Sonsombre, the Goth Rock project of Brandon Pybus from Northern Virginia, is back with his third full length album "One Thousand Graves" released in January 2020 on Cleopatra Records. This album came only six months after his previous "The Veils Of Ending". Sonsombre is by many the most exciting thing to happen to goth music in a decade. One can say he is creating a rival with this old school goth vibe with modern twists. Brandon Pybus has a classic gothic rock image too, dressed in black with big brimmed hat, crucifix and shades but with the new touch, that of a catholic preacher.

The album kicks off in a dynamic way with "Fire". A track characteristic of Sonsombre’s sound, classic 90’s guitar driven gothic rock with deep and slightly harsh vocals. The tempo speeds up on "No Warning" that is a fine example of old-school gothic rock, with exquisite production and clear and crisp guitar melodies. This type of multi-layered guitar-heavy goth rock with drum machine continues with tracks like "Until the Sun Goes Down", "Like Rats" and the rocker "Darker Skies". While on "Lights Out" they deliver a catchy tune that could be a dance floor anthem. A track that first premiered in December 2019 with a nice black and video featuring the band playing in a dark lite room. The entire album is general is dripping with dark and creepy atmosphere, enhanced by a large part by the addition of pipe organ on tracks such as the slower song "Slumber" and "Highgate" with its cracking guitars riffs. As we draw towards the end, the tracks still retain an intensity, with tracks like the album title track "One Thousand Graves", "This Procession" and the mid-tempo "Remember Me".

Review by Nick Drivas

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The Greek synth punk project Mechanimal is back with the new album "Crux" released today January 27, 2020 on Inner Ear records. This is Mechanimal’s fourth album following the 2016 album "ΔΠΔ" that had featured Eleni Tziavara on vocals. Here we have the return of original singer Freddie Faulkenberry back on vocals with his characteristic spoken word.

The album starts with "Ghetto Level", a synthwave track with a very urban vibe. Headman Giannis Papaioannou, who is responsible for the electronic beats and tapes, is very experienced in this field of electronica in general, combining post-punk, darkwave, industrial and urban elements in his music. With "Sharon" we have a track that has a taste from the 90s and 00s, trippy electronica with shoegaze elements. On the acoustic rhythm guitar track "Stolen Flesh" that follows things get poppier musically, although lyrically it deals with lose, dedicated to the loving memory of a dear friend of the band. Next up is "Easy Dead" that was released on "White Flag Single" 7" vinyl in June 2019. Here we have the album version that is included only on the cd/digital format. Here we have a more industrial track, motorik drone n’ roll which Mechanimal has defined, with Jimmy Polioudis (Vigina Lips, Mazoha) playing distortions on guitar. This more industrial feel continues with the intense "Scavengers" that has a monotonous rolling beat and some eastern flairs with violin and cello added to the mix.

With "Razor Tube" we have a swift change to a more techno styled track. While on "Red Mirror", another track from the "White Flag Single" they return to their rawer sound. According to Freddie F. “Red Mirror is a hymn to reconstruction, rebirth, and all that comes hand in hand with that, destruction, erasing and rebuilding. It’s about decline, but not necessarily with a negative outcome”. Here the guitars are provided by George Theofanidis. On "Hospital Of The Storm" we have a more atmospheric track while with the trancy "Vanquish" the beat returns. The album closes with the atmospheric "La Poverina Della Ossa", a classical cinematic piece showcasing violin and cello with Freddie’s spoken work heard more in the distance.

With the album "Crux" the band does an in-depth exploration of the past, present and possibly the future of everyday life with the aim of personal awakening. Inspired by the harsh reality of today, “fake news”, climate change and at the same time criticizes. An album that has a broad pallet of sounds, crossing over many genres, providing the listener with something so up to date and modern.

Review: Nick Drivas

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Opened Paradise are a Greek occult goth band that formed in 2003. Since then they have performed live a string of shows and have released two full length albums and one EP. On February 22nd, 2020 they will open for The Nosferatu at Temple club in Athens.

You have performed live with many foreign bands such as Clan Of Xymox, Garden Of Delight, Voices Of Masada, Moonspell, Nosferatu, Type O Negative, Paradise Lost, Fields Of The Nephilim, Rhombus and The Faces Of Sarah. How is it being able to play together with such bands? Do you have any special moments you would like to share with us from any of these shows?

Hanging with these people whose music actually followed us through every day…
Getting to know the bands with which we‘ve grown is truly an amazing experience.
The whole thing of meeting the bands is the “special moment”.

In 2016 you released your second, and latest, album "Buried In Rain". Why did it take 12 years to release it after your debut "Occult"?

If you count the "Tides" EP which was released in 2012 it’s actually 4-5 years until the "Buried In Rain" album. Opened Paradise is our passion. Our inner child and shelter of our souls. We do not gather under pressure nor because we have to. We do as our heart feels fit. I believe this explains the reason why the releases took place at the times they did and not earlier.

The album "Buried In Rain" was a great piece of work that showed the band mature in sound, performing some really memorable songs and with great production. How was it creating this album in the studio and how did it feel performing it live after its release?

Thank you for your kind words Nick.

As we’re getting older, we mature through our experiences in life. We evolved as individuals and that had an impact on our sound.

