This three track release from Draagyn isn’t shy in taking gothic infused metal into some interesting places. There are musical elements that are very recognisable from her 2019 digital single ‘Majesty’ (namely, bursts of classic sounding black metal) and the tech/prog metal riffs from 2020’s ‘A Night Between Two Days’ still maintain a strong presence, but there’s also a desire to throw in a few more commercial riffs and contrast those with something even more extreme at times. It’s fair to say that the composer’s hand now seems much stronger. It isn’t necessarily a question of confidence, but rather more a greater acceptance of creative freedom; of knowing when to cast aside any perceived boundaries and when to pull back, and throughout ‘Bent Rib’, Draagyn uses that to her advantage, even though it sometimes results in sounds that are challenging.
A one man project from Italy, Scurìu set out to convey the darkest musical interests of its creator. An early demo released during the pandemic lockdown of 2020 introduced a small group of listeners to a sound that blended classic doom metal with traces of black metal harshness, and a vocal that almost seemed to channel Love Among Freaks’ ‘Berzerker’. If it weren’t for the presence of some great riffs and atmospheric spoken word passages, it might have even sounded like a comical pastiche of the extreme subgenres, but somehow – despite a wilfully lacking budget, truly home grown stance, and lack of actual songs – the recordings had something about them that pulled in the listener. It says a lot about how durable Cathedral-esque riffs can be, and how extreme metal’s insular and sometimes truly claustrophobic feel will hold up against less than ideal recording circumstances.
Essentially a vehicle for multi-instrumentalist Greg Schwan, this EP from Witnesses takes goth and doom metal traits and applies them to a cohesive narrative based around the lives of characters found within the text of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. An obvious subject matter for a gothic metal band, yes, but the way Schwan and his assorted friends present their material very much shows that the tried and tested – whether musically or lyrically – need not feel too stale.
In 2019, Ardours’ debut album ‘Last Place On Earth’ mixed heavy edges with darkwave synths to create a relatively contemporary sound. In taking the gothic and using that to underscore a modern take on melodic rock and applying a touch of electronica very naturally, the band’s sound was rather big and broad, but for lovers of classic Lacuna Coil – and, to a lesser degree, Evanescence and their ilk – the album certainly had…something. The heavier moments provided former Tristania vocalist Mariangela Durmatas a much denser canvas to work with than before, as evidenced during the title track, but she was more than up to the task in numbers like ‘Truths’ and ‘Last Moment’, the band showed an affinity for applying a classic sounding melodic hook to something a little more alternative – at least in a retro sense – and with ease. It’s fair to say the album didn’t suit everyone’s tastes – it certainly wasn’t aimed at those who felt that, as a label, Frontiers Records should only be releasing music that sounded like Survivor and Night Ranger throwbacks – but it showed a lot of promise.
Following the release of Dead Wolf Club’s excellent ‘Healer’ EP in 2013, the band’s vocalist Jon Othello launched a more goth and new wave inspired side project, West Wickhams. Before the year was out, the new band shared a demo online, but then seemed to disappear. Jon resumed duties with his DWC bandmates the following year, and they seemed to tour relentlessly before calling it a day prematurely in 2015. Their demise left a massive hole in the world of noisy indie rock. For a time, they seemed to have a hugely reliable presence as a support act, and ‘Healer’ had very much promised bigger things to come.