Brisbane based, gothic band, Sacred Hearts have been gaining a solid following, and released the newest single “Catholic Guilt“. The Meanjin (Brisbane) trio, however, doing something a little different. Two singles, same track but done in two different styles. Nice to see Jed A. Walters (Chiffon Magnifique) doing their production as well as the talented Kyle Hallam (Doggie Heaven) .

Whom does the bells toll for? That drum machine just pops and the guitars kind of roll in light noisy motes that drown your ears in beautiful chiming. The vocals are so vibrant and in a way angelic, amidst the churning, jangling guitars.

Version two is far more what is on the slab in the laboratory style of deathrock with those hazed out guitars. The angst oozes forward, staining the air, the vocals venomous in their disgust. The Lord’s Prayer that they have used, has become a cultish chant for the disenchanted.

I get where lead singer, June, is coming from, having been in the Catholic school system. They use the religion to scare you and control you. You are being judged, if not worthy then you will go to Hell and I remember at school, being told sex was for procreation only and not for enjoyment. Yeah, let’s not even get into the creepy stuff with the priests. At some point you either stay with that stuff or you walk away. Maybe that just added to the way we turned out but it makes for interesting conversation and, indeed, topic for a single, where Sacred Hearts are stretching those dark wings and pushing their sound into new and varied territory. I think they are only going to get better and “Catholic Guilt 1 & II” are pretty damn hot.

Catholic Guilt | Sacred Hearts (

Catholic Guilt II | Sacred Hearts (

Sacred Hearts | Facebook

The Precious Ones” sounds like it could be from Lord Of The Rings, however, it is the single that deathgaze rockers, VAZUM, dropped on the 18th of November. Emily Sturm and Zach Pliska are gearing up for an album drop next year, called V Sessions, but in the meantime you can listen to the new single with it’s complimentary two b-sides.

Pliska is the main vocalist this time for “The Precious Ones” and venomously spits out the lyrics, while the guitars are violently loud, rolling like thunder in their discontent and the drums emphatic. Sturm’s vocals wind around the chorus almost stealing it. “Actor” really slides into deathrock mode with the buzzing guitar work, that occasionally breaks out then returns to the fold. The way the rhythm moves is very snake like. The last track sees both the vocalists sharing the duties, screaming out guitars and what feels like intense pressure in the build up for “Skooge“.

I actually had to look up “Skooge” and it was in the urban dictionary as basically describing an idiot. These tracks definitely have a common theme running through all of them…..pretty much go fuck yourself and go fucking die. I mean I could be wrong but I don’t think I am. “The Precious Ones” is a dig at a scene that often is constantly looking backwards at what has been, rather than the new music there is now. Many, many moons ago, I used to run a club and if you played all the classics, you were guaranteed a full dance floor. Introduce something new but great, suddenly the floor was clear. If I go out, I still hear all the same music….it is boring and like going back in a time machine. Plus, I guess there are probably certain musicians today that will have everyone pandering to them, while others will miss out on coverage even though they deserve to be heard. In the meantime, the single and extra tracks are fantastic. I love the furious guitars and VAZUM being all prickly has made this all the more interesting. Watch out for “The Precious Ones“…….

The Precious Ones | VAZUM (

In the City of Ekaterinburg, you will find gothic rockers, Raven Said, and October saw their new EP, Chants To Dissolve released by Moon Coil Media, plus they had the very talented Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) on mastering. Raven Said are Andrey Agapitov (vocals, guitar, bass, acoustic guitar) and Maria Agapitova (piano, synth, percussion).

The first track has a very interesting pulsating marrying of almost techno beats and gothic rock. There are sparkling synths with flourishing jangly guitar in “A Flowering And A Flattering“.”Transparent Sorrow” features the beautifully sensual vocals of Aeleth Kaven from La Scaltra, so very light and angelic in stark contrast to Agapitov’s deeper tones. This track reminded me of the bands coming out in the second goth wave of the early 90s.

Really amazing bass lines wander through “Except My Love For Her (Cold Desire Version)“. I dare you to forget the chorus as it pretty unique and a very sweet way to admit to being very much in love… a very goth way. There is such a violent life to “Srendi Vashtar“, from the guitar and the voracious electronics, to the urgently lowkey vocals spurred on by the smashing percussion. The last track is the shimmering “Immersive Waves” with the haunting guitars and vocals. The guitar work is simply delightful, tinkling like broken glass, over and over again.

Music brings us together like virtually nothing else on the planet. It can feed our souls and connect us on such a primal level. Raven Said are creating dark gothic rock that really is like broken glass, fragile and shinny but if you try to take them into your heart, you might slowly die from the way they cut you up…. or not. It is about depths you feel this style of music in your psyche. New and yet familiar to those of us that live our lives in black. Now there are Chants To Dissolve with, so the Raven Said.

