Detroit deathgaze duo, VAZUM have their latest single, “Angel“, awaiting your pleasure. Dropped on June the 24th, it can be found on Bandcamp for name your price.

There is a harkening back to a 90s sound, but my goodness, those guitars sounds so incredibly good. I do like it when they have the dueling vocals through the chorus and the lyrics speak of a person who acts self righteous, however, lacks moral fibre and blames everyone but themselves when caught in a lie.

This might be my favourite song yet by VAZUM. Zach Pliska is the lead vocalist this time and Emily Sturm does a stirling job at backing vocals. There is a heavier accent on the deathrock influence here. It’s hard to describe but the feeling is that VAZUM are becoming ever more comfortable and confident. A cohesive ease so to speak. Beware of any “Angel” as they might beguile you with their light and betray you with a kiss.

VAZUM (bandcamp.com)

VAZUM | Facebook

Australia’s deathrockers, Sea Lungs, have launched the new single, “Truffle Pig“, as of the 27th of June. Out on the Sydney label, Mantravision Productions, this sees vocalist and lyricist, Andi Lennon with composer Jarrad Robertson, mixing & mastering by Mantravision’s Ant Banister (Sounds Like Winter). These gentlemen are scholars of past empires and though this seems like a commentary on the child labourers, as young as five years old, in coal mines during the Victorian Era, aka, the Industrial Revolution, it is also looking towards our modern times and the erosion of worker’s rights and dismantling/banning of unions.

The thing that hits me the most to begin with is the rhythmic pattern that is like being in a boat, continuously bobbing up and down, pounded wave after wave but never swamped, as Lennon’s vocals call out over the top as the tether. The guitars crash down, condemning, onto those who don’t learn from the past, in wonderfully poetic prose.

Truffle Pig” just proves that Sea Lungs are going from strength to strength, creating a diverse catalogue of tracks, with which they are honing their sound. It is deliciously dark, melodic and has a political beating heart, so you need your serving of “Truffle Pig“.

Truffle Pig | Sea Lungs (bandcamp.com)

Sea Lungs | Facebook

There is a lot of deathrock out there and not all of it is good, but LA band, Black Heroin Gallery does great gothic/deathrock and they wish to weave a tale out of the darkness for you. This year saw the unleashing of their album, Feast Of Bats, which is also a feast for the ears, Eyajo December Joseph is the founding member, main songwriter, keyboard player and lead singer, so we were very lucky to be able to talk to Eyajo about the band, the album and all good spidery things. Also a confession on my part…I too have a great love of the New Romantic music of Duran Duran and if you want to know why, then you better read on!

Welcome to the enveloping darkness that is Onyx, dear Eyajo December Joseph of Black Heroin Gallery. Join us as we have a tea party, in the moonlight of a graveyard, dusted in motes of mist.

You’ve been playing in Los Angeles glam/punk, deathrock, blackmetal and underground bands since the late 1980s. You and drummer Tony F. Corpse were both members of the brilliant Astrovamps, as well as gothic blackmetal band Willow Wisp. What was it like playing with those bands, and what was the Los Angeles scene like back then?

EYAJO: The scene was thriving and crazy for better or worse back then. Astrovamps were fun and we definitely left a mark on the deathrock scene. We played with a lot of notable bands, including opening up for Rozz’s original Christian Death for their last live album before he died. We were there for direct support. An awesome band called Praise of Folly also played and they went on before us. This was in 1993 at the Patriotic Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Tony started recording with us in 1993. And played drums for us on and off in the beginning, but soon became a more frequent/basically permanent member. Willow Wisp was his main band, so he played with us when he could. Yes, I joined Willow Wisp as keyboardist, many years later, for a short while and it was fun and crazy, but I found it hard to concentrate on both bands and besides, I think Willow Wisp needed a more classically train keyboardists and my minimalist technique with synth/keyboards probably wasn’t the best fit for them.

Does the LA scene still have the same vibe in some ways, and in what ways do you find it has changed?

EYAJO: Some of the vibe has remained, but there have been changes. Not as many goth clubs playing live bands as there use to be, but there is hope, 2022 has brought a lot of the underground out and there seems to be promoters popping up all over LA and Mexico, booking Goth, Deathrock, Metal and Post Punk bands. It’s very exciting, so we’re looking forward to playing more venues this year to support Feast of Bats.

What do you think being in Astrovamps taught you about the music industry that you have taken with you into your other musical projects?

EYAJO: Astrovamps taught me how to be a good live musician and live band, it also inspired me to write music and not just lyrics. That’s why I founded Black Heroin Gallery.

Black Heroin Gallery was originally created by you in 2007 with Tony following you soon after. What drove you to start up this project?

