So maybe it’s time to get your goth on and revel in the debut single, “Glamour Girls” from Brisbane/Meanjin band, Sacred Hearts. The band explained in a radio interview, that they are femme fronted, LGBTQIA+ band, something that is close to their hearts, as well as their great love of retro post punk bands such as Echo And The Bunnymen, Nick Cave and The Cure.
Not going to lie, I don’t know much about these ladies other than that they are young and pulling on a lot of influences. There is the jingle jangle of guitar and those dark brooding bass lines, topped with delicate vocals, that swirl and lure you into the musical darkness. In true goth fashion, a la Dr Avalanche, a drum machine gives you the rhythm.
Lyrically this is a number about the dubious world of actresses and models, being beautiful doesn’t always translate to being treated well. It is melancholic and graceful. If this is a taste of what SacredHearts have for us, we might be in for a treat as they continue to create music. For now though, I hope you will enjoy “Glamour Girls“.
Ever since the Shiv-r first album, Hold My Hand, came out on Infacted Records/Metropolis in 2010, they have gone from strength to greater heights. Members, Pete Crane and Ben Bulig are Australian lads who have taken their sound to the rest of the world, playing some of the biggest EBM festivals. They have lived abroad but now call Sydney home once more. In that time Pete started up the music label, Blind MiceProductions and through this label, have self released their fifth album, Kill God Ascend.
From the first chords of the title track, “Kill GodAscend“, you know Shiv-r is taking no prisoners. It races over you like a wave, to then retreat and hit you again with karmatic insight. You cannot attain enlightenment until you no longer hold onto anything and kill the god like ego.
“Borne From Hate” is a banger of a track that powers away and makes you wish you were on a dance floor at the time. Beautifully harsh and electronically cold which suits the title completely.
With an infectious chorus, “Spark” is a jewel of industrial pop. All it takes is that spark to ignite a revolution. It rolls along at a danceable beat and surely is going to be a single at some point.
There is the slow burn of “Promises Of Armageddon“, which won’t disappoint with its ideology that nothing will kill you faster than boredom.
“Blue Turns To Black” feels thoughtful and peppered in yearning. The vocals low and hushed with the near reverent music, an ode to the fact that we can eventually find the light in even the darkest situations.
Emotions are simmering and the tension high in “Empire“. Don’t ask me to fight your meaningless endeavours rings so true of these times. This is one of two numbers on the album written solely by Crane, the other being “Borne From Hate“. It’s a cracking number as well, with harsh vocals and sparkling synths.
Yet another stonkling brilliant tune is “Stone AndSkin“. This is possibly the Bulig/Crane version of a love song wrapped in a dance rhythm. Holy crap, the chorus with that fabulous synth line, combined with Crane’s softened timbre, just makes this fly.
2020 for all intents and purposes, was really a stressful year, dealing with a pandemic, race riots and far right leaning governments around the globe. This is reflected in “World EndsTonight” with its course, crunchy textures and bleak, confronting lyrics.
Doom, doom, doom, in the “Valley Of Death“. It is like moving through sludge, slow and trudging until the chorus which lifts up its broken wings to escape the mire.
“Turpentine” is the last track, about the lies and things we accept in relationships in order to stay together. Crane voices his melancholic misgivings and the music Interlude is almost like impromptu jazz.
So much exploration going on in this album. Life, death, morals and spirituality. A blurring of good versus evil…. the beautiful imagery of angels and demons being one in the same, a reflection of humans. If you are looking for a EBM dance album, this isn’t it. Yes, there are great danceable tracks, and there are slower numbers, but all are thought provoking and will touch your soul. The production is flawless and a reflection of the music created by Shiv-r. Crane and Bulig are glorious, blackened angels and Kill God Ascend their opus.
June saw the release of the debut single, “Rose+ Crown” for AMMO as a solo artist. AMMO, located in Los Angeles, has previously been in bands such as Black Flamingo and currently with Brass Box, as well as pursuing artistic outlets such as film making and photography.
The title track starts with a lonely guitar which is highly reminicent of start of the New Model Army piece, “Wonderful Way To Go“, though that is as far as the similarity goes. This is light and airy, with jangly guitar within an epic swirling sound scape. AMMO’s voice sits comfortably at the centre, luring you to sit and listen longer. This is shoegaze without the brashness of overt walls of noise.
The ‘b’ side is “TotalRecall“, written originally by Adrian Borland of the legendary 80s British, post punk band, The Sound. It was already a wonderful track and AMMO brings a sweetness to it. A song of longing and being out of time, that is achingly beautiful, especially with the knowledge that Borland suffered mental health issues which eventually lead to his suicide.
Along with drummer, Alex Posell, a former bandmate of Black Flamingo, who helped co-produce and record, AMMO is creating lush sounds that may at first seem bleak, but warm the soul. Mourning Sun Records, which is AMMO’s label, plans to release a future album called, The Great Chaos however the meantime enjoy “Rose + Crown“.
You may have heard of Plasmata, in the goth and industrial scene, from around 2007 to 2011, when they suddenly dropped off the radar. This was due to lead, Trent Jeffries, having a brain aneurysm that interrupted everything.
We do say interrupted, as Jeffries never gave up on regaining the ability to play music, which has resulted in the release of two singles in 2020, as well as a remix of their most famous track, “Lifeblood“. Now the Chicago Glampires give you the single, “Leviathan“, off the unleashed EP, Portraits Of Pain.