Chants to Dissolve | Raven Said (

Raven Said | Yekaterinburg | Facebook

Raven Said (@ravensaidband) • Instagram photos and videos

Need an injection of gothic rock to perk up your dark soul? Then the debut track “Darkened Eyes” from st///ll might stoke the fires. The three members are scattered between the UK and Ireland but have the common love for the post-punk genre.

The drum machine starts pistoning away, joined by the chiming out guitar, before the Ian Curtis like vocals invade your concious. Then you are plunged into a sonic sweetness, due to the bass being there, ramping up the tension and dueling the lead guitar. It’s a bit like being transported back to the early 80s.

I think there is not only a love here for Joy Division but I can also hear Pink Turns Blue, which is tangible in both the vocals and guitar. Given a chance, “Darkened Eyes” could easily become a gothic dance floor anthem. There is no excuse for not popping off to Bandcamp to secure this little beauty as it is name your price, for a seriously strong debut track from st///ll.

What better way to celebrate Halloween, than to release a vampiric cover song, so that is exactly what Beauty In Chaos have done with the Concrete Blonde track, “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)“, which was from the 1990 album of the same name, Bloodletting.

Video still by Vicente Cordero

Is that buzzing sound a blood sucking mosquito in the room? Not exactly as it resolves into revealing itself to be the sax of Mars Williams (Psychedelic Furs), to accompany the flourishing guitars. There is a drawn out sassiness that only increases with the introduction of the vocals from Michael Ciravolo, the man behind the creation of Beauty In Chaos, inducing the feel of New Orleans, because as a native, he has that Southern drawl. The progression becomes almost like a drug fuelled dream, as everything wavers, intoxication settling in and we become part of the undead parade march, into the nightmare that is the lair of the vampire, with the lovey ladies, Whitney Tai, Kat Leon and Tish Ciravolo joining in on vocal duties.

For me, there are two female singers that I hold in very high esteem. The first is the iconic Siouxsie Sioux and the other is the amazing Johnette Napolitano, so Concrete Blonde is very close to my heart. Her vocals alone were a good reason to love the band. I am going to say I am glad that it is different but kept to the essence and core of the “Bloodletting“. A new spin to a classic and you can see the love not only for the song but the inspiration, New Orleans and Anne Rice’s vampire’s who often called it home, conjuring visions of warm nights, strong brews, voodoo and the smell of wisteria and death. The video is also a treat so you should also check it out as well, full of shadowy characters, sexy vamps, obligatory vampire hunter and the secrets a mask can hide.


Beauty In Chaos | Facebook

Beauty in Chaos (

If you are into gothic/deathrock music then you should know the name William Faith. If you don’t then I am giving you the hard stare….now. Faith’s (vocals, guitars) current project is The Bellwether Syndicate, created with his equally famous wife Sarah Rose Faith aka Scary Lady Sarah (vocals, guitars), which will see their debut album, Vestige & Vigil, released next year. Meantime, there is the newest single, “Dystopian Mirror“, giving you a taste of what is to come. The band is rounded out with musicians Philly Peroxide (keyboards, percussion), Stevyn Grey (drums) and Corey Gorey (guitars)

Kicking arse from the beginning, no small intro but rather straight into it. That amazing wall of guitar in the chorus builds the tension and swells, before the drops to rebuild again. What can I say about the chorus other than breath-takingly monumental, especially with the passion in Faith’s vocals. The bass and drums are tight, giving the track a great rhythmic platform with the synths..

Faith has said that the track was written about a friend from his younger years, that was caught up in mental health issues and spiralling out of control with the use of drugs and alcohol, which eventually brought them to an early demise. There is definitely that feeling of being out of control, of manic highs and deeps lulls within “Dystopian Mirror“. For many of us that lived this lifestyle in black for many years, we have survived many of our peers and watched them disappear down that dark hole, never to return. There is a certain pain that goes with those memories but we honour them in those recollections. And if nothing else, it is a rip snorter of a gothic rock song.

Dystopian Mirror | The Bellwether Syndicate (

The Bellwether Syndicate | Facebook

The Bellwether Syndicate

ManuH of French Darkwave act, Distance H, is back with a new single, “Waters Of Woe“, featuring the lyrics and vocals of Marita Volodina from STRIDULUM, Burial Fields, Blood Tears After. Known for working with different female vocalists, he has also on drums Amélie G and Louise Decouflé on bass guitar.

A hail of guitar hits your ears, marking the launch point into “Waters Of Woe“, with murky synths before it all resolves into a charmingly wondrous, spinning culmination. Marita Volodina’s voice slides like silk between the jangling guitar.

