Coitus Interruptus Productions quotes writer Steve Taylor from his 2006 book, The A to X of Alternative Music, as saying “Killing Joke have inspired all dark music since 1981” going on to posit that “Scrape the surface of just about any Industrial Metal or Alternative Rock band worth their salt, and you’ll find some aspects of the prolific and powerful Killing Joke.”
With that bold statement, they bring us Follow the Leaders (A Killing Joke Tribute), an 11 track compilation that dares to take on the challenge of honoring one of the greatest progenitors of the post-punk/industrial metal genre.
Snowbeasts start it off right with their take on the KJ classic Wardance. Primal rhythms with a darkly polished sheen. This wardance knows it’s not just about brutality and wounds its prey with subtle efficient strikes… Makes you wanna pogo along like a flashback to an 80’s punk show by way of a Berlin discotheque.
From there we move onto Element, and their version of Turn to Red. Element trades the punk reggae vibes of the original for more darkwave sound and turns up the dub a bit to make this one hard not bob your head to its tranced out vibe.
Next, The Blue Hour brings us The Gathering. I am not sure how they do it, but TBH takes this classic Killing Joke track, and channels the ghosts of Bow Wow Wow, and still makes the track sound fresh.
Riotgun takes on the herculean task of covering one of the most well known KJ tracks, Eighties. You have to give these guys credit… This is the one track that I had the most concern about when I heard about this compilation. Yet I think they do an admirable job of keeping the aggression in place and not turning in an unintentional parody of the original. Hats off to Riotgun… Well played!
Here in the middle of the group, we find three of the best tracks of the compilation in my opinion…
Shhadows brings us a dreamy, trip hop inspired version of my all time favorite Killing Joke song Love Like Blood. For all its dreamy, spaced out qualities, it still keeps its power.
Trance to the Moon tackles Love of the Masses. This song hits me with the same angst of a song like Love Like Blood from a new direction, and I feel the pain in every note that vocalist Monet Alarie hits. Like a love gone wrong, it leaves you longing for another kiss.
And rounding out this triad of greatness is The Joy Thieves (featuring I Ya Toya) with Money is Not Our God. Ania Tarnowska, takes no prisoners with her vocals on this bombastic assault against capitalism, propelled through the night by the punishing rhythms courtesy of Dan Milligan and crew.
On The Death and Resurrection Show, Missing Witness brings us a version of the song that we might have seen if Jaz and the Gang had gotten snared in the Wax Trax net circa 1986. The track evokes the feel of Ministry tracks The Angel and Over the Shoulder. Very cool old-school Chicago industrial vibes here.
The Raygun Girls bring those Big Paul Ferguson Beats to the front of the line on their take on Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. This is the most Killing Joke like track on the whole record, yet doesn’t cross that line over into cover band purgatory.
This World Hell by Dead Receptors is an interesting track full of contradictions. Its brutalist vocals and staccato clipped synths are weighted down by the sleazy/funky bass and drums that remind me of great tracks like Golgotha Tenement Blues from Machines of Loving Grace.
And finally, HadesMachine shows us out with Euphoria. A Goth rock banger tinged with siren call synths pleading for us to show some urgency, like a vampire biker gang racing against the dawn.
Our podcasts have been really improving. Having interviews that are a real conversation with some of the artists I love and give all their fans a feeling of knowing them on a personal level. I wanted to compile them all in one place that give you the opportunity to find and enjoy them.
2/25/21 Grabyourface – Talented French artists Marie Dragontown on Negative Gain. Talking about their breakthrough album Sea, France, and their favorite pizza.
2/19/21Tear Down The Wall discussion with Russ Robinson (Infectious Groves Podcast) and Dan Milligan (The Joy Thieves). Here we discuss the charity compilation of Industrial artists put out by Riveting Records in Colorado that has a cover version of every song on Pink Floyd‘s iconic album “The Wall”
12/22/2020 Rodney Orpheus from The Cassandra Complex – Amazing interview with one of the godfathers of goth. Telling stories of meeting Andrew Eldrich, their new album, predicting the attack on our Capital, and the past and present of Goth.
6/25/20 Interview with Dogtablet Martin King (Test Dept) and Jared Louche (Chemlab) – Where they discuss history on the road, their song writing, snowball fights with Trent Reznor, Jared’s Shoes, and rescuing dogs.
