Enhanced humans are running awry in New Jersey, making electro-gothic music. The father/son combination of Greg Bullock (lead vocal and synthesizers) and Brydon Bullock (drums/percussion, backing vocals), respectively, are the core of Cyborg Amok and towards the end of 2022, they released the album Etiam. There is also additional musical help from Adam Vaccarelli, playing bass on all songs (except “Wicked Close“) and Frani Lugo with guitar on “(Some) Sleep Tonight.”.
Did you know that the 1975 David Bowie single “Golden Years“, off the Station To Station album was originally written by Bowie for Elvis Presley, who turned it down and gave Bowie one of his highest charting singles in the USA? More fool him we say and the first track from Cyborg Amok is a cover of this classic, and this version is slower and a little more introspective, like an internal soliloquy. Join the shamanistic ritual for “(Some) Sleep Tonight” for those who are deprived of such things, thronged with foreboding bass and heavy guitar, while “Wicked Close” is definitely more electro/industrial flavoured with a leaning to science fiction, the synths creating a soundscape and yet there is a very funk based bass line that invades the lulls.
Chiming intonations break into guitars and a goth rock phantasm of love lost in “Black Well House (a ghost story)” with a chorus to get the chills. Now, any track with the title “Fire Dance“, instantly makes me think of Killing Joke, but this is not that song. Twinkling keyboard notes and lyrics about a rain of fire from the heavens above, creating chaos. “Toxic 1’s” has a creeping air about it with the disturbing guttural gurgling in the background in comparison to the clean vocals. The guitars with the changing drum rhythms are definitely a brilliant addition to keep you on edge. So the last track, “Iron Clad Heart” is languid and serpentine in its execution, biding its time, as you slip over the edge.
There is indeed a interesting dichotomy at work here. Each track seems to have it’s own blend of styles, not overwhelming but rather enough hear those influences merge with each other to create something you can attribute as Cyborg Amok with mixtures of gothic rock, synthwave, industrial and even a bit of glam. Giving a voice to these mixtures takes a bit of skill, so have a listen to Etaim,,, your inner cybernetic humanoid will thank you for it.
Around 1990/91, Gerrie Brand, started his gothic project, Life In Sodom, which was heavily influenced by the theatrical element, though this soon became a more serious musical affair, as the Florida based band picked up attention and airplay. Over the years, Brand has been the lynch pin with the group making sporadic releases. 2022 saw the line up of Brand (vocals) Danny Heinze (guitars) and Virginia Fuillerat (female vocals) release the new EP, Fate on NutrixRecords. Other artists that have contributed to the EP include Loach (synths, keyboards, programming), Mike Vullo (drums on “Room 212“), Dennis Fuller (drums on “Lie“) and DenisEverest (electric guitar on “Heaven’s Gates“), with the recording and mixing done at MBRS Studios by Loach and mastered at Fullersound Inc.
The title track, “Fate” is a retrospective way to start the EP, the argument that are we beholden to a destiny as judged by religion or do we make out own? The vocals of Brand yearn for more, more than fate and angelic Fuillerat punctuates the beautiful simplicity of the track. There is something deliciously familiar about the wonderful “Lie“. It might be that both the singing and instrumentation remind me a lot of Stan Ridgeway (ex-Wall Of Voodoo) and his ability to incorporate a slightly Western edge, so you can feel the languid desperation, where the bass takes the lead and you can wonder where were they hiding the Mariachi band? “Heaven’s Gates” is a very sombre affair with acoustic guitar and piano, whilst in the background a crying electric guitar is in full lament. Why does it cry? Because as we age we start to lose the people around us to the ultimate end.
Changing things up, we start with Fuillerat taking the lead in the emotional filled “Restless“. The guitar is the light lighting the way and then crosses the veil, as we wait for death to bring us to the end. The last track is “Room 212“. I could be wrong but I think this is a reference to a hospital room, where family congregate to sit with the dying, waiting for that last breath, and often using their own to give up prayers to whichever god they follow. Brand’s vocals are superbly warm and entrancing, enhanced by the beautiful guitar work and drums punching through.
