Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Rather than try to out spooky myself, I thought I would let this week's play list just happen in an organic manner , so I just hit shuffle on my iPod and went with that . My day to day listening is still going to be darker than any combination of songs you might dreg up from your nightmares to try to make a sound track for Halloween. I think based on the artists alone, if you are a regular reader or actually know me in real life, not just the inner web world then you can attest to the fact it's pretty consistent with my normal listening So these are just songs I have been listening to a lot recently. Happy Halloween, it is in fact a holiday for devil worshiping so I hope I have inspired you to do some.
Dax Riggs - "Demon Tied to a Chair in My Brain"
Zola Jesus- "Tower"
Samhain- "Death in it's Arms"
Rob Zombie - "Living Dead Girl"
My Dying Bride - "All Swept Away"
Chelsea Wolfe -"Sick"
Skinny Puppy- "Downsizer"
Type O Negative - "Creepy Green Light"
Ritual Howls- "Spirit Murder"
This duo from Washington have released an interesting album, that is dark and electronic though not really dark wave. The vocals are weird and punk like in their chant. The guitar is fuzzed out more like rock. The programmed drums could stand to have a little more boom, and the overall production could be better than the way around, but listening for what they are trying to do you can certainly still get the picture they are tying to paint. Things do begin to lean in a more dark wave like direction when the vocals go into a lower croon on the second song and continue to linger there with "the Snake in the Garden". "We Must become the Light" holds a more melodic touch with the guitar making this possible.
The production value of the beats that drive this album seem to be one hindrance to their overall sound. The other is the inconsistent vocals . Sometimes I really like them at other times they are a little pitchy. I am not sure if this is a stylistic choice or not, though I am leaning towards it not being one as it seems to happen when his voice is at the edge of it's comfort zone. "One More Dance" is darker and has a touch of Bauhaus to it , but even with those factors at play it's not thee strongest song. The almost Cramps like rock n roll turn of " Is Your Heart on Fire" makes me wonder if these guys are as sure of the direction they want to go in as it sounds they are earlier in the album. "Claws in Me" puts them back in a much better direction and the thump of the bass here supplements them beat in a much needed fashion. This proves that with the right touch what they do can really work.
They continue to get back in a better more focused direction on "Here's Your Vengeance". This song does get more experimental , but it still works in the context of what they are doing. "How it Ends" is more melodic and his vocals improve. There are many sonic and emotional layers to this song which I appreciate. A great deal of dark ambiance opens "Longing For". Its an odd instrumental. Musically not odd just odd in it's placement and purpose. It does serve as a good contrast to the more abrasive beginning of "the Truth" that closes the album. This song has a more apocalyptic feel, with the vocals in more of an Iggy Pop place, though in the dissonance and rock n roll undertones Nick Cave could also be a reference point. I'll round this album down to an 8. I think the points I have called into question already make this clear why, but these guys have a ton of potential and what they do works more often than not and is actually pretty cool.
Written in two acts the album clocks in at 36 minutes. The first act consists of "Sea Borne" , "Liberator of Minds" and "Dance of the Bacchantes". The opening song is a dark droning piece that is almost seven minutes. It would be great for ritual, but not a song in the sense of it's something you casually listen to on your iPod in shuffle mode. It works more of the hypnotic atmosphere. It is not unusual for their songs to have this more sound track like quality. It is a wild juxtaposition to their previous album which was more accessible in it's song structure. "Liberator of Minds" does have a more serpentine groove that you could dance to if you were into touch with your more sensual primal side. In other words when it begins to move I immediately thought, my girl friend could dance to this.
At this point in the album it could be a Lisa Gerrard solo album. This is something I would have preferred when I first got into these guys , but after seeing them live I gained an appreciation for Brendan Perry. There is more motion to "the Dance of Bacchantes". Gerrard is not swinging for the fences and belting it out in a grandiose operatic manner, but using a great deal of restraint. Some of the more animalistic chants remind me of Diamanda Galas. Hearing the more Scottish influence on the opening notes to "the Mountain" I knew Brendan Perry was coming . So I was glad to hear his voice crop up. It is not what you normally expect from him as he is not singing in English and is using his voice more like an instrument than the kind of folk story telling he normally brings to the table. This song also has Gerrard accenting him in a call and response . I always like when both of them are on the same track. And so begins the second act.
Lisa returns to center stage again on "the Invocation". There is more of a middle eastern flavor to the modes of this song. It also finds a sensual groove. "the Forest" finds Perry singing in his higher register. I always think of him as a baritone , but here he gets up there in an almost androgynous fashion without going into falsetto. They give another call and response on the darker and moodier trance like pulse of " Psychopomp". This album is almost ebbing and flowing like a DMT trip as here is more of a simmering after math from being shot up into more sublime grooves. They were successful at what they intended to do , while I miss the more folk elements of what Brendan does, I respect this album and you can't argue against it as there is no one who does what they do so masterfully so even though I went into this wanting something more song oriented that crafted something truly otherworldly here.
Almost goth by association. One of them is a card carrying member of the Church of Satan and they have never really made it a big deal, which I can respect. I have always liked this band , though they are kinda like Tiger Army in the sense some times even with the shadows around their songs they can still be too happy for me. These guys start of this album reminding me of a pop punk version of Murder By Death. The opener starts of mellower and more intimate with a piano before building in a way that is not as pop punk as where "Black Bird " goes . Lyrically they are darker on "Demon and Division". The formula so far seems to be. The start off the song with some interesting almost experimentation, since we are talking about the more straight forward genre of punk rock, then when we get to the first chorus, the anthemic pop punk stuff starts.
"Little Help?" starts of pop punk right out of the gate. For what this is they are good at it. I prefer they smoother way the vocals are handled on "I Can't Believe" and the palm muted tension of the guitar. This sounds like it could have come from the 90s, but that is fine with me as that is the time when this kinda thing was at it's creative peak. There is a slight hint of what we would later emo touching the melodies. There is a similar dynamic employed on "Sweet Vampires". Though this one is a little more upbeat. A friend of mine said he thought the Misfits started pop punk. On the song "Pale Blue Ribbon" I can hear that. "Goodbye Fire Island" makes me think they might be straight but not narrow. That's just the lyrics , the rest of the song is pretty decent.
