Posts Tagged ‘goth’

Electro-pop artist EVA X has just unveiled the new video for her single, "Machine."  The video was directed, shot and edited by Erik Gustafson (GRENDEL / ADORATION DESTROYED).

About the song: "Machine" is the first look at EVA X’s upcoming album, I Dream Of A Reality. EVA X has the following to say about the song and its story: "I have a complicated relationship with my body. I do love it, but sometimes I wish it was different. I wrote "Machine" in a vulnerable spot, when I’d have given anything to feel beautiful like other women on social media. Chasing that aesthetic with injections and makeup was powerful, but also scary – I could create the face and body I wanted, but what would happen when it wore off? I took all of these tangled feelings and poured them into "Machine". When I brought the demo to my co-producers, Shane and Adam immediately jumped on it, bringing it to life with a frenetic energy that captured perfectly how alluring and isolating that illusion can be. In the music video, I wanted to explore what being beautiful in the alternative community looks and feels like, and how far we go for aesthetics. I taught myself choreography to capture the movement I wanted. Erik and I designed a video that captured both the sexiness I wanted and the reality of cutting and injecting ourselves for it."

Watch the video here:

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10th September 2021

James Wells

Whoever said goths and industrialists have no sense of humour? Or that they hate pop? It’s long been a myth perpetuated by outsiders pedalling stereotypes that goths and fans of industrial music are moody, po-faced twats who mope around looking glum while listening to depressing music and reading depressing literature. Cheer up goth – have an Irn Bru! The early noughties advertising slogan pretty much sums up the popular perception of anyone with dyed black hair and black clothes, but in a position of polarity to so many straights who are crying on the inside, you’ll likely find adherents of shadier subcultures are laughing on the inside, while rolling their eyes at the normies.

There’s a long history of whacky covers going right back to the post-punk roots of the genre, with Bauhaus and The Sisters of Mercy making some inspired cover choices spanning ABBA to Dolly Parton, not to mention Fields of the Nephilim’s stunning take on Roxy Music’s ‘In Every Dreamhome a Heartache’, and Revolting Cocks’ crazed, audacious ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy’.

And if the outré cover has over time become rather standard form, there’s always room for a good one, and this, people, is a good one, courtesy of LA-based quartet FleischKrieg, who you’d never guess were influenced by Rammstein and 3TEETH.

Lifted from the forthcoming FleischKrieg album, Herzblut, due out in October of this year, they’ve cranked up the sleaze for this one. It may be a fairly straight cover, but it amplifies the original eightieness and adds a while lot of grind. Instead of blasting up the guitars, the synths are more grating, the drums bigger, more explosive, and of course, it’s the gritty metal vocals that really define it. If it’s a shade predictable in its straight-up approach, then it makes up for it just by being so damn solid. Hurgh!

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24th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Pink Turns Blue have been around practically forever, having formed in 1985, and while they may not be widely regarded among the first wave of goth acts, they very much emerged from that milieu as a duo with a drum machine, and what they’ve achieved over so many of their peers while lingering on the peripheries is longevity. Having re-emerged in 2003 after an eight-year hiatus, they’ve continued to mine the classic post-punk seam that’s distinctively theirs, due in no small part to Mic Jogwer’s vocals. And of course, what goes around comes around. Their return in the early years of the new millennium was well-timed, coinciding with the point at which the post-punk renaissance bloomed with the likes of Editors and Interpol breaking through. There were of course countless also-rans, and bands who emerged but failed to fulfil their promise, but nevertheless, time has proven that the style has remained current, and the darker the times, the greater the craving for dark tunes, and this is where Pink Turns Blue really prove to be as contemporary and vital as ever.

Their eleventh album was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered during lockdown in their Berlin studio, and the first thing that strikes about Tainted is just how bleak it is. It’s achingly majestic, it’s magnificent, and possesses some wonderful hooks and choruses, but there’s an all-pervading atmosphere of sadness, of melancholy that’s draped over every beat and radiates from every note. Glimmers of positivity are dampened by an air of resignation, optimism doused with defeat. The next thing that soon becomes apparent is just how consistent the album is. It’s not only all killer, but had a remarkable cohesion. It’s true that that for cohesion you might interpret sameness, and they do operate with a fairly limited sonic palette. One suspect this is at least in part the result of the material being the product of three guys in a studio without any external input or interference.