Have you ever listened to something and then thought, how did I ever not know about this? Utterly amazing and utterly enjoyable to the last strains. This is voyeurism at its darkest, following the theme that flesh and blood decay, such is the impermanence of life. The subject matter is treated with a reverence and care, maybe in the knowledge that they also will cease on this plain of existence. If you are a record junkie, then you will be thrilled and fulfilled with the knowledge that the EP is also out on shiny vinyl….. But I digress and will simply say that if you like guitar and vocal lead darkwave then you need Life In Sodom and to check out Fate.
The Derision Cult was the original working name for the solo project of Dave McAnally in 2014, which became pared down to just Derision Cult. Beginning of December 2022 saw the Glitch Mode Recordings release of the EP “MercenaryNotes Pt. 1“, a guitar laden, industrial powered ride with both political conviction and questioning the moral compass of big money corporations. McAnally has friends in many places it seems having some big name talents fleshing his music out with vocals/guitars, mixing, producing and mastering. What does this mean? Great production, thumping beats and a sound that could give Ministry a run for their money. So now you should read ahead and find who these big names are, what are the outside influences and did McAnally really use his wife as a taco consuming lab rat? Mmmmmm tacos…… and don’t worry, Dave ate tacos as well.
Welcome Dave back to Onyx, though now under the guise of your project, Derision Cult.
Thanks! Yeah between this and Sys Machine its been a busy couple of years!
Originally titled The Derision Cult, you started this all around 2014. What originally inspired you on this solo musical career?
Derision Cult really came a long ways since 2014 to this EP! But it goes back further than that for me. It all started when I was in bands and working on different projects in the mid-90s. Then I took a bit of a break and ended up in Chicago for a while. I always knew I’d get back into making music, and I had a few false starts between 2004 and 2014. But in 2014, everything just fell into place and I knew it was time to start playing again. I was getting out of the triathlon and ironman scene, spending more time at home with my daughter, and just feeling like I had something to say through my art. Around that time, I was also seeing how corporate social responsibility was being twisted and used as a marketing tool by companies, and I felt like I could use my music to shed some light on that. And as I’ve been working on Derision Cult, I’ve really honed in on my message and vision for the project, especially with the release of Mercenary Notes. It’s all about using my art to make a statement about what I learned in my professional life which I feel follows in the footsteps of my musical heroes.
Previously, in an interview about your newer project, .SYSmachine, you hinted at the fact you were working on music for Derision Cult. Would this be the now released “Mercenary Notes Pt. 1”?
Yeah, I hinted at it in that interview about .SYSmachine, but now I suppose I can officially confirm that Mercenary Notes Pt. 1 is the result of those early sessions with Sean Payne! We started working on these tracks back in December and January, and it’s been an awesome experience collaborating with a producer for the first time on Derision Cult. Sean and I are planning to keep working together on all sorts of projects in the future.
The current single is “Deaf Blood”, so why was this chosen and what does it mean for you having the likes of Chris Connelly on vocals and Joy Thieves on remix duty?
“Deaf Blood” was the perfect choice for the current single because it really captures the essence of Derision Cult and what we’re all about. It’s got rock/metal sound with some Killing Joke vibes, and it was an absolute honor to work with Chris Connelly on vocals. I’ve been a fan of Chris’s work for a long time, and I was really blown away by the Joy Thieves’ album American Parasite and where it seemed like his headspace was on that. I thought Chris’s voice and lyrics would be perfect for being part of this particular story, and I was right. It was also a dream come true to have Reeves Gabrels from The Cure and David Bowie’s band playing lead guitar on the track. He’s been a huge influence on my playing since the 90s, and it was amazing to work with him and hear those leads up close like that!
For the remixes, we’ve got both Joy Thieves and Martin Atkins on board, and I’m really happy with how that came out. Joy Thieves went for a dark and emotional vibe, while Martin Atkins turned it into a crazy rollercoaster ride. Plus, he recorded live drums on his infamous black Pearl kit, which is the same one he used on all those classic Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Pigface, and Killing Joke albums. It was really cool to have both Chris’s current drummer from Joy Thieves and a drummer from his past with Martin Atkins working on the remixes, and I think it adds an extra layer of depth to the single.
