Dearest DeathRat Readers,
As we embark on 2014, let us do it with some beastinâ€™ new tunes! What follows in these pages are some of the best that I have heard of late, both newcomers, and new material from our classic favourites. We also have an interview with legendary Jim Vance who has been making music we love for many years and has had experience in all formats from vinyl to digital. I hope the wait was worth it and you enjoy what you read. Make sure you take a few minutes to give each band a listen. They deserve it. Thanks! Hannah
Photographer name: R.W. Steele Photography Photographer link: https://www.facebook.com/RWSteelePhotography Cover Model: Punk Pixie Cover Model Name: Nikki Piombino Links: https://www.facebook.com/alternativemodel http://www.modelmayhem.com/2798437
Artist Reviews Dreams in Hell- “Oblivion” The new LP from Cincinnati-based “Dreams in Hell” features not only phenomenal music, but also art for each track. Dark punk from the four-piece (plus guests) features the heaviness of traditional DeathRock with the fast-paced mojo of The Ramones. Each member has played in other acts as well, gathering the experience needed to create what is featured on this ninetrack album. I’m a sucker for guitar-driven DeathRock which is certainly not lacking throughout this album. My biggest concern is the fact that we haven’t heard about them sooner. And if this is your introduction to Dreams in Hell, go have a listen and become friends.
Covered Faces-ScrapTape Having reviewed work by Covered Faces in the past, I was pretty looking forward to some new tracks. Delving further into what electronics can do, this series of ‘works in progress’ are pretty fun to listen to. I know a lot of people prefer raw over electronic, but even without the vocals, this is pretty darkly beautiful and certainly appeals to my ears.
Seventh Circle- The Struggle (2013 Special Edition Remaster) The twenty-four most dark and Gothic songs you will likely ever hear. It’s not just music, it is composition layered upon layers of layering. Just listening to this re-mastered edition of “The Struggle” conjures images of cathedrals, gargoyles and vampires going up in ash from the crosses being thrown their way. With members Adam Pederson, Kevin Wiler, and guest appearances by Saviour Machine’s Eric Clayton (the Peter Murphy of Christian Goth), there is nothing negative to say about this album. It is intense, dark, piano driven but by no means exclusively. The tracks on this re-mastered album span a decade or more of work and the hard work is easily heard. One of the most amazing albums I have heard this year.
Leper- “Hexenprozess” This concept album by the amazing, phenomenal, brilliantly wonderful Leper is a masterpiece that must be shared with the world. Inspired by the tragedies of the Salem Witch Trials, Leper has developed content befitting this historical event. The album tracks the tale with Leper’s beautifully dark atmosphere that has us so enthralled with their previous work, while moving forward with new ideas and ever changing creativity. I will forever review Leper albums as they come not only because of their traditional use of the haunting, but also because of the depth of character. There is honesty in these albums, there is criticism when there needs to be, there is a challenge in every track and there is a peace that the listener is left with. Hexenprozess is dark and dreary in a way that hurts too perfectly. I suppose that’s the way life is sometimes. Leper doesn’t keep their faith a secret, but they have developed a reputation among the Goth world that extends beyond personal beliefs and it is that honesty that will keep them going on the path to universal success. Leper doesn’t preach. Leper practices. Leper relates. And the brainchild of Leper, Skot Shaw, along with the musicians he brings into the project, creates something beyond music. Check out this piece of art on Leper’s bandcamp page and give them a like on Facebook.
Creature Feature – “The Netherworld” Single The babes of Creature Feature released a new single near the end of 2013 on their label “Villains & Vaudevillians” entitled “The Netherworld”. It exhibits much of their artistic charm while keeping with the traditional dark comedy of the duo. As always, we are left hungering for more pumpkin and fearing what accidents may befall us after listening to this new single by Creature Feature.
Hansen- “Playlist” Have you ever heard of Hansen? The post-punk duo from Kiel? Well, now you have. Now that you have heard of Hansen, you should go and hear Hansen. Dark music at its melodramatic best can be found by way of a simple search engine and between Facebook and Bandcamp, we now have a plethora of material to listen to. Hansen is right near the top of my list of must-listen-to bands for 2014. Keep an ear ready to listen. This album is atmospheric (which can be a vague description, but it is true nonetheless) and the instrumentation plus heady German vocals create something a little different. My favourite track on this “Playlist” is probably “Monde und Sterne”. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds pretty sublime. “Endstation” gives us more of a punk edge with a grunge recording and even a few inputs from our electronic age. No one song sounds the same. They are each unique and have something different to offer. I am so pleased to be able to introduce you all to the world of Hansen.
