James Lees’ project, Ghostwoods, began in the Covid lockdowns of 2020, gaining members and releasing an EP. Based just outside of Brisbane, Ghostwoods is back with a new single, “Terminal Bliss” and with the rather exciting news, that they have been signed to the label 4000 Records. Lees provides drums, MarkAngel on electric guitar, Karl O’Shea on bass, Andrew Garton & Andrew Saragossi sharing the duties with saxophone/clarinet/flute and James Halloran & Rohan Seekers tickling the keys/synths.
There is a finality to “Terminal Bliss“…. it could be slow and steady beats or the saxophone that wails its discontent with the world. The guitar strums its way gently through the demonstrative sax, courting the piano along the way, wending until its ultimate demise.
In contrast, “Brighter Soon” is a more ethereal affair, creeping beautiful darkness, echoing in pulsating loops of electronics that caress your ears, luring you into another plane of existence. The piano hypnotically runs up and down, keeping you rooted in the here and now.
Dark electronics, fused with jazz sensibilities, makes up “Terminal Bliss“, while “Brighter Soon” is a sophisticated track, that catches you off guard with a certain degree of crystal clarity. As always, Ghostwoods paints emotion filled pictures without words or boundaries. The best bit is that in the new year, a new album should be ready.
When I received the new Bow Ever Down single, “Undercover“, I thought, oh yes, I’ve heard about this. Have to say I was not prepared for it to be so big as it is. I mean it’s generous enough to be called an EP. Kimberley Kommeier with her co-conspirators, John Ruszin III and Wess Fowler (Silence In Machine) have created a synthpop driven collaboration with an interesting crew, whose talents lay from darkwave to industrial.
There is the delicate and yet forceful “Trail Of Tears” that features Silence In Machine and produced by Ruszinthe III, which is followed with the electronic overhaul by replicant rme remix of “Burn You Alive“, off the previous album Let It Burn, released in May. Fiction 8 and The Bleak Assembly have created The Cure like “Slow Down Time“, full of wandering guitar and beautiful sadness with Kommeier’s vocals. Next is the slow and melancholy dirge of the Spungee written track “Human Emotion“.
Okay…. now we come to the cover version of Madonna’s “Oh Father“. I am not the biggest Madonna fan and the name didn’t ring any bells until I heard it, jogging my memory. Ah, yes, so you have the original cover with the music supplied by Artificial Zero which is a far more industrial interpretation. There are nine…. yes 9… remixes for your listening pleasure, from a plethora of talent giving their spin to this track, from acts like SysMachine, Addambombb, Raygun Girls and others. Oh, you want to know what they sound like? Well then you might just have to go to Bandcamp and give it a little spin
History Of Guns (HOG) has been around in different incarnations since the mid 90s. A gothic/future industrial group, they caught the ear of goth guru, Mick Mercer in the early 2000s, and he named them as an act to watch. We last heard from them in 2011, and then they went on a hiatus. Come 2022, HOG have a core three members plus the drive to create under the moniker again, which brings us to the latest album, Forever Dying In Your Eyes. DelAlien (vocals) and Max Rael (keyboards, programming) are the two original members joined by Jamu Knight (guitar) and the new release is full of future punk angst, loathing and screw the world attitude. Max, never go the full Marillion, I think Jamu deserves extra cake/beer and if you want to know why, then here is an interview…….
Welcome to the portals of light and darkness which are situated in the Onyx lounge room for convenience. Not sure what exactly they do, but they make a great lighting effect for parties.
HOG: Thank you for having us! We love a good portal. We’ll try not to get distracted by them.
History Of Guns has been around in one form or another since 1996. How did it all kick off for you guys?
Max: Del and I were both recruited by a madman called Stagger Lee into a band called Pre-Hate Machine and History Of Guns kind of evolved out of that…
Del: History Of Guns was something I had been looking for, for years. It all started in a pub over a chat to a stranger about his painted Sisters of Mercy jacket. We got talking and a few weeks later he introduced me to Max in another pub. We then spent every weekend in the studio, often all day, and often all night. We have boxes and boxes of tapes from those days that would take years to get through.
What was it like for in those heady days of youth (and excess as the 90s seemed full of that), playing to large crowds and pulling the attention of one Mick Mercer?
Del: We had some amazing times, and you don’t just walk away from that… When we started gigging, that was bloody great for me, the adrenalin buzz, WOW, I was being me for the first time and have never remembered a gig, not because I was pissed or anything like that but because that moment in time seemed to separate itself from reality.
Max: It all seemed so limitless. Jamming, partying, clubbing. Looking back, we could’ve maybe tried to things a bit more seriously earlier on, but we were having such a great time just playing and staying up all night talking. Playing Whitby Gothic Weekend was a highlight and the Futurepunk events in Camden in London. We have a lot of love for Mick Mercer, he’s supported us right from the beginning.
Do you think there has been a change in the goth/industrial scene since then?
Max: That’s a tricky one, as there’ve been times when we’ve been more involved in the scene in the UK than others. It’s sad there’s less clubs around, but then we’re not as young as we were… being out late-night clubbing isn’t compatible with having a family. We used to go to every Whitby Gothic Weekend, and keep meaning to get back there, but it’s been a while. It’s great that Joel’s running the Goth City festival in Leeds. I’d love to go back to Wave Gotik Treffen again in Leipzig. I guess thinking globally, we’re even more out of touch than we are here in the UK so not best placed to comment.
Del and Max, you are founding members. What is it like for you both to have been involved in this project for this amount of time?