A gothic shoegaze haven of swirling guitar, mixed with the undulating, dulcet tones of Marita Volodina, create a heady mixture. “Waters Of Woe” is the second single from the soon to be released EP, Infinity,

Waters of woe (feat. Marita Volodina) | Distance H (

From whence Robin Hood made his name, we can find the Nottingham gothic group, In Isolation and to celebrate fifteen years of making music, under this moniker, they have compiled an album with twenty-eight of their songs. That is a lot of music! All four members of the group have been in notable goth bands in the 1990s, so introducing Ryan Swift (vocalist/guitars), John Berry (guitar), Mike Sinclair (bass) and Tony Ghost (drums/percussion). This bunch of likely lads have indeed also written music for/or had music chosen, for both movies and television, which isn’t a bad accomplishment for some Notts boys. Their music is beautiful and contemporary, with fingers trailing back into In Isolation’s gothic roots and I was able to ask a few pertinent questions of the band, with the wonderful Ryan (congrats on getting married!!), answering for the whole. What makes a band like In Isolation tick?…. apart from antioxidants, you will have to keep reading to find out all about everything.

Welcome to the crypt, British goth-meisters, In Isolation. There is tea and biccies, but don’t mind the spiders, they just get a little grumpy when ignored.

Thanks for the biscuits, we’ll have chocolate digestives (dark).

You are celebrating 15 years of being a band and releasing albums under the In Isolation name. Did you think the project would last as long as it has?

We had no idea what to expect when Ryan and John decided to combine their differing songwriting approaches, or what form the music would take. We would have hoped for more albums out after this long, but we do like to take our time to get things sounding right, and being self-funded always adds a frustrating edge to releases in terms of lead times, so we’ve probably done pretty well to get out a 28-track album this year!

The band is made up of Ryan (ex-Emma Conquest), John (ex-Die Laughing), Tony Ghost (ex-Every New Dead Ghost) and Mike (ex-Dick Venom & The Terrortones). You all really cut your teeth in the UK gothic scene in the 90s, when we were seeing the second wave. What was it like being in the scene at that point, especially in your home town of Nottingham?

It was pretty great. Nottingham was a good hub for all things goth, and even now after 30 years or so we’re seeing many of the same faces frequenting local goth nights (such as Spellbound and Nightmare). We always had touring 90s goth bands visiting the city, such as Rosetta Stone, The Marionettes, The Ancestry, Litany Of Fear, Autumn Of North and Space Rats (guess who’s been rifling through their demo collection) and you were always guaranteed a good night at The Old Angel, The Salutation Inn and Rock City. Way too much alcohol was consumed, but we could take the vicious Newcastle Brown hangovers in those days!

It seems Notts was a hot bed for young goth bands. Why do you think this was and what is the scene like now?

It just seemed that everyone in the Nottingham scene had an artistic soul, many in a musical sense, so new goth bands were being formed every other week. Nottingham is an incredibly creative city, I think that’s partly why many of us have hung around for so long. The scene hit a bit of a dry period in the late-Noughties and into the Teenies (or whatever those years were called), but out of nowhere around five years ago, the alternative club nights were swamped with young goths, and now the scene appears to be flourishing.

How did In Isolation come into being?

Ryan and John initially hooked up as two separate bands, one as a semi-continuation of Emma Conquest and the other to follow on from Die Laughing’s heritage. Neither successfully worked out, but the writing partnership between John and Ryan seemed to have potential, so a brand new project was started. It took a whole year to decide on a band name – originally ‘Isolation’ was the only name that could be agreed on, but after a quick check on the newfangled ‘internet’ thing we’d heard so much about, we realised that disappointingly there were five other bands with the same moniker, so we plumped for ‘In Isolation’.

The cohesive, wonderful sound of In Isolation speaks of a creative friendship between the band members. Am I correct in assuming this?

Thanks, you are correct. We rarely come to blows when writing and I think that we all act as mediators to achieve the best results. There is little ego involved in this band, which helps with the composition. Even though we give it our all at gigs, we always hope the quality and earworm-ery of our songs will help to entice our audiences in to balance off the lack of ego-driven performances.

You have put together an album of 28 tracks, titled ‘Albums | Singles | Soundtracks – an Anthology 2007 – 2022’. How did you go about sifting through all your music and coming up with these 28 tracks? What was your criteria?

If we’re honest, as we’ve not altogether been the most prolific of writers the compilation consists of pretty much our entire 15-year output; two albums-worth and an expanse of singles. We only excluded our early song demos (‘Primordial’, available from, a couple of prior ‘extra’ tracks, and the average single ‘High Art’ that was previously semi-released. We also omitted the excellent remixes which were produced by Matt Pop who has worked with a host of well-known bands; many who had hits in the 80s such as Erasure and Kim Wilde. We didn’t feel that Matt’s dancefloor-based hi-NRG remixes matched the tone of the Post-punk/New Wave/Darkwave tracks on the anthology, so our 4-track EP of Matt’s remixes is available as a standalone release.

