PHOTO VREDITS: SHANNON LANDERS PHOTOGRAPHY
Twenty-odd years ago, I was in the throes of a love affair with Goth that lasted for most of the decade. Albums by the Sisters Of Mercy, The Cure, White Zombie and NIN enjoyed pride of place on the top row of my cassette case and a huge poster of the iconic film The Crow dominated my bedroom wall. I had long, dyed, jet-black hair and Type O Negative’s ‘Black No.1’, from the album Bloody Kisses, became my signature anthem, as I think it was for many of my fellow Gothmates.
My wardrobe consisted almost entirely of tight black clothing and killer Rock/Goth boots (not much has changed there) and a wicked sense of pleasure flickered within me every time a stranger called me Morticia. As the ‘90s dwindled and my eyeliner faded, I must have assumed that the whole Goth scene had simply died a natural death and I assigned those halcyon days, which I now recall through raven-tinted glasses, to nostalgia.
Fast forward to October 2018 and I’m at Manchester’s Grand Central Rock & Metal pub, about to watch local Alt-Goth Metal Band Sinnergod perform with Auger and Def Neon. Formed four years ago and hailing from North Wales, DEF NEON are first up and the female bass-wielding vocalist Emily C. Gresham, with her bright blue hair, silver nose ring and all-black attire, looks like somebody I could well have been best friends with back in the day. Her dreadlocked partner Michael Harmica is to her right on guitar and in full control of the electronics.
The first song begins and Emily’s singing about chocolate, which is a good, albeit somewhat unexpected, start. The set is filled with a unique fusion of deafeningly loud Indie-Rock, Electro, Synthpop and Bass music and it strikes me that the band’s name suits them down to the ground. Their music doesn’t have a dark, brooding Goth vibe at all, but is centred around a bright, intense, electro stomp that’s still heavy enough to call itself Hard Rock. Well-known samples are cleