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The Greek dark duo Strawberry Pills released their debut album "Murder To A Beat" on October 30th, 2020. The duo, consisting of singer Valisia Odell and Antonis Konstantaras on guitar, had resurfaced after a 6-year hiatus. Sonically, with this album the band aim for a fresh dark sound while paying homage to the 80’s, with its title inspired by the queen of crime, Agatha Christie.

 The opening track of the album, "The Voyeur", is an ode to Guy Bourdin’s voyeuristic photography. A classic example of the duos sound based on minimal electronics as a backdrop with flashes of guitar and Valisia’s characteristic singing style. Almost spoken word, with her individual pronunciation. All these elements of fiction, horror, death and romance as stated by the band are combined on "Private Nightmare" that has a more oldschool feel. Next comes "Verbal Suicide" that was actually their comeback song, released in February 2019 gaining major airplay. This low tempo minimal track gets addictive especially when the groove kicks in during the chorus and the sci-fi synth sounds at its climax. The first side ends with "Enter The Void", another 80ish track that’s more guitar driven.

 On the second side of the album, we have the new wavy "Dreams" with its synthy verse and a more dynamic chorus with chaotic guitars and Valisia singing “Murder, murder…”. Thing calm down on "Porcelain Face", a song about an alluring femme fatale. Again here, after a calm nocturnal sounding verse, the chorus comes in a bang. On the next track "Icarus" that was initially released in May 2019, has a more pop sensibility with electro sounds and a more playful vibe. In the same vein we have the closing track "Set To Rise Again" but with a more minimalistic approach.

 The album was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Panos Tsekouras at Top Floor Studio. The duo was also assisted by Aristomenis Theodoropoulos, an old fellow artist who had previously worked with them in their previous band Phoenix Catscratch. The artwork and photos are done by Aris Athanatos. It comes as in black and clear vinyl 180 gram but will also be available digitally.

 

Review by Nick Drivas

 

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Darkwave revivalist sweethearts Lebanon Hanover have just released their sixth album entitled "Sci​-​Fi Sky" on Fabrika Records. The duo of Larissa Iceglass and William Maybelline appear as true romantics of the modern age, an ice-cold reply to the alienated and pandemic stricken world coming from two warm beating hearts.

 What is immediately evident by listening to the album, as on the opener "Living On The Edge", is the wall of sound provided by distorted electric guitar. A step away from their more minimal, stark approach on previous works. On the second track "Golden Child", after an intro with bass and xylophones, the guitars step in and William takes over lead vocals. The distorted guitars are even more upfront on "Garden Gnome" where Larissa sings. The first time we got to hear their new sound with the doom-laden electric guitar brought so upfront was in September when the video for "Digital Ocean" was uploaded. The video was filmed by the sea somewhere in Greece with an original 80s VHS camcorder. "The Last Thing" that follows was the first single from the album released in March during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The video was filmed in the industrial area of Neckarau, Mannheim in Germany amongst other places. A classic example of the duo’s musical cold tones with Larissa’s characteristic melancholy, almost depressed vocal expression.

 Halfway through we have "Angel Face" where William sings accompanied by acoustic guitar offering one of the most emotional moments of the album. While on "Hard Drug" Larissa’s warm voice floats gently on a melodic piece brought by brooding bass, jangly guitar and a minimalistic thumping drum. Both members take turns singing on "Third Eye In Shanghai" a dark piece driven by a flanged guitar line. Things get captivating with the mantra like "Your Pure Soul" and even more spiritual on the closing track "Come Kali Come" with its eastern elements, sounding like nothing they have ever done before.

 "Sci-Fi Sky" comes as a CD in a lovely gatefold case with booklet and also as a double vinyl. The vinyl issue will be featured in three colored variations. On splatter moon grey and yellow, splatter white and blue, splatter white and dark green.

 

Review by Nick Drivas

 

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The Greek electronic darkwave duo Selofan have returned with their sixth album "Partners In Hell". The album was released on October 20, 2020 on their label Fabrika Records. The record contains 10 new synth-based tracks drenched with their dark theatrical aesthetics all having a homonymous sound.

 The opener "The Grey Garden" starts off gently with a kind of atmospheric romantic film noir feel to it and Joanna Pavlidou’s tormented voice floating over it. The beat kicks up on "Almost Nothing" but still retaining the same feel. Soft synth-scapes and vocals full of depth drifting in the background. Next is "There Must Be Somebody" that was the first album teaser, released as a digital single in April, accompanied by a video directed and edited by Dimitris Chaz Lee. This catchy track with its synth arpeggios was mixed by Serafim Tsotsonis. Here, Joanna’s vocal style is reminiscent of that of Anja Huwe (of XMal Deutschland). The more sythpop German spoken "Nichts" is filled with synths and darkness, owing also to Dimitris Pavlidis’ throbbing bass guitar and Joanna’s haunting vocals. In the same vein we have "Zusammen" and "4 a.m.". While on "Happy Consumers", although it has a more playful approach, it still retains the albums dark desolate icy feel. The same could be said for "Absolutely Absent" despite that the tempo speeds up. By listening to the track "Metallic Isolation" you think that this could be the bands nod to the Joy Division songs "Isolation" and "Heart And Soul", here as a more minimal electronic take of these two classics masterfully entwined into one. The last track "Auf Deiner Haut" was the second single taken from the album released in September with the filming of its video to have taken place at the Asilo Bar in Bogota, Colombia. It ends the album on a high and is probably the standout track. With its pulsing rhythm, Joanna’s dominant vocal and Dimitri’s characteristic saxophone.

