Your Sister is a Werewolf is the Synthwave project of producer Josh Molen from Knoxville, Tennesee. YSIAW first burst onto the scene in February 2019 with their debut album “C.H.A.D.” Their latest album is entitled “Captain Video.” It was released on August 28th, 2020.

On the cover is a really wonderful image by Chrome and Lightning. It features someone standing in front of a video rental store in tight jeans and Reeboks. For those of you who have never experienced the absolute joy of entering one of these fine establishments, let me just tell you, it’s thrilling. This image perfectly captures the sheer level of excitement I used to feel going to the movie store. The blinding lights. The smell of buttery day old popcorn. The sticky floors. That weird plastic smell that strangely reminds me of petrol. Man, I miss the 80s and 90s. What a time to be alive. I feel truly blessed to live nearby one of the remaining video stores in the U.S. I still make weekly trips down there in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. Interestingly enough, there still exists an actual Captain Video store in San Mateo, California. Now whether or not Molen took inspiration from this former Bay Area franchise, I’m not sure. Regardless, I love this album cover. It’s says a lot without saying much.

So how does “Captain Video” sound? Extremely authentic. It’s on point for the time period that it’s trying to emulate. This is a function of using the right tools in the correct context. From the word “go” “Jumping the Turnstiles” serves as the penultimate YSIAW track. It shows off a little bit of everything that this album does. And what this album does, it does well. I particularly enjoy the pointed synth that comes in at 2:12. I was almost instantly reminded of John Carpenter’s opening theme from Escape from New York.

While the presentation of “Captain Video” seemingly takes a lot of influence from early 1980s soundtracks its general vibe is much more akin to similar music being produced in the mid-eighties. You know, when producers of the time really started to get a little more comfortable with the tools at their disposal. The way that Molen was able to make “Captain Video” breathe is nothing short of amazing. Ironically enough, “Breathe Easily” highlights this quite a bit through some exceptional compression, reverb, and EQ choices that make the track come alive in such a way that feels effortless and easy to listen to. There’s nothing more satisfying than a little bit of audible air. My ears are in love with “Captain Video” because of it.

There are so many nuanced and deliberate details coming together here in order to create a fantastic nostalgic vibe. The nervous system of how “Captain Video” sounds so authentic lies in three key points: its wideness in the stereo field, it’s warmth (greatly aided by pitchbendiness), and the analogue sounding distortion that appears throughout the album.

In my opinion, “Neon Illusion” demonstrates the wideness of this album well. At 1:38, the bells and plucks sound three dimensional amidst the backdrop of a synthesized Juno-106esque sax. As this part continues the sax itself feels like it’s shifting from a more synthesized sound to a much more realistic version of itself. It’s quite impressive to hear if you’re paying careful attention.

Tasteful distortion and warmth are also incredibly vital to how the ear perceives whether or not music sounds vintage or not. And let me just tell you, Molen is a goddamn wizard when it comes to his command of how to implement these two things into his music. “Digital Image Correction” highlights an example of how to use warmth and distortion correctly. Good golly Molly the pads scream on this album. Listen in at around 1:30 to see what I mean.

Overall, what Your Sister is a Werewolf has done here is perhaps the most enjoyable Synthwave album that I’ve heard all year. This isn’t Synthwave in name only, this is actual Synthwave that was carefully crafted to accurately emulate a specific period of time. For serious, “Captain Video” was such a goddamn treat to listen to. Mr. Molen discounts nothing on this release, and uses the entire spectrum of hearable sound to make a memorable album worthy of your time. Please check this one out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Mitch Murder, fans of movie soundtracks from the mid-eighties, Synthwave heads looking for authentic vibes.

Stand-Out tracks: ALL! But if I had to pick, listen to “Jumping the Turnstiles,” “Slow Going (feat. Gab Manette),” “Neon Illusion,” “Digital Image Correction,” and “Late Fees.”

