Proud goth, ex DJ and music reviewer

November 21st saw the Norwegian’s Dødsmaskin, release their sixth full length out on the ant-zen label. Based on the master and slave morality theory of Friedrich Nietzsche, the album is divided into two parts to represent both sides.

Have you ever started to listen to an album and had to instantly stop doing anything else, stunned into silence? Rare occurrence, but I found myself slightly slack jawed as I played the first 30 seconds to “Trusselbilde“, suddenly turning off the music thinking, ‘I must play this when I am alone, so I can turn it up as loud as I want!‘.

Okay, almost every track has a Norwegian title, but I don’t see the point of looking up the meanings, as the music will speak for itself and it most definitely does. “Trusselbilde” is the single and it is brutal. Super heavy rhythmic noise and yet there are these points of synth lightness where you can ‘breath’. It doesn’t seem possible and yet the noise grows and consumes, until it’s abrupt end. The sludgy “Døpt I Bensin, Renset Med Ild“, feels ancient and full of portent, while “Imperium” is on the move, ready to mow you down. There is the perceived horns of war, hammers of destruction and waves of domination.

This is just the first three tracks off the album and that quality is throughout the whole release. Dødsmaskin are known for their crunchy rhythmic noise, but this release seems heavier and even darker, intent on searing your nerves and probing your brain with a javelin. If harsh rhythmic noise is your thing, then you must listen to Dødsmaskin and experience their album,”herremoral | slavemoral“.

herremoral | slavemoral | Dødsmaskin | ant-zen (bandcamp.com)

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It seems The Bellwether Syndicate, lead by William Faith and Sarah Rose Faith, is teasing us again with another single off the soon to be released debut album, Vestige & Vigil. “Beacons” was released on the 2nd of December, on the Sett Records / Nexilis Records labels.

PHOTO BY DAVID STAUDACHER

Stabbing, deathrock styled guitars, combined with the low tidal tow tone of William Faith‘s singing and surging swells of vocals in the chorus, make for a rollicking track of nautical proportions.

In times long past, one’s kith and kin would create bonfires to lead you safely home in the worst weather. It is that premise that loved ones, family and friends are the “Beacons” guiding us to our safe havens…. even in the darkest of times when nothing else makes sense. It is truly a lovely sentiment, wrapped up in a majestic gothic guitar laden track of mercurial proportions, from The Bellwether Syndicate.

Beacons | The Bellwether Syndicate (bandcamp.com)

http://thebellwethersyndicate.com/

Not going to deny it. I do love a bit of rockabilly/psychobilly and horror punk, so you can imagine how pleased I was to be introduced to the new album, Brains For Friends on the Russian label Bubblegum Attack Records. This is a split release between four bands, Romero’s Nation, The Dead Friends, Molly Fancher and the Chaneys, with each of them contributing three tracks.

Romero’s Nation will blow you away with the rollicking starting track “More Brains!“, the apocalyptic “Darkhangeisk After Midnight” and the beautiful horror love song “When Your Girlfriend Is Dead“, of course, completely punk style. The fabulous goth rocker styled tones of “Area 51” greet your ears, heralding in The Dead Friends, followed by the more punk ravaged “Endless Fear” and the frenzied guitars bursting out in “Sin City“.

You should brace yourselves for the rock stylings of Molly Francher, where we get a taste of the band singing in Russian for the first track. Ha! There is the brilliantly creepy “The Kid And His Story” which you know might not end so well, especially with the whole hearing voices thing and the wailing warning tale of the “Victim Of Psycho“. The psychobilly is strong with the Chaneys and they literally go hell for leather. They are going to make you feel like you are trapped in B grade 50’s horror movies, initially with “Invasion” and the green men are going to shrink ray everyone. I guess the victim was full of “Vim & Vigor” before they suddenly departed this mortal coil (suspected happy killer song), followed by the speeding “Harbingers Glow” with those absolutely amazing harmonising vocals. Fucking ace!

You need this music in your life. All four bands are bursting at the guts with talent and each track is superb. It is all fun and games until someone loses an eye or their head falls off while in the mosh pit, but if you are a horror punk fan then that is part of the appeal. Even if you are not into horror, most punk and psychobilly fans will get a real kick out of this. So remember to be kind to others and give Brains For Friends.

