Much like my esteemed colleague Blair the Bear, I cherish my regular night walks. Whether the intent is getting my booty tight or taking my booty to Rite Aid for $2.99 Rite Buy pinot noir, it becomes nothing short of a meditative experience between myself and some really odd musical choices. I mean, night quite Chidren of Bodom bad, but teetering very close to the edge. I usually start out strong with a compilation of every nothing,nowhere. song before taking a steady nose dive into Living Dead Girl and other misguided flashes of my youth. But somewhere in between Closer and Looking Glass, I couldn’t help but wonder why I seemed to have abandoned my former passionate brushes with industrial, post-dark ambient electro MacBook cityscape-projecting footgaze, or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days. Sure, some of it is too easy and too cheesey, but recent stumble upons in the camp/cloud circuit have suggested that with a little finesse and willingness to genre-meld, there’s definitely something salvageable within the new classic. So grab your headphones, kids — it’s time for the Venture.
Before we were blessed with hour-long loops of Spoopy the Slenderman Skeleton, there were the cassettes I used to check out of my local library of haunted house sounds just to make my Halloween (and the month and a half prior I spent getting hyped) super lit. I’m sure it was quite the sight — my Barbie tape player, my baby fat covered frame, and my temperament on par with Beans from Evans Stevens. Hay boys. Little did I know at the time, one day I would blossom into a pretty okay Great Value brand Elvira who would have the pleasure of listening to the next level of spooky ambience — GuardianSorrow. Discovered this week during a delve into the Dead Ambient podcast, GS, product of Spain, taps into what can be felt but not seen when cast out into the abyss of dungeon-like oppression. The D&D vibes mixed with a dash of Potato make it work through careful branding and attention to smaller details, setting tone by keeping their name one and their art dope. As usual, self-awareness is key — it’s apparent enough to ward off nerdcore vibes, but also restrained enough to prevent post-noise bloatedness. While my relationship with GuardianSorrow is fairly new to the tabloid headlines, I’m excited to see where it goes, particularly when put to the test of the nightwalk that’s a little too baked and a little too dimly lit to quit looking over a shoulder.
(Enjoy the cat graphic)
If Xasthur is audible sorrow, then Khost is audible fear. True to the emotion, there’s as much that’s straightforward as many as there are layers to unpeel. The English experimental project injects an industrial filling into the basic tenants of doom at a very dire time where lesser talent is attempting to form bands out of the basic tenants of doom alone. This willingness to repartition the puzzle only makes for a more jarring listening experience alongside haunting recitation, terse track names, and spoken interludes that reveal themselves as the depths of madness. While occult overtones are apparent, there is still a fair amount of everyday human appeal. There is, of course, a steady drag characteristic of doom and a decisive beat characteristic of industrial that speaks to a heart that’s dragging, but still beating nevertheless (and if that doesn’t sum up adulthood, I don’t know what does).
An additional shroud of familiar mystery stems from Khost’s “Eastern” influence taking form in both vocals and orchestral. I’m sorry — I hate myself, too. Blanket terms suck, and they suck extra when being applied to things that are integral to people’s identities. But, to be fair, the jury seems to be out when it comes to exact coordinates. As mentioned, Khost’s home base is the UK, but their name is Afghan, and then again, they did a pretty impressive run of Israel. Perhaps all will be revealed in time, but what I do know here and now is that Khost is a call, an invitation, like a spin around the Ouija board that turns into ten. Fear manifests itself to be the most powerful drug to be abused, providing us with the strength and motivation to continually wake up each morning and thrust ourselves into an unknown that’s quick to entrap. Whether it be an uncharted revelation of the mind or an uncharted isle of Rite Aid, the opportunity cost does not become clear until it’s too late. And that’s where Khost leaves us — painted into a corner.
Last but certainly not least, we have Witch of the Vale. Probably the happiest accident I’ve had since I discovered jalapeno Skinny Pop one night at the corner store, I came across Witch two weeks ago when scouring Facebook for a generic doom band of a similar name. One click to Trust the Pain and 20 plays later, I was hooked by siren-like vocals woven into a net of modern synths. Just for the love of god, enjoy it on Soundcloud while you can before the platform becomes nothing more than a Styrofoam box of government cheese and shredded lettuce.
I know the Graveyard readership spans the age gambit, but personally, when I was a girl, the likes of Emile Autumn, The Birthday Massacre, and Angelspit were everything – sources of female empowerment, aesthetic inspiration, and a rosily dark world view. While my relationship with this ilk has changed, I’m glad to see it is still evolving forward through ventures like Witch. The freshly-formed Scottish duo is a bit more understate than my past loves, but manages to tug just as hard at heart strings. Kait Sidhe especially captures the dreaminess of TBM electronics, but puts it to work at a pace that’s a bit slower and more deliberate. There’s something about having something to savor instead of a sugar rush that speaks to my grown woman sensibilities. Not to say that bands like TBM are only for the children – this ain’t no Blood on the Dancefloor scenario. Just speaking for myself, now that I’m older and crankier strawberry shandies have become more appealing than Mike’s strawberry lemonade. But I guess that’s life — one day you wake up and find a connection lost and replaced, or at least mended, by another.
Witch’s use of the pagan concept also interjects a new and novel character to the usual industrial narrative. Again, when I tend to think of pagan metal I think of, like, fucking Eluveitie, who are, of course, hella up in your face, swingin’ hair and shit. But not Witch — they’re more diluted…in a good way. Like how hippies water down apple cider vinegar for a one-stop salad dressing/pussy cleanser, not like Texas Roadhouse watering down your $7 happy hour Roadhouse cosmo. Haha, relatable metaphors and such ;)~ But really, one listen and strong visuals of a solo practicing witch working along some stormy UK coast centuries ago is easier to conjure up than a bunch of crusties hearing you open a fresh pack of cigarettes. And if you’re still not sold, they’ve even got reimagined covers of all the faves — The Birthday Massacre, naturally, in addition to Joy Division and NIN. Their take on Reptile, for instance, retains Trent’s varying inflection, but is expressed through Witch’s signature clear tone.
Welp, that’s it. That’s all I got. Will I ever be able to get through an article again without mentioning nothing,nowhere.? Stay tuned to find out. Also peep n,n.’s new single with xXxdAsHbOaRd cOnFeSsIoNaLxXx, endorsed by Pete Wentz himself. Am I getting too old for this? God, I hope not.