I continue to see the importance of putting out this monthly chart. One that is unique in our scene. I hope other people appreciate the songs chosen here for their quality. Every track here is voted on by Dj’s, Bands, Reviewers, and Superfans that represent the pulse of modern dark music.
Leathers – Runaway
Black Angel – Look Me In the Eye
The Cassandra Complex – Old Boys Network
HexHeart – Erase Yesterday
Moris Blak/Daddybear/GrabYourFace – Crimes Of Passion
Vaselyne – Shame
Iamnoone – The Need
Sever The Servants – Get In The Grave
Iamtheshadow – Remind Me
Kill Shelter (Feat: Agent Side Grinder) – The Necklace
LEATHERS – Runaway – Another gorgeous smash hit from Shannon Hemmett of Vancouver. As part of the darkscene darlings Actors this synthy dreamwave project continues to grow and impress with every release. Masterful execution with a personal delivery.
Black Angel – Look Me In The Eye – We have an upcoming interview with LA transplant Matt Vowles about the band putting the rock back into gothic rock. I love this slow grooving The Cult style flavored single with some sinister smokey backup vocals from Manheesha Jones. Absolute banger.
The Cassandra Complex – Old Boys Network -After 20 years the pre goth legends The Cassandra Complex dropped a new album and a scathing punk rock rebuke of modern post capitalism. This song has been sitting the top of the DAC chart as well all month long.
Hexheart – Erase Yesterday – Seattle WA sleek voodoo synth had this single to set the road for their 6/17/22 release “Funeral Flowers“. I love the smooth electronic soft serve retro feel. The lyrics have a wonderful Ducky in the rain poetry. This album will be a day one buy for me.
MORIS BLAK x DADDYBEAR x GRABYOURFACE – Crimes of Passion – Three heavy hitters of modern EDM/EBM who have teamed again to take our singles chart by storm. Each time they have gotten together it is an absolute banger offset by Marie’s crime croon vocals. This belongs on dancefloors everywhere.
Vaselyne – Shame (PJ Harvey Cover) – Early single release for the 6/3/22 EP “The Sea Says” is a cover of the mistress of raw alternative PJ Harvey. I love the percussive twang present throughout. The Dutch duo on COP International do a lovely vocal volley. I love the dusty humidity of the tone in this homage. Leaves me excited to review the album.
Sever The Servants – Get In The Grave – Another song on this chart from the partnership of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolan on their horror hue nightmare fuel project on Produkt 42. Normally I don’t answer orders to jump into the grave soil, but this charismatic call gets under your skin.
IAMTHESHADOW – Remind Me – Another gorgeous underground bop from the best baritone in modern goth Pedro Code. The Portuguese darkwave act continues to be the flagship of Cold Transmission. A darkwood ship rising and falling on synthetic waves.
Kill Shelter – The Necklace ft Agent Side Grinder – Finally the eagerly awaited master producer and composer Pete Burns returns to form with a single from the upcoming July album “Asylum” using guest vocals from the Swedish Synth star Johan Lange of Agent Side Grinder. This is an emotional tidal wave and leaves me ravenous for the full release. Pete is a wizard of drawing the best out of already talented people.
Tomorrow April Bandcamp Day embraces us. I returned from a desperately needed weekend getaway to see Actors at Smalls. Out at a bar, seeing one of my favorite bands playing live. With my friends around me, dancing, smiling, drinking. Ok the drinking got to be a bit over the top and I got sloppy gushing to Jason after the show. I think you take my point, it felt like fun was in the world again. Feeling locked away for so long. Work, isolation, trying to finish an album, seeing so much music come sailing over my head at the speed of light. Wanting to share but not finding the spoons to write reviews. Kicking the can down the road until tomorrow. Seeing that show though, it reminded me why I started. This new album was a progressive step forward for Actors, the excitement of a new member, music into energy, into joy, into energy returned. I came home reminded I needed to stop. Stop pushing myself to write because I had so many bands to share, so many friends to send my love to, and just stop. Stop and listen to music. Write about it after. It would be done when it was done. I might not finish for Bandcamp Day. When I do finish, I will tell you about the songs I stopped to listen to, alone in the silence.