One of the things I love most about the current Goth/Industrial is the sense of community. If there is pettiness or competition between this wave of post goth, I am yet to see it. Having that level of support for each others projects can lead to some beautiful artistic cross over and collaboration. Michael Louis of Twilight Chronic took a twisted ritual dagger and jammed it in his own ego to birth the modern goth superband Shadow Assembly.
Arcane Fusion is the sophomore offering after their debut “Ghostcrawl” a twisted and brooding rock driven concoction with Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre. This new album opens the portal of darkness even further by using a different vocalist/lyricist for every track. This album is not only a prism of the wide varieties in modern gothic rock, but also a who’s who of the vocal talent of the current scene. I will act as your ferryman on the River Styx as I lead you through each track on this modern classic.
Beneath The Rows: Feat (Brandon Prybus of Sonsombre) When you think gothic rock in 2020 you think of Brandon. This opening track is a rumbling mid tempo growler perfectly suited to Brandon’s voice. It’s a cloak flapping in the wind, booted feet crushing worms on grave dirt. It’s icy wind on your face and howling a ghostly whisper in your ear. This hard stomping concept is a rethought soundtrack for Children of the Corn.
Plaything: Feat (Marselle Hodges of The Blue Hour) What a lovely transition. This is the first video from the album. It’s a sexy Switchblade Symphony style banshee swamp ballad. Full of mist and silk. I love the blend of sizzling guitar rifts and ghostly wails. This track made me an immediate fan of Marselle.
Down With The Dead: (Feat vISION) This is a fierce chanting call from a squirming mass grave. A lot of mid 2000 shock goth flavor. A mass grave rave rolling through the mud with lost souls and carrion creatures.
My Ophelia: (Michael Louis of Twilight Chronic) Absolute banger old school gothic rock. The palm muted guitar riff here just drives on an empty street full of twists and turns. Michael’s voice is a depthless echo calling out a deathwish in the labyrinth darkness. You really hear the soul poured into this song.
Cult of Ishtar (Feat: Ariel Manikj and the Black Halos) This track is a ritual of summoning. Ariel’s vocals are exotic and delivered with intention. The bass line here is darkfunk explosion. A lost ruin of wild vines and blood sacrifice. I found myself wondering back into this sinister scene again and again. Time for me to start diving into Costa Rica goth.
Release The Ravens (Feat: Ken Magerman of Amaranth) Ok this is weird, I can’t review because…it’s me. I will talk about it though. I was highly honored when ask to be a part of this. Doing guest vocals and lyrics on someone else’s music is always bizarre. I tried to summon someone else, outside my usual style for Amaranth. Michael crafted this beautiful ballad and I kept picturing this person in isolation sending messenger ravens to a lost love now beyond their reach. Collin really captured a different me like the pro he is. Goth music really falls into that crooning baritone these days and I wanted to use my sing songy higher range. I feel like it had that perfect blend of cheese and power.
Green Farie (Feat: Nino Sable of Aeon Sable) If you have ever chased the green farie you know the surreal slither of the veil between worlds. Nino has that perfect muted horn twang to their voice. The lovely harpsichord sound of this delicate ballad is the adhesive that holds this evaporating beauty in tact. A very Dead Can Dance medieval goth resurgence. I can’t get enough of this track.
Dr. Dealer (Michael Louis) Another track from Michael this one slow and brooding with a slushy trancelike guitar riff. His voice is a chorus and of demonic voices in a psychedelic swirl. Mainline a spike of shadows and sink into the floor.
Lost Places, Forgotten Faces (Feat: Andrey Agapitov of Raven Said) One of the most underrated bands in the goth scene from Russia. This one is a spiral staircase spinner. Andrey whispers and croons from beneath shadows. The keyboard and guitars lull you into dream until the verse strikes again with a fearful energy. This song was meant for spinning on the dancefloor.
Woman Torn (Feat: Rod Hanna of October Burns Black) Modern hard rock goth artists Hanna brings out that southern style Fields of the Nephilim dirge energy to this synth and guitar rich midnight sky ballad. I love the sliding effect on the guitars and how it blends with his chorus rich voice. Bringing the past into stark relief in the present
Overall this album is a synthesis of talent that really highlights what is possible when you have a maestro that knows and loves the music other artists make and finds a way to make each tone flow together to build something greater than the some of it’s parts. It is currently available on bandcamp for digital download and a CD run. If you want a good place to place your finger on the pulse of modern goth, this album is a great place to start.
