Interview: Marc Heal

“It’s funny, having worked so hard to make a living out of music I found once I’d got there that I’d broken myself in the process. I needed a break to do some, uh, emotional housekeeping.”

Live: Katatonia – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

KATATONIA (+ TheGreat Discord, Ghost Bath) Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 07/05/2017

Wave Gotik Treffen - The Preview June 2017

The gathering of 2017s Wave Gotik Treffen, is but a month away. Time to get the fascinators out and the boots polished!

Review: Mortiis – 'The Great Corrupter'


Review: Freakangel – 'How The Ghost Became'


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Review: Byronic Sex & Exile – 'Under The Gaze Of And Indifferent God'

'Under The Gaze Of And Indifferent God'

Once again the opium smoke parts as the crypt creaks open to reveal the dark and shadowy shape of a new Byronic Sex & Exile EP. As old school as Bela Lugosi's cape 'Under The Gaze Of And Indifferent God' is a homage to the decadent trad goth of years gone by played with a knowing glint of irony in its eye.

Picking up where last years 'Crimes Of Passion' EP left off with another four cuts of steady mechanical beats, old school guitars, synths and melancholic vocals with elements of acts such as Dead Can Dance, Gene Loves Jezebel, Flesh For Lulu, Rose Of Avalanche, Rosetta Stone, Children On Stun and Love Like Blood distilled through an atmosphere befitting a German expressionist film.

The likes of 'Under Heaven', and 'True Slave' bookend the EP with opulent and mournful gothic hymns made to echo eldritch halls. While 'Heresy In Flesh' and 'Purity' dial up the dance elements that in the 90s would have set the club scene on fire. Even though there are only four songs, the track list seems to cover all the bases in terms of what a damn good trad goth record was and still can be.

All of the old school sounds are present; drum machine beats, cheesy but atmospheric synths, and jagged post-punk guitar lines and the deep crooning baritone. But it doesn't try to recreate a specific sound. It takes those sounds and records them to a modern standard. As such the production pulls the best out of the tracks instead of trying to copy what was the standard of the era.

This is an unashamed love letter to gothic rock that takes the familiar elements and continues the tradition rather than simply imitating it into parody. As such the songs sound like classic singles rather than a clumsy rip-off, and is a joy to listen to as a result.

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Book Review: Jim Balent - 'Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #106'


'Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #106'

Dark fantasy acquires a new definition in the latest issue of 'Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose', created by Jim Balent, a Halloween themed chapter in the adventures of the Swordmaiden of the Goddess in which she faces the spirit of the festivity itself.

Tarot, her sister Raven Hex, her husband Jon Webb, and her former lover, Boo Cat, have a not so pleasant meeting with the Spirit of Halloween as it takes a ride across Salem, turning people’s costumes into their real selves as long as the day lasts.

The witchy sisters find themselves caught on a delicate situation when the city is completely turned upside down, now inhabited by monsters, demons and every creature they could have thought about to dress like during the festivity, even worse when they have to come face-to-face with an enraged group of werewolves on their own.

Such a simple story is enough for Balent to create an interesting episode on the ongoing comic series, showing that it’s not always mandatory to overthink ideas, and that sometimes it takes only an interesting plot twist near to the end to produce an entertaining piece such as this issue.

'Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose' has been known for combining erotic art with dark fantasy and some touches of gore now and then, elements very present in this issue #106 and that fight between themselves to have the perfect balance. I’d say that there was more of the first, but you never know what can happen in the next chapter, which is one of the best aspects of this comic!

As always, the level of detail in each of the issues is surprising, making it worth the two months of wait between each of them, with all of the pieces in their rightful places and an incredible colouring that can only captivate the eye of the reader. Followers of the series will be even more bewitched!

The shadows play a major role in this chapter, not only as an element of art but also as part of the narrative, making it all look gloomier than usual, and even giving its body to the Spirit of Halloween, a character I’m sure many of us will want to see again in the future!

I will only complain about the simple backgrounds on some of the panels, something that has changed gradually issue after issue. Doesn’t mean you don’t get Gods-like detailed environments anymore, but that the single coloured panels behind dark shadows are becoming more usual than I’d like to see.