Gasoline Invertebrate – Cracked Wax Battery – Brian Gaupner (The Gothscicles, Space Couch, TigerSquak Records) holds a special place in my heart. I feel a bit of twin spirit in how he approaches music. That feeling that music is an experience better shared. The visual of a Cracked Wax Battery is such a striking image. That bleeding yellow goop pouring out of an old battery carcass. Bringing in great artistic names that are also friends of a mutual vision like: Gopal Metro , Ed Cripps, Zoog Von Rock, and MORIS BLAK. A plasma whip of electronic dance beats cracking the air with aerobic intensity. Brian takes some of the jovial madness of Gothscicles off his voice and replaces it with hissing menace. The NES throwback energy of these synth lines are a nerdcore street cred of belonging. Gasoline Invertebrate always makes you feel inside the curtain.
Fav Track: Please Rate Your Pain – This song is everything the album is striving for, distilled down into a concentrated idea. The samples which raise a gallows humor poke at society. The rippling checkered cloth of constant motion. Brian’s continuous chant against the monetized concept of pain Olympics in modern society.
silver walks – tear me down – Dan McCullough the recent New York resident has continued to blow me away with every thread he slowly unravels for this album. This latest single out 4/8/22 is a super band level support cast to bring the shimmering sand swept race through grains of time to life. Coral Scere delivers a breathy elegant leaping vocal performance. In fact this single features an all star cast.
music written and arranged by Daniel Mccullough vocals and lyrics by Coral Scere backing vocals by Tim Heireth additional noise loops – Steven Archer
all tracks mastered by Eric Oehler at submersible studios, Wisconsin artwork by Steven Archer silver walks logo by Jim Marcus
I really feel this in my bones. Dan has been taking his time to hone each song to perfection. The attention to detail and craft show. This is special.
Panic Priest – Second Seduction – So this is a 2020 release from Chicago synth crooner Jack Armondo, one of the best baritone voices in the modern darkscene with an amazing ear for melody and construction. This album released on Negative Gain was a forceful step forward for the artist. It has a cavernous echo of isolation which was so relatable and present for many in 2020. The guitar work was an ever twisting glass staircase of builds and contact. Adam Black of Midnight Mannequin Records took on the mission of bringing this powerful album into vinyl format with this re release. The expansive warmth really deserves this hand held delivery. Looks like I need to buy this record again.
Black Angel – The Black Rose – Dark rock deity Matt Vowles has released another new album, honestly I don’t know where he finds the depths and time to keep churning out this much material at a high level. Where 2021 Prince of Darkness had a very LA hard rock 90s flavor, The Black Rose goes back even further with a modern gothic slant on early devil rock like Black Sabbath. It creeps in like a dream with slow stinging drums, deep lacerating guitar riffs, and a staggering vocal melody somewhere between Ozzy and Lane Staley. Someday soon a wise label is going to snatch up Black Angel and push them to the moon.
All tracks written, recorded and produced by Matt Vowles on behalf of Solid Recordings Publishing 2022 Vocals by Corey Landis and Maneesha Jones Album cover by Eshmoon DM
Vaselyne – Here To Begin – New 2 track EP out from Amsterdam based new members of the COP International family Yvette Winkler and Frank Weyzig (ex Clan of Xymox). I love the forceful proclamation of a title “Here To Begin”. All sales from this EP will be donated to support The Ukrainian People in their struggle for freedom. I’m always an enormous fan of bands that step up for their beliefs. The music has a travelers sung story around a crackling fire feel. Faces wreathed in shadows with distant pounding toms and blended finger pick acoustic and slushy growling wolf guitars. It builds like a spell into a gorgeous blown glass solo. I love the warmth and organic construction. This begins an intriguing new sound for the diverse COP roster.
Latenite Automatic – Statues – So I am standing near the merch booth at the Actors show in Detroit, and Jason introduces me to this handsome young rake and says “Ken, this is Scott, you need to check out his band”. Well I am always going to take that recommendation. Thus I was led to Canada based Latenite Automatic. I was struck first by the dangerous blend of club beats and rock and roll attitude. The vocals are a dark growling vibration sitting under the surface of the mix. Breaking the water in parts to create tension and intensity. The solo of this track sets the fretboard on fire. You have my attention gentlemen, time to dig through the back catalog.
