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top 10 2023 10 debutAs always there were a lot of debut albums on the dark scene. Some debuts did not even make it into the contenders, because they were made by musicians, who published material in other projects in the same genre as the new one. However, there was plenty of fresh new sound with unconventional approaches and variations in 2023, which indicates that the dark scene is developing and is not stuck.

Covered genres: all dark scene genres

10. Rival Cults - ‘Indoctrination’ (Gothic Rock, Deathrock | USA, Dune Altar)

The young American Deathrock project RIVAL CULTS was formed in the late 10s and early 20s. In 2021 their first EPs was released and in 2023 their debut full-length work was out on the Dune Altar label. The debut is a combination of Deathrock and Gothic Rock in equal proportions with hysterical male vocals. An interesting old-school atmosphere has been created and in total the album sounds holistic and high quality. Elements of Rock and Roll occasionally appear, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Good solid debut. Facebook:

09. Death Party UK - ‘Fire and Phantoms’ (Gothabilly, Deathrock | UK, Gothic World Records)

The duo DEATH PARTY UK was founded in 2011 by Trevor Bamford, known for the MIDNIGHT CONFIGURATION project and the creator of the label Nightbreed Recordings, as well as other various musical formations. The project has been releasing EPs and live albums for a long time, but in 2023 it finally released a full-length album, which became its debut. Since its launching the project has been creating an explosive mixture of perky Gotabilly, rhythmic Deathrock and Gothic Rock’n’Roll with male vocals. If someone loves Halloween with all that it entails, then this album is for you, although the atmosphere of the early SCARY BITCHES is not fully present here. In some compositions ELVIS PRESLEY appears in a gothic make-up with a deathrock mohawk and a skeleton costume. Nice job with interesting material. Facebook:

08. Weljar - ‘Tur’ (Neofolk, Ritual Ambient | Poland, Self-Released)

WELJAR is a young Polish project that was formed in the early 20s and released its first material in the form of EP in 2022. The debut full-length work is released in 2023 on its own and is made in a combination of Slavic folklore in the form of Neofolk with Ritual Ambient and shamanic motifs. The vocals on the album are female with lyrics in Polish. Good quality work from a young project, somewhat reminiscent of their Polish colleagues OLS, but with a more folk component. Great atmospheric album. Facebook:

07. Ephemeral - ‘Into Being’ (Neofolk, Neoclassics | Germany, These Hands Melt)

A trio from Germany called EPHEMERAL begins their history in 2019. One of the participants in the project is Elisabeth, known for her work in such folk projects as IGNIS FATUU, TIR NAN OG, HEITER BIS FOLKIG and others, so we should have expected interesting material from this band and that really happened. The album ‘Into Being’ is the debut full-length work of EPHEMERAL and musically consists of melancholic opuses in the genre of Neofolk with elements of Neoclassics and Ethereal. Different people sing on different compositions and different instruments are brought to the fore, which gave the sound variety and even long compositions of 7-10 minutes are easy to listen. The Germans’ debut became definitely a success. Facebook:

06. Black.Virus - ‘Krach bis Stille’ (Gothic Electro | Germany, KL-Dark-Records)

The BLACK.VIRUS project was formed in 2012, but there is no information about previous albums neither on the project’s Bandcamp nor on their official website, so we will assume that the album ‘Krach bis Stille’ is their debut full-length work. The German duo creates Gothic Electro with elements of light dance EBM with male vocals in German language. The overall atmosphere is similar to the early albums of the other Germans CEPHALGY, but the sound of BLACK.VIRUS lacks aggression and Noise effects, so they are still closer to the Gothic scene than to the Post-Industrial one. There are enough hits on the album, both for home listening and for the dancefloor. In general, such works really take you back in time to the 2000s and 10s, when this genre was on the rise. In the modern scene of Electronic Gothic music and Post-Industrial music such a sound is already rare. Good work by the Germans permeated with nostalgia personally for me. Facebook:

05. Milicent - ‘Myrsky’ (Synth-Goth, Darkwave, Gothic Rock | Germany, Danse Macabre)

‘Myrsky’ is the debut album of the German project MILICENT from Stuttgart. The project was created in 2022 and released its debut work on the famous gothic label Danse Macabre. The album features 8 compositions performed in different genres of Gothic music, based on gothic electronics from the Synth-Goth style. In essence, MILICENT makes Synth-Goth according to the canons of Gothic Rock with leading keyboard parts, referring to the sound of the 2000s. Vocals are predominantly female, but male vocals also creep in. A very strong and atmospheric work from a German project that will stay in the player for a long time. Facebook:

