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top10 2018 guitarrdarkThe guitar part of the dark scene continues to blossom. A lot of new young projects have appeared, which surprise not only with the quality of the material, but also with unexpected stylistic combinations, the language of lyrics, own unique features and the talent of composing. As I have often said a lot of times before mastering and mixing could be bought, but talent and ability to compose music cannot.

The rampant mix of Postpunk with Coldwave and Indie Rock continued. This mixture is already not new for the last two years. Several interesting albums were released in that genre. If the combination of Postpunk, Coldwave and New Wave was clear part of the Indie scene, then this year Postpunk in this combination has become more old-school sounding and less Indie oriented, so I don’t deny the possibility that in the future such a mixture will become part of the dark scene. It is actually happening already now. 2-3 years ago many people buried the Gothic scene and assured that it would not return. I wonder what they will say after the year 2018.

Covered genres: Gothic Rock, Postpunk, Deathrock, Darkwave, Gothic Metal, Gothabilly, Cyber Metal, Neue Deutsche Härte, Electro Metal, Folk Metal, Dark Cabaret

10. Totenwald – ‘Dirty Squats & Disco Lights’ (Deathrock, Postpunk | Germany, Plastic Bomb Records)

The German band TOTENWALD was created in 2014 in Berlin and a year later released the first official material as a digital self-release. In 2016 the first EP was out with very promising material in an explosive mixture of Deathrock and Postpunk genres with female vocals. 4 years after its foundation the project releases the debut full-length work. For 4 years the project did not lose its sound and garage original features. This is still the same Postpunk / Deathrock with dirty sound and female vocals in English flavoured with unusual use of the saxophone, the sound of which in such music is not expected at all. And even despite such an indie-seeming description the project plays an old-school music sometimes even closer to Punk Rock. Very crazy in good sense music, which you can listen to with pleasure at home and to join the Gothic pogo in front of the stage on the concert. The album was released in two vinyl editions on the German label Plastic Bomb Records, in the usual CD edition on the Polish label Bat-Cave Productions, as a cassette version on the Russian label Sierpen Records and even with all these numerous formats ‘Dirty Squats & Disco Lights’ is available for free download on the Bandcamp of the project. The work sounds fresh, not common and old-school, although comparisons with SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES, with which all postpunk projects with female vocals are usually compared, absolutely do not come to mind during the listening. Cool debut album from Germans.

09. Sonsombre – ‘A Funeral for the Sun’ (Gothic Rock | USA, Self-Released)

Another debut album in the top of dark guitar music for 2018. The American project SONSOMBRE was formed in the middle of the 10s, but the debut work came out only at the end and contains material recorded during 2016 till 2018. The album turned out to be short and consists of nine songs made in the genre of atmospheric Gothic Rock. Album is fill with night visions and feeling with fog and cemetery dampness. If someone is waiting for the clone album of THE SISTER OF MERCY not sure will be satisfied with the content. Some compositions undoubtedly sound in a similar style, but most of the album is made in a more detached and cold sound. The vocals are changing from track to track. There is no much information about the album and the project at all in the network, so it’s hard to say if there are different vocalists or the same, but on some tracks there are more “grave” vocals, on some more Rock-oriented and on some songs the style of singing reminds THE SISTERS OF MERCY. On the album you can find clear hits and just good songs. In any case, the Americans created a very successful debut. The first album was released on its own and only in digital format, so I hope that SONSOMBRE will find a record label in the future and this will not cause a change of sound to a more commercial one.

08. Battle Scream – ‘Schwarz’ (Neue Deutsche Härte | Germany, Dalem Music)

Recently the Neue Deutsche Härte music scene has become more Metal. Famous bands in this genre has flown to Metal major label, and their music is transformed into pure guitar pseudo-genres “German Rock” and “German Metal” oriented on a wide audience. And the problem is not even in the fact that this is done by old well-known bands, but in the fact that their example is followed by young freshly formed ones. Their music is still described with the term NDH, however, only “Deutsche” and “Härte” remained and “Neue” has gone totally. Aggro-Industrial electronic component that was a feature of OOMPH! and RAMMSTEIN, disappear. I don’t know if the genre is transformed into this sound completely and totally or they will simply be called Metal, but I am glad that all of the mentioned above problems are not related to the Germans BATTLE SCREAM. Since 2003 the musicians have been released on the label that publishes Synth Pop and EBM and continue to do so now. And they continue to do exactly that NDH, which balances on the verge of Post-Industrial electronics and Metal. BATTLE SCREAM do it not only skilfully and with knowledge of how to use the electronic component, but also create powerful dance hits that sink into the head and it’s impossible to take them out of there. The new album of the project can hardly be called a classic sound of the NDH, so comparisons with the grandees disappear immediately. And this is great, because these Germans deserve comparison only with themselves.

07. Shadow Image – ‘Echoes of Ivy’ (Deathrock, Batcave, Gothic Rock | USA, Ravenglass Media)

The American formation SHADOW IMAGE already has two full-length albums, which were released on the famous German gothic label Danse Macabre. The new work of the group has already been published on another label, but did not lost in charisma and sound. It is a mixture of Gothic Rock, Deathrock and Batcave with a Halloween atmosphere. In this album the sound and general mood take the listener to the bats and the cemetery night. The insightful vocals and Gothic Rock elements reminding the works of THE 69 EYES and THE SISTERS OF MERCY are performed in the best possible way and according to all the canons of the genre. However, this is not a clone of the aforementioned projects, but a completely self-sufficient group with its own style. And Halloween.

