Sideshow: VVMPYRE’s Rapid Fire Reviews for December

I really want to take this segment to thank not just the head Michael, who will be reading this before I make my post, but also every other person who has been reading my reviews in 2021. Whether it is my debut as Echoberyl, the first of these Sideshows, or any of the reviews after that, it is great that I get to share the music I love with everybody! It has been a great year for music, as I have said before, and we are about to jump into more of it coming up.


There’s a lot to get through, so let’s just jump into it, starting with:


Chaos Bleak - Like the Master Says

I will soon give you all the history lesson on Trevor Bamford, but suffice to say, 35 years after the demos from his first notable act Every New Dead Ghost and almost 25 since Midnight Configuration’s classic “Funeral Nation”, it’s great to see him still holding it down here on guitar. Trevor’s Metal-influenced chugs alongside the heavy synths are not a new slate for him at all, but Piers Sixx’s vocals are a nice addition, as is the heavy handed individualist message. The razor synths slashing through the mix like static waves and the choirs in the chorus give a nice throwback to 90’s Darkwave, even if the mix sometimes gets a little overloaded, and modern technology has certainly improved the low end of records in this style. If the term “Electrogoth” didn’t die for you in 2003, this single and this band are for you.

8/10


Rogue VHS - I Am

I wanted to like this, I really did. But this really left me upset at how disappointed I was. Predictable, Boring, and Uneventful. Not even outright bad, just uniquely uninteresting. I will probably forget this review when I share it.

5/10


Miles Matrix - LA BOUM

Get your turntables, boom boxes, and Cybotron records out, it’s time for some Electro! Groove to Miles’ pastiche of one of the more underrated movements of the 80’s, and find yourself hooked on a series of catchy synth hooks, vocoders, and drum machine breakbeats. In the fabled words of Arabian Prince, “This is something to dance to”.

8/10

Best: “ELECTRIFIED!”, “CUPCAKES”

Worst: “KID MIDI”


Architrave - Future Ruins

A lot of the classic Synthpop acts in the 80’s had a rough time transitioning into the next decade. Architrave best demonstrates what the alternative could have been. Some elements of Darkwave, House, and Synthwave that clearly represent a group not just focused on retro sounds, but finding their own identity. Taking that alongside some distinct vocals and an ear for melodies and hooks and you have a very interesting record. I wish I had the time for a full review.

8/10

Best: “Blissed Out”, “Humble and Good”, “Headcount”

Worst: “Crown Shyness”


Liquid Modern - Autumnal Bliss

Nu Disco for the fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Best served with apple cider donuts and an oversized rake to gather the falling leaves afterward.

Best: “Fall In Spinning”, “Walkin’ Feet”

Worst: “J’aime L’automne”

8/10


Fluid Ghost - Homeclubbing/End-Stage Photophobia

So this is actually two EPs as one, but since I have missed a lot and since these were both released as one on streaming, I thought we would try something new and review both at once. This is the side project of Echoberyl’s Adriano S. Iacoangeli. It is classified as “Dark Dance”, but could easily fit into some brand of Darksynth, Horrorsynth, or possibly even Synthwave. The style name fits though, as the dark bass grooves enamor the drum machines and a haunting atmosphere of synths. My only complaint is that sometimes some of the songs get really drawn out, and a tighter structure could do a lot to make these tracks last outside of the dancefloor. Still, when these get good, they get REALLY good, and there is nothing outright bad about them. For all the DJs wanting some more synths with some darker edge but not too abrasive, check both of these out, you might even find yourself enjoying them more than me.

Homeclubbing: 8/10

Best: “Bedroom Smoke”, “Forbidden”

Worst: “Transparent”

End-Stage Photophobia: 7/10

Best: “Hard Rain”, “5AM Syndrome”

Worst: “Prisoner (3AM Shado Remix)”


Blood Lord - The Bloodstained Keep

Dungeon Synth for all your vampiric dungeon crawling needs. It’s short, it’s fun, it’s played on a cheap Casio, and it’s dark.

7/10

Best: “A Midnight Waltz”, “The Lord Awakens”

Worst: “From Your Crypts Arise”


Blake Carpenter & NightRazor - The Chauffeur (Duran Duran Cover)

Most of the time when you sift through a “Gothic Tribute” album on labels like Cleopatra Records, there are often a bunch of throwaways, some worse than others, but there is usually that one gem you never expect that makes you look into the artist a lot more. If I was not already a big fan of both artists involved, this would be that track.

9/10


Honey Beard - Oneiros

If there was more time in the year, this would get a full review. As it is, the year end is coming along, so I will keep it short. This album takes Synthwave and warps it in so many ways that it is barely recognizable in the same genre. Some of these could fall under Synthpop, others could fall under the traditional Synthwave mold, some have an EDM touch to them, and “Lighthouse” could pass as an early Twin Tribes track. Synthwave for those who are bored with just Synthwave.