▶︎ VA – Brains For Friends | Bubblegum Attack Records (bandcamp.com)

Bubblegum Attack Records | Moscow | Facebook

Music | ROMERO’S NATION (bandcamp.com)

Music | THE DEAD FRIENDS (bandcamp.com)

Music | Molly Fancher (bandcamp.com)

Music | Chaneys (bandcamp.com)

Night Device” is not the name of the single from Mexico’s Edge Of Decipher, but rather the encompassing ideal for the two tracks. Released on the 4th of December, on the Machina Ad Noctem label, both “Against The Night” and “Loaded Trembling Device” are not new, though now having a remix overhaul, each are ready to breathe anew.

Against The Night” has the Hollow Mix and I wonder if this name comes from the rhythms that sounds like plucked rubber bands and struck empty bottles. The darkness of the night could never dim, nor contain this joyful myriad of exuberant noise, only enhancing the brightness against the inky blackness.

MACHINA AD NOCTEM

In contrast, The Late Version of “Loaded Trembling Device” is not about beauty, instead, very much has a purpose. A seriousness crept in. Do machines fear and would the thinking be the whirring processors computating every variable? The music running up and down over and over again, with sudden breaks of clarity before the race to freedom is recalculated.

Edge Of Decipher has this wonderful knack of combining electronic instrumental music and imagination, in such a way, that it tells you stories without the need for words. He creates worlds of men, machines and starlight, which is a gift. “Night Device” is for name your price on Bandcamp.

https://edgeofdecipher.bandcamp.com/album/night-device

https://twitter.com/edgeofdecipher?t=SIzJ_95pl7ETt2Pl7on58w&s=09

Soooo, fancy a bit of gloom with your goth? I may have the answer to your lachrymose prayers, in the shape of Sacramento duo, Venetian Veil and their EP, released on November the 11th, called The Lands Of The Living And The Dead, on the Dune Altar label. That title alone should have peaked your interest dare I say. The EP was recorded by Jim Willig in the Sinking Room between 2020-2021, and then mixed & mastered by Patrick Hills at Earth Tone Studios.

First we must be “Asleep In The Land Of The Living“. The guitar strums delicately over the droning noise, an electric guitar in sonic overload in the maudlin atmosphere. The shotgun drum machine rhythm and understated synths in “Quiver” really harken back for me to the early 80s. So simple and so effective, especially with the male vocals. There is something so utterly gentle about “The Lamb“. The soft, feminine vocals, the low and controlled bass belie a great sorrow and shame, for the blood of the Lamb was supposed to wash away the sins.

Awake In The Land Of The Dead” is the instrumental bridge and the mirror image to its sister, “Asleep In The Land Of The Living“, where now most is quiet but for the strumming guitar. “Treeline” offers perhaps the view point of a soul leaving it’s earthly bonds, heading for the void. Slow and thoughtful, with stirring vocals. The Cure like “Phantom“, tinkles with those sweet guitar notes and sweeping synth chords. The lyrics are not so much sad but almost an acceptance of something that can never be.

I hear the experimentation and in a way, it greatly reminds me of the early 80’s when The Cure created Faith, 17 Seconds and Pornography, albums that truly pulled you into their misty, Victorian era like, dark and tragic romanticism. Light the candles, a drink of what you please and settle down to the Venetian Veil, as they take you to The Lands Of The Living And The Dead.

The Lands of the Living and the Dead | Venetian Veil (bandcamp.com)

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In 2009, Lisa Hammer released her first solo album, named Dakini, which in the Buddhist belief is a female spirit, be this a goddess or a demon. Before all this, Hammer had already made a name for herself as the lead singer for the deathrock/goth rock band Requiem In White and then the more medieval based Mors Syphilitica. Since then, she has thrown herself endlessly into many different projects such as writing, filming, acting and producing both television shows and movies, but the music has always been there as well.

French label, The Circle Music, has joined forces with Lisa to re-release Dakini this year, with beautiful coloured vinyls and also three extra bonus tracks. The album features Hammer’s heavenly operatic vocals, which can dissolve, almost, into chattering demonic verse, and that is the great thing about Dakini…it is not formulaic but rather a spiritual journey you are following, that experiments with sound and voice, in a difficult time. With this in mind, we have the opportunity to ask Lisa about what has lead her up to this point in time, this re-release and what is in the future of this goddess/demon, plus you really need to know which dead people we will exhuming just for the fun of it.

Photo by LiAnn Grahm

Lisa Hammer, welcome to the lands of Onyx that time forgot… which is really a house and the lands my rather overgrown garden of scary delights.

Hello!

Born in Salem, did you grow up there and do you think it had an influence on you artistically or was it more so your family?