06. Fotocrime – ‘Principle of Pain’ (Gothic Rock, Postpunk, Electronic | USA, Rough Trade Publishing)

This year the guitar dark scene became fully American. Another American project that hit the top 10 is called FOTOCRIMES and also released its debut album. This is an un-banal Gothic Rock with male vocals, a strong influence of Postpunk and a certain amount of electronics borrowed in the genre of Dark Synth. The album was not as rhythmically perky as the other American colleagues on the list, but the atmosphere and “garageness” of Indie Rock influenced the album for good. The line between old-school sound and modern influences is perfectly maintained in this album. A wonderful debut and a good start to an undoubtedly talented project.

05. Creature Feature – ‘The Greatest Show Unearthed Returns’ (Gothic Rock, Synth Rock, Batcave | USA, Villains and Vaudevillians Records)

Another Halloween album in the list. The fourth album of another American project of the best guitar releases of the dark scene. These Americans already released an album with a similar name in 2007. Then it was a debut. The new work turned out to be more diverse, in which a perky and not really dark Gothic Rock was taken as a basis, to which a dozen of electronics from the area of Synth Rock was added, and all this was spiced up with the iconic atmosphere of Halloween from the direction of the Batcave. It just blows the night of all the saints, witches and ghouls. And Halloween again. Great album of Americans. The year under the Halloween mark in the guitar dark scene.

04. Dark Lake Whispers – ‘Karagöl’ (Postpunk | Turkey, Self-Released)

In the wake of SHE PAST AWAY’s success in Turkey a boom in such formations could happen, but there was no such influx of Postpunk, although there have been attempts. In 2018 the continuation of the Turkish Postpunk phenomenon finally happened. The debut album of the interesting Turkish project DARK LAKE WHISPERS, combining Postpunk in Turkish, Gothic Rock and Dark Synth turned out better, more varied and brighter than the debut of their more famous colleagues. The Turks were able to recreate the sound of SHE PAST AWAY with more electronic features, freshness and diversity. The album was self-released as digital version, however, I think that this will change soon. And of course all the songs are made in Turkish language, which undoubtedly gives a certain charm. I don’t want to compare them all the time to SHE PAST AWAY, so I’ll just say that DARK LAKE WHISPERS debut work became one of the main discoveries of guitar Gothic music in 2018.

03. Still Patient? – ‘Zeitgeist Weltschmerz’ (Gothic Rock | Germany, Scanner)

This is a new album of the old German formation STILL PATIENT?, which has been playing Gothic Rock since 1988. In 1999 the project was deactivated, but in 2012 it was back again and since then has already released one album. ‘Zeitgeist Weltschmerz’ is the second work after returning. In the 2015 album charisma and talent have already been demonstrated. New job turned out not worse and even better. Rhythmic Gothic Rock with catchy melodies and hit motifs is distinctive for this album as for all the discography of STILL PATIENT?. Everything is done in a classic sound of the band and according to the Gothic Rock canons, so you should hardly expect anything new and special from this album, but it is done at its best.

02. Ataraxia – ‘Synchronicity Embraced’ (Darkwave | Italy, Sleaszy Rider Records)

To present the Italian project ATARAXIA is completely unnecessary. The rich and colourful history of that band of musicians from Modena began in the distant 1986 and currently has more than twenty full-length works and numerous performances at famous Gothic festivals. Their music was balancing at the junction of Neo-classics, Ethereal with folk Elements, Dreampop and other chamber styles. Darkwave was there also, but was clearly heard only in the early works, and then faded into the background or disappeared totally. I expected just neo-classical etudes with ethereal opuses from the Italian and it turned out to be made in forgotten Darkwave genre, in which I have not heard any album for a very long time. As you know the Darkwave in its original version is guitar music an electronic part was added later. So the new work of ATARAXIA is precisely Darkwave with periodic moves towards Neo-classics, elements of Ethereal and Dreampop and sound of Gothic Rock. The Italians created a unique sound palette with female and male vocals, lyrics in English and Italian and an atmosphere that only Italians can create. The new album is an unexpectedly great release, which will permanently settle in my player. Perfect combination of styles and excellent performance.

01. Your Ocean – ‘Black Towers’ (Gothic Rock, Dreampop, Postpunk | Germany, Self-Released)

The debut album of the German project YOUR OCEAN is called ‘Black Towers’. It is felt influences of the music of their German colleagues SCREAM SILENCE. However, YOUR OCEAN managed to create its own unique sound consisting of atmospheric Gothic Rock, electronic elements and airy Dreampop, which made the music charming and recognizable. Soft rather the background male vocals fit harmoniously into the music, although from the point of view of mastering and mixing it may seem that it sounds too quiet. Light compositions, which often begin with cloudy intros, are drawing pictures of the sky towards the sun, space and the endless spaces of the dark towers. ‘Black Towers’ is a magnificent work of the young German project, which is another discovery of the year in guitar Gothic music.


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