Album Color Profile: #EBDEF0

You can find all things Your Sister is a Werewolf at https://yoursisterisawerewolf.bandcamp.com/

Make Believe Machines is an avant-garde, neo-classical project from Des Moines, Iowa. At the center of this project is producer Justin Norman. Right at the tail-end of 2019, Norman released “A Lonely Gust Toward the Heavens” which tells the his personal tale of grief in losing a close friend and grandparents. While this isn’t Make Believe Machines’s latest album, I feel compelled to write about this one as I connected with it earlier this year amidst my ongoing search of music worth listening to.

Artistically speaking, Norman is keen to the fact that ambiguity plays a big part in how art is perceived. He writes, “I’ve always connected with instrumental music, because without the specificity of lyrics, the listener is free to insert their own circumstances into the world of the song. It’s my hope that the new pieces of music on this record can be some comfort to others in trying times.” Personally speaking, I think that whenever an artist tries to define exactly what their art is for their audience it can come off as trite. Specific sounds, atmospheres, vibes, and visuals can bring about as many different feelings as there are people in the world. Music is very subjective. In my case, darker sounding music (like this) is very uplifting. However, those same sounds might be depressing or cause no feelings whatsoever in someone else. To Norman, “A Lonely Gust Toward the Heavens” has specific meaning, but he doesn’t discount the fact that ambiguity is what really makes this album tick.

From the get-go there is one thing that separates “A Lonely Gust Toward the Heavens” from the majority of the new music I’ve listened to this year: this album feels gigantic. I’m sure that part of this is a function of Norman treating the mix of this album with loving care, and then outsourcing this to a proper mastering engineer. The other part of why this album sounds so large is because of the energy behind the art presented here. It’s not often that you come across an artist who can so beautifully express what they want to say with their music, especially when it comes to instrumental music. In a sense, instrumental music is much more difficult to “get right,” primarily because there’s a an unspoken notion among creative minds in all genres that it’s easier to produce. Quite frankly, this point of view is understandable. Vocals can be a pain in the ass to–but can the twenty instrumental albums you released in the last year actually paint a picture? Can they tell a story? Can they do both of those things even if your listeners don’t know anything about you or your process? “A Lonely Gust Toward the Heavens” can.

In terms of how “A Lonely Gust Toward the Heavens” sounds, I feel that most people will instantly compare it to Hans Zimmer. Generally speaking though, I think that Make Believe Machines has much more in common the kind of music Thomas Newman (The Green Mile, American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption) typically churns out. This is an album that is definitely cinematic, but at a more down to earth and slow pace. The entire album has an unmistakable undertone of heavy sadness throughout that makes me think about every moment in my life that I didn’t have control over.

While the entire album is a high water mark for this type of music, there were a few moments that really resonated with me. “Ghosts Made of Static” is the song I would direct people to listen to first if they wanted to see what to expect from this album. This is a song that’s extremely textured, ambient, and string driven. This song gives me thoughts of wanting to escape into the woods. Like, when I listen to”Ghosts Made of Static” I actually see spinning eddies of leaves and dirt occupying an empty autumnal path like solemn ghosts. It’s almost like every person in my life who is no longer here has a voice in this song. It’s rather beautiful. “This Olive Branch is a Hornet’s Nest” has a very infectious Silent Hill vibe with its piano driven movement. The ever so slight sample reversals going on here just add to that feeling as well. When it comes to what I see when I listen to this song, I think about a car ride to the cemetery in the rain, or looking out my window in longing for days that are no longer here. “Mount St. Michel’s Revenants” features a very prominent violin and cello duet by Elaina Steenson and Anna Kucera respectively that feels like looking back at the world from the perspective of someone being laid to rest. There’s a mutual feeling of regret here that encapsulates a conversation between the living and those who have passed on into the aether. “The Restless Woods” is also an incredible highlight from this album, what with the simple piano and the right amount of reverb and atmosphere to give it vibrant and visual life. Finally, “Another Fruitless Victory” is the point in the album where I felt that the Zimmer parallels could be felt the most. This is a slow, plodding, song that really speaks to its title by questioning whether or not there’s any inherent meaning in life at all. Everything is finite–and I feel that this song does well in pointing that simple fact out.

