Ancient Egypt and eternal life seem to be a recurring theme on this 5th GUTTERCATS album. Do cats really have nine lives? These guys could probably answer the question, paying tribute to wild life in opening track “Wild Animal” with their usual melancholy but they also know that eternal life might not be for everyone, facing life, time and the duty to keep the fire burning in “Keep The Flame” and its GUN CLUB atmosphere. “Dagger In My Heart” might be one of my favourite tracks on this new album, a sad dark pop song with a “Strawberry Field” mellotron in the verse and a rockin’ end. Listening to this album sometimes brings The DOORS to mind (“Farewell”) although the omnipresent violin almost takes us to old celtic territories. On the other hand, “Dark Room” takes us to psychedelic seas before it offers us the catchiest chorus on the album while “End Of Times” and “Know Your Roots” both bring a Western touch to the album. You’ll also hear a bit of a ROWLAND S. HOWARD atmosphere in “If I Had A Loaded Gun”, this one might also stay in your head after you’ve listened to it! The record finishes on the sorrowful notes of “Eternal Life” and “Sweet Lies, Betrayal & Adultery” (the CD version has an acoustic version of “Wild Animal” as a bonus track.) GUTTERCATS still follow their path against all odds and never deceive. /Laurent C.
4 new songs and a cool cover art-work by Los Angeles dark rock band BLACK MARKET HEART. “Feed Me Poison” opens this EP with some fine venomous post-punk full of energy while “Tidal Wave” has more to do with proto-punk and The STOOGES. Male and female vocals are mixed and give an interesting melodic effect to the songs, sometimes close to The PIXIES. The biggest surprise on this EP is a great cover of The TOILET BOYS‘ glam punk hit “Another Day In The Life”, here played with a garage rock twist. “Reach Out” closes this EP in a CRAMPS meets grunge gloomy rock’n’roll way. Short, but definitely worth checking! /Laurent C.
BRIGITTE HANDLEY (The DARK SHADOWS) is releasing her new single in those weird quarantine/lockdown times. Two songs on a beautiful colourful 7″ vinyl picture dic. “After Dark” is a catchy pop song with a dark twist in which you’ll hear early British punk/rock’n’roll influences such as The CLASH in the guitars/bass and 80s goth rock touches. This song would have been perfect as the soundtrack of some cool 80s post modern vampire movie. B-side offers us a remix of “Lament Of A Lost Soul” by MATAHARI RANCH. Dark electronic, melodic vocals and distorted surf rock guitars are mixing together in order to give the song a new interesting aesthetic compared to the dark folk influenced version you can hear on “The Edge Of Silence.” Ordering records may take a little more time these days, but this one is definitely worth it! /Laurent C.
We thought it would be interesting to send a few questions to Canadian 80s post-punk/dark rock influenced band ACTORS after seeing them at Berlin’s Lido. Bass player Jahmeel Russell tells us more…
How was your European summer tour?
It’s been fantastic. As of this writing we have three more shows to go in Spain before we finish. This tour’s been six weeks all together so we’ve had the chance to play more cities and country’s than the first time we came over.
When I saw you in Berlin, you said that it was your first time there. How many times have you toured in Europe before?
This is ACTORS second time over here. I’ve been over here previously with some other bands.
There was an encore on that night and you weren’t expected it, so you had to play songs that you have already played in the set. Did this happen anywhere else on this tour?
Berlin was the only city we played a song again in for an encore and that’s because we were physically forced back on stage by members of the crowd (Ha Ha). We’ve had encores at pretty much every show on this tour, we just haven’t played them because we play all of our songs in the set. The audiences excitement and energy at all the shows has been killer.
80s influences can be heard in your music, I’m thinking of KILLING JOKE , The CULT, The MISSION, The SISTERS OF MERCY, among others. Some would call it goth rock or dark rock. While dark genres are still quite popular nowadays, full drum/bass/guitar bands are getting rare. Did you have the idea of a dark rock band from the start?
Jason started this by himself but I don’t think there was ever a moment where he thought about doing it live without a band. For me there’s a certain power in live drums and bass that cannot be matched.
Considering the name of the band and the number of videos you have on YouTube, is cinema somthing you’re particularly interested in?
Yes. Cinema’s really important. It’s a source of inspiration and creativity.
Jahmeel, you often wear metal/black metal shirts on stage. For some reason it made me think about when bands I liked as a teenager were wearing band shirts that were different from their own music. For instance, I remember I got into SKINNY PUPPY because Slash was wearing their shirts. Do you get a lot of metal people at ACTORS shows, or people who come to you and talk about it?
We actually do. Speaking from my own experience with music growing up I was always drawn to dark music. I could jump between a Darkthrone and Depeche Mode record quite easily. The genre of music I listen to the most is black metal and I’ve found at most shows I meet fans of the band who are into what we do but are also into black/death metal. I love to talk about this music so it’s always a pleasure to meet fans who are into it.
