Danish musician, composer and producer, John Mirland has released in December of 2021, his newest album Compromise Is Defeat after a hiatus from his solo project of nearly four years, his last album being Mechanic from 2017. That’s not to say that Mirland has been cooling his heels the last few years, finding himself releasing with his bands Negant and Eisenwolf plus collaborating with Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip as Mirland/Larsen. If that wasn’t enough producing and mixing music for a myriad of acts but he was still writing tracks for this album between 2018 and 2021.

JOHN MIRLAND

The slow immersion of static and beats lure you in, then “Another Form” begins to speed up and enveloping you. Before you know it, the fabulous pounding techno rhythm and synths, mixed with power noise, invade your senses. So far, this is boding to be in the realms of other worldly. “Beg For It” is just mega crunchy, ear grating goodness and has a beat like a heart on adrenaline, until the angelic heavens open over a synth-scape dream. It ripples with light, while the static growls below. Electronic bees is the best way to describe the beginning of “Fuel” before the cracking beat. The sublime synths glide effortlessly across the jarring sea of sharp tempo. The wub wub is intense from the single “Defiant“, like a rubber ball bouncing incessantly in your head, compelling you to move and dance. There might be a slight reprieve before giving you a serving of techno goodness.

Rust” is abrasive rhythmic noise that wants to take your breath away with it’s relentlessness. The oscillations push you on… towards what? The oblivion that comes with time maybe as time is forever pushing forward. With it’s raft of a-rhythmic beat signature, this is “Headless” that goes in and out of syncopation, backed up by the less crazed, “Generator“. For a more sedate paced piece, it is brooding and insidious. The electronic vocals are the heralds for an oncoming doom of ancient wrathful gods that then descends into minimal techno torment.The glass like smoothness of “So Cold” is just magic, both ephemeral and distant. The track “Torn” is a perfect example of that techno/industrial mix that I find the Europeans do well. The last track is “Wolf Among Sheep” and it is oppressive and dark as it, trance like, invades your very being.

Wonderfully mastered by Claus Larsen and released on the label, Læbel, this is really an album that should appeal to true connoisseurs of techno, power and rhythmic noise, especially those who adore Xotox. For me, you feel those rhythms deep within you, anchoring your feet to the earth but your soul wants to fly with the synth lines. It really is a remarkable talent. Those that know Mirland are already the converted,,,so get thy self some Compromise Is Defeat.

https://mirland.bandcamp.com/album/compromise-is-defeat

https://www.facebook.com/mirlandofficial/

Mirland – composer producer artist

https://laebel-music.dk/

Laebel | Facebook

David Lawrie is The Royal Ritual, an Englishman living in the U.S., taught music from a young age, now involved in the goth/industrial scenes as a composer and producer. He kindly spoke to us about his project, the new album, film making and what inspires him.

Welcome David Lawrie to the darkside of the rabbit hole that is Onyx. The Royal Ritual is a new project for you. What inspired you to go on this solo journey?
The last time I had performed in an industrial outfit was with my friend Chris Coreline in 2008-2009 – when we played a string of shows, starting with the inFest Festival of 2008. It was so much fun. Since that point I have been mainly writing for documentaries, doing audio post production for film, and producing EPs/albums for various independent artists under my birth name. 

Fast forward to Coldwaves 2018, where I was in the audience with Dustin Schultz who, the night before, had performed with ohGr. It made me remember how much I wanted to get back into the fold. I mentioned this to Dustin, and we started working together in 2019. With the pandemic looming, it became more of a solo project in early 2020. Ultimately Dustin contributed significantly to two songs on the debut album, but without the initial collaboration with him, I don’t think I would have pushed forwards with the project.

As the lockdown clamped down harder on us all, I continued to work on the album. The name “The Royal Ritual” came to me on a cross country road-trip, in December 2020.

