It’s Time To Bring the Romance Back To Goth Music.

So dark music/goth has always run a parallel for with me Romanticism. Love, loss, passion, distance, these ideas that Robert Smith perfected and were such a intimate part of that original concept. Then as the scene evolved and became broader the norm stretched further from that idea. Today as the wind is chill and the leaves have abandoned the trees I am thinking about bands that are still pluming the depths of this idea. As a song writer the most difficult thing for me to write is a genuine love song, that captures the feeling but doesn’t step over into cheese. I tried to come up with examples of releases I have not previously discussed on the page.

A Covenant of Thorns: Black – I have been waiting on this release for a long time. It’s what inspired me to write this piece. Scott-David Allen is a true master of this idea. He has been making songs of heart rending sadness and beauty for decades. I can honestly say this is an opus. The best I have heard yet. The production level here is next level with it’s Depeche Mode level darkpop and his amazing voice pushed to the front where it conveys a delicate yearning and sadness which is lost in the modern era. The whole record is a pilgrimage to the top of a mountain where he offers up his heart like a saint to the object of his love. The passion and idea are so raw but the mixing and song writing is done with a craft that shows the dedication such a personal offering deserves. YOU NEED THIS RECORD! (He screams from the rooftops)

https://acot.bandcamp.com/album/black

Top Tracks: All of them…

but Numb – A gorgeous synthwave love poem full of hope and expression

Signs of Life – Damn it is hard to pick but this track is so crispy. Allen’s voice is everywhere on this one. The feeling cuts to deep and love lies at your feet. The chorus just opens up like a bird flying over the sea. It’s so bright and dark at the same time in perfect balance.

Choke – This one has a little more edge and sinister to it, but it is still yearning. Because sometimes a little kink can still be romantic.

Creux Lies : Blue – New single out from Sacramento’s favorite dark dreamers has thundering drums to drive is golden thread poetry. It’s a thicker richer sound than phenomenal 2018 release “The Hearth“. Ean’s voice is wide as the ocean and and dances on the mist. It’s really hard to capture the range and beauty of Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) but I feel like that is exactly what happens. My secret favorite part is the outro with old school lofi keyboards. I need a whole hell of a lot more of this and I need it now!

https://creuxlies.bandcamp.com/

Twin Tribes (Cult of Alia Remix) : Perdidos – Twin Tribes has mastered the post punk passion and sultry beauty of bands like The Cure. This latest remix by Cult of Alia is a softer more subtitle ghostly whisper tantalizing love lost beyond the void. the pulsing keyboard rhythms take the place of driving bass and conjure images of haunted towers. I’m so hungry for another Twin Tribes album, but this was a welcome repose.

https://twintribes.bandcamp.com/track/perdidos-cult-of-alia-remix

Selofan: Partners in Hell – This gorgeous Greek darkwave really deserves it’s own full review. I am embarrassed to say I have not written a review of them yet and they really deserve it. Per the theme I am going to focus on the track “There Must Be Somebody“. Driving mod synth tones flow down a moonlit river while a women in white calls forth with longing. This is beauty and horror blended together in true gothic fashion. Joanna Pavlidou’s voice is heavy with heart and touches you with icy clarity. Pavlidis’s basslines and chorus of synthesizers create a water color image of stormy regret and movement. Why have I not spent more time with this band?

https://selofan.bandcamp.com/album/partners-in-hell

Mortal Boy: Chronoception – LA darkwave band which is beautiful as it is intense. I love the Richard Butler flavor to the vocals. The star strike guitars really add a wonderful contrast to the darkwave style. This is definitely music full of plum red wines and flickering candles. It drips of both passion and loss. Favorite track “Kiss Me Poison” which combines all the best parts of the vocals and woven tapestry. If you have a special goth partner in your life, this is the music they want to hear as you bring out a romantic dinner.

https://mortalboy.bandcamp.com/

The Secret French Postcards: Colours – New Cold Transmission Music release from Sweden. I love the post punk feel and organic drum sounds that add clarity and precision to this droning croon. This album is the moment in the movie where the protagonist looks across a crowded club and locks eyes with their soulmate. Olli’s vocals are drenched in warm and earnest love. Offset by resonating guitar lines and keyboard cascades by (IAMTHESHADOW) Pedro Code. It’s feels modern and fresh while the melodic vocal chant reminds me of Steve Kilbey (The Church). This is a band I keep feeling grow with every release. This one is out on 12/11/20 and preorder is available now.

https://thesecretfrenchpostcards.bandcamp.com/album/colours-2

Lust For Youth: Lust For Youth – Self titled album from the Danish synthpop band giving huge New Order vibes, which is never a bad thing. This record feels like staring at the sky while rain falls down. It’s cool, it’s stark, and it reminds you why you want to keep hoping for more. I was two tracks in and I’m already a believer. They aren’t reinventing the wheel here, but they are doing something familiar very well. A dark tone while centering in on lyrical hope. My favorite track was “Great Concerns“. This album was a journey of connection and the power of the human experience.

https://lustforyouth.bandcamp.com/album/lust-for-youth

Korine: The Night We Raise – I have been deeply in love with this band since Twin Tribes played them for me on our podcast. From Philly this band is glorious dark dream slush with encompassing vocals and swirling synths. This new album from Sept took another step forward in production and clarity. It also has a razor fang edge to the beauty of the music. Sometimes love bites hard and while wrapped in a velvet glove of tone Korine cuts you to the quick. This is a record you really need to spend the extra moment with and peal back the layers. The cotton candy sweet on your tongue is truly just the first layer.

https://korine.bandcamp.com/


What are your favorite romantic dark tracks I missed? Post them below 🙂

Mother Russia Rain Down Down Down (What is the past/present of Russian Goth/Post Punk)?

