You might not know it, but Hong Kong has a pretty big underground alternative music scene. Deer Mx are a Mexican duo living in HK and creating their own style of electronic/industrial music. They dropped a new single on February 16th called “אIV (Out Of The Mountain Of Despair)” and no, I have no idea how to say the symbol part. Adriana (vocals, guitar) and Miguel (synths, programming, bass guitar, piano) are the members of Deer Mx while Alfonso Rosales (drums) and Peter Enderberg (guitar) joined them in the studio. The song was produced by the band and mastered by Magnus Lindberg.

I have found Deer Mx make this great bouncy pop inspired industrial music. There are the fuzzy tones mixed with the piano, the guitars wailing out for your attention, the drummer keeping them all in time while Adriana just sings over it all. She sings of oppression, control, sanctioned violence and mentions April the 4th which is the day Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated and also the day the Hong Kong flag was also changed.

Does that sound like a mess? Absolutely not! Everything has a purpose and a place in this tune, blending to create a quirky and danceable piece. It also has something deep to say and in the current world climate there are wars for heart and minds on the world wide web as much as there are running battles in the name of freedom on the ground. Let Deer Mx prick your ears and maybe your conscious as well.

אIV (Out of the Mountain of Despair)  | Deer Mx | Deer (Mx) (bandcamp.com)

Deer Mx | Facebook

Greek gothic rockers, The Black Capes have dropped their 3rd studio album called Looks Like Death. Released on the 3rd of March, via the labels The Council Of Bones (USA) and Ikaros Records (Europe), and recorded at the Devasoundz Studios which also boasts working with Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and On Thorns I Lay.

Do not be fooled by the gentle beginning with “Apokalypsis” as it soon takes off on a supernatural plane as the spirits call you to The Black Capes convergence. In “Asphxiate“, even though the music swirls, there is something cloying and suffocating within the song, along with the feeling of no hope. The drums and guitars are on the move like a train that has no stops in “Love Is Love” because there is no one who should judge what love is. Every rock band needs an anthem song and Black Capes have “The Reject Anthem” with it’s beautiful guitar work and delicate piano that peeks through, It swells and proclaims I could have been in your place, You could have been in mine, for many do not choose rejection in society.

The sad somber saxophone rings in the more serious track “Reset” with the theme of domestic violence and staying instead of running away. There is an air of Sisters Of Mercy mixed with the perfect amounts of guitar and ever pervasive saxophone. “Cruel World” reminds me a bit of Amorphis which is not a bad thing with it with the clean guitars and even vocally is reminiscent while “Forever And Ever” gives me the Vile Valo chills as they resurrect HIM from the dead. This is possibly my favourite track off the album.

Nice heavy bass propels you through “Apathy“. Little untruths never cause problems..do they? Soaring organ style keyboards are the cherry on top. Neil Gaiman’s Death was a female comic book heroine and a thousand gothic girls wanted to emulate that look. No wonder we have the brilliant “Looks Like Death“. Seems “The Beast Within” in residing in the lead singer’s mind and it is one of those devilish women in a black dress who has cast doubt and misery. Psychic vampire or a phantom of depression, we may never know but does make for a cracking tune.

There is a plethora of influences coming through such as Sisters, HIM and Amorphis but also Type O Negative and Paradise Lost to name a few more. Not that The Black Capes are imitating these other bands, not at all but rather they are using what came before them to craft new gothic rock. It is dark, occasionally foreboding and never boring.

THE BLACK CAPES (bandcamp.com)

The Black Capes | Facebook

Punk music has always been a political voice. Born of upheaval and social injustice. Schkeuditzer Kreuz is the industrial project with a crust punk heart for Kieren Hills, an ex-pat Kiwi who now resides in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Previously, he released he released a cover of the timeless Discharge track, “State Violence State Control” but to celebrate the UK and European vinyl release with Pyrrhic Defeat Records, a brilliant new video was created by Photoyunist (photographer, illustrator and filmmaker extraordinaire). This is also the re-recorded version that appears on the album, Isolated And Alone. Filmed at a live show at Melbourne’s Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar on 21 January 2022, this is a small insight into the high energy shows that Hills excels at.

Discharge released “State Violence State Control” in 1982, making the song 40 years old this year. Even though it is a song that was written 40 years ago, it is just as pertinent now as it has ever been and Schkeuditzer Kreuz is not so subtly reminding us of not only a great track but a call to not give in to the forces that try to subvert our will and freedoms. No, this music is not going to be for everyone, but for me personally, I love it and if you find yourself loving it as well, then check out the album and EPs because it is going to be well worth your while.