As far as complaints are concerned, I don’t have many. Structurally, all of the songs are solid. The song titles hit the mark too. That said, for as much as I feel like this album would’ve benefited from the songs flowing into one another more smoothly. Part of this lies in how difficult it can be to separate tracks out so that they seamlessly run into one another, but the other aspect of this may have to do with how the tracks were arranged order-wise. Outside of that, this is a near flawless effort by an indie artist to get that big cinematic sound.

While I want to avoid getting overly existential in my analysis of this release, “A Lonely Gust Toward the Heavens” represents, at least to me, the necessary process of having to grieve through the death of a loved one, be it a friend, a parent, or partner. This is absolutely, one-hundred percent, NOT feel good music. Don’t come here looking for bopping happy vibes. Come here looking for an album that will make you want to reflect and listen to the compartmentalized hurt inside of your heart.

Album Color Profile: #E8F5E9

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who need a much needed cry or grief-release.

Stand-Out tracks: All. But definitely check out “Ghosts Made of Static” if you aren’t sold on this album yet.

You can find all things Make Believe Machines at https://makebelievemachines.com/

In the post-covid postmodern cyberpunk pastiche that is 2020 just about everybody and their mother has taken to the arts in a last ditch effort to make their hopes and dreams come true. The result of this has been really mixed. On one end of the spectrum there’s high-quality “didn’t bother to write my own music” garbage that low skill non-producers have thrown money at to make their egos feel better. There’s an entire industry that orbits around separating these folks from their hard earned cash. In the middle, you have low quality artistic music that actually has real substance. There’s also the low quality, low skilled producers that aren’t “in it to win it” rather they are only in it for fun—to which I say, hell yeah, keep having fun. And finally you have really well produced music that’s artistic AF. This is very rare mythical unicorn that often gets buried under high quality, low skill garbage. This is sadly just the way things are. But hey, when I discover music like this, I am motivated to share it. Enter London’s very own dark synth producer who goes by the moniker “The Unseen.” Since June of 2018 they have been producing delectable and dark music just perfect for a night drive. Their latest “EP”—it’s not an “EP,” this is a fucking album, is entitled “To Where We Roam.” It released on June 19th, 2020 via Bandcamp.

The cover art for “To Where We Roam” is extremely unorthodox for this type of music. I say this mainly due to it’s color scheme. Just looking at this album, the first thought that comes into my head is that this is going to be something light-hearted and smooth. I mean look at those pastels! Towards the bottom of the image is a figure walking away. They are draped in a scarlet looking robe/blanket/shroud that appears to be swaying slowly in the wind. This is the part of this artwork that is slightly unsettling to look at. There’s mystery there. Right out in the open. Right out in the light. Needless to say, when I pressed play on this album for the first time it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

