VAZUM have defined their gothic rock mixed with shoegaze style as Deathgaze, and the Detroit duo of Zach Pliska and Emily Sturm have kept themselves very busy. Between 2020 – 2022 they have released approximately four full albums, a multitude of singles and even a ghoulish Christmas EP just for good measure.
Now we have V- (V negative), the greatest hits of this period. All tracks have been re-recorded to reflect their live performances, so don’t expect the usual crystal clear sound but rather, you are listening to a band recreating the live experience.
Sure enough, it feels like we are privy to a VAZUM show as we revisit some of their tracks such as the SiouxsieandtheBanshees like “RazorSmileV–” with its swirling guitars or the wonderfully bass heavy “Thief V-” and enjoy the interchange of male and female vocals. If you like yourself some VAZUM, dig really interesting gothic rock or really love the warm style of live music, then V– might be your glass of absinthe.
Jarrad Robertson is the captain of the scurrilous pack Sea Lungs, with Andi Lennon as the vocal navigator and linguist, while Robertson and first mate Micheal Johnson steer the musical course. “Parlour Tricks” is the latest single which has magically appeared on Bandcamp for your listening pleasure. (Ignore the 12th of April date, because it is available NOW!!)
If you haven’t guessed from the cover photo, it is about those that dabble in the occult for an audience, deceitfully conjuring up the dead, using smoke and mirrors, for fame and money. “Parlour Tricks“is decidedly heavier than previous tracks, with a more deathrock drone of guitars. Lennon never misses a beat, which is amazing with his wordy lyrics that would be tricky for less nimble tongues. The lumbering death march for those passed, and a message for the living that no amount of incantations from charlatans can communicate with the dead. Sea Lungs are here to say. It’s all a “ParlourTrick” but rock on anyway.
You might need a bit of extra goth in your life, so why not try some tropical goth…. mmm, it is tasty and refreshing in the form of Australian band Locust Revival,and you can whet your appetite with the single “Good Grief“. Actually, they have been releasing darkwave goodness since 2015 and are particularly prolific. *hint hint*
The guitar twanging flourishes, combined with the drum machine, are the first things you hear. The lofi recording only adds to the atmosphere, and when the vocals kick in, it makes you feel like you are listening to an unreleased Joy Division track. Like a dream wafting through, leaving behind the pain of memories, loves great loss with a bass saturated background.
Glorious post-punk sounds from Brisbane. It’s wonderfully mopey, and yet, there is a certain degree of lightness in the guitar playing. A beautiful symbolic looking back at the bands from the past, and you can hear the joy Locust Revival finds in creating this dark expressive music. All we can say is “Good Grief” Danger Mouse, you need a listen.
You are walking down a Victorian alley at night. There is drizzling rain, a fog rolling in and an eerie feeling you are being followed. This could be the setting for a Hammer Horror movie, but how about a song from Plasmata and Ben Christo with Aly Jados, named “You Call Him The Devil“. This track originally was released onthe Plasmata EP, Portraits Of Pain, under the name “Ten Bells“. The glampire behind Plasmata is Trent Jeffries, while guitarist/vocalist, Ben Christo is best known for being a member of The Sisters Of Mercy and his latest band Diamond Black, and Aly Jados is the lead singer and guitarist for her heavy rock group, Blood People.
You are greeted by the ringing guitar work of Christo, which takes on its own life, soaring and racing to meet up with vocals of Jeffries and Jados, that smoothly intertwine, each picking up the tale of the Ripper through his eyes. The guitar work is glorious and simply takes this track to another level, along with the rising chorus of vocals. The urgency is palpable, for soon we will meet our doom.
Jados was also the female vocals in the original “Ten Bells” and she nails this again with her seriously brooding singing, which is gritty and sensual, a foil for Jeffries‘ smoother killer tones. The original version definitely had a harder electronic edge and grungier guitar to it, but the new version now has this epic goth rock opus quality. Jack the Ripper is lurking in the dark and he has become the grandiose figure of death himself, enjoying the hunt before the butchery in the squalid lanes of White Chapel. “You Call Him The Devil“, the Christo version, giving you the amazing combination of Plasmata and Ben Christo, with Aly Jados, and you can’t really get much better than this.