"Stay" has a hint of country to it. After this I have to give additional listens when it all starts running together , the melodies on "Heart Attacks" seem to have a little more thought than your average pop punk. Not that these guys have ever really settled for being your average pop punk. "Worn so Thin" is more rushed and falls more neatly into what you might expect from pop punk. This faster pace is ramped up going into "Throw Me to the Lions". "Krystalline" is an acoustic song that makes them break out from their comfortable formula. I'll give this album a 7.5 , since some of the pop punk predictability can wear thin, but even then these guys put more thought into what they do than the bulk of that genre.
Monday, October 29, 2018
The year was 1987 when I realized there was music out there that spoke to the shadows inside of me that way not heavy metal. The album was "Darklands" by Jesus and the Marychain, if I did the top 20 albums list it would be on their so these are albums I have listened to more than that one. It is more on the post-punk side and if you notice the lack of Joy Division that is because I am not counting post-punk. There might be a couple albums that lean in that direction, but the difference between post-punk and goth is pretty clear here, post- punk lacks the romantic elegance of goth.There is not much in the way of dark wave, and that is because even in the case of Sisters of Mercy who would have also made the top 20, those bands tend to have some good songs, but not albums that are as awesome all the way through as what is represented here.
Many of these albums have set the bar for their respective sub-genres. I am not just sticking to the old guard , even though I can be as get off my lawn as anyone, I do recognize that there is some ew music that measures up just fine against the Cures and Bauhaus' of the old guard bat cave. These lists do lend themselves to a great deal of complaining and butt hurt so let me go ahead and nip it in the bud with one question...over the course of a year how many people read what you have to say about goth music? If that number is less than 100,000 and go ahead add up all the publications you write for then shoot me an email and we can talk about it, because if you or on that tier then you probably already have my email address.
10-Zola Jesus - "Conatus"
Since this list is being ranked by how many times I have listened to these albums, this is way Zola beat out Siouxsie to make it on here. Siouxsie would have made the top 20. The beats on this album are just more infectious.
9-Skinny Puppy- "Too Dark Park"
This is not the top 10 industrial albums. This album however is dark enough to earn it's place here. If you were goth when this album came out you owned it if not you were a poseur.
8-Beastmilk - "Climax"
This is the only album that is arguably post-punk, but the vocals are so impassioned they tip the balance and thus is belongs here. The best thing of the revival.
7-Type O Negative - October Rust
These guys are a metal band, and this album does have some heavy moments, but the sum of its parts is more goth and then metal and it's beautifully produced and written, pretty much perfect in every way
6-Dead Can Dance- "Into the Labyrinth"
Goth can be many things, even world music as this project proves and does so by creating the most beautiful music ever.
5-Swans - White Light From the Mouth of Infinity
From their noisy beginnings this band evolved into some thing sonically powerful but still darkly elegant. This could very well be in the number one spot but Last Fm told me the four above this one were listened to more.
4-Bauhaus- "In the Flat Field"
No one in their right mind would dispute if they should be on this list so it's more of a question of what album. This one seems the darkest to me and it's also the one Last Fm said I have listened to the most.
3-Chelsea Wolfe- "Pain is Beauty"
When I have talked to her she is quick to say she is not goth. She probably gets annoyed for me referring to her as goth after she tells me that , but this album says different.
2- Christian Death - "Only Theater of Pain"
This pretty much defined a genre. It has all the darkness and sleeze you could ask for against the elegant delivery of Rozz Williams. It was not only the album they could never touch again , but no one else could either.
1-the Cure- "Disintegration"
Not only the best goth album, but one of the best album's period. It might not be the darkest album on the list, but what it lacks it darkness it makes up for in the other key ingredient of goth, melancholy romantic longing.
Saturday, October 27, 2018
It makes sense the most legit death rock I have heard in sometime should come from LA since it was the needle infested gutters of that city that spawned. While Rozz Williams would have told you it's punk kids into Halloween, that's only half the truth. There was a seedy glam rock under ground that bands like Faster Pussycat came from where punks and glam rockers got their drugs it was from this dark melting pot of junkies that death rock came from. So what bands miss when they just commit to the punk side of the equation is the sleaze side of this equation . These guys capture that and managed to walk the fine line between paying homage to what Christian Death set in motion while having enough of their own sound. In this way death rock bands have a similar balancing act that doom bands must juggle with Black Sabbath.
"Choking" really finds them hitting all marks when it comes to the marriage of the dirtier rawer sides, with the first two songs getting lost in a similar darkness. I have to go back and re-listen to them, but the second song "Low" which feels almost like a transition within the first song, has more of a punk feel shuffle. The vocalist is not a Rozz Williams clone but uses a similar desperation in his delivery. "Weeping Willow" has a more melodic guitar part before going into a very similar sound to what they have already touched upon in the first two songs.These songs are all very short not breaking the three minute mark and the over driven sound that coats the album continues to dirty things up. Some of the nuances to the vocals kinda get lost in this.
"Manic" finds the guitar creating a static wall of slimey distortion.They get more more aggressive, with the vocals going into more of a feral scream. This is effective as it helps to carve out their own place with this. I'll round this down to a 9 as all of the songs carry a uniform sound. While I want to hear a full length from these guys, what they do works as an EP with six more songs I would need more of a dynamic range from these guys . But they are great at what they do.
When I read that a black metal band is crossing over into black metal I am never sure what to expect. What I did not expect was how melodic and almost more indie rock this Hungarian band would get. Things get even darker on "the Very Hours". It is funny they are still wearing corpse paint for this . It's not much different than Voices or Katatonia. Though the vocals are not as strong, it's obvious the singer is still learning to transition over from screaming. Some of the notes are a little flat. But it is almost like how 90s emo singers used their passion to over compensate for lack of pipes letting their voice on notes they just didn't have. If he stayed in a more baritone range I think this guy would be alright. At least he is trying really hard .
