Mats Davidsen for a very long time, has been the central pillar for his band, Painted Romans. Somewhere in recording and releasing the mini album, Heart, which came out in October 2020, the band became trio with Jan Ottar Nystad (synth) and Thomas Sejnæs (bass).

PAINTED ROMANS

Fall” is a reminder of the electronic pop that flooded the airways in the late 70s/ early 80s. It feels light but with dark over tones. Nice clean guitar and bright keyboard with a fuzzy deeper undercurrent of noise.

They dance and get drunk to “Forget“. Probably something most of us have done before. Swirling electric organ is just the thing. Like the twisting feeling of a inebriated haze, it spins you around

Patrick Wray is not only featured on the song, “Drives Me On“, but also has previously released music with Mats as Davidsen and Wray. Also featuring Roxy Dunn, this a percussion lead piece that should be played while cruising down the highway in an open top car… or at least that is the feel.

A gothic turn for “Formation“. This is very pretty with Mission style guitars that jangle away. The way this spins the theme of love with fire, ice and all that lays in-between.

New Kind” is a far more bassy and laid back affair. How to find new life in the person you are with rather than finding it in another, a new kind of self.

Rather a Level 42 vibe from “Treat Yourself“. A light last track with funky undertones and a chorus of voices.

Overall, there is a very 80s tone to this album, paying passing homage to past styles, while the group are all contributing to a nice balanced style of electronics and guitar. Painted Romans are giving you their Heart, so it might be time to let them in.

https://paintedromans.bandcamp.com/album/heart

https://m.facebook.com/paintedromans/

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

Some say post punk is having a revival. In the world of goth/darkwave/coldwave, it never went away, not really. I present a young chap from Gillingham, UK, Coor Brow-Obles and his latest single, “A History Of Violence“. This is his third single and part of a storyline about a doomed romance called the Dysfunctional Lovers saga.

The guitar work from the beginning evokes memories of The Cure around the time of Pornography, as it wends its way to meet Brow-Obles low tones. The layered vocals bring in the chorus of a relationship that is no longer equal and that is tearing him up, physically and emotionally.

COOR BROW-OBLES

Coor’s vocal and musical style, he has described as being heavily influenced by The Cure and The Chameleons, but for me, I could hear the whisperings of another English band, Play Dead.

It’s dark and it’s dreary, just the way we like it. For a one man band, Brow-Obles pulls this off really well and it’s a real throwback to the early 80s days of British goth. Unfortunately there is no video, so check him out on Bandcamp which is name your price or Spotify. A name to watch out for is Coor Brow-Obles and you should happen to have a penchant for goth fare, please go listen to “A History Of Violence“.

https://coorblimey.bandcamp.com/track/a-history-of-violence

https://www.facebook.com/CoorBlimey/

https://coorbrowobles.wixsite.com/tmprince

March the 19th is the release date for the album And The Light Goes White by LA based act, The Dramedy, aka Dave Dramedy. The Dramedy have been around since 2014, with EPs and the album StrAngr(S)tiL in 2018 under their belt, so with this new LP, has come the joys of recording in a time of pestilence.

DAVE DRAMEDY

Kicking this off is “Vow“, and acoustic guitars starts the steam locomotive style rhythm. It’s a bit like a western and then you hear the bangs like gun shots and glass tinkling that might happen in a bar brawl accompanied by electric guitar and raw vocals.

The second single released off the album is “Parasite“, with wonderfully jangly guitars. Something eats away at the back of my mind… the way Dramedy sings and then it hits me. He reminds me of Stan Ridgeway (ex Wall Of Voodoo) in the animated drawl and the post punk ambience. This is a great little number with a lot of heart, even if it’s about the fact that all is lost. I think Buffalo Tom would have been proud to call this their song.

The Clock Strikes Heaven” does sound very spontaneous, as if written in one sitting and they just said, this is it. For a tune about when you’re time is up, it seems pretty cheery and has a slightly live feel to it.

Heavier guitars herald “Popsicle” and can we say sexual connotations. Sucking on popsicles can make people very, very happy but the downside is addiction and a nasty case of diabetes. Gosh, I’m not sure if this a promise or a threat but it does make me giggle and even with the driving guitar, Dramedy doesn’t sound like he’s taking it all that seriously.

A more acoustic flamenco influenced turn with “Days“. Lyrically, it could be the verbalising of an abusive relationship, purposely going off key to set you on edge.

The first single, “Waiting On You” changes track again. Like a 50s doo whoop of teenage longing with a dose of blinkered crazy on the side, you hence get the slightly erratic guitar work upping the ante. This number also appeared on an EP in 2019 but less dressed up, let us say.

There is a very skiffle Brit-pop sensibility to “What’s Left To Say?”. It still it definitely overall American but the timing and rhythm have that undeniable joyous bouncing flavour that you got from bands such as Swervedriver and Suede.

Oh I hear a bit of the deathrock in “Life Bites Me” and quite frankly life can be like that in these times of covid… watching the time tick by. This could also be a reference to a dead romance that one can’t get over. A cacophony of guitar, drums and enthusiastic vocals.

On a more reflective note is “Circle The Road” which questions why someone else gets to walk away from a relationship and leave the other with no answers. I hear the influence of Jesus and Mary Chain in the guitar here.