Definitely both. I lived next door to Laurie Cabot, the famous Salem witch. It was the 1970’s so I remember seeing her walk around in her black cape with her big black hair. She often commented on my little lamb toy I pulled along. On certain nights I could see across the alley to her window, where there would be a red light illuminating a group of people in a magic circle. When I moved to another state I was convinced that I was also a witch. Musically, my family always had singalongs or “Hootenannies” and everyone played and sang beautifully, especially my mother Roberta Stockton. What a voice and boy could she play guitar! We took great pride in our harmonies and beautiful tones.

A woman of many talents, musician, actor, director and writer. Which of these first brought you into the gothic fold?

TV. It was the Addams Family, and film – my grandmother and I watched a lot of old silent films together, and that is where Siouxsie and Exene got their makeup from.. I identified with them at a very young age. But then as I got older it was music, but the term Gothic had not been invented yet. We were Deathrock or Deathpunk. My roots were in Punk music, mixed with Classical/Medieval and campy 60’s Pop/Mod.

Lisa, you have been in the alternative/gothic scene for a while and the front woman for the ethereal goth rock band, Mors Syphilitica and before that in Requiem In White. Requiem In White struck me as being influenced by Christian Death, while Mors Syphilitica was tapping into that blooming period of medieval/renaissance style music. What drove you to create these styles of music and do you feel it was a time of musical awakening, so to speak?

Yes, we all loved Christian Death and were so happy to open for them a few times. Requiem in White was considered Death Rock because of the hard guitars, we thought we were Black Sabbath with an opera singer, Black Sabbath being one of my favorite bands of all time. With Mors we wanted to explore as many alternative styles as we could, there are heavy rock songs, but also very lovely

Most of this was happening in New York, so what was it like living in that period of time and what was the scene like back then for you?

New York in the 90’s was so fun. There were so many music venues to play, you could draw a crowd any night of the week. Rent was cheap and time was unlimited. We played CBGB and The Limelight more times than I can remember. We all hung out a lot – no one really needed to work 80 hour weeks, we were free to create music, film, whatever we wanted. I remember one night at the Limelight very fondly. We were opening for Type-O Negative, at Peter Steele’s request. The club was so packed they had to lift me and carry me over the crowd to and from the stage! I remember looking up during our set and seeing Peter on the balcony with Kirk Hammett from Metallica watching us perform. The audience were writhing to our music, some were kissing, some crying, some lost in meditation. I will never forget that night.

In 2009, the first solo album, “Dakini” was released on the famous Projekt label and now in 2022, it is seeing a revamp in the form of beautiful vinyls and three previously unreleased tracks. What was the reasoning behind giving “Dakini” this new lease of life currently?

The Circle Music approached me about re-releasing Dakini, remastering it, and they asked for bonus tracks. I had recorded Alte Clamat Epicurus during the pandemic lockdown and thought it would make a great bonus track. That song is another one of the 12th century Carmina Burana Codec songs written by radical monks. I love vinyl and couldn’t resist the color vinyl!

When you brought forth this album, how important was it for you?

I recorded it and finished it while both my mother and my guitarist of Radiana/childhood friend Steven Deal were dying. The music is dedicated to them. I was too full of grief to fully enjoy or even promote the CD back in 2009. But now, years later, I feel like dedicating my music to them even more. I can see with more clarity and enjoy moments of celebration. It is hard to keep making music without them, but I have to push myself to do it. Especially after having cancer myself in 2016. Everything is harder now, but more urgent and important to me.

The production is flawless and the music certainly feels as fresh as when it was first recorded. Do you feel a certain amount of pride that it has weathered so well?

Yes, thank you. Every artist I know is full of doubt about their music. But the original recording by Dan Kohler (with Steven Deal on guitars) is already so lush, and the genius re-mastering by The Circle Music and the gorgeous artwork has renewed my pride. I credit the label with reviving my spirit of creation.

For me there seems to be influences such as Dead Can Dance and Autumn Tears through to Diamanda Galas, mixed with a spiritual searching, would you agree?

I have never heard Autumn Tears, never really got into Diamanda even though she is insanely talented, and I remember hearing Dead Can Dance’s first album being played at Newbury Comics in Boston, getting really mad because Requiem in White was exploring this neo-classical style and they beat us to it, lol. But eventually they won me over and I became a big fan. Dakini is a mix of my influences, it is a hybrid of classical, folk, world music, experimental and ambient.

How important is spirituality to you?