Stoneburner – Contracting Iris – I know, Ken, you are always talking about Stoneburner. Well, have you heard Stoneburner? There is a reason. A new 2 track EP based on the science fiction story by Peter Watts. I love the ambitious artistry of this concept, where music is inspired by the written word, they find each other and build a stronger broader idea. The story now has an audiobook version with Steven’s score and Donna reading. I hope Steven has pioneered another idea that catches on in the scene. The music conjures images of Lynch “Dune” with it’s post apocalyptical chaos and danger, set against a background of high leather fashion. I kept picturing Sting doing a knife dance in a pit of unworthy opponents.
Sever The Servants – Nowhere – Second single from the powerhouse team up of Hide Tepes and Mike Nolen. A mechanized iron lung terror track. A shambling chant of desperation and quest for meaning. I love hearing two artist I am a fan of individually finding ways to smooth each others edges and improve the effect of both. Now on Produkt 42 a new label getting big steam in the scene.
PSY’AVIAH – Bittersweet – Massive new 42 track release from Yves Schelpe led project Psy’Aviah. This is bursting with guest talent like Claus Larssen (Leætherstrip), Mari Kattman (Helix) , Cat Hall (Dissonance), Kimberly (Bow Down Ever) and so many more. I don’t have time on bandcamp day to give the true deep dive of justice this release deserves. It is glorious higher thinking trip hop electronica with a poets soul. A robust and soulful stew of Portishead, Suzanne Vega, with modern spice and production. I’m honestly floored by the world building ground covered in this single release. It feels like 3 albums of contrasting and quality material. We should all pick this up and explore it deeper together.
The world is a bit scary right now. A lot of giant dark clouds hang over us. What is happening to the people of Ukraine is first and foremost in many minds. Art/Music has always been a means of expression for the suffering of the world. As well as a way to give hope. So as reports started coming in several bands in the darkscene released singles with proceeds going to support humanitarian efforts. I will share some of those now
Lifeline International – Come Together – So I will age myself here, but back in 1985 the famine happening through out Africa gained public attention when pretty much every popular star in music came together to preform a single called “We Are The World”. When I heard this Beatles cover electrified and amplified by Christian Petke (COP International) and Legendary producer John Fryer my heart stood on it’s edge in that same way as in 1985. This track features : members of Faith No More, Stabbing Westward, Rammstein, The Hardkiss (Ukraine), Revolting Cocks, Filter, Pigface, Agnostic Front, Basement Jaxx, Gravity Kills, The Cassandra Complex, Mesh, blackcarburning, The Joy Thieves, Deathline International, Vaselyne, and Black Needle Noise. I know that might not feel like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Kenny Rogers to the rest of the world. To Goth/Industrial fans, it’s pretty close. Massive fuzzy funk riffs, earth shaking percussion explosions, vocals that deliver distinctive sounds and seamless overlap. The opening track of Abbey Road which was supposedly written for Timothy Leary’s attempt to become Governor of California has always struck an emotional chord of counter culture rising up for change. The addition of Queen’s We Will Rock You at the end is a fitting signature to the journey. There is a VERY good reason this has remained the number one seller on Bandcamp in any genre.
A Cloud of Ravens – The Call Up – Brooklyn NY goth rockers ACOR follow up their stand out album Another Kind Of Midnight with this shadow disco flavored cover of legendary punk act The Clash. Mathew’s vocals are a crooning whisper in contrast to the original, yet never lack for intensity. A cutting electronic veil of synths and foot stomping percussion. They are donating all proceeds to International Rescue Committee. This transitioned from a 4/4 vamp banger into a elastic and textured dance floor electricity. I think Strummer would have appreciated.
Ashes Fallen – Stand Your Ground (for Ukraine) – This single from California goth rockers Ashes Fallen was featured on their album “A Fleeting Melody Out Of A Fading Dream“. This version with all proceeds to Direct Relief for their humanitarian mission in Ukraine. It features a remix by The Axiom Divide. The original is such a mist rising from concrete dark edge call to arms banger. The remix pulls back the teeth to reveal James emotional vocal performance and subtle colliding synth streams. It adds a reflection of sorrow to the aggression of the original.
Ashes Fallen is James Perry, Michelle Perry, and Jason Shaw. The Axiom Divide is Jay Tye, Brent Heinze, and Misti Laubscher.
