Last year, Normoria released the EP, Voyages and at the end of January, this single, “The Judases” was let loose. Based in both the USA and Sweden, they describe their sound as, ‘a fusion of many elements: primarily dark electro and rock/industrial‘.
An interesting take on the concept of karma and what happens to those who are friendly to your face but would happily trip you into a bottomless pit. ‘Whatgoes around, comes around‘ is the shouted chorus of affirmation. It graduates in fury with the non stop beat.
I would have to say this song probably does well live due to the fact its a stompy number that they can also yell back to the band in the throws of jumping around. From what I’ve listened to, Normoria are passionate about the environment and their fellow humans. Will you follow them to the land of Normoria, to where “The Judases” are not allowed?
Late December was the release of the single, ‘In My Dreams” by SINthetik Messiah with TheOther LA. “In My Dreams” was originally released by five piece rock band The Other LA, that boasts having Drowning Pool’s C.J. Pierce as part of their contingent. The group asked SINthetik Messiah to put an electronic spin to the number.
SINthetik Messiah are from Louisiana and for the uninitiated, delve into experimental industrial rock/ metal with a heavy accent on the artistic front. Bug Gigabyte is the man behind the project and has done so since 1996.
It is dark and heavy….. so heavy, it almost feels like the noise is weighing on you. The female vocals by ARIA are explosive, buoyed by the dense mix of booming beats and buzzing guitar. The male vocal brings an added level of angst as the music takes flight.
A bombastic piece of engineering by BugGigabyte, the sounds are grating and huge, leaving you wanting more. He has taken TheOther LA song into another realm, becoming its own entity that can devour your soul.
Added bonus points for having mixing and mastering done by, Joe Haze, ex guitarist of Lords Of Acid. Yes it’s good. On that note, you might need to go listen to The Other LA & SINthetik Messiah, “In MyDreams“.
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.
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 3rd of August is the release date for British duo, Unquiet Dead’s new single, “Burn My Head Down“.
Jason and Lora have created a video piece, featuring the world’s only chain rope aerialist, Californian, Drago Nesa, who also does firebreathing as well, hopefully not at the same time. Spectacular talents indeed.
As always, you can hear that 70’s glam sound bubbling up through this number. Previously I mentioned Marc Bolan’sTRex maybe being a big influence on UnquietDead, just as they were on the post punk scene.
This single is the protest song of getting your freedom back when you are being oppressed and kept down. There are the outburst of adrenaline/anger and more emotional acceptance within, all washed down with that driving enthusiasm.
The video, though made in this time of isolation, is just as energetic and absorbing as the song itself. I’m still wincing at the whole swinging around on a metal chain thing which is done so elegantly by DragoNesa. Immerse yourself in the experience of Unquiet Dead’s “Burn My Head Down“.
July has seen the release of the EP, Unicorn Bones, by Chicago duo, Karen Righeimer and Ivan Russia, also known as Bellhead. I can definitely say the rhythm section for this band is tight. Both Righeimer and Russia both play bass, low and high respectively, both share vocal duties, though Ivan is very much the lead singer and are backed up by their dependable drum machine.
The band in their bio, make reference to their influences from goth rock legends, Bauhaus to the alternative rock royalty that is the White Stripes to the gothic/post punk stylings of She Wants Revenge, yet truthfully, they definitely have a sound that is very much their own.
“Snuff Film 1974” is straight off the bat with it’s thumping heavy rhythm that grabs your attention before dragging said attention to the graveled out vocals of Russia and the disturbing lyric content about a small female child murdered in film for others entertainment. This is the only track not written by Bellhead but rather penned by Sheriff Michael Scabs of the Sheriff Scabs band of which Russia has also been a member of. A thing of nightmares.
Really dig “Unicorn Bones” as it is a very nonchalant, grooving number that just has that keep ontrucking feel. The vocals play tag as they paint a vision of glittering violence and sad demise of those that live in the shadowed, dangerous places. Sinister and sleazy.
A song about a conman or less than reputable fellow, trying to stay one step in front of oblivion but wanting to take to take one last stab of having the person they have always loved. A final last chance is of happiness is “Always (Running After The Sun)“. This is a far more poignant track, slower and thoughtful with intensity.
Annnd serial killer/psycho time. “Knife” is sexy whispers with the intent of maiming and destroying. Low and distorted noise backs the bass just for that extra creepy ambiance.
“Sidewinder” has a more rock flare about it, but it’s all the dirty bits of rock. The low and high bass building the sound up in such a manner that it feels angry and greasy, finishing off the EP.
The choice and use of high and low bass without any regular guitar is an interesting marriage of instruments but works well for Bellhead. Bass brings on the rhythm and produces a rich, big sound.
So if you fancy the darker, more nightmarish side of the industrial, gothic rock genre, then do catch up with Bellhead and their not so sparkly but equally intriguing, UnicornBones, with none of the guitar bull.