EYAJO: Well, Astrovamps wasn’t going as dark as I wanted it to, so I knew I had to start some kind of side project for that dark deathrock music I wanted to write and release. That manifested as Black Heroin Gallery. Even though I loved what the Astrovamps were doing and I loved co-writing some of the songs as a lyricist. I knew I had to have my own thing where I was Chief songwriter, musically and lyrically. Then Astrovamps broke up and were no more. So I had complete focus for the new project. Not as easy as I thought, many false starts, a number of member changes and a singer that didn’t work out. I knew I had to learn guitar to write the songs that I wanted to write and take over vocal duties or we might end up spending wasted years looking for a singer. Tony and my old bassist Kevin kept telling me to take over vocal duties, I’m glad I finally took their advice.

How would you describe your musical partnership with Tony?

EYAJO: Good and enduring. Tony is a very creative drum composer and I’ve been lucky to have him stay the test of time and stick it out with me. Tony is the metal influence in the band, so sometimes we butt heads, because I’m a minimalist with music and songwriting and Tony likes more detailed Drum compositions. So over the years, we’ve come to a creative compromise on the drums. I let him go off the rails sometimes and for me, he pulls back sometimes. Perfect. My favorite drum styles are the classic deathrock tribal sound. And this style will always be part of our sound in one variation or another. Not every song, but still a favorite color of mine on the palette.

You have three other band members, so can you introduce them to us please?

EYAJO: Krystal Fantom is our guitarist and he also co-wrote two songs on the album with me. Dracul Grotesque is our Bass player and he joined a few months ago, just in time to record on Feast of Bats with us. Lastly, we have Sky Lee Vague, our new live keyboardist.

In Astrovamps, Eyajo, you were the keyboard player and now with Black Heroin Gallery you are not only the keyboardist but also the lead singer. How much of a change was this for you, and do you find vocals easier or harder?

EYAJO: The change was needed, I’m glad I never looked back. I played a little keyboard live on stage, but mostly focused on the vocal performance, but we are grateful now to have Sky take over and play keyboards live, now for the first time in years, we’re gonna be able to perform with our full sound. I will still always write and record the synth parts, but Sky brings it to life for the band on stage and from time to time he adds a little of his own fills. I’m ok with a little improv from the guys on the songs live, as long as the main sound and chords that make the song are there.

Your new album has the unusual title, ‘Feast of Bats’, can you tell us the story behind that name?

EYAJO: It’s actually the name of a short dark fairytale that I wrote and was illustrating. I loved the title, so I thought it would work well for the album. And the cover art I drew is from the illustrated story as well.

Many of the song titles, while obviously inspired by gothic horror themes, also have a quirky playfulness about them, reminiscent of Tim Burton in some ways. Is Burton a source of inspiration, and is there an element of tongue-in-cheek dark humor, having fun with tropes of the goth genre?

EYAJO: Yes, I would say that there were some of those influences in my writing. My main influences are fairytales and poetry. I like dark and tragic romantic themes. Dark things in general, Dark humor or satire does also play a part in some of my writing and lastly myths, witchcraft and philosophy I find very inspiring too.

There are a lot of references to death and her darkness in the lyrics. Do you find comfort in the beauty of the macabre and grotesque?

EYAJO: Yes, I most certainly do, it’s a recurring theme in all my arts. Poetry, Music, filmmaking and illustration. Death is my loudest muse.

There are also multiple mentions about God and demons. Is this for lyrical effect or something deeper?

EYAJO: Oh, it’s definitely not for any effect. I would say, deeper is probably a better description. Most of those references are from parts of the bible that the church removed or banned from the public. These stories inspire some of my work and the others are just my own mythos that I create.

As the lyricist and composer for the band, is that an added pressure and do you find writing music easy or a heartache?

EYAJO: Yes it can be both, but it’s very rewarding as well. Especially when you’ve reached that moment where the song is done. Krystal co-wrote two songs with me on this album and Tony added his drums and Dracul the bass. Then I added keyboards and Synth after the song had the basic instrumentation recorded. I usually write with guitar, then show it to the band and they learn it and then we work out all the little arrangement issues that may or may not come about. I’m lucky to have such talented and creative musicians working with me. Of course, I have to mention that this album would not have come out as great as it did, if it were not for the producing/mixing/recording and engineer artistry of Roman Marisak.

The band has been around since 2007 but this is your third album. I also noticed that some tracks have been around for a few years, often found in live videos. Do you like to try and test songs before you commit them to an album?

EYAJO: Yes, there were some formative years to say the least. Actually, Feast of Bats is our second album. My Rotting Flower was an EP. I have learned that it does help us out if we play the song live for a few shows. But that’s not always the case. I can say with almost certainty that our future albums are gonna be closer together in release times, probably every 2 years. For as long as it makes sense to me. I’m already working on the art and music for those future releases.

Do you find the acts of writing music and live performance a catharsis of sorts?