Isolated and Alone | Schkeuditzer Kreuz (bandcamp.com)

Schkeuditzer Kreuz (facebook.com)

Pyrrhic Defeat Records – Schkeuditzer Kreuz – Isolated and Alone LP (limitedrun.com)

Isolated and Alone | Schkeuditzer Kreuz (bandcamp.com)

Isolated and Alone | SCHKEUDITZER KREUZ | Already Broken Records (bandcamp.com)

sıunʎ (@photoyunist) • Instagram photos and videos

Sequential Zero are back with a new single, released on the 28th of February on Mantravision label. “Third Sequence” is not the name of the single but rather the third release in sequence for the three piece group. Australians, Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter, Def FX) and Colin Gallagher (Burnt Souls) with American, Bruce Nullify (Orcus Nullify) are the nucleus of the band and each release so far has been a double “A” side.

The first track off this double single is “My Darker Side” and these guys are very open in the fact that they have a very early 80’s electronic sound with this gorgeous guitar glimmering through the synths. For a song that searches one’s self doubts, I find this track very heartwarming. The second track “Adjusting Expectations” is a truly interesting piece. Written during covid, when shows were being cancelled further and further into the future and restrictions were placed on where people could even go, keeping the live musicians wondering if they would ever return to what they love. Bannister does sound tired of it all with the glorious guitar work behind him, the piano as the disappointment and the synths the hope trying to break through.

There is a pure simplicity that evokes tremendous feelings of joy and sadness within Sequential Zero’s music. Both tracks are a little more bleaker in content then previous releases but there is no light without darkness. It really is a brilliant little darkwave project the lads have going and hopefully it will become a bigger project with the support it deserves.

Third Sequence | Sequential Zero (bandcamp.com)

Sequential Zero | Facebook

The French have a very interesting history of coldwave/darkwave/gothic bands. Adding to that rich tapestry is the three piece band, JE T’AIME. If you were unaware of what the meaning of JE T’AIME, it is I love you. Yes, those smooth Parisian types have released an album on Valentine’s Day (14th February) called PASSIVE. This will be paired with the next album already named AGGRESSIVE to be released some time later this year by the guys, dBoyTall Bastard and Crazy Z.

The album starts off with “Another Day In Hell” and if this song is any indicator for the quality of the rest of the tracks, then I may have died and gone to a much better place. The synths bring in the percussion and the guitar lights up the track while we are treated to dBoy’s vocals. There is a certain amount of feeling of out of control in “Dirty Tricks“, as it speeds away without concern for the passengers, before we calm down a little with “Lonely Days“. and the chorus makes me conscious of this is how The Police would have sounded if they had been darker and makes me giggle a little. A great little track though with the classic line And she is dancing around my dead body.

Unleashed” definitely is more foreboding in mood. A tale of a love that hurts yet unable to leave that power play because of the perception of losing that love. The vocals convey a certain desperation and longing. When you leave a relationship, certain songs will remind one of the other person, even if It reminds me of your shitty taste in music. This is “Stupid Songs” which features Saigon Blue Rain’s, Ophelia giving her sensual vocals in the maelstrom of conflicting emotions. The body of the relationship is “Cold” and dead. Really digging the synth lines versus the guitar as everything breaks apart. “Blood On Fire” has these really bright synths, I mean really upbeat which is nothing like the sentiments of the lyrics which tell of a man who has lost all interest in life and feels like the undead.

The music and vocals wrap around you with “Give Me More Kohl“. The joyous embrace of the night and everything that might be a bit vampiric in nature. The gothic anthem of the dark children. Talking of night children, “On The Phone” is about a rather awful gothic girl that is very cruel. The guitar is very beautiful and you can’t help but feel for the boy in the tale. Oooh yes, that bass wraps up the album full circle in “Marble Heroes“. The Cure influence is very strong, with rivulets of sound running down in an achingly gorgeous way.

There isn’t anything that I don’t like about PASSIVE and damn it, that bass alone is purely sexual post-punk candy. So much passion, unrequited love and the soul wrenching devastation of loss, all drenched in fabulous guitar and synth, with the agonised and honey dripping vocals. Now bring on AGGRESSION.

PASSIVE | JE T’AIME (bandcamp.com)

JE T’AIME | Facebook