Alexander Leonard Donat... teacher, marathon runner, musician, man behind the label Blackjack Illuminist Records, co-conspirator for several musical acts, driving force behind his own project Vlimmer and very possibly a crime fighter by night (just saying Vlimmer man has a certain ring to it!). November saw Vlimmer’s second, full length album, Menschenleere, enter the watery light of day.

The first tastes of forbidden fruit came our way in the form of the two singles, the rhythm filled darkwave tendrils of “Erdgeruch” and the wondrously 80s inspired eccentricity of “Kronzeuge“. There are such gems hidden within, such as “Mathematik” with its giddy synths that remind me so much of the electronic trailblazer, John Foxx, even more so for the fact his backing band were The Maths.

Noposition” has a magical trance like quality within its warm embracing beats, while “Schwimmhand” leaves you not only amazed by the sheer brilliance but also experiencing tingles through your extremities. Even the title track has an ancient feel, whilst playing with time signatures. “Menschenleere” is vast and echoing in the chamber of what might not be a pained reality.

Yes you can dance to Vlimmer, but for me, there is something akin to multiple storylines. Each track is crafted just so, this one with a more science fiction vibe, another with more sombre tones and yet another with a spinning glorious shoegaze vision. All held together by Donat’s vocals, be they happy, sad or even imploring.

Vlimmer is the centre of this world he has created, and has the knack of spinning his musical tales that capture us up into this web of darkwave delights. Even better is the fact that Alexander touches back to the styles that have influenced him but he never let’s them consume him, rather experimenting to create tracks that encapsulate his music journey. Beautiful, fragile and ashened songs to drink, dance to, and watch the moon…Menschenleere (Deserted)

https://blackjackilluministrecords.bandcamp.com/album/menschenleere

https://www.facebook.com/VlimmerMusic?mibextid=ZbWKwL

https://www.facebook.com/Blackjack.Illuminist/?mibextid=ZbWKwL

December is the time to catch Lunar Paths new single, “Shine“. The transatlantic darkwave duo are back after the launch of the EP, Fuse.

There is a crunchy, broken glass like texture in the rhythm at times from the electronics. The vocals are beautifully clean and clipped, holding your attention, until they drift into another dimension, sliding you with them.

Currently, I cannot put my finger on what exactly but this track reminds me a lot of Siouxsie And The Banshees, around the time of A Kiss In The Dreamhouse (1982). Lush, charismatic and experimental might be some of the reason why. The way they have distorted the rhythm, giving it a modern industrial feel, mixed with the gorgeous singing. “Shine” is possibly my favourite Lunar Paths’ track to date yet.

http://www.lunarpaths.com

https://m.facebook.com/LunarPathsMusic/

Ludovic Dhenry is back with his darkwave project, Eleventh Fear and a new EP. Out on Neris Records, the EP is called Waldhexen, and released on the 29th of November.

From the outset of “Waldhexen“, the build up alludes to a electronic trip of beat filled ebony darkness. The hissed whispers are the promise of portent. The flickering and stalking atmosphere of “Wald der Seelen“, has those beautiful synth chords that choke the air around you like a smoke imbued room. Tod basically means death and maybe death is awaiting you in the track, “Wie im Tod“, as it slowly creeps through and it is followed by “Waldhexen“, the remix version with its far more dance floor stylings, which sounds amazing.

As far as gothic electronic projects go, Eleventh Fear is really interesting, with the use of German lyrics by the French Dhenry, that gives the ambiance of a movie like Metropolis mixed with dulcet tones of Voldemort concocting a dangerous spell. You might need some Waldhexen in your life.

Waldhexen – EP | Eleventh Fear (bandcamp.com)

https://www.facebook.com/EleventhFear?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

https://m.facebook.com/darkforcefest/

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)

https://www.facebook.com/hemnetjer

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

November 15th was the one year anniversary for the creation of Lunar Paths, so to celebrate, they have packed up their five singles, into an EP. Appropriately, they have called the EP, Fused, which includes the single “Rise“, that we featured previously. The group consists of Diane Dubois and Kevin Hunter, whom in the 80s were bandmates in the goth rock band Cold Dance. Life moved on, Dubois living in the US but a year ago, technology reacquainted them and Lunar Paths was the result.

