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

February will see the release of Ontario artist, Herr Nox’s second album, Where Shadows Fade. Nox explained to us about his style, “I find myself (going) into strange musical territories. Too heavy for some, too soft to others. But I try to venture into more experimental waters so I guess that’s expected“.

HERR NOX

Welcome to “Doomsday“, which is the first track off the album and our introduction to Norwegian, Jørgen Munkeby on saxophone. Have to admit sax has never sounded so smooth to me until now. Munkeby for the record is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist as well as a singer, songwriter and producer in both the jazz and metal scenes.

Where Shadows Fade” is not only the title track but also the first single to be released and quite deserving so. Munkeby’s saxophone delightfully duels with the guitar in the interludes, especially helping build up the tension for Nox to hit you with his vocals.

Old school new romantic synth graces us in “Black Butterfly“. Nox partners up with Lindsay Schoolcraft of Cradle Of Filth fame for a song about falling for the type of girl who is broken and yet still beautiful. The music goes between driving guitar rock and synth wave but it works so well.

Just the very title of the song, “The Art Of Noise And Silence“, struck as something Japan could have written in the 80’s and it does not disappoint, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Schoolcraft’s beautiful vocals fly above all else, almost unearthly and angelic, whilst the guitars and synths are a cacophony below. This might make the near beseeching Herr Nox, the velvet tongued devil.

It had to happen, the sleazy, sexy sax intro. “Gotta Light?” has that intro and this is an instrumental piece featuring the talent of Munkeby with the sax front and centre, making you think of Casablanca style, cocktail bars, low lit with a haze of cigarette smoke.

Would you “Kiss The Butcher’s Hand” and give them your neck? Maybe some souls would. A good high paced rock’n’roll number that makes great use of lulls for Nox to seductively whisper to you before knocking you back on your arse.

Heads Will Roll” is a much heavier number, growled out vocals by Nox with Schoolcraft in sweet accompaniment. That line alone conjures visions of Alice in Wonderland and her nemesis the Red Queen.

The last offering is “The Burning” and it starts with a sombre cello, joined by strings which brings in the drums and wonderful jangly guitar. Herr Nox most certainly had a flare for the dramatic as this quickly graduates into an episodical that soars with emotion. There are always electronic bits popping up where you might not expect it, which is delightful.

I hear so many influences within this album. Nox’s style of singing runs the gauntlet of David Bowie, Davey Havok (AFI) and Ville Valo, yet it is still very much him singing.

There are classical leanings, rock and roll, gothic rock, 80s electronica and even a bit of glam, all stirred in to make this a rather tasty affair. Where Shadows Fade is new and yet it borrows and reshapes the past influences into something exciting and not a rehash, so I hope you find some time to indulge in Herr Nox as it is worth your time.

https://herrnox.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/Herrnoxofficial/

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/

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/