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.
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.
New Orleans conjures for many of us thoughts of Mardi Gras, voodoo, vampires and now you can add the band, The Palace Of Tears, who released at the end of October, their debut album, Of Ruination.
The band is comprised of vocalist and lyricist, L.V. Darkling and Erick r. Sheid who pretty much plays and programmes everything else you hear.
The slow, wind swept, instrumental void of “TerraEphemera” or loosely interpreted, a land that was never meant to last, introduces you to the album. With graduating synths, the vale is lifted and hints of a tribal beat come into play.
Dark and imperious is the beginning to “ThyWomb Is Full Of Black Nectar” before we are acquainted to Darkling’s sonorous mezzo soprano vocals which are delicate and dripping with sensuous lyrics.
In a case of art imitating life, “Masque L’Intrigue” seems to be a result of the need for wearing masks to stop the current contagion. This is bitter sweet in its sentiment and like a reflection in obsidian… dark and cool. The synths and vocals entwine smoothly.
“Tears Of The Moon” is slightly more hard edged, with buzzing electronics, yet still so ethereal just as the light of the moon is. This is eloquent and beautiful.
One does not think normally that “Cold Dead Skin” as romantic prose however it is used in effect to give contrasts of symmetry of the divine and the grotesque. The music feels like it is rising heaven bound with black gothic wings.
“Shadows Of Whispering Phantoms” is the perspective of one whom has just lost the fight with death. Brooding in tempo as the spirit questioningly implores of they can be seen or heard by their loved ones as they pass beyond the vale. The guitar is almost hidden amongst the rising synths and there is something heart squeezing in the gorgeous sentiment.
The screaming angst of Scheid’s guitar marks the last song, “Of Ruination“. This is a wall of noise with the eloquent Darkling, cutting through with that magnificent voice. The swirling heavy guitar with the light electronica just make this truly breathtaking.
Ambient, dark soundscapes that are created here by Sheid are fabulous but it’s definitely Darkling’s vocal talent that takes everything to a higher, ethereal realm. It’s a bit like listening to Dead Can Dance if they were darker and more modern. So I say, go unto The Palace Of Tears to listen to the sweet seduction Of Ruination.
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.
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 “LudwigMeidner“.
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“.
Mute is the stage name for the artist behind the act, King Venus, based in Manchester and they have released the single, “Inhumite“.
The start is a laconic guitar, joined by others which suddenly take flight in a sudden rush skywards with great power. The guitar flow is so reminiscent of early Tool and sounds wonderful with the Pete Steele like vocals.
There is a continuous build up of textures and layers, that create a cacophony of musical sound, all by one man, considering life, death and the insanity in-between.
Mute has added extra notes as well as a booklet, about his working on this and other pieces and admitted that he had written “Inhumite” quite a while back, describing it as his Frankenstein’s monster. You can hear the different persona singing to you with their vocal forms which are all the creator’s, King Venus.
A guitar and art driven roller-coaster of a monster song indeed with a big nod to Tool but also quiet acknowledgement to far more goth groups such as The Cure and Bauhaus.
There is no YouTube video but there is one on Instagram with the link below. So where has King Venus been all our lives, because if this one song is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to what comes next. Shine thine light through the hallowed halls and bring us “Inhumite”!
This year has been a big one for Jacksonville based duo, Batavia. Earlier in 2020 was the release of their first EP, Graveyard and since then, they have been signed to TigersquawkRecords with the new EP, Quite Mean Spirited.
Terri and EdCripps tell true historical tales of the grotesque through their music, bringing them to life. With this in mind, this EP is the story of a young woman who was taken away to an island, somewhere in Russia, a prison that she never deserved to be incarcerated in. She was assaulted and raped by the guards and then her fellow prisoners did not offer help nor comfort but rather murdered her and cannibalised the corpse.
The title track is also the first cab off the ranks. “Quite Mean Spirited” thumps in with one CharlesBukowski’s spoken word soliloquy about ‘people are not good to people‘ before Terri brings forth her sweet vocals.
“Upside Down” hits you full on with its up beat rhythm and grungy guitar plus distorted vocals. This is a cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain song and it is a rollicking, industrial interpretation.
The water and the waves flow with the acoustic guitar and lilting synths giving “Ab Initio” a near dream like quality. A reality skewed with Terri whispering to you to be aware that not all is that peaceful.
With heavy gothic over tones, “Finis” is the beginning of the end for our heroine. Russian can be heard after the frightened breathing of the young woman. The dominant piano with the organ beneath, create a feeling of madness. A litany of the terror issues, as the noise builds on a maelstrom of desperation.
For a awful way to go, “The Absinthian” seems so light and free… maybe it is when the flesh is no long the cage of the soul and the pain cannot be felt any more. Angels to take her away to a better place than she was.
“Quite Mean Spirited” (Leæther Strip remix) finishes up the EP, which brings you full circle of the horror humans will put other humans through. Claus Larsen was very impressed with Batavia’s previous release, so he came on board to do this remix and it has the Leæther Strip lead’s finger prints all over it. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful enhancement with that industrial harshness running deep under it. Such a brilliant way to conclude.
