Meajin is the indigenous name for the area where the city of Brisbane is found. It is also the city that you can find the female trio, Sacred Hearts.June Gray, Josie Davison, and Bella Molloy dropped their second single “Vices” on January the 10th, 2022. Their first single was well received by the discerning alternative public. It did so well, “Glamour Girls” made radio station, 4ZZZ’s Hot 100 for last year, as voted for by listeners, which they didn’t expect.
“Vices” is fairly obviously about addiction, the lies people tell to hide it and the effective loss others feel. The song is slow, like a case of seeing through intoxicated eyes as everything dwindles. The bass guitar is the star in this, with the deep sonorous plucking, backed up by the light guitar work around it. The vocals, a beautiful lament calling out, an ethereal dark angel.
Dark and moody with a bit of echo and reverb to set the scene and it would make a depressed Robert Smith proud. It is a gloomy gothic affair, which for some of us, is something we have experienced first hand, the loss of others to their “Vices“. Though it is a sad topic, the music is beautiful and if these ladies are the future of goth…. then we are in good hands.
Greek duo, Mechanimal, are celebrating 10 years together and releasing albums. So it is fitting to release a best of collection. This best of however is made up of songs that were picked by other artists and then they have remixed them. The compilation is called LivingWithAnimalGhosts and was released on InnerEarRecords on January the 14th, 2022.
If you are a fan of Mechanimal already, you will enjoy this look back and re-interpretation of past works. There is also pretty much a style to suit everyone. TheDansMonSalon remix of “InSomberAccount“, with it’s trap influenced industrial or the minimalist vision PsychedelicTripsToDeath have given “Un/Mobility“. There is the 80s sounding “ShadowsOnTheWall” by JaredKyle, while the LiaHide version of “TheDen” is a classical, stripped down affair. And that is only four songs into this 17/18 track album.
Special mention of the RodneyOrpheus (CassandraComplex) club mix of “RedMirror“. The song is molded into a far more post-punk direction, adding extra guitar and maybe even giving it an extra air of being subversive and dirty.
It is a melting pot of musical styles with Mechanimal as the flavouring ingredient and their friends have lovingly reworked songs to show their admiration for the talent that has gone into each. A wonderful way to celebrate a band, their work and hopefully another ten years!
London based, post-punk trio, BlackDoldrums are back with another single, “IntoBlue” to tease us with before the release of the album DeadAwake. The debut album hits us 11th of March, 2022 on FuzzClubRecords.
There is a sonorous beauty to “IntoBlue“. Gibbard’s vocals gracefully take centre stage while the sweet chime of guitars is pervasive, making the hairs on the back of your neck rise. How do you explain a piece of music that resonates at a primal level to your very core.
A slow burning shoegaze ballad. There are touches of Ride, Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain throughout. The video is a black and white extension of the music, that explores the play of dark and light. “IntoBlue” is yet another example of the skill of the band to craft guitar based delights. We count the days to the release of the album.
Those that know the US act, Strap On Halo, will know of their singer, Layla Reyna and if you don’t then you are in for something a bit special. After relocating to Seattle and finding Strap On Halo on a hiatus, Reyna created Licorice Chamber for herself and in doing so, released the EP, “The Taste Of Falling“. This is a project that she not only does the vocals for, but apart from the guitar work, impressively, everything else is her including writing the music. Four of the five tracks, feature Michel Rowland of New Zealand bands Disjecta Membra and Dreams Are Like Water on guitar and as you will find out, he was not the only guest.
If “As The World Breathes” is any indication of what this album is going to be like, then this is going to be a treat. A mixture of electronic beats, melancholy guitar, and Layla’s vocals just flowing seamlessly into your ears. What catches my attention is the heavy down notes of piano and guitar. The beautiful, “This Love Is Dark” is mesmerizing and this it the Codename:Lola remix. Codename:Lola is the project for UK artist Lee Meadows. Full of lament and longing of wanting a little bit longer. The synths are just wonderful, along with the jangle of guitar make it a truly haunting number that gets under your skin.
