New Orleans conjures for many of us thoughts of Mardi Gras, voodoo, vampires and now you can add the band, The Palace Of Tears, who released at the end of October, their debut album, Of Ruination.

The band is comprised of vocalist and lyricist, L.V. Darkling and Erick r. Sheid who pretty much plays and programmes everything else you hear.

THE PALACE OF TEARS

The slow, wind swept, instrumental void of “Terra Ephemera” or loosely interpreted, a land that was never meant to last, introduces you to the album. With graduating synths, the vale is lifted and hints of a tribal beat come into play.

Dark and imperious is the beginning to “Thy Womb Is Full Of Black Nectar” before we are acquainted to Darkling’s sonorous mezzo soprano vocals which are delicate and dripping with sensuous lyrics.

In a case of art imitating life, “Masque L’Intrigue” seems to be a result of the need for wearing masks to stop the current contagion. This is bitter sweet in its sentiment and like a reflection in obsidian… dark and cool. The synths and vocals entwine smoothly.

Tears Of The Moon” is slightly more hard edged, with buzzing electronics, yet still so ethereal just as the light of the moon is. This is eloquent and beautiful.

One does not think normally that “Cold Dead Skin” as romantic prose however it is used in effect to give contrasts of symmetry of the divine and the grotesque. The music feels like it is rising heaven bound with black gothic wings.

Shadows Of Whispering Phantoms” is the perspective of one whom has just lost the fight with death. Brooding in tempo as the spirit questioningly implores of they can be seen or heard by their loved ones as they pass beyond the vale. The guitar is almost hidden amongst the rising synths and there is something heart squeezing in the gorgeous sentiment.

The screaming angst of Scheid’s guitar marks the last song, “Of Ruination“. This is a wall of noise with the eloquent Darkling, cutting through with that magnificent voice. The swirling heavy guitar with the light electronica just make this truly breathtaking.

Ambient, dark soundscapes that are created here by Sheid are fabulous but it’s definitely Darkling’s vocal talent that takes everything to a higher, ethereal realm. It’s a bit like listening to Dead Can Dance if they were darker and more modern. So I say, go unto The Palace Of Tears to listen to the sweet seduction Of Ruination.

https://thepalaceoftears.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thepalaceoftears/

Norway’s Mayflower Madame, released on the 19th of November, a single off their album, Prepared For A Nightmare. It is called “Ludwig Meidner“, named after the German artist, who is most famous for creating apocalyptic landscape art pieces. Meidner wished to evoke an emotional response from the viewer and these art works were created before even the First World War, which Meidner was a participant in.

A tribute to the man, the artist and the perhaps the madness of wanting to feel more… what extremes would you go to, to get that rush?

There is a harkening back to the early to mid 80s, when post punk was evolving into goth. It is serpentine in the way the music winds with the jangly guitars. There is a healthy dose of Mission like tunefulness and the keyboard chimes in giving the song an ethereal feel.

MAYFLOWER MADAME

These guys do a beautiful blend of gothic rock beauty, highlighted with that shoe gaze swirling guitar. Guitar based post punk is in good hands with Mayflower Madame, so do yourself a favour and have a listen to “Ludwig Meidner“.

https://mayflowermadame.bandcamp.com/album/prepared-for-a-nightmare

https://www.facebook.com/mayflowermadame

The Greek gothic/post punk scene is very much alive and kicking. Lefki Symphonia are a part of the strong Mediterranean movement and last month released the single, “Black Twilight“.

These guys have been around since 1984 and you can hear that influence in the music. The guitar work is very reminiscent of Wayne Hussey, circa Sisters of Mercy period.

I could be wrong, but the lyrics might be waxing about those of a vampiric nature or at least emotional trauma that deadens all feeling, because in the end it is human to feel.

The vocals and over all feel of this number remind me of Finnish act, To/Die/For. So if you like your brooding, goth rock, then you might want to check out Lefki Symphonia and their “Black Twilight“.

https://lefkisymphonia.bandcamp.com/track/black-twilight-single

https://www.facebook.com/lefkisymphonia/

https://lefkisymphonia.gr/en/

Do you remember a classic song by the title “Agent Orange“? It might strike a cord as it was originally released by Scots, Ski Patrol in 1980. In August, Vision Video, a four piece from Georgia in the USA brought forth their version.

This retelling still has that spine tingling feel to the anti war classic. It is post punk heaven but with extra goth punk thrown in.