The cover is photos of you guys, as youngsters. I must say my heart is with the child with the ice cream! Who is who?

John (guitarist) is the Mr Whippy fan! Ryan (vocals and guitar) is the seated 11-year old in the repulsive brown jumper, Tony (drums) is in his preferred position behind a drum kit and Mike (bass) is the one playing the guitar. It is a departure from our usual record covers, but it fits the brief and the archival nature of the shots meant we didn’t have to book a photographer!

Out of all those tracks, there is only one cover version, Bauhaus’ “She’s Into Parties”. How influential was Bauhaus for you?

Tony was the biggest fan of the original song, but we all acknowledge Bauhaus’ huge standing in the scene. We’ve covered a multitude of songs in a live capacity, such as ‘Love My Way’, ‘Just Like Heaven’, ‘Love Is A Wonderful Colour’, ‘51st State’ and ‘Treason’ – they always seem to come from the 80s, but we may surprise our audience at some point!

I am fairly impressed that you have had quite a few tracks included in movies and TV series. How did this come about and is it something you would like to pursue?

Our single ‘The Wrong Girl’ was chosen by the producers of ‘Zombie Hood’ (still streaming on Amazon Prime) as they were fans of the track and felt our appearance matched the feel of the movie (we still don’t know what they meant by that!) The director decided to cast us performing the track in the film and offered us a snippet of dialogue opposite some chap that was a Big Brother contestant. Hilarious! They cut out Ryan’s improvised line, ‘What is this place?’, which was a huge error of judgement as one of Hollywood’s best-kept scriptwriter secrets/superstitions is that a movie will definitely become successful if that particular line is included. Check out every movie you watch from now on – you’ll rarely not hear it somewhere along the way. 😀

The director of ’Seepers: A Love Story’ requested a song for their soundtrack because of our work on ‘Zombie Hood’ and a filmmaker in Canada used a couple of our tracks for his horror shorts as he was simply a fan of the band. We continue to keep a lookout for new films that might be interested in our stuff. As NASA’s newly-launched James Webb Space Telescope is using much of its time studying the TRAPPIST-1 solar system in the Aquarius constellation, we’re hoping that newfound information will inspire movies and TV shows to be created on the subject – this in turn may generate interest in our song ‘TRAPPIST-1: A Space Anthem’, particularly as NASA are already aware if it (“here at NASA we are thrilled by your anthem”), and because the astrophysicists who first discovered that the conditions are correct for water to exist on the TRAPPIST-1 planets have got behind the track on several occasions.

I know it is a bit like asking which is your favourite child but is there a particular track that stands out or is something close to your heart?

John has a fondness for ‘Infinite’ and ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’, but his favourite is ‘Berlin’, and Mike’s choice is ‘Parlance’. Ryan has an affinity for ‘Loving The Ghost’ and asserts that ‘Estrangement’ has appealing Smiths-y vibes as well as a nice string arrangement, although the track and music video that stands out to him most is ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’. Tony also votes for ‘Berlin’ and ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’. As a slushy footnote, ‘Infinite’ is close to Ryan’s heart as he wrote the lyrics about his then-partner whom he married in August of this year.

Looking back so far on your musical careers, do you feel this is the most productive and sustainable project you have been involved in?

Certainly, in as much as it brought back memories of our various projects, such as filming, directing and editing the video for our cover of ‘She’s In Parties’ and the time spent working with 15+ animators around the world on the music video for ‘The Man Who Hides From Love’. However, we’re currently working on the next album, so although we are proud of the current anthology, our creativity and energies are being focused on bringing to life a whole new chapter of recordings.

Has Covid had an impact on the band performing live and recording over the last few years?

Sadly, yes. We had to cancel a few shows, but on the bright side, we had time to reflect on what In Isolation was as an entity and, going forward, the type of songs we’d really like to listen to ourselves. Our writing skills have improved during that period, so we are having a good time coming up with new ideas for future output.

What acts/bands drew you into the gothic scene and influenced you to become musicians?

John was inspired by Punk bands of the late 70s, which ultimately led him down a slightly skewed path into goth, including his favourites The Cult. Tony has a fondness for Adam Ant and Japan which again paved a way into the darker side of 80s music. Mike has a synth-based background and is eclectic in his tastes, and Ryan is a fan of New Wave chart sounds of the 80s which pointed him to The Sisters Of Mercy and ultimately to 90s bands such as Rosetta Stone. We all had a drive to write and play music, and the dark/romantic/energetic aspects of goth suited our musical temperaments well.

What do you find yourself listening to these days?