The album was recorded and produced at Top Floor studios of Panos Tsekouras. They worked together with Babis Nikou and the result is presented in "Buried In Rain". Both are really cool guys and great to work with. The whole recording/production session turned out easier than expected.

"Buried In Rain" is emotional. Anger meets regret. Bitterness and loss of hope. It is a reminder that mankind is destined to wither. There are no joyous moments there. This is what I felt the first time we presented the album live and this is what I feel every time we’re on stage. Even while just listening to the songs.

How do you see the Dark scene in general? Every few years the music genres in scene shift and we also have various revivals. Are Opened Paradise open to experiment with new sounds and styles according to what is going on today?

I can’t say that I’m following the scene nowadays. Nostalgia has gotten into me lately and I mainly focus on past releases.

We don’t really mind of “what’s going on today” as far as it concerns our sound. We’re not into trends. If an idea pops up, and seems to fit to our overall image of the project, we follow. We experiment and see how it goes. If the outcome is satisfying, we keep it. If not, we discard it. All sounds are welcome. Quite frankly though, I can’t imagine Opened Paradise experimenting with electronic sounds.

Your live performances are rare the last few years. Is this something that the band has decided for itself or is it the difficult for a band like you to find venues and a wider audience to appear to? Would you be interested in performing live in other countries?

We wouldn’t want to give a live performance just for the sake of a live performance. We believe that we need to have something new to offer/give to the people who pay money to watch us on stage.

Greece is a small country. Our shows take place mainly in Athens.
I can’t say that we ever had a problem to find a venue here. The people who are into this kind of music are few but they’re dedicated. Black hearted and loyal. Least that’s the feedback we receive.

We once played abroad in the UK. Throughout the years there are several times that we received messages from fans asking us to play in their hometowns. Surely, we would gladly do that.
Unfortunately (?), Greece stands as the last frontier of Europe (we’re located in the southern/eastern part) and this makes things difficult for the promoters. I guess that booking a band from Greece is costly.

What is the band up to at the moment? Are you preparing a new album?

We recently welcomed in our ranks our second guitarist Gregory (Anima Triste) and we’re currently preparing for the live show alongside with “The Nosferatu” at The Temple on the 22nd of February.
The same time, we’re working on ideas for a new project.

Interview by Nick Drivas

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On Saturday 22th of February, the Gothic rock band The Nosferatu will be playing live at Temple club in Athens featuring original members Vlad Janicek and Louis DeWray from the original 90s era line-up.

First of all, what triggered the formation of The Nosferatu? Was it a need to express yourselves and create new music again or to fulfill something that was long ago left unfulfilled?

This is a long-complicated set of circumstances but to be brief it was instigated by myself. Some sudden life changes made me re-evaluate myself and I realized I missed music too much to keep myself any longer in a self-imposed exile.

Witnessing the “official” band (a term I do not recognize as it was not authorized) descend into a shadow of the original concept also contributed to my decision to resurrect my vision of the band.

Your lineup consists of original members Vlad Janicek and Louis DeWray from the original 90s era line-up together with Rob Leydon and Chris Clark. All of you have been involved in the Nosferatu story in various eras, but now for the first time all together with this particular lineup. How do you feel that this lineup of the band stands?

Both from a professional and personal point of view this is possibly the most harmonious and slick lineup I have played in. All members have a very dedicated attention to detail and quality and integrity permeate every aspect of our performance and writing.

Rehearsing has been an absolute pleasure from the start with the guys.

Nosferatu was considered one of the major Goth bands of the 90s. Your overall image and sound, blending old horror films with esoteric dark music with a romantic feel, a flare for the theatrical and the dramatic, has left its mark. Do you feel that this type of Goth needs to be served to the audience of today as a reminder of what once was?

We always stood alone during a time when the scene began to fragment and dilute. From the start the aim was to present a vision and style that connected the lyrical and musical elements to a visual expression in artwork and stage presentation.

I still believe we fill a void missing in the scene, but time will tell how big that void is!

This isn’t the first time that two bands share the same name. The same has occurred with Gene Love Jezebel for example. Although this can be very confusing for your fans, who also witness the rival between members, it’s the music that will justify each party in the end. What’s your opinion?

Firstly, I am a 50% owner of the band name Nosferatu, I never gave any authorization or permission for Damien to use the name.

But we decided rather than create a war to take a higher moral stance. The reason to use The Nosferatu has many facets but the prime one is to indicate a difference.
We felt we had to demonstrate a difference although minor and the use of “The” is partly to indicate we are the real band. Real in terms of attitude and aspirations.

Apart from live appearances, should we be expecting new material from you in the form of a new album?

It is very much our aim to complete a new album, currently 3-4 new songs have been composed and are already mostly completed. Perhaps I am being too ambitious but having my creative energy revitalized I firmly believe its possible fans might see something by year end.

How do you feel that you will be playing live in Athens? What should the Greek audience expect from your upcoming show at Temple?

We are very excited and honoured to be playing Athens, I know first hand the affection and loyalty of the Greek fans in the scene to our songs. Being able to finally present them with a show rammed full of classics as well as an opportunity to air some new songs is very nice.

Our Hellenic audience should expect a professional, dramatic performance with many classic songs some of which were rarely performed live previously, played with a style and panache in keeping with the founding principles.

Interview by Nick Drivas

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