8/10

Best: “Lighthouse”, “The Horror”, “Dark Tides”

Worst: “Rot Away”


Warpsektor & Nanoverse - The Final Boss

Some tracks just write their own reviews. Two artists with darker retro tendencies, one that wields a guitar, and one that had a release full of Darksynth with Chiptune leads? This was always going to be the result, and it always was going to be great.

8/10


Dark Saints - Ritual

One of my main gripes with Darksynth at its most forgettable is always forgetting the melody on top of the heavy bass. I suppose one way to remedy this is to borrow some Futurepop leads, horror atmospheres, and old school horror samples esque of 90’s Goth music. I like it.

8/10


Echoes from the Last Cassette Tape Vol. 1

An interesting collection of sounds from various artists in “synthfam”, with some solid highs, boring lows, and some interesting choices in between. It was hype when I first checked this, but it has worn on me since, and I have not revisited it a lot. Not an outright bad moment, but it’s not going to win many new fans of most of these artists over.

Best: “Momentary”, “Lawbreaker”, “shenzen steel (extended dance mix)”

Worst: “Last Transmission”

6/10


Draven - Cauchemar Noir

This Draven, doing his Draven thing, at his most and best Draven so far. Big bass, big horror melodies, and big drums. If this is a single, the album is going to be wild.

9/10


Hideotronic - Cyberpunk Rock

Cover albums are always a mess, there is no way around it but at their best, they can be a lot of fun. Thankfully, Hideotronic delivers with a fun album of Synthwave covers of various 00’s Rock covers, focusing mostly on Pop Punk and Pop Rock with the occasional detour. Guitars are a little thin at times, but the synths deliver in spades to the point where it isn’t an issue that overtakes the album. If you want something profound or game changing, you are in the wrong place. If you want something fun to turn your brain off to, this is the album to do that with.

7/10

Best: “The Anthem”, “Seasons”, “Robot Rock”

Worst: “American Idiot”


Chuck Wright’s Sheltering Sky - Army of Me

Whitney Tai is a fantastic vocalist that has had some prolific work between this year and the last, and this is just more of an addition to that with the shocking arrival of a supergroup formed by Chuck Wright, the bassist of Quiet Riot. This is much better than the original that I never was personally a fan of, and for those that like their 90’s Rock pastiche with giant guitars, anthemic vocals, and a thick bassline, this is the track for you. It’s very straight forward and pulls no punches, so there is not a lot to add, but I enjoy this a lot.

8/10


Blake Carpenter - The Singles

After a set of ups and downs, Blake ends the year with a collection of several of his singles out this year. He brings along with it distinct blend of Synthwave with Prog Rock-esque structures, heavy handed lyrics, and a voice that is distinct enough to be recognized on any style of production. Blake never delivers a subpar performance here, it merely is a matter of some being a little better than others, and some just get a little long winded in the structure. “Concrete Jungle” is absolutely worth a check as well, but this is a fine addition to a very moving catalog.

8/10

Best: “Dark Roads”, “Standing Stones”

Worst: “Dreamer”


Blutengel - Our Souls Will Never Die

I have been disappointed with Blutengel’s output since Un:Gott, so this was a nice return to form. This isn’t reinventing the wheel at all, but Blutengel has never needed to do that to deliver a great track. It’s a big chorus, it’s a big production, and it’s catchy and solid in each area respectively. For those that like their Darkwave larger than life, it’s always at least worth checking into the latest Blutengel release.

7/10


Black Angel - Breathe

This UK Goth Rock outfit has always taken up the heavier side of Sisters of Mercy-esque Goth pastiche, incorporating elements of Hard Rock and Metal into their work. However, while the guitars and overall production are absolutely on point with this one, the chorus doesn’t carry as well as most Black Angel singles. Alongside a less memorable riff, it makes overall for a Black Angel track that just goes through the motions. On any other Black Angel record, this would have been the low point filler track.

5/10


AGNIS - Sol Invictus

The Polish Wicca queen strikes with a fourth single leading up to her debut album, “ONENESS”, and another incredible addition. A massive bass and an incredible vocal fill the air of this track alongside an even more massive brass section that gives this track a cinematic peak. Alongside fellow darkTunes labelmate CZARINA’s new single, the massive peaks of this track takes AGNIS’ take on Darkwave to a whole other level. Gothic Madonna is perhaps the most accurate way to describe AGNIS, and much like how the single rollout for Madonna’s debut ended with the iconic “Borderline”, we have an iconic track to end this album’s single rollout leading up to its release. I can only hope the rest of the album holds to what these amazing singles have brought to us all.


C Z A R I N A - Medusa

It’s hard being a CZARINA fan in 2021, you attempt to say “THIS is my favorite track by her” and you think it can’t get any better, then she releases another incredible track that makes you question that all over again. But I mean, the orchestral bombast of this track is unmatched by practically anything in its genre. While this track’s structure and bassline certainly calls to Blutengel among others, in a lot of ways CZARINA transcends these sounds with her amazing vocals and lyrics here. It’s easy to forget there were two other singles that were also this good, but it’s hard to miss this phenomenal track.


CORLYX - Take Off Everything

I believe Todd in the Shadows had the term “Pop Perfection”. What’s the Goth equivalent to that?


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