Max: We’ve been through so much together over the years, both in the band and in our personal lives. When we don’t see each other for a while, I have to remember that Del’s internet persona on Facebook is very different to the Del I know in real life. Like many long-running double-acts we love each other, but we argue and fall out a lot. Things can escalate really quickly. We’ve both made many mistakes over the years, and at some level blame each other for History Of Guns not having been more successful or making any money. Basically, I do all the work, and then Del criticizes it, and I don’t take criticism very well and get upset, and then Del calls me a snowflake, and I say he lacks empathy, and it goes from there… But then these days we make up pretty quickly. I think Jamu wondered what he’d gotten into when he first joined.
Newest member is guitarist Jamu. How was he lured…into the fold so to speak?
Jamu: Del knew I was a guitarist and by hook or by crook, we ended up trying to start a project called “Mystery of Graves”. After hearing the sort of stuff I could do he called Max, and he popped over with his ivories, and it kicked off from there really, but I was very, very drunk after that…
Del: It always happens in pubs and clubs, people find out you’re in a band and they tell you they can play. Well, I have often given people a chance and met some bloody laughable characters that probably in their mind could play, and Max and I have paid studio time and just looked at one another, no words needed! Jamu is a strong character, he’s likeable so I gave him a go and he blew my mind, so I rang Max and said you have to hear this, and so that was that sorted! I think if we get to spend more time in the studio he will let rip more. I think he holds back (don’t tell him I said that… Oh damn! Odds are he may read this interview!)
Daniel Vincent is a member of Decommissioned Forests with Max but also appears on the new album. Can you tell us about the these shadowy fellows in the background?
Max: Daniel Vincent is best known for The Resonance Association (which I’d heartily recommend to anyone who likes instrumental music that pushes genre boundaries). I’m lucky enough to have been friends with him for many years. He’s been into the guns world and jammed and collaborated with us before and just about survived, we’ve remixed each other, and Del guested on vocals on a TRA track some years back.
Also, we have Jason Knight who used to play guitar in Deathboy and was our live drummer for a bit, and then our long-term collaborator and my oldest friend, Gary Hughes, who has, I think, made an appearance on every album we’ve done. We’re very lucky to have Bob Barker back for the artwork. Bob, alongside the stunning photographer Scott Wylie, was responsible for the artwork for our third album, “Acedia” that I’m naked in, so we know we can trust him.
The new album is “Forever Dying In Your Eyes” and it has been 11 years since your last full release. How exciting was it to get the new album out and what prompted you to do so?
Jamu: The album “Forever” was, I thought, supposed to be an EP, but we just kept writing more stuff, it grew into what we have released. I personally am very proud of how it turned out.
Max: When I came back to music after taking a break to do a horribly demanding college course, I was going through phases of enjoying playing and writing but kept found myself questioning everything, and doubt is poison for trying to mix or finish anything. I kept questioning what was our motivation for releasing new music. There had to be a valid reason and I wasn’t sure what it was. It’s not like we’re doing it for the money, and posterity is just as vulgar as money. And if it’s for validation or hoping for good reviews to prop up a struggling ego or hoping for a little self-esteem boost then that’s all wrong. History Of Guns has always been a universe co-created by Del and I that we invite other musicians to join and then we create a world together. Sometimes that’s just for an afternoon jam session that never gets heard after the session, but sometimes we create a world and feel some kind of urge to communicate it outwards to see if it connects and lands with any listeners out there. It’s been a while, but, “Forever Dying in Your Eyes”, is our latest communication to the outside world.
Del: Bloody life gets in the way. What are we doing? Why have we stopped turning out music like we used to? Depression? Work? Relationships? Society in general? Who knows but they are all my enemy that stops me doing what I want to do.
Your last release was “Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Up At Twelve” which came out in 2011. How do you think your sound has progressed between these two albums?
Max: The wheels were coming off after the collapse of the “Acedia” tour and the rest of the band quit. Looking back, we should have stopped and taken some time out, then maybe split the album 4 material into two separate EPs as we were very much disintegrating and falling apart as I was trying to finish it. I pushed on past breaking point to get the album done and decided to include our own collapse as a key theme of the album. At some level I knew it was destructive, there’s a lyric that goes, “these songs aren’t making you better, these songs are making you worse.” I couldn’t get sober vocal takes, so after many exasperated tries I decided to include the drunken takes as part of the disintegration, which in retrospect I don’t think I’d do again.
Our two most successful albums have been the first and third, “Flashes of Light” and “Acedia”, and although one is electronic, and the other is full 5-piece band, they’re both focused in one coherent style of music and self-contained, whereas albums two and four genre-hop and are pretty chaotic to listen to. For the new album, it was clear we should try and focus again. Ground ourselves with a solid foundation which could either be a final album, or a starting point for a new chapter. This was made a lot easier by having Jamu on board, it helped us form a solid sound and style which I was able to take into the sound design stage for the album. In keeping with the theme of communication, the vocals and lyrics are quite prominent in the sound design, to get that sense that the whole piece is intended as a communication.
“You Wanted To Live” was the first single off the album, which is a very heavy and dark affair. Tell us why you chose this as the kick off track for the world?
Max: “You Wanted to Live” seems to be doing really well out in the world and we’re proud of it. The origins of the song were created by Daniel Vincent for an idea he had for a possible The Resonance Association / History Of Guns collaboration eight or nine years ago, but Del and I were in a bad place (again!) and it took a long time for us to actually do any work on our side of it. Before Jamu joined, we had a session just the two of us in Bishops Stortford with a bottle of vodka and this was the only thing we had to work on, and that’s when Del improvised the main lyric, then we wrote the verses together.