"Long I've Gone" opens as a piano ballad. The vocals are still iffy as he continues to reach out of his range. I could use a little more rock on this and certainly more guitar might have filled it out. This feels like an Alice Cooper ballad to me. Its not terrible, but you know I have to listen to every thing with a critical ear. I like this much better than if it was blast beats. The build on this one is subtle. The vocals begin to wear on me a little here. "the Velvet Call" picks up things more. I am all for these guys making the switch over to post-punk, though I never really heard much of their black metal stuff so I'll have to go back and see what I am missing, I think when you put these guys up against the current crop of pot-punk revival bands they fare pretty well as the song writing is there and the sense of melody is head and shoulders over bands more on the punk side. The punchy hooks going into the chorus show they really have potential.
I'll round this down to a 9, because the vocals on the ballad needed some work , but I can hear where they want to go. I think the first and last song are both the best indicators of the singer being able to pulls this off. I think everything compensates for the vocals as the guitar parts are very smartly written. If you like Voices or Katatonia and wish they leaned more into the goth side of the fence then these guys are really worth your time and I'll keep my ear out as I want to hear what they can do on a full length of this.
Friday, October 26, 2018
Former Them or Us Too vocalist Kennedy Ashlyn continues on after the other half of that duo died. There is a very elegant almost classical vocal intro before this album opens with the lead single "Martyr". It has more movement than what her old band did. As a result it sounds less like the Cocteau Twins until it gets to the quirky skip of the more fey vocal melodies of "Cherish". Even then when it gets to the chorus you hear her through the haze of influences. The flowing ambiance of "Procession" soars into the clouds of dreamy silkiness. There is more of an 80s feel to "Mixed Tide" Most of this is due to the production of the drum programming. The vocals soar in the same spaces they have earlier the album. There are some weird space sounds that corp up int the corners of this song.
"No Reason " is more of a weird interlude than an actual song. The synth wave of "Permission" sounds like some kraut Rock from "Blade Runner", but when the pulse of the beat comes in the song begins to take more form. While drench in effects the operatic vocals are still impressive and don't require effects as it's clear she can sing her ass off. The album closes with at seven and a half minutes the longest song on this album. Her vocals are more in her soprano range. There is weird atmosphere at the fringes of this song, but over all its her vocals that really sell it .
While this did not wow me in the same way Them or Us Too did , but she can stand on her own two feet and create music that comes pretty close to the legacy of her old band. I'll give this a 9.5 as it's pretty impressive. There are some really fairy like sounds that belong on a David Lynch soundtrack. We can never go back to Them or Us Too as that band is done, we can however hear where they might have gone as Ashlyn does uphold their legacy in her solo work
King Woman front woman Kristina Esfandian just released this album with her other band. It's suitable gloomy and brooding. It almost shoe gaze, and like a resentful take on Mazzy Star. The second song is more up beat and sounds like 90s indie rock. Sebadoh comes to mind here along with some of the bands that were somewhat shoe gaze some what sultry alt-pop like Lush. By the third song "Cheap Ring" it gets a little droning, though this song does build up by the end. Kristina's vocal seem to expand in her upper range as opposed to her more bluesy groans and moans she utters with King Woman. Some of her anger in these songs is also expressed in a manner that is not unlike Courtney Love's earlier less radio friendly work.
"Pain Farm" has a dissonance to it's jangling strum. The vocals to this one kind of hover around the sonic clutter of the guitar that doesn't contract into something more riffy until the end of the song. This is becoming the formula at work here. Wander in the dizzying drone of more murky chord progressions then bring into something with more form and function at the end. Things are still in the zip code of shoe gaze with "Hotel" the vocals have a more delicate touch to their croon despite the more challenging guitar parts under them. "Daydream Nation" era Sonic Youth might be a fair comparison. It does still remain dark enough to qualify for Gothtober as I could easily imagine something like this coming out on 4AD. There is a more obvious shoe-gaze quality to "Fever" which if not for her more alto centered tone, might draw comparisons to Cocteau Twins with the guitar parts.
The pace picks up a little for "High". There is a more punk minded recklessness in play, but the thick atmosphere cancels it out. "Kiss" has a weird 80s post-punk ballad feel, more along the lines of Jesus and the Mary Chain. Which is 80s hipster goth, as those kids were out smoking cloves with the dudes with black lipstick and Flock of Seagulls haircuts , so just because there are no bats in the belfry doesn't mean it won't sit nicely between the Cure and Cocteau Twins when you have your iPod on shuffle mode. I will give this album an 8.5 and see how it sits with me .
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
The Texas duo returns with a more aggressive effort, even when the vocals are not harshly screamed the sneering death rock like tenor spits out dirty pictures of humanity in his lyrics. They get a little more manically frantic on "Birch Meadows, 1991". The vocals remain more composed almost to the point he is singing a different song than what they recorded beneath him. This awkward juxtaposition somehow still works to some extent. Though those more chaotic moments are not the strongest when it comes to song writing. They manage to pull chaos and songwriting on "Chasing the Vig". The guitar is hard to make out from the equally jagged synths. The beats are often more angular than not, not attempting to find the kind of grooves industrial music latches onto.
"Suicide By Cop" wins by the sheer charm of it's clever and emotive lyrics. The music works with the vocals to almost create something more accessible. I like the use of samples on this album, it makes listening to it as a whole flow really well, even though that is not the way most people digest music these days. There is more of a post-punk feel to "Everyone's At Home Eventually". Lyrically it seems to be reflecting on his teenage years. The beat is stronger and has more slink to "Dial Down the Neon" it reminds me of something the Faint might have done. Granted it's more aggressive than the bulk of the Faint's work, perhaps not a few of the songs from "Danse Macabre". This song has a wider range of dynamics than some of the albums typically more spastic moments. The album's strongest song might also be the one that comes closest to industrial as "In For a World of Hurt" balances the pound with passionate melodies.