As for the rest, this stand-alone issue was enough for me to remember why I fell in love with Tarot, her whole squad and entire universe, filled with seductive characters and ferocious beasts, as well as being a very well-inspired reflection on the Wicca religion and what it stands for. It’s great to see another kind of witches around beside those that sold their souls to the Devil.

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First look at Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #109

Cover A
Broadsword Comics revealed a first look at the issue #109 of dark fantasy, ongoing comic, 'Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose', which will be titled 'A Dark Union' and is scheduled to ship on late March 2018.

Besides Cover A of the issue, Broadsword Comics also revealed the Photocover Edition, the Deluxe Art Print and the SkyClad Edition. Currently, this edition and a special bundle for the issue are on sale on the company's official store.

The synopsis and covers could indicate that this issue will be focused on Tarot's sister Raven Hex and Azure, an immortal elf on a quest to conquer the human world, something he tried to do manipulating the Gothic witch. However, his plans have been foiled on multiple occasions by the Black Rose Coven.
Tarot is shot while accompanying the Skeleton Man on one of his missions! Jon must steal a police car to save her life! Time is ticking away as Tarot bleeds out! Meanwhile, Raven Hex is attacked by two of Azure's minions as they attempt to retrieve his severed arm.
18th Anniversary PhotoCover
Deluxe Art Print
Tarot#109 Skyclad edition

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Monday, 20 November 2017

Artoffact Records announces exclusive 7" vinyl by Street Sects

Toronto-based Artoffact Records announces this week that they will release an exclusive 7" vinyl by Austin, Texas duo and The Flenser recording artist Street Sects.
Supported by Pitchfork, Vice, Rolling Stone, Bandcamp Daily, and The Needle Drop, and recently having completed a North American tour with Dalek, Street Sects has recorded two new tracks, one of which is built on disassembled parts of a Controlled Bleeding song.

'Things Will Be Better in Hell' is a two song 7" single about love and relationships. Side A, Things Will Be Better in Hell, is a view from within the confines of a codependent relationship, one where addiction and love have become inseparable. Where getting clean means getting out, and is therefore unthinkable. The core mainframe of this song was built from digital reworkings of live drum samples recorded by Alton Jenkins of Future Death.

Side B, Bite Down Hard, takes a look at a 'successful' relationship. In love, the word 'forever' means until the end of life. But what happens if you make it? If you manage to stay loyal to one person, one idea, one position until your final days, how does that feel? Do you look back upon your life with a sense of pride and accomplishment, or do you lament the missed opportunities, and wonder how things might have been? Built entirely from samples that were pulled from Controlled Bleeding's 'Return of the Quiet', 'Bite Down Hard' was originally intended to be included on Controlled Bleeding's 'Carving Song's, a collection of remixes of songs from 'Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps', but as the song came together it became clear that the track was less of a "remix", and more of a Street Sects original composition, therefore warranting a separate release.

The 7” is pressed in two versions, one on clear vinyl and one on red.

STREET SECTS: Bandcamp / Facebook
ARTOFFACTBandcamp / Facebook

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We are deeply heartbroken by the loss of our friend and bandmate, Chuck Mosley. Chuck had a 
vibrant free spirit. He was also a sensitive, kind and loving soul. He wanted to be everything to 
everyone; a good partner to Pip, a good father to his children and grandson, a loyal friend, an 
accomplished chef, an entertaining performer and so much more. Chuck was funny, witty, 
charismatic and charming in a way that was only Chuck. His art and legacy will be with us all 
forever; he was truly one of a kind. 

On November 3rd, Chuck, Mark, Erie and I were celebrating the release of an album Chuck held 
very dear. Less than a week later, he was no longer with us. Over the past few days, we have spent 
a great deal of time contemplating the best way to honour our friend. At Pip and Doug Esper’s 
urging, Mark, Erie and I will continue to support the album that Chuck was so proud of. The three 
of us will donate any proceeds earned from album sales throughout our release cycle in 2018 to 
MusiCares, a not-for-profit charity, in Chuck’s name. MusiCares' services and resources cover a 
wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies and each case is treated with integrity 
and confidentiality.