There’s a nod to Wendy O. Williams’ suicide note in there. After the session we went back to Del’s house, and I remember the night ended in a very bleak and dark place, and we didn’t see each other for a while after that. The track became very important to us as we both went on to suffer through some very difficult times, and we’d play rough versions of this track to each other when we were particularly struggling, so the track became an anthem for us, a reason for carrying on. It had to be the first single we released if we ever managed to get back to releasing anything again.
Who came up with the video for “You Wanted to Live”?
Max: That would be our fabulous video director Video Rich from Round Window Media. He also did the follow-up video for “Running in Circles”.
Your second single, “Running In Circles”, has pretty raw vocals. There seems to be a lot of angst in the album?
Del: The reason for the vocal was it was taken from a live jam that was borne at that moment. It was not a good time for me and I wanted the vocals to reflect that man’s pain. Sometimes I listen to it and cringe and wish I re-did them in tune, but would that pain come across? Who knows?
I know Max is very influenced by Coil, but who, musically, have you found influenced you into creating History Of Guns in the first place?
Max: I only got into Coil after we’d already been doing History Of Guns for eight years or so! I think Del and I originally bonded over Killing Joke, Pistols, PIL etc. Stagger Lee was very into Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Itself and looking back now I can hear all these things in our sound. Going back to Del’s flat after those early rehearsals was the first time I’d properly heard Sisters of Mercy, Alien Sex Fiend, Bauhaus etc. There were also plenty of bands we didn’t agree on and would argue about.
Will HOG be playing live any time soon?
Jamu: I do love the live experience with the guys, and hope we get out there again on the back of this release.
Max: It’s a tricky one. As Jamu says, we’d like to. Ideally, we’d take out a full 5-piece band on tour but that’s a lot of rehearsal time when we don’t live that close and have to juggle jobs, families etc. I guess if the right offer comes along, we could hopefully look at getting a band together and doing a couple of dates.
Who is the motivational force in the band and is there the mopey goth type?
Max: I do everything, and Del complains about it… Jamu tries to keep the peace between us!
Do you guys enjoy the recording experience?
Jamu: The recording process was quite a challenge as bit were recorded all over the place, along with lockdowns, bankruptcy of various studios we went to, it was hard to get a lot done in one hit, but next effort I’m sure we’ll lock ourselves into a studio for a week, with more beer and cigarettes than would be deemed healthy and smash out another kick-ass sonic battering ram.
How do you go about writing these tracks for the album and is it easy or a labour of love?
Max: Most things come out of jamming, so writing is easy. Writing and playing are the fun parts that I absolutely love and the reason why I do music. Recording, mixing, releasing an album and doing all the promo involves a lot of work that I like a lot less, which is part of why it’s taken so long. We’re very fortunate to have Michel from UTM Music Group onboard this time around running the promo. We talk about maybe getting someone else to record and mix so I can just focus on the playing and writing, but then I’m a bit of a control freak and probably need to work a bit harder on letting go of some of the responsibility as it can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. It’s why being in Decommissioned Forests is such a joy for me, because Daniel (Vincent) is the producer, and I don’t have to stress over it.
How much of your own life experiences and moods inhabit these songs?
Del: For me personally, all of the songs I have written, are bits of my life. I try to play with words so it’s not too painfully obvious what the song is about. That’s for the listener to decide. We did a song called “Conspiracy Theory” that sadly did not make it to the album just before the PLANDEMIC started. I’m sure you can see why! The music to it is bloody good, so I’m re-writing the lyric to make it a lot broader because let’s face it, you can’t keep up with this shit show musically, so I think its best just to point at the obvious and let the listener decide.
Max: We’ve always been interested in exploring the human psyche and the human condition, starting with ourselves, and then seeing what’s relevant to others. For me, and Del would disagree with this, but I think in many ways the last track on the new album, “Eyelash”, is a culmination of everything we’ve tried to do up to this point. Part of Del’s genius is to open up and access a completely subconscious layer of his own psyche whilst we’re jamming and improvising, and sometimes quite extraordinary things come out. So again, I’ve kept the original vocal from the original jam because it’s completely open and honest and raw. When he sings, “I hate me” it feels to me like we’ve cut through all the nonsense and construction of self and personality and reached a very core, often hidden part of the self, which I think everyone has to a greater or lesser degree, that part that hates themselves… and finding that, and shining a light on it, for us, for everyone, is one of the reasons why I’m in this band and have released this album.
There’s a lot of talk in the press and society currently about these alleged “culture wars” we find ourselves in, and people questioning the toxicity of things and then seeking to censor or “cancel” things that might be difficult or don’t hold up to a new standard of ethics. But, and this is just my personal opinion, to me that’s going about it all backwards, and censorship is never the answer. The only way to get to a world with less hate and more kindness, empathy, and respect, is to understand that hate, and to stop running from it or trying to just shut it down; we need to allow ourselves to feel it, and only then can we start to heal it. Ultimately, a lot of hate for others stems from an initial hatred of the self.
If History Of Guns were to record an album of cover versions, what would you choose?!
Max: We always used to say in a snooty, pompous voice, “History Of Guns are not a covers band!” But then we did some covers so can’t really say that anymore. I’d like to anything bleak in a minor key perhaps that doesn’t come from the goth/industrial world… maybe “Chelsea Monday” by Marillion.
Jamu: I know Del doesn’t like covering other artists, and I’m not overly keen on covers myself, mainly because I can’t be arsed to work out how the songs go.
What is in the future for HoGs and you good gentlemen?