A hugely mixed bag reaching back to the 60s. Movie soundtracks are inspirational, and although Top Of The Pops is no longer around to bring the country together with the best music available, there are a few good bands out there to be found such as CHVRCHES, Desperate Journalist, Drab Majesty and Zola Jesus.

If you could choose a movie to write songs for, what would it be about?

Maybe a dark-flavoured rom-com (not one of those really cheesy unfunny ones, of which there are so many). Something intelligent with clever humour and interesting plots and twists, utilising classic actors that recognise thoughtfully-written independent films, such as Tilda Swinton or Gary Oldman. We could bring contemporary dark tunes to the soundtrack as well as scoring the movie (we dabbled in orchestral arrangements for some of our more recent outpourings).

What is in the future for In Isolation?

Tony would like to tour the world, given half a chance, and we would certainly be keen to hop over to Europe to play the likes of the Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival. We are feeling pretty prolific at the moment in terms of songwriting, so we should have something exciting for your ears soon!

Thank you from the bottom of my dark little heart for your time

And cheers, Adele, for letting In Isolation loose on Onyx Music Reviews!

Albums | Singles | Soundtracks – an Anthology 2007-2022 (28 tracks) | In Isolation (

In Isolation | Facebook

One of this year’s best post-punk releases, has to have been Kill Shelter’s Asylum, out on Metropolis Records (US) and Manic Depression Records (EUR). Edinburgh based Pete Burns has crafted an extraordinary album with beautiful guitar riffs, wonderful melodies and amazing guest artists featuring on many of the tracks. Asylum has given birth to two great singles with Agent Side Grinder and Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton, as well as tracks with the likes of Ronny Moorings (Clan Of Xymox), William Faith (Faith And The Muse, Bellwether Syndicate, Shadow Project), Antipole, Ash Code and Valentina Veil (VV & The Void).

For me, the most noteworthy thing is the message behind the music, a reminder that many souls out there are looking for safety, searching for solace and finding sanctuary anyway they can from terrible circumstances. Human trafficking, political/war/famine refugees and those caught in domestic violence are just some of the examples. Music can move you, show you heaven and hell, speak of love and loss but most importantly tell us stories that need to be heard. This interview with Pete was started just before the release of the album, in a series of emails. He is both gracious and articulate, unfortunately catching the dreaded plague (covid), which has hit Pete heavily at the end. I am grateful for his time and forging ahead, so this interview is about his influences, friendships, music and the beating heart of Asylum.

Pete Burns, mastermind behind the dark, post-punk act, Kill Shelter, welcome to the mourning grounds of Onyx, where we enjoy a cup of tea with our maudlin.  

Thanks so much for inviting me over.  And thanks for the very kind intro. I feel at home already…

I must admit that I am flummoxed as to what a superb musician and composer, as yourself was doing before Kill Shelter, plus you have a name that if you google, you end up with a certain other Pete Burns. So, what were you involved with before this project?

I started playing guitar when I was nine and I always wanted to make music… it’s been a big part of my life. I’ve written music for TV, Radio and Film and have been signed to various independent labels over the years in various guises but Kill Shelter feels very different to me.

I had thought about adopting a stage name but I never settled on something that I liked or felt comfortable with. Ironically, Burns isn’t my birth name but that’s a long story so let’s not get into that! Changing my name now would feel a little bit pretentious and I’m okay with the associated anonymity as long as people get to hear my music.

You are based in Edinburgh and there seems to be a strong dark alternative scene there. Do you find the history of this ancient fortress lends itself to influencing your music?

I do love Edinburgh, I find it a very inspiring city. We have lots of green spaces and incredible gothic architecture. It’s quite a cosmopolitan city (especially during the festival) and I like the diversity and energy that brings. I often think that I should make more of my connection to the city through the work that I produce but it would need to be done in a contemporary, non-cliched way.

What led you to creating Kill Shelter?

I reached a point where, musically, I just wanted to be myself. Kill Shelter didn’t start with wanting to make a specific type of music or fit a specific genre… it’s a product of me being true to myself. There are sounds and chord voicings that I naturally gravitate to and that’s where I feel most comfortable.

I also felt I had things I wanted to say. Music has always been a form of self-expression for me and I started Kill Shelter at a very dark time in my life. It was, in some ways, a way to process things. You can really hear that come to the fore in the lyrics of “In Decay” or in the lyrical content of “A Haunted Place”.

For me, music, like art, should have purpose. The name Kill Shelter itself was designed to be provocative. My work challenges human behaviour, morally and ethically, and I think it’s important to highlight difficult subjects like injustice, domestic abuse and inequality alongside more existential themes, like mortality and the human condition. I believe that art should, in some way, make people reconsider their thoughts, actions and beliefs.

I gather you don’t think of yourself as a singer, as you have so many guest musicians on your tracks. Your 2019 album, “Damage”, has a plethora of talent on it. How did you end up connecting with all these people?