I am fascinated by spirituality, it is really fun to explore. But I don’t claim to know anything – how can we know until we die where we will go? Is it spiritual or is it science? Is my mom in another dimension or is she in heaven? It is mind-blowing to contemplate, I even get chills looking at photos of outer space, does our consciousness float around and get sucked into black holes then spit out again? I DO believe she is somewhere nearby, as my aunt is a spiritual medium and received messages from my mom that she would have had no knowledge of unless they were directly from her.

Why did you decide the 3 unreleased tracks should see the light of day?

They were requested by the label.

Who or what bands and musicians first got you into this dark and beautiful scene?

Black Sabbath, Klaus Nomi, Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, Christian Death, The Sisters of Mercy, The Damned… Too many to list.

Who do you find yourself listening to now?

Still going strong with Black sabbath and the 60’s-70’s classic rock bands (Radiana even did a Kink’s cover song for WFMU and now for Wicked Opossum Records) All my old Punk favorites, Opera, Indian and Nepali Classical, lots of Shoegaze and Britpop, King Crimson (Just saw them perform last year!) all the Gen X indie rock from The Pixies to Stereolab…Black Metal, world music, ska, campy 60’s pop – whatever mood strikes me that day.

Your vocal talents on this album are powerful, beautiful and on occasion….terrifying. Is there one particular track that you are particularly proud of the vocals?

I had a lot of fun with Alte Clamat Epicurus. The singer is overindulging in wine and food and by the end of the song is completely debauched. I love the hymns, I love singing the Indian classical ragas (I studied with Michael Harrison who was a disciple of Pandit Pran Nath).

You have definitely made the arts your life in a way, pursuing many aspects such as creating the Blessed Elysium Motion Picture Company to produce German Expressionist styled films, writing movie scripts and even voice acting, with one of your most famous characters being Triana Orpheus on The Cartoon Network’s Venture Bros. Is there one of these things that adore over all else or do you need all of it?

I think right now I’m more obsessed with film-making, but I also really need the music. Voice acting/acting is not my favorite. I was just doing it because I was married to Doc Hammer. Now I make films and music with my husband Levi Wilson. We are working on several film and music projects all at the same time. We need to take a break but we can’t stop ourselves.

We have heard on the grape vine, which creates a fine wine, that a new Lisa Hammer album is in the works as well as another album for your other project, Radiana. Is this true and what can we expect?

You heard correctly. The Circle Music has asked me to record a follow-up album to Dakini for next year, which is 1/3 recorded, and they will be releasing all of the Requiem in White music on vinyl, possibly Mors Syphilitica as well.

I am also halfway done with the new Radiana album, which, without Steven Deal’s indie-pop sensibility, is going to be much darker and post-punk-shoegazey than our debut album. For both albums I will be working with musicians from Wheatus, Late Cambrian, Paul Ash will be appearing again (Unto Ashes), a tabla player from the Nepali group Sur Sudha, and my husband Levi.

If you could make a music video anywhere, where would it be and whom would you get to direct it (we don’t mind digging up famous corpses or going back in time)?

I insist we dig up Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali and make them direct my music video, in the spirit of Un Chien Andalou.

What else is in the future for Lisa Hammer?

A TV series called Great Kills, where we portray documentary filmmakers who follow a hitman around Staten Island, NY as he does his jobs, callously ignoring the pleas of the victims – Streaming soon. Our film “Luke and Emma” which is in development, we have a short excerpt film in post production now and will submit to festivals. More and more music, and hopefully live shows in Europe, starting in Greece where our record label resides. So many projects, I hope we have time and energy to do them all.

Thank you Lisa for joining me in the garden of good and evil for this chat. Be careful of the ley lines on your way out! 

The ley lines should be careful of ME on THEIR way out 😂. And thank YOU for supporting indie music artists and keeping the dark passions alive.

(What is there not to love about this fierce demonic goddess?! ❤ )

LISA HAMMER DOT COM – Lisa Hammer Dot Com

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This year, Onyx spoke to Ted Tringo, original member and mastermind behind gothic/neo-classical group, Autumn Tears and he had spoken of new music. March the 24th, 2023 will see the album Guardian Of The Pale released via The Circle Music label, however in the meantime, a new single, “The Pulse In The Sky” has been dropped into our laps from the aforementioned new album. Guest vocalist is the haunting Francesca Nicoli of Ataraxia fame.

Nicoli goes from sensuous whispers, to light soprano singing and then dropping to an amazing, yet serious alto performance. All the while behind her are the many and varied stringed, wind instruments, as well as piano. A glorious choir of vocals eventually chime in and it is truly wonderous in a track about nature.