So after exploring Turkey’s underground music scene and finding a wealth of amazing artist outside my wheelhouse, I thought I would take a dive into another region I am just starting to get familiar with. Russia, the motherland. Vast and dark, unknown in my early music experience. When I started Amaranth in the 90’s I had a close friend (and additional singer in the band) who is now the singer of Detroit dark rock darlings The Ruiners, Nina Friday. She never really shared the music of her past. So I started my own journey. A special thank you to my friend ‎Vitaly Sanych‎  at Post Punk/Gothic Russia for taking me to school. I hope you enjoy the road as well.

In order to really grasp the present I first had to learn my history. Russia had a new wave scene that coincided with America and Europe in the mid 80’s. I had never heard of bands like KINO from St. Petersburg. Inspired by The Cure, Blondie, and The Smiths. Beautiful poetic lyrics, overlapping music full of distance and dark rock.

As I started looking into history I found a wealth of more avant garde sounds full of dissonance and heavy rock influence that tested the boundaries of the bizarre like Zvuki Mu. As well as gothabilly edge like Объект Насмешек. Then Synthwave deathboi disco like Kofe. The emphasis and instrumentation was often very different. It gave a unique flavor, but it was hard not to recognize so many aspect of the same music journey I traveled in America.

Kofe

In 1990 Post punk resurgence hit Russia. Not in the way it would hit New York in 2000. Instead this was that raw Factory Records feel of A Certain Ratio, Joy Division, or Happy Mondays. Uptempo dark lofi anguish spewed at velocity through the smoke and danger with  DURNOE VLIYANIE (Harmful Influence) . They are well known in Russia but I never knew what it could be if Ian Curtis has carried on making music.

Mid 90’s brought the “Silver Age” of Russian post punk. Frighting sinister goth anguish with traditional instruments and emotive goth feel like Lacrimosa.

The vocals have an almost Swans like quality

As the 90’s closed goth subculture started to gain traction. The first major Russian website about goth subculture began GOTHIC.RU. This led to a music festival in Moscow “Edge of the Night”.

As the century changed goth music in Russia began to splinter into new subgenre factions. I really enjoyed the early Purple Fog Side sounds with EDM/Industrial feelings. Or sinister traditional terror rock like Missionaries from the Outside. Children of the Gun which was a bizarre mixture of Morrisey and The Mission UK.

Purple Fog Side
Beautiful and gentle Human Tetris has all the hook and joy of New Wave with all the spirit of power of Post Punk.

So now that we have strolled down memory lane and I have dipped a toe into the rich post punk/goth history in Russia I want to talk about some of the exciting things I am seeing there today. This is a land so full of passion, cold, darkness, and perseverance. It is no wonder I found a music scene brimming over with diversity and talent. Lets share some now.

First up is dark synthwave band Monoplan. I really enjoy the feeling of moving parts here. Like a giant trap of blocks sliding in precision. Dmitry Philippov has a voice of lovely simple melodies that remind me of The Church. The more I hear it the more i enjoy.

Giant Waves was a really cool sound. All of the slick tight progression of post punk with dark synths and rising Ian McCulloch tyle vocals. It hits on a lot of familiar styles but finds it’s own ground in the striking frozen style and prog riffs.

Raven Said is a high energy shadow punk driving acid spit flavor of Misfits and Batcave. The vocals are sinister and the guitar riffs are scorching. It keeps hitting different layers and hitting them hard.

Umerechny Sad (Сумеречный Сад)(Twilight Garden) has the explosive bass drive of goth with the candy coated synth slides of new wave. The vocals are angelic floating lady croons which bewitch and flow forth into your imagination.

The Quinsy is dark post punk with soul and spirit. Bass heavy and full of transition it really captures the emotion and tradition of old school slow whiskey and stinging anguish flavor. i love these call and answer vocals.

The End of Electronics (Конец Электроники) gives high speed chorus chants for anthem emotions and sizzling post punk movement. I’m stomping my boots and flailing my arms to this burning jam.

Witch will Die Tomorrow brings that refined indie flavor and deep baritone vocals. It echos from below the canyon of life with vibrating clarity.

Облако – Корни The dreamy early New order aspect of Russian post punk. Full of tantalizing fantasia and strike pulse vocals. A fast subway to the heart of you city.

I feel like I have unearthed a whole new world that has been happening parallel to my own just as rich and full. I will keep searching and absorbing this untapped resource of glory in the Russian scene. I didn’t even touch on Witchhouse yet :). The moral of this story for me has been, step outside your comfort zone, dive in head first, and find a world of treasure from the other side of the planet.