The Batavia, in the early 17th Century, was a ship of the Dutch East India Company and in less than a year after her maiden voyage, would find herself wrecked off the West Australian Coast. A tale of murder, mutiny, slavery and abandonment followed.
Batavia are also a goth, industrial rock group, hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, consisting of Terri and Ed Cripps. This is the married couple’s debut E.P., Graveyard, under this moniker and was recorded in isolation. Keys and vocals are from Terri while Ed gives us guitar, programming and backing (spoken) vocals.
The wind swept feel is prominent in “Field Of Gray” as the synths grace their presence and breath into the intro piece while the angelic vocals hover just above the turbulence. Ed speaks to us, as from another time, perhaps as a marooned sailor who dreams of home as his life slips away.
Now for something completely different as far as a cover goes. Not that someone would not cover Duran Duran, but rather the choice of their 1988 single, “All She Wants Is” kind of blew me away. It is raw and pulsating with sexuality and very feminine. Terri’s vocals really capture the fervour whilst being classy and the industrial styling of the guitar work, really lends itself to making this a cover that completely works for them.
“Scab Mask” is grating at the beginning, setting up for the vocals to resolve the disparity. This is the industrial machine, that pounds along and one can’t help but feel that this may be a commentary on the current political turmoil, that their country currently finds itself embroiled in. The anger seems to feed into the slowing, off kilter, loss of hope.
An orchestrated piece with no vocals, “Flyboy” is cuts of air chatter from ground personnel, RichardRussell, which burst through with accelerating urgency as a man losses his sanity while handling a multi million dollar plane. Meanwhile air control tries to talk him around and for historical content, he purposefully crashed in 2018l This is the futile end.
This is a really neat little E.P. and Bartavia are proving themselves to be storytellers, connecting the past to present, even when that past was not so long ago, for as humans, we seem to have short memories.
We need those that write meaningful human tales with good tunes and a rollicking good cover every so often doesn’t hurt either. Get your education and entertainment with the delightful Batavia and open their Graveyard.
Zwaremachine are from Minneapolis and on the 20th of May , will release their latest EP, Ripping At The Fabric. Over the years, they have become a three piece with original member, singer/synths and writer, Mach Fox at the helm, D–bot on bass/vocals and Dein Offizer creating the rhythm on drums/percussion. They describe their sound as ‘minimal, hypnotic, industrial bodymusic‘.
This is also one of the first releases on the new label, Brutal Resonance Records and if that name sounds familiar, it might be as it is the same group that have been responsible for the long running music Zine of the name.
Mach Fox is a rather interesting fellow who has been heavily involved in the industrial scene since the 90’s and has a healthy respect for Gary Numan and John Foxx.
Can you “Resist” the 80’s feel of the first song on the EP? This pays homage to Skinny Puppy in its vicious simplicity. The synths are understated and this makes it feel even more in your face.
Time to feel the groove flowing through you with a “New Design“, guaranteed to get your body moving. The beat is like something from old Front 242 as it angrily stomps into your head.
The first single off this EP is also the title track, “Ripping At The Fabric“. It sort of reminds me a little of those science fiction movies with the electronic soundtracks except this is more full on blunt force trauma. Fox growls that this is not the beginning of the end and we certainly hope not. There is no surrender!!
The assault to your ears doesn’t stop there. “International Hero” belts you over the head. This is like electronic overload with distortion and delightful synth tones which keeps making me thinking back to Ministry’s “Stigmata“.
Last track is “What We Are” and is feels fresh and fast, with a high energy rhythm. This is a great number that really shows Mach’s writing ability, even though he’s snarling lyrics, the music in the background is almost ethereal in its delicacy.
The energy is aggressive and definitely punchy throughout the whole EP. It is hypnotic and will suck you in. I hear so much of the timeless, classical industrial sounds with Zwaremachine, who are smashing their own apocalyptic, minimalistic, agrotech noise into the mix, doing exactly what makes industrial music so interesting…. experimenting with whatever gets a great a sound.
Zwaremachine’sRipping At The Fabric isn’t re-inventing the wheel but rather, taking said wheel running you down with it and you’ll enjoy every bone crunching moment of it.
This year English duo, Unquiet Dead had the release of their second album, Anima Ignis. Located in Bedfordshire, Lora Maze is vocals and synths while Jason Kahl plays guitar and bass. Both are responsible for programming.
So the intro is “Flames”, which welcomes you into the style that is Unquiet Dead. Soaring harmony with a tribal sound, punctuated with the guitar, giving it a whole lotta oomph!!!
“Ash” was a single and has an almost White Zombie, Southern American feel to it until the vocals from Maze kick in, seductively slipping into your ears. A psychedelic trip in a limosine, in leather with a devil may attitude.
Yet another single off the album is “Legend”. Do I detect the use of didgeridoo? Kahl’s driving guitar work throttles this forward. And the remix by London based electro/industrial group, MachineRox for the single is absolutely killer. Vocally this reminds me of Faith And TheMuse.