The sliding notes of the guitar again are spine tingling in “Just Like The Horror Movies” as Rowland out does himself. Reyna makes horror movies so far appealing with those sensual vocals, luring you into a gorgeous nightmare. “It’s An Illusion” just floats and while it has a Siouxsie Sioux vibe, it is definitely all Reyna. New Zealander, Blair Wotton (Columns Of Sand, Froithead, The Flickering) provides the fuzzing guitar that fits in perfectly with the electronics. The final track is the original version of “This Love Is Dark” which is far more stripped back than the remix yet it does not detract as you hear all the nuances that make up this shadowy fantasy.
There is something inextricably deep and sensuous about “The Taste Of Falling“. It could be the composition or the beautiful singing. Maybe the guitar work that harkens back to albums like Pornography that give you goosebumps. Whatever it is, Licorice Chamber has it in spades. There is a palpable texture of velvet and satin to lay your fevered brain and rest as the quality of the recording, mixing and mastering is perfect. Just for good measure, it was mastered by Gordon Young of Children On Stun fame. This is a cracker of an EP and I am left craving more………..
In Milan, Italy, there is an act called HiddenHouse, an amalgamation of two local talents, FranCesco (vocals, guitar) and Giò (vocals, bass, programming). They have dropped the single “Hide” with a rather spooky video, off the album, InsideTheHiddenHouse, that was released last year.
The tone is set from the beginning with the synthesised harpsichord. This reminds me a lot of the gothic music that was coming out in the early 90s… muted vocals that haunt you over the dark vampiric styling of a dark dance room ball.
The beat with the twang of the bass, propel this forward. Those fond of gothic lace, bats and such things are going to love everything going on in this. It reminds me of another Italian band called FlowerOfSin. Dare you “Hide” in the HiddenHouse?!
Everybody needs a “Greasy Strangler” in their life. Just ask San Diego’s, The Writhers who dropped the single on January 15th, 2022. They are bringing you their brand of psychobilly/horror-punk/deathrock to curl your toes to and make you avoid those lonely and derelict places. The band is comprised of Robert Writhe (vocals/accordion), Rikk R Treat (drums), Chewy Morsel (guitar) and Kenny Wolfsbane (bass).
You might feel the breath of the “Greasy Strangler” on the back of your neck as inch by inch, he is getting to the point of strangling you. Writhe sings his aggressively awkward love song of how he recognises himself reflected in the actions and mindset of the strangler…a meeting of the psychos so to speak. The bass is sleazy and bold, while the guitar is the crazed, aiding and abetting in the build up of the feeling of insanity.
Great thing about psychobilly is that is never takes itself too seriously and it is as much about having fun with the genre as it is about creating good music. The Writhers add an air of The Cramps like campness with the horror-punk theme and the deathrock guitar and attitude, giving us a song you can sink your teeth into..or is that get your hands around???
Feeling in the mood for some electronic beats in an 80s style? Then we have “OutAlive” by LikeWhat. This New York act released the track on January 11th, 2022 and I was reliably informed it was created on an ipad with a guitar. I honestly don’t know much more about this project yet…..
There is something so reminicent of the wonderful TobiasBernstrup. It could be the singing style and annunciation of the vocalist. The rhythm with the synths are stalking you and will find you wherever you try to hide. The guitar chiming in is extra foreboding as you won’t get out alive.
Electronic music will always lend itself to an apocalyptic vision, concealing and on the run from an unnamed, yet terrible foe. This is definitely one of those tracks that you think, at the end that it finished far too quickly. Damn it, we need a longer remix!! So you can guess by that statement I may have liked it quiet a bit. Get your darkwave on with LikeWhat and “OutAlive“.
Vlimmer, German post-punk/electronic project for Alexander Leonard Donat, has released a split single comprised of “Erdgerurch” and “SpaceDementia” in January, on Blackjack Illuminist Records, which is also run by Donat.
“Erdgerurch” is a wonderful post-punk piece that has a retro feel with the sublime synths and deep vocals, matched with the drum machine that is spine tingling. Every so often you hear a fuzz of electronic noise creeping at the edges and this feels so warm and familiar that it is instantly likeable. The beginning to “SpaceDementia” is surreal and continues in that vein with the vocals. It is a bit like being on the deck of the Star Trek Enterprise, if they were a bit dark and flying to their doom. An impression of infinite space to be lost in forever as it wavers between soft orbits and growling flight. Originally written by Matt Bellamy and performed by Muse, Donat sings in his native German and it loses none of it’s impact, sung with such passion.