Max: We have an electronic album which is done musically but just needs a couple of vocal takes to finish called, “Half Light” which is kind of a sequel to our first album “Flashes of Light”. Then I think, if we continue, we’ll build on the writing relationship we’ve started with Jamu and really push things and see where that takes us next. We’ll improvise and jam and experiment and it’ll form into some kind of shape without us trying to consciously make anything preconceived. We’ll keep pushing ourselves to keep evolving and keep trying new things and go in new directions. We sometimes talk about doing a follow-up to our most successful album ‘Acedia’ to be called ‘Anhedonia’ but I’m not sure we, or anyone else, is ready for us to go back there just yet.
Thank you for joining us in our existential crisis, which we never rush because, honestly, how can you enjoy a crisis in a rush!
HOG: We are one big existential crisis, but if there’s one thing that anyone can say about us, it is that we are History Of Guns. Thank you very much for having us, it’s appreciated.
Danish electronic artist, John R. Mirland, is back with a new album, Motor Romantik, under the guise of his solo dark/synthwave moniker, M73. Mirland is also known for his other musical labours such as Mirland, AmTierpark, Mirland & Larsen and I could go on about his forays into rhythmic power noise, synthpop, Eurodance, techno and even black metal. September the 1st, saw the release come out on the Læbal music label.
The super cool “Take It All” with electronic vocals, graces out ears. The synths are lovely as the techno leeches through the synthpop cracks. Mirland’s melancholic vocals are at odds with the bright and glittering keyboard lines in “Wrong” and this leads into the stellar “Obsessed“, with its piano intro that breaks into a Eurodance style hybrid, which is a lot of fun. The sliding electronics in “Vampire” entrance your senses, a story of a vampiric type that lives off the fear and sadness of others. “Inside You” gives a glimpse of Mirland’s deft talent with industrial noise, crafting it to fit into a darkwave form, with fuzzed tones and glitched rhythms. Also pretty creepy and maybe about a parasite with lyrics like I’m inside you Wearing the perfect disguise.
The title track “Motor Romantik” is just a fantastic techno influenced track, which means the beats are free flowing and the vocals are low, luring you into the futuristic world where everything has been engineered, including humans. I wonder if “Empty“, is about mental health, burning bridges and spurning those who love, unreasonably destroying everything. The vocals reflect the emotional hollowness of a life that has no purpose. “Empty” was originally released in 2021 as a single.
There is something spine chilling in the icy synths of “Crucify“, as they run up and down your spine and a very oppressive tone of electronics that almost sound like christian chant in the background. The cyber world is wonderfully encapsulated in the music of “Perfect“. A cyber stalker or antisocial miscreant, living their fantasy world through a screen. “No Light In Sight” is another track previously released as a single. A drug induced stupor, though deep inside, the electrical synapses crackle still, slowly dwindling away.
There is always the beautiful synth graduations that Mirland conjurs up, running through each track, like silken fingers that shimmer across your skin, while the lyrics are about degeneration, dark lusts, eroticism, lost dreams and a future designed by others. I love that he combines his different music styles subtly to create something that is evocative and utterly enjoyable, either on a dance floor or driving on a dark night, down atmospheric roads. Yes, Motor Romantik is a treat for the ears with M73.
You would have to say that those individuals that create harsh industrial power and rhythmic noise, are a pretty unique bunch, as they form strong and danceable music tracks. STAHLSHLAG is Sebastian Sünkler and he is also one of these amazingly talented humans. With the release of his latest album, A Zone Of Silence, we thought ‘hey, we have a few questions’ and we know the super lovely Sebastian was up for the challenge of answering those very questions. I have to say that Sebastian might have the coolest wife on the planet…..and if you want to find out why, then you better get reading!
Welcome dear Sebastian, to Onyx where all hopes and dreams can be built and perish.
STAHLSCHLAG has been around since the mid 2000s. What was Sebastian up to musically before your current project?
I started to produce music some years before STAHLSCHLAG. My first steps were kind of dark electro tunes in a project called Vicious Circle with German vocals. It was the time when I discovered so called trackers as software to make sample based music. A friend of my older brother showed Fast Tracker 2 for MS DOS to us and I was totally hooked and fascinated since using trackers is kind of nerdy programming music rather than produce in a more conventional way. I wrote two albums and also released them by myself but well it was more something I shared with friends. It was also a little different then because it wasn’t so easy to do self promotion on the web like we can do now. Also producing was more complicated in a way. I didn’t have money for good gear so I relied mostly on samples I ripped from tunes in tracker file format I downloaded on modarchive.org or I used free samples from download sites. Anyways this is how I started 22 years ago. I still work with trackers but they are modern now supporting everything I need. I just love the workflow to produce from top down in patterns putting the notes step by step and manipulate samples.
I always am curious about the scene in different countries. Where you are in Germany, what was the dark/industrial scene like when you first started out and what is it like now?
I loved my first years in the scene. I have been into it since I was 18. We had great Gothic and Industrial parties in Hamburg and awesome concerts and festivals, more than we have now. It was totally exciting. I also loved that we had many printed magazines to inform us about new music and I really loved to discover new stuff just by checking out CDs in a store. To me it was always mostly about the music and it is still like that. I think the scene here is still great. Many efforts to keep it alive even if it gets harder. COVID had a big influence on it. Small places and events closed their doors. But I believe the scene will always survive. We still have parties everywhere and the biggest European dark festivals in Germany. What I also love is the diversity in the scene in the past and now. Sure also the dark scene has its problems with weird people and idiots (like everywhere when people are involved), I still think in the end it is an open and peaceful group of people and we can be happy in Germany to have many ways to live it out.
