My first experience of October Noir, is via this new album, Fate, Wine And Wisteria, that was released on September the 22nd. It is rather confronting at first to think of a band actively trying to take up where Type O Negative sadly could not due to the untimely death of lead singer Pete Steele, especially when the band themselves could not find the heart to continue without him and followed with other projects such as A Pale Horse Called Death.

OCTOBER NOIR

Down in Pensacola, Florida, the weather is warm and the wisteria grows wild in the lost places, so to the album has thirteen tracks, though to be fair the tracks “Fate“, “Wine” and “Wisteria” are kind bridging instrumental pieces and maybe a minute long at the most. “Windows” is the first track with vocals and the single off the album. Fairly taken aback how much this actually sounds like a Type O number, There is the longing in the deep vocals and the long guitar riffs that drift away to then crash back in a revisit.

This is indeed a strange experience. It pays to read the lyrics at times as well. “Effigy” almost seems to be based on one of those teenage horror movies where they go down to the lake and the main character is lured away with the promise of carnal delights, only to find all their friends have been murdered and being Halloween, did they do it?! Equal parts defeat and howling anger in the Greek inspired “Persephone” and “Wanderlust” really reminds me of the iconic “Everything Dies” in places.

Really liked “Sistinas” with the moody harpsichord and the extremely low vocal range that was being plumbed. Anyone that ever listened to Type O Negative, would know that often Steele would firmly have his tongue placed in cheek and liked to create songs about forbidden encounters or the nitty gritty of sexual lust and October Noir have followed post haste in their footsteps with the tracks “Reverence (Make You Love)” and “Proverbs“. Whatever the theme, there is always that underlying darkness that humans are fallible and prone to causing great pain and misery as well as picking others up from the deepest pits of despair in this album.

It was the first time hearing their sound which floored me a little to hear a band that sounded so like Type O Negative, from the bass lines, to the guitar chords and unmissably the vocals so hauntingly like Pete Steele’s. Now some will say they are copy artists and that often happens a lot, ie all the bands that want to be Sisters Of Mercy, though unfortunately they are flawed and normally unable to do this well. October Noir don’t hide the fact they are standing in Type O Negative’s shadow but rather embrace the fact and actually create new music I think that even Steele would have been impressed by.

https://octobernoir.bandcamp.com/album/fate-wine-wisteria

October Noir | Facebook

The Latin American gothic music scene never fails to give us some sparkling musicians. From San José, Costa Rica, Ariel Maniki And The Black Halos are a seasoned darkwave band with several albums under their belts and currently signed to Deepland Records.

August brought us the release of the latest album, Black Light. This is where you are going to get your value for your money. No less than fifteen tracks and there are no remixes from this trio made up of Ariel Maniki (vocals, guitar, synths, bass, programming), Janice Black (synths/keyboards) and Eva Red (bass and vocals).

ARIEL MANIKI AND THE BLACK HALOS

The first guitar lines are reminicent of London After Midnight, on the title track, “Black Light“. There is something just spine tingling about the progression which climbs and swells. “Strangers” is a wonder piece as it feels uplifting and dark at the same time. The guitar riffs will become highly recognisable once you have heard them.

The bassline harkens back to The Cure’s Faith period in the song “Emptiness“. The synth swirls and entwines you. “Sadness” is a bitter-sweet ode to losing a loved one to a depressive melancholy, waiting with them to come back to you. It’s is slower and more delicate yet the chorus soars through the pain.

All the spookiness is with “Oh Milena!“. Is she alive or dead or, perhaps, even the undead?! Cue the dead sexy saxophone from James Perry, which is an interesting juxtaposition to the Hammond organ sounding synth, so prominent in Hammer Horror movies.

Again the spook factor is present in “Mirror“, with creepy laughs and a slightly more manic feel with Caro Campos, not for the last time, joining Maniki on vocal duties. “We Only Have Tonight” is a touching, gothic tribute to a forever love. It is sweet and seductive with the guitars, both acoustic and electric aplenty.

The beginning of “Absence” is misleading. It seems all so quiet but will soon reveal the surging synths that roll into the vocals. Campos‘ voice is angelic as it accents the interludes. Maniki has been to the Robert Smith school of creepy whispers in a song where something is going to drive you insane with the wait. So in a way the torture is “Pain“.

The Pale Horseman” sounds exactly like modern, gothic, western should. That iconic guitar made popular by Ennio Morricone in the spaghetti westerns is there but all prettied with synths and a helping of dark sarsaparilla, if you please bartender. It’s mighty dusty. The guitar work is beautiful in “Sleep” and with the vocals, it is a reminder of The Wake in the early 90s. It really is a lovely throw back and the song is truly a succulent morsel.

Flowers have meanings. “Lilies And Carnations” can be flowers that mean a deeply desired love and they can also represent death of a perfect love and terrible grief. The latter is the premise of this track, the fleeting time lovers have together, which is a complete difference from the more dirge like “Shelter“. Maybe he’s the dark shaman that lives in the woods destined to never leave but in any case this is a far more gritty piece.

Coming to the end, the last two tracks are “Afterthought” and “Cocoon“, with the former being a meandering tribute to the power of being so caught up in love and all else fades away. “Cocoon” is a trippy little piece that plinks away like a child’s music box with ghostly intent.

