Today is a good day to Gothic Rock n Roll!
Well technically yesterday now as I’m a bit tardy but close enough.
If you’re a fan of good old guitar-based Goth then 2 must listen releases came out today or indeed 3 if you count the fact that one of them; lucky for us, is a double single.
The hugely anticipated & long-awaited new release from Sweet Ermengarde: – which sees a reprise and reworking of the 2013 SE fan favourite, ‘A Promise To Fulfil’ & a cover the Husker Du track ‘Standing By The Sea’ from their 1984 release, Zen Arcade.
The second sonically spectacular release is the brand new single & video of Black Angel’s ‘All or Nothing’ from their upcoming 4th studio album ‘The Black Rose’.
Not that you need me to tell you how good these releases are, but I’m going to anyway as that’s kinda the point.
SE have been a staple of the Modern Gothic Rock sound for over a decade now, since the release of their self-released EP ‘Something Remains’ way back in 2011. Heralded by many as the rightful heirs to Fields of the Nephilim, which is to say; there’s a familiar sound to SE that does indeed hark back to the Neph’s heyday, but they are also so, so much more. As whilst they may have captured the sound of ‘back then’, like dark musical alchemists they also transcend & transmute that sound into something altogether new & unique. Like many bands of this longevity the band has seen a few line-up changes over the years & the latest recruit is vocalist & songwriter Drew Freeman, previously of Sometime The Wolf & it’s new & current incarnation ‘All My Thorns’. Anyone who’s heard either the seminal 2019 record by STW ‘From Here & Earth’ or seen either band live will know that Drew will not only fit right in with the sound of SE but brings a lifetimes musical experience & song writing chops with it t’boot. The ‘A Promise to Fulfil’ rework is as you’d expect, a solid 6 minutes 40 of gorgeous Goth Rock – atmospheric echo laden guitars mixed & mastered atop one of the tightest, bass heavy rhythm sections you’re ever likely to have the pleasure of hearing. Staying true to the original in the main the re-working of the track with the addition of Drew’s guttural, gravelly gravitas make an old epic into a truly timeless one. The Cover of ‘Standing By The Sea’ whilst again staying faithful to the original, SE have, to paraphrase the classic Spinal Tap idiom, ramped it up not just to 11 but way, way past it. So far past in fact the 11 is but a dot to us now. Louder, brasher & ballsier than before, both tracks reminding us of the power of musical talent in this band and firmly cementing Drew as the new voice of Sweet Ermengarde.
What can I say about Black Angel that I haven’t already said or that you don’t already know? I’ve waxed lyrical about Matt Vowles Goth Rock brainchild many times since I first heard their sophomore 2020 release ‘Kiss of Death’. Late to the Black Angel Party (fashionably so of course) I like to think I’ve made up for it since. I never get bored listening to or talking about this band, they hit, funnily enough all the right notes. Whether it’s the sheer broadness of multi-instrumentalist & songwriter Matt’s skill & musicianship or the velvet smooth croon of vocalist Corey Landis I’m not sure & to be honest I don’t really care about the ‘whys’ either. I just like what they do & do so well. What is obvious from listening to Black Angel & talking to Matt & Corey is that there’s a real love of proper guitar based Gothic Rock running through their dark celestial veins. Not ‘Sythwave’ not ‘Darkwave’ or any kind of wave in sight (not that there’s owt wrong with either of those of course) but this is just good old guitar heavy Goth Rock with a capital ‘Fuck Yeah!’ And new single ‘All or Nothing’ is I think, one of their finest examples yet of what they are trying to achieve with their sound. From the initial dirty guitar riff to the last ‘All or Nothing’ is a laid back, sultry, sexy & sleazy shred fest that evokes smoky bars & strip joints & firmly puts the Rock n Roll back into Gothic Rock. All or Nothing? I’ll take it All… with a whisky chaser please.