The original starts off far more quietly and gains speed and volume while the Vision Video begins simply and takes off yet they are more up front vocally.

Love the floating guitar chiming in that adds to the ethereal feel of the music paired with the verbose singing.

An extra added bonus is the band having Tom Ashton involved with the production of this single. For those not familiar with the name, Ashton plays guitars in American goth daddies, The Wake as well as at one point, playing with Dutch icons, Clan Of Xymox.

Agent Orange was the defoliating chemical used during the Vietnam war and the song was a comment on the lasting effects of this chemical warfare, with severe birth defects and soldiers dying from cancer.

Vision Video now uses it as a political call to rise up from apathy, to take control of our future. Good protest songs are timeless and Vision Video has done a brilliant rousing goth version of “Agent Orange“.

https://www.facebook.com/visionvideoband/

https://m.facebook.com/visionvideoband/

The end of July saw the release of the album, Kiss Of Death, by English band, Black Angel, a follow on from 2019’s debut The Widow.

England definitely exploded with successful gothic bands in the early eighties. Their legacy is like a ripple that still effects us 40 years later. Matt Vowles is the progenitor of Black Angel, as well as being a music producer, whom been heavily influenced by that early scene and has come full circle to the music that influenced his early years.

The start of the title track “Kiss Of Death” is like a soul crying out. Great first tune to start with as it is atmospheric and sets the tone for the rest of the album of dark desires for an eternal passion.

Animal” is the second single off the album and is heavy with sentiment that is raw with longing and wanting. The animal logic overriding all. The beat pounds and the vocals exotically call you to give all for that animalistic love.

Dirty and bass heavy are a heady mixture for “Alchemy“. A concoction of rockabilly and goth guitar sensibility make this a lethal combination that doesn’t dawdle. Voodoo, magic and love are a powerful cocktail.

Female vocals reminiscent of the Ofra Haza version of “Temple of Love“, start off and weave through “Call Of The Night” but that is where the similarity ends with this sensual ode to the gothic tribes that inhabit the dark.

Wayne Hussey would be proud of the guitar in “Hurricane” and just like the namesake, this song spins and swirls at a terrific pace.

BLACK ANGELMATT VOWLES

You think there might be a change of pace with “Want For More” and it you aren’t wrong and it reminds me of Lacrimas Profundere in their heyday. Laid back, slow burn with guitars crying out and female backing vocals to rival the later Sisters of Mercy tunes.

Put Your Lips…..” is the jaunty first single with a rockabilly beat and a very much the cowboy goth feel that Fields of the Nephilim introduced the world to, with striding footsteps and a shotgun to the Sun. the singer is sure her lips would look good on him.

The wonderfully sonorous guitars, whirl you away in “She Said“. This winds along in a languid, serpentine way as we ponder the wise words, the devil is a bitch.

Sirens ring out to herald in “Prisoner” and the guitar here reminisces of The Cult, circa Love album. But then again, with the baritone Russian choir style aaahs could be mistaken for Mige Ure’s, Ultravaox.

The last song is also a homage to the band name, “Black Angel” and you could knock me down with a feather, as this sounds so much like Bauhaus, including a sax accompaniment, which is very, very 80’s. It swirls and undulates to a rather satisfying end. We all know about the devil in a black dress……

I’m honestly pleased that this isn’t another Sisters imitation band. You can hear the influence but Vowles has found a vocalist who stays true to their own style whilst not trying to sound like someone else. Black Angel are leading the gothic rock charge with fellow contemporaries, Norwegians, October Burns Black.

Recorded and mastered at Matt Vowles‘ own studio, The Manor, Kiss Of Death is a polished production which reminds me of the bands I have loved for so long and has forged ahead with that sound instead of living in the past. Love, longing and lust are are old as mankind and Kiss Of Death is all this and a whole lot more with Black Angel giving it beautiful inky wings.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/kiss-of-death

https://www.facebook.com/blkangelmusic

The 3rd of August is the release date for British duo, Unquiet Dead’s new single, “Burn My Head Down“.

Jason and Lora have created a video piece, featuring the world’s only chain rope aerialist, Californian, Drago Nesa, who also does firebreathing as well, hopefully not at the same time. Spectacular talents indeed.

As always, you can hear that 70’s glam sound bubbling up through this number. Previously I mentioned Marc Bolan’s TRex maybe being a big influence on Unquiet Dead, just as they were on the post punk scene.

This single is the protest song of getting your freedom back when you are being oppressed and kept down. There are the outburst of adrenaline/anger and more emotional acceptance within, all washed down with that driving enthusiasm.