You also sold a cassette version of the “Deaf Blood” single, with the added extra of hot sauce…was it hot enough for the single, who came up with that idea and did you get to have some?
Releasing the “Deaf Blood” single on cassette was a total spur-of-the-moment decision, inspired by labels like Brutal Resonance who are putting out cassettes exclusively. It’s been a while since I sold a cassette, probably since 1997, so it was a lot of fun to put this one together. I’m really happy with how they turned out. As for the hot sauce, that was just a happy coincidence. When Chris sent over the lyrics with the title “Deaf Blood,” I immediately thought it would be a cool name for a hot sauce. As it turns out, my friend Chris Bengston owns a hot sauce company in Kansas City, so we started working on some recipes together. Chris would send some to me and Sean and then we’d test them out with our wives. We tested out a bunch of different ones and ended up with a garlic-flavored sauce that has a medium heat level. I didn’t want to make something that was too hot because no one would actually enjoy it, but I liked the fact that we toasted the brown sugar, which gave the sauce a black color. It’s really goth, and it’s great on chicken and jerky-type meats. We sold out of the stock we had on Bandcamp, but it’s still available on Common Descent Provisions’ website. If we go through those and the response is good we’ll do another run. It was really cool to see people buying them as Christmas gifts and everything!
The first single off “Mercenary Notes PT.1”, is titled “Bastards Of The World”, which was written after a work-related promotion encounter. Can you tell us about it?
“Bastards of the World” is all about how people’s good intentions can be turned against them. I’ve seen this happen in campaigns I’ve been a part of in the past, and it’s a tactic that works all too well. Just look at someone like Andrew Tate, who says outrageous and offensive things that enrage one group of people, but his actions make him extremely popular with another group.
A few years back, I was approached by a gun manufacturer who wanted me to help them sell a training rifle that looked like an AR-15. But instead of marketing it as a safety gun, they wanted to target ads to gun control advocates and wind them up about the audacity of a company that would make an AR-15 specifically for kids. They had data showing that every time the Daily Show or other left-leaning media outlets talked about guns, there was an uptick in ammo and gun sales. So, it made more sense for them to piss off gun control advocates and bring the gun to market rather than positioning it as a safety tool. I decided not to take the project, and as far as I know, the gun never made it to market. However, it did inspire me to write “Bastards of the World.” There’s a sample in the song that says the key to business is tapping into the irrational organs, and unfortunately, that’s often the case.
It made me feel a little ill to my stomach to think that companies that make vast amounts of money selling items like this, use these horrible actions to increase their sales. How does all this affect you personally, especially as a parent?
As a father, it’s scary to consider how my kids will grow up in a world that’s so different from the one I knew. They’ll be bombarded with messages, stories, and media that are crafted to manipulate their emotions and get certain reactions. When I was growing up, it was one thing to be told that using a certain brand of deodorant or drinking a certain beer would make you more appealing to the opposite sex. Now, my kids are going to come of age in a society where even the news is meant to make them feel a certain way, and the products they use will try to guilt them into thinking they’re immoral, racist, sexist, or misogynistic if they don’t buy them or trust their narrative. There’s a new level of anxiety and mistrust in society that kids who have grown up with the internet will have to face, and it’s crucial that they be savvy enough to recognize when and how their emotions are being exploited and distinguish between what’s rational and what’s not.
Sean Payne of Cyanotic not only appears on the EP but the label, Glitch Mode Recordings, is owned by Sean. how did you end up signing to Glitch Mode and we are gathering you and Sean are pretty tight friends?
I’ve been a fan of Cyanotic for a while, and when I was looking for production help for the new Derision Cult album, my friend Gabe Wilkinson introduced me to Sean. Since he lives in Chicago, it was easy for us to hang out and take our time working on the tracks. Sean is a great guy and we’ve become good friends. We hang out at the Glitch Mode headquarters and at shows at The Metro in Chicago. I also enjoy working with Brad Huston, the guitar player in Cyanotic, who engineered a lot of the EP. We have a lot of fun geeking out about guitar stuff. With Sean, I think our different approaches to writing music – I’m more focused on riffs and hooks and he’s more interested in vibes, feels, and grooves – really come together well on tracks like “Slaves Rebuild” on this EP. Overall, it’s been a great experience working with Sean and the team at Glitch Mode!
