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

This year English duo, Unquiet Dead had the release of their second album, Anima Ignis. Located in Bedfordshire, Lora Maze is vocals and synths while Jason Kahl plays guitar and bass. Both are responsible for programming.

So the intro is “Flames”, which welcomes you into the style that is Unquiet Dead. Soaring harmony with a tribal sound, punctuated with the guitar, giving it a whole lotta oomph!!!

“Ash” was a single and has an almost White Zombie, Southern American feel to it until the vocals from Maze kick in, seductively slipping into your ears. A psychedelic trip in a limosine, in leather with a devil may attitude.

Yet another single off the album is “Legend”. Do I detect the use of didgeridoo? Kahl’s driving guitar work throttles this forward. And the remix by London based electro/industrial group, Machine Rox for the single is absolutely killer. Vocally this reminds me of Faith And The Muse.

Keeping up the unrelenting pace is “Puppet Strings“. You have to love the harmonization Unquiet Dead utilize. No one is pulling their strings with this danceable number.

Now for a change of pace. Of course “Cat People (Putting Out Fire With Gasolene)” was written and performed by David Bowie with Georgio Moroder back in 1981 and has been covered a multitude of times. The whole thing with covers is to make it your own. A purposely slow beginning which changes up with the power vocals.

And back to the head bobbing ferocious beats. Burn My “Head Down” is about getting out from underneath someone’s control… which might be a theme of this album. Hints of electric T-Rex litter this.

Track seven is “Bitter Pill“, where they have to be ‘careful what I say or they might put me away’ and any song mentioning pitchforks is worthy of monster movie staking.

Build A World Worth Dying For” is pure swirling vocals entwined with guitar and backed up with synths. A plea to make this world a better place that we know it can be. A beautifully crafted song with and equally beautiful sentiment.

The synth sound mimicking a theremin in “Is This War?”, Is almost hypnotic. Not the fastest track but this will definitely keep the audience entertainered, especially waiting to hear Maze’s vocals to take them away.

I Can Hardly Wait” is slower, more dirge style piece which drags the corpse along behind it still kicking. Languid guitar riffs bubble in the cauldron.

Last track is “If You Don’t Want Me” and true to form, if you aren’t wanted, there are no constraints on what you can do and be who you want to be. This fades to a mantra of almost southern Baptist proportions.

On Bandcamp, the band have quoted Toyah Wilcox as saying ‘Really rather remarkable’. I can tell you now that in the music scene, Toyah is a very hard woman to impress as she is a bit of a perfectionist.

Whatever style you want to try to place these two, it is undeniable that Unquiet Dead are really very talented. They take the psychedelic sounds of a bygone era and marry it to a modern electronic/ industrial genre with those amazing vocals to create something just a little special.

The bastard child of Bolan/Bowie/Eno and Inkubus Sukkubus with no apologies. Check Unquiet Dead out.

https://www.facebook.com/unquietdead/

https://open.spotify.com/album/0KO0hqCUtvxZaA0BrNIuZ7

https://unquietdead.bandcamp.com/releases

http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1321653244?ls=1&app=itunes

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077YC5SPC/ref=sr_1_1…

Finland seems a very small country, with an even smaller population and yet, somehow, they have far more than their fair share of talented musicians. Hateful Chains is a four piece gothic/darkwave band from Turku, who started up in 2016.

From their stunning guitar to the striking female vocals, this makes your ears prick up on their latest single, “It’s All Right“.

HATEFUL CHAINS

The guitar work is refreshing actually, light and almost joyful, not dark and dredging, reminding me of another Finnish band, Negative. Negative was for me a glam rock band quintessentially, so there goes my goth cred points but it works so well here.

Paired with the vocal talent of the female lead, Flora Kok, who has a nice powerful range from alto to soprano, without going all operatic. Dare I say, a bit Grace Slick to my ears. Yep, I said it.

The Finnish always amaze me with their virtuosity with their instruments and ability to create such memorable songs.