I would like to talk about the two singles you have so far released. “Pews In a Pandemic” is an observation of how commercial religion can be both controlling and coersive of their flocks, then married with the music that is harsher in sound.  Can you say what roused you to write this and influenced the choice in sound?
Firstly I don’t want to be insulting with anything I write. Whilst it is probably very obvious that I am fundamentally anti religion, I do not hold hostility towards the majority of religious people. It is no secret that I am atheist (and as close to “a-deist” as can be), but I also understand that a belief in a higher power brings comfort to a great many people, and I wouldn’t want to take the comfort of belief away from so many. 

Where this breaks down, at least for me, is in the boldness of a select “holy” few who not only claim that they have a direct communication with a deity, but they can disseminate a deistic message to a congregation – a move that, to me, is a parallel with divine dictatorship.

In the decade I have spent in America, I have really seen how bizarre things can become when religion makes good business, and the social fallout from that is a topic of great inspiration in my writing.
As for the overall sound, this was not the first song I wrote for the album, and as such, it was arranged to fit in with the already fairly solid palette of the other songs that had been written.

“Empires” is the second single and a comment that many English hark back to the ‘good old days’ when the British had a huge colonial empire which was at it’s peak during the Victorian era, with the British Raj in India, the jewel in the crown. Your song writing takes on a more classical quality and evocative of something exotic, maybe even forbidden, referring to the the line ‘when I was a little girl and you were a little boy’. How did this piece come about?
I do hope that the irony and sarcasm in this song is obvious. I also hope that my exclusion of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the proclamation of “England” and not “Britain” is not dismissed as ignorance on my part.

I wouldn’t want it to be said that I am not proud to be English, because I do love the country. Whilst its history is turbulent, it is a history from which there are many lessons to be learned. I genuinely hope that as we move forward, these lessons will inform positive change.

Me being the “little girl” in this scenario harks back to mockery in the playground, where physical weakness and displays of emotion were “girlish” traits, whereas physical strength and the “stiff  upper lip” were “boyish” traits. I’m very glad we are gradually evolving past this nonsense.

The video for “Empires” is simple and yet beautifully directed by HARUKO. How was the experience making this video?
I try to separate out my different creative outlets, and HARUKO is my visual artwork pseudonym. I have been fascinated by filmmaking for many years, and in 2013, purely out of necessity, I made my first videos with just me, a camera, and some lights for the music released under my birth name. I learned a great deal very quickly, and since then I have continued to add to my equipment and skillset. That enabled me to do the first two videos for The Royal Ritual completely isolated from other people (I had some help carrying lights deep into the forest for my cover of Phildel’s “Glide Dog”).

For “Empires” I wanted to work with actors to tell a story, and I knew that I needed to put the cinematography in the hands of my good friend, and long-standing filmmaker colleague, David Diley of Scarlet View Media. He and I have worked on films for many years, with me taking care of audio post production in many of his projects. His expertise, along with his knowledge of my general vision, meant that I could focus on the direction and project management of the “Empires” video – trusting that it was being captured to a very high standard.
I have directed videos for other artists in the past, but this was the first time using actors. A full production, if you will. I am very proud of the outcome!

As an Englishman in the U.S., do you think being away from the U.K. gives you more perspective and also a different view while in the States? Kind of a stranger in two worlds so to speak.
I have always felt like an outsider, so I am used to that feeling of being a “stranger” – I think most people who work in the arts probably feel it too!

What I have found about splitting my time between the two countries is that it has opened my eyes to layers of odd logic on both sides of the pond, and it has also left me much more humble and less opinionated about subjects on which I am not well versed, as well as being more interested in learning.

Whilst I know that my transatlantic travel leaves a large carbon footprint (which I try to offset with the food I eat, minimising the waste I create etc.), I do feel that travel is key to us all understanding each other. Until you see the “other side” for yourself, you never really know how it compares to your own situation – and I think that being able to compare makes you not only more grateful for what you do have, but also more compassionate towards other people in worse positions. Experience, not hearsay, is key to progress.

You are a sound engineer and  you do musical scores for documentaries etc. Could you tell us about these and how it has influenced how you have approached creating music with Royal Ritual?
Working in audio post production/sound design for film came about almost accidentally, even though in hindsight it makes perfect sense. Using found sounds as percussive (and even melodic) elements of my music has been something I have done since studying my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Field recording is one of my favourite pastimes.