But working within such limitations places the focus on the songwriting, on the tunes, on the delivery, instead of throwing in all sorts of fancy stuff.

The guitar to opener ‘Not Even Trying’ evokes the into to ‘Severina’ by ‘The Mission’, and it’s got that same solid four-four strike on every beat bassline that Craig Adams made his signature back in the early days of The Sisters of Mercy, and which has become something of a defining feature for so many gothy post-punk bands, and it makes the song an instant grab. ‘I’m not even trying’, Jowger admits blankly, as if admitting defeat from the outset, and setting the pessimistic tone that echoes through single cut ‘There Must Be So Much More’. It’s a song of yearning, of questing, and of determinism, and a song Editors would have likely killed to have penned for one of their first two albums.

This isn’t an album of depression, but the sound of downward-facing defeat, of staring at the ground and wondering where it all went wrong. ‘Never Give Up’ encapsulates the conflict, the inner turmoil of staring emptiness and defeat straight in the face and realising there are only two choices. But to never give up is not a positive thing, merely the stubbornness that comes from not knowing what else to do.

The bass and guitar are melded together in a tunnel of chorus and reverb, and tied to a relentless drum track, and it’s gripping and compelling. ‘Why Not Save the World’ has heavy echoes of mid-80s Depeche Mode and would sit comfortably on a She Wants Revenge album, while ‘I’m Gonna Hold You’ comes on like New Order as covered by A Place to Bury Strangers, with a nagging bass and brittle guitar that grips hard.

Just as Robert Smith can make a skippy pop song sound tear-jerkingly sad, so when Jowger sings of the joys of ‘a new day’, it’s with a wistful melancholy that aches deep and you feel something tug in your chest as you swallow it down, that inexplicable sadness. ‘Listen to the bumble bee’ he sings on ‘Summertime’, and it’s carried a way on a chiming jangle of guitars that are so wistful, while the tone is of deep nostalgia. A perfect sunny day can have its joy marred by the realisation that it isn’t quite as perfect as sunny days of a time gone by, happy, carefree times that will forever be trapped in the memory as magical, but now faded and never to be recreated.

The song structures are comparatively simple and straightforward, and built around repetitive chord sequences and guitar motifs, and there’s nothing fancy about any of the playing – which is absolutely key to the success.

Any fan of Interpol or Editors would do well to explore Tainted – but then again, so would any fan of not only post-punk, but anyone with ears and with a heart and soul. It’s a masterful work in music of the mood. The mood is low, the mood is sad, and this is an album of real depth that speaks and resonates beyond the immediate.

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12th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Cyborg Amok’s eponymous debut. Sure, there’s the press release, and no, it’s not lazy journalism to take cribs and pointers from press releases. This one forewarns that Cyborg Amok ‘resides somewhere between the brilliance of twilight and the apocalyptic darkness. Their gothic infused synth-rock sound delivers the listener to a panorama of synthetic waves, twisted organic tones and a slightly pop crust … the language angels speak in the darkness.’

I don’t entirely compute the implications of this, can’t even really unravel them, not least of all because I can’t always grasp what passes for ‘gothic’ these days having lost the thread some time in the mid to late 90s with the emergence of cybergoth, which sounded just like so much bad techno to me, and a million miles from the post-punk origins of the genre, and the subsequent ‘waves’ of goth which coincided with myriad hybrid mutant strains. Perhaps I am something of a pursuit in my personal tastes, but as a critic, I try to be more accommodating. But sometimes, you just have to accept that music is music and it’s either good or bad, because your audience are unlikely to share your prejudicial quirks.