What prompted you to start STAHLSCHLAG?
Well, the short answer is, my wife did. She asked me in 2006 to try producing music like Xotox or KiEw because she was totally into rhythmic noise and industrial. I can just say I wasn’t so much. I was more into dark electro and future pop. But well I gave it a try and STAHLSCHLAG was born. She also had the idea for the name. We produced an EP and two albums together. Fortunately Jay from the band reADJUST found our music on MySpace and recommend to a small label in Florida. It was the first home for our music and even if it didn’t work out well, the record label helped us to get noticed. I can also say that MySpace was the best platform to promote our music. I miss it. 😉
What is it about harsh power/rhythmic noise that you love and drew you into creating it?
I think noise is such a great creative tool. You can do so much with it and to me personally it has something very meditative. I can relax so well listening to harsh noise. For the rhythmic noise, I think it is just so powerful and is the perfect companion to any beat. I love how it just flows and even in my calmer tracks, I always need noise at least as textures. Noise is just wonderful.
This year has seen you release your latest album, “A Zone Of Silence”, 2 years after the release of “ALIVE!”. So we are just wondering….why do all the albums start with A?
The first albums I produced with my wife started with A. I found it interesting just to continue like that, always looking for the right word with A to describe the feeling and topic of an album. It is a nice little challenge.
“ALIVE!” was a stunning example of rhythmic noise. How hard or easy was it to write “A Zone Of Silence”?
It is actually always the same. I never have a real idea or plan when I start to work on new music. Everything can inspire me. Something I read, watched or listened to. Sometimes I just play around with sounds or produce something as a meditation. Making music is my escape from the world. It helps me a lot, kind of like therapy too. What really helps me too is that I never think about what’s trendy or what I should do next as a release. Of course I think you can always notice my sound but I don’t work by rules or genres. I do what I feel like and what I love. It was actually easy to write A Zone Of Silence because first I just planned it as EP with less tunes, all slower and darker but then I thought fuck it, I will mix styles on a new album as usual. I know that I tend to be diverse on every album but this is what I love. No rules, just doing what I am in the mood for.
There were hints in “ALIVE!” that your style was slowly changing to incorporate other sounds. Can you tell about these changes and how it affected the newest album?
One important thing to me is trying something new all the time. I love to challenge myself and since it feels like everything is possible now also in a technical view (so many tools, so many instruments, so much computer power), I don’t limit myself. In ALIVE! I wanted to combine cheesy synth melodies with noise just because I thought why not. I had the idea it would work well together. I did it already in the past but focused more on it on the album. A Zone Of Silence was a new challenge. I noticed that I love cinematic and tribal sounds more and more, so I decided to try to mix some of it to my typical STAHLSCHLAG sounds. In the end I will always do something like that because I never want to sound the same. It would just bore me.
This album sees guest vocalists, combining their vocal talents and lyrical skill with your music. Can you tell us about each of these artists and how they came to be on the album?
One of my other ideas to challenge myself was to work with vocals in my music and because I suck at writing lyrics I was looking for guest vocalists. I got such a big feedback on a post on Facebook and I really would love to work with all people who want to collaborate but well I would have to write many more tunes then.
The artists on the album are all amazing people, I knew before already. I met them all on social media and we worked together with remixes. I sent all demos for the album to them and they could pick a track.
Aly-x from Sublimenal Stimuli is such a great vocalist and she writes such great lyrics. She actually did two vocal collaborations for the album and I will release the second one on the remix release later this year. On this album you can hear her in Lost Dreams. She also did vocals for another unreleased song. So you will hear more of her in STAHLSCHLAG tracks in the future. Working with her is a dream. I just send her instrumental tracks and she gets inspired, writing lyrics and sending vocals back in a few days.
Chris from Morbid Echo did the lyrics and vocals for Crushed March. Morbid Echo is a great dark electro project from Hamburg, so he is kind of my neighbor. Working with him was so great too. He got the emotions and my idea from Crushed March immediately. He wrote the lyrics and sent me the recorded vocals in 2 days. Really so amazing and I am sure to work more with him in the future too.
Rick from Mikrometrik wrote the lyrics and did the vocals for Dawn of Man. Mikrometrik is a great dutch dark electro project. I have been a fan of it from the beginning. It was the same experience with Rick like I had with the other guest vocalists. Rick totally got the idea and mood of the track which I wanted to use as an opener anyways. I changed the track a little after Rick sent me the first version of his vocals. In the end we both made it just better. I think it is really the best tune I could imagine for the album.
The fourth collaboration is with Lena from Ultra. This collaboration is even more special. It is not just her perfect German vocals but also the music video which wouldn’t exist without her. Working with her was just awesome. Without her Doomed wouldn’t have this deepness. And I am very grateful for the video. She shot it and produced it. I was just there for three hours, doing what she told me. I am so proud and it was the right choice to release it as a single for the album.
What have these collaborations meant for you as far as your growth as a musician?
They mean a lot to me because they can give my music a final touch I couldn’t imagine before. Also the experience to work with other artists is always fruitful and some of the most important aspects to me in my life as an artist. I look forward to doing more of them. It also means that I have to think different about arranging my music which I already did on A Zone Of Silence. I wrote some of the tracks in a way to leave space for possible vocals.
There are themes throughout the album, Sebastian, which seem to be related to makind and their seemingly headlong plummet into trying to destroy themselves and everything around them, either through environmental destruction or war. What does it mean for you?