Keeping up the unrelenting pace is “Puppet Strings“. You have to love the harmonization Unquiet Dead utilize. No one is pulling their strings with this danceable number.
Now for a change of pace. Of course “Cat People (Putting Out Fire With Gasolene)” was written and performed by David Bowie with GeorgioMoroder back in 1981 and has been covered a multitude of times. The whole thing with covers is to make it your own. A purposely slow beginning which changes up with the power vocals.
And back to the head bobbing ferocious beats. Burn My “HeadDown” is about getting out from underneath someone’s control… which might be a theme of this album. Hints of electric T-Rex litter this.
Track seven is “BitterPill“, where they have to be ‘carefulwhat I say or they might put me away’ and any song mentioning pitchforks is worthy of monster movie staking.
“Build A World Worth Dying For” is pure swirling vocals entwined with guitar and backed up with synths. A plea to make this world a better place that we know it can be. A beautifully crafted song with and equally beautiful sentiment.
The synth sound mimicking a theremin in “IsThisWar?”, Is almost hypnotic. Not the fastest track but this will definitely keep the audience entertainered, especially waiting to hear Maze’s vocals to take them away.
“ICan Hardly Wait” is slower, more dirge style piece which drags the corpse along behind it still kicking. Languid guitar riffs bubble in the cauldron.
Last track is “If You Don’t Want Me” and true to form, if you aren’t wanted, there are no constraints on what you can do and be who you want to be. This fades to a mantra of almost southern Baptist proportions.
On Bandcamp, the band have quoted Toyah Wilcox as saying ‘Really rather remarkable’. I can tell you now that in the music scene, Toyah is a very hard woman to impress as she is a bit of a perfectionist.
Whatever style you want to try to place these two, it is undeniable that UnquietDead are really very talented. They take the psychedelic sounds of a bygone era and marry it to a modern electronic/ industrial genre with those amazing vocals to create something just a little special.
The bastard child of Bolan/Bowie/Eno and InkubusSukkubus with no apologies. Check Unquiet Dead out.
August saw the release of ChmclStr8jckt’s latest album on CleopatraRecords. KevinSnell, MikeScott and IanOmega are self claimed proponents of outlaw industrial rock, who have so far released two previous albums, 2017’s self titled and 2018’s RMX. Now we have WrtchdThngs to ravage our ears.
These guys, from New Jersey, love the sound of the WaxxTrax era combined with the kitch macabre horror imagery, wrapped up in metal guitar fusion.
Title track “WrtchdThngs” is the twenty eight second introduction to the album before what is arguably the best song on the album, “OdeToPeckinpah (BloodySam)”.
For the uninitiated, SamPeckinpah was an American flim director, who revolutionized the cowboy western movies and most notably, the explicit violence. This track will be remembered for the lyrics, ‘43deadin a seaofred‘. A really punchy little number and there is definitely a nod to My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult. It feels a bit manic in that twisted, murderous happy-go-lucky way.
Next might be an industrial live ballad, “The Only Thing That’s Real“. It feels like only the Americans, just like Ministry, can write tunes this way. The overall feeling here is that the most real thing in life is the person you are with, this being enhanced with power cords and heavy vocals from Snell.
I like the industrial, completely electro feel to “CutDeep” at the beginning. The guitars chime in but they are far more subdued and that adds to the claustrophobia.
We always need to have songs about our favourite demon and occult denizen, “Baphomet“. This is a bang up mixture of old school Ministry and Front242 plus who doesn’t like a bit of devil worshipping?
“Fantasy” sounds like it is set in a slick world of helicopters, neon lights and hedonistic sex…. but we know this isn’t real life.
A slow and stalking build up for “Cactus” which harkens back to similar acts like KillingJoke, though this isn’t KJ and most definitely stamped with ChmclStr8tjckt’s boots.
Always a worry when faced with a song titled, “Love“. Starts with rather subdued guitar work. Yeah not really a romantic piece but more so everything goes to hell and love gets broken
“BombCyclone” is a good mix of electro and guitar work with a understated constant beat and the other single. The lyrics honestly will tell you the story of the song.
Tenth in the lineup is the brooding “BlackVulture“. If you are pro Christian then you might not enjoy this. This has an interesting mixture of styles within it. Choral overtones that become tribal with a drop in tone as it become guitar heavy and dark.
Finishing track is “MeatHook“. The psycho bombastic over tones would make RobZombie very proud and the horror inspired conclusion rips your head off.
It wasn’t until I finished listening several times to this album, that I became aware that JohnBechdel produced this album which may also explain the atmosphere of some of these numbers. Bechdel Is currently the keyboard player for Ministry and also played for FearFactory and one of my favourites, KillingJoke.
These guys might be short a few vowels and if Ministry, MyLifeWithTheThrillKill Cult etc are your thing, then donate to a good cause. The guitar road warriors who are the missing link for an industrial bygone era.