Yes, you are right. Although I wrote and sang all the lyrics on the Kill Shelter & Antipole album “A Haunted Place”, I don’t think of myself as a natural singer. Some people live for it and I’m always listening for those stand-out vocalists who move me in some way or other. You can’t beat the intensity of an amazing vocalist. With “Damage”, I wanted to work with emerging artists who’d already made an impact on me. Each one of those contributors had created at least one track which I would happily include in my “all-time favourite songs” or “wish I’d written that” list.

Whilst working on “Damage”, although I had a fair few connections and friends in the emerging scene, some people had, unsurprisingly, never heard of me. I always write demos with specific people in mind, which is a very different process from just having a demo and thinking “who could I get to sing on this?”. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some extremely talented people on the Kill Shelter releases and I really don’t take this for granted. I’ve also made some great friends along the way for which I’m eternally grateful.

I find it interesting that there has been such a resurgence in the post-punk scene, which is quite delightful for us that love this genre, that took flight from the late 70s/early 80s. Who or what, do you think is to thank for this breath of fresh air?

Well, they say if you keep a suit long enough it comes back into fashion (laughs). I also wonder whether the resurgence of so many genres and subgenres of music is linked to the accessibility of music and musicians. Community is so important when sustaining interest in what can quickly become a niche genre as people’s tastes and attitudes evolve. There have been waves of interest in post-punk over the years, with the last major underground wave starting to peak around 2018, following the 2011 revival when certain bands helped pave the way for others, notably The Soft Moon, She Past Away, Lebanon Hanover, Soft Kill, Drab Majesty, Trentemøller, Boy Harsher… the list goes on.

There was a lot of very good music being produced at that time and, I think, the diversity of influences helped broaden the sound and widen interest in the genre itself. I believe this, in turn, helped rekindle flames of interest in older listeners whilst providing something alternative for a younger Hip Hop-fuelled generation. Scenes can go stale very quickly so it’s important that new music feels fresh, inspiring and exciting, otherwise it just won’t sustain itself. There are mainstream and larger magazines that won’t touch post-punk bands anymore, regarding it as passé. However, some bands continue to have longevity, retaining a strong following through the peaks and troughs of the genre’s popularity and there will always be innovators who care about pushing boundaries despite listening numbers which may not seem significant in the grand scheme of things.

Recently, you released the brilliant single, “The Necklace”, with Agent Side Grinder, but this is not the first time you have recorded with the Swedes. Can you tell us about the track “The Necklace” but also your relationship with Agent Side Grinder?

Thank you. I’m really glad you liked it and thanks again for the review! I’m a big fan of ASG’s work and they’ve been brilliant to work with over the years. “Into the Wild” was my second remix and was a big deal for me. I love the original track. Similarly when they dropped “Doppelgänger” in 2018, I thought it was outstanding and was very keen to work with them more formally. I wrote the demo for them and chatted to Johan about a high level concept for the track aligning with the theme of Asylum (which remained undisclosed at that time). He wrote the lyrics then sent a draft with his guide vocal in place to give me a sense of it ahead of the studio recording. The vocals on the final track are a blend of Johan’s and Emanuel’s voices – which combine incredibly well. With the vocals in place, I restructured and re-arranged the track accordingly, checked they approved and, with everyone’s agreement, we had The Necklace.

Likewise, for the video, we discussed the approach and ASG enlisted the help of Jacob Frössén to shoot their scenes in Sweden. I filmed and edited the incidental footage, including shots of myself, here in Edinburgh and looked after editing and post-production. Again, we shared everything from the “work in progress” to the completed stage to incorporate everyone’s feedback. I know it’s a big ask to shoot footage for the video in addition to being involved on the track at a fundamental level, so it was massively appreciated and was a highly collaborative experience. They are an incredibly professional outfit to work with and I’m absolutely delighted with the result.

Pete, you mentioned that your latest album is based on the theme of ‘asylum’ which is indeed what it is also called. “The Necklace” is about domestic violence and finding an inner sanctuary.  Can you elaborate more on this theme and why you chose it?

When working on full length releases with multiple collaborators, I like to work with a strong narrative idea to help glue the various elements together. With these releases, I always have the title and concept in place ahead of recording. The word Asylum itself can be interpreted in various ways and it perfectly encapsulated a lot of the thoughts I was having at the time of writing. Domestic abuse has risen over 30% in the past two years and I find human injustice hard to ignore. These thoughts permeate my work. People will always interpret lyrics differently but there are underlying themes of human trafficking, domestic violence, seeking refuge, disillusionment, sanctuary and personal mental health on the new album. I find the abuse of any type of power abhorrent and there is a further subtext that runs through the lyrics on the album too.