The video, though made in this time of isolation, is just as energetic and absorbing as the song itself. I’m still wincing at the whole swinging around on a metal chain thing which is done so elegantly by Drago Nesa. Immerse yourself in the experience of Unquiet Dead’s Burn My Head Down“.

https://unquietdead.bandcamp.com/track/burn-my-head-down

https://m.facebook.com/unquietdead/?_rdr

Whilst in isolation, Tesla Cøils from the Gold Coast, Australia had been working on a single with video and now in July, “The Party” is out for our entertainment.

The band is made up of Jed A Walters, the writing mastermind/renaissance man on lead vocals, keyboards, guitar and programming with drummer extrodinaire, Chris Dennis.

Jed A Walters and Chris Dennis of Tesla Cøils

The Party” is aptly, as the name implies, the experience of attending a party…. and hating every second of it because you are a gothy antisocial, not a smoker, rarely drink or just dislike humans.

Love the line about latching onto the dog so they don’t have to interact with other people. This is very much tongue in cheek dark humour and yet so very relatable.

It has your attention from the beginning with the rumble of drums that suddenly come to the fore with Jed’s very distinct voice. The chorus it just a wonderful swell of sounds, jangly guitar and it just barrels you over. Just so good. Even after listening to it several times, I’m still finding new layers to marvel at. Even to the low baritone vocal sound in the instrumental interlude which makes it so rich.

I first saw Tesla Cøils live when they were the support for the 40th anniversary Peter Murphy and David J (Bauhaus) tour of the album, In The Flat Field, which left enough of an impression on me to video a portion of their performance.

Not only is this a cracker of a song that will worm its way firmly into your head but the music video is genius. Highly recommend having a look as it is really well done.

Whether you like or hate parties, this “The Party” is so danceable and really deserving of airplay and you can find the lads on Bandcamp or support them on Patreon. Tesla Cøils are delivering the quirky yet intelligent, dark electro industrial we need in these times.

https://teslacoilsmusic.bandcamp.com/

https://m.facebook.com/teslacoilsmusic

https://www.patreon.com/teslacoilsmusic

http://www.teslacoilsmusic.com/

The Batavia, in the early 17th Century, was a ship of the Dutch East India Company and in less than a year after her maiden voyage, would find herself wrecked off the West Australian Coast. A tale of murder, mutiny, slavery and abandonment followed.

TERRI AND ED CRIPPS

Batavia are also a goth, industrial rock group, hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, consisting of Terri and Ed Cripps. This is the married couple’s debut E.P., Graveyard, under this moniker and was recorded in isolation. Keys and vocals are from Terri while Ed gives us guitar, programming and backing (spoken) vocals.

The wind swept feel is prominent in “Field Of Gray” as the synths grace their presence and breath into the intro piece while the angelic vocals hover just above the turbulence. Ed speaks to us, as from another time, perhaps as a marooned sailor who dreams of home as his life slips away.

TERRI “LUCRETIA JAN” CRIPPS

Now for something completely different as far as a cover goes. Not that someone would not cover Duran Duran, but rather the choice of their 1988 single, “All She Wants Is” kind of blew me away. It is raw and pulsating with sexuality and very feminine. Terri’s vocals really capture the fervour whilst being classy and the industrial styling of the guitar work, really lends itself to making this a cover that completely works for them.

Scab Mask” is grating at the beginning, setting up for the vocals to resolve the disparity. This is the industrial machine, that pounds along and one can’t help but feel that this may be a commentary on the current political turmoil, that their country currently finds itself embroiled in. The anger seems to feed into the slowing, off kilter, loss of hope.

An orchestrated piece with no vocals, “Flyboy” is cuts of air chatter from ground personnel, Richard Russell, which burst through with accelerating urgency as a man losses his sanity while handling a multi million dollar plane. Meanwhile air control tries to talk him around and for historical content, he purposefully crashed in 2018l This is the futile end.

ED “JERONIMUS CORNELISZ” CRIPPS

This is a really neat little E.P. and Bartavia are proving themselves to be storytellers, connecting the past to present, even when that past was not so long ago, for as humans, we seem to have short memories.

We need those that write meaningful human tales with good tunes and a rollicking good cover every so often doesn’t hurt either. Get your education and entertainment with the delightful Batavia and open their Graveyard.

https://batavia.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/officialbatavia/

When you talk about industrial electronic noise acts like Coil, Throbbing Gristle and In The Nursery, you have to add Coventry band, Attrition. January saw the release of a new single, “The Great Derailer” from the album, The Black Maria, which is due out in the coming months.