Colorado goth band, Plague Garden formed just over three years ago, with members Fernando Altonaga and Angelo Atencio, and in that time, rather impressively, have released an album a year. The latest was unleashed on Halloween of 2022, named Blue Captain on the label Bleeding Light Music.
The bass conjures thoughts of The Damned or The Cure, as the album starts off with “Tonight” and breaks into a cool barrage of post-punk jangling guitar. The vocals echoing in the beautiful shadows of nightfall with a drum machine punctuating the thick air. The serpentine winding of “Land Of The Free” is a commentary that not everyone is so free in a land where money and privilege can buy you everything. The single “Blue Captain” has the tendrils of The Cure’sPornography curling all over it from the curt beats to the wandering guitar that graces your ears, and it almost seems you can hear the waves of all hope lost, washing up onto shore. So we descend into the depths, with tones of early 80s Sisters Of Mercy in the intro, to be “Bathed In Fire“, a holy baptism by flame. The rhythm pickups in the mood ridden “We Will Be Forgotten” with it’s fusion of gothic roc\k with electronics, which is perfect to set up the last track “Cry” in its sorrowful lament, though you cannot truly be so sad when you hear that twisting guitar.
You can’t deny hearing the musical influences for these two gentlemen but at the same time they are not trying to be those bands, rather paying homage and building their own music from what they love. Plague Garden have gone for creating beauty from simple good writing and that always gives the music more heart. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue…. this is Blue Captain.
Name your poison! For VAZUM, it is deadly “Night Shade“, which happens to be their next single as released on the spooktacular day of Friday the 13th of January, by the deathgaze duo of Zach Pliska and Emily Sturm.
The driving guitar is the trademark of VAZUM and “Night Shade” is laced with it. A warning that not all fawning friends and influencers, are actually going to be there for you when the chips are laid down. But they will lie to your face and make you adore them, which fits in perfectly with the contemptuous music. There is also a second track included that also follows the theme of untruths, called “Living Great” that has this wonderful shoegaze brilliance that never pauses.
Having two very different sounding tracks, even if they are on the short comings of humans, makes this release quite delightful bit of gothic rock to get your heart beating. VAZUM again have given us something killer in “Night Shade“, a killer of a track which is name your price on Bandcamp.
Brisbane based, gothic band, Sacred Hearts have been gaining a solid following, and released the newest single “Catholic Guilt“. The Meanjin (Brisbane) trio, however, doing something a little different. Two singles, same track but done in two different styles. Nice to see Jed A. Walters (Chiffon Magnifique) doing their production as well as the talented Kyle Hallam (Doggie Heaven) .
Whom does the bells toll for? That drum machine just pops and the guitars kind of roll in light noisy motes that drown your ears in beautiful chiming. The vocals are so vibrant and in a way angelic, amidst the churning, jangling guitars.
Version two is far more what is on the slab in the laboratory style of deathrock with those hazed out guitars. The angst oozes forward, staining the air, the vocals venomous in their disgust. The Lord’s Prayer that they have used, has become a cultish chant for the disenchanted.
I get where lead singer, June, is coming from, having been in the Catholic school system. They use the religion to scare you and control you. You are being judged, if not worthy then you will go to Hell and I remember at school, being told sex was for procreation only and not for enjoyment. Yeah, let’s not even get into the creepy stuff with the priests. At some point you either stay with that stuff or you walk away. Maybe that just added to the way we turned out but it makes for interesting conversation and, indeed, topic for a single, where SacredHearts are stretching those dark wings and pushing their sound into new and varied territory. I think they are only going to get better and “Catholic Guilt 1 & II” are pretty damn hot.