“To Where We Roam” is a release that has gone widely unnoticed—which I think is downright criminal. In terms of what I’ve already listened to in 2020, this album is top ‘o the heap. This is mostly instrumental, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s just another fancy darksynth release. The Unseen did a wonderful job producing this one. From beginning to end, I was treated to the perfect mix of early 1980s Vangelis/Tangerine Dream mixed with what sounds like to me Jack Wall’s work on Mass Effect 2, only instead of getting one “Suicide Mission” track, the entire album sounds like that. I think that top loading “To Where We Roam” with “Paris, Aimes-tu Les Damnés?” was a solid artistic decision, because while it has threads of what typically is expected out of a darksynth track, it vaguely reminded me of the first time I heard Xasthur’s “Moon Shrouded in Misery, part I.” I think that adding this type of sound to darksynth is the proper progression for the genre, not only because it adds a dreamy death-like element to the tone of the music, but because I think it feels nostalgic, albeit not in an eighties sort of way. “Veiled Silhouettes on the Dunes of Dubai” reminds me a lot of Keiichi Okabe’s compositions on both the original “Nier” and also “Nier Automata.” It’s dusty, atmospheric, oppressive and breathy. It stands out as one of the album’s most visual songs, and although it’s a little tropey I like it. “Stargazing From a Train in the Austrian Alps” sounds eerily familiar to the end theme from “Blade Runner.” There are two reasons for this. One, it’s in F minor just like Blade Runner’s end theme. “Stargazing…” is also similar sounding because of the steady arpeggio that continues for most of the song in tandem with lush pads going up and down the scale. The primary difference here is that the starting root note of the arpeggio isn’t C like in Blade Runner’s end theme. In general, I look at this like a nod to Vangelis, and what a nod it is. It’s a great tune. The best track on the album goes to the final track “World, Interrupted.” This also sounds similar to Vangelis, complete with it’s choir sweeps and dynamic percussion clashing with synthesized leads. The greatest moment of the album comes roughly two minutes into “World, Interrupted” with a drastic change in tempo which shifts the song’s focus from a more brooding energy level to something dark and upbeat. This is precisely the type of thing I love in darksynth that isn’t done nearly enough. It takes the overall vibe of the track from a, “yeah we’re not doing so well here,” to “we are absolutely fucked.” This is definitely one of the best tracks I’ve heard all year.

Overall, “To Where We Roam” is an album that was a huge surprise to me. It’s not only just dark, it’s oppressively dark. There isn’t any fun going on with this album. It sounds like the end of the world. And that’s the way I fucking like it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like their darksynth sounding like a razorblade sweeping back and forth in their mouths.

Stand-Out Tracks: “World, Interrupted,” (GREAT TRACK), “Paris, Aimes-tu Les Damnés?,” “Veiled Silhouettes on the Dunes of Dubai,” “Stargazing From a Train in the Austrian Alps” (Blade Runner vibes!)

Album Color Profile: #FF8A80

You can find all things The Unseen at https://theunseen.bandcamp.com/

Eyeshadow 2600 FM is the darksynth project of producer Meryl S. Kavanagh. In 2017, she released her groundbreaking first album entitled “TERF DESTROYER 9000.” Since then, she’s been quite prolific producing thirteen releases since that time. ES2600FM is music that explores disdain for the establishment, space vampires, and cyberpunk themes.

“Polybius” is a concept album that continues where her previous album “Ride Eternal” left off. On the cover is a woman calmly lying in a sea of stars. Considering that this is an album that explores the story of a sexy vampire lady marooned in deep, deep space, the cover art works pretty well. I’m still trying to figure out where the name “Polybius” fits in. I’m well aware of the urban legend surrounding the fictitious coin-op arcade machine from the 1980s, but in my head cannon for this album I tend to believe that Polybius is the name of the star system that our vampire heroine finds herself lost in. Regardless, it’s a cool title and it looks good featured at the top of the album’s cover art.

ES2600FM’s “Polybius” is the kind of album that should be listened to in a dark room as one continuous song. While I was able to skip around and listen to individual tracks more closely, I felt more comfortable playing this album from beginning to end. When I listened to songs individually I felt like some context was being left out. As a whole, “Polybius” sounds like you’re floating through deep space. This is largely helped by a strategic use of glassy sounding pads, white noise, and covert subliminal sound effects. This album is desolate AF. Though I don’t think that this feeling sets in until you’re sitting with this album running for a bit. By the time you’re half an hour in, the isolating effect that this album has is unmistakable. In general, “Polybius” makes me feel slightly claustrophobic and godforsaken.