I really enjoy it when Donat sings and especially without electronics distorting his vocals and this is no exception. From the beginning, you are immersed straight into “Erdgerurch” and there is no escape from this beautifully crafted song as it captures your soul in sway while there is a crystalline quality to the cover, “SpaceDementia“, a reflection in the obsidian black of the expansive universe.
VAZUM came onto the American music scene in 2018. The heart of the band is made up of Zach Pliska, who planted the dark seed of VAZUM, and later in 2019 joined by Emily Sturm, together creating their own style of gothic rock called deathgaze. In those three years they have put out albums and singles, even dropping a Christmas EP, Vazumnacht. We spoke to these two creatures of the night to find out what lies in the crypt of VAZUM.
Welcome to Onyx.
VAZUM have been releasing music in the current line up, since 2019. How did this project and the band come together?
Zach: Emily and I met in the Summer of 2019 at a local goth club and we bonded over bands like Bauhaus and Smashing Pumpkins. I had a few VAZUM shows planned for the Fall and Emily stepped in on bass. One of the shows we opened for The Genitorturers. When the pandemic hit we got more serious about recording and releasing music. With Emily’s help I finished the album I had been working on, Vampyre Villa. We then set to work on our Halloween inspired album Rated V which was a collaboration where we wrote and produced together. We released both albums in 2020. We realized how well we worked together and became inspired to create music videos, upgrade our recording equipment and continue writing more songs.
A lot of your music seems to be based around mythical creatures as well as dark forgotten places. Would you agree and if so, what draws you to these subjects?
Emily:I’ve pretty much been obsessed with fairy tales since I was a kid. There was a pretty big chunk of my childhood that we did not own TV in my family. So I was given lots of books to read instead. One of my favorites was a collection of Hans Christian Anderson stories. When I was a little older I got this big thick book called 1000 page book of stories for Christmas. It had Mary Shelley, Poe, Wilde, etc. and that was the beginning of the end. Totally hooked. As a result, those are the themes that still inspire me the most today.
I think in some cases you have empathy for these characters but i also hear that you paint them in the light they were originally painted in… such as vampires being cold blooded hunters of men. Do you think is the case?
Emily: Of course there are many nuanced interpretations throughout literature and legend about the exact nature of a vampire. In our lyrics for the song – vampire – we approach it as a creature that is completely self aware. At once feeling supremely powerful on one hand and yet weakened and brought low by immortality on the other. I was inspired mostly by Anne Rice’s interpretation of vampires (may she rest in peace). The fact that only the very strong willed can even deal with the actual reality of immortality and that most humans that are transformed into vampires are slowly driven insane. Once everyone they knew when they were mortal dies, society changes, that feeling of being out of touch and alone in the world, they then end their vampiric life by throwing themselves in a fire. Most of them never make it past 200 to 300 years old. We wanted to convey that feeling in the song. Being so ancient, tired, yet still lusting for blood.
So Emily, I gather you are the architect of a lot of the visuals in the lyrics?
Emily: We run our ideas off each other. A lot of the times we’ll work on a song together and build on what the other has already started. I gravitate more towards horror and fairy tales and try to tell a story. I love the visual aspect of the band, whether that’s through videos, photos, artwork or jewelry.
You have progressed to a more electronic sound while also producing more traditional goth/darkwave. Was this a natural progression and does the material also lend itself to the change in tone?
Zach: We’ve always liked re-working songs. Sometimes we’ll re-work a song and it will turn into a completely different song. With the electronic versions it’s more of a remix where we’re using elements from the original version. It’s fun because we are both fans of electronic music although Emily listens to more electronic than I do. It challenges us to think about things differently and changes our approach. I’ve been more involved with the technical side of producing and engineering and doing the remixes has definitely sharpened my skills. There’s a lot of freedom involved with the remixes, it’s our time to experiment and try new things. And people seem to appreciate the different aspects of the electronic vs rock.