EYAJO: Yes, most definitely.

I do adore your version of “Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes The Bogeyman”. Do you have a favorite track off the album at all?

EYAJO: Thank you, that little gem was arranged and brought to us as a potential cover song by our guitarist Krystal Fantom. I loved his guitar arrangement on the song, so it made the album cut. For my favorite? Well It’s hard to choose, because I definitely put my heart and soul into all of the songs in one capacity or another. So if I have to pick, I would say, “I cover her horns.” There are many reasons why I like that song, but the main one from me is the story it’s telling and the very haunting musical arrangement.

When the young Eyajo was getting into darker music, what or who were your gateway drugs?

EYAJO: Well it was Duran Duran, who inspired me to make music and get into a band, but the dark path with me started after I heard Depeche Mode’s “Blasphemous Rumours” for the first time. I fell in love with the song and then the band. Then I continued to find more dark gems, like Skinny Puppy, Gene loves Jezebel, Bauhaus, Alien Sex Fiend, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Sisters of Mercy and Virgin Prunes to name a few.

Are there new acts you’re really getting into now?

EYAJO: Not really, but it’s not because I don’t like them, it’s more like, I just haven’t paid too much attention to new bands this year. Because I was working on Feast of Bats. Ask me that question a year from now and I’m sure I will be listening to some then.

If you could have a lovely tea party in a cemetery and the option to bury someone there and bring them back, Pet Cemetery style, would you do it and do you know who that would be? 🙂

EYAJO: The tea party sounds like fun, but I would probably pass on burying someone to bring them back. Because it more than likely wouldn’t end well.

Onyx symbolizes renewal, change and more than likely, my little black heart. What do you feel in your little dark heart, is next for Black Heroin Gallery?

EYAJO: Oh Hell, where do I start…Let me see, oh yes… We’ll be headlining a World Goth Day festival, May 14th in Mexico City, Mexico. Then we will concentrate on some music videos by June and continue to play as many live shows as we can. Also, remix and master the first album. Record 2-3 new songs for Feast of Bats vinyl release. Write and prepare songs for the third album. So needless to say, we’re going to keep busy.

Thank you Eyajo for joining us and chatting as we dance between the graves, like there is no tomorrow.

EYAJO: Thank you very much, it has been an honor to talk with you.

BLACK HEROIN GALLERY (bandcamp.com)

BLACK HEROIN GALLERY | Facebook

The Dreadful Dead of Hoop Snake Hollow was the last album we heard from LA deathrockers, Black Heroin Gallery, in 2016, but fear not. As of February the 20th, 2022, they released their third album, Feast Of Bats, on Pestilent WindFolk Records. Founding member and lead vocalist/writer/synths, Eyajo December Joseph, created this project in 2007 and was joined by drummer, Tony F Corpse, both having previously been part of the seminal deathrock group, Astrovamps. Over time, they have cemented the positions of lead guitar in 2015 with Krystal Fantom and most recently, Dracul Grotesque in 2021 on bass and live keyboardist, Skye Lee Vague.

I Cover Her Horns” kicks off the album, with a carnival in the distance with an off kilter mayhem. There is almost a genuine pain in the vocals for what maybe the love for a demon girl with her devilish horns. A lament to an unreasonable God that won’t keep his promises. The guitar work is just gorgeous in “Gargoyle Projekt“, a pulsating medieval hell of the black death that overtakes your senses in the eagerness to away from the victims of the plague.

There is a “Taste Of Worms“, a vortex of clashing drums and guitars, that whirls like a hurricane dragging you in with a sound of a siren. The classical elements are beautifully presented, giving this track gleaming facets. The track “Dreadful Wish” reminds me a hell of a lot of early Christian Death in the tone and tempo, about spiritual death. The guitars are often purposefully and yet then seem to almost meander in a psychedelic dream.

A tale of a demon who wished to see more than he should is told in “His Beautiful Darkness“. Grated out vocals from December Joseph, give you the sadness in finding a new world and losing it all again.”As She Slumbers” is dramatic and epically huge, images of a girl gone mad, who dreams of murdering her family and eating them. The guitars drop with the drums giving the effect of chopping into soft bodies. Even though there is a barrage of guitars and vocals, with the drums, tearing their way into your eardrums, “The Boy Who Married The Spider-Face Girl” is actually a song for a girl that the world does not understand but is beloved by a boy.

Honestly, has there ever been a bad song written about the bogeyman? For the track “Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes The Bogeyman“, this is no exception. Written originally in 1932 this cover version of the track is haunting, violent and wicked funny all at the same time. There is a wonderful heaviness that pervades. Expressive spoken word about the adventures of the “Twig Skeleton“, which sadly is only an interlude as I wanted to hear more about this character. A shamanistic atmosphere to “Take This Rose“, the last track on the album and rather than being romantic, a litany of what can never be.