I am a pessimist or maybe a realist. We all know that our planet is in danger but we don’t care. We know that war is going on all the time but we don’t care. I can understand why it is like that. Not because we are all just evil or stupid but I still admit that it is frustrating to me. I think a lot about it, read a lot of philosophy to understand the world and people better but it is just surreal. What I believe is that we all could be more open and kind to each other to make the dawn of man a little better. I don’t believe it will get better in the future but maybe we can at least try not to be too selfish and destructive. The current situation is also one of the main reasons why I don’t have children.
Even with the industrial power noise, “A Zone Of Silence” holds elements that are ancient feeling, voices, chants and dark magical places of our ancestors. Am I correct in this theory and if so, why did you incorporate this into the music?
Yes, you’re right about that. I was always into mysticism and shamanism. I discovered it while I read a lot of philosophy books. I am agnostic and believe there is more out there. For the album I was discovering great instruments while looking for cinematic sounds. I found these ancestor sounds in some instruments and felt they would be the perfect addition to the sound I was looking for. To me they match great with the whole mood of the album. They give it some more darkness.
I love the vocal tracks but admit there are many of the instrumental ones that I am extremely fond of as well. I found “Signs” and “Spem liberationis” really sparked my interested. Do you have any favourite tracks off the album?
It is always not easy to answer this question. I can’t say I have favorites but Signs was actually the first track I wrote which had some of the mystical and tribal sounds. It was more of an experiment. So I think without it, the album wouldn’t be like it is. I really like all the tracks, I never put tracks on an album when I don’t enjoy them so much. I always have to feel them or I wouldn’t release them. I have over 300 unfinished tracks which I could finish and release but won’t feel.
You did a Twitch session for the release of the album. How much fun was this?
It was so much fun also because there were such great people there, celebrating with me. I am always so grateful, if other people enjoy my music too. I also had technical issues and maybe talked too much but I still got great feedback. It felt so good to do it.
What pieces of equipment do you rely on the most when recording?
I actually don’t record much, just notes from a midi keyboard for melodies. Most of my work is inside the box which means I do it all in my digital audio workstation (DAW), the tracker Renoise. I load samples into it like drum sounds or load virtual synthesizers and instruments and then do a lot of sound design like my distortions.
You put the album on Bandcamp for name your price and all money made from sales is going to the charity, Equiwent. Please tell us about Equiwent and why you chose them?
Equiwent is a small international aid organization for animals and humans. They work primarily in Eastern Europe to care about working horses and emergency care for all horses. They also care about the street dogs in Romania and run a free veterinary clinic there. Their project Equiwent helps people is a program to support children, poor people and people with disabilities in Romania. Romania is a very poor country in Europe. They also care about refugees from the Ukraine.
I support them because it is a small transparent organization. I believe in what they do and can follow their hard work on social media.
You do a lot of remixes for other acts. This must be something you enjoy doing and is it a great way to network with other musicians?
I always love doing that. Destroying the great music by others is so much fun. Seriously, it is really always a great experience. I enjoy most remixing tracks of other genres. It is always a challenge. And yes, it is an awesome way to network. I found great people just because of it.
I have to ask about your other project, In Tenebris. Although electronic, this is so different to STAHLSCLAG, far more ambient. Can you tell us why you felt the need to create In Tenebris, will there be another album and if so, because “Abyss” was the debut, will the next album also start with A?
In Tenebris was born because someone asked me to do a soundtrack for a lost places video. Well, he didn’t enjoy what I did for the video but I loved what I created. Slow dark atmospheric music, so I decided to write more of it. The track Thanatophobia on the new STAHLSCHLAG album is actually a track I wrote for In Tenebris but I thought it fits great there too. Producing such music is even more meditative to me so yes I will produce more and for sure release a new album too. I am also sure I can’t resist looking for a way to start the album name with A.
Sebastian, you are now an independent artist without a label. Does this make things easier or harder for you?
It is totally fine to me to be an independent artist right now. I want to stay like that for a while but you never know. It doesn’t change so much since Crunch Pod gave me all artistic freedom too. I always did a lot of the promotion by myself and in terms of success. I can already say that A Zone Of Silence is my most successful album so far. I got great reviews, videos for it and also sold it at most. I am so grateful and happy that I can reach other people with my music and that I have fans for many years already.
I believe XoToX are a big influence musically and you can hear that in your music, so what bands and musicians got you into the electronic scene?
My first experiences with electronic music are great artists from the 80s. I always loved synth pop but my first experiences with darker electronic music were bands like Funker Vogt, Suicide Commando, Apoptygma Berzerk at the end of the 90s. I felt totally in love with that kind of music and it didn’t change.
Who influences you now?
I think now I get influenced by every artist I work with. I am lucky because I get to know so much music which isn’t so well known just because I collaborate and remix. This is my biggest influence now because I have to deal with the music in a different way when I have to remix it. So it is a long list because I have done at least 60 remixes so far.
If you could choose a favourite band or song to remix, who or what would it be?
I remixed Xotox which is so amazing already. I think if I could choose I would enjoy to remix something more calm and destroying it. Something by VNV Nation or Solar Fake would be nice. Or maybe something from a total different genre. Doing a STAHLSCHLAG remix of a black metal song could be awesome.
What is next for STAHLSCHLAG and Sebastian?
I have several plans for STAHLSCHLAG. First of all one or maybe more remix releases with remixes of tracks from A Zone Of Silence. I asked for remixers on Instagram and Facebook and got a lot of feedback. If all artists really do it, I will get over 30 remixes. I also plan to release a new EP or album on my birthday on January 31 next year. I know it is pretty early but I have some more tracks ready and vocal collaborations too.