Payne and Connelly are not the only big name you have on “Mercenary Notes PT.1”. Can you please tell us about the others and what it has meant to you to both professionally and personally?
It’s been a real pleasure to work with some of my musical heroes on “Mercenary Notes PT.1.” Having the likes of Chris Connelly, Joy Thieves, Reeves Gabrels, and Martin Atkins contribute to the EP was a dream come true for me, both professionally and personally. It’s been amazing to see how their unique talents have shaped the sound of the record, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them as people during the process. Working with Sean Payne as a producer has also been a fantastic experience, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with him and his label, Glitch Mode Recordings. And finally, it’s been a joy to work with Jim Marcus on the artwork for the EP. His understanding of my vision for the project and his ability to bring it to life visually has been a real highlight for me. Overall, “Mercenary Notes PT.1” has been an incredible journey, so I’m thrilled to share it with the world!
There is also slated, a second EP, “Mercenary Notes Pt. 2”, to be released this year, so are you able to spill the chilli beans on what and whom we can expect?
“Part 2 of ‘Mercenary Notes’ is on the way and we’re excited to bring some new surprises to the table! Originally, we started with a dozen tracks and decided to split them into EP’s for a more digestible listen. We’ve got a few potential collaborators in mind and we’re heading to Sean’s studio next week to pick up where we left off with them. The tracks on this EP are a continuation of the first, but with a more abstract and universal theme. We’re also incorporating more non-industrial elements, with one track taking on a bluesy feel inspired by musicians like Albert Collins and Buddy Guy. There are also hints of old-school outlaw country on some tracks, and we even broke out the telecasters on one. We’re still deciding on the final tracklist, but there’s one song that has an industrial twist on the style of Johnny Paycheck and Waylon Jennings. We’ll see if we can make it work!”
I often think artists and especially musicians, that are worth their salt, reflect the world as it is, not just the nice bits but the gritty humanitarian side as well. Do you feel this something you agree with that industrial music can be very political?
Definitely! I think art should reflect the world around you and in many cases, that won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Industrial music has always been political, and I think that’s because of its punk roots. The industrial scene in the 80s was especially political, and I think that’s a good thing. Politics in music can be controversial, but I think most artists who choose to express their views through their music are willing to accept that their listeners may not always agree with them.
For me, Derision Cult isn’t necessarily political in the traditional sense of being right or left or one political issue or another. It’s about thinking for yourself and being your own filter for what’s objective and what isn’t. Whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, my message remains the same: we all live in a world where our views can be manipulated and shaped by others if we let them.
Overall, the EP is powerful and driving but do you see a silver lining behind this rage?
“Mercenary,” the final track on the EP, serves as the culmination of all the rage and intensity that precedes it. It sort of summarizes the chaotic times we’re living in, where it seems like decades can happen in the span of just a few weeks. But I do see a silver lining behind all this rage. We have the opportunity to witness and be a part of a true renaissance period, one that has the potential to bring about incredible technological and scientific advancements. While it may be scary, it’s also incredibly exciting to think about the possibilities that lie ahead. The people that will cure diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and AIDS, and even terraform new planets are already among us. We’re no longer just created in the image of a higher power; we have the power to create our own gods.
Soooo, you have done the hot sauce, what would you really love to be able to offer fans next? Will it be the can of gothic black beans to go with the chilli sauce?
I have no idea how I’d pull it off but I think what I’d really love to offer fans next is something more immersive. Something that goes beyond just buying a CD or a shirt. Maybe something like a virtual reality experience that really puts you in the world of the music. That would be really cool and there’s a lot of directions that could go. And as far as the can of gothic black beans, hahaha well I’ll have to give that some thought. Maybe we can collaborate with Common Descent and come up with some sort of gothic chili recipe. That could be a fun project. But honestly, I’m always open to new ideas and exploring new ways to connect with fans and give them something unique and memorable. So who knows what the future holds!