This is a great single which deserves to be noticed in world full of the same old same old. I think this more than a bit of ” It’s All Right“.

https://hatefulchains.bandcamp.com/

http://hatefulchains.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HatefulChains/

 

Xentrifuge are an aggro-tech/industrial band from the US, a duo in the form of Chris X and Lisa Hellen, who might we say are on the up and up.

Their debut album is out on Cleopatra Records called Desensitized Parallels which many of their fans have been waiting for with eager anticipation after the release last year of the single, “Circles of Dust”.

xentrifuge 2

Chris X and Lisa Hellen – XENTRIFUGE

“Irra” kicks this off with an almost slow ambient beat, for an industrial group, as it serpentines it way along with the electronic whispers. This is just to whet the appetite so to speak.

Now the pulsating “A Summoning” takes the stage and it has that dark guilty pleasure of beats and synthesisers duelling with each other. This definitely will be summoning the industrial/goths.

Industrial music is known for being cold and dominating and there is “Winter Machine”. Hellen’s keyboard winds through this piece as the sequencers keep up their eternal beat.

The hopelessness of the cyber age, of lies and deception seem to be a theme and this is most definitely felt in “Encrypted in Visions”. Chris X snarls, ‘We sift through debris born of lies, in this place of deceit’.

“Fated” just rolls like the surf, crashing in then pulling back before crashing in again with sound. That use of sound control is very appealing and builds you up before dropping you in those waves.

Have a funny feeling “Unknown Divine” is about religion. Is this belief real or something contrived and self-delusion? Not unusual to question this especially in the electronic age, an age where even people put themselves up to be worshipped on social media. It’s a good steady number.

The 8th track seems to be a play on words. “N.M.E” or enemy, they will take on those whose existence offends the dark and be the avenging cyber angel of dark doom as they vanquish their doubting foe.

The single, “Circles of Dust” is apocalyptic and nihilistic and most certainly a number fans would be moshing to with great abandon. This is raw industrial cool and yet the band has not relied on a booming back beat, as it is almost inferred which is really amazing.

Last song is the title track, with its intricate beats and strained synth sounds creating a vision of discord and ultimate futility as it wraps up the album.

Xentrifuge really seem to like playing not only with the variation the rhythms but also whilst doing so, creating spaces within. Lulls that then suddenly project you forward. You can hear the echo’s of influences such as Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb but in a modern vision of the post apocalyptic cyber age.

These guys are on Bandcamp so check them out and if this is your thing, then please support them.

https://xentrifuge.bandcamp.com/album/desensitized-parallels?fbclid=IwAR1NxShTwFUIMXuqZL4W8B0FxftO1nEN09bfDzorZ48tl3T-91NsvVZkGss

 

Midnight Creatures is a two man gothic/metal rock band from Australia with Jordan Von Grae on vocals and Lachlan Blackwood bringing the guitars and programming. Together they have brought their first born offering to the table on the form of an E.P. called I.

This is a 3 track E.P. and the first track is “Hope and Faith” with a strong piano and guitar sound. Waiting for love to be returned when given. Though as we all know that this never always the case.  Heavy on the symphonic gothic guitar sound on this number.

“Daylight” starts and continues with a solo piano and in some ways this reminds me of Muse and could be the whimsical way it is sung. A song of love lost and a female remembered by the way she moved in the daylight.

This could be a tribute to Valo and HIM from the Love Metal period, “Salt of My Earth”. This is in no way a bad thing as this ode to woman being his part of his existence, is very sweet and romantic in that dark and not gooey way goths do.

So a three part ode to love. Waiting for requited love, memories of love lost and bound to a great love. What more could you want? You can most definitely hear the influence of HIM and Von Grae‘s vocals do remind me a bit of Muse‘s lead singer, though Jordan‘s voice rings clearer I feel and not so nasal. Lachlan Blackwood also does a great job on guitar.  

These two lads seem to be stuck in the gothic romantic era and if Lord Byron had been a gothic rocker, he would have joined them. Do check them out on Bandcamp.

https://midnightcreaturesband.bandcamp.com/releases