04. Crane - ‘Beneath the Weeds Lies Her Faith’ (Neoclassics, Ethereal, Ritual Ambient | USA, Isla Visión)

There is not much information about the CRANE project on the Internet, so thanks to the members of the Isla Visión label for the information provided. The only participant in the project is American Colleen Rogers from New York. Colleen is the vocalist, instrumentalist and producer of CRANE. Born in 1997 in New York City to an Irish-Catholic family, Gothic aesthetics have always been pertinent in her upbringing. Colleen started studying percussion at nine years old and sang at her church’s youth mass. She began creating her own works around 2017, ten years later, after being inspired by the experimental noise house that used to run in her college town. Concurrently, she began DJing under the alias YOUNG LINK in the basements of her friends’ houses. Since then, she has released two albums and one EP under this pseudonym and has been focusing recently on CRANE. The debut album is filled with atmospheric compositions that consist of Ethereal, Neoclassical, Ritual Ambient, Dark Ambient and even Dungeon Synth in some compositions. Even with such a diverse combination of genres it’s unlikely that you can surprise anyone today, but with amazing female vocals to the accompaniment of all this you can not only surprise, but conquer hearts and minds. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such material where vocals in chamber genres of a dark scene are the fundamental component. Most of CRANE’s work has similarity with the ambient compositions of DEAD CAN DANCE, but there are works where the sound reminds the darker and more industrialized version of TROBAR DE MORTE. A brilliant album from an unknown project that could easily take top positions in the top 10 of industrial music for 2023. Facebook:

03. Dague de Marbre - ‘Likeness of the Offender’ (Oldschool EBM, Electro-Industrial, New Beat | USA, Trigger Warming)

The French project DAGUE DE MARBRE is the brainchild of Antoine, known for his vocals in the American project CHROME CORPSE. The Frenchman has many solo projects from the Metal scene in various experiments with metal, Post-Industrial electronics, Neofolk and other underground genres. DAGUE DE MARBRE, on the other hand, can hardly be called an experimental project, although, both for Antoine himself and for the Post-Industrial scene, the material stands out from the general scene direction. The first recordings appeared in 2020, but the first full-length album was released only in 2023. On ‘Likeness of the Offender’ the Frenchman presented nine compositions in a very non-standard combination of old school EBM, elements of electro-industrial and new beat. The vocals on the album are clean and melodic in most of the compositions, which is rare for post-industrial projects. There are no dance thrillers on the album and the general focus is mid-tempo compositions mainly with beats inherent in the New Beat style. In general, this album is difficult to classify, because there are references to synthetic music and Gothic components and the last composition on the album is generally made with bagpipes and medieval clue. A very non-standard work by a Frenchman, which may not appeal to fans of classic sound. Facebook:

02. Totentanz Strumpfsockig - ‘Totentanz Strumpfsockig’ (Folk-Rock, Medieval Neofolk, Gothic Rock | Germany, Danse Macabre)

The TOTENTANZ STRUMPFSOCKIG project is a new name on the dark scene. The group of six musicians was formed in the early 20s and in 2023 they release their self-titled debut album on the label Danse Macabre. The album features eleven compositions in a non-trivial combination of Medieval Folk Rock and Gothic Rock with female vocals in English, German and Turkish. The music on the album skillfully varies between Folk Rock with traditional Medieval elements using bagpipes, harp and flute, modern Gothic Rock without a noticeable old-school component and standard middle-aged Folk in certain compositions without a Rock component. The result is a very interesting album with a non-standard approach and a very competent implementation of the idea. The debut came out great and explosive. The Germans are at their best and have shown that they can create something new nowadays, when it would seem that all possible new unknown techniques have been discovered. Facebook:

01. Hem Netjer - ‘The Song of Trees’ (Electrofolk, Gothic Electro | Canada, Self-Released)

HEM NETJER is a relatively new name on the Gothic and Folk music scene. The project was formed in the early 20s and released its first EP in 2020. The full-length work of the Canadians is called ‘The Song of Trees’ and is made in a combination of Nordic Folk genres with Electronics and Ethereal. The debut EP was more electronic, but in the new album electronics are also present and add rhythm and uniqueness to the project. Female vocals are brought to the fore and male throat singing may become the signature of the project for the future. The general direction of the music is somewhat reminiscent of the Norwegians GARMARNA, but does not copy or even repeat their work. HEM NETJER have created something unique and distinctive. We can only hope that the electronic component will not disappear completely in future releases, although then their material will simply end up in the top of the Chamber Dark scene, but the Canadians have a very high potential to stay on various lists for a long time and not just in my tops. Facebook:


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