Pazz Kluger- “Slip Away” Single The new single by Pazz Kluger can be described in three aspects. The first is the rhythm. It is a perfect beat, perfect tempo, it’s just perfect. Second, the notation is brilliantly orchestrated. Each note leads to the next perfectly. The harmonizing of instrumentation to vocals is perfect. The third aspect is the lyrical composition. I’m a sucker for lyrics like this. It’s very old-school Morrissey, but without some of the desperately over-self-indulgent thought. It’s honest. No one has ever not related to this. Pazz Kluger will be gifting us with a new EP this year and I will be reviewing it as soon as my ears get to hear the new sounds.
Ruined Conflict Ruined Conflict is a pretty awesome act that the industrial world has been needing in order to freshen things up. The year 2013 saw some good things for them. A music video for “United We Stand and Fall” was seen and well produced. The gritty vocals of Xavier Morales provide us with something real and solid when placed alongside the beats of the information age. They declare that they are “One Army Screaming to be Heard” and I wholly believe that they will be. If you are inclined to the industrial side of Goth, Ruined Conflict are the ones to watch.
Vidi Aquam – “Fog Vision” You know you have made it in the world of Goth when you are asked to play alongside The March Violets. Well, Vidi Aquam has made it. And they will be giving the Violets some fan competition. Straight out of Milan, Italy, this act has been in existence since 1994 with a variety of musicians involved from its inception. The latest album, “Fog Vision” gives us honey for our ears with the perfect balance of heavy guitars, sweet beats, and gentle keys, plus a solid bass line and gentlemanly vocals. I can hear why they’ve made it.
Shadow Image – “Kiss the Ashes” You’d be hard pressed to find a modern Goth type who hasn’t heard of Shadow Image. Their no-exceptions Gothic appearance (pale palour, deathhawk, fishnets) is a solid reflection of their music. No exceptions. It is traditional Goth as it should be. Take it or leave it. They are signed to Danse Macabre Records in Germany which has facilitated the release we anticipated for so long. This album is everything we hoped it would be. Every element is not merely played, but crafted. Michigan is lucky to have musicians like this in their midst and we are lucky to be able to listen in our homes.
She’s back! This time with a twelve-track album simply titled “Shadows”. As always, she is loved by DeathRat and we are pleased to review another album by the lady. Sophie Nadaud has released her past five albums through Zorch Factory Records since 2010’s Noisi(H)er Silence. The music is worth a fortune, but she is gifting it to us at no expense, as a free digital download from the Zorch Factory website.
As an avid William Blake fanatic from my youth, “Laughing Song” can’t be ignored as a highlight on the album. Other exciting moments include the doom of “Dark Legacy” and the multi-layered vocals of “White Shadows”.
Lo-Fi and minimalist, Madame B exceeds the expectations of anyone who is merely searching for some underground or indie artist. There is no one to compare her to. I’ve tried. I can throw out names like Lydia Lunch or Lene Lovich, but the main similarity is the individuality of the three. Sophie will never disappoint. Also check out her fine art, she’s a master painter and photographer.
Music Video Reviews Birdeatsbaby “Ghosts” The song itself is enough to rave about. If you like the dark cabaret genre in its many forms (from the hypnotic jazz of Jill Tracy to the heavily deathrock influenced KatzKab) you have probably heard of Birdeatsbaby. That, plus my reviews in previous issues, will let you in on the secret that I am a fan. The single is a beautiful composition that really haunts you. It’s one of those, “instrumentation inspired by lyrical composition and vice versa” situations. The video features the four band members in various states of ghostliness. From white contacts to painted on eyes to blacked out irises. Despite the simplicity of the video, it is actually fairly creepy, setting a tone of what is to come on the next album. We are faced with tear-stained cheeks and creepy smiles, melodic vocals and harmonic rhythms. All-in-all, it is beautiful.