There are black metal elements to the music that cannot be overlooked. It is in the use of classical aspects which is far more commonly used in black metal and crafted beautifully into the tracks on this album. Those elements indeed, enhance rather than detract from the overall sound. A Feast Of Bats is undeniably deathrock though with those angular, shredding guitars and tortured vocals. Stories of love, loss, death, decay and murderous intent….could one ask for anything more from an album? For me it is perfect gothic fare. You might have to venture in for yourselves and see if you get hooked on this release from Black Heroin Gallery.

Feast of Bats | BLACK HEROIN GALLERY (bandcamp.com)

BLACK HEROIN GALLERY | Facebook

Here on Onyx, we love our Australian underground music. To that end, we figured people needed to know about the latest video from post-punk provocateurs, Sounds Like Winter. “No Interest“, off their third album, Fight The Stairs, is a combination of footage from around the time of the original Wall Street Crash and the live online video of the band’s album launch.

We previously said…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. As their promoter, UTM Music Group said…..If you’ve been ignoring this band, you’re clearly a fucking idiot. Could not have really said it better myself.

Merch | Sounds Like Winter (bandcamp.com)

Sounds Like Winter (facebook.com)

January saw the debut release for deathrock group, Yuka Zolo. This is a six track EP, titled Bleed, from the four piece band consisting of bassist Anthony Moraga, vocalist Faydra Cronin, guitarist Tyler Spatz and drummer Alex Kaiser.

YUKA ZOLO

The first song is “Dissector” and it is like the old, unpolished goth tunes that came out of the post punk period of the 80s. The guitar work clear and melodious while the vocals chime together. This could be a tune about them being cut up and eaten by a serial killer.

If “Spinebender” isn’t a homage to early Christian Death I’ll be darn surprised. It races with breakneck speed like it’s on the mine ride to Hell with a cacophony of guitars.

The cajoling vocals on “Deprivation” are slightly off timed to the music giving us an unsettling feel. Not sure what sort of deprivation is going on here but she feels it and he feels it… it all seems a bit sexual.

The single, “217” is a little slower as Faydra’s singing wends between the guitars, in a short tale of the immortal. One minute, fifty eight seconds short but who says long is better.

The beginning of “Absolution” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on The Banshees‘ seminal album The Scream with those lyrics about no face and sacred waters. The pace seems to have become more introspective for the second half of the EP.

The last song is also the title track. “Bleed” with the imagery of sullying the holy by puncturing the woman’s hymen… she bleeds and is considered unclean, in the eyes of some. It punches home and as quickly as it started, it had finished.

Have to say the band Yuka Zolo are pretty hard core in their pursuit of music with members based in states of Wisconsin and Arizona in the U.S., however the EP was recorded entirely in Madison, Wisconsin.

Definitely deathrock influenced all the way with Rozz Williams styled attributes and although the bio said Siouxsie And The Banshees, I have to admit I heard more a correlation to Xmal Deutschland until “Absolution“, but both bands with powerful female leads. This is not over produced and has a little of that punk, two finger salute, screw you if you don’t like it… this is what it is. Yuka Zolo can be found on Bandcamp for name your price. So check out a bit of goth rock… watch out it bites.

https://yukazolo.bandcamp.com/album/bleed

https://www.facebook.com/YukaZolo/

Fancy a little gothic Christmas? Nothing says cheer like a carol and Vazum have released for those that aren’t inclined to listening to the regular fare, an EP of dark, tormented odes to the Yuletide, Vazumnacht. If you are unfamiliar with Vazum, they are a gothic/deathrock/shoe gaze, two piece made up of Zach Pliska and Emily Sturm, who are based in Detroit.

VAZUM – ZACH PLISKA & EMILY STURM

There are three numbers on this EP, starting with “Carol Of The Witch“. This is a parody of the traditional song “Carol Of The Bells“, which is instantly striking from the start, done as guitar riffs but after the beginning, this become a gothic dirge of pagan proportions. Discordant guitars sit with Pliska’s almost groaned vocals, while Sturm’s singing, storm through like light breaking through darkness. There are resurgences of the original tune but it just ties it all in.

Me thinks a bit of devil may care is a foot in “Unholy Nite“. Like a chant to summons the dark lord, this shadows “Holy Night” with references to the dark saviour and sulphur.

The synths almost feel off beat in comparison to the guitar, giving an off kilter sensation to “Bark The Hellhounds” and yes this is a nod to “Hark The Herald Angels” but done in the creepy, hurdy gurdy style that Vazum excels in.

In essence, Vazum have taken the bones of three highly favoured carols and not only putting their spin on those songs but for the most part, created new songs. So darklings, get your gothic finest on and celebrate the doomed side of Christmas with Vazumnacht.

https://vazum.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VAZUMROCKS/