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top10 2021 guitardark2021 has become an American year in the guitar dark scene without a doubt. A lot of American projects have released really cool albums. Plus, one more ascpect, that was clearly noticed before and now becomes more and more real. The Deathrock genre, which for some time faded into the background, is fully back. New bands continue to please with new sound with old school influence and already experienced musicians do not let them be forgotten in their new projects. Well, and, of course, there is SONSOMBRE, who became the standard of Gothic Rock nowadays. The scene lives and develops despite the opposite opinions of “critics”, the pandemic and the cancelled shows and festivals. I must say right away that in this particular top the numbers next to the names of groups and albums are rather arbitrary and everyone can place these 10 positions in a different order based on their preferences, but all of them can be there.

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

10. Diavol Strâin – ‘Elegía del Olvido / Elegía del Horror’ (Deathrock, Postpunk, Coldwave | Chile, Young and Cold Records)

The Chilean project DIAVOL STRÂIN was formed in 2015. At the same time the first singles were released and the first EP was out a year later as self-released. The debut full-length work was again released on their own in 2018 and almost immediately was reissued by Young and Cold Records, where the second album of the Chileans was out in 2021. The music of the project lies in a mixture of Postpunk, Deathrock and Coldwave genres. The main component is still Postpunk and Deathrock is there more as atmosphere and vocal performance than music. The compositions are performed in Spanish, apart from one in German, which is one of the distinguishing features of the project and is reflected even in the sound. The album contains both lively rhythmic compositions and slow atmospheric ones. In total the album is very good with its own magic.

09. Tears for the Dying – ‘Epitaph’ (Deathrock, Postpunk| USA, Bat-Cave Productions)

In 1997 Adria wrote the first composition, but it was possible to fully record it in the studio at the beginning of the 2000s, so 2003 is considered to be the year of formation of TEARS FOR THE DYING. The same year the first demo was released, an EP a year earlier and then a split with another project. After that the project went into a long hibernation and returned in the late 00s with new material and new EPs. The Americans released their debut solo full-length album only in 2021. The album includes 17 tracks, some of which are bonuses and remixes. The original tracks are done in a Deathrock genre sometimes tough and mid-tempo with elements of Postpunk and sometimes energetic and rhythmic. Adria’s vocals are more theatrical than the real vocals of a musical group. In some places she breaks into a hysterical scream, in some places she performs some kind of romantic ballads. Few songs on the album last less than a minute, which is more typical for punk bands. The album ‘Epitaph’ turned out to be one big story, a Deathrock opera, if the word “opera” is applicable to such an act. And I still hope that this album will not become an epitaph for the project, but the new beginning.

08. Nox Novacula – ‘Ascension’ (Deathrock, Gothic Rock | USA, Bat-Cave Productions)

The American project NOX NOVACULA was formed in 2017 in Seattle. The line-up included a former member of the death metal band BOOK OF BLACK EARTH and musicians who appeared in various Punk / Hardcore projects. The first recordings appeared in the music space in 2018. A year later a collection of early works and unreleased material was out and in 2021 a debut work consisting of new songs followed. The album ‘Ascension’ is made in the genre of Deathrock with Gothic Rock and rare elements of Postpunk. Periodic electronic samples add variety and the last atmospheric seven-minute track gives off a Batcave atmosphere due to organ keyboards. Chatlotte’s vocals are more melodic and differ from the punk-alike Deathrock vocals, although there is also enough emotionality.


07. Rosegarden Funeral Party – ‘In the Wake of Fire’ (Gothic Rock | USA, Young and Cold Records)

The American project from Dallas was created in the mid-10s by a girl named Leay Lane, who is a vocalist, guitarist and author of music and lyrics. After several singles the Americans released live material followed by a debut album on a local label in Dallas, which specializes more in the Indie scene. The second album was released in 2021 on the more format and well-known German label Young and Cold Records. From the very beginning Leah made music based on Gothic Rock with variations of Glam Rock and Postpunk. The new work turned out exactly like this, where the girl used elements of other genres in Gothic Rock. Listeners here will not hear classical opuses in THE SISTERS OF MERCY style, but the new modern sound with Leah’s beautiful voice will not leave Gothic music lovers aside.