Kill Shelter & Agent Side Grinder

Do you feel music is a type of asylum, so to speak?

Absolutely. Music is an escape for many people. It can transcend the everyday and provides a sanctuary and a personal place for people. It allows you to dream and experience different things, to explore your feelings, reflect and connect – it’s an immensely powerful thing. Making music has always been a cathartic process for me. When I start to write it’s always a direct reflection of how I’m feeling at that moment but it can help me process deeper stuff too. I have lots of cyclical thoughts when I write but that can also cause me to go to very dark places which can be hard to pull out of sometimes. Making music is a very emotional journey for me and I always put my heart and soul into my work. It would feel meaningless to me otherwise.

You seem very prolific. What do you think drives you to create?

It’s complicated. Sublimation is a big part of what I do. I take a lot of really negative, destructive thoughts and feelings and try to make something more positive and life- affirming with them. And hopefully the output is something that some people will relate to. “Euphoric melancholy” is a phrase that I’ve used before but I think that it’s so much more than that. The word prolific scares me as I always associate it with a  lack of quality or self control. I’m always busy and have a lot of creative projects on the go at once… that’s my idea of contentment and how I distract myself. If I’m not doing music then I might be designing or creating art in some form or finding some other outlet for self-expression. You might be quite shocked at just how many projects I’m working on, not including the numerous archived demos that I don’t think are very interesting. I also feel like I’m very rapidly running out of time and that’s a huge motivation for me to try and capture something or achieve some sort of unrecognised personal ambition before it’s too late.

The newest single is “In This Place” which features Stefan Netschio of Beborn Beton on vocals. It has this beautiful serpentine flow to it and Netschio’s vocals absolutely bring a dark quality to the track. Why did you choose this track as the next single?

Stefan has an incredible voice and he did a masterful job of capturing the essence and sentiment of the lyric for In This Place. The song deals with the inhumanity of human trafficking and we were keen to make sure that the subject matter was treated with respect and handled with dignity. I really love the track and, even though it’s not necessarily an obvious single, it does have a strong message and it’s indicative of the album as a whole. Stefan’s voice is incredible on it. It’s getting a lot of airplay at the moment and it is currently sitting at No 5 in the Deutsche Alternative Charts which is amazing. I think it’s fair to say that we were both shocked and delighted by that.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stefan recently. They say never meet your idols but in this case you won’t be disappointed. He’s a really smart, funny and talented person and we got on really well. We have plans to work together on a few things going forward so I’m really looking forward to that. He’s become a great friend.

Pete Burns & Stefan Netschio

William Faith is the featured vocalist on “Cover Me”. The track struck me as reminiscent of early Mission (UK) with wonderful flourishing guitar work and singing.  What was it like working with Faith and was The Mission a band you were drawn to? 

William was fantastic to work with and I feel really honoured and grateful that he gave his time to the project. His vocals really soar on “Cover Me” – it’s a very compelling performance and he interpreted the lyrics beautifully. I couldn’t believe it when I got the vocal tracks back. He’s another legend that I’ve been lucky enough to work with and it was another great experience for me.

Musically, there was no conscious decision to create pieces that sound like other bands but the early Mission (UK) is not a bad comparison! I think Wayne (Hussey) has done some great stuff over the years from his work with Dead or Alive and the Sisters and then onto the Mission (UK). He’s responsible for some very iconic pieces of music. I read his autobiography relatively recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think there was a decade between 1979 and 1989 that had some incredible music. I’m still exploring it and I’m enjoying rediscovering things that I’d forgotten about.

Pete, what was your childhood like? Was music ingrained into your DNA or were you the black sheep of the family?

I was probably a bit of both. I don’t think I was an easy child and I was definitely what you’d call an outsider. Growing up, all I wanted to do was play music – I wasn’t interested in being academic and I literally spent every hour I could either playing guitar or pursuing other creative outlets. My brother was a huge influence on me musically, he bought me my first guitar when I was nine and through him, I grew up listening to and being influenced by a lot of innovative and cutting edge music. My world was guitars, effects, drums machines, vinyl and cassettes. I’m not naturally musical, I don’t have perfect pitch and I’m not a great guitar player either but I love creating music. I’d say my passion and drive overcome my proficiency deficiencies.

It seems like the post-punk/industrial/goth scene is where musicians have a connection to everyone. Do you think of them as community and family in a way, especially with you having these amazing artists, you can call on?

The dawn of the internet changed so many things and even though it threw the music “industry” into a state of flux it has also brought a lot of people together and has allowed like-minded people to connect and for communities to form and flourish. I definitely feel connected to the scene for sure. There’s a lot of people who share that love and interest for dark alternative music and culture and there’s a lot of mutual respect and support which is great to see. There are some very toxic musical genres and associated cultures and clearly we’re not without our flaws, but overall I’d say there’s a lot of camaraderie which is very positive.

