Proud goth, ex DJ and music reviewer

The single, “Just Like Rain” was released in April by Fargo native, Todd C Ruzicka under the moniker Immune System. Ruzicka is also known for his other, main project, Seven Federations.

TODD C RUZICKA

This is a bright and synth bubbling piece, reminiscent of the early 80s electronic era mixed with a Euro/italo dance appeal. If this is a love song, it seems a little on the dangerous side. The beats drop and swell, building and swirling with the end containing the surprise strings.

Retro synth-pop is the order of the day and this is a busy little number. Not breaking any new ground but “Just Like The Rain” is rather enjoyable and if electronic music is your thing then go check out Immune System.

https://immunesystem.bandcamp.com/track/just-like-the-rain

https://www.facebook.com/todd.c.ruzicka

IMMUNE SYSTEM | ReverbNation

December 2020, saw the album release for StereoTYP by Canadian artist, JHNN. Based from Calgary, JHNN said ‘Basically the album was made from 2016-2020 and it’s about my biggest pet peeve of society which is the existence of StereoTYPs“.

JHNN

Kicking it off with with the soundscape science fiction plains of “Children Are The Future“. My first foray into JHNN’s style and it’s smooth strangely, almost hypnotic with his voice drifting above the electronics as he explains that children don’t see skin colour or disabilities like adults do. They see another human.

East Hastings” is a very stripped back piece with a machine gun style beat. The lyrics are literally ‘Remember, When you said, Never again‘ with the never again said a hundred and fifty- one times. It does build to a climax that reminds me a little of Boy Harsher.

I can hear the techno and house influence in “Again“. There is the ever pervasive synth line throughout with others layering over and around it. It feels slightly haunting, trying to survive the after effects of a traumatic relationship.

The lyrics alone for “The Takeaway” made me instantly think of the David Bowie single, “I’m Afraid Of Americans“. Maybe the format and purpose are similar as this was Bowie and Brian Eno’s industrial phase. However JHNN does far more slow burn electronic, that harkens back to a more European flavour.

From the sing song beginning, “The Warning” is claustrophobic. The tale of how a person wants to control everything around him to stop him losing control and yet he knows he can’t control anything, least of all himself. The bursts of static style noise and wandering plucked notes keeps you on edge.

The Warfare” is a follow on from “The Takeaway” and “The Warning“, a trilogy of mental health breaking down. You feels his growing tension and anxiety with the nervous beats growing with JHNN’s vocals making you wonder when he might explode.

Addiction…. explaining that anything that you invest too much of yourself into and get lost in, is almost as bad as an addiction to “Heroin“. It can be self destructive. This music starts like a drug induced stupor where everything feels great and there is nothing outside of this. Towards the end, it seems like a free fall with JHNN’S breathy vocals.

Is someone into you due to an ideal or because you look like someone else? Do they see the person below the surface skin colour? “Fetish” asks these questions. There is a slight disjointed nature to the music, like the vocals don’t quite gel with the music, which is entirely on purpose to put you at unease.

The Lie” starts like is being played backwards. It launches a great synth line with layers of electronics added and diminished throughout. It’s a heavy subject. Is religion the greatest lie ever told? If you believe, does it mean you need all the indoctrination to believe in a God?

For a moment I don’t hear anything, before a simple few notes register for “Crisis“. This is a instrumental, a graduation of textures, that then wends its way, then seemingly falling into the pit of despair.

Track number eleven is the final on the album. “Darkness Will Always Be There” could be a downer but oddly, this is light and free, a type of acceptance. There are sparkling synths accompanying the harsher ones.

This is a starkly personal album. It’s about struggling with mental health, personal relationships, the struggle of not being defined by your colour or being held to account by systems you can’t believe in, especially if they inhibit the person you are.

JHNN has taken you on a journey that includes anxiety and occasionally hopelessness but in the end there is also the realisation that unless you love the darkness within, then then you can’t live with yourself. This is an electronic saga that uses subtly to great effect. StereoTYP is a more laid back type of electro/darkwave that touches on the field of industrial and it is very powerful with its sentiment. Check out JHNN

https://jhnn.bandcamp.com/album/stereotyp

https://www.facebook.com/JHNNbook/

Deine Lakaien have been gracing our ears for 35 years and are now giving us their 10th studio album, Dual. These maestros of the experimental electronic – classical hybrid, have released a double album, with the first being all new music and the second showcasing covers that influenced vocalist Alexander Veljanov and composer/multi instrumentalist Ernst Horn.

ERNST HORN & ALEXANDER VELJANOV

The medieval flavour of “Because Of Because“, is a stately start. The classical overtones are simple and mix beautifully with the electronic components, Veljanov’s silken crooning, dripping over it all, about finding one’s piece of mind.