 The album comes as a limited-edition vinyl with an edition of 500 copies in splatter black with fuchsia vinyl and another 500 copies in splatter red with black vinyl. Also, there will be a deluxe digipack CD edition that comes in special digipack cover with UV spot and emboss touch.

 

Review by Nick Drivas

 

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The French act Venin Carmin have returned with their second album "Constant Depression" released in May 2020 on the independent label Seja Rrecords from the Netherlands. After their acclaimed debut in 2015 with "Glam Is Gone", this new album, released on vinyl, is again full of post-punk / coldwave catchy tunes. The front cover features the painting ‘Lucretia’ by Niek Hendrix.

 From the start of their sophomore album with the track "It's Gonna Be Wild", we are introduced to their personal take on post-punk with their somber synths. While on "Sidekick Punchline, more electronic and darkwave elements have been added in the mix. The playful track "Willkommen To The Masquerade" that follows had a video made for it featuring the trios main female members Lula and Valentine in similar mood. Their dark pop is best expressed on "Twinkle In The Eye" and on the title track "Constant Depression" the band sets their attitude of today with lyrics such as “Unsatisfaction nowadays, constant depression anyway and nothing gets better…”. The first side ends with "For The Sublime" another fine example of their experimental, minimal electro pop.

 The second side of the album starts with another great track "Outsiders", where post-punk is mixed with synth pop and new wave, as on the next rack "Problem Issue" that sounds like it jumped straight out of the 80’s. We have a change in atmosphere on "Abysses" where only synths and vocals create a dark moody tune. Then on "Sketches" they return in full form with a bass that paves the way of the composition. The playful element returns on "Waterlillies" with its minimalistic pop structure. On "Dreaming Valentine" we have seductive vocals over a mid-tempo synth track with nice additions of bass. The last track "Berceuse" (Lullaby), is an instrumental and as the title reveals, it is a dark lullaby as if taken from a haunting childhood memory.

 

Review by Nick Drivas

 

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Dark-o-Matic formed in 2017 by Greg Dovas who was later joined by the vocalist Piero Delux from the project Elsehow. Enlisting the help of sound engineer and producer George Nerantzis, the duo started recording their music best described as a cross between 80's wave music and synthpop but with also a darker edge to it.

 Their debut album entitled "New Hope", consists of ten tracks, including "Zugzwang", "Make Me Blue" and "Authentic?" that have already won many synthpop fans over. It was released November 2019 on Skyqode, the Russian independent record label established to promote new artists in the synthpop, electronic dance, and industrial genres. On the 21st of February 2020 they managed to present the album live by performing at Death Disco in Athens, participating at the Future Sonic Fest, just before the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 The album begins with "New Hope", a wonderful track that sets the vibe of this album, dark and poppy with a soul. Next is "Zugzwang", a catchier track that was released as the first single in March 2019. Things get a little darker and minimalistic on the emotional "Ever After", while on "Rather Be" we are transported even more into the vast 80’s as on the second more poppier single "Make Me Blue". On "Authentic?" the beat is turned up with Piero’s voice sounding really smooth over Greg’ synths. We have more synth-pop grooves with "Past Trip" and "All We Do Is Wait" where Piero showcases his wide vocal range and then the lovely "A Cage With The Door Wide Open, third single to be taken from the album. The last song "So Real" is a slower track, ending the album with a more atmospheric and emotional feel. Overall, a nicely crafted album for fans of synth music worldwide.

 The CD also contains the following four bonus remixes, "Zugzwang (Unity One Remix)", "Make Me Blue (Requiem4FM Remix)", Zugzwang (People Theatre's Drifting Remix)" and "Make Me Blue (Purple Fog Side Remix)".

 

Review by Nick Drivas

 

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Meat Injection released their debut album "System Anomaly" in June 2020 on Brazilian Wave Records based in São Paulo. The album comes as a CD ecopack with 4 panels, limited to 200 copies. It can also be found digitally. The band was formed on February 2016 in Athens, Greece and has played live in numerous gigs. Their debut was the "Death For Fun" EP released in 2016 on InClub Records with former singer Plasticine K. On this release, the band now consist of Dimitris Katsikadis and singer Cleopatra Kaido (formerly of the band Drama Queen).

 The album was mainly created by the need to express the paradox of our times. It was recorded between 2019-2020 and contains 10 songs. The album kicks off with the title track "System Anomaly", an up-tempo track that combines all the bands influences from alternative rock, electro, new wave, coldwave, darkwave and goth. The tempo drops on "Dead Santa" and steps up only on the chorus. The impressive "Chemical Romance" is a dark track with an aggressive trip-hop beat (recalling acts like Massive Attack). On "A Heart Made Of Sand" we have another electronic driven tune that has a somewhat angry and disillusioned vocals from Cleopatra.

 Halfway through we have more rocker "Last Endlessly Lust" followed by the more emotional "A Touch In A Dungeon". Next, we have an instrumental with the provocative title "Deadly Horny Priest", a kind of electronic improvisation. Things get rhythmic again on "Chaotic Ride" and "Black Out Sentiment", ending with the dynamic, passionate and upfront assault of "Time Infection".

 

Review by Nick Drivas

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