Right, this might be the only time I do one of these reviews, but we will get back to that later. Thanatos is a dark electric/acoustic project that started in the 80’s between Sam Rosenthal and Patrick Ogle. November 26th found us with a new album called….. Country Covered. Yep. I was kind of dared into doing this by one MichelRowland before I realised it was country music. The pedigree is there. Gothy band, recorded in William Faith’s (Faith & The Muse, Christian Death) 13 Studio and mixed at Martin Bowes‘ (Attrition) CageStudio. What have I gotten myself into? Poop!
The album is the brain child of Patrick Ogle, who obviously loves country music or the fact he finds the craftsmanship of the music exceptional. There are nine tracks in total and they are all played on acoustic guitar by Ogle as he sings. There seems to be everything from oldies by Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt to more modern tunes. As with all country songs they cover a gamut of subjects that most other genre don’t. The loneliness of the wilderness, riding the open plains, gun slinging and bar brawls to missing your loved ones while working the land or simply watching the sky turn shades of orange, pink and hues of blue, as the sun disappears while you sit in your encampment.
The single off Country Covered is “Seminole Wind” was composed and originally sung by John Anderson in 1992 about Florida’s destruction and loss of the natural habitat that supports the ecosystem. The vocals and tone in this new version remind me a lot of legendary Man In Black aka Johnny Cash. The whole album is beautifully produced and it does almost feel like you are at a campsite around a roaring fire in the cool night air. Ogles’s performance never wavers nor does it ever sound like his heart is not there. For me, I grew up for the first six years of my life in small country towns where the music of choice was country and western as it was known back then. For some reason, even though I heard John Denver and the rhinestone cowboy, Glenn Campbell, all my life, I find it a really challenging genre to like and to this end, I am definitely no expert. If you found yourself in awe of what Johnny Cash did to Nine Inch Nails then you may very well find that this collection of country song soothes your soul. You will find this Thanatos album on the Projekt label and it name you price download.
Michael Gillman (Gillie) and Daniel Allen are the brothers that make up the band Dirt Factory. Gillie is in Brisbane and Allen lives in Melbourne which means since the outbreak of the plague (covid) they have been in lockdowns for well over a year and unable to meet up or play live gigs unless doing them solo. This hasn’t slowed them down one iota because December the 3rd saw the third album released in two years, called Systems Deleted on Brisbane based label Viral Records Australia. Interestingly Dirt Factory almost exclusively use analogue equipment.
Oh yes from the start you can already hear how good this really is. “Delete The System” growls Allen, ‘fuckyour commands‘ over rampaging rhythms that give this it’s bang. Second single, “Microscopic“, has guest, Roger Menso (ex-Dogmachine) on guitar and good grief, this is a new level Dirt Factory. It is a grimy, sexy beast of a song that takes your breathe away and gives you shivers up your spine. Allen sounds like a very angry dalek that has fully gone industrial and it sounds brilliant. Dirt Factory want to “Factory Assimilate” you and quite frankly I can think of worse things to do as the music beast down in industrial precision convincing you that you will obey. There is something symphonic and other worldly about “Hammer“. It experiments with low tones that sound like abused piano wires and high synths in direct opposition, while Allen is the bloody butcher. The original single is “Crash Landing“, because you know they are out there and they have those stellar synth lines and beats. Yes the aliens are here and you can listen to a report of an eyewitness and Allen’s inhuman screams.
Swallow the pill and “Suck It Up” is a dirge ridden number and I honestly can hear far too much innuendo. “Dive” is just a superb piece with sweeping electronics that fritter out and arc around you like electrical tendrils. Soundscape mixed with such hostile vocals. Jethro Hilliard (RAZRWHIP) guests on this track providing drums and sound effects. This has to be one of my favourite tracks on the albums. But wait, they then slam us with “Digital Media” with guitar provided by another member of RAZRWHIP, Johnny Ryall, who nails the electronic fuzzy tones that help propel this forward in real rock style. The next track is all about the animated dead…spooky. “Flesh” is horror inspired zombie fare with glitching beats and vocals as they stalk you. In the “Exstream” they are observing you, surveillance of every aspect of your life and you can be brainwashed but are you too involved in the conspiracies? Final eleventh track is “Ghosts” and this just is just a great bouncing track and probably the most reminiscent of Skinny Puppy and it pumps.
I love what they have done with Allen’s vocals and Gillie is just so talented with synths. This is a monster of an album, again beautifully mastered at NyteShayde by Menso. If this doesn’t get your heart rate up then you might be dead. The really scary part is that I already know that the lads have almost finished their fourth album which is both mind blowing and disturbing all at the same time. Gillman also revealed that the next album is already darker. So before they stab their way repeatedly with rhythmic timing through your chest, do listen to “Systems Deleted” because it kicks arse.
New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town and it is also where you will find the goth/post-punk band Black RoseBurning. George Grant is Black Rose Burning and on the 17th of November, which was incidentally Grant’s birthday, he released his second album called The Wheel.
We start with “An Anthem For The Strange“, which is shy of two minutes. The album’s intro is short and sweet with the the sentiment that those who are different from the norm have a place in this world. “Black SunSaturday” is a lament of being taken for granted and dealing with the pain. The chorus is catchy and the harmonies just make you melt. There is something about the beginning of “No Love Lost” that reminds me of The Cure, thought that doesn’t last for long, especially when the fuzzy tones kick in. An ode to a relationship in which there was no give and only take/demands.
