Post-punk/goth is probably my favourite genre, if people haven’t gathered yet. Yes, today we get to talk about Pete Burn’s project, Kill Shelter, and the new full length album, Asylum, a theme continued through the whole release about finding escape and safety, in all forms. Interestingly, there are two versions out, with the European version on ManicDepression Records and the US on Metropolis Records. What makes these versions different you might ask? Each has two tracks only found on that particular version and we are looking at the European.
And so with the vocals of the man himself, Pete Burns, we are hit with the first track “Time Will Come” as it pulsates with a menacing overtone. For a man that rarely sings on his tracks, he sure has a great voice and his guitar playing in on point. The second single recently released, is “In This Place” with Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton and it has this amazingly heavy ambiance, as in abandon all hope behind you. The music is stalking and promises a violence below the surface. There is a sparking quailty to the synths while Valentine Veil (VV & The Void) sweetly tells you she is the “Queen Of Hearts” that are broken and your house of cards might collapse at any moment. The guitars ring out the warning as the synths swirl. Antipole are long time collaborators and “Buried Deep” is the track with deep vocalisation of fathomless loss, a weight that is far too much for the soul. What do you have when someone takes everything away? It is achingly somber. There is something sad, sleazy and a little dingy about “A Room“. This instrumental gives the impression of being trapped almost.
“The Necklace” featuring Agent Side Grinder was the first stunning single to be released. It only gets better with each listen with those wondrous snaking guitars and stark synths against Emanuel Aström’s singing. Ash Code are helping to “Feed The Fire” and those first guitar chords remind me so much of early Cult. But other than the guitar, this is where the similarities end, the drum machine savage in its beating and the synths trickle down. I love the beginning to end of “Cover Me” featuring William Faith of The Bellweather Syndicate and it just rings so utterly pure in gorgeous waves of guitar versus electronics, with Faith’s ever so crystal and plaintive vocals. “All Of This” features Ronny Moorings (Clan Of Xymox) and there is a heavy accent on the electronic side. Moorings really does make this his own track and it could honestly easily fit into a Clan Of Xymox album, headily dark and brooding. We finish with the melancholic instrumental piece,”A Shadow Of Doubt” which feels as ancient as time, foreboding and cataclysmic.
It is written on the album that it is also a celebration of 40 years of the post-punk scene (stop reminding me!!) and you can most definitely hear that reflected in the music. From the jangle of the guitars to the use of electronics and drum machines, post-punk began in an era that was dark and gloomy. The UK was at war with the IRA, the Falkland War and even with their own people, with Thatcher at the helm. Globally, we looked to the USSR and nervously watched on for our inevitable nuclear annihilation, which luckily never came but it left an indelible mark on that generation, so that dark and wonderful bass lead music has permeated goth, darkwave etc. It is has made beautiful songs about love and lost love but it has also been a political call to arms, calling out injustices. I think this album has a lot of heart. Musically, Asylum really has everything you could want, with fantastic melodies and brilliant collaborations but the kicker is the humanity at its core.
“Menticide” is when you try to brainwash another person with the intent of control. It is also the new single from Miss FD released on August 5th and let’s face it, I know a fair few people who wouldn’t mind being brainwashed by the lovely Miss FD.
The unrelenting rhythm is the constant background noise that media outlets use to influence your thoughts and memories. Global gaslighting. The vocals convey the act lulling you into a false sense of security, while the electronics glitch and frizz.
A serious message within a dance track, of an era where everyone is plugged into some type of online construct, owned by a few who want to control the masses. The music is indeed hypnotic and alluring with synthpop princess, Miss FD.
Hmmmmm…..mmmm. Capsicum Boyz. Yeah, nah, don’t ask….. or do at your own peril. Chop up some TFG (TONTTU) with Mac Hine (Oldschool Union) and you get this track called “KKÄ“. The Finnish are up to no good I tell ya, describing themselves as dodgy and shifty! Yep, may whatever gods you call upon have mercy on our souls and guts.
I can feel the sweat already, literally with the sound of a frying pan on high heat. This is a song about eating stomach ripping chilies and dousing them in beer. With that in mind, the burning ring of fire, aka stingy ringy, will only encourage those hip thrusts. In a style that crosses the electronics of Front 242 with Laibach‘s pomp and vocal ferocity (though this could be due to eating far too much of the hot stuff).
