the genre.
Klack: Madison WI collaboration between Matt Fanale (Caustic) and Eric Oehler (Null Device) have formed up to make EDM for a new generation. It’s clever, conscience, and shoots a bolt of electricity into your spine that shakes that ass. The vocals are the perfect blend of both talents that brings the revolution and makes it fun. It’s an iron gauntlet in a velvet glove. Get Klacked and stay Klacked.
Moris Blak: Boston MA, Hard EDM industrial is not here to take you gently into emersion. It is fierce and limb flinging excitement adrenochrome shot into your mind and designed to make you let go of all control. He also does some intense remixes and mind bending live shows. This is not a throwback sound. It is straight alien brain melt.
ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) – The British master of EDM dance club excitement. When using bass beats like a sonic weapon it is a true challenge to construct ear worm melodies that cut to the forefront. This music is a virus that infiltrates every cell of your being and demands you dance. The newest album “Eat Your Young” also features the amazing Caitlin of the band Corlyx. Immersive filthy grinding dance beats that ride you hard and put you away wet.
Curse Mackey: – This is a scene veteran that has been a key member of one of the biggest Industrial bands Pigface. He has recently released his first solo album “Instant Exorcism“. Aside from the amazing vocals and pedigree of this record, I think what really moves me are the thought and poetry of the lyrics. This is truly and out of the box thinking persons Industrial sound. A must have.
Silverwalks: Criminally underrated sci-fi electronic backdrop creator from Philly. This new single is “Lantern” is an absolute burner. One of those songs I can’t hit play enough times on. It has a true Gary Numan quality in it’s texture and flow. I loved it so much I had to have an Amaranth remix done. Transport yourself to an alternate sonic reality with this band.
Melodywhore: This glorious electronic music wizard has forged really taken the old Industrial concept of collaboration. Blending a softer more passionate dance grime energy. Using a variety of musicians and vocalists. This latest track for BLM charities is beautiful and powerful. Giving voice to rage using an intelligent whisper.
Dead Agent is the solo project of Ed Finkler, also known as Funkatron.
Musically it leans more towards the EBM side of the spectrum but manages to do so without feeling like something we`ve heard a thousand times before during the last X amount of years.
While its mainly instrumental there`s heavy use of samples and other sound design techniques to create the illusion of vocals as can be heard on the track “Frentik“.
Ed was once part of the band Cult Of Jester where we saw him in the role of a vocalist fronting an industrial rock band so to see him return to music in such a different yet at the same time familiar manner is definitely interesting. Dead Agent is a project to keep your eyes on going forwards.
From Connecticut we have Decent News who we have featured on the site before in various scenarios. They deliver a refreshing take on the blending on industrial and rock/metal. The guitar work especially stands out from the crowd as one can pick up on some clear early thrash metal influences at times as opposed to what has seemingly become the standard industrial guitar consisting of simply palm muting and tabs that look something like this: 0-000-00-0.
Having carved out their own sound they manage to evolve and progress with each release within the confines of their world which is quite an underappreciated talent.
From the UK comesVanity Killsdelivering some dirty, gritty rock n roll with filthy, dripping electronics sewn in like a patch on a vest.
They wear their influences on their sleeve and take it all the way whether that be sonically or visually, yet also manage to do things their own way and leave an open wound on the otherwise often too mechanical world of industrial rock.
While Darrin Lewis may have spent years as vocalist for the metal/deathcore band Beside The Silence he’s now working under the moniker Nothing Valentine creating what I‘m tempted to call a blend of pop and industrial but still retaining the heavy element of earlier projects.
Debuting with the song #GothGirl almost a year ago, he later followed up with the politically charged track “Civil Unrest” which showed a thematically and in many ways musically heavier side to NV which might not have been according to the audiences expectations after hearing the more light hearted first single but this is exactly why he`s on the list. Expect the unexpected whether it be in terms of music or the overarching themes.
Of course we have to include Blakmoth as we just did an interview with him.
Blakmoth creates what he refers to as “Doombient” consisting of heavy rhythmic drum work and droning ambient soundscapes all created with modular synths.
Having recently signed with Errorgrid Records and with a new release on the way despite having released “Deathshead” only a couple weeks ago Blakmoth is highly productive and is always seeking to push the envelope and challenge the audiences ideas.