The guitar takes a more prominent role in the some what darker "Before It Was Worn". The vocals more commanding in some of the exclamations. Things take on more of an industrial clang with the glitchy jerk of "Still Between Lovers". The lyrically this sounds like a serial killer's ode to dating. The album closes with "the Drifter". This has an almost more conventional beat. Vocally the refrain of "You can bury me alive" hooks you in and with all it's bizarre sonic clamor it some how works . I will round this one up to a 10 as it's a compelling listen that continues to draw me in.
Monday, October 22, 2018
Here is the newest video by Blood Blush for their song "NYC Opera". This almost cartoon like performance piece opens with them offering a tutorial of sorts as to how to play said song. It flows through varied over lays of effects for an overall entertaining take on their brand of otherwise starkly flowing vision of post-punk. If you live in Detroit you can catch them tonight at Phoney Island, the rest of their tour dates are below and finds the band playing with a variety of interesting bands including Christian Death and Primitive Lips. 10.22.18 DETROIT, MI at Phoney Island with Dr. Fadeaway and Soviet Girls. 10.23.18 TORONTO, ON at Quixotic Sounds (In-Store Performance - 5pm) 10.23.18 TORONTO, ON at The Painted Lady with Bloody Blue Darlings, September Death and Trick Casket. 10.24.18 MONTREAL, QE at Mademoiselle with Wavery, Bermudes and The City Gates. 10.25.18 ALBANY, NY at Orange Peel with Spell Runner, Cowboy! Halloween and Bare Mattress. N O V E M B E R 11.01.18 BROOKLYN, NY at Hart Bar with Veda Rays, Korine and Lacey Spacecake. 11.02.18 CLIFTON, NJ at Dingbatz with Christian Death, The Witch Kings, CHMCL STR8JCKT and Robby Bloodshed. 11.16.18 BROOKLYN, NY at Bushwick Public House (TRUST EP Cassette Tape Release Party) with PUSH! and Gorgeous. D E C E M B E R 12.04.18 BROOKLYN, NY at Ceremony with Primitive Lips and Recognitions. 12.13.18 MONTCLAIR, NJ at The Meatlocker with Primitive Lips, Puddle Splasher and Whiner. https://fleshandbonerecords.storenvy.com/products/24753102-blood-blush-trust-cassette
Sunday, October 21, 2018
I was unsure about this until it kicked in. This project from Belgium effectively combines the groove of EDM with the anger of industrial. The vocals are distorted, but not timid. They go into more of a roar. The synths are rough around the edges and coldly clashing against one another. "Screwdrive" is not as focused as the opening track. "No Forever" is slower in it's throb. The vocals are more spoken and not as interesting. I think they always need effects as it makes them as inorganic as the rest of the music. Having recently reviewed the new Author & Punisher, I can hear on a song like "Mother" how these guys are trying to be oppressive and in the same zip code. Not that they are in any way drawing influence from Tristan Shore, but there is a similar abrasive quality to their brand of industrial.
More minimal than the bulk of industrial music, they do make use of what sounds to be more analog synths. The spoken vocals at this point even with the effects are beginning to bore me. In fact the only reason I have hung on this long is because they are so fucking dark. They capture some cool sounds, but I am not sure I would say it always translates into compelling songs. "Choke" has a more angular pulse to it and is more up tempo than the bulk of what we have heard here so far. It's also not as dark. Once again the vocals are a let down, not that I am really expecting much from them at this point. There is a little more atmosphere going into "Creeps in the Land of Creeps" to the point that going into the song it almost sounds more like kraut rock. It does build into more of a groove, but the narrative remains the same.
There is more tension to the groove of "Collapse". This can only play into their favor for song long as the vocals do not change. The samples in "Falldown" help change the narrative. I think the more jagged percussive patterns help change things. The vocals sit back further in the mix, so they are less of a distraction. What plays against this song is it is not as dark and there is not as strong of a groove.I'll round this one down to a 7, while I like the mood it creates, I find the vocals to be the biggest draw back as it works for the first few songs then bores me.
For the 11th installment of the Weekly playlist, It has to focus on someone who not only goes up to 11 , but has a dark side.He has been dubbed the Prince of Darkness, a title not bestowed upon Peter Murphy mind you, so Ozzy seems the perfect choice as horror has influenced his music since the Black Sabbath days. So we have songs either about were-wolves, zombies and serial killers or songs like the title track from the "Diary of a Madman" album which was inspired after Ozzy watched "The Exorcist" repeatedly. Some of these songs are classic favorites, others are deeper cuts and not singles, some remind you that Ozzy still had some pretty awesome moments after "No More Tears". I know many readers are too cool for school and only listen to Ozzy Sabbath and don't give his solo work a chance or too young to appreciate it in a day where it comes across more like rock than metal.
Bark at the Moon
Let me Hear you Scream
Ghost Behind My Eyes
Bloodbath in Paradise
Diary of a Madman
My Jekyll Doesn't Hide
Then the more goth elegance I prefer returns for "Shadows". The thump and rock guitar is eventually where this song finds it self when they crawl out from under the more brooding section. I like the bass tone that rumbles out to begin "4:35" . The vocals have a more hushed tension over it. There is a much lusher atmosphere to "Guests". I really like the guitar tone here. The vocals kind of lay back into the sonics of the song. The synths are of higher in the mix than the guitar to create an mix of dark wave and shoe-gaze, so we will split the difference and call it Gaze-Wave.
The song ends with an angrier punk pound, that is still more new wave than peace punk. I'll give this album an 8. It has more elements that work for me than not and while the mix can be called into question at times, the sounds captured are wonderfully chilling. I am not the biggest fan of the moments where they try to be more punk than postal, I also don't like when my death rock goes in that direction which is why I always choose Christian Death over 45 Grave. If you are looking for something for a halloween soundtrack that still leans more on the goth side of the post-punk equation and is not some hipster Joy Division worshiping check these guys Athens out.