Cyborg Amok is Greg Bullock (formerly the keyboardist with RealEyes and Shamen) and drummer Brydon Bullock (no relation as far as is obvious), and their debut album is in fact bringing together their first two (now deleted) EPs, so, if I’m being picky it’s not really a debut album but a compilation (which is also true of The March Violets’ Natural History among others. Not that it detracts from the force of these seven songs pulled together in one place. Oh no. Cyborg Amok kicks.

‘Burden Away’ brings bulldozing bass and stuttering mechanised drums. The rhythm guitar trudges and grinds, while Greg’s brooding baritone vocals registers in the ribcage – but while it’s so much industrial grind, the lead guitars are warped country, and there’s a twangy inflection in the vocals to match. It’s solid, but if you’re looking for a pigeonhole, you’re going to struggle. Things get even more complicated with ‘Still Too Far Out’, which straddles Nightbreed-flavoured second/third wave goth with its organ synth sounds evoking sepulchral gloom against guitars that fizz in a swathe of chorus and flange… and then there’s a fuck-off keyboard solo that’s B-Movie and Ultravox and it may be incongruous by 2020s standards, but perfectly in place in context of those precursors.

With its space-themed title and snarling, bulbous, electronics, ‘Dancing on the Floor of the Sea of Tranquillity’ provides more of the vibes the moniker and title perhaps evoke, and if it suggests extravagant prog enormity, it’s no criticism to say that after its dark, stark intro, it slips towards 80s electropop in the vein of A-Ha.

There are some Cure-esque moments scattered about the album, too, but then this is an album, that assimilated huge swathes of 80s that’s not exactly band-specific, but the zeitgeist.

There’s some overblown prog guitar that’s Yngwie Malmsteen overdone, but once they’re done with the moments of indulgence (‘Choice Not Taken’ is perhaps the greatest showcase of guilt), they deliver some impressive musical moments, where the ambition is equalled by the ability.

They’re at their best when they keep it minimal, sparse, nailed down: last track ‘Another Turn’ bears solid – and favourable – comparisons to Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, with its steely beats and grey, steely guitars backing a gruff, ragged vocal delivery. It’s a style that works well, and while this compilation must provide a point at which to assess the trajectory of their career, the evidence here is that they’re doing everything right and need to forge ahead and capitalise on their work so far, because this is a strong dark album.

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6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s not always easy to remember – what you’ve said to whom, what you’ve written before, if you’ve really experienced something or simply dreamed it. You’d think it would have become easier with not really going anywhere or speaking to anyone for a year and a half, but in my experience, the opposite is true. Everything blurs. So if I’ve mentioned any off this before, if I’ve touched on how electrogoth releases often clump together, or how genre tropes can so often be so much meh, then I apologise, but only a little. Reviews are, after all, personal, a personal response to musical release, and objectivity only cuts so far., meaning that this personal response, well, it’s all spilling from a review-a-day brain, dayjob and parenting and the confusion of every day melting into the next. It’s been a relentless barrage of bad news in the media, as well as from friends and relatives. By no means has all of the anguish and suffering been attributable to the virus – more often than not it’s been collateral resulting from lockdowns and a sustained sense of panic. We’re biologically designed to experience fear in short bursts. Fight or flight. To be trapped, immobile, powerless, is beyond comprehension, and there is no space to process grief and trauma in a normal way.

It’s against this backdrop that Eric Kristoffer developed the new unitcode:machine album, Themes For A Collapsing Empire. It’s very much an example off utilising a creative outlet as a form of therapy, with the blurbage describing Themes For A Collapsing Empire as ‘a journey through the mind of Eric Kristoffer after a series of tragic events that 2020 brought. It explores a path of loss and regret, and struggling to cope with such stressful personal events while also trying to endure a global pandemic’.

Electro-industrial isn’t a genre one immediately associates with emotional resonance, but with Themes For A Collapsing Empire, unitcode:machine really strike a level that balances thumping beats and melodies that convey the human aspect of the lyrical content. That said, the stark, mechanised percussion and cold synths highlight the bleakness of it all – and by it all, I do mean it all. Step back and survey the scene: August 2021 versus two years ago. It’s a different world, and so many have lost so much – not just loves ones, but connections, livelihoods, sense of self and place in the world. Where is it all heading? Where will it end? Will it end? With climate change an inescapable backdrop to societies which have never been more divided, how do we return from here? Do we? Can we? It’s not just an empire that’s collapsing, but – not to be overly dramatic – human civilisation itself. Themes For A Collapsing Empire feels like an essential soundtrack to this existential anxiety. Stark and dark, it’s reflective, paranoid, gloomy, and it’s very much song-orientated, with kicking choruses being a defining feature.