Production-wise, “Polybius” is respectable. There aren’t any offending frequencies that are going to stick out as abrasive or unlistenable. For an indie album it’s very well-produced. “Polybius’s” greatest strength lies in how balanced it is. “Mind Machine” is a track that really stands out to me due to how it’s arranged. At times it sounds really dark, but there’s also this light-hearted element to it that reminds me of the feeling you get when you’re an MMO newb exploring a dangerous area by yourself for the first time. It feels like something that should be used in EVE Online or Elite Dangerous. “Edges of Orion” is the tune I think that will attract a lot of listeners looking for fresh darksynth feels. It’s upbeat and energetic—the kind of music that’s good for driving down a dark country road with reckless abandon.

Overall, the real strength of “Polybius” lies in Kavanagh’s willingness to dip her toes into ambient drone—because it’s all over this album. It’s a neat touch to bookend ambient drone sounding explorations around proper songs with percussion. This not only controls the energy and flow of the album but it also creates excitement when it’s absolutely necessary. Here’s hoping that ES2600FM fully explores the ambient element that she started on this album on her next release.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like space-themed drone, lovers of science fiction soundtracks, and darksynth fans.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Mind Machine,” (best track) “Edges of Orion,” (this is the sleeper hit of the album) “Her Name is Andromeda,” “Doomed,” “The Legacy Code,” and “Time Paradox.”

Album Color Profile: #FF33CC

You can find all things Eyeshadow 2600 FM at https://eyeshadow2600fm.bandcamp.com/

Victor Roy is an electronic music producer from Barcelona, Spain. He made his debut in 2019 with his debut album “Failure to Discern.” His follow-up “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” was released in February by RetroSynth Records.

The concept behind “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” encapsulates precisely why Synthwave and its related genres have taken off in popularity. The 1980s/early 90s were strange in that, science fiction films, gave us a hyperbolic glimpse into (an aesthetically pleasing) future. For example, Blade Runner takes place in 2019. When we look back at Blade Runner from a 2020 perspective it really makes you wonder…how did anyone ever think that by 2019 we would’ve been to the Tanhauser Gate, had another world war, and be surrounded by sexy replicants? Synthwave basically takes our own history and throws it out in favor of false realities and experiences that have never existed. It’s pretty weird that the human mind can trick us into becoming nostalgic for a 1980s version of what 2019 should’ve/could’ve been. Victor Roy’s “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” leans into the concept heavily, at least contextually, as the tent-pole unto which his latest album is supported by.

After listening to “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost,” I think that it really does a great job exploring the concept in which it was based. At the same time, it sounds like an album written in 2019 that reveres the 1980s version of 2019. If that sounds confusing don’t feel bad. This album is extremely meta and self-referential. Generally speaking, I think that if this album was released as in the 1980s, it would’ve been a big deal. It probably also would’ve been used for a movie soundtrack. As a music critic, I feel that this is an important milestone to hit, especially for a Synthwave adjacent artist.

“Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” has a very polished shiny postmodern vibe. A lot of careful thought went into this album production wise which makes it an enjoyable listen. Despite the fact that this album has a very soundtrack leaden vibe, I don’t think that it has much else in common with Synthwave, Darksynth, or other Retro genres. I actually feel that this album transcends all of these genres, but not necessarily for the better—at least from the perspective of a hardcore Synthwave fan. That said, this album is not for those folks. This is music for people looking to be challenged by music that pushes beyond the limits of Synthwave. Sure, there are plenty of Vangelis sounding moments on “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” but it captures those moments without breakneck sidechained vaccum basses, sixteenth note clapping, or a pumping drum beat. “Fantastic Tales of a Future Lost” is music that puts an emphasis on exploring Cyberpunky music through melodies rather than beats.