A slight middle eastern touch to “Sick Cinema” and a comment on artists involved in promoting less than reputable causes. The organ swirls and picks up pace. All quite gorgeous.

A ballad in the form of “In Your Eyes“, and it is a perfect piece of Deine Lakaien crystal that reflects a myriad of emotions and colours, of sadness and joy. The pledge of eternal love.

Snow” is as slow as it is beautiful. A tale of another era or a dream of what was. It is facile and warm, as if you can feel the shafts of sunlight that are sung about.

The electronic brilliance comes to the forefront in “Happy Man“, where a smile is enough to lighten a heart. The experimental textures abound and it conjours the mood of a courtly dance.

A near futuristic impression is given with electronic music of “Run“. Whatever happens in life, they ask their ‘braveheart‘ to stay on the move and keep their hopes alive.

Les oiseaux” is French for the birds and the feel is of feathers whirling in flight, going higher and higher with purpose. Maybe you can even hear them crying out to each other.

Sounds like a harpsichord in “Unknown Friend“, with a haphazard rhythm, making your senses spin. The synthesizer witters away in this timeless piece.

What is a qubit? A unit of measurement as seen in the Bible. “Qubit Man” comes with stringed instruments that make it sound off kilter, while the vocals seem near monastic.

The last song for the first album is “Someone To Come Home To“. A reflective piece about loss and longing for that person that makes you complete. The hurdy gurdy of emotions is keenly felt.

The second half of this album is the tributes to songs or acts that influenced Deine Lakaien but also they have matched to the feel and sound of tracks on the the first album. Starting with the Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen piece, “Because The Night“, “Spoon” by Krautrock group Can, The Cure’s classic, “The Walk“, “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas, Kate Bush’sSuspended In Gaffa“, also surprisingly Soundgarden’sBlack Hole Sun“.

There were for me, some really stood out. “La chanson des vieux amants” was originally performed by Jacques Brel in 1954 and in English is known as the Song Of Old Lovers, which is wonderfully nostalgic. The Cat Steven’s track, “Lady D’Arbanville” is treated like electronic spun satin with golden threads.

The oldest cover is of the Russian, 1879 piece, “Song Of The Flea” by Modest Mussorgsky and lyrics from Goethe’s Faust which has gone from a piano accompanied piece to a cheeky, fun and quirky number with chimes, bleeps and Veljanov giving amazing belly laughs whilst singing in Russian. I admit to never really being into Linkin Park but have a new found respect through Horn’s handling of “My December“. It is delicate, sad and profound with strings making this feel even more compelling.

Ernst Horn has again created the near magical world that is occupied by Deine Lakaien. Classical/medieval traits mixed with the electronic genius we have come to expect. The warm timbre of Alexander Veljanov’s voice is so brilliant and utterly recognisable, the trademark of the band. Dual is the present and the past for Deine Lakaien, in a musical extravaganza which will make you fall in love with them all over again.

https://deinelakaien.bandcamp.com/album/dual

https://www.facebook.com/DeineLakaien

Always difficult to get band members together at times and for some, well, some make music in between different countries. The lads from Gomddam Memory released their first single this month and are based between Norway and the UK and “One Last Job” is the name of this debut.

næringssorg & memory ade

They lie, they lie‘ and there is no question that those in power never tell the truth, while they pillage the earth of its resources and leave those most at risk to suffer because it doesn’t make good business sense to do anything else. There is a plaintiff cry for the the world and the atmospheric feel of the experimental music seemingly, semi-teetering on an abyss, in an off kilter way.

Gomddam Memory isn’t going to be for everyone and yet it is an interesting project. They did make think that this is what it would sound like if an industrial machine that ate the Candy Skins and I’m not sure if this says more about me or them. Have a listen to the eco industrial tune “One Last Job“.

https://gomddammemory.bandcamp.com/releases

https://m.soundcloud.com/gomddammemory

https://m.facebook.com/GomddamMemory

Far Away From All Of This are a Swiss band that released their second album last year in September. Called Outward Bound, this duo comprised of VEGA (guitars, synthesizer, harsh vocals) and IX (vocals, bass, synthesizer, drums), describe their music style as space rock/post rock/metal.

These guys obviously like an epic, as “Haven” goes for over eight minutes and is not even the longest number. The track honestly took me back to the early 90s. Teenage Fanclub and the Lemon Heads, IX even sounds a bit Evan Dando. The return to psychedelic swirling, wall of sound guitars and keyboards that take you away on a cloud.

Nice light guitar starts “Reality Check“, a whimsy about not looking too hard at life or it will lose its magic by ‘breaking the spell‘.

They say we are getting older everyday and that this is the “Last Call” to get on life’s roller-coaster. It’s a very positive and uplifting piece with rolling drums and VEGA having momentary cathartic screams.