Out on the PANICMACHINE label as of the 4th of August, you may verily burn your ears off to “KKÄ“, on Bandcamp for name your price. Capsicum Boyz putting the sizzling oomph back into hot dance tracks. Remember to wash your hands afterwards as no one wants a chili willie.
April saw the fourth Black Angel album released, named The Black Rose. The unashamedly gothic project is the brain child of Matt Vowles, a Brit living in the USA, who is the writer, producer, mix/master and musician extraordinaire, with actor Corey Landis, giving Black Angel it’s voice. The album harks back to the the period of time in the mid 80s when goth rock bands such as The Cult,Sisters Of Mercy and The Cure were at their zenith but with a modern twist. Vowles is a very busy fellow, but luckily for us, he found the time to answer some dark and burning questions.
Matt Vowles, welcome to the bowels of gothic central, where black is the absorption of all colour, and therefore superior!
Young Vowles, cut his teeth on the post punk fare of the 1980s, in England. What was it like for you growing up in that era?
Very exciting, this was all new, punk had come and gone and had pretty much left a big exciting scar so it showed that the music industry wasn’t necessarily just dominated by the large record companies, maybe there was something more, and there was. It still baffles me how without the technology of the Internet that we have today, how did so many people know about the new Gothic bands that were coming along and being played in clubs. Every week in Bristol at a club called The Whip that would be something new, some new Gothic or Gothic rock tune that the DJs would play, along with the staples of the time already established like The Sisters of Mercy and The Cult to name just a very few. Along with the fashion and the lifestyle it was a very exciting time to be a 15-year-old.
When we are young, we tend to listen to the more popular acts i.e. The Cure, Sisters of Mercy etc., but as we look back, we gain a new appreciation for other artists. For me these are bands like Play Dead, Danse Society, and such. Which acts did you latch onto as a kid and what did you find yourself getting into later?
Yup, absolutely that, it started with The Cure and then progressed into The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Damned, Bauhaus, and then over the last three decades, although I do listen to more obscure Gothic- and I do listen to current up-and-coming Gothic rock acts – I still return to and favor the staples, there was a reason they were huge at the time and that’s the reason I still listen to them now.
But you did not stick with the post-punk genre as your followed music as a profession. Can you tell us about your music career before Black Angel?
That is true, after I went to film school in Manchester I spent a couple of decades just listening to very different music, I guess it was held together by 80s new wave and new romantic but my Gothic rock playlist as it were was one of many and not my main focus. As I worked and still work in the film and music industries you are exposed to a very eclectic bunch of musical styles and genres, being from Bristol, I followed the trip hop path for a while and had some success with a act called ‘Interstate Royale’ and got a whole bunch of streaming and TV and film placements. But my heart wasn’t really in that, it was more for financial rewards so one day I decided to just pack it when and just do something that I wanted to do for me, whether anybody liked it or not, and that’s how Black Angel was born.
Did you find that the foray into more mainstream music and film left you with a larger skill set?
It did for sure, I find that as a sound re-recording mixer and sound supervisor, and mastering engineer, you are learning still every single day – and all of that experience helps, and sometimes in the smallest way, but, it’s great to have that wealth of experience and be able to apply it to what I do now. I am very fortunate to be able to work with some of the most incredible engineers, mixers, and composers in the industry and all of that rubs off and it’s a very privileged place to be.
You have moved to the US, setting up a studio there and in 2019, Black Angel brought forth the debut album The Widow, which was very well received. How exciting was it to know people were hungry to hear your music?
It was quite a surprise, I set out with this project to do something that made me happy and if it wasn’t well received, it didn’t really matter.
When I started on “The Widow” I spent many months head scratching and wondering just how I could come up with music that had influenced me in the past with the Gothic rock genre, but sometimes it’s very easy to overthink it and that’s just send you down the wrong path.
So when “The Widow” came out I was very surprised how it was received and it was more like it made me feel as though I was part of a club of people that just appreciated this music and I was able to share it with them.
The singer on “The Widow” was Robert Steffen but by the second album, “Kiss Of Death” in 2020, you had changed leads to Corey Landis. How do you think this changed the sound of Black Angel, if at all?
It change the sound very much, after the widow I wasn’t happy with many things, this included the music and the production values so having Corey come along for “Kiss Of Death” just really help slot things into place and says out in the right direction.