I hope that with time well see more modular based artists pop up and break out of lighthearted bleeps and bloops for just a moment to explore the dark side of synthesis that Blakmoths music beckons us towards.
From Denver, Colorado comes the duo known as Echo Beds with amplified oil barrels, broken tapes and generally less than perfect instruments they create noisy yet catchy and often strangely melodic tunes reminiscent of early Swans meets EBM or something along those lines. Visceral yet danceable, not too harsh for the new comers to the experimental part of the industrial genre but just enough to entice you to go deeper and explore a side of it which is often forgotten about these days despite being the source of the genre. This one is truly DIY or die voltage therapy.
Industrial Rock isn`t exactly what Norway is known for musically although one might be able to draw comparisons between the early days of industrial and black metal in terms of extremity ,avant garde-esque tendencies and against the grain approach.
Carrion, lead by S&S writer Hide [Adrian Kjøsnes] blends elements of traditional rock n roll with a tad of 90s Nine Inch Nails style steeped in occult philosophy and mysteries.
Having just released the album “Testament Ov The Exiled” now is the perfect time to check them out if you haven’tt already to hear Hides most recent experiment mixing distorted guitars and modular synthesis into a blend of structured yet still chaotic noise and…Power ballads. Yes, you read that right.
Having recently released the single “Blithe Din” along with a ton of remixes [Including Dead Agent and Decent News] this Florida based aggrotech band is perfect for those who love catchy synth lines that worms their way into your ear while banshee like vocals speak of biblical themes full of symbolism painstakingly researched for accuracy and adopted to whatever vocalist Richie V. Suriv attempts to express.
Having already built a following within the U.S alternative scene playing with acts like Psyclon Nine, Dope, Skold, Combichrist and more this is not one to miss, oh, and they`ve got their keyboards on a chain swingset 😉
Zwaremachine: Loud and nasty from Minneapolis, this band is a grinding tidal wave of shrapnel and hiss. It rolls over you in slow driving sludge and flashing lights. Bringing gore and empty warehouse space into stark relief that transports you back to a 90’s rave in Detroit. Join in the chant and leave your inhibitions at the door.
11 Grams: The team up between Rob Early and Simeon Fitzpatrick that cuts the clean razors of electronic science fiction and dance club fury. This is two masters of production riding an electric wave of futuristic beauty and construction. It’s transformative and honed to make rooms sizzle.
StatiqBloom: This New York band is frightening and cold. It’s movement is infectious but the tone is dark. A Sinister horror film brought to life. Definitely EDM dance movement but one that leaves you anxious and clawing at the wall. You can’t sleep because you can’t relax in this terrifying landscape.
TH Inc: Chicago, Illinois Hailing from the beating heart of American Industrial music comes the sonic power house TH Inc. Electronic music pioneers Christopher Turner (of Nookleptia and the mixcloud show The Garbageman Show) & Robert Hyman (Drummer of Mr. Russia, member of Melter and owner of Lens Records) first came on the scene with the darkly haunting 8 minute “Drawstring” and the pair continue to dish out fresh dark DIY industrial reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle, Brighter Death Now, and the edgier side of COIL. If you missed out on or just miss the raw paranoid energy of early industrial and noise, but need a taste of something new, look no further. 2020 has seen the Release of 2 albums the gritty pulsing Circuit Flare, and the epic droning of The Tarkovsky Suites.learn more @ thincband.com
Bellhead: Chicago, Illinois Also from the land of WAX TRAX, this 2 Bass & a Drum Machine, Male/Female duo gave us their first taste of their mix of industrial sleaze with the thick dirty sound of “Fire Control“. Bellhead have kept it up with a hand full of releases including the 2020 EP “Unicorn Bones” and the Single “Sanity Assassin” an edgy in you face cover of the Bauhaus song.Keep you eyes on Bellhead, especially if you are a fan of the 90’s industrial rock style of Orgy and Snake River Conspiracy and even later Thrill Kill Kult.
eHpH: Denver, Colorado By now I am sure you have noticed we here at Sounds and Shadows are fans of eHpH and Bleeding Light Music in general. I feel I cannot say enough about eHpH, they come to the table with a fresh take on EBM and the darker side of synth driven industrial. From track to track you feel something that could have easily hit the dance floors of 90’s/2000’s goth industrial clubs and yet sounds strangely original. eHpH is that seductive dark stuff that draws you into this world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.