“Rewind” serves as the album’s most retro sounding song thanks to it’s opening riff, but it also (thankfully) diverges from that sound as the song goes on. “Path to Glory” stands out as the most soundtrack worthy song by giving those Interstellar Hans Zimmer feels. Peak Victor Roy is reached in the latter half of the album with two songs: “Stage Two” and “Dungeon of the Mind.” “Stage Two” reminds me of Yuzo Koshiro’s work on the PC Engine CD port of Ys I & II. The song begins quietly, but masterfully works its way upward into a diminished key change that really pops. “Stage Two’s” melody is completely antithetical to the vibe that the song opened with—it’s seriously wonderful. “Dungeon of the Mind” is equally as awe-inspiring for the same reason. It evokes some very Michiru Yamane (Castlevania) energy that really made me want an entire album of similar music. Here’s hoping that on the Roy decides to fully explore similar on his next album, because video game sounding tunes seem to be his strong suit.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this album. As mentioned before, if you’re looking for Synthwave that’ll give you nostalgic vibes you probably should look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a well-produced challenge that represents a direction that Synthwave might be going in the near future, have a listen. This one might surprise you.

RECCOMENDED FOR: People who like melody driven science fiction/cyberpunk music.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Stage Two,” (so fucking good), “Dungeon of the Mind” (so fucking good part 2 the revenge), “Path to Glory,” “Rewind,” “Synthesized Hole.”

Album Color Profile: #633974

You can find all things Victor Roy at https://victorroy.bandcamp.com/

Void Stare is a cyberpunk influenced dark synth project from Australia. It features the vocalist from Brisbane’s black ambient metallers Spire. “Zero One” tells the tale of an “omniprescent dark force” that either traverses through or exists simultaneously in multiple locations. These locations in “Zero One” are all cyberpunk or science fiction related. Each one is given a track, which is a really cool idea for a concept album. It reminds me a bit of the Loc-Nar from the movie Heavy Metal (1981).

The first time I spun “Zero One” I didn’t get it. And I suspect that the majority of people who give this album a go will be in the same boat. THAT SAID–“Zero One” isn’t your garden variety type of darksynth that exploits the listener by using major scales or their relative minor scales to inject the music with “feels.” This album is purposely engineered with the intention of satisfying listeners looking to be confronted with something a little different.

For the most part, “Zero One” is instrumental with the exception of two really cool moments with “Soldier (A Martian Death)” and “Seethe (Trapped in Obsidian Eyes).” Other songs like “Crusader (Perfect Heresy Machine) feature what sounds like Mongolian throat singing. Structurally, all of the songs are fully fleshed out explorations that avoid using the traditional verse, prechourus, chorus structure. There’s a noise element to this album that adds to the album’s atmosphere. At times, “Zero One” reminded me a lot of the live action Ghost in the Shell (2017) soundtrack, but I think it tends to be a bit more bleak. Other times I felt small traces of Tangerine Dream (think “Phaedra” and “Rubycon”) sneak into Void Stare’s work. Keep in mind though that this has a more postmodern sound to it production wise.

“Zero One” is sophisticated darksynth in the same way that Emperor’s “IX Equilibrium” is sophisticated black metal. You are going to hear something new every time you give this album a spin. With that in mind—ask yourself: how many darksynth artists are capable of creating a similar experience?

Overall, Void Stare isn’t in the business of creating music that is easy to listen to. Don’t expect bass drops with “Zero One.” This is NOT a melodic, lead driven dark synth album. The first couple of times I listened to “Zero One” I missed so many small details that make this release really fucking good. It is an album that will attack any preconceptions of what you’d like to think darksynth should sound like. “Zero One” has a challenging repertoire of songs that are dangerously catchy once you are prepared to understand exactly what it is that it is doing.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Listeners who want to be challenged, folks who like something a little darker, people who like music that takes risks.

Stand-out tracks: “Rachel (Suffer by Design)” (aka the fucking best track, I love this one), “Decomissioned (Abandon the Protodome),” “Tannhauser Gate (N6maa10816),” “Crusader (Perfect Heresy Machine)”

Album Color Profile: #C62828


“Negative Space” by Burial Grid is a collaboration with horror novelist B.R. Yeagar and New England producer Adam Michael Kozak. The album serves as the soundtrack to Yeagar’s novel also entitled “Negative Space.” The book focuses on a synthetic hallucinogen called WHORL. As WHORL begins to take over the lives of the four main characters, they come into contact with four “string-shaped” ghosts. The ghosts apparently teach the characters of the novel a lot of crazy shit.