‘Falling Down’ is a clear standout, but there are plenty of strong tracks and easy single selections alongside it: Themes For A Collapsing Empire packs in the hooks and solid choruses, but without being remotely lame or overtly commercial – and that’s a real skill. Everything just flows, while at the same time punching you in the face.

With nine tightly-structured songs all clocking in under four-and-a-half minutes, Themes For A Collapsing Empire feels like a concise statement, and an album with strongly-defined parameters and an intense focus, with the end result being all killer.

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Blaggers Records – 27th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The Kecks go goth with their new single! Well, perhaps not quite, but ‘Tonight Might Be Different’ is certainly a slide down into darker territory compared to its predecessor, ‘All for Me’. It’s got a slinky bassline and a smooth but stutter lead guitar line that hints of late-night smokiness and even a dash of desperate sleaze. It’s not a radical shift in real terms: ‘All for Me’ made nods toward early Pulp, and this, too, expands on their Fire years death disco indie stylings, the combining the gloom and catchiness of tracks like ‘My Legendary Girlfriend’.

Lyrically, it’s an interesting one, veering between paranoia and frustration that are both relevant and relatable to many as Lennart Uschmann reflects ‘I’m so busy giving everybody else attention / My friendship starts to feel more like a disease’. But then again, these thoughts emerge from a jumble of confusion, a state which finds him ‘coming home too late and messing up the place by being way too stoned.’

Meanwhile, outside, ‘They’re kicking down the doors and making lots of noise’, and it’s all very visual, even if it is cut-up and fragmentary. It could, and probably should, all be a horrible and incoherent mess, but the end result is far from it, and it’s all in the execution.

Switching from a sinewy lead guitar to a chorus-coated echo-heavy picked rhythm that’s got that circa 1984 post-punk sound, the punchy drumming and solid bass bring a real rock swagger, and it all comes together to make for their strongest single cut yet.

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Gothic/Industrial artist, Nuda has just unveiled her new video for the track, ‘What Did You Want To Happen?’ The track appears on her latest album, Mindful Tragedies.  It deals with the struggle with mental health that Nuda has had for years.

Nuda was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2017. There were some extremely dark moments for her and when they were shared, her therapist said something that stuck in her mind. She said, “Say if you went through with it, and you went away; what did you want to happen?”

That moment was eye opening and helped Nuda be present to seeing the overall message: that there is more support and love than you may not see when you’re buried in the darkness. You can get through this, you aren’t alone, and people dearly care about you…

Possessed Tranquility typically held lyrics that spoke to mental health struggles. When bandmember Anthony shared his version, it was a moment where Nuda realized, this song can’t go out there without these vocals.

Watch ‘What Did You Want to Happen?’ here:

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Cold Transmission Music – 6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, an album grabs you in just a matter of bars: The Cold Field’s Hollows is one of those rare records. Instinctively, the swathes of glacial synth draped over insistent, crisp and dominant drumming and paired with brittle, fractal guitars are pure Disintegration. So then it all cam down to the question of the vocals: would they spoil it? It’s a common thing, especially with goth bands. Musically, it’s on-point, but then there’s some bozo who can’t carry a tune in a bucket comes on like a cross between a baritone Morrissey and Kermit and ruins it. Not so here: Cold Field’s vocals are low in the mix and heavily processed, adding to the atmosphere and the mood, and it’s more Seventeen Seconds in terms of mix and it works so well.

As the press release details, ‘Conceived when hospitalized, songwriter and producer Ian Messenger wrote and produced a prolific forty-odd dark-minded songs the following year, of which ten were chosen for Hollows… Depressive themes of gloom and emptiness pervade the album but there is also a triumph against the darkness, a fist-waving into the void, and intimacy along with detachment.’