Interview with Jim Vance (and all his projects) -Could you tell our readers a bit about your extensive background in the music world? I started out in the mid 90s doing a Misfits cover band called the Counterfeits. I played bass in a few other local bands. I discovered 4-track cassette recording and went crazy with that for a long time. I was very excited about playing everything myself. I did AIM, Von Dooms, Ghosts Run Wild, Thee Wild Wraith, Savage Sally, Ghosts Run Wild, Whip Bats and Phantom Maximus among other things after that. -How does “Ghosts Run Wild” differ from previous projects? Ghosts Run Wild is something I have been doing for a long time. It’s punk, it’s rock and roll but it has a lot of weird effects. I use a lot of flangers and phasers. I made a decision pretty early on to try and do something completely different than the Misfits kind of sound, because I think that the horror scene is kind of Moribund (ha) in being too slavish towards that sound and the b movie ideas and Misfits sound. I try and go off of my own imagination and am also more influenced by books than the movies. That said, Ghosts Run Wild is pretty much over. The latest release on Goblinhaus will be the last one. I want to go on with the Whip-Bats electro-goth sound and will vent my rock and roll urges through the more
stripped down and lo-fi Phantom Maximus project. But it is probably the best work I have done with Ghosts Run Wild and I would encourage everyone to check it out. It’s called “Black Sails on a Sea of Blood” and is out on Goblinhaus Records. -Which project have you felt has been your most successful? None? I have never had much mainstream success. The Von Dooms were fairly popular I guess. Some of the Phantom Maximus 5”s sold fairly well probably because they were 5”s and they are fairly uncommon as far as vinyl goes. The Whip Bats get a lot of youtube hits and the Whip Bats 7” was pretty well received. -Many full-moons ago, DeathRat reviewed Whip-Bats, what led to the conclusion of that project? It is not over! The Whip-Bats are still around and probably my main interest! I had a self released album called Demon Castle Dracula and a 7” released on Stencil Trash Records in Germany fairly recently. I felt incredibly burned out on rock and roll at one point and wanted to do something completely different. I decided to try and combine my love for 80s pop, Goblin-esque horror movie soundtrack music and early goth into one project. Also most of my rock and roll horror projects have been very stripped down and lo-fi. I wanted to try and do something hi-fi for a change. My next major work will be another WhipBats release, either an album or an EP but I plan on taking up to a year to work on it. It will be a world building release, based around an entire myth cycle and planet I am creating.
-Do you prefer working on solo projects or in groups? Solo by far. I don’t like compromising with people. I do almost everything myself. I have enjoyed doing some synth work on my friend’s horror band La Basura Del Diablo. They have a few records out that are quite good. -Having seen your recent photo filled with all your recordings, what is your preferred medium? Records, CDs, cassettes? I think vinyl has to be tops. They sell better and are just cooler to do. Cassettes are more of a nostalgia thing, but for people like me who still own lots of them or have cassette players in their car…they still live! CDs are great because they are cheap as hell to produce. I like all physical formats. Downloads are the most boring, but I realize that is something I need to get more into because it’s what the “KIDS” want right? -How have your prior albums been released and how does it compare to working with Goblinhaus? I released a lot of stuff myself on my own labels like Tri-Lobed Burning Records and Grim Ghost Records. My first release was on Reanimator Records (a cassette). Since then I have released a lot of vinyl and CDs with Valiant Death Records, ONEC Records, Dirty Ugly Records and Stencil Trash Records. Thanks to all of them! I have had a very good experience working with Goblinhaus. Goblinhaus went above and
beyond in marketing the album at horror conventions, making t-shirts, mini posters, etc…I really appreciate everything that he put into it. -Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers? Give lo-fi music a chance. It’s something different. Don’t be a slave to the Misfits or whoever else you think defines a certain genre. Make your own way even if many people don’t dig it. It’s much cooler to try and do something different than to copy someone else. Read books! There is so much more to horror than just movies (as great as they are!) Also if you are running a goth/electronic/horror type record label give the Whip-Bats a listen on youtube and write me! Or Phantom Maximus!
An Excerpt from my Journey as a Goth
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Then, in 2008, I went to the Unified Underground Conference. Itâ€™s a big thing where Christian Goths, Punk, and HardxCore kids get together to celebrate the one thing they have in common. I felt accepted. It was awesome. One of the main things that led me to the conference was finding out about this band called Bridgeshadows. Years later, I interviewed kL (Ken Lemery) for what became the first issue of DeathRat. I remember everything, from meeting Ken during the day before the conference started when I was just helping out, to the extremely weird experience of the actual Bridgeshadows performance. Donâ€™t get me wrong, there was nothing weird about the band members themselves. It was entirely me. I was prepared for what any conservatively raised good little Christian girl expects from a gathering of Christians. Lots of raising of hands and closed eyes whispering the lyrics that mean so much to them. I think I actually did that. My fellow Goths were doing some weird dancing thing that I had never seen before. Goths dance? Christian Goths dance? This was weird. Pentecostal church service dancing is basically throwing your body around in a joyous and rhythm-less glee. This had actual form.
Finally Bridgeshadows ended the night with the song that really led me there, “I Want to Die”. As a seventeen-year-old girl with no confidence and a history of depression, this hope-filled song was my lifeline. And as the intro began, I looked at the stage and saw Ken looking straight at me and mouth the words, “For you.” Despite the fact that I wrote the cheesiest journal entry about not wanting to die for once, this one gesture from Ken was more than I could have hoped for. After that night, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
(17-year-old baby-bat Hannah (far right) with that night’s line-up of Bridgeshadows)