There is the wailing of guitars, the distorted plus clean vocals and enough high energy to light up a small city, possibly ruled by the children of the night. Something dark and ravenous wants to spill your blood in the grimy clubs and poorly lit alleys. This is the “Leviathan“.
Even Vincent Price would be proud of “The Vanishing“, with its slightly good time, gothic boogie woogie and a modern synth overlay. He can handle the gruesome but is bereft when you just disappear.
Plasmata is the preacher of terror and also the monster in “Ten Bells“. Two of Jack The Ripper’s victims were connected to the Ten Bells Pub, in East London and indeed the song reflects a drunken, slightly spinning pace. There is the unsettling, single finger piano Interlude thrown in, with Aly Jadas giving a sterling performance on backing vocals.
“The Enlightenment” has a more industrial feel and it commands your attention. A divine message of redemption by giving all your cash to the religious order. I love the sound of near heavenly hosts mixed with demonic electronics. The exquisite heavenly host vocals are by Carmen Vizin-Esquivel.
The last track of the EP is far slower, a cyber western duel waiting to happen, to see who will flinch and draw first. “Death Of Hope” is an apt name as it trudges along the dusty night road, no dawn of light at the end. Heavy, doom filled guitars heighten the whispers, sighs and angelic ah’s of Vizin-Esquivel, giving the impression that God no longer cares.
William Faith of Faith And The Muse and Christian Death fame, produced, recorded and mixed “Portraits Of Pain” at his Studio 13.Jeffries has a definite love of the vampire/horror genres, taking that visual aspect and mixing it with the musical component, giving life to the monster that is the “Leviathan” or a monsterous human in “TenBells“. The glam/ goth rock aspect fuel’s the terse, gritty industrial portions. This is a nice strong release from Plasmata and I guess we await in the dark what comes next…. with anticipation.
The 90s saw the resurgence of goth rock, with bands such as Nosferatu and Rosetta Stone at the helm. Vocalist Caroline Blind, in 1991, lent her name to what would become, the New York band, Sunshine Blind. They released all up three official albums but there was also material that wasn’t made public, other than through live performances. The single, “Tribe” is one of these tracks that Blind has re-recorded and was on the 2020 album, The Spell Between.
There are three remix versions, the album track and also an original recording, live in 1992. The live version is hardly perfect and there is feedback from the guitar but holy crap, doesn’t it prove what a set of vocal chords Caroline Blind has on her. She is front and centre, crystal clear.
The album version, shows the progression of this track. It’s tight and just rings out joyously. You can’t help and smile about the wonderful guitar in the beginning that hasn’t changed from the original and was typical of the 90s in a way. It really kicks arse and Blind hasn’t lost any of that amazing range either.
Of the three remixes, the first is the extended She-Devil mix by Mark Gemini Thwaite(MGT) and Ashley Bad. MGT is an exceptional guitarist, featuring in such influential bands as The Mission and Theatre Of Tradgey plus currently in Lords Of Acid, where AshleyBad is a band mate of sorts, the latex burlesque queen on stage and MGT’s other half. There is a much more electronic edge to this version which has made it feel like a harsher mistress to the ears. Most delightful.
Andee Blacksugar of KMFDM and Black Sugar Transmission fame, is responsible for the second remix. It feels like a phantasmagorical, drug induced dream of whimsical eddies and near maniacal pursuit.
The last track goes for a far more guitar based production. Which makes complete sense with Ben Christo creating this remix who has been with the iconic, Sisters Of Mercy since 2006 as the lead guitarist. A great mixture of both acoustic and electric guitar.
The word that comes to mind is powerful. This is a link to the past and yet it exists in the here and now, sounding pretty perfect. I don’t blame Blind for resurrecting this track as it is very deserving of the revamp it has had, if not simply because we would have missed out hearing it and that would have been a great shame. “Tribe” was written in a time when they wanted to connect to others of the same ilk, to create community. That hasn’t changed and just as pertinent as ever. This is “Tribe” by Caroline Blind.
While we wait for the release of the much anticipated Attrition album, The Black Maria, Martin Bowes has given us a second single to immerse ourselves in called “The Alibi“, which was recorded, mixed and mastered at The Cage Studios in Coventry.
A child’s musical, wind-up toy, plinks away the warbly wedding march of “Here Comes TheBride“, by Wagner. The ensemble warms up before we are plunged into the warped electro world of Attrition, accompanied by violins, piano, guitar and cello. The ladies sound like angels and Bowes forever is the devil, gutterally vocalising in your left ear. A mix of soprano and spoken word with maybe some gypsy inspiration that drive home the chorus.
Cannot help but think that a woman who might not be the perfect bride but the perfect alibi, possibly is a major temptress. Bowes is always pushing his art, combining elements that clash and grate, yet also end up complimenting each other. As we await the new album from the avant-garde electro-industrial juggernaut that is Attrition, taste the forbidden fruits of “The Alibi“.
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).
“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
PatrickWray 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.
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, “TheWedding 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.
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 OfViolence“. 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’s vocal and musical style, he has described as being heavily influenced by The Cure and TheChameleons, 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“.
March the 19th is the release date for the album And The Light Goes White by LA based act, TheDramedy, 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.
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 BitesMe” 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 SunshineBlind) and appearing on her debut solo album with a host of other heavyweights such as RichWitherspoon (The Wake), Dave Wolfenden (RedLorrry Yellow Lorry, The Mission), Gordon Young (Children On Stun, Pretentious Moi?), WilliamFaith (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.