From the beginning, “Dérive” is star struck with the keyboards twinkling. When the vocals arrive, the track becomes ethereal and beautiful, slowly consuming your will to escape with siren song. Hmmm, I could tell you that “Rise” has a Middle Eastern tone but then, you could also go read my previous review or more wisely, listen to it.

Imagine falling backwards into the world of Dead Can Dance, circa Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun, and that will give you the feel and sound of “Altahilili“. Monumental and yet incredibly fragile. Next you are somewhere tropical, with the birds calling out and the natives drumming away to create “Lo Oa Soa“. Maybe the witchdoctor had you in his sights!

MetaGoth#1” starts low and bassy, while the electronics like to remind you of their presence, but then there is that magnificent guitar. Like a tether to previous era that glitches and morphs with the electronics, unable to remain in the past.

Dubois has an angelic voice and even though Lunar Paths has a modern sound, I hear a harkening back to the 4AD period, tinges of Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance merged together, on the experimental edge. They are plumming the depths of your soul, evoking dreams of shores yet to be touched.

https://www.lunarpaths.com/

https://m.facebook.com/LunarPathsMusic/

https://m.soundcloud.com/user-215916315

It seems the guys from Biomechanimal have slapped us with the single, “From The Mouths Of Beasts“, the latest unnatural, animalistic track from the London based band.

The sound from the outset is huge. There is their signature hardstyle mixed with industrial but also there is the introduction of something akin to symphonic metal, swirling in morass, while the vocals snarl and growl, for there is no taking back that which comes from the mouths of beasts.

I don’t think it’s my imagination, when I say, Biomechanimal are getting heavier. Sure there are the bass drops that you expect but a bigger, more epic metal aspect has been creeping in. How much heavier can they go? Watch this space.

From The Mouths Of Beasts | Biomechanimal (bandcamp.com)

Biomechanimal | Facebook

https://www.instagram.com/biomechanimal/

July 15th with see the release of the new Kill Shelter album, Asylum, which is a celebration of over 40 years of the dark scene, but for a taste now is in the form of the new single, “Necklace:, featuring Sweden’s Agent Side Grinder. Edinburgh’s Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) composed the music while Johan Lange (Agent Side Grinder) wrote the lyrics.

From just the beginning, you know this is going to be good, the way the guitars collide and resolve, only to be subsumed by the drum machine and electronics, that play host to the vocals. It makes you want to move and dance to the thrum of the beat and guitar, whilst caught within the vocals of Emanuel Åström. It’s simply brilliant.

Such a breathtaking use of instruments, highlighting the darkness between the light. The vocals wash over your senses, not only sonorous but also pulling at your subconscious with the lyrical content because “Necklace” is about finding solace within one’s self when faced with daily abuse, be that physical and/or mental. This all ties back to the album, Asylum, which is all about the different types of havens people seek to survive.

https://killshelter.bandcamp.com/album/asylum-us-version

https://killshelter.bandcamp.com/album/asylum-european-version

https://www.facebook.com/killshelterofficial

https://agentsidegrinder.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/agentsidegrinder

April 1st saw the release of the single “Your Last Kiss” from VVMPYRE, which features both the vocal and lyrical talents of Boston based musician, Maverick.

Maverick is going to beguile you with her vampiric touch, which may be your last. Her vocals drip promise and sexual delight to an electronic backdrop of beats and synths, with that occasional interlude of horror inspired organ/harpsichord.

VVMPYRE are threatening us soon with a good time in the form of an album. With the connections he seems to have in the industry, I can see it being a blood suckers favourite dance track.

https://vvmpyre.bandcamp.com/

Vvmpyre | Facebook

Berlin based, Paradox Obscur, are soon to drop a new album, MORPHOGENESIS, on May, 6th but the first single has been lifted, called “Animal Reactor“, out on Metropolis Records. A video directed by Sheng-Yang Su in what looks to be in one take, has been unleashed, which to my mind is very much in Paradox Obscur’s style.

From the very beginning this grabs your attention and you feel it in the pit of your chest. There is a brilliant array of electronic sounds that assault your senses and make you want to move your body. Fingers of synths drag across your senses in a scintillating fashion.

The duo from Paradox Obscur, Toxic Razor and Kriistal Ann, pride themselves on playing everything in real-time, which means no sequencers and the like. A cross of synth pop and dark electronic music which culminates in an absolutely delightfully danceable track . Bring on the album!

Morphogenesis | Paradox Obscur (bandcamp.com)

Paradox Obscur | Facebook