Saturday, October 20, 2018
The album from this impressive one man project starts with a solemn piano piece that bursts into what we typically expect from black metal. The vocals are a nasty snarl brimming with agony. Midway into the song it shifts into more of a syncopated rock riff which is trades off against blast beating fury. Eventually it finds it's way into a more melancholy passage with almost sung vocals that come across more as a chant against the clean guitar. The song "Hostblod" starts with subtle synth and acoustic guitar , before gentle sung vocals float in. When it build they are using restraint with the blast beats and urge to drown you in distortion. This pays off as I really like when harsh vocals are used over clean guitar.
They do not use this same restraint on "Tomheten" which aside from the passage of melody and the sung children's vocal that come in pretty much falls well within the lines of what black metal is now thought of as. The album closes with "Tystnaden" . It sounds like they are using a banjo or a mandolin at the beginning. There is an ebb and flow to this song that reminds me of a darker version of Alcests earlier days, though I suppose the way the arrangement winds around Agalloch would be another fair comparison. While the blast beats that come in the song's third act are to be expected it does feel like they could have continued to break the molds they had avoided up to this point in the song.
I will go ahead and round this one up to a 8.5, though I doubt I will get a ton of mileage out of this album after this review is over. Not that I don't like what they are doing and appreciate the sense of melancholy they are bringing to a formula we have heard approached from different angles by bands I have already mentioned. If you are a fan of bands like Alcest and Agalloch, who don't put out much at all these days or have wildly changed their sound over the years, then this might soothe the ache their disappearance left in you.
Friday, October 19, 2018
Getting caught back up with the Gothtober editions of the Weekly Playlist, which has proven to be a fairly popular column here in this Abysmal realms. I have already done some playlists featuring certain Artists like David Bowie and Nick Cave, so it seems fitting to continue this trend this week. If you know me or are a regular reader here then you might be aware of the fact that Type O Negative is one of my favorite bands. They blend metal with goth in a way that many bands have imitated but few were able to do with the level of power and elegance these guys did. So given the season it’s only fitting that I dedicate a playlist to them. I am not saying these are their best songs , but they are my favorites that are not the typical hits from “Bloody Kisses” . I typically synch the songs on the playlist with where they fall on their respective albums , but this time I cut my OCD brain some slack and just let them fall where they wanted.
"Love you to Death"
"We Hate Every One"
"Be My Druidess"
"These Three Things"
"She Burned Me Down"
"In Praise of Bacchus"
"Too Late Frozen"
This project is driven solely by Yianna Bekris and is being released on Wolves in the Throne Room's label. My first impression based off the opening track is this is like a more depressed version of Myrkur. While there is a great deal of black metal tinged tremolo guitar we don't get to the more doom focused thick of the album until "Cattle". It's hinted at on the first song , but this is the first time she really commits. The melodies are languid with cleaner toned guitars laying against waves of mournful synths. It' very darkly romantic. It takes "Last Dream" almost half the song to sort through the ambiance and find it's way into the metallic guitars. The vocals are pretty sparse here. It builds into something more like Black gaze, which seems to be a theme with this album intersecting at where the more atmospheric forms of black metal and doom cross.
Things get more folky going into "Drowning City" then they swell into folky doom, that gets dark and dense and really feels like something King Woman might do though without the blues under tones. "You Took Me" opens more dominated with synths and the drums very hesitant. I would argue that this is not funeral doom. It dark but not in an oppressive manner, and while beautiful at times it's not sonically intense enough to be funeral doom despite the lingering in the drums. "You Took Me" finds the main riff being droned against the repetitive melody of the vocals which begins to have more of a chant like quality despite carrying a hook.
While this album is doom , it carries a more subtle shade of gray. The vocals are not the strong point, but the song crafting is what keeps my interest in the way various layers crept over the shadowy dirges. I'll give this album an 8.5. As far as doom goes you gotta give them credit for not trying to go into a more vest metal direction and sticking to her vision.
Monday, October 15, 2018
The most dominate influence I can hear is Fields of the Nephilim , though suppose Killing Joke might be argued into the equation as well. The vocals don't have as much grit. I am impressed that they cover David Bowie's "Time Will Crawl" from the "Never Let Me Down " album which is one of his most over looked and under rated. This first real shift in their sound comes on " Oceans of Time" which has a more melodic flow and they are not driving into it, but relaxing into the song. The drummer shows he might have listened to a few Rush albums the way he makes room for the song , but is not content in letting it not be interesting. Really the vocals are what holds the song back, as he stays in a shouted ,spoken narrative rather than really singing. They do step outside of the normal post-punk confines as they allow the songs to go on winding journeys rather than drone on the tension.
The heavier guitar tones could use some work as it might have made "Fields of Rape" have more balls. The intersecting guitar parts work well in contrast, but I can hear where this might go if it had the density it asks for. There is a more straight forward pulse to the until midway into it when the beats to a more pounding tribal explosion and breaks down into a more typical post-rock shuffle. "Only the Memories" is a more post-punk version of Fields of Nephilim. The vocals have the grit that really helps with this comparison, along with the drive of the guitar. As far as the bass and drums go if those two elements were different then this could be more of a peace punk thing. "Unbridgeable" finds the bass taking on the more expected spotlight for the genre and the pace picks up more into a punk pace.
I am glad to hear things get darker going into the last song as they slow down and allow the guitars to create a lusher elegance in their melodies.The prove to be the most redundant element of their sound as a whole. I think over all bringing newer influences to the table than bulk of their peers helps sets them aside from the horde of Joy Division worshipers. For this I feel that while I might not repeat a ton of repeat listens out of this one since it flirts too closely to the original artists, I would be more likely to just listen to Fields of Nephilim when I am in the mood rather than this album, but younger listeners less jaded should check these guys out since they are great at what they do and deserve for me to round this up to a 9.
Sunday, October 14, 2018
I am not sure why it's taken me this long to really check this chick out.Her newest album came out back in March so I am late to the party here. She pretty ambitious and is not content like some of her peers leading you into a dark drone, as her songs have a more adventurous feel to their arrangement that has more in common with Dead Can Dance than it does Chelsea Wolfe. It's more like if Lisa Gerrard covered all of Brendan Perry's songs. Though in a much more experimental fashion as she is prone to go off into Swans like atmosphere. So there is a fucking lot going on here, but it's dark and I like it. It falls into the weird exotic brand of goth that is some where between world music and neo-folk. Though organs and synths seem to be the driving forces of instrumentation.
