Golgotha, Mors Diligentis (Xtreem Music 2022)

Golgotha renew their doom metal music on their fifth album, Mors Diligentis.

The roots of Golgotha stretch back to 1992 when the Spanish doom metal band was created by Vicente J. Payá. They started recording music within a year, and demos, EPs, and long-players followed, as did line-up changes. The band went on hiatus in 1998 and, after briefly reemerging in 2005, Golgotha returned with staying power in 2014, cracking out the well-regarded Erasing The Past album in 2019. Now we have another incarnation with a shake-up in the vocals. The band for Mors Diligentis is María J. Lladó (clean vocals), Miriam Vallés (guttural vocals), Vicente J. Payá (guitar), Andrew Spinosa (bass), and Tomeu Crespí (drums).

The new record has eight tracks, opening with “My Burden.” The pace is slow and deliberate, unhurried. The first vocals are melodic and crystal clear. Hard on the heels of the lyrical singing is the harsh vocalization that presses home the dire nature of the conveyed emotions. The voices alternate throughout the song in an obvious insistence on the duality of darkness and light – light, after all, casts a shadow behind anything it encounters. “Our Trust Betrayed” proceeds at a brighter clip, although its tone is more actively ominous than the lead song. It has the broad appeal of a single while maintaining the essential dreariness of doom and gothic music. Nicely done.

Every song on the album has heft, and there are a couple that are particularly heavy doom pieces, like “Farewell Humanity.” This one is my favorite of the set for its pace, length, and deliberateness. It matters that the guttural vocals begin the song while the clean vocals follow later. There are also great pieces that flash out at a charging pace, like “Waiting For My Death,” that serve to variegate and deepen the texture of the album. The music overall has a high level of polished production and, while striving to broadcast on the doom wavelength, effectively straddles adjacent pathways. Recommended.

Mors Diligentis is out now through Xtreem Music. Hit up the links below.

Links.

Golgotha website, http://www.golgothaofficial.com/

Bandcamp, https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/mors-diligentis

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GolgothaOfficialBand/

Xtreem Music, http://www.xtreemmusic.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Golgotha, Mors Diligentis (Xtreem Music 2022)

Bloody Hammers, Washed In The Blood (2022)

It’s Halloween – you need Bloody Hammers at your party. Washed In The Blood is out now.

Bloody Hammers is the Charlotte, North Carolina horror doom rock duo of Anders Manga (vocals, guitar, drums, bass, keys) and Devallia (keys, bass). For more than a decade, they have been laying down shivering grooves beginning with their self-titled album in 2012. Five more records followed over the years, and now we have the seventh, Washed In The Blood. The new one holds as many horrors as those that came before. This time around, Bloody Hammers took the DIY approach, and the result is a high water mark in their catalogue.

There are nine killer tracks on the new record. It all kicks off with a bang on “Black Sunday.” A serious riff is followed by a big, full hard rock sound and immediately recognizable vocals. It is called a hook for a reason and this one sinks in true and deep, putting me in mind of radio leads from not so long ago. This song would be an excellent opener for a live show.

The horror movie elements are infused in every song, hitting especially solidly on tracks like “Phantasmagoria” where the clear narrative and singable chorus creates a clear path to the anthemic. “And Soon The Darkness” is a rousing rough-houser with a gruff edge that gets polished in the vocals. “At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul,” on the other hand, goes full sinister and heavy gothic.

The entire album is winner and I played it through twice on the first listen. I say in all honesty that I like every track, but the song I can’t get out of my head is “Water to the Dead.” It is a combination of the insistent guitar and the heavy melodic surety in the way that the vocals execute the lyrics that combine to make it unforgettable. “Last Rites Of Lucifer” is a top shelf contender, too, and the final piece, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” eliminates any doubt about the album making year’s best lists far and wide. I have been a Bloody Hammers fan all along, and the new record is at the top of the queue here at Shardik Media headquarters. Highly recommended.

Washed In The Blood is out now on digital, CD, and vinyl. Check and see if any physicals remain at the link below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodyhammers.bandcamp.com/album/washed-in-the-blood

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BloodyHammers

© Wayne Edwards

Bloody Hammers, Washed In The Blood (2022)

Sonja, Loud Arriver (Cruz Del Sur Music 2022)

Loud Arriver is the full-length debut album from Philadelphia goth rockers Sonja.

The beginnings of Sonja stretch back to 2014, and the firm formation began a few years after that. Founder Melissa Moore (guitar, vocals) was known up to that point for her work with black metal band Absu, and before then with the thrash band Rumpelstiltskin Grinder. Sonja is musically quite different, moving more in the gothic rock lane. They released a two-song demo in 2018, and work on Loud Arriver started the next year. It is great to have the finished product available now. Moore is joined by Ben Brand (bass) and Grzesiek Czapla (drums) for the album.

