In May 2022, alternative rock duo West Wickhams released ‘She Will Have Her Way’, an excellent EP driven by very retro goth, dreampop and synthpop sounds. Their ‘Magenta’ EP (released in November the same year) finds the band recycling a lot of the same moods, yet at the same time, the material conveys a feeling of moving forward. It’s safe to say that those who enjoyed the previous release will glean a similar amount of enjoyment from this timely follow up.
Wax On Water’s full length album ‘The Drip’ (released in June 2022) presented an interesting mix of electronica, light goth and occasional industrial sounds. With a broad but dark sonic palate linked via a strong vocal, the album’s best tracks brought back memories of a vast array of alternative music from the early 90s . With it’s most mechanical bits not too far removed from something you’d find on Trent Reznor’s vanity label Nothing Records, and a more melodic streak presenting itself as if taking a moody swipe at Garbage, it was a recording that managed to mix the arty with a surprisingly commercial edge.
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.