"The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra" is darker and more like Diamanda Galas meets the Swans. It has a heavy droning pound , but evolves into something very lush. There is even guitar, like rock guitar, think Pink Floyd not metal, but it's good. I'm not into 16 minute songs, but She blew me away with the first two songs so I am going to trust her on this though I can already hear where there are two and a half minutes she could have shaved off the beginning so in truth if we are really going to nit pick here, where that is what I do this could have been a 12 minute song. It really takes off with her vocals five and a half minutes in. While I don't hate what is transpiring with the sprawling thing I would have preferred to songs that gave me more of what I got from the first two. I can hear elements of that in where she ends up going, but I'm selfish and I want more of what I want. By the end of the song it does pay off as she takes you to sonic places just as exotic as Dead Can Dance. Sometimes it is hard to hear where the pipe organ begins and the other instruments end.
"the Marble Eye" is darker and sounds like it could be the soundtrack to an 80s horror movie about vampire elves. It is however an instrumental song and I feel without her voice it's a pointless endeavor, but that little interlude was good for what it was . The album closes with a light folk ballad that is given more of a Julee Cruise treatment, so if David Lynch isn't using this he is missing out on a good opportunity. I'll go ahead and round this up to a 9.5, as it does get a little thick on the atmosphere and floats away, but when the album is good it's beyond incredible and more than makes up for drifting off.
These guys are not the only black metal band from the early 90s that have changed their sound over the years.At the onset one might assume these guys have gone more of a Ulver route as baritone clean vocals have a mournful sound to them almost like a doomy gothy version of Pink Floyd. I do like the dark melodic tone this song has almost like something Katatonia might do. By the end of the song things have swelled back into metal. I also like how the effects drape the harsher vocals toward the end of the song, and while it is done in a more Enslaved like manner I do not feel the call and response between the clean and harsh vocals is predictable. The second song works off a more black metalish formula with a gloomier transition into the guitar solo. Then by the third song the band shows a more epic traditional metal sound. It has a sweeping gallop and majestic synths in the background.
"Cloud Seeder" is more mid paced. It doesn't stand out as much as the songs before. The clean vocals don't hook me in. The harsher vocals are more interesting here, which says a lot considering I prefer singing. It just begins to feel a little like a formula here. "Still Yearning" is more deliberate . The melodic breakdown at the three minute mark is a little weird but it does help to make the build back in more explosive. The more groove oriented chug the song finds it's self in is pretty bad ass. I don't think speeding it up makes it more aggressive it just sounds a little rushed. "Strike Up With the Dawn" has some effective grooves. The use of clean vocals does begin to sound a lot like Enslaved here. "Transcending Yesterdays" follows a similar formula.
The last song is more of a ballad like outro than an actual song so for the sake of this review I am not going to factor it in when scoring this album. Very much in the same zip code of Norway as Enslaved. I really like this album because of what sets it apart from Enslaved, this is the fact that it's darker and moodier. Not dark enough for me to slap this month's Gothtober label on it , but dark enough to keep me happy. I'll round it up to a 9.5 , which should show you how far darkness goes in my book.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
"Empty Room" has a tense post punk bass line set against the more cavernous reverb of the song and its more machine like chant. The bass line to drama is clearly a synth pattern. There may or may not be guitar it gets hard tell what is what at this point, but I think when it comes to this project it is safe to assume most things are not organic. Female vocals help switch things up though they stick to the more spoken than sung Ian Curtis like narrative. There is a marginally more frantic under current to the darker "Want",
I am not going to include the remixes for the sake of this review, while I am all for taking another look at songs in this manner I feel here we are just looking at the original interpretation of these songs and they are bonus tracks. The last song is gloomy, it is also kinda boring as the vocals continue to be more spoken than not. I'll round this down to a 7.5 , which seems to be consistent with their previous album, though it was the redundant vocals that bored me and not the production this time around.
Friday, October 12, 2018
I am all for artistic changes Dax Riggs certainly made them. But he made them in a way that made sense. He went from Acid Bath to the still somewhat metal tinged Agents of Oblivion that was darker than Acid Bath in its way. Then Dead Boy and the Elephant Men with a garage rock sound that gave way to a smooth transition into his bluesy solo work. Elis' changes have had the kinda L.A band wagon jumping that resembles something closer to rapper Justin Warfeild who decided he liked Joy Division enough to fool people with She Wants Revenge. Elis went from metal to basically a H.I.M tribute act bacck to Myspace metal, not to country folk. What ? The problem is you can't fake the funk. While it is dark enough to satisfy me the over sound feels like they are trying to hard. What gives him away is how the vocal layers hide no the ghosts of the deep south but from Elis' Myspace metal past.
"What's Left of Us" is more convincing than the title track. Though the Tom Waits like rasp he takes on sounds more like acting than who is really is as a singer. 'Sing For the Dead Man" is pretty melodramatic. Things get marginally more intimate with "Weeping Willow" this Tom Waits wanna be rasp pretty much spoils the potential atmosphere that tries to develop here. Not that the song itself really goes any where dynamically. "Corpse Carver" brings the rock back into the picture. It sounds like one of his Myspace metal songs, with the guitar levels dialed back a little. He wants to go into the pseudo goth voice. He pretty much blows his own cover here. This gives it almost a cock rock feel when the guitar solos creep in at the edges of the song. He does shake the rock off with "If it's Not Too Late". It gets darker and I can hear him trying to switch over into more of a Mark Lanegan impersonation. His mask falls off midway into the ten minute sprawl and he reverts back into cock rock.
"Only Bones" is and interlude revolving around a wacky sample from an answering machine. This would have worked better as the beginning to a larger, perhaps "M.O.M". The cock rock tendencies go in more of an Alice in Chains direction. The song wanders off into a odd atmospheric section. "Graveyard Country Blues" has a slower darker simmer to it. He can't resist going back to his metal past. I'll give this album a 7.5, mainly due to the ind-entity crisis that makes some of this come across as a bit contrived and proves when you try to fake the funk your true colors show up at the end of the day. To the point that this almost feels like cultural appropriation.