Some purists say that electronics and the industrial aesthetic don’t belong in the gothic/darkwave genre. How do you feel about that kind of attitude especially seeing as most older ‘post-punk’ bands have used tape loops, synths and drum machines etc?
Emily: I think people that nitpick and try to over analyze styles just don’t have anything better to do.
Zach: I see a lot of arguments online about what’s goth, what’s post-punk, etc. I guess some people enjoy arguing and trying to prove their point. That’s one of the reasons we started calling ourselves a Deathgaze band. We want to differentiate ourselves from all of that.
As you said, you describe your style as Deathgaze. What for you creates Deathgaze?
Zach: Deathgaze is a combination of deathrock and shoegaze. It’s a way of combining our influences into our own sound. And it’s a production style which we are honing. I like to keep deathgaze in mind as we’re working on new songs and recordings. It helps us stay inspired and challenged. The best part about deathgaze is it has yet to be defined. Deathgaze is a new genre which we are shaping as we evolve. Goth, post-punk, industrial – those have already been defined and established by other bands years ago. Deathgaze is something we can call our own.
I always like to ask what music influenced you when you were younger? What do you listen to now and find inspirational/pleasing?
Zach: Smashing Pumpkins were my biggest influence as a teenager. I was a product of the 90’s so a lot of the grunge bands and some nu-metal is what got me going as I began playing in bands. Lately I’ve been listening to classical and jazz which I’m gaining more appreciation for. Emily’s early influences were new wave artists like Gary Numan, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Love and Rockets. Lately she’s been listening to Death Grips.
Covid has changed the music scene in the last two years, with acts unable to perform live, putting out music on Bandcamp, the rise of the EP becoming far more acceptable and online concerts. How has it affected VAZUM?
Zach: The pandemic set the course for the trajectory we are on now. Beforehand I was distracted with playing drums for other bands. Covid has given us the time needed to focus on VAZUM and what we want to accomplish. We’ve been able to meet our goals of releasing music and videos. We just need to start playing live again and touring.
You have released quite a few albums in a short amount of time such as Vampyre Villa, Rated V, VAZUM and so on. Why so many albums in quick succession?
Zach: We enjoy the process from start to end and are honing it in more so we can be productive. We do all the recording and production ourselves so we don’t have to wait around for engineers or other people. I’ve always been obsessive with music whether it’s practicing an instrument or listening to a favorite band. My current focus is on releasing music and keeping a steady stream of content going. I like working on songs in the moment and having a deadline to release them. That’s exciting and adds a level of pressure which we feed off of.
What is in-store for VAZUM and their fans in the future?
Zach: We feel like we’re just getting started and have a lot more to offer in terms of singles, albums, videos and content in general. And when people are ready for live shows and want to see us play, we’ll be right there waiting. I’ve spent a lot of time in previous bands playing live as a drummer and I do miss playing live. I hope for VAZUM to spend a significant amount of time touring.
From Darlington, in the north of England, IanHanratty and LeeTeasdale are AnalogueBlood and their latest EP dropped on January 14th. Equinox is the fourth EP to be released since 2019, as they continue crafting their industrial dance floor music.
So kicking off with “CelestialEquator“, you are going to smashed with the high energy from the start, between the pumping guitar and enslaught of beats. Ooh a female vocal can be heard within the frenetic mix, sometimes sweet, on occasion robotic and often other worldly for the title track “Equinox“.
The male vocals by Teasdale are a nice balance for “Invisable” as it builds in strength with the guitar fuzzing behind and the synths wandering with tendrils of feathery lightness.
“Let’s Keep On Dancing” is probably my pick of all the tracks. With its eastern inspired vocals married with a techno style and industrial sensibility. The female vocals somewhat remind me of the late 80s/early 90s Eurodance style.
Final track, “Hypnotise” allows the guitarist more free reign but it melds perfectly with the electronic side. The female vocalist is the siren catching your attention amidst the tempest.
AnalogueBlood seem to be getting better with each new release as they hone their style. It can be fast and furious, with a vocal eye of the storm that anchors you to a point from being blown away.