Music in general has always been a bit of a boys club. Sadly I feel like ladies have always faced an uphill battle particularly as producers and song writers. The goth/industrial scene has had it’s share of amazing and talented ladies as well as a progressive view, but it has never been a 100% fair shake. Since I have been getting back into the cutting edge of new music I have been overjoyed and amazed at the influx of talented female led performers currently putting out wonderful art that adds to the discussion and furthers the diversity of this scene. So I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of my favorite new artists creating music that places emphasis on the female perspective and makes this genre richer. I can’t add everyone I am listening to but i feel excited that it took me just a few moments to have several amazing artists currently enriching this scene. These will be quick hits, but I have more extensive reviews of many of the ladies featured.
Hante – Hélène de Thoury has an amazing voice and textural songs of beauty and effortless grace. She has such an unspoken coolness to her songs that paint a picture in your mind. I am transported every time i listen to her.
Sunshine Blind – Caroline Blind was an artist I grew up listening to that helped shape and mold me and changed my worldview of music. She has continued to make amazing music with the power and beauty of her voice. I always describe Sunshine Blind as a Steel gauntlet in a velvet glove. This is a cover she did of the Swans “Godamn The Sun”. It’s simple, striped down, and amazing.
Black Nail Cabaret – Emese Arva is a freaking force of nature. Her presence and power remind me of the first time i heard Annie Lennox. Her voice is pure raw energy, strength, and beauty. Wonderful range and a revolutionary song writing style that makes me want to charge up a hill and believe in a better tomorrow. I challenge you to listen to this song and not feel inspired!
S Y Z Y G Y X – Luna Blanc has a voice that feels like a slow drink of whiskey in a club owned by David Lynch. It’s smokey, immersive, and full of desire. Can’t get enough.
Cliff and Ivy – Ivy Silence is a dear friend and all around wonderful human. Hailing from Alaska with her husband they do a sharp edge stabbing dark goth rock full of punk sensibility. Her voice is raw and unapologetic and as it crashes through you with sultry fierceness.
Kaelan Mikla – From Iceland is an amazing female group that hits on every level. It’s driving, fierce, gorgeous music filled with simmering intensity and textural beauty. They are truly a cutting edge sound for the modern age. Every time i listen to them i get lost in the picture they paint with every song.
Corlyx – Holy shit i love this band. Caitlin Stokes has a clear and fearless beauty and style. She really captures the raw sexuality and intelligence of the modern scene. This new album has a filthy glittering glory reminiscent of the 90s but with modern flare and strength.
Audrey Burne – I always love when i can give props to a fellow Michigan band. Lilith Gates of Audrey Burne is a immensely talented and haunting vocalist that has a lovely Natalie Merchant lilt and wonderful stage presence. I’ve had the honor or sharing a stage with her and they have a wonderful driving dark rock feel that really captures a room.
Fires- Aedra is a freaking force of nature. She sings with such intensity and burning passion about her experience and her song writing ability really pushes the boundaries of industrial electronic music. This album really changed the game for me this year.
Angel Metro – Soft, sultry, understated glory. Virginia’s Angel Metro does a wonderful blend of subtle dance beats and lilting tender beauty. She really exposes her inner most feelings for every song and this courage lends the tracks a real power.
Schedule IV – Stephanie Strange again from Michigan is a friend and amazing energy on stage. This is perfect precision post punk glory that blends her high range intense vocals and intelligent lyrics to create an entrancing and intimate experience. One of our favorite bands to play with and wonderful people.
Lorelei Dreaming – Laura Bienz leaves it all on the floor every night. I’m starting to reflect on how many of these amazing ladies i actually got to share a stage with. The energy, stage presence and political savvy combines with the intelligence of the lyrics to create a wondrous and unique experience. Do yourself a favor and bask in the fiery glow of this album.
I Ya Toyah – Chicago based Ania Tarnowska brings a fierce and rocket fueled electronic dance symphony of raw sensual strength to every performance. I love these explosive pop hooks blended with crashing dance rhythms.