From the first time I heard Ariel Maniki’s voice, it reminded me of another, then it hit me. The ever youthful Sven Friedrich of Dreadful Shadows/Zeraphine has a very wonderful rich tone and Maniki is scarily and delightfully similar. The album is a velvet tapestry of lush tracks that contain a nice balance of electronic along side more traditional instruments. Full of gothic romance and horror, which for most of us is the same thing, it paints a delicate fog drenched background for the children of the night to fall in love with. Definitely do check this out if your little dark heart beats within Black Light.

https://arielmaniki.bandcamp.com/album/black-light

https://www.facebook.com/ArielManikiMusic/

If you are old enough to remember the gothic rock revival of the early 90s, you would most definitely remember the English band Nosferatu. The original founder, Vlad Janicek, has been fairly quiet since Nosferatu imploded on tour, though recently reformed as The Nosferatu and also a new band called Vampyrëan. A debut single was released on the 27th of August 2021 called “The Hunger” which heralds a soon to be released album of the same name on the 29th of September.

VLAD JANICEK – VAMPYRËAN

From the first guitar notes, this is definitely a flashback to the goth rock sound of yore. It is rings clear and true, a guitar sound we associate with The Mission’s Wayne Hussey. Janicek has taken on the role of lead vocalist and as the vampire protagonist. We will let the cat out of the bag and say he has the hunger… the hunger for the love of a sexy human victim and their life blood. The piano line wends through adding a delightful and winsome air.

Frilly, costume goths and those who have fond memories of 90s are going to love this. Drama, vampires, velvet, romance and a danceable beat which will more than likely also introduce Janicek to a new set of fans as well. If you have “The Hunger” then you might need some Vampyrëan.

https://vampyrean.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vampyreanofficial/

http://vampyrean.com/

Auger have been going from strength to strength since they hit the scene in the UK in 2017. With three albums under their belts, previously signed to the Dark Tunes label and a dedicated fan base, Kyle Wilson (vocals, keyboard, programming) and Kieran Thornton (guitar, backing vocals) have come a long way. August saw the release in a new single, “Sound Of The Machine” on The Big Chair label.

KIERAN THORNTON & KYLE WILSON – AUGER

The beginning is a little depressing in its ambience though there sparks of electronics that hint at this being a set up for the chorus. The guitar amps up and synths chime in, with the use of vocal distortion. This is the rally, the cry to arms because if it can happen to me it can happen to you. They ask for a rope to pull them out from the dire onslaught of the machine.

It’s a catchy chorus and Wilson has a great voice for it, smooth, deep and even on occasion a bit menacing. The Big Chair label is a new, independent record label created by the lads themselves and this can only be a good thing for dark music scene. This is the “Sound Of The Machine” that is Auger and it can be found on Bandcamp so make sure to have a listen.

https://augerofficial.bandcamp.com/track/sound-of-the-machine

https://www.facebook.com/AugerOfficial

https://thebigchair.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/bigchairmusic/

As we have slipped into another year with the spectre of covid, overshadowing everything, it can be expected that most music has been influenced by this current climate and the new EP by darkwave duo, Johnathan|Christian is no exception. together, we’re alone, is the latest offering from Christian Granquist (lyrics and vocals)and Johnathan Mooney (composer, piano, instrumentation), who are based in Los Angeles, California.

First song off the block is the flag waving “My Dying Words“. This is the line in the sand number about never giving up no matter the odds and it is rollicking piece. Sung with conviction and gusto, it weaves and rolls with the punches.

The title track, “Together, We’re Alone“, is a duet and fractured ballad between Elisa Mammoliti and Granquist. The theme of loneliness, a life lived without trying to find love that could have been a hair’s breath away. Longing and sadness prevail, like a weight on the heart.

A fair ground organ opens the track, “My Beautiful, Broken Butterfly” and it rolls on fantastically after that. An instrumental piece that is slightly disjointed, giving the impression of being broken and yet, still beautiful in its composition.

Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)” is classic Adam Ant from the 1979 album Dirk Wears White Socks. Who can resist a song about beings from space giving advice about men with chicken zygote, firmly implanted on their countenance? Not me. This is whimsical and oddly satisfying in a proper sort of way. I don’t think Stuart Goddard aka Adam Ant, would disapprove at all.

together, we’re alone” is a quirky and interesting EP. Complied of an anthem, a ballad an instrumental and a cover…. it works oh so well for Johnathan|Christian. They definitely seem to be influenced by the late 70s and 80s British music scene making them a bit darkly dapper and you should check them out.

https://johnathan.bandcamp.com/album/together-were-alone

https://www.facebook.com/jchristianmusic

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.

SACRED HEARTS

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 Sacred Hearts 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“.

https://sacredhearts.bandcamp.com/

https://www.instagram.com/sacredheartsmusic/?hl=en

Brisbane based, three piece band, Killtoys today released their latest single, “Come Alive“. They come from an alt-rock based background and their music has a flare for the grimly dramatic.

KILLTOYS

The lads are bringing on a darker game here with ommious synths, lovely deep bass and 80s influenced guitar jangle that rings clear and true. Are they singing about vampires or the children of night who wear black? Oh oh, you have to listen for the oh oh. Mick Bristow’s vocals just are the icing on this ghoulishly fabulous track.

I officially love love this. It’s speaks to my dark little gothic heart and reminds me of 80s post punk bands with those fantastic riffs. The backing aaahs are just some of those little things that really make a song just a bit more spectacular. “Come Alive” from the Killtoys may just wake the living dead for a chance to bask in the moonlight.

https://m.soundcloud.com/killtoys/come-alive

https://www.facebook.com/Killtoysband

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.

TRENT JEFFRIES – PLASMATA

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 “Ten Bells“. 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.

https://plasmata1.bandcamp.com/album/portraits-of-pain

https://m.facebook.com/plasmataband

https://plasmataband.com/

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.

CAROLINE BLIND

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 Ashley Bad 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.

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/album/tribe-the-remixes

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004792457922

http://www.sunshineblind.com/

https://www.facebook.com/blacksugartransmission/

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