There are eight tracks on the new record, getting going with “When The Candle Burns Low…” A haunting voice emerges from the mist, setting the mood. The music fully drops with a deep gothic attitude, surging guitars, and persistent percussion. Moore has an excellent voice for this kind of music and it is hard to believe this is the first time she has sung lead. “Nylon Nights” is a straight up hard rocker with a killer opening riff and a melody that sticks in your head. “Pink Fog” has a kind of club feel in the chorus while the slower movements are rather melancholy. The first triplet offers three very different looks at the band’s style.

Other songs to note are “Fuck, Then Die,” which, despite its aggressive title, is tantalizingly engrossing in the execution. “Moans From The Chapel” is a great song that is fast and sharp, and it is surely a crowd pleaser when played live. The title track anchors the set at the end. It opens acoustically with gentle vocals, then moves into a more rugged build. Ultimately, it takes off at a dead run. There is nice guitar work in the middle, and this song might be my favorite on the album, accomplishing, as it does, exceptional transitions and seamlessly melding together separate ideas into a unified composition. Fine work. All the tracks hold up well and I hope that this is the start of a long string of big albums. Recommended.

Loud Arriver is out on Friday, September 23rd through Cruz Del Sur Music in digital, CD, and vinyl. You can pick it up through the links below.

Band photo by Don Vincent Ortega.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sonjaband.bandcamp.com/album/loud-arriver

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Sonjabooking/

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com

© Wayne Edwards

Sonja, Loud Arriver (Cruz Del Sur Music 2022)

The 69 Eyes, Drive (Atomic Fire 2022)

Goth ‘N’ Roll originators The 69 Eyes invite you to get into their car for a little trip on their new EP, Drive.

OK, look, maybe you know about the Helsinki Vampires and maybe you don’t. The 69 Eyes is a more recognized act outside the US, true, but whatever your perspective, you cannot deny their gravitational pull over thirty-three years and twelve albums, several of of which have gone platinum. From Helsinki, Finland, the band is Jyrki 69 (vocals), Bazie (guitar), Timo Timo (guitar), Archzie (bass), and Jussi 69 (drums).

Drive is a quick take, with three radio-length songs and a bonus live track on the physical formats. The title track is first, and it is pop rock gold with a light-hearted sinisterness in the vocal and an extra dose of catchiness so you won’t forget it. It is a little bit like a combination of Golden Earring and Type O Negative, if Peter Steele had toned it down and perked it up a lot. A delight.

“Call Me Snake” opens on muted mechanical noises, quickly introducing a nice fuzzy riff and then a guitar melody. Jyrki 69 steps in and rubs a healthy does of soft goth on it all. The reference is fairly obvious, and it makes me smile, as does the lead guitar break at the midpoint. “California” is the driving-est of the songs on Drive. You can feel the wind on your face as you drive your convertible out of the hills around Malibu and head toward the city. Spot on – vampires in LA.

“Two Horns Up” is a live track you only get when you buy one of the physical versions of the EP. It is a great song, and it is nice to hear what a live experience can be like. I think this brief collection of tunes from The 69 Eyes is the perfect introduction to the band for those who are new to their music. Long-time fans, of course, are always happy to have something more from this storied party band. Recommended.

Drive is out on Friday, September 16th through Atomic Fire Records.

Band photo by Marek Sabogal.

Links.

The 69 Eyes website, http://69eyes.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/the69eyes

Atomic Fire Records, https://www.atomicfire-records.com/products

© Wayne Edwards

The 69 Eyes, Drive (Atomic Fire 2022)

Inner Missing, Dead Language (Inverse Records 2022)

Inner Missing fashion gothic metal layers on their ninth album, Dead Language.

Inner Missing is a duo from Russia made up of Sigmund (vocals, guitar) and Melaer (keys, bass). In the early days of the band, their music leaned more toward doom identities. As time passed, a gothic sensibility took over. Since 2009, Inner Missing has released two EPs and eight full-length albums – an incredible accomplishment. Dead Language continues the saga.

What’s this album about? The band has an answer. “Aleister Crowley is one of the most iconic figures in Gothic culture and definitely the most misunderstood one ever. This is an attempt to rethink his poetry and reimagine his myth – no more, no less.” For a gothic metal album, that makes a lot of sense. Sigmund goes on to say a bit more about the theme of the music. “No one would argue that poetry is a dead language today and music is going to share its fate sooner or later. This album is an allegorical requiem to all forms of art that are already gone and to all forms of art that will be gone in the future.” That is a lot to work with, and they do.