Mark, Erie and I wish to express our deepest condolences to his soulmate Pip Logan, their children 
Erica and Sophie, Grandson Wolfgang and dearest friend, Doug Esper. Unfortunately, Chuck’s 
premature demise left his family without the means to send him off properly and move into their 
next phase of life. Your gesture of a donation to help with his final expenses would be greatly 

Addiction is a horrible burden to bear for the afflicted and their loved ones. If you are, or know 
someone who needs help, don’t be afraid to ask. Help is only a call away. For more information on 
available resources, please visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

Rest In Peace, Chuck.

Love always,
Chris Kniker, Mark Gemini Thwaite and Erie Loch

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The UK based industrial/electro-pop group Inertia celebrate their 25th Anniversary with a special
show on 10th December at The Dublin Castle in Camden, London, a venue they played back in
1993! Former members of the band such as Alexys B, Ed Luxmoore, Bob Malkowski, Kneill X and 
Andrew Trail will return for this exclusive show, performing together with the current line-up.
 Very special supporting guests for the night are Black Light Ascension and The Frixion.

Inertia have just released their new studio album, ‘Dream Machine’, which includes the single
‘Only Law’. A video for the song can be seen here:    

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Sharon den Adel launches new solo project: My Indigo

Sharon den Adel, founder, frontwoman and vocalist of Within Temptation, recently revealed a new solo project in which she's been working in secret. Both the project and its first single share the name of 'My Indigo.'

Honring her own words, explaining that this project has nothing similar with her Within Temptation music, the single shows a summer vibe more inclined to electro pop, a radical change from her usual metal style that has already gained 3.000 likes on Youtube.

Although simple in lyrics and structure, My Indigo has a well produced and composed sound that takes the best of its genre, while perfectly matching den Adel's vocal style. It may surprise at first, but the song becomes more enjoyable during the first chorus.

On the other side, the band said that "we have a few important bits and pieces coming up in the near future."

Hi there!
I know you all have been waiting for the announcement we were going to make, and here it is.
For many years we’ve been touring and everytime we came home I used to start writing songs almost immediately and was happy to do so. After the last tour I tried to do the same but it wasn’t the same. Eventually I found myself in a crisis which was bigger than just not being able to write songs. The years of touring and working under a certain pressure took its toll and besides that there were things in my personal life I had to deal with.
I really took time off, but when I started writing again it was something totally different than WT, but this was what I needed and I embraced it. One song led to another and it turned into a whole album. I gave it a name and it’s called ‘My Indigo’. My Indigo is about my journey these last few years and I would like to share it with you. Besides all of this I’m happy to tell you that my journey has led me back to Within Temptation. There will be a new album and a tour but more about that in the near future.
Today my first single will be released and this song is the core of my album and has the same name: My Indigo. My Indigo is not at all like Within Temptation and it wasn’t meant to be that at all. I wrote it first of all for myself, but nevertheless I hope you’ll enjoy it as well!
Thanks & take care!

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review: Ivardensphere – 'Hesitation'


Ivardensphere have enjoyed a great run of albums in recent years, in particular 2013's 'The Methuselah Tree' and 2015's 'Fable' which saw the band experiment with their tribal-industrial sound in interesting ways. 2017 sees the release of the band's latest full-length studio outing, 'Hesitation', and album that given its predecessors has a lot to live up to.

Ivardensphere have long since proved they can be experimental, cinematic and club friendly all in the same breath. But the challenge has shifted somewhat – as an established act who have found and perfected their sound (as well as kept up quite a heavy release schedule) they need to keep pushing their sound further and bringing in new ideas and elements to keep things interesting – and this is a challenge they are rising to.

'Hesitation' picks up where 'Exile' (released earlier this year) leaves off and feels very much like “Volume 2” in terms of the production and the ideas at work. But it isn't simply “more of the same”. Those identifiably Ivardensphere elements are present and correct noisy dissonance, apocalyptic samples, deep bass, hard but danceable beats and sheer ferocity mixing freely with elegant trance and exotic instruments. But with this familiar fingerprint is a relentless march forward. The production style of Fox only gets better and Blacker's contributions and vocals get stronger with every passing album.

