Monday, December 25, 2017
The Top 10 Goth / Industrial Albums of 2017
Goth is never just one genre so this is music too dark to fall into indie rock or punk. Industrial is too heavy to be electronica or edm. Over the years various artists have bounced from one list to another. Chelsea Wolfe focuses more on rocking out these day to fall here with her latest and the new Nine Inch Nails not being heavy enough. The old school legends continue to hold their claim to the genre, though six to four leaning in favor of newer acts. The ranking this year was determined by what I listened to the most. I defaulted to my LastFm page for this data. If you require further explanation I included a blip at the end of each entry to clarify why one album beat out the other. So lets get dark I am pressing publish to this baby at Midnight so we stay goth as fuck going into the Top 10 Goth and Industrial albums of 2017.
10-Glaare -"To Deaf and Day"
If you took some shoe gazing guitar and married to female fronted dark-wave it would result in something similar to the California band Glaare. I can appreciate the Siouxsie influence is there but it doesn't define the totality of their existence. At times this album is emotionally powerful and possesses some captivating beats with varied amounts of hypnosis mixed in with post-punk.
9-Lock Howl -"Pareidolia"
Driven by gothy crooned vocals have more of a Beastmilk feel to them. These guys ride the fence between goth and metal sometimes becoming more progressive with a neo-classical tone in play that works with the over all sound it is weird hearing this in the context of the more lo-fi production. More influenced by the revivalist bands than actually pulling from Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus like some reviews might suggest. There is a more 80s metal guitar tone to "Into the Darkness, Into the Unknown" which sometimes flirt with an Emperor direction the chorus flirts with. 'Graveless" is the first song that really turns to older goth . It also collides with metal and it's that drive that powered this out over Glaare.
8- Stoneburner - "the Agony Box"
One half of Ego Likeness, this album often finds samples standing in the place of where vocals would normal be the focus is more on the beats and mood than Ego Likeness. This album is a tribute to Frank Herbert's Dune book series which is not horror , though dark for sci-fi. He keeps the spice flowing with the grooves and sometimes chanted vocals. I really like the middle eastern vibe that drives many of of the songs as the exotic nature of add a darker tone, like a techno version of Dead Can Dance.It's this dynamic range that propelled this album over Lock Howl.
7-Death of Lovers- "the Acrobat "
Their first album was darker falling somewhere between death rock and shoe-gaze. Their sophomore release finds the band now growing up through the 80s into new wave. You can here touches of Flock of Seagulls on the opener, then on the second the synths take over. It bouncy and upbeat, detached but happy. The vocals show signs of improvement as the melodies slide smoother over the arrangements and they are singing out rather than allowing the vocals to lose themselves in the murky mix. Despite not being as dark as their previous album the songs are well written enough to put it over Stoneburner.
6- Night Sins-"Dancing Chrome"
The first thing that hit me about the Philly act's new album is the depth and maturity. By the second song it's apparent there is more of an electronic thing going on here. It's less Sisters of Mercy then their previous releases though the vocals are still uttered from a coffin and mixed back behind the new wave synths. There is a more experimental edge to it. The album grew on me with repeat listens and will not disappoint any one who is already into them though they stick pretty true to who they are up to this point so I don't see it really wining over a larger audience either
5-Black Mare- "Death Magick Mother"
Despite the p/r around this project trying to give it a political slant, this is ethereal goth with an organic band behind it. This project is the work of Ides of Gemini member Sera Timms. It is less inclined towards metal than her other band. Imagine Switchblade Symphony with a dark indie rock band behind them rather than synths and drum machines. I am not sure that drum machines are not involved as it sounds like they certainly could be.I was fully prepared for this to be a Chelsea Wolfe knock off , but aside from being female singers with a ghostly approach to dark atmospheric music there is not much common ground.<
6-Rope Sect -"Personae Ingratae"
Lyrically this album carries a fair share of bleak death worship. For a trio they kick up a pretty big sound. Combining many different sonics from the grunge pound of the drums to a hollow guitar that cries out into the desert night. The vocals are too dead pan in their croon to strike me as death rock. this is dark enough overall to earn it's place on this list and it's the drugged attitude that strikes the loudest chord for it's the real life grit that put it over Black Mare.
5-Godflesh -"Post Self"
Justin Broadrick's flag-ship project has been many things over the years some heavier than other's . This time around should please fans of the earlier incarnation as it is heavier. The vocals have a snarl to them. Moving with more of a metallic stomp,this return to the more to industrial side of the based will induce an involuntary head bob with it's machine driven heaviness. These grooves are what powered it over Rope Sect.
4-Gary Numan - "Savage"
In many ways Numan is the forefather of the brand of dark wave/ future pop or whatever else you want to label what goth kids are dancing to these days. In his day it was a darker take on what was being called new wave. Numan did not go back and try to re-create the sounds that made his hits grace the radio. He has chosen to take a stark look at the world around him and translate it into his own vision of musical science fiction. Numan's voice sounds great At times this album shows what he learned from his time spent with Fear Factory as there is a more industrial slant to it.
3-Street Sects-"Rat Jacket"
The first thing that stood out about this album was far the vocals have come. This puts it more in the realm of many of the industrial influenced bands from the 90s . The influences are all over the place though as some of the grooves even remind me Fugazi. The vocals to go into harsher yells and growls when the dynamics call for it. This is a more experimental turn for the band with the vocals holding it together as the arrangement oddly shifts in a very chaotic fashion. I think samples are used very well in this album, and add to the atmosphere, though I obviously have a soft spot when reminded of music from this era.
2-Marilyn Manson-"Heaven Upside Down"
I can celebrate the return of distorted guitar.It is a fact that this album is angrier than "Pale Emperor". Speaking of that album it's the same band that played on "Pale Emperor " which has returned for "Heaven Upside Down". The beats get a little more interesting as the album progresses. Some of the more bluesy undercurrents of the previous album begin to return. With Marilyn Manson I want him to be as dark as possible but still have groove and melody. It seems like this is where he is going and when he does step back into the 90s it's some of the albums best moments.He is remembering who he is. It's his keen sense of songwriting that beats out the more avant garde Street Sects.
1-KMFDM- "Hell Yeah"
The legendary act who walks the line between electro and industrial returns like a drug against war, stronger than maybe not ever before, but certainly more powerful than most of the albums since Tohuvabohu. I am glad the guitar is receiving more focus on this album which makes songs like the opening track sound more like their classic work. The vocals work really well over the groove and the guitar accents the chorus. It's not until the more dancey Lucia track " Freak Flag" that we begin getting mixed messages from the band who was just telling us only the tough with survive. They begin wanting you to embrace individuality. This would not be a problem if their name didn't mean "no pity for the majority". This is the band that once instructed us to free our hate. Aside from this is pretty much a flawless album that earns repeat listens with ease and stands right behind their classic material. When KMFDM is on their A-game, even Manson's best moments can't touch them.