By the second song Jerome Reuter proves his gets better with each album. By the 3rd song it's obvious this album is a lot darker, which is fine by me and a reason for this album to be included in "gothtober" as it carries a very Swans like feel. The theme of the album is a darker spiritual exploration and much more personal than the political themes he has championed in the past. I think this is a wise choice for him as this seems to elicit a more emotional response. "Slaver" seems to touch on personal issues with relationships. It blends a shadowy folk country with more northern European sounds. It aids his vocal performance and finds him singer with greater range and vigor.
"Martyr" is more aggressive to the point it has an abrasive sting like Swans and a vocal ranting more like Birthday Party era Nick Cave. "Hawker" has a more celebratory tone as is more akin to his previous work. He returns to a more experimental tone that carries another Swans like tone to it. I am less impressed by the Swans influence this time around. I prefer when he experiments more along the lines of "Keeper" where he uses the more ambient sounds to paint the backdrop behind him. This allows melody to still maintain the focus. The album ends with a more stripped down folk song. His vocals have been really well produced for the bulk of the album, but how they are double tracked here really resonates with me.
This is a really good album. I think while I can appreciate the Swans influence that cropped up on a couple songs, if it was another band doing it I might have liked it, but since I know Jerome has a much more defined sound of his own, there seems no reason to wear his influences on his sleeves in this regard as it doesn't meet with the same emotional results the other songs have. So I will give this one a 9, certainly placing it head and shoulders above the bulk of albums that have come out this year.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
I have missed Beastmilk. Grave Pleasures is a continuation of that but the last album was more punk than not. So it is timely that this little gem popped up in my in-box, I can't say it slipped under my radar because it doesn't come out for another week. The opener takes many of the elements that made Beastmilk great and follows a parallel path. Some of this might be due to members of both bands having a background in metal. This gives them more punch than your average post-punk band. There is an odd transition when things break down into just guitar and synth then it comes back with an entirely different movement that had more of a Danzig like feel. The pace picks up to more of the post-punk tension, that has more of a frenetic punk feel. I like the fact that even though the vocals has a touch of punk to them they are still melodic. "Children of the Clouds" is driving while not crowding the vocals. I like how it breaks down in the last minute of the song.
There is more room to breathe and an almost Cure like feel to the more emotive "Used Future" . Which is my favorite song thus far. "Black Ribbons White Roses" goes into a place where they become sonically heavy and I am always a fan of this. The bass drives the more upbeat and punk like "Into the Wild" which is perhaps the albums most straight forward punk song. While it's not a bad song the lack of depth makes it my least favorite. "Through the Firmament" has more of an Echo and The Bunnymen feel in it's lazy stroll through the shadows. I like this more than when they lean into their punk side. There is a bigger and more emotive drama to "Sura i" which I think plays into their strengths the most. It also defines their identity setting them apart from the other post-punk revival bands.
The album ends with what might be their darkest song. It one of the album's best though it's more detached and not as urgent. It like most of this album might also need time to grow on me, though even at this stage in the game I am pretty sold on it. So much so I'll give this one a 9. If you miss Beastmilk as well, then these guys are worth checking out. The are not a tribute band, though in someways picking up where they left off at "Climax".
Folk metal came up in a discussion I had last week, so I decided for Gothober to find the darkest folk metal, which since I always have to make things harder for myself when it comes to these things also has a Halloween like theme in it's lyrics. So this forced me to think out of the box. Some songs like Ulver who got there start as a folk black metal band, maybe not be going by the numbers on their song as it comes from a period when they had begun to branch out though the influence is still there is the melodies of the vocals. Tiamat is another who dipped into folk metal way back in the 90s before it became a thing like it is today, and the song that was chosen due to it's lyrical theme, also deviates into more of a straightforward metal, but there is not a ton of folk metal out there that meets the strict rules I orginally set down and when I begin something like this is can get stuck as a draft unless I force it past my OCD and allow myself to rework the rules since I am the one who orignally made them in the first place, If you read my work for Cvlt Nation, you know my battle with mental health and can see how it even effects the writing I do here. So now have a listen .
Ruins of Beverast - " I Raised this Stone as a Ghastly Memorial"
Agalloch - "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion"
Graveland "Chamber of Wicked Tears"
Empyrium - "The Days Before the Fall"
Tiamat- "Sympathy for the Devil"
Bathory- "The Ravens"
Solstafir - "Ghosts of Light"
Ulver- "Proverbs of Hell"
Primordial - Coffin Ships
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
This is an album of remixes and covers by the band who blew me away with their latest full length "Amor/Noir" which has to be in the running for my Album of the Year. It starts off with a cover of "ADIDAS" which they pull of but the heart of the song is so firmly entrenched in Korn's there is only two ways to go with it, faithful to the original at the point of sounding like the band that wrote the song, or take it in another direction. They choose the first route. Then comes "Dying on the Floor". This song has a brighter under current than the bulk of the songs off "Amor/Noir" keeping it from grabbing me in the same way those songs did , but since it is different it might take it time to grow on me. They begin to excel on the remix of "This is Not a Phase" which remedies the happier elements I was on the fence with on the original. So the darker tone on this remix is much welcomed
"Dancing With Myself" has never been my favorite Billy Idol song, but their take on it distracts me from this self. It captures the celebratory flare of the song while being true to themselves. I feel "Fetisha" was perfect as it was , so remixing it finds the bar raised pretty high. It takes the song in more of an electronic direction and strips some of the heaviness way. The groove is pretty strong, though I still favor the original. What I was saying earlier about making a song your own is achieved on their cover of Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time". It retains a playful tone, not forsaken it's 80s roots. "Wanderlust" slows down and it gives the melody some breathing room making it work even better than the original. While Marilyn Manson already gave us one cover of "Cry Little Sister" these guys pull it of better vocally.