Drum machines and reverb are, I’ve found, the most precise routes to articulating darkness and detachment. It’s all in the way the drum machine strips away the human heart from the sound and the process, and reverb creates distance and separation. While most rock / metal-leaning genres shun drum machines (with notable exceptions including Big Black, Metal Urbain, Pitch Shifter and Godflesh, who harnessed the potential for immense power and relentless drive through sequenced beats), goth has embraced and run with it thanks largely to the way The Sisters of Mercy and The March Violets really took a grasp on how a tight bass welded to a mechanical rhythm has an effect that’s more or less hardwired. You don’t choose to dig this – it hooks you and becomes your life.

Hollows is faultless not only in its absorption and assimilation, but in its quality of songcrafting and performance.

‘Endless Ending’ ratchets up the mechanized bleakness, a full-on gonzoid goth groove, the guitars and synths blur together in an FX-laden wash while the bass drives hard against that non-stop, full-free rhythm that just thumps away hard. ‘Beauty—Expired’ is a bleak barnstormer, melding The Jesus and Mary Chain’s overloading guitars with the rockist tendencies of James Ray’s Gangwar with the psychedelia of A Place to Bury Strangers.

‘You Walk Away’ is more overtly electro, more New Order, but then again, with the heavy twang of a reverby guitar and blank monotone vocal, it’s Movement that it references above anything else, meaning it’s stark, bleak, and strangely affecting. It’s perhaps hard to explain without some sort of context or background, or a priori knowledge. You’re either in the headspace, or you’re not, but if you are, the you’ll know. And this speaks to that space, whether it’s comfortable or not.

The final track, ‘Into the Light’ stands out for its buoyancy, and the nagging guitar break again leans heavily on New Order – specifically ‘Ceremony’. But when executed with such panache, there’s no way to criticise this or any aspect of Hollows. It may be 2021, but this is an album that belongs to the early 80s. and in its mood, its atmosphere, its production, Hollows absolutely nails it.

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Gothic/Industrial Metal band AUTUMN STAY have just unveiled their new video for the single, ‘Closer To The Edge’.

Lyrically, the song dives into the dark side of being an artist and how often artists push themselves to the very brink of insanity. This song has everything from heavy hitting guitars to head bopping synth, to vocal harmonies that make you feel like you’re listening to a Sunday church choir!

Watch the video here:

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End Of The Trail Records – 13th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

In a world of intertext, whereby everything references something else, there’s something that goes beyond homage in referencing one’s influences in naming your band. Sure, it’s a nifty short-cut signpost indicating influences and origins, but Australian act Burning Jacobs Ladder – essentially the vehicle for Jake T Johnson – takes its name from a song by Mark Lanegan. This makes it cool practically by default, but it helps that BJL has got the songs to back it up.

With ‘Danger in Me’ he’s brought together a classic post-punk vibe with an early 90s alternative swagger. There are hints of late Psychedelic Furs later Jesus and Mary Chain, delivered with the knowing coolness of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Also in the mix is a gothy element, that makes something of a nod to the bombast of The Mission, but equally worthy of comparisons to the more contemporary Mayflower Madame. If this seems like a lot of touchstones and reference points, it serves to highlight just how strong a handle Johnson has on the style and the sound, and it all comes together perfectly here.

‘Danger In Me’ has a darkness and density, and it’s propelled by a tight, crisp drum track, chugging rhythm guitar, and an insistent four-square bassline of the kind that thrums along at just the right pace to elevate the pulse just that little bit (and reminds me more than just a little bit of ‘More’ by The Sisters of Mercy, who were always the kings of that tight three- or four-chord sequence thudded out with a strike on each beat). And then there’s the reverb, pitched just so, and the lead guitar sizzles around Johnson’s vocals as he wrestles with internal conflict.

Disclosure: I’m an absolute sucker for this strain of groove-orientated post-punk – but this is one of the best examples I’ve heard in a while: truly top drawer.