Dead Language has six songs, beginning with the title track. The atmosphere created in the opening bars is frightening, edge-setting; gothic. The vocals in duet combine talking and singing in a way that deepens the delivery. The pace is slow, giving the concepts time to well up as momentum builds over the course of the song. “The Quest” is next and it takes a more active strategy in its formations. “Empty Rooms” lures you in with an increasingly ravening attitude tempered by melodic vocalizations.

Side Two opens with “Long Odds,” a song that has the feel of a quest into distant lands. “Mute” alternates disarmingly between softer incantations and grave, consequential intercessions. Final thoughts are offered with “At Sea.” You get the feeling hearing it that it is already too late to make any meaningful change and you must ride out whatever circumstance you are in. We all know what that is like, so the song invokes a shared understanding.

Dead Language is out now, available from Inverse Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the best buying bet. This is accessible gothic music and certainly worth a listen. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://innermissing.bandcamp.com

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/InnerMissing

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/shop/catalog/

Inner Missing, Dead Language (Inverse Records 2022)

Paradise Lost, At The Mill (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Paradise Lost release their second live album of 2021, At The Mill.

The importance of Paradise Lost to the heavy music community is difficult to overstate. They are pioneers in transformative doom metal and are founders, really, of what became gothic doom. Since forming in 1988 they have released sixteen studio albums, including 2020’s Obsidian. Their place is permanent in the history of metal and they continue to create and innovate with each passing year.

This new album is a recording of the livestream the band did last fall at The Mill Nightclub in Yorkshire, England, their hometown. It follows Gothic – Live at Roadburn 2016 that came out earlier this year. Both are complete sets but there is almost no overlap between them. The set list for At The Mill is “Widow,” “Fall from Grace,” “Blood and Chaos,” “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us,” “Gothic,” “Shadowkings,” “One Second,” “Ghosts,” “The Enemy,” “As I Die,” “Requiem,” “No Hope in Sight,” “Embers Fire,” “Beneath Broken Earth,” “So Much Is Lost,” and “Darker Thoughts.”

If you are a fan you will know all the songs. The melodic metal tinted with dark, gothic themes and enriched by the lyrical lead guitar work is nectar to your ears. Paradise Lost has always been known for its compelling live performances and they are holding nothing back on At The Mill. While the band already has many live albums in their catalogue, I recommend this one as well to hear their current state of excellence.

At The Mill is out this Friday, July 16th, through Nuclear Blast Records. You can get the digital at Bandcamp and the vinyl or CD/Blu Ray combo at the Nuclear Blast shop. The Blu Ray is a good option if you missed the original livestream.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://paradiselostofficial.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-mill

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial/

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sonstiges/paradise-lost-at-the-mill-cd-blu-ray-.html

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/paradiselostuk

Paradise Lost, At The Mill (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Tundra, The Mirror Of Elizabeth (Corrupted Flesh Records 2021)

Tundra’s concept EP The Mirror Of Elizabeth gets a limited edition stand-alone release.

The story goes that this EP was originally recorded in 2013 but never released on its own as intended. It was, however, released in its entirety on the Dreams of a Gone Existence split with Korium in 2015.

Why get it now? There are a couple of fascinating iterations in this release to choose from, including a fairly plain cassette version and one bundle that has a necklace with a bit of blood in it. Your interest all depends on your level of fandom here.

The music itself is a themed cycle concerning Elizabeth Bathory, remembered in history for bathing in human blood to maintain her youth, along with other assorted purported activities. There is an intro piece and then four songs. The main tracks are a raw brand of Black Metal with a caustic edge in the guitars and vocals. It is grim and gritty music – just exactly right for the subject matter. But it is more than that, too. I like this EP a lot. It isn’t run-of-the-mill Black Metal at all as it has strong doom and gothic elements to it. There are even sorrowful moments, especially in the title track and the closing song, “Triumphant March Of Death.”

If you had heard about this musical sequence and always wanted it in its own presentation then this is a good week for you. Definitely grab it up if you want a hard copy, and if you have never heard it before find a way to listen. All Black Metal fans should definitely hear The Mirror Of Elizabeth. Recommended.

The limited edition cassette can be pre-ordered now for a May 14th shipment and the digital has been available ready to go. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://corruptedfleshrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-mirror-of-elizabeth

Corrupted Flesh Records, https://www.corrupted-flesh.com/product/tundra-the-mirror-of-elizabeth-limited-edition-tape-incl-digital-download

Tundra website, https://www.totalhumancollapse.net/tundra.html

Tundra Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/tundrablackmetal/

Tundra, The Mirror Of Elizabeth (Corrupted Flesh Records 2021)

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Finnish melodic Death Metal band Dark The Suns release their fourth full-length album.

According to the Microsoft translator, the album title Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is “grief raged in the darkness of my heart” in English. That is the perfect theme for the style of music Dark The Suns creates. The band started as a solo project by Mikko Ojala in 2003, evolving into a duo with Inka Tuomaala. After releasing three albums over the years, the band split up in 2013. The new album is their first music together as Dark The Suns since then.