Warm Gadget – Lost Weekend – So this is an enormous value compilation for $12 featuring 99 tracks. All proceeds go to Vostok SOS and the Ukrainian Red Cross. An ambitious undertaking in it’s scope and delivery. With contributions from more than 27 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA and others. There is too much here to go through every individual band. I will focus on this one track from Oregon based hammering hard rock synergy Warm Gadget. I always get chunky Helmet slither math vibes from them. I love the stretch and build happening here. You would be seriously hard pressed to get a better musical value to support the cause.
Thieve6 – Inside Out – Ok, this is shameless self promotion. However it is also a single with all proceeds going to Razom, a humanitarian relief charity chosen by Myah who had just lived in the Ukraine as part of Peace Corp. Those that follow Sounds and Shadows have probably heard of my fanboying for 90s Alt rocker Eve 6 and his twitter page. It has gotten to be a bit of a running bit in the Facebook group. So when Dan Milligan of Joy Thieves/The Burying Kind fame about doing a cover, Collin and I (Amaranth) went to work. We had no idea when we started what Dan would eventually bring together. I’m proud of the result, and proud to raise money for the cause it goes to. We also got to bring in the talented Whitney Flaherty to produce the inspired cover art. I’m still waiting for Max to ask me :If I like the Heart In A Blender Song“.
Ken Magerman: lead and backing vocals, clips and phrases Collin Schipper: guitars, backing vocals, wicker cabinet James Scott: bass guitar, origami Myah VanTil: backing vocals, faith in nothing Damien Faust: guitar, finalistic rendezvous Dan Milligan: drums, guitar, synths, ginger ale
Now for those of you that prefer a more direct support. I will call out some bands in our scene in the Ukraine that are suffering and could use your support.
Icy Men – Low Light – Based in Kyiv/Kiev our friends on Cold Transmission Music Lytvyn and Den Stavitskiy who we have reviewed previously do a frozen darkness coldwave that resonates in the heart. The driving bass in abandoned subways, pounding movement. Frosty breath vocals delivered with cutting logic. I fell in love with this record in 2020 and hold a good thought for the next release.
BlazerJacket – Get Out (feat. Dirty Bird 13) – Another artists from Kyiv Denis Cherryman has a new retrowave shimmering single of oil on water in the morning sun. Creating an image of serenity before the violent guitar crunch and broken glass vocals shatter the surface of the water. Without warning another change from Psalm 69 Ministry fury to hypnotic retro melody hook. I love the bold transitions, I love the message of warning. Have a thought for Denis, I look forward to his next release.
Sexual Purity – Suffer | Hope – I love the erratic percussion builds from Dnipro based Coldwave artists Sexual Purity. Anastasia has a captivating and emotionally tortured voice. It drips with animal hunger and menace. The style is very minimalist like a swirling nightmare you can’t hold in your mind. I look forward to more exploration of diverse styles in the future offerings. I was haunted and intrigued. Track 3 “In The Ocean” was a standout for me in the way the vocals took a more jagged and dangerous edge.
Music by Oleksii Donets Vocal and Lyrics by Anastasia Romanova
When the world is suffering it is often artists who put the emotions into a physical form. Here we are just scratching the surface of amazing bands that offered up their art to support the people effected by this horrible conflict. Hopefully one of these offerings inspired you to do something for those suffering. Please if you know of another artists doing a song with the proceeds going to humanitarian relief leave a link and comment below
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.
This one is special. The first album with a new label Cold Transmission. Pedro, Victor, Herr, these aren’t just a band, they are friends. IAMTHESHADOW is one of the first bands I discovered in my goth renaissance and I have a deep knowledge of their catalog. This album has a story with it. A triumph over adversity, a celebration of reaching a scarred hand up to pull yourself over the ledge. I wanted to start this review by being honest of what this album was to me before I hit play. Now that you know the magnifying power of this lens I am listening through I am going to set it aside and tell you a story about the pure passion and beauty in these 12 songs.