Can you tell us how you met Landis and became the voice of Black Angel?
After “The Widow”, I wanted to make a change and so I started talking to the local Gothic rock community and stretched out across the world as far as I could and nothing happened, then one day, after I pretty much given up, Corey reached out to me out of the blue and as they say, the rest is history
In quick succession, there was the third album, “Prince Of Darkness” in 2021 and the newest, “The Black Rose” released April 2022. You guys are really pumping out the albums, so are you aiming for an album a year?
Pretty much, I’m a bit of a workaholic and I just love doing this so much it seems as though we are on target to pretty much knock out one album per year. As soon as I finish one album albeit my plan is to take a break or do something else but I’m back in the studio with a bunch of ideas that I’ve been recording on my phone was mixing the last album and I really want to try them out so as soon as I’m done I’m trying out new ideas and then I’m back in the saddle and writing the next album
Incredibly, most of this has been accomplished during all the lockdowns with covid. Did you find all that helped or hindered writing and recording?
This works fine, I’m the musician on the albums, apart from the odd session player that I might use so for me it’s just organizing my time and then Corey, as an actor here in Hollywood, his schedule is very busy so it really works well for him to work remotely. So I’ll send him over guide tracks and he’ll send me back finished tracks and then if we need any tweaks we will just get together and discuss any notes and he’ll send me any fixes so it just works out perfectly.
You must be pleased with how much love “The Black Rose” has been receiving within the gothic community…?
It’s fantastic, as I said earlier, I feel as though it’s more of a club, we are all in this Gothic rock club and I’m just sharing songs with other people that I hope will appreciate them. It is fantastic of course when people buy the album – we will still like to personalize all of our deliveries and I normally send a note or something signed or a guitar pick or a button and it’s really great when people post pictures on social media of them it just makes it more of a Gothic rock family.
Do you have a particular favourite track off the new album and why it is?
I don’t think I really have a favorite but I do feel really good that there’s not any filler on here, I’m previous albums I think there’s a couple of killer tracks and then some mediocre ones and then maybe some of that are not that good but with the black rose I feel is though we’ve got some really good bangers and then some more diverse softer material but I’m not feeling as though there’s not really any filler on there which I think when you get your fourth album can just be an easy thing to do, in fact, as we move forward I think I will be a lot more diligent that the tracks have to be better and better and the album fuller a more complete before it gets released.
How would you describe the sound of Black Angel and how would you like to see it evolve in the future?
It’s definitely Gothic rock with the emphasis on rock, we not really post-punk, I want to be able to feel the energy in the tracks, and as for the future it is definitely more of the same.
Will Black Angel at some point play live or is it a more studio-based project?
Yep, that is the plan, we would really love to play some larger festivals, even if we are the first one on the roster for that day, I’ve been in bands over the years that just tour around the place to smaller clubs, and I know that’s super important and I’m not saying in any way it is not, but, I would rather be writing in the studio and concentrating on that for right now, I’m really hoping someone will invite us to play a festival
What music inspires you these days?
It’s the old staples, I could put on Siouxsie and the Banshees “Happy House” and still scratch my head on how incredibly well written that is and wondering if I could ever write anything like that.
What is in the future for Matt Vowles and Black Angel?
Who knows, I’ll do this as long as I love it, and I absolutely love it, so I have no plans on going anywhere……soon
Spooktacular Mr Vowles. Thank you for your time and goodnight! (Promptly swishes into a bat and squeaks off)
Thanks so much for the questions, I really appreciate it when people do the homework and pose questions that are relevant and interesting so I’d like to thank you guys very much for including us.