As it began, so it finishes with an acoustic piece, “All Our Yesterdays“, which is a ballad with harmonisation from Caroline Blind. Again there is the sound of Jesus And Mary Chain in the structure and also the sentiment, with a bit of Screamadelica, Primal Scream thrown in for good measure.

Dave Dramedy comes with some lofty cred in the post punk/goth community, as the main live guitar player for Caroline Blind (ex Sunshine Blind) and appearing on her debut solo album with a host of other heavyweights such as Rich Witherspoon (The Wake), Dave Wolfenden (Red Lorrry Yellow Lorry, The Mission), Gordon Young (Children On Stun, Pretentious Moi?), William Faith (Faith And The Muse, Christian Death) and we could go on. Plus he was in the deathrock band Readership Hostile, which has its own claims to fame.

This is not some over polished jewel but then there is no fun if everything is over produced. You won’t find any voice modulation or slick production. You will get the bull, horns and everything though, with all the emotion and genuine candour. It’s a little western (pew pew), a bit more angst soul searching and a lot of jangly guitar. Get The Dramedy on and indulge in And The Light Goes White.

https://thedramedy2014.bandcamp.com/album/and-the-light-goes-white

https://www.facebook.com/thedramedy2014/

https://www.thedramedy.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/

This is a retrospective review of sorts. We are going back to 2018 to the release of the EP, “I Will Show You Fear In A Handful Of Dust”, by Portuguese goth rock band NU:N who appear on Black Genesis Records. NU:N are comprised of three members Francisco Vaudeville on bass, guitarist Pedro Eternal and vocalist T.M., the band forming in 2014 in Oporto.

The traditional lullaby, “Toutouic“, from the area of Brittany, features the delightful vocals of the Diva Of Destruction herself, Eva Doyon. It is sweet and sorrowful with no musical to accompany for this lovely opening piece.

Now for a dose of traditional goth rock, with jangly guitars, plinking piano and Fields Of The Nephilim styled vocals, we are offered, “Shadows Of Love: In Contempt“.

A slight Romanian twist seems perfect for any song called, “Midnight’s Inertia: The Vampire’s Lair Part II“. A slight middle eastern flare and then launches into guitar work. This reminds me of 90s band like Rosetta Stone and Nosferatu.

Tomorrow We Will Say Our Goodbyes: A Nocturnal Fragment“, is a slow and gravelled out number with acoustic accompaniment. A heavier, electronic sound in “Brave New World“, though there is still that classic bass. T.M’s vocals vary between sludge and full throated, in a glorious chorus.

Final track is “Gotas: De La Remembranza“. Gotas translates to drops while Remembrance was the Spanish band that originally released “Gotas” in 1996. Despite my being unfamiliar with the language, this drips of loss and wanting for that which has passed.

This is goth rock for people that love a bit of vampiric love with the harkening back to a sound I connect with Nephilim and second generation of goth. Get your fangs into NU:N for your immortal soul.

https://nu-n.bandcamp.com/album/i-will-show-you-fear-in-a-handful-of-dust

https://www.facebook.com/nothingunveilsnothing

https://www.facebook.com/blackgenesisrec/

http://m.blackgenesisrecords.com/1/home_878784.html

Are you partial to some post punk- gothic goodness? If that’s the case, Norwegian band, Painted Romans have released a single in January that will warm the pit of your dark heart called, “The Cold Delight“.

Mats Davidsen is the original Roman who delivers lead vocals, guitar & drums programming, with Jan Ottar Nystad playing keyboards and Thomas Sejnæs on bass, joining around September of last year.

I have to say I rather enjoyed this a little too much. It’s dark and morose just like all good goth songs can be and yet full of movement and life at the same time. There are hints of The Cure, Clan of Xymox and March Violets. Could easily be played at a goth club mixed in with older classics.

This takes me back to early 80s, when bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds were blowing us away with their wonderous guitar/synth filled, forlorn brilliance.

You can find the single on Bandcamp as well as other previous releases. Painted Romans are developing a rich, flavoursome sound and that only bodes well for the music to come. So turn down the lights, ready the candles and have a dance to “The Cold Delight“.

https://paintedromans.bandcamp.com/track/the-cold-delight-single

https://m.facebook.com/paintedromans/

https://paintedromans.com/

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/

Electronic Boston band MAN1K1N, made up of singer Johnny Veil and drummer Cristian Carver, have released a single in November called, Into The Wounds. Turns out this is, in my eyes, like a double A side of sorts with the songs, “Into The Void” and “Wounds:.

Veil’s voice is very reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s timbre but that’s where the comparison ends. Darkwave electro is a very apt description with a trip hop influence, making this such an interesting style that is very pleasing to the ears. This is almost a parody of those in the gothic subset that push for an ideal look of beauty but within can be rotten to the core.

MAN1KIN

Wounds” is a swirling maelstrom of uplifting electronic synths and beats coupled with brutal, angst ridden lyrics, which works. I can only best describe the feeling as wanting to dance without limits but you know your heart is breaking. This is the remix by Big Time Kill, who have lent their distinctive fingerprints.

Into The Void” is a good, solid number and the Big Time Kill remix of “Wounds” sounds glorious. You can find Into The Wounds on Bandcamp and it’s name your price, so you should go check out this offering from MAN1K1N.

https://man1k1n.bandcamp.com/

https://m.facebook.com/MAN1K1N

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/