Batavia know how to blend gothic horror with intelligent rock and industrial blends. They have created an EP with a darkness that makes the the breakout tracks shine even brighter. The Leæther Strip remix is like the icing on the tasty, gothic- industrial cake that is Quite Mean Spirited.
The end of July saw the release of the album, Kiss Of Death, by English band, Black Angel, a follow on from 2019’s debut The Widow.
England definitely exploded with successful gothic bands in the early eighties. Their legacy is like a ripple that still effects us 40 years later. Matt Vowles is the progenitor of Black Angel, as well as being a music producer, whom been heavily influenced by that early scene and has come full circle to the music that influenced his early years.
The start of the title track “Kiss Of Death” is like a soul crying out. Great first tune to start with as it is atmospheric and sets the tone for the rest of the album of dark desires for an eternal passion.
“Animal” is the second single off the album and is heavy with sentiment that is raw with longing and wanting. The animal logic overriding all. The beat pounds and the vocals exotically call you to give all for that animalistic love.
Dirty and bass heavy are a heady mixture for “Alchemy“. A concoction of rockabilly and goth guitar sensibility make this a lethal combination that doesn’t dawdle. Voodoo, magic and love are a powerful cocktail.
Female vocals reminiscent of the Ofra Haza version of “Temple of Love“, start off and weave through “Call Of The Night” but that is where the similarity ends with this sensual ode to the gothic tribes that inhabit the dark.
Wayne Hussey would be proud of the guitar in “Hurricane” and just like the namesake, this song spins and swirls at a terrific pace.
You think there might be a change of pace with “Want For More” and it you aren’t wrong and it reminds me of Lacrimas Profundere in their heyday. Laid back, slow burn with guitars crying out and female backing vocals to rival the later Sisters of Mercy tunes.
“Put Your Lips…..” is the jaunty first single with a rockabilly beat and a very much the cowboy goth feel that Fields of the Nephilim introduced the world to, with striding footsteps and a shotgun to the Sun. the singer is sure her lips would look good on him.
The wonderfully sonorous guitars, whirl you away in “She Said“. This winds along in a languid, serpentine way as we ponder the wise words, the devil is a bitch.
Sirens ring out to herald in “Prisoner” and the guitar here reminisces of The Cult, circa Love album. But then again, with the baritone Russian choir style aaahs could be mistaken for Mige Ure’s,Ultravaox.
The last song is also a homage to the band name, “Black Angel” and you could knock me down with a feather, as this sounds so much like Bauhaus, including a sax accompaniment, which is very, very 80’s. It swirls and undulates to a rather satisfying end. We all know about the devil in a black dress……
I’m honestly pleased that this isn’t another Sisters imitation band. You can hear the influence but Vowles has found a vocalist who stays true to their own style whilst not trying to sound like someone else. Black Angel are leading the gothic rock charge with fellow contemporaries, Norwegians, October Burns Black.
Recorded and mastered at Matt Vowles‘ own studio, The Manor, Kiss Of Death is a polished production which reminds me of the bands I have loved for so long and has forged ahead with that sound instead of living in the past. Love, longing and lust are are old as mankind and Kiss OfDeath is all this and a whole lot more with Black Angel giving it beautiful inky wings.
This year, the band, Amaranth, in conjunction with SoundsAndShadows, released the epic goth/EBM/industrial compilation, Tiny Gods Who Walk Beside Us. All songs were donated by the bands for a rather wonderful cause.
Most dark alternative types will tell you they are very fond of animals and especially cats. When band member of Amaranth, KenMagerman found out his young cat, Freya, had cancer in her leg, Ken was devastated and desperately wanted to save his feline companion’s life. This is an expensive procedure, so musician friends from around the world offered songs to help pay for this treatment, so began this complilation.
The classical undertones of LoreleiDreaming bring us “Edge Of The World” (I.X.XI Remix), which is grand beginning with beautiful choral touches that give this great depth and a glittering beauty.
“For Freya” is a very raw piece from Amaranth, but then this is understandable knowing where this song is coming from. With bluesy overtones that expand to anguished gothic rock.
A quieter synth lead piece from US act, Covenant Of Thorns in “Dahlia” (The Joy Thieves remix). A sweet number that is both darkness and light at the same.
Got to say, Corlyx‘s “Deform” (ESA remix) is a really a great song and remix. A mixture of trap syncopation and lazy beats keeps this very entertaining.
Antipole and their sexy song, “1983” featuring the completely sexy Eirene (PeopleTheater remix) show you their brilliance. Danceable, pop electro synth number which you can’t help but enjoy the airy joy it exudes.
Like silk, Ego Likeness “Darkness” (Dracos Deep Mix) will grace your ears. This is smooth, electro beats and oh so catchy to boot with this remix.
Machinery Of Desire drip with gothic honey in the form of “Forever Remain“. I would not be surprised in the least of they were influenced by Wayne Hussey’s The Mission. That similar winding flowery style.