Ever been involved with a person where you hung in but the other just made you wonder how long this will all last? “A Little Too Little” is the track with Grant imploring how much more do you want me to take, which is a glorious mix of electronic and guitar. There is the forever love song, “Antonia” which is so upbeat and even has a guitar solo which is pulled off very nicely. There is a futuristic feel to “Gravity Drive” and though the synths sparkle brightly, they belie a sadness and pain in the lyrics.
I am not utterly sure about “Automatic Man” but I truly believe it is going to one of those songs that different people are going to hear different things that are pertinent to them as it is a very passionate piece. Track eight is a cover of a favourite song of mine by The Buzzcocks, “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen In Love With?“. This is a really interesting interpretation and that to me is a good thing because if you are going to cover a song then you need to put yourself into that piece.
Next is “Lightspeed” and although Grant’s voice is nothing like David Bowie’s, I could honestly hear him singing this. It has a sonic, 70s glam element as we hurtle through space. The title track, “The Wheel” is the turning of time, as things change and the challenge of living free. “Every Single Time” hits like it is straight out of the 80s and musically it reminds me of Orchestral Moves In The Dark. A piece about when people dissolve a relationship but one is left with a broken heart wondering what could have been and thinking about the loss of what was. The final track is “Solar Angels” and you can’t help but imagine the wonderful trip with the references to celestial bodies as we leave into the night sky.
Black Rose Burning has the elements of post-punk such as the jangly guitars and the keyboards and yet there seems to so much more going on. Grant cites bands like Sisters Of Mercy and more so The Church as big influences on his music which I can hear in the composition of the music. Space might be the final frontier but Black Rose Burning are already stellar.
The ancient Greeks believed in mythical beings that sang to weary sailors, drawing them to their beautiful voices but in the end only offered death called sirens. ODDKO are an act from Los Angeles and have been around since 2011. 26th of November saw the release of the single “Siren Song“, with the man behind it all, Giovanni Bucci being joined by Francesco Paoli (Fleshgod Apocalypse) and Dave Tavanti (Kpanic) to record the EP, DigitalGods. Bucci is also known for being a filmmaker and specializing in special effects.
“Siren Song” is very much about the commercialism of society, so much so the release date coincided with Black Friday.. An observation about people who feel that life will never complete if they don’t own the latest or the newest product. The producers get rich, those that consume poorer and the environment pays the biggest price in all this greed.
This video is a pretty show of virtual special effects which obviously this is due to Bucci’s prowess in this field but I have to say, he actually writes a mean tune as well. I am trying to put my finger on what I like about this track. Is it the catchy chorus? The orchestration? The huge guitar riffs that thunder through or is it Bucci’s passionate vocals? It is more than likely a combination of this and the theme they are pushing home.
When brothers Eric and Jeremy Hanes of Spankthenun released the albumBunker Tapes Vol I, in the beginning of 2021, they found they had created enough material to record Bunker Tapes Vol II, which hit us on October, the 27th. Spankthenun have been on the scene since 2019 and yet they are already an integral part of the American and world wide industrial scene with feature artists, other bands remixing their music and a huge number of guest remixes for other acts under their belts.
The lads roped in Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip fame, to guest vocal on the single “Off Beatings” which of course had to be a single. This is a slow burn of angst that Larsen pulls off so well. There is something about the beginning of “I Self Me” that invokes goosebumps, it is possibly the scintillating synths mixed with the gritty vocals. Is it just me, or does the little electronic voice sound like the robots aboard the Cylon mother ship of the original Battlestar Galactica in “The Smoking Gun”? Nefarious things are afoot. Itwas never you says Jeremy in his abrasive metalized observation before we are hit with the rather dance-able “Right Father“, a call to keep the bastards in power honest and accountable, because it is true that the more the wealthy will continue to reap the cash and watch the poor fade away.
“Sick Pathos” again has those brilliant beats that propel it along and lead into “Man In The Moon“, who sounds like a rather vicious fellow who spreads descent and mistrust with the music taking on the dark oppressive attitude. “Industrial Beats” definitely have industrial beats that pound on because there is a specific list of things this industrialist likes and needs. Hard to tell if this is tongue in cheek or not but make sure you get your beets (sic) as they are now stuck in my head. We all live in the broken machine,lockdown is “Lockdown” and honestly two years ago, the term lockdown was used for security facilities mostly and not civilians but now it is common vocab in this dystopian feel track.
The nonsensical “I Am The Fire” is a bit of a fun and the last track before the four guest remixes of which the first is the Mirland remix of “Off Beatings” with it’s more crunchy textures that the Europeans do so well. NatureOf Wires polishes “Right Father” and it is given a more sci fi feel while “The Smoking Gun” is given the treatment by Planet Damage and this becomes a different creature. Last of these great remixes is the Psychosomatik and they take “I Self Me” to dance floor heaven
Listening to Spankthenun really is a bit like a timewarp and landing back in the 90s when there was a turn towards a heavier, gritty tone lead by SkinnyPuppy, Ministry et al. There are tell tale signs of the 80s industrial influences that graduate into the 2000s by the end of the album which was done on purpose. The remixes are the modern cream on top so to speak. Social concious mixed with great music never goes wrong and Spankthenun has both.