Break out the synths for a gliding space journey in the “Stellar Stream“. Smooth and relaxing as the engines whisper in the solar slips of this ambient soundscape.

NGC 4063” is the final and longest of the tracks. It is a gradual build up of electronics, filling the empty places, like a space exploration facing the dark voids to bring knowledge and light, even though this is a very overwhelming prospect.

The first half is all the crazy human emotion of living with hopes, dreams and modern life, with guitars and a more frantic pace. The last two are after they have left Earth with its electronic life-support, going into the unknown. Really enjoyed this album due to my fondness of guitar jangle and wall of soundscapes which Ride were famous for doing beautifully as well. Well worth giving Far Away From All Of This a go with their Outward Bound.

https://farawayfromallofthis.bandcamp.com/album/outward-bound

https://www.facebook.com/farawayfromallofthis

From Brisbane, Australia, three piece group, Killtoys, have released their single, “Funerals“. This alt rock/post punk band consists of drummer Beven Bancroft, bass guitar player Stav Tsolakides and vocalist/guitarist Mick Bristow, who have been playing together in different band incarnations through the years.

Where oh where to begin. It’s rock but it’s dark and foreboding, giving a Black Sabbath feel. A bass heavy start with Bristow’s light, and let’s be clear, slightly creepy vocals, beckoning you to join the nightmare vortex of the dead who live on. So it’s a bit metal and yet there is a huge undercurrent of glam with its sing song, gothic ambience, that swells and lulls to drag you under its influence.

Have to love the fact that they sound bigger than the trio they are but also that Bristow does not follow the normal vocal technique of growling out the lyrics to this style of music which has to be said, is refreshing. The guys are definitely finding their groove and hopefully soon, an album will grace us but in the meantime checkout KilltoysSoundcloud where you can find the dead and dirty, “Funerals“.

https://m.soundcloud.com/killtoys

https://m.facebook.com/killtoysband

Mats Davidsen for a very long time, has been the central pillar for his band, Painted Romans. Somewhere in recording and releasing the mini album, Heart, which came out in October 2020, the band became trio with Jan Ottar Nystad (synth) and Thomas Sejnæs (bass).

PAINTED ROMANS

Fall” is a reminder of the electronic pop that flooded the airways in the late 70s/ early 80s. It feels light but with dark over tones. Nice clean guitar and bright keyboard with a fuzzy deeper undercurrent of noise.

They dance and get drunk to “Forget“. Probably something most of us have done before. Swirling electric organ is just the thing. Like the twisting feeling of a inebriated haze, it spins you around

Patrick Wray is not only featured on the song, “Drives Me On“, but also has previously released music with Mats as Davidsen and Wray. Also featuring Roxy Dunn, this a percussion lead piece that should be played while cruising down the highway in an open top car… or at least that is the feel.

A gothic turn for “Formation“. This is very pretty with Mission style guitars that jangle away. The way this spins the theme of love with fire, ice and all that lays in-between.

New Kind” is a far more bassy and laid back affair. How to find new life in the person you are with rather than finding it in another, a new kind of self.

Rather a Level 42 vibe from “Treat Yourself“. A light last track with funky undertones and a chorus of voices.

Overall, there is a very 80s tone to this album, paying passing homage to past styles, while the group are all contributing to a nice balanced style of electronics and guitar. Painted Romans are giving you their Heart, so it might be time to let them in.

https://paintedromans.bandcamp.com/album/heart

https://m.facebook.com/paintedromans/

Sally Wolfdreamer is a fairly new band, but even so they have been very busy. In December, last year, they released their maiden EP and now in April, they have brought us their second EP, titled Dissected.

James Mitchell is from the East Midlands in the UK and may or may not have stolen the name Sally Wolfdreamer from a local communicator of the dead. Originally starting out in the music industry as a drummer, who has always had an interest in electronic music.

Like a caress, “Lobo” fills your ears, growing and expanding, an introduction to the EP that feels like it only just started and ended far too quickly… even though it was just under two minutes.

The beginning of “Black Phillip” does not give you an inkling of what depth this track truly holds. The intro is so diminutive and then explodes with bass filled goodness you just didn’t expect. Black Phillip is the goat from the movie, The Witch, who turns out to be Lucifer in disguise.

The next piece, “Buried Alive“, has a science fiction feel to it. A future that has no future, with a disconnected female voice and a rhythm that starts to unravel, so to speak.

A few years back, there was a manga created called Snowpiercer, (later a movie), about the last survivors on Earth, all packed into a train, after a failed attempt to terra form the ruined planet. A dark tale of lies and decit, where the drug of choice is “Krenole“, a suspension substrate that is also highly explosive. The notion of being on that train and moving through an eerily dead world is all pervasive. A sense of urgency with the clicks and whirls.