The synth musing of Adoration Destroyed in “Both of Me” (Authentic Impulse Remix) as they try to reconcile the two sides of their personally. Those that like Third Realm will really enjoy this number.
CryingVessel “Illusions” (remix DeadAgent) is a throw back to the early 80s electronic period. A simple, clean track with a light touch in the remix, making this a really danceable track.
The haunting number of “CodeBlue” by I Ya Toyah (remix Arcontas Blank) rings out with that wonderful heavy organ based synth filling it out. A song close to singer AniaTarnowska’s heart, about the loss that comes with suicide.
Really digging TwinTribes the more I hear them and “DarkCrystal” is a great example of their post punk, goth electro sound. Really fabulous tune that chimes away and gets into your head.
Radiograph is in essence JohnEdwards from PalaisIdeal and he has contributed “Catnipped“, an instrumental piece centred on an electro beat/ synths with guitar accompliment. Edwards is well known musician in the scene and a deft hand at penning a tune.
SilverWalks has remixed “FuckThatFascistBeat” by Caustic. This already a good song which now is even more urgent in the remix. The song is probably more poignant than ever before and is old school style industrial done well.
Straight from the beginning, you hear that this is going to be a bit special. Seven Federations gives you “Syzygy” or a celestial alignment. It is reminiscent of Attrition’s classic “Into The Waves“, with its simple beauty.
Vlimmer “Schnittstelle” is ethereal and unearthly as they try to interface. Even though ethereal, it feels so organic at the same time, natural.
Dogtablet are kind of a mini super group. “Showtime” (Melodywhore Slave Remix) is a rhythmic groove piece with piano as the standout instrument amongst the electronica.
If you like pure instrumentals with some sublime synths and an interesting configuration, then Kiss Of The Whip has “This Pain Is Ours” for you.
Welcome to Steven Archer’s “The Showroom“. It’s s little dirty and has a bassy chorus which is never a bad thing. Archer who is also Stoneburner, is all class.
This isn’t even mixed and Cliff and Ivy have a tremendous earworm in “Will To The Power“. I have to say, Christian Death. It smacks of many the great things about Rozz Williams and company in the 80’s.
The off kilter start by Orcus Nullify, launches “March Of The Lost“. Very much in the vein of the Bauhaus vibe with a experimental edge. A dirge to the those forever destined to wander without end.
The sombre tones of Ritchual‘s “You Lied” lilt with a plaintiff anguish. This is clean, delightful synth wave with a European flavour even though they are based in Austin.
Sister Sarin is the project for Hemlock and she gives to you “Split“. This is a percussion heavy piece with all the keyboards rounding out the beat heavy sounds.
Get ready for the nightmarish spokenword performance of Swansect with “Clovermouth“. This is claustrophobic and sinister in the modern era electro.
RobEarly and SimeonFritzpatrick are 11Grams and you are going to feel them in your “DNA“. This is a blend of old school industrial with a clever reinvention, which they are well known for. Slow and menacing, as it gets under your skin.
Ego Likeness is the last track on the album for the digital download with “Breedless” (Sombre Remix). The lyrics are truly interesting to listen to, with ‘maybe my mother was a hydra‘ as well fae folk and other such creatures making EgoLikeness the crooning sexy beasts they are.
This is a great showing of gothic, synthwave, EBM, darkwave and industrial being represented and definitely worthy of many listens. The best part of this story is that Freya may have lost a limb but she is still with Ken and a truly loved being.
My last cat passed away at 20 years of age and I mourned her death for many years until l adopted a rescue cat and to be honest, fell in love all over again.
Once cats were revered as celestial beings in Egypt and one can understand why. We love their arrogance, sass and let’s face it, they can be completely selfish pricks yet if you do love them, they will give you so much in return.
So show some love for Freya and her kind as well as all the wonderful bands that have been so generous.
From the darkest rescesses of San Antonio, Texas, there was a predatory beat out on the street, as goth rockers, Saturday Nite Shockers in March, let loose the single, “Blessed Be” (which is not to be confused with The 69 Eyes, “Blessed Be“).
The very first cords take me back instantly to a guilty pleasure and remind me of that slightly goth and all glam Finnish band, Negative. This is an ode to darklings of the night and the brotherhood of being a part of a culture that isn’t always understood and often looked down on.
The vocals are clear and clean, the guitars sing and wail and the rhythm section throttles it forward.
This is the first song I have ever heard from Saturday Nite Shockers and it was far more melodic and not completely full on as I thought it was going to be which isn’t a bad thing as it shows depth. With a band name like that, I’m fairly sure they also like to melt your ear holes when in full swing.
These guys aren’t on bandcamp, however you can find them on Spotify, iTunes etcetera or if you check out the YouTube link that will help you find out more information.
Not sure if they realize it but I think they might be channeling the Finnish goth rock scene because they have the more suave punchiness punk of The69 Eyes, who were influenced greatly by TheMisfits, with those wonderful guitar riffs so reminiscent of Negative plus the dark romanticism of HIM.
Check out Saturday Nite Shockers and their single, “Blessed Be” all you ghouls, lost boys, witches and rock’n’roll bitches.