Plans for Sebastian are more about his PhD work. I really need to do less for STAHLSCHLAG to get more time. So I plan to do a break of new releases and remixes after my birthday. But I will still perform at online events and on stage and new music by STAHLSCHLAG will always come.
Thank you for being one of the super wonderful people in the industrial scene and doing this interview!
If not familiar with the industrial project 40 Octaves Below, then let me introduce you a resident of Vancouver, Drake Moore. The single “Splintered” came out on August 19th, with an epic four remixes by some fairly hard hitters in the scene today, before the soon to be released album, MetaVerUs.
“The song itself is a casting that calls for the guilty to come to Justice.” – Drake Moore
“Splintered” lumbers into being like a monster with frizzing electronics and Moore’s angry and distorted vocals railing against the general movement of popularising lies and untruths, seeking retribution. MATT HART is the first remixer and his version is cold cyber steel with casual disdain, while the Anthony (H) mix is pared-down, slinky and dirty sexy. The mix by Live Evil Productions is going into rhythmic noise territory, a ride that feels a little out of control and intense, leaving the last remix to Silence In The Machine which cleverly incorporates a far more synthpop edge to the track that spins and spins until you might become dizzy.
You feel the contempt in “Splintered” no matter the mix. Unbridled rage is palpable and the guest mixers have interpreted that in their own styles, which is always interesting to hear. The music video definitely conveys the horror theme to go along with the track… Halloween is just around the corner and remember that at 40 Octaves Below, no-one will hear you rumble.
From Paimio, Finland, Eenian Dreams are beckoning you with their newest single, “Beacons (chroma null)“, released on September the 1st. Pauliina (vocals) and T. C. Newman (synths, producing) are the duo that make up this electronic project, founded in 2021.
There is anticipation at the start to see where the piano style goes to and then we aren’t disappointed. Pauliina’s vocals are electronically contorted though this seems to fit the ambiance of the track. There is such pain in the lyrics, a sadness that consumes all in its wake, a promise that there is a point of no turning back. The electronics are sympathetic and swell beneath the vocals
What do you do when all all hope seems lost for a planet that we are destroying? Most definitely write a song about it, because silence is being a complicit accomplice. It is almost like the vocals are the modern world, unnatural. I can see why they call this dreamy music, as it billows and wanders through your ears very pleasantly. “Beacons(chroma null)” are used as warning signals and Eenian Dreams have lit theirs in a beautiful manner.
Viral Records have released the new Dirt Factory single, on the 10th of September, ahead of the fourth album, due on October the 1st. “Troops Of Death” is the latest offering from the Aussie duo, Michael Gillman and Daniel Allen, with a bonus four remixes from both local and international talent.
The original mix has Daniel with far less distorted vocals and he sounds fantastic as the beats fall around him, stalking you to extinction. The synths graduate in tone causing a sense of creeping doom. The NOVAKILL – Boots On The Ground remix is harsher, with Craig Saunders injecting a cleaner edge that cuts like a knife and a techno style rhythm. Rob Early of 11Grams has taken the track and turned it into a dance floor phenomena, and the synth absolutely fly around in a storm.
The beginning of the Cosmos Synthetics remix seem understated, until it goes into a glitching deconstruction, like a horror movie with no escape, with what sounds like electronic shaking breaths. Last is Roger Menso, whom is NyteShayde, with the Crazy Shady remix and this is the only track to incorporate a guitar into the mix, giving the track a more Korn/nu-metal styling, heavy and metallic.
The theme is apocalyptic, genetic engineering of soldiers, who feel nothing, stop for nothing and everything is the objective. The cyber future which makes for a pretty cool single. Michael and Daniel have created a darkly oppressive track with a catchy rhythm, to get your imagination fired up and the remixes are great additions to enjoy.
PURE OBSESSIONS & RED NIGHTS have been in the French scene for well over 20 years, though previously under the guise of PORN, this original incarnation being a far more heavy industrial affair. Most recently, the band released the synthwave influenced album, Let Your Obsessions Run Wild, where every track is so good, they are all being set free upon the world as singles. The 7th of September will be dropping the latest single, “Don’t Let The Night Die In Vain“, with a lush video to go along with it. Of this four piece band, Philippe Deschemin is their lead singer and main writer, so honestly there is no better person to ask about the band, the foray into synthwave style and the new album.
Bonjour Philippe, bienvenue sur Onyx!
What is the darkwave scene like in France?
We have a small but active scene. France was never a country where this kind of music was very successful, but we always had some good bands!
Your project was originally called PORN, which was much more industrial. How did it all start?
I started the band a long time ago in the early 2000s. We were playing a kind of industrial rock, with some glam rock elements. The name of the band was PORN. I am a big fan of The Cure, so it was a reference to the album Pornography. At the time, I did not know how complicated it would become to be visible in the internet…
There was a three-album release about a strangler. What inspired you to write this?
In 2010 I was working on a Sci-Fi novel: Contoyen (a word I invented, made with CONsumer/ciTOYEN (means citizen in French). The main character feels like he is devoured from the inside by an Ogre. I wanted to go further with this “feeling”. Years after, I started to work on this triple album. The main character would be Mr. Strangler, a serial killer. During the first album of the trilogy, about his childhood, he experienced this feeling. And he became the Ogre, with an insatiable appetite. About the name, I practice a lot of combat sport: Boxing, French Boxing, Judo, MMA, Brazilian Jiujitsu. I had some choke specialties, worked them a lot (in MMA/BJJ), so the name Mr. Strangler came to me… I wanted to create a comic-like character. A dude that can be Batman’s enemy!
Since then, you have changed the band name to PURE OBSESSIONS & RED NIGHTS.What was the reasoning behind this change?