When David Diley asked me to work on the audio for his film “Of Shark And Man” in 2012 (the film was released a few years later), it was a really exciting challenge. He told me that the main character of the film was not the sharks, nor the interviewees, but rather the water itself. Creating an almost musical sound for the water was a very rewarding exploration – almost the reverse of what I had been doing to create elements of my own music.

David Diley also asked me to compose the opening theme for the film, which helped me to develop my own way of mapping out a piece of music to visual cues.
With regards to The Royal Ritual, every single song was written with a very strong visual in mind, using techniques I have developed in both my musical and audio post production worlds. 

What can we expect from the full length album MARTYRS?
“Pews In A Pandemic” and “Empires” paint the musical extremes for the album. There is a lot of darkness, but also (I hope) a lot of light in there. As much as I focused on creating sound design elements for the musical side of things, I also spent a long time working on the lyrics – something I hope translates and resonates well with people. Words have always been important to me, so I made sure to take my time with the words on the album.

As I mentioned before, the album has something of a sonic “palette,” so whilst the songs have a lot of variety in their songwriting, I think their arrangements are tied together by a general “sound” (for want of a better term).

I am so glad that the singles seem to have been well received so far, but I feel like they make more sense in context with the rest of the album. I pieced it together with two sides of a record in mind, and I am very much looking forward to holding and spinning the vinyl myself!

What music first set your soul on fire when you were young and who do you enjoy or still fans that fire?
That question is always going to open Pandora’s Box, as far as I’m concerned, so I will try to keep it short.

The influences that jump to mind right now are Erik Satie, Pink Floyd, Arvo Pärt, Tool, Henryk Gorecki, Aphex Twin, Philip Glass, Björk, David Sylvian, Nine Inch Nails, Tears For Fears, Nitin Sawhney (and I could go on and on…)

The most perfect piece of music to me, however, is “High Hopes” by Pink Floyd. There is a long story behind that choice, but I am certain that it was that song which served as the catalyst for me truly wondering about how modern music was put together.

Thank you for your time and we can’t wait for the album MARTYRS.
It has been a pleasure – thank you!

https://theroyalritual.bandcamp.com/

The Royal Ritual | Facebook

The early 80s was a huge time in the development of the genre of goth within the UK. I have to admit to never hearing of the band Salvation before now. Not that this is a complete surprise living as far away from the UK as you can get. In the 80s and even 90s, most ‘gothic’ music was still fairly underground and passed by word of mouth apart from those acts that had broken into the charts such as Siousxie And The Banshees, The Cure, The Mission et al. You couldn’t look up bands on the internet which was in it’s infancy and I can remember watching the more alternative friendly music shows on the television and listening to the BBC near midnight (trying not to get caught as it was a school night). So this inspired me to do some investigation into Salvation, who released the live album, We Gave You Diamonds… Live At De Casino! in November.

SALVATION
(photo Neil Chapman)

This from the band’s bio – Formed in 1983, the original line-up of the band was Daniel Mass (vocals), Mike Hayes (guitar) and James Elmore (bass). At the time, Daniel Mass was working with The Sisters of Mercy, and lead singer Andrew Eldritch took the band to K.G. Studios in Bridlington to record and produce Salvation’s first single Girlsoul which came out on the Merciful Release label. Soon Eldritch and the band were back behind the mixing desk – this time at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios to record 6 songs for the prospective Clash of Dreams album on Merciful Release. The record was shelved before release and only came out in an expanded version in 2015. In 1985, Salvation recruited new guitarist Choque Hosein, and drummer Paul Maher replaced the drum machine. On 16.03.85, the band played their first live gig at Leeds University’s Tartan Bar. 1985 also saw the recording of the Jessica’s Crime 12” – this time with The Mission’s Wayne Hussey in the Producer’s chair. This was followed in 1986 by another 3-track EP entitled Seek. In 1987, with the addition of second guitarist Benoît Farvak and new bassist Richard Miechje, Salvation recorded their first album Diamonds are Forever which entered the UK Indie Charts in July that year. In 1988, the band signed a new record deal with alternative label Karbon and released both Sunshine Superman (a Donovan cover) and the All and More EP which gained BBC Radio 1 airplay. In 1989, Adam Clarkson (guitar) and George Schultz (drums) joined the line-up and Salvation toured extensively with bands such as The Mission, New Model Army, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and Pop Will Eat Itself. At the end of the year, Salvation signed to Miles Copeland’s IRS label and released a new single entitled Debris and their second album Sass. In 1990, they supported labelmates The Alarm on their ‘No Frontiers’ tour. Within the next 18 months, disagreements and infighting lead to the departure of singer Mass and the disintegration of the band. Salvation’s first CD compilation Hunger Days was released in 1997 on the Timeslip label and 10 years later, the band reformed to play Leeds Metropolitan University with The March Violets. Since then, the band have been touring regularly in the UK playing their own shows and supporting, amongst others, Fields of The Nephilim and Skeletal Family