Songs such as 'Where?', 'Pray For The Day', 'Align – Get In Line – Stay Alive', 'Surface Tension', 'Hesitation', 'Red Sun Black', 'Rapture' and 'Shroud' are assimilate a wide-range of influences but always maintain that rhythmic groove appeal that is at the core of Ivardensphere but with eyes fixed firmly on the horizon.

'Hesitation' is another strong outing from a band that have reconciled their past with their ambitions and provides so much potential for future albums to explore. There is so much going on here but the band distil it all in a way that just works so well, and once again proves that they are a band that despite their successes still feel like they have everything still to play for.  

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Review: Inertia – 'Dream Machine'


'Dream Machine'

Inertia have been around now for 25 years flying the flag for techno and pop infused industrial music and have left a great body of work in their wake. 2017 sees the release of album number thirteen in the form of 'Dream Machine' and what we get is a slower, more methodical Inertia that is in keeping with Gary Numan and Depeche Mode's recent albums. The band have always played with their sound and style from the get go and 'Dream Machine' sees the dark rock elements and the slower paces get more chance to shine this time round.

Inertia have always been a dance-orientated act and their back catalogue is awash with pounding club anthems. And there is till plenty to appeal to that side of their sound with tracks such as 'Only Law', 'Beyond Concrete', 'Afloat Above Abide', and the utterly brilliant 'Pray' providing some undeniable club bangers. But with the inclusion of the darker and rockier likes of 'Dream', the symphonic 'Starlight', Peter Gabriel classic 'Games Without Frontiers', and the minimal 'Solitudal' the emphasis shifts from dance beats and melodies into more complex instrumentation and heavier subject matters.

The slow pacing may throw some people off but the band maintain a balance with the production giving their more dance-friendly numbers the kick they deserve and at the same time piling on the atmosphere for the introspective tracks. The production as always is clean, modern, and befitting a band of Inertia's veteran status.

This album may prove a little more divisive this time around with its darker and slower feel. But even as they go in this direction there is still plenty of the catchy dance friendly core sound present to keep their long-time fans happy. It's a hard balance to strike but Inertia have managed to pull it off.  

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Review: Exit Eden – 'Rhapsodies In Black'

'Rhapsodies In Black'

You know you have something great in your hands when it becomes an addiction to your ears, when you find yourself delaying the review part of the job just to fully listen to the songs, focusing only on their sound, their feelings and how you yourself feel because of them. That’s the best I can describe the experience of listening to 'Rhapsodies in Black', Exit Eden’s debut album: orgasmic.

The tracks these ladies have selected for their first work of art show that their proposal is as valid as any: that any popular song can become a sound great as in rock-metal. Their four voices, so different and diverse, add just another layer of enchant to the music they’ve done, combining their styles to create something unique.

People will find it interesting that there are several pop songs from different origins in this album, making it even a more exciting experience to rediscover tracks we all know so well and that, in some cases, we grew up with. It has the beauty of the past, the feeling of nostalgia, but also the surprise element when the changes become more than obvious.

Despite the negative comments some have written because of their nature as a cover group, which means we will only see new versions of other songs coming from Clémentine, Amanda, Marina and Anna, I don’t see how that could be an issue after listening to Rhapsodies in Black. Many of these versions are even better than the originals!

I can only complain about their chosen singles and release order. If it would have been up to me, 'Frozen' and 'Heaven' instead of 'Question of Time' and 'Unfaithful' as the girls’ voices and music are in perfect balance in their Madonna Cover and Amanda makes a better job in “Heaven” than in their first single.

It can sound a little strange since we’re talking about four girls, but one of my personal favourites was the closing song, 'Fade to Grey' a duet between Clémentine, who sings beautifully in her mother tongue, and Anna, who takes charge of the parts in English in a brilliant way. It could be interesting to see these two singers together again in the near future, but only time will say.

Despite being a loyal Little Monster, 'Paparazzi' amazes me all the time because of Clémentine. The same applies for 'Incomplete' a track to which Marina gave so much grief it made me cry once, and the killing vocals of Amanda in the oh-so-loved 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' no matter how much I like the sound of the four voices together.

As for now, I will try to focus once again in my daily life and other responsibilities, since I’ve been doing almost nothing else in my free time besides listening to Exit Eden’s music and wondering what their name could be about or come from. I will only ask you not to see who of these is my favourite singer and take yours as well.

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