“The Precious Ones” sounds like it could be from Lord Of The Rings, however, it is the single that deathgaze rockers, VAZUM, dropped on the 18th of November. Emily Sturm and Zach Pliska are gearing up for an album drop next year, called V Sessions, but in the meantime you can listen to the new single with it’s complimentary two b-sides.
Pliskais the main vocalist this time for “The Precious Ones” and venomously spits out the lyrics, while the guitars are violently loud, rolling like thunder in their discontent and the drums emphatic. Sturm’s vocals wind around the chorus almost stealing it. “Actor” really slides into deathrock mode with the buzzing guitar work, that occasionally breaks out then returns to the fold. The way the rhythm moves is very snake like. The last track sees both the vocalists sharing the duties, screaming out guitars and what feels like intense pressure in the build up for “Skooge“.
I actually had to look up “Skooge” and it was in the urban dictionary as basically describing an idiot. These tracks definitely have a common theme running through all of them…..pretty much go fuck yourself and go fucking die. I mean I could be wrong but I don’t think I am. “The Precious Ones” is a dig at a scene that often is constantly looking backwards at what has been, rather than the new music there is now. Many, many moons ago, I used to run a club and if you played all the classics, you were guaranteed a full dance floor. Introduce something new but great, suddenly the floor was clear. If I go out, I still hear all the same music….it is boring and like going back in a time machine. Plus, I guess there are probably certain musicians today that will have everyone pandering to them, while others will miss out on coverage even though they deserve to be heard. In the meantime, the single and extra tracks are fantastic. I love the furious guitars and VAZUM being all prickly has made this all the more interesting. Watch out for “The Precious Ones“…….
In South Carolina, if you listen carefully, not all is banjo music. The gothic/deathrock explosive power of Orcus Nullify is back baby, with a new single, “All The Way“, released on the 11th of November.
From the drums through to the guitars, this is all Nullify. The guitars soar and Bruce’s vocals derisive of the old guard, the far right in their inability to accept anything other than their own narrow view and that if they aren’t right then it should all be left to crumble into anarchy. Discordant deathrock from Orcus Nullify with a message and a mosh worthy chorus.
Down in the crypt, somewhere in the United Kingdom, someone cobbled together a monstrous label called We Are Horror Records, knitting and stapling punk, deathrock and psychobilly. Their first abomination is the compilation, Horror Punk’s Not Dead! Vol 1. with a whole 27 tracks to give you the heebie jeebies and this unholy of unholies was given life on Halloween.
“The reasons behind this compilation are clear! To pay homage to the “Punk-o-Rama” series, and to showcase the best modern Horror Punk, Death Rock, and Psychobilly bands in the world! To quote 5¢ Freakshow.. “We may be freaks, but we are not alone…” The Horror is here!” (Dan P., creator and host of the Horrorpunk’s Not Dead! podcast.)
So much choice here. There is the soulful harmonics of Silent Horror with “Astrofiends“, the utterly oi oi stylings of Damage 66 and their ever so eloquent track “Fuck You (If You’re Not Bruce Campbell)” which is honestly a sentiment I can completely get down with. You can bounce around to the delightful rock’n’roll psychos, 5 Cent Freakshow with their self titled track, listen to the goth-a-billy sweet lads, Evelyn’s Casket and their ode to checking out of life, “Evelyn“, maybe suffer some electrifying goth rock at “The Asylum” from TheDeathtones or be mesmerised by the cover of The Dickies song, “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” by Ghosts On Tape.
Get your hatchet face on because this thing is bubbling with talent and oozing with tracks to murder for, as you party with your fiends in the nearest and dearest graveyard. There is also the delightful intro to the compilation which you really should have a listen to. Like most serial killer bad guys in the horror movies, I am going to have to stop, though luckily I didn’t need to be stabbed, incinerated or buried in a well. But I will be back, because as the title says, Horror Punk Is Not Dead! Vol 1, which means………you children of the night better be ready for some more juicy horror punk.