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.

Post Punk Music made this year you need in your life!

So I just did the piece on new Industrial which I admitted is a bit out of my wheelhouse these days. However the modern resurgence of Post Punk is right smack in my center. So we have had a lot of great releases in the past few months so I figured I would also catch up on some quick reviews of these. Post Punk is so rooted in the past. Sacred mainstays of the 80’s still rule this scene. I think a lot of the new bands I love pay a lot of respect and homage to that. However what we have in terms of technology and access to good recording has really opened the door to push this genre further than ever before. Here are some examples of people taking that post punk sound and cranking it up to hyperspeed for 2019.

https://antipole.bandcamp.com/album/radial-glare

Kicking off with a review far overdue. Norwegian Post Punk all stars Antipole released “Radial Glare” in September of this year. I have done glowing reviews of Karl Morten Dahl’s last two albums. He is a true post punk historian who has an intimate understanding of Post Punk roots. The tones, effects, and mood are perfectly constructed in the vein of Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, and The Church. I don’t say this lightly but i feel like the clarity and texture of what he achieves goes beyond what those legends had at their disposal. This newest offering is pure frozen crystal that conjures such beautiful images of icy castles of fantasy rising against a desolate land. The vocals from frequent contributes Paris Alexander, Eirene & Marc Lewis charge to the front in a way Antipole never has before and I feel like it was the final piece in the evolution of this band. Karl is an artist that loves listening to music as much as making it. It really shows in the art he makes. If a writer wants to write better they read great writers. Karl is a great song writer because he is always listening to great songs. This album is available in a mint green limited Vinyl and it is 100% the way to hear the nuanced layers he has constructed.

https://manicdepressionrecords.bandcamp.com/album/md115-twin-tribes-ceremony

Next up are those beautiful boys from Texas Twin Tribes and their new album “Ceremony“. This is the sophomore offering from one of the fastest rising stars in this genre. Their first album “Shadows” was basically the reason I started this review page. It was going to be a tough act to follow, but they have not missed a beat. The perfect ritual like intimacy of these songs reminds me so much of The Cure. The connection between their instruments of Joel’s driving foundation on bass creating a floor for Luis’s nimble fingers to dance on with guitar. I found an instant connection to the lyrics on Shadows but Ceremony has really focused on a poetry which might be the hardest thing to recreate of early Post Punk. Each song is beautiful, sorrowful, and unique. These lads are truly destined for greatness and if you haven’t heard them drop what you are doing and get them in your ears now.

https://wingtips.bandcamp.com/

I can’t believe this is the first review I am writing about the shadowy melancholy dream that is Chicago’s Wingtips. I had the extreme pleasure of seeing them at this years Cold Waves festival and their stage show is a powerful vision. The new album Exposure Therapy off Artoffact Records is the type of romantic beauty and chic attitude I miss in this genre. They tell luscious stories that are intense and self involved in a way that speaks truth. I think it is this genuine anguish that makes it feel so authentic and nostalgic. This is an album that you listen to in your living room and feel like the artists have joined you for tea. Trust me you want Hannah and Vincent at your next tea party.

https://kaelanmikla.bandcamp.com/album/n-tt-eftir-n-tt

Ok to be fair this album from Iceland’s Kælan Mikla released November 2018 but somehow I never reviewed it and that is a freaking crime. I feel like they have a lot of the check marks of post punk. Driving basslines, dark themes, rising keyboard leads, slushy guitars. This album Nótt eftir nótt is so hard to put in a genre box. I can’t understand the lyrics so it feels like placing your hand on a burning hot rune stone and summoning a pack of raging Scandinavian Fae who assault you with powerful rebukes and Peter Hook bass lines. Maybe I’m not painting the picture of how glorious that is but it is an effect I have never heard replicated and an amazing one. If you ever feel like no one is breaking any new ground in post punk music you need to dive into this band deep. Trust me you haven’t heard it before.

https://closedmouth19.bandcamp.com/album/o-n-e-remastered-bonus-tracks

Closed Mouth is the amazing project from Yannick Rault who put out an album titled One on Cold Transmission in May. It was mastered by the amazing Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) who also mastered us. I think what is so ambitious and wonderful about this record is the scope of it. It has a very Killing Joke feel, but all the incarnations of Killing Joke at once. The synthwave, the post punk. It drives, it grinds, it’s a shimmering adventure of sonic possibilities. It’s one of those albums you can pick up anywhere in the 14 songs and always get a different feeling. Yannicks vocals are distant and haunted and reach you from a million miles of painted texture. This album is a deep dive.

https://octoberburnsblack.bandcamp.com/

October Burns Black is a bit of a supergroup with James Tramel of (The Wake) they definitely delve more to the darker Chameleons side of post punk. The newest album “Reflections” is a master class in dark, sinister, emotional groove. I love the slow winding power of these expertly crafted whispers pulling you down the river Styx. High on my list of must see bands.

I could go on all night about the wonderful post punk resurgence happening right now but i have to draw a line somewhere. If you have a favorite I have not listed or reviewed please leave it in the comments below.

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?”