The remix of "Heroine Overdose" has a darker and more electronic pulse. There is a gender flip with the vocals as the female half of the duo handles them on this version. A cover of Nine Inch Nails biggest song is a daunting task.But these guys tackle it pretty well. I'll round this up to a 9.5 because they made better what they had already close to perfect.
Monday, October 8, 2018
If you are a regular reader then you know Swans are one of my favorite bands. They evolved into something more akin to goth, but even at their every beginning they were still pretty dark. The 1983 debut of Swans in very influential . It set into motion industrial with bands like Godflesh owing a great deal to them.While though of as a classic, I am going to take a look and ask "Well is it actually any good ? How has it stood the test of time?" First off the opener sets the tone for the album as it is dark and uncompromising. The drums pound out one hammering beat with guitars to get noisy behind it allowing the bass to hold the meat of the song together. Gira was chanting "flex your muscles" over and over. The next song "Big Strong Boss" is a more angular pound, with guitars in favor of more noise than melody. Even Gira's chanting seems a little less focused here. They allow the drums to slowly fade into "Black Out" . The guitars follow with a more subtle clang. The bass which has been controlling the songs with it/s thump takes more of a back seat. Gira' is ranting more. There is more of a rhyme and reason to what he is doing than the song before this.
Their is more of a tribal drum feel to "Power for Power". Every thing works really well and this is the best song yet there is a dark ambiance to it. The vocals make sense and it shows the path they will eventually go down. "Freak" is more of an interlude. "Right Wrong" is another song that works off an unhinged dissonance as it clangs at you. The vocal chant is repetitive and follows the march of the drums. I think this does sound like what they do it's just a crudely early version of it. This album is the neanderthal version of what they are going to evolve into. There is a thick distortion to "Thank You" . The drums are more syncopated and not as tribal. Gira takes on a more aggressive howl. "Weakling" is the song they have been most likely to play from this era in recent years and it works in with the newer jammy drone of what they did most recently. Gira's vocals are more of a spoken rant. I like how the organized chaos of this song pulls itself together.
It's almost hard to call "Gang" a song so I have always thought of it as a weird outro as it's just drums and what sounds like drugged out chanting. So I'll give this album a 7.5, each album got progressively better as the band went along and started adding more melody. At the time when this came out it might have been ground breaking as Tom Waits had yet to really dip into the weird at this point leaving the likes of Captain Beefheart and Yoko Ono to toy with noise and challenge the listener in this way.
Sunday, October 7, 2018
It was about 8 years ago when I became aware this post-punk revival was happening. It has been a tricky thing for these bands to maneuver as I want them to be true to the time period they are paying homage to but not directly rip off any one band. Then there are two camps they can fall into post-punk or goth- if they fall into post-punk I want more post than punk. If they are goth I want them to have some depth. This band out New Orleans falls into the goth camp and has a great deal of strength. They are dreamy, yet dark. Their guitar has that bat cave reverb without them sounding like thinly veiled Cure covers. Their strength is the inter play of the male and female vocals which keep them from sounding like any one band.
When they are not sailing towards the clouds of shoe gaze they can build effective tension. Sometimes these things collide in odd ways like they swirl of "Honey Insulation" . I think it's the pulse of this song that is it's saving grace as the shadows they cloak it in get a little murky. The female vocals take center stage on "Wilted". She has a less biting tone than Siouxsie taking an approach with more in common to the early 90s shoegaze bands. Things get more punk angst on "In Dreams" though this is tempered with atmosphere and moody groove from their bass player. The drums tend to ride on more of a tribal drone.This is a gothier take on shoe gaze that works really well as this song grew on me with repeat listens.
There is a brilliant blend of driving tension and dark atmosphere on "the Harrows" . The tend emotes into a aggression that can come out side ways as more of a snarl. The drone once form more of a droning pound, which to their credit keeps them away from the hi-hat like disco beat half the post-punk revival band default to . The production is interesting while the album leans in the Bat Cave direction, the layers of guitar come across clearly.I'll give this album a 9 as even when it gets lost in the shadows of the back alleys they are haunting it's atmosphere is still compelling .
Saturday, October 6, 2018
They are not fucking around here. They kick the door down and roaring full speed ahead like a more hardcore version of Motorhead. I prefer the less punk and more deliberate "Steps of Ziggurat". Even then there is a lot of heavy going on , but this is not their finest hour in terms of songwriting. This one feels like it doesn't develop much until the last minute. There are guitar solos flying everywhere and the riffs are pretty mean, but cool riffs alone doesn't make a good song. The title track finds them throwing themselves into the more rapid thrash attack of the bands Motorhead side. There is more substance to "Sanctioned Annihilation". It is slower than the previous song. The chords ring out to create a darker sound. Pike's vocals are yelled in the same gritty bellow. The tempo changes and at ten minutes the song has room to sprawl out and explore.
"The Pallid" mask is heavy and the guitars are dense, however it just sounds like drunk post apocalyptic pirates making noise. "God of the Godless" has more groove and feels like they have an intended destination in mind. Though they could drone on this for the entire five minutes. Instead they opt for the punk Motorhead mode. "Freebooter" might be the albums fastest song for the first minute and a half, but when it slows down for a few bars it feels more alive. This could be any thrash revival band that started off more punk than metal. This album is all about the guitar solos though. "the Witch and the Christ" is a darker more intense take on their Motorhead side. It has more of a sludge attack that reminds me of Mastodon. Four minutes in it begins to bore me. It's not a bad song it's just too long to keep me interested.
They have a knack for always ending the album with the best song. "Drowning Dog" is no exception. It is more traditional metal, so think older Iron Maiden meets Motorhead. The vocals are somewhat more sung that barked. The whole flow of the song, while at a moderate thrash tempo doesn't sacrifice aggression for melody. So they can pull it off they are happier stomping through muddy water. I'll give this album a 7, if you read this review then you can put two and two together in regards to what I did not like about the album. It sounds good and is heavy, so that should satisfy the bulk of a fan based I am not numbered among.