Autumn Tears have this wonderful knack of balancing darkness with moonbeams, the music seems beautiful and delicate like a spider’s web, but as we know, web is strong and has the ability to entwine, just as “The Pulse In The Sky” will coil around your senses, intoxicatingly. Nicoli is perfect for this piece and after listening a few times, I could not imagine anyone else pulling off this stunning performance.

Guardian of the Pale | Autumn Tears (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/TheTrueAutumnTears

LMX has released his third album, Habits & Addictions, on the Meshwork Music label, as of October the 28th. Keep in mind that this German electro-pop musician isn’t even twenty yet…….

There is occasionally, a harder edge to this music than you think. “Addiction” has elements of industrial experimentation, while the circling fragile sadness of “Not Made For This” is in the morose synths even with the constant paced rhythm.

There are beautiful synth lines in the spiralling “More Time” with almost an 80s feel to it, then you have a kind of ambient euro dance thing going on with “That Summer“. The heart rending “Stay” is yet another facet of the performer and writer, with such a simple track that bares his soul. In all, there are ten tracks, all flourishing these incredible electronics and lyrics.

I know that it is the current rage to use those vocal modulation thingies to give the singing that echoing tone but I’m not a great fan of it, especially when you can hear the fact they can sing. I really wanted to hear LMX without it, however I’m sure maybe it’s just one of my foibles and I am fairly certain there is a multitude out there that absolutely love it. Other than that little quibble, it’s a really excellent dark pop album and some tracks did become embedded into the old brain box, refusing to leave.

LMX is going to have a long future in the music scene, if this is to go by and he does have a great pedigree, being the son of X Marks The Pedwalk’s ESTEFANÍA and SEVREN NI-ARB, who also helped produce this album. Habits & Addictions is emotion filled, raw and yet, in the end, looking for the light, LMX might become your addiction.

https://lmxmusic.bandcamp.com/album/habits-addictions

https://www.facebook.com/meshwork.music?mibextid=ZbWKwL

Covid decimated the music festival scene, around the world for 2020, 2021 and a good chunk of 2022. Things are coming back to normal and in fact, you can add a new festival to endeavour to attend. Dark Force Fest will kick off in 2023, over three days, March 31st to April 2nd, in New Jersey, USA.

The event is being run by VampireFreaks, at the Sheraton Hotel, in Parsippany and this is not the first time the venue has been used by the VF crew. The hotel was built like a castle, including crenulations (just in case you find yourself in a siege situation with all those goths).

There will be over 100 vendors, to buy things that make your little dark heart happy, clubs, costume competitions and sideshow performances. However, the most important thing is the music… there will be 30 plus bands/artists ranging from darkwave through to industrial. A chance to see pioneers such as Das Ich and Suicide Commando, big hitters Combichrist, Solar Fake, HEALTH, Empathy Test and ACTORS plus brilliant acts like MORIS BLAK, Third Realm, Bootsblack and Rabbit Junk.

That is a whole lot of music and an amazing line up, so you are spoilt for choice. As the inaugural show, you want to be able to say you were there for the first ever…. unlike myself, stuck in another country, half way around the world, who will have to live vicariously through others, and the buckets of fun they are having. (Insert gothic weeping).

Home

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https://vampirefreaks.com/

From the wilds of British Colombia, comes forth Hem Netjer, with the single “Elemental Cry“. It has been foretold that this will be the last single off the soon to be released album, The Song Of Trees. The band consists of members Raven Rissy, David Deckard and Jesse Ellytt, while they have roped in Vardensphere’s Scott Fox for production and recorded at Jacknife Sound with Jason Corbett of Actors fame.

You can almost imagine tribal horns in a pall of fog, the rhythmic throat singing of Ellytt, under the feminine vocals of Rissy. Do not mistake feminine for weak however, as there is a steel in her singing. It is about a native connection to the land, where the people and nature are one. When the land suffers, so do the people through that spiritual umbilical cord.

One of the tags used for this is folk….. which to me is more like acoustic guitar and perhaps paying a nod towards a country’s more traditional music. Hem Netjer is, for me at least, something more savage, reaching back into spiritual history, creating a chant of empowerment. It was nice to hear a kind of reverence for the vocals and rhythm, while the electronics where not intrusive at all. Behold the raw “Elemental Cry” of Hem Netjer.

Elemental Cry | Hem Netjer (bandcamp.com)

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https://www.instagram.com/hemnetjerband/