Leeds was a melting pot of alternative music from the late 70s which would bring forth such bands at Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The March Violets, Gang Of Four, Ghost Dance as well as the juggernauts of Sisters Of Mercy, Soft Cell and The Mission. Salvation came into existence during a time of both musical, social and political upheaval. They have a very loyal core fan base that will follow them to see them live and that quite frankly perked my interest even more.

So we dived into this live album. I don’t like to delve too deeply into live releases because these are often the creme de la creme of songs and fan favourites. The recording is brilliant. When did live recordings get so good?! I have some old stuff that sounds like it was taped through a tin can from the mosh pit and until recently avoided listening most live stuff but this is crystal clear, so very good and there are songs featured from throughout their career so far. Mass is the charismatic lead who chatters amicably to the audience between sets before the band wholeheartedly launch into each track. This was a tour where Salvation were support for The Mission and you can almost hear the joy this lot get from playing live. If you are like me and Salvation is a new name for you, then this might be the gateway to a new drug however if you love them and miss seeing them play live then this might tide you over until the next gig! This is the exciting thing about music…the chance to keep discovering gems.

https://salvation4.bandcamp.com/album/we-gave-you-diamonds-live-at-de-casino-tscd05

Salvation | Facebook

For many of us, James O’Barr wrote such an iconic comic in the form of The Crow, it touched our collective dark souls and later became the equally wonderful movie. SEVIT are a five piece, darkwave band from Texas who decided to see if they could write a song for the mythological track “It Can’t Rain All The Time“, which of course also became the most recognised line from the movie. They released it as a single on Hallow’s Eve, October the 30th, 2021.

Heavy 80s vibe with the bass and drums that have a early New Order flavour. The guitars are deliciously vocal and there is a cute synth break. The vocals and lyrics perfectly align with the whole ambiance of the title track and at the end we hear the original snippet from the movie of Eric Draven singing with Hangman’s Joke. The b-side or added extra track is “It All Comes Down To Me“, which is a far more languid affair. Tendrils of Pornography era Cure permeate. Echoing refrains of bleak sadness in a pool of existential crisis.

“I always wanted to embody myself into the character’s mindset and finish the lyrics the way I always wanted to hear them in their entirety. I started to imagine the words I would have written if I was Eric Draven.

The Crow was a beautiful film – so much sadness and so much longing, so much heart… When I decided to write this song, I wanted to revisit my hearts emotional vault and I wanted the words to belong to the film’s character, Eric Draven, who I imagined to be dark, poetic, theatrical, daring, passionate and beautiful. ”  
– (Jackie Legos – Vocals/Guitar)

I really like the concept of this but more to the point SEVIT has run with it and pulled it off. In someways, for many, The Crow feature movie and soundtrack were a gateway into the gothic/industrial music scene and those of us that were older, it was watching a beautiful and lush portrayal of the comic and a dark romantic story that love goes beyond death. Check out these guys as their sound warms the corners of my little gothic heart.

https://sevitband.bandcamp.com/album/it-cant-rain-all-the-time-hangmans-joke-featuring-eric-draven

SEVIT | Facebook