Thursday, December 24, 2015
the Top 10 Goth Albums of 2015
Goth has grown up her at Abysmal Hymns and gotten it's own top 10, this used to the top goth/industrial albums, now we can be tragic and alone. Some of these artists might not self indentify as goth, some might be post-punk, but if they are dark enough they are here, at least the best of the best are here. So here's the top ten goth albums of 2015, click on the review links for streams.
10-Marilyn Manson :" the Pale Emperor"
I told myself this is Marilyn Manson's last chance. It only took the first two songs to convince me it was better than his , not much could have been worse. He is back similar path he started down with "Eat Me Drink Me" . The guitar sound is still not metal... or industrial, he is taking a cue from Reznor in this regard though still more guitar focused than Nine Inch Nails.It does rock a little harder on "Deep Six" and he also screams a little more but it's a far cry from his hardest rocking moments. I like the theme song to the show "Salem", "Cupid Carries A Gun" that he included on this album more than I like the show. Songs like "The Third Day of a Seven Day Binge" carry good groove, which ended up getting stuck in my head and thus allowing this album to grow on me in a big way.
9- Christian Death :" Root of all Evilution"
Valor is a divisive name when it comes to this band, but lets face if even if we wanted to side with Rozz Williams , he is dead and truth be told valor's worse is still better than the noise that was Pre-mature Ejaculation. Maitri is still on board as is drummer Jason, who I am assuming was the same drummer I same them on tour with a few years ago. It has a bigger a more dramatic sound, they have grown out of death rock and this is closer to Siouxsie. Their are exotic instruments building the aural landscape behind them. Valor is using a weird more whispered than sung voice , that makes him sounds a little more like Rozz than his gothier baritone. In keeping with the religious imagery he asks if you are ready for the rapture. If you want me to compare this album to " Only Theater of Pain" its not happening. There are plenty of spooky sounds abounding, its a much different feel to the halloweenish punk rock of the dirty drug days and Halloween for the sake of Halloween. Maitri's voice sounds better than I recall it ever sounding. Three songs in and I would say she is surpassing Valor in this regard. Give these guys a chance even if you are hung up on Rozz.
8-Sonic Jesus :"Neither Virtue Nor Anger'"
My first thought on this project out of Italy a listen was ... Interpol. But this albums carries a dreamier drone than those guys normally dip into these days. When they T get louder than most indie rock you would might hear this side of Mogwai. The vocals stay at a bleak baritone, that reminds me of some of A Place to Bury Strangers more melodic moments. It comes close to being post-punk and if they rock any more than this they will cross the line over into it. Though the attitude doesn't strike me as quiet as sardonic. "Reich" even finds female vocals joining in to push it's shadowy shuffle over into more post-punk territory.These guys are onto something good, while their influences bubble to the surface they have created something that is there own.
America thank you for your gallant attempt at bringing post-punk back now it's time to hand things off to Northern Europe. Svart Records is branching out to bring you this Helsinki based band Kesa who has a wide range of sounds at their command to pay homage to 80s post-punk. From the first song it's bass propelled and slightly militant, the album cover looks like a joke but these guys are serious as all hell. "Tuuli kaantyy" they show they are able to balance out the cold stark march with some groove and atmosphere. The running joke in Europe is "What do you call some one who only speaks one language"..."an American" , but those of you who are stateside and expect your music delivered to you in English might balk at this album and that's fine you can miss out.
These guys have assembled pieces of many genres and pasted them together into something that is very much their own.The dramatic piano intro was unexpected as I assumed this was going to be more of a indie rock thing than some weird progressive goth. I can hear a slight Tori Amos influence , but the vocally are very over wrought and passionate and not so Kate Bush tinged.No the same time she she is not a goth singer in the vein of Siouxise either, but more along the lines of a less operatic Nightwish or the Gathering. Her influences seem all over the place as their is even a country tinge to her voice on "After Fall". It is draped in majestic elegance. The guitar twinkle around the song rather than going for the typical chug. This a real solid listen that grows on me with every spin and will make its way over the the sacred iPod, fans of bands like Marriages ...this is a must.
5->Grave Pleasures-"Dream Crash"
It is time for me to put an end to my denial, Grave Pleasures is not Beast Milk just changing their name. They have broken up and this is the new band. Kvohst is in the band and so is the bassist from Beast Milk. The new members are the former drummer of In Solitude and the guitarists from the Oath and Oranssi Pazuzu. Despite the more metal pedigree, they do not have the heft in their drive Beast Milk had. They hit the "Edge of Seventeen" like beat that In Solitude used on the song "Crying Wolves." Kvohst takes on a higher wavering death rock tone to his voice on the opening song.But at this albums dark heart this is more of a goth band than a metal band. Calling them death rock would be a stretch as they are far too polished and it lacks the raw smacked out punk feel. Not all punk is abandoned they touch upon it on "Future Shock " that also collides into a metal pound as well. It might not be Beastmik but they are worthy in their own right.
Once you get past the fact that "Neo Folk" these days generally means owing the totality of their sound to Death In June , there's some decent stuff out there one of those being the mysterious duo Hard Reign. Hard Reign doesn't let the Death in June influence stop them in their tracks. They took it and ran to some dark drug drenched alleyways. In fact calling this doom folk might apply more to these guys even when the guitar picks it's strum up over a dirge like pace. The throw on a coat of noise on the songs and let it drip off the solemn melodies.Based of the fact this album keep getting played without me getting tired of it and Hard Reign does such a splendid job of delving in darker regions. From a songwriting perspective this this similar to Hateful Abandon in the way they layer more sounds on top of a single theme and keep building. However these guys are much more engaging in the manner they go about this.
3- Rasputina : "Unknown"
A long time fan of these gals, to the point we were actually trying to get them to play our back when it was originally slated for Halloween. Right from the first song has all the elements that you could want from them. The smart lyrics and overlapping harmonies. The album was recorded in three weeks and is about how Melora was hacked and stalked through the Cloud.the songs are accessible enough to draw those not as familiar in , but still retain the sound long time fans want. Unless you find it otherwise this album is only available on cd and there are no bandcamping or sounds on clouds for it.
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2- Them are Us Too: "Remain"
Right from the first song Kennedy Ashlyn Wenning's voice makes you take notice, before "The Problem With Red Heads" allows her to shed some of the Elizabeth Fraser worship when the duo drifts into an alluringly dreamy rock. Sure this would not have been out of place on 4AD, in the 80s and the band encourages these comparisons. This also reminds of the Gatherings post- metal moments. Her choice of melodies shows she cares abut crafting something that is not just a tribute. I can almost hear more Cure than Cocteau Twins until Cash Askew's guitar comes to prove he has discovered the lost secrets to Robin Guthrie's sound.Their influences might be worn on their sleeves ,but lets face it the Cocteau Twins are never going to make another album or tour again.
1- Chelsea Wolfe -Abyss
This might not have been the metal album every one hope it would be but it all works together perfectly. She might balk at being on this list because she denied begin goth when I interviewed her, though she said she like Nick Cave and the Cocteau Twins so she is in denial. This album might not be metal but it does have some pounding beauty. She stays true to her ethereal vocal style which works well over the hammering beats. Though "Iron Moon" seemed surprisingly heavy when the song was first released in the context of the album she is giving you are breather. Even more experimental than "Pain is Beauty" the fuzzed out bass to "Dragged Out" rumbles over her ghostly plea that sits back into the dark background. The chorus builds into a more industrial din as the song expands and contracts.he has not disappointed, in fact exceeded expectations and the bar was raised really high. I didn't think she could beat "Pain is Beauty" , but that is what has happened.