There is a lot of excitement in the electro-industrial world currently with the fact that Germans, Beborn Beton just released their new single, “Dancer In The Dark“, however the big news is that the single is linked to a brand spanking new album, titled Darkness Falls Again which is slated to drop on the 17th of March, with Dependent Records.
Wonderful, danceable beat, sprinkled light synths that harmonise with the vocals. Speaking of vocals, the last time we heard Netschio singing was on a track with Kill Shelter and it so nice to hear his dulcet tones. The electronics court with the guitar, spinning and melding into a track of perfection.
Oh, Beborn Beton…. how I have missed your eloquently smooth synthpop. There is a real human warmth in their music considering they use electronics and I can guarantee that “Dancer In The Dark” is going draw you in and satisfy your craving for beautifully crafted music.
I had heard of The Singularity,and then when the name Julian Shah-Tayler was connected to this project… I believe my brain went into a series of loops of thinking, wait, isn’t he an actor? He is, if I recall correctly. Well, if you are not familiar, British born Shah-Tayler is The Singularity, now based in the US, and his latest album, Elysium, was released on the 24th of October, recorded between the Bird of Paradigm studio and the TARDIS studio….. but is it bigger on the inside?!
This album seems to have been about a year in the making due to the gradual release of singles, and this could be due to issues in the past two years, i.e., the plague but also from my perspective, a lot of effort and attention has gone into each track. And with fourteen tracks on offer, there is a lot to get into, so we thought we might draw your attention to some of the singles.
“Melt” is about being with the person that truly makes you weak at the knees and yet light as a feather. The general ambience reminds me a lot of Duran Duran in their period of 1993, with their self-titled album that had the amazing “Ordinary World” and “Melt” has that same flow. Chris JOlivas of Berlin fame supplies the drums.
David J. is a solo artist in his own right, but best known as a member of Bauhaus, and he also appears on the track, “The DevilKnows,” laying down the bass, in this rather funky song. The music video is also well worth checking out.
The track “Kintsugi” is breathtaking in both its conviction and sound. A whirlwind of guitar and drums, again percussion by Olivas, with Shah-Tayler singing these beautiful lyrics. For those unfamiliar with the concept of kintsugi, it is a Japanese tradition of not throwing away broken pottery, however, using gold to repair the vessel, which in turn makes it more unique and precious. A metaphor for a once broken heart.
Shah-Tayler doesn’t have to make music, as the acting gig makes far more money than being an alternative musician, but it is very evident he does it because that is where his heart is at. His passion for the avant-garde and darkwave artistry is very deeply ingrained. This then draws together the talents of David J. and Chris J Olivas, as well as MGT, Gene Micofsky,and others. Elysium is a bit synthwave, a bit post-punk, and most importantly, never boring.
French gothic rock group, Divine Shade, is finishing off a year that saw them with a remix by ex-Nine InchNails member Chris Vienna, a twenty date European tour as support for Gary Numan, with the release of the newest single “Stars“, that also features the vocal talents of Shan Moue and production by Ren Toner.
Sometimes there is a longing to go back to our childhood, a time that is meant to have a blend of safety, everything was new and dreams seemed possible, like starring at the star laden sky in wonder. In this vein, the longing in the vocals builds, with the rising of the heavy electronic influence and Moue’s singing, gently caressing the lead vocals in the chorus.
Chic cool darkwave, mixed with an electronic sound bearing the marking of 90s era NIN is how I would I describe “Stars“. Brooding and full of of wanting to be able to touch those lights in the heavens again, DevineShade, through belief and heart, are bringing you the “Stars“.
The industrial machine that is Mach FoX, has teamed up with producer/EBM musican, Zeven Odd Gods, aka D.Corri, and the end product is the single, “A Sickness“, released on the 16th of December.
Slick EBM beats ooze into your ears, picking up your heartbeat. Subtle synths waver in the background, while the electronics deliver the jolts to make your body move and FoX’s vocals are the mantra. The sickness is all consuming, a fever of needing to replace the soft human flesh, that is so unreliable, with cybernetics.
The constant augmentation to become more machine has become “The Sickness“. FoX’s vocals/lyrics/arrangement, really blends in very well with the music production of Zeven Odd Gods, complimenting each other. So, if this is the sickness, hopefully there is no cure.