I’m really lucky to have made so many great friends in the scene and I don’t use that word lightly. I’m eternally grateful to have had the chance to meet and work with so many incredibly talented people that I genuinely admire and respect. I think that speaks volumes about the scene itself.

For the music nerds out there, do you have a favourite style/brand of guitar and synths you really love the sound of, and you use often?

I’m fortunate to have a lot of guitars, basses, drum machines and synths. I’ve collected them over the years and use a lot of them during the writing process. My go to instrument is my cherry red Parker Fly Classic which is a beautifully built studio guitar. They are unlike anything that was produced before or after. They’re not made anymore which is a great shame but I love the tone and feel of it. Definitely my guitar of choice.

I’ve also recently acquired a Yamaha SG (a classic post-punk guitar) and have started collecting vintage drum machines… as if I need another obsession. I use a lot of “in the box” equipment but I love the Model D, it’s an immediate and great sounding synth. I’ve got a virtual version of that which I’ve modded that I use a lot too. I’m also an effects junkie but that’s a whole other story…

What bands and musicians drew you into the post-punk/alt scene?

The late seventies especially were full of innovation and I think you can map my interest in post-punk and the art rock/alt scene by a series of albums from the seventies and eighties. In no particular order…

Systems of Romance – Ultravox
Fiction Tales – Modern Eon
Quiet Life / Gentlemen Take Polaroids – Japan
First and Last and Always – The Sisters of Mercy
JuJu / Peek-a-boo – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Music for the Masses/ Violator – Depeche Mode

I’d also call out Are Friends Electric by Gary Numan. This seemed like a monumental sea change single at the time and definitely fuelled my passion for electronica.

Of course there were other early stand out singles like A Forest by The Cure and Alice by the Sisters followed later by Spiritwalker and She Sells Sanctuary by The Cult that I still have a fondness for and that  remind me of that time.

Japan was my favourite band at the time and I was lucky enough to see them live a few times. They were fundamental in shaping the way I thought about music, sounds and songwriting.

You have been asked to pick your favourite songs to do a cover album of ten songs. What do you choose?

That is a very hard question and I’m not sure I could ever really do justice to someone else’s song, especially ten songs that I love. Instead, this is a list of “songs that I’d wish I’d written” but this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg…

I’m Undone – Nitzer Ebb
Ghosts – Japan
Fall in love with me – Japan
I dream of wires – Gary Numan (+ Robert Palmer version)
Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie
Waterfront – David Sylvian
Whirl – Soft Kill
Pharmacy – Ascetic
Better Learn How to Swim  – Ultrviolence
Europe After the Rain – John Foxx

These are all songs that have moved me in one way or another and that I never tire of listening to.

What is in the future for Pete Burns and Kill Shelter?

I’ll finish the third part of the multi-collaboration trilogy that I set out to do in 2018. That album will complete the set along with “Damage” and “Asylum”. 

I’m working with Antipole on a follow up to “A Haunted Place”. We have no hard deadline on that release and we plan to take our time. I have the title and working concept and we have a couple of rough demos already. I’m keen that we don’t do “A Haunted Place II” just because we can – I’m keen that it is a progression and something different from what we’ve done before.

I’ve been working on a non Kill Shelter project with Cliff Hewitt (Modern Eon, Apollo 440, Jean-Michel Jarre etc) which is starting to take shape. He’s amazing and I’m really excited about it but more on that next year!

I have a few EPs and tribute’s planned for various labels and I’m busy mixing and mastering other people’s work at my studio, The Shelter.

I’ve also started planning for playing live in 2023/24 and plans are afoot for that. 

I caught Covid really badly recently so it’s thrown out my schedule by a couple of months but I hope to get back in the driving seat soon. As well as the various works in progress that I’ve outlined, hopefully there will be some surprises coming down the line too…

Thank you for being a wonderful participant on this ghost plain of human existence ❤️

Asylum [European Version] | Kill Shelter (

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Ireland’s pMad has released a single, on the 31st of August, called “Sisters“. Paul Dillion is pMad, a member of the bands The Suicidal Dufflecoats and The Greeting, now turning his hand to this solo post-punk, gothic inspired project.

There is a pervading, shrouded veil of seriousness and mourning. The shoegaze dirge of loss and bereavement penetrates all, with the guitar work driving in the nails of sorrow and Dillion’s vocals low in reverence.

Sisters” was created in reference to loved ones, who have past away far too early, leaving others to grieve them, but also to be thankful for being in their presence. It’s nice to have a track that both highlights the sadness of death and also wants to say that every moment counts. It shows a deft hand to be able to express yourself in a track like this. So, pMad encourages you to hold your “Sisters” close, even if it is just in your heart.