Leathers – Is the sultry synth dream darkness of Shannon Hammett of Actors. It’s so great to see when a performer in a band of the quality of Actors finds her own voice and shows the ability to create such staggeringly beautiful music like this with her as the center piece. I love how far this reaches from the sound of Actors to really allow her voice to shine because it is one that deserves to be front and center.
Ego Likeness – So Donna Lynch has had a long, successful, and storied career and I could have picked a lot of songs newer than this, but it’s my favorite so I’m going with it. Donna is a hurricane of passion and darkness. She has been taking on intense topics in her art for a decade and creating beautiful songs about the horror which resonates with the feminine experience and having an intimacy of truth for decades.
Bess – Aussie dark alternative rocker Bess Linda is making churning sultry dance beats full of world beat toms and off kilter warm toned vocals to shake a dance floor.
Bones Uk – This recommendation came from Collin Schipper, filthy wide room fresh sounds. It’s pop hook sensible but cutting edge in your face intensity. You aren’t wrong “Beautiful is boring”
Death Loves Veronica – Veronica Campbell is a slow, back beat, sultry drive down a long empty road. It’s effortless tension, and subtle whispers of reality laid barren with brutal honesty.
SINE – I must admit I heard about SINE and Rona Rougeheart through her collaboration with Curse Mackey. However once i dug into the power of her art for itself I found an intense flurry of disco dance beats underneath powerful vocals and world building soundscapes which captured me and brought me to my knees to beg for more.
VV and The Void – Valentina Veil has a wonderful whispering smoke swirl style. Really great at building tension in her songs to feel like a story.
Dissonance – Cat Hall has such a rich soulful voice with I feel gives a unique flare to her dark dance electronic sound.
Lingua Ignota – Kristin Hayter voice is one of the most intense things I have ever heard. It makes me realize i am not trying hard enough as a singer. Ferocious intensity shot forth like a flame thrower.
Hide – Raw, intelligent, and political. Gabel is a force of nature attacking change through the unnerving unapologetic fury of her art. This band makes me think, it makes me think about why i need to be better.
Wingtips – The duo Wingtips from Chicago features the amazing keyboard stylings of Hannah Avalon. Her stage presence and beautifully blended synths help make up one of the great new bands of the last few years.
Bootblacks – So many of these bands listed are for the vocal stylings. Lets not forget some of the amazing female musicians in this scene like Alli Gorman of BootBlacks. A straight up shredding axe master of the highest degree. Her riffs are creative and nuanced and such a big part of what gives this band it’s signature sound. This band has a very bright future and she is a backbone of that sound. New album out this year from Jacknife studios.
Cliff and Ivy – Alaska deathrock due that bring an intensity and punk flavor. Ivy has a poetry and fist first attitude which is captivating as it is rocking. Wonderful human as well that cares about lifting up others.
Pilgrims Of Yearning – I think what I love most about Juls and POY are the way they express a wandering sense of displacement that comes through so clearly in their music. It’s rich, flowing, and organic. A lot of organic elements and her voice is in constant motion. I think this speaks to the passion for her heritage and the shadowy soul of her delivery.
The Blue Hour – Marselle Hodges has a made for coldwave spiritual sirens call from the vein of Dead Can Dance. Their music is the rustling of wind through trees on an autumn day. It’s gentle and powerful at the same time. She is also a frequent collaborator with goth superband Shadow Assembly and does all her own videography work.
Normoria – Angel Moonshine is the forceful and silky voice of this industrial dance devastation. Her voice is a laser beam of focused light against crunching guitars and smashing drum beats. I can’t listen to this and not be impressed with the moxie and dripping power.
Eva X – Glorious Canadian dark pop that is sensual and heart pumping dance delirium. I really love the way she changes emotion and delivery within a single phrase. It add so much complexity for a pop style music. The theatrics and emotion help add layers that set it aside from electronic dance beats.
Leah Lane of Dallas based RoseGarden Funeral Party is a force both on the guitar and with her sky splitting voice. She puts the rocker edge in gothic rock and continues to establish herself as one of the most prolific names in the modern scene.
I know I have missed so many impressive female artist which drive and push the boundaries of this scene. Just looking through what popped into my head without much through fills me with hope for a brighter, stronger future of diversity of the dark music scene. I hope you find something here you give a try to expand your horizons with.
Kat Squared was kind enough to put all these bands together on a Spotify playlist