IAMTHESHADOW: Pedro Code – Voices, Guitar, Synthesizers and Programming Vitor J. Moreira – Synthesizers Herr G – Bass
All songs produced, mixed and mastered by Pedro Code Design & Artwork by Yvonne Kiel
Music is a magical thing. Like a relationship. It has a lot of parts and means a lot of things in different moments. I want to give a little background to help you understand this moment. Portuguese band IAMTHESHADOW are a synth driven darkwave sound which builds around Pedro Code’s voice. It is one of the most expressive and passionate instruments in the current dark music scene. The type of old school crooning black silk that would be just as much at home 30’s jazz as it is today. Since 2016’s Everything Is Nothingness this band has stayed true to an immersive core of feeling driven poetry stretching skyward from rich soil of driving rhythm. Embracing the Fall from 2018 took that raw concept to a new height of exposed Nick Cave style narrative with tender dark ballads and the addition of Antipole’s Karl Morton Dahl adding guitar accents. Pedro and team then turned to other projects like The Dream Collision until signing with longtime friends Cold Transmission Music. It was in Cologne Germany for the Cold Transmission festival I witnessed IAMTHESHADOW live and fell in love. When you love an album you expect to hear a band bring it to life on stage. Those special bands find a way to play those songs with new intensity and passion. To open your eyes wide like the first time. So it was in a distant land on a small stage in Cologne.
For two years I waited to see the next place Pedro, Victor, and Herr would take me. Just as the album was nearly completed a tragedy befell with Pedro being robbed of his laptop, and more importantly the masters of the entire album. Huge sections would have to be completely re-recorded. We would all be waiting a little longer for Pitchblack. It was well worth the wait.
The change in tone from the previous offerings is apparent right away. This record does not build itself around the best baritone voice in modern goth. It uses it as an arrowhead propelled towards your heart on silky flowing movement. Part of the glory of the previous three records was using a recipe of stripped down driven passion in a world of ultra produced post punk. Here that passion is just as present but layered inside an intricate and dynamic musical backdrop that gives each concept a voice of it’s own. Additional vocalist Diego Merletto (The Frozen Autumn), Kadri Sammel (Bedless Bones) Yvette Winkler (Vaselyne) were brought on to do vocals. I can say from experience of being offered a duet with Pedro it is an intimidating feeling. Putting my voice next to his sounded panic inducing. Here it is taking something already beautiful and captivating then placing it in a rich sensual frame.
This album cooks. IAMTHESHADOW has always had the ability to move you. With swelling slow turns and blood given form. Pitchblack is striking percussion. Walking slide foot bass lines. Cascading synth sounds rippling in endless alternating progressions. Here the passion is not tender, or heart wrenching. It has teeth, gravitas, and attitude. More of a Depeche ModeMusic For the Masses .These songs are for dancing. For fine red wine. For staring into the eyes of the one you love.
Lets talk about some of those tracks:
Always– Track two leans in with that slashing motion and crisp snare snap. The keys here take center stage and Pedro’s vocals lift and support them. “When you realize, don’t wait”. It’s this urgency of both lyrics and the music. Crackling energy that ignites passion and stirs longing.
Shivers – I’m not sure if this song will end up being a single but i fell in love with it from the start. It has a lot of that classic IATS feel. The train getting further from the station delayed guitar riffs. Pedro’s voice strides to the forefront and is larger than any room I could image. “I played my hand, hoping faith would last” I would dance through the rain on a street full of watery explosions while this song played forever.
Ouroboros (Feat: Kadri Sammel from Bedless Bones) – So Bedless Bones from Estonia is a criminally underrated band. As I said I can’t imagine the giant brass stones it takes to sing next to Pedro. Ouroboros is a perfect name for this track because the voices blend so perfectly it is hard to tell where one starts and the other stops. “Face down on the floor, you are my shadow” Powerful EDM flavor meets traditional darkwave. This song is a dance floor giant.
Awake & Asleep (Feat. Diego Merletto from The Frozen Autumn) – Another weaving smoke tendril that you can’t quite grab a hold of. To have a weapon like Pedro’s voice and to leave it in the background to craft a song this strong is such a bold choice. It really breaks up up flow of the album in the best way. This chorus is such a bold change and hard hook.
When you love something and it still finds a way to surprise you, that is true power. That’s what Pitchblack was for me. The anticipation of knowing something you were going to love was coming. Building the expectation beyond what could be met. Then being amazed when it passed that expectation. This is already the #1 selling darkwave album on bandcamp on day #1 and there is a really good reason for that. Take this journey. Fall in love with music that has soul. This is a record that makes you feel something. That stirs that ancient instinct inside our hearts.