Final track, “Kunicki“, could be a reference to the Polish revolutionary, Stanislaw Kunicki, who was hung for his convictions at the tender age of twenty-five. The take off is slow and this piece picks up speed, growing an expansive soundscape that cannot be pulled back in. The sounds of the wind of change?…

Themes of sin, revolution and the road to a maybe apocalyptic future, saturate these dark-electro ambient instrumental pieces. This is really enjoyable to listen to music that has more going on under the water than just above, yes reference to the cover art. You are invited to “Dissected” Sally Wolfdreamer.

https://sallywolfdreamer.bandcamp.com/album/dissected

https://www.facebook.com/wolfdreamersally/

April has been the anticipated release date of the third album from Australian act, Sounds Like Winter. Fight The Stairs is the ten track offering from these Sydney gothic proponents with vocalist/programmer/guitarist Ant Bannister, guitarist/vocalist Andi Lennon, bass guitarist Sian Williams and drummer Leticia Ohlaberry.

I’m going to say The Cure’s , Pornography was a huge influence for Sounds Like Winter, just by the first few guitar chords of “Gathering (For The Fall)“. Bannister sounds like the circus ringmaster for a show of misfits and freaks which is going to hell in a handbasket in a stylish manner

Who We Aren’t” picks up speed with that brilliant drum rhythm, countered with the jangling guitars. A track about being what you aren’t, fraudulently hiding behind guises which could fail, causing exposure.

The album’s title track, “Fight The Stairs” doesn’t get any more classic gothic rock. This conjours delightful warm feelings of 80s during the era of Danse Society and Bauhaus. The lyrics almost seem like a drug induced stupor for a dreamlike state.

Next is the single “The Monsters“, not a tale about real monsters but rather those that we create to punish ourselves for perceived failures, that come to find us when we are most vulnerable. Slower and serpentine, as it slowly wends its way with menacing purpose.

The guitars peel out frenetically in “Day To Day“, with the vocals a tad forceful in their contempt. A commentary on our society, where everything is a throwaway consumable and the idolising of celebrity status of the unworthy.

All perception of reality in life, is lost when there is, “The Wedding Feast”. This is a number that feels like it is on the move, as if it wants you to move. Bannister maybe channelling Andy Prieboy for a moment with his staccato spoken lyrics.

For the up tempo guitars, “Send The Boy” still seems a sad number about abuse of a child and those that perpetrated these crimes get to walk away…. but not the boy. The lightness is such contrast to the dark matter.

The tribal beats are unmissable here and maybe a harkening back to Southern Death Cult. “No Interest” is the cold reality that humanity isn’t so humane and will ignore you when you are at your lowest point.

A play on words, “Primal Smear” has heavy Christian Death overtones. This has a glorious sound to it with its intonations and a coy reproachfulness. The lyrics are thoughtfully descriptive and just flow.

Oh gosh. They saved the killer song for last… literally. A track about murdering plus consuming your friend while trapped in the throes of a deep winter and yet one must ask, who had gone crazy?! “He Was Gone” is a dark, brooding finishing track to leave you with goosebumps at the end.

In the end this is a great album. There are so many influences I can hear and many I haven’t mentioned but at the centre of Sounds Like Winter, is a tragically beautiful beating heart, that bleeds music for your entertainment on their terms. Fight The Stairs is truly an album worthy of your collection if you love the gothic/deathrock genre.

https://sounds-like-winter.bandcamp.com/album/fight-the-stairs

https://www.facebook.com/soundslikewinter

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the industrial/metal group, Deadlight Holiday, who in March, have hit us with the new single, “Blood //Body“. This single isn’t connected to an album.. yet, but with the trio having released their debut in 2019, we suspect it won’t be long before another graces us.

DEADLIGHT HOLIDAY

From the opening cords, you know this isn’t going to take any prisoners, with that heavy nu metal guitar sound, made famous by Korn and Machine Head, mixed with a political message. An observation of the climate, where governments incarcerate children and wage wars their own innocent citizens, who dare dissent against agreeing with status quo.

The remix , featuring ex pat Aussie, Zoog Von Rock, is full of the turgid, snappy electronic goodness that Angelspit is known for. Zoog has injected a cutting, cold, hard serrated edge into this track, making it wonderfully sharp and dirty. Love it.

The third track is an instrumental. It reminds me of the vinyl 12″ mixes that were huge in the 80’s that often had the pure instrumental track of the single.

It’s a ripper of a song and the passion of Zoog makes the remix just a thing of angsty beauty. You can find Deadlight Holiday on Bandcamp, so partake of their “Body//Blood“.

https://deadlightholiday.bandcamp.com/album/blood-body

https://www.facebook.com/deadlightholidayband/