Martin Bowes is the one member who has been continuously part of the group from the beginning in 1980 and has always steered Attrition to being a much lauded and still viable act now, even in 2020.

Martin Bowes

Of course the title song is first, “The Great Derailer” which is exactly five minutes long and begins with the jangling of guitars, juxtaposted with female vocals. Bowes‘ gutteral tones gravel along with Emese Arvai-Illes as the female lead, almost floating above Bowes. Who is “The Great Derailer“? There is a sound bite that seems awfully like one U.S. president called Trump. The violins are discordant and almost manically high pitched with fervour, off-set by the mellow tones of the cello, all heightened by the soprano wailing, rising and falling. Whoever this Great Derailer is, they revel in the turmoil created by the direputable and unruly.

The B-side is “The Pillar (For Ossington)“. Ossington Subway Station is located in Toronto, Canada and also the place that Martin made field recordings of the trains as they pass by and stop. This is a much more sublime piece, almost clasical in nature, with female vocals like the calling of the sirens to lure you into their world within a hurtling steel carriage.

There are a bonus four remixes of “The Great Derailer” on the digital format. There is “The Great Derailer” by Planetdamage remix, “Entertain YouDead Happy remix, “The Great DerailerMr Toma Vs Noirmagnetik remix and Khost‘s remix “Derail“. Each is diverse and a new surprise from Planetdamage’s laid back dismantling to Khost’s reimagination in industrial power noise.

My first real introduction to Attrition was in the early 90’s with the compilation Recollections ’84 – ’89, put out by the label Projekt, who are well known for their electro ambient releases, even though I had heard the odd song here and there. As leaders in their field, they have released some powerful albums full of creativity and dark beauty.

Now in 2020, on the Two Gods label, Attrition is about to grace our ears again. Martin Bowes is threatening us with another single and new album….. and I for one can’t wait to hear what comes next.

https://attritionuk.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-derailer

https://www.facebook.com/ATTRITIONMUSIC/

http://www.attrition.co.uk/

End of November, 2019 saw the release of goth rockers, Her Despair’s latest EP, Exorcisms of Eroticism. This 6 piece band are based in London and currently not signed to any label, though I wonder how long that will last.

Pandaemonium” is a banger of a number to start off with. Those crystal clear vocals that draw you into the heart and heat of song. Author, John Milton, wrote the novel, Paradise Lost and created a capital of Hell called Pandaemonium, city of fallen angels and daemons. This builds in its terrible beauty of a soul left bereft and shunning heaven’s God .

A single off the EP is “The Exorcism“. Again you hear the wonderfully crafted lyrics with the musical sensibilities of Ville Valo (HIM). A few goth girls are going to melt with this and I can see why. The guitar riff in this is a killer.

Third track, “In That Moment”, has the orchestration wooing you whilst giving you a sense of wonder at how they manage to make this sound so grand and polished. The electronic aspect is spectacular.

For such a darkly named song “Like A Crucifixion“, it feels so light and up beat with a great, catchy chorus. If this is the next single, I would hardly be surprised.

I think English icons, Paradise Lost might have misplaced a track in “Beyond The Veil” as it really reminds me of their goth phase. This is a slightly slower number and I’m not sure if the reference is a veil of mourning or the distance between death and life, though no matter as it all works.

Of course all this commentary of passing to the land of the dead leads well into the final track, “Final Rest”. The sentiment is beautiful as the music swells with the acknowledgment of going to a place of peace… their heaven.

HER DESPAIR

For Her Despair, this is the second EP since the band first released Mournography in 2018. There is great wealth of literary expression and the use of poetic English language is lovely to see.

The band cites influences like The Sisters of Mercy, My Dying Bride and Karl McCoy’s wonderful, Fields of the Nephilim and honestly you can hear touchs of these 80’s iconic goth bands but also more recent acts like The 69 Eyes, Lacrimosa Profundere and more than a passing nod to tragic love hero’s, HIM.

Goth rock needs shots in the arm like this every once in a while because what the world doesn’t need is another Sisters of Mercy clone, yet this is a classic example of love lost, longing and dwelling in darkness, set to a backdrop of heaven and hell. Beauty is in the darkness and in the music of Her Despair.

https://herdespair.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/herdespair

https://m.soundcloud.com/herdespair