There are ten songs in the set. The music is theatrical and emotive, cascading between quiet, lyrical moments and big metal explosions. You can get a sharp image in your head while listening, created by the fullness of the composition. For example, the opening track can be described as what we might expect if Danny Elfman wrote Death Metal music. Imagine Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King in a tight frontal shot marching up that crazy hill pumping his arms and moving with purpose in The Nightmare Before Christmas. “Spirit in the Dark” is the perfect music for it. Very theatrical, very full, and a complete vision.

There are symphonic elements throughout, and progressive ones as well. Even with this kind of complexity and attention to drama and presentation the metal music is always still there. The songs land at about radio length, tightly formed and design for impact. In this album you will find power and angst in the loud moments as well as the quiet ones. Recommended.

Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is out now. You can buy it at Bandcamp and listen through the usual streaming outlets.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://darkthesuns.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/darkthesunsofficial

Label, https://www.inverse.fi/site/

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Tribulation, Where The Gloom Becomes Sound (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Tribulation strike out on their fifth crusade of long-playing gothic horror, tuning the guitars to mysticism and setting the compass toward cemeteries.

The band began in Sweden around the turn of the century under another name playing a style of death metal that curved over time toward gothic metal and doom. Since 2004, Johannes Andersson (vocals and bass) and Adam Zaars (guitar) have been the driving forces in the band. Oscar Leander (drums) and Joseph Tholl (guitar) arrived more recently to ply sonic dimensions of decay with the founders. The most recent studio album was Down Below (2018) and the band released a live set in 2019, Alive and Dead at Södra Teatern.

The music begins sounding for all the world like the soundtrack to a horror movie – you can see in your mind the dancing skeletons when you hear the eerie refrain. The guitars land with a muted push, and the vocals are presented at a death metal crossover level. The melody of the guitar is an echoing lament and the chorus is solidly rooted in an old school metal style. The bridges are theatrical, mimicking bow-touched strings. The lead break is a soaring epitaph. It is a major production, “In Remembrance,” and it is just the first song.

In some ways, the music is a bit like a modulated, more approachable Mercyful Fate essence, although clearly less doctrinaire in the narrative. The songs are more about the vaporous essence and feeling than they are about pushing a specific idea or intention. “Leviathans,” for example has lilting quality to it while being surrounded all the while by a heavy mist that could be holding dire consequences.

“Lethe” is a lovely, sad piano piece and the very next song (my favorite on the album) is the crashing, rampaging “Daughter of the Djinn.” Heading toward the end of the album, “Funeral Pyre” is an adrenaline-fueled climax, setting up “The Wilderness,” the final song that walks you into the woods and leaves you there, feeling somehow ready to face the unknown. The experience is dark and dramatic. Recommended.

Where The Gloom Becomes Sound is available now from Metal Blade Records in all manner of visual variants.

Links.

Website, https://www.tribulation.se/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TribulationSweden

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/tribulation/

Tribulation, Where The Gloom Becomes Sound (Metal Blade Records 2021)

My Dying Bride, Macabre Cabaret review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Hot on the heels of The Ghost Of Orion released earlier this year, My Dying Bride issues even more new music with Macabre Cabaret.

My Dying Bride is a storied band. A pioneer of Doom Metal and atmospheric Death Metal, not to mention Gothic Metal, they have been a mainstay in heavy music for thirty years. The band is Andrew Craighan (guitars, keyboards, and bass), Aaron Stainthorpe (vocals), Lena Abé (bass), Shaun Macgowan (keyboards and violin), Jeff Singer (drums), and Neil Blanchett (guitars). Macabre Cabaret includes three songs.

The title track is a ten minute long expression of dark beauty. It is solemn and ethereal, with movements of quiet reflection seamlessly transforming into forceful, surrounding dread. “A Secret Kiss” echoes like a seafaring nightmare told on a dark rocking ocean after the sun goes down. It is the essence of sinister. “A Purse Of Gold And Stars” is a plea to unseen universal forces. A quiet piano and softly spoken lyrics glide atop a churning malevolence of sound and, as the song progresses, a ghostly accompaniment of violin and disembodied choir. The final simple singular notes are piercingly haunting.

Macabre Cabaret is out now and available at the links below. The CD reportedly has an additional track, “Orchestral Shores (Buiksloterkerk Cathedral Mix).” Fans of the band will immediately embrace this album, and it is an excellent introduction for newcomers as well. Recommended.

Photo by John Steel.

Links.

Website, http://www.mydyingbride.net/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MyDyingBrideOfficial/

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/mini-cd/my-dying-bride-macabre-cabaret.html

My Dying Bride, Macabre Cabaret review (Nuclear Blast 2020)