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

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/