It was a nightmare. Our YouTube page was (and is still) ghosted, the Facebook publication restricted automatically, same on Instagram. And sending them tons of emails changed nothing. It’s was a big thing to do, and it was not that easy… At the beginning, I did not know what to do… Then I figured something out with the 4 letters. And the new name came! I was already thinking of a new trilogy or concept/story to work on. And The Night Trilogy came to me! And it suited perfectly with the new name: Pure Obsessions / Red Nights
Philippe, you have said that you are now pursuing a more 80s electronic/synth sound. What is it about the 80s that is drawing you to that style?
I grew up in the eighties. My first musical memories came from the mid-eighties. I remember listening to the radio, I discovered Depeche mode, The Cure, Tears for Fears… I did not know the names of the bands. I discovered their name later, when I saw the music videos… It was a “love at first hear”. I still love the era. Maybe it’s a kind of “Madeleine de Proust”.
You have a new album out “Let Your Obsessions Run Wild”. How long did it take you to write and record it?
It took me a year, I think… It was a very natural session. I did almost all by myself. I was very focused, so it was quick!
This new album is all about wooing the ladies, so is this a nice change from writing about stranglers?
I don’t know… but I hope it works!
Many songs have been released as singles. Was it something you were going to do from the start or did it just happen?
It just happened. It was also a way to prepare the audience, and not just drop an album without any guitars! Some of my followers are metalheads. But nowadays, even metalheads like synth music!
Did Covid affect the making of the album?
Not at all! But the gigs were cancelled… I hope we will be back on tour soon!
The new single is “Don’t Let the Night Die Vain” with the official video, out on the 7th of September. Can you tell us about this song and also about the creation of the video?
I think that this single, ‘Don’t Let the Night Die in Vain’, represents very well the essence of this new album. Half alive, half dead, Mr Strangler haunts the nights, and helps people in despair. He appears as a guide – teaching you how to live and how to fight, when you think that all hope is gone. In this music video, a young woman comes to Mr Strangler. She is looking for help, abused by her boyfriend. Mr Strangler gives her some advice, and a useful tool…
We’ve done a lot of music videos with Matteo and Chiara from VD Pictures. They work with great bands – Lord of the Lost, Powerwolf… and Matteo is also a musician. So, it’s kind of easier to work with them, ‘cause they understand the music. The shooting took place in an old paper factory in Switzerland. I wanted a place that looked big, wide, haunted… A place where Mr Strangler could be appearing, like a ghost…
Is Philippe a romantic at heart?
As Mr. Strangler! And Mr. Strangler is, and is not.
Who would you say are your influences for this new sound?
After the industrial rock / gothic metal of the ‘Mr Strangler Trilogy’ (triple album, 2020), and the alt-rock / goth / post-punk of ‘We are the Stranglings’ (2021); I wanted to dive deeper into my eighties influences for this 100% synth-driven album. I produced this new album using vintage synths and equipment: I wanted it to have that very warm, analogue sound, typical of the period. I tried to create something between my eighties influences and my industrial / goth-rock background – synthpop grooves and darkwave ambiances, but with an industrial rock energy. The influences: The Cure, Killing Joke, Tears For Fears, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode …
Would you say this is the music you grew up listening to originally?
I will not have the pretention to say that I do the same as The Cure, Depeche Mode… I am not that talented. I do my thing…
Which modern musicians influence you these days?
I like TR/ST, Boy Harsher, IAMX, Kat VON D, Blakq Audio, The Soft Moon, Empathy Test, Cold Cave… The actual darkwave scene is great
Do you think you’ll ever go back to that heavier industrial style?
How did fans react to the new sound?
Our followers are very open-minded. Even with the Mr. Strangler Trilogy we were not a pure metal/rock band. We always had this darkwave / dark synth side. I was very surprised with the feedback, and it looks like this album, Let Your Obsessions Run Wild, continues to gain more listeners!
Are there any plans to play live soon?
We are working on it! I hope in 2023. I just finished a new album, so we will have more time for the gigs.
Machina ad Noctem are a fairly new label and their area of expertise lay in electronic music. With this in mind, as of the 11th of July, their first release ever, was in the form of a compilation, titled Dreams Out Of Joint: A Tribute To Philip K. Dick, Yes, this is 26 tracks, inspired by the science fiction genius of Philip K. Dick, who penned many classics including Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, which of course became the movie Bladerunner, that has been a huge catalyst of inspiration for many electronic/industrial musicians. Of special note is the fact that the first half is dedicated to Dick’s short stories and the second to the novels.
With so many tracks, we thought maybe we could give you a taste of this. Edge of Decipher with their track “Frolix 8“, is a cyber journey through realms of space and light, mysterious and a constantly evolving adventure or Chrono 87 doing “2 Weeks On Mars“, light, delicate and with changing rhythm signatures. There is “A.M.O.D” by beepeater with tis tortured experimental electronics, Ran Kirlian unveiling the ambient track “Time Out Of Joint” which is like the final cooling death of a star or ∑V∑RYTHING with “Ubik OpeningCredits” that has a wonderful soundtrack feel to it that suddenly falters in the middle to then pick itself up again.
There are tracks that play for nearly thirty minutes, tracks with beeps and whistles to give you the impression aliens are trying to communicate and other tracks with music so quiet, nearly imperceptible at first until you start to really listen. Soundscapes and beats and everything in between. If you enjoy experimental ambient music or just love old fashion sci fi movies to the more modern, then I think Dreams Out Of Joint might just feed your imagination. The beauty is not always human and we dream of Philip K. Dick.