06. Mephistos – ‘Sünder’ (Neue Deutsche Härte | Austria, Self-Released)

While all well-known and freshly formed German NDH-projects release high-quality, but often monotonous and metal-oriented albums, much more interesting artifacts can be found outside of Germany in this genre. There is not much information about the Austrian project MEPHISTO on the web. The project has already existed for more than five years and has at least one full-length album in discography released in 2018. The new work of the Austrians was released in 2021 on their own and is called ‘Sünder’. 13 songs of the powerful NDH, which periodically goes more into Metal and sometimes is saturated with electronics, which is more rimnding Aggro-Industrial. It sounds hitty, moderately aggressive and moderately lyrical. High-quality material, German language and cool male vocals put this project on a line with the Germans EISBRECHER and STAHLMANN. Excellent easy-listened album. official

05. Slaughterhouse – ‘Fun Factory’ (Deathrock | USA, Recess Records)

The American project SLAUGHTERHOUSE was formed in 2018 and is currently based in Los Angeles. The first recordings of the project saw the world in 2018, after which the vocalist changed, with which the debut full-length album ‘Fun Factory’ was released in 2021. The album features punky Deathrock with female vocals at its best. Somehow the sound reminded FANGS ON FUR, which has been silent since 2012. In general, such albums with features of old school sound on the modern scene are not so common and remained in the shadow of popular modern genres such as Coldwave, so SLAUGHTERHOUSE can be safely called modern followers of not only the genre itself, but also the mood of Deathrock.

04. Sonsombre – ‘Revival’ (Gothic Rock | USA, Cleopatra)

The American project SONSOMBRE is releasing its fourth work already in 2021 and each time the album was included in the top albums of the guitar dark scene for the year. Last time I wrote that the project can be considered as the standard of modern Gothic Rock. This has not changed, but on the new album old school notes were added, which added even more to the karma of the Americans, who create a pure, hitty and high-quality Gothic Rock with a light touch of electronics. For those who missed everything it is needed to mention that the project was formed in the mid-10s, released the first two albums on its own and then everything went on the rise: first, reissues on the Finnish well-known label Post Gothic and finally the signing on the major Cleopatra. To every album I wrote the same description in different words. I repeat here: catchy compositions that are easy to listen to and easy to move to.

03. Bleib Modern – ‘Afraid to Leave’ (Postpunk | Germany, Icy Cold Records)

The German project BLEIB MODERN was formed in the first half of the 10s by participants from Munich and Berlin. The main author is Philip, also known in electronic music circles for his Techno-Industrial project WAR SCENES. His main project has four albums, the last of which was released in 2021 on a very nice French format label icy Cold Records. ‘Afraid lo Leave’ is filled with quality melodic Postpunk in English with male vocals. Good material with easy catchy compositions can be considered the best Postpunk work of 2021.

02. The Long Losts – ‘At This Late Hour’ (Gothic Rock, Deathrock | USA, Self-Released)

The American DUO THE LONG LOSTS was formed in 2012 in New York by Anka and her husband Patrick. The debut work was released in 2014 followed by another full-length album in 2017. The Americans released all their material on their own, even though there was a name mentioned in the label column. The new work has already been officially released as a “self-release”. The album is called ‘At This Late Hour’ and it is a cool Gothic Rock with Deathrock influences and a Batcave atmosphere. The female vocals here are kept in the middle between hysterical and distant. Good work reminds Halloween music in Gothic subculture.

01. Esses – ‘Bloodletting for the Lonely’ (Deathrock | USA, Bat-Cave Productions)

In the late 90s / early 2000s, the project THE PHANTOM LIMBS was formed in the USA, which released two albums and several EPs. In 1999 the members of THE PHANTOM LIMBS created the band BLACK ICE, which actually continued the activities of the previous team. At the beginning of the 10s BLACK ICE were also gone. In the mid-10s Scott Brown and Miss Kel from BLACK ICE created a new project ESSES, which is alive till now and still releases music. Scott has experimental view of the music in general especially keeping in mind his Industrial project from the 90s ANAL KITTIES, so in guitar Gothic projects, especially BLACK ICE, there was a lot of experimentations with sounds and improvised moments. The debut album of ESSES was out in 2016. The second work was released in 2021. Cool old-school Deathrock with Postpunk elements reminds the golden era of the genre. New work is done in the same style reminding all fans of the dark scene that not only Postpunk is experiencing a revival. I would say that all Deathrock lovers should listen to it.


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