“Negative Space” makes “Requiem for a Dream” and “John Dies at the End” look like episodes of Paw Patrol. Remember kids—drugs are bad, m’kay? WHORL will distort your reality, cause you to see ghosts, and turn you into a masturbating degenerate on collision course with ruin. Death magick might sound fun at first, but when rags start having faces remember that you were warned.

What Burial Grid has chosen to do with “Negative Space” isn’t so much musical, but rather a sonic translation of indescribable, otherworldly hate and animus. This creates a landscape that paves a road to somewhere so horrifying that words alone can’t accurately describe what’s going on here. This album is beautifully grotesque, experimental, and cold-blooded. With “Negative Space,” Burial Grid taps into the unsettling ugliness that exists within all of us. It is a violation of senses, and a masterpiece—on a colossal scale.

Burial Grid strays away from traditional songwriting and instead focuses on exploration over structure. Rhythm-wise, “Negative Space” is almost completely devoid of any proper percussion. Although it is effectively used in “The Rope Man,” which sounds like the ending theme to a really fucked up movie. In general, I really don’t have anything to compare “Negative Space” to. It’s like listening to a mix of Akira Yamaoka’s work on Silent Hill 3 and Stalaggh’s “Projekt Nihil.”

“Negative Space” is note-worthy and deserves attention. This is album of the year quality work here folks. Seriously, run, don’t walk towards picking up this release.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who love horror. It’s truly one of the best horror-oriented soundtracks ever. I’m probably dreaming, but I hope “Negative Space” gets a movie.

Stand-out tracks: Let’s be real—everything stands out, but “The Rags Had a Face” was my personal favorite, followed by “The Woman Buried Beneath the Candle,” “A Poltergeist Drug,” and “The Rope Man.”

Album Color Profile: #7B241C



Philippe Gerber is something of a visionary. I was first introduced to his occult project JOHN 3:16 way back in the early 2010s. The first track I ever heard from him was his interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s fire and brimstone leaden sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” I instantly knew right then and there that what I was hearing was an intimate glimpse of Hell itself. Mr. Gerber is connected to something I can’t even begin to describe with words. It scares me to death—and I can’t keep myself from looking away.

Earlier this year, Philippe released a short EP entitled “Sodom & Gomorrah.” The artwork is by the amazing Azi Hariramdani. It features a black and white ram’s skull and sigil that easily could have been used on an early Deathspell Omega release. It gives “Sodom & Gomorrah” a certain cult-like mystique that I haven’t felt the presence of since 2004.


Musically, I find that “Sodom & Gomorrah” matches its namesake well. To me, this EP is sixteen minutes of pure bliss. Inside are two tracks, each one based off of the depraved bibilcal cities. Here JOHN 3:16 took me on a doomy whirlwind journey that took me places beyond the outer reaches of human experience. It is transcendent, metallic atmospheric, dark, and hellish. Of the two tracks available I much prefer “Gomorrah” especially for it’s industrial infused moments. It also breaks off into a ritualistic drum rhythm towards the end of the track that adds some cinematic excitement to the overall release. It made me feel like I was walking hand-in-hand with the Devil himself through Israel during the crucifixion.


Of all JOHN 3:16’s releases, this is probably my favorite. It’s concise, the artwork is on point, and it just sounds great. It’s releases like “Sodom & Gomorrah” that makes me remember what it’s like to be mystified by music that goes beyond the music.


RECOMMENDED FOR: War-torn veterans of the black/death/doom/occult crowd looking for something completely new, but familiar. It reminds me of something that could’ve been on Northern Heritage back in the mid-2000s.

Album Color Profile: #000000


You can find all things JOHN 3:16 at https://john316.bandcamp.com/