Berlin band, Golden Apes, have returned with a new EP, From The Sky, released on July the 29th, out on IcyCold Records. You know anything recorded at places called Blackstone Studios & The House of Zarathustra have got to be good. Peer Lebrecht (music, words, synths, vocals) and Christian Lebrecht (bass) are the founding members, joined by Gerrit Haasler (guitars), Frank Flenz (guitars) and Joe Tyburn (drums) making up the Golden Apes, and we might soon be graced by a new album in the future, because even though there has been a little bit of a break since the last full length release, Kasbek in 2019, does not mean music has not been in the collation……
Title track and first single lifted is of course “From The Sky“, and the first notes roll into a torrent of wondrous sound, taking flight. It is glorious to hear the guitars and Peer’s sonorous vocalisation with a tale of falling from grace due to secrets held. “Hold Me” isn’t quite the ballad you might think from the name, full of fear and pain but also hope that another’s touch will anchor your soul. A sentiment echoed by many who desire contact.. There is something very sensual about “A New Day’s Dawn” but also driving as the guitars push this along with the mammoth drumming. I would happily dance away to this and I have a feeling the track is going to amazing live.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, then there is the whirling “Hole (In My Head)“. A wall of angelic sound and it is mesmerising. The track ebbs and rushes you making this feel as old as magic. “Satori” was a single released originally in 2021, but for the EP it has been given a make-over called the 2022Mix. It is a beautiful track, a ballad of love and passion in limbo. The last track is the Gravitas mix for “From The Sky“, by Voyna. Those familiar with Voyna, will know this is the name of PeerLebrecht’s solo project. The mix is devoid of guitars in preference for synths, which of course brings a new facet to the track, surreal and mirrored, seemingly otherworldly.
Errmm….God damn, I love those deep rich vocals from PeerLebrecht. They are like sweet syrup pouring into your ears. The music itself is equally as satisfying, forbidden dark wine given to you to savour and become drunk on with the gothic headiness and textures. Golden Apes are in fine form with “From The Sky“, which points to the fact that the next album might just have us intoxicated..
Kevorkian Death Cycle was a band that stormed the industrial scene in 1996 with the release of the album Collection For Injection. The music was raw, uncompromising and high with energy, perfect for dancing too. In 2022, Kevorkian Death Cycle are now on the Negative Gain label, with the core members Ryan Gribbin and Roger Jarvis joined by Rob Robinson and Sean Whitman. The group is releasing tracks from Collection ForInjection, modernised, as a group of EPs and the first, Injection: 01, was released on July 15th.
The four tracks include fan favourite, “Veal” and it stonkingly good. I had forgotten how brilliant it actually is with those machine gun beats. Real body music with overwhelming heart. The fabulous “Man Made“, “SendMe The Machine” and “Spring Heel Jack” make up the rest of the quartet, really there isn’t any chaff as each track holds it’s own.
When I first heard of this, I wondered what it was going to turn out like….. you wonder if you are going to feel sad about how they have changed something close to you memories. I really should not have been concerned. These four tracks have been lovingly treated, a few rough edges smoothed off, the sound quality is much better but it is still fucking amazing, drilling into your head and splashing around in your brain with abandon. Nothing sounds like it was written in the 90s and this is just as much a testament to the band’s song writing skills as much as the mixing done by Robinson. If you are a Kevorkian fan, don’t be afraid to give this a listen because it has the ball ripping intensity and if you are new to the fold, I can’t think of a better way to immerse you into the Death Cycle. Bring on the next EP.
In California, you might meet a “Deal3r“, in the form of the latest Male Tears single, released independently, on July 15th. Comprised of members JamesEdward and FrankShark, this goth/ darkwave duo have been going from strength to strength, after being started by Edward in 2020.
Might be more than a touch Euro dance style mixed with future pop and lashings of creamy dark, sexy vocals. Instantly likeable with those club friendly rhythms and spiralling synths.
I’m sure you have probably met these creatures in your clubs and bars. They are seen as the pinnacle of perfection in the scene with all the right accoutrements and connections but it is all a facade, a lure and a means to an end. There is a huge cavernous sound to this track, almost verging on what could be taken as being live and if MaleTears sound anything like this on stage…. what a glorious thing to behold.
May saw the release of French darkwave project, SPIRYT, with the album BLOOD TWINS. jluc Courchet has joined forces, yet again, with US vocalist Kimberly Bow Ever Down to create an experimental project spanning across two continents.
There is a blurring of reality and fantasy throughout the whole album, such as the track “In Cold Blood” and the imagining of shooting another down in their dreams. Experimentation with time signatures, which create an on edge mood, along with the unorthodox arrangements, while there are discordant notes that right themselves.
A definite industrial element creeps in with the clashing and bristling electronics, grating and pointy. You still have ballads, such as “V“, though these are more about surviving another’s love that tried to crush them. It might sound a little odd but I hear a lot of another band, from the 90s, in Kimberly’s vocals and the music. Inkubus Sukkubus lingered in the back of my mind as I listened. SPIRYT’s “BLOOD TWINS” might not be witchy but there are just as many elements that make your toes curl in a most delightful way.