Alexander Leonard Donat... teacher, marathon runner, musician, man behind the label Blackjack IlluministRecords, co-conspirator for several musical acts, driving force behind his own project Vlimmer and very possibly a crime fighter by night (just saying Vlimmer man has a certain ring to it!). November saw Vlimmer’s second, full length album, Menschenleere, enter the watery light of day.
The first tastes of forbidden fruit came our way in the form of the two singles, the rhythm filled darkwave tendrils of “Erdgeruch” and the wondrously 80s inspired eccentricity of “Kronzeuge“. There are such gems hidden within, such as “Mathematik” with its giddy synths that remind me so much of the electronic trailblazer, John Foxx, even more so for the fact his backing band were The Maths.
“Noposition” has a magical trance like quality within its warm embracing beats, while “Schwimmhand” leaves you not only amazed by the sheer brilliance but also experiencing tingles through your extremities. Even the title track has an ancient feel, whilst playing with time signatures. “Menschenleere” is vast and echoing in the chamber of what might not be a pained reality.
Yes you can dance to Vlimmer, but for me, there is something akin to multiple storylines. Each track is crafted just so, this one with a more science fiction vibe, another with more sombre tones and yet another with a spinning glorious shoegaze vision. All held together by Donat’s vocals, be they happy, sad or even imploring.
Vlimmer is the centre of this world he has created, and has the knack of spinning his musical tales that capture us up into this web of darkwave delights. Even better is the fact that Alexander touches back to the styles that have influenced him but he never let’s them consume him, rather experimenting to create tracks that encapsulate his music journey. Beautiful, fragile and ashened songs to drink, dance to, and watch the moon…Menschenleere(Deserted)
A new single was released on the MachinaAd Noctem label for electronic project, Edge Of Decipher, which features the vocals of Priestessdeath. “The Waves” will also appear on Edge Of Decipher’s soon to be unleashed album, in February 2023.
The cool electronic waters wash over you, submerging your senses, while Priestessdeath is the voice and embodiment of the waves, giving them a spiritual quality…. deities that are free flowing and unquantifiable. The poetic lyrics are by Edge Of Decipher, an ode to an unquenchable passion.
The b-side is a track called “High Rise“, lyrics penned and performed by Priestessdeath. Shimmering synths are at odds with the fuzzed vocals, singing spiralling through space, caught by the gravitational pull of heavenly bodies, leaving a trail of tinkling notes in the wake.
The last two tracks are instrumental versions of “The Waves” and “High Rise” which are Edge Of Decipher’s bread and butter, flowing effortless, a journey on space tide, controlled by moonbeams. That’s the beauty of these tracks. The vocals by Priestessdeath give the music another facet and yet you can easily let your imagine run away with the instrumental. I suggest you let “TheWaves” take you.
LMX has released his third album, Habits & Addictions, on the Meshwork Music label, as of October the 28th. Keep in mind that this German electro-pop musician isn’t even twenty yet…….
There is occasionally, a harder edge to this music than you think. “Addiction” has elements of industrial experimentation, while the circling fragile sadness of “Not Made For This” is in the morose synths even with the constant paced rhythm.
There are beautiful synth lines in the spiralling “More Time” with almost an 80s feel to it, then you have a kind of ambient euro dance thing going on with “That Summer“. The heart rending “Stay” is yet another facet of the performer and writer, with such a simple track that bares his soul. In all, there are ten tracks, all flourishing these incredible electronics and lyrics.
I know that it is the current rage to use those vocal modulation thingies to give the singing that echoing tone but I’m not a great fan of it, especially when you can hear the fact they can sing. I really wanted to hear LMX without it, however I’m sure maybe it’s just one of my foibles and I am fairly certain there is a multitude out there that absolutely love it. Other than that little quibble, it’s a really excellent dark pop album and some tracks did become embedded into the old brain box, refusing to leave.
LMX is going to have a long future in the music scene, if this is to go by and he does have a great pedigree, being the son of X Marks The Pedwalk’s ESTEFANÍA and SEVREN NI-ARB, who also helped produce this album. Habits &Addictions is emotion filled, raw and yet, in the end, looking for the light, LMX might become your addiction.