Did you see Lords of Chaos? What did you think about it?
I did. It was ok but just entertainment, nothing more. For anyone really interested in what happened back then this is not the place to look.
5 of your favourite albums and a few words about them:
GODFLESH – Streetcleaner.
I got this on tape in the early 90’s. At that point I had heard a lot of the other Earache bands from that time, most of which I am still a fan of but this record really spoke to me the most. That bass tone and Justin Broadrick’s guitar playing were very influential to me. Still one of the heaviest albums ever.
Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion.
While I would probably say Violator is my favourite album this is the one I find myself listening to the most these days. Condemnation has got to be one of the most beautiful songs ever and my favourite vocal performance from Dave Gahan.
Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark
This was the first Bathory album I heard when I was a kid and it has stuck with me ever since. The main riff in Call From the Grave still gives me chills. It’s hard to pick just one as the first four albums are all mandatory.
One of my favourite black metal bands for me this is their peak. I remember buying this CD without hearing a note just because it was on the NOEVDIA label. I was not disappointed. It’s like Under a Funeral Moon x 1000. An utterly chaotic masterpiece.
Black Cilice – Banished From Time
Probably my current favourite black metal band. I enjoy all of their releases. The first time I heard them it had the same impact as when I first heard Xasthur in the mid-2000’s. Very raw and produced in such a way that makes it very unique. It’s haunting, aggressive, yet I also find myself falling into a trance listening to it. I have the new album “Transfixion of Spirits” on CD and LP waiting for me when I get home from this tour and I can’t wait to dive in. My most anticipated album of the year along with the new Teitanblood.
You’re a hard working band, so I guess you already have a lot of things planned after the European tour?
We have 10 days off after this tour then we head down to the USA for another run of dates that will take us to the end of October. In November we have two more shows in Vancouver and Seattle respectively and at that point we will have done about 150 dates in support of this record. More tour dates and a new album are already in the works for 2020.
New single for the very prolific SPENCER ROBINSON AND THE WOLF SPIDERS on British record label Komakino Records. “Poisonous Berry” starts with tribal drums and then evolves into some dark acoustic rock reminding of NICK CAVE with HENRY ROLLINS-ish vocals. The other song, “Seeing You In The Dark” is a slower track with psych guitars and 60s organ. MARK LANEGAN comes to mind when listening to this one, but this mix of such various influences and moods give SPENCER ROBINSON AND THE WOLF SPIDERS their own identity. /Laurent C.
Spencer Robinson is back with a new project and this 3 song EP. This time he chose to explore darker 80s/early 90s sounds. “Can’t Live On The Other” side is heavily influenced by The JESUS AND MARY CHAIN although the vocals sound gloomier than Jim Reid’s while “Undet The Ivy” brings The SISTERS OF MERCY to mind. The third song on here, “Silver” starts with an industrial drum machine, and then evloves to dark alternative rock with psychedelic guitars and a repetitive bass line. 3 songs is short, but we’ll hopefully get to hear more soon… Laurent C.
CHOKE CHAINS are back with a second album, 11 songs available on beautiful limited edition green vinyl. CHOKE CHAINS‘ music is full of punk/noise/psych references, but they manage to mix them all, and create something very personal. Opener “Big Data Skeptic” is epileptic in a NO MEANS NO way, “Mayan Starship” has a bit of CRAMPS in it, while you’ll hear some punk rock in “Cairo Scolars”, and some garage in “Rat Ladder.” CHOKE CHAINS like their rock’n’roll full of distorted vocals, noisy guitars and larsens, they actually sometimes remind me of GIRLS AGAINST BOYS on “Android Sex Worker”, “Put Your Hands”, or “Lie From Hell” for instance. On this new album, the band knows how to get chaotic without forgetting how to rock, you can even sing along on “Galactic Overlord” or dance to “I Will Break You.”
“Android Sex Worker” also brings early MUDHONEY to mind at times although it definitely has a more apocalyptic, darker vibe, which must be something to experience live. Hound Gawd! Records has brought us a great record again! /Laurent C.
After releasing the promising EP “Standing At The End Of The World”, SPENCER ROBINSON is back and offers us this 8 song album in which you’ll hear the same dark and intimate atmospheres. “Drink Gasoline, Spit Fire” and “Killer On The Farm Tonight” set you right into this film noir meets deserted American areas mood. Sometimes, it almost feels like TOM WAITS is jammin’ with ROWLAND S. HOWARD when listening to songs like “Bleed Me”, “Take Me To The Killing Floor”, or “Enter The Void.”Although this album sounds very different froom what Spencer used to do with The LORDS OF ALTAMONT, you can still hear a few traces of 60s garage/psyche rock in “September” and in “Teenage Supernova” for instance.
The door to SPENCER ROBINSON AND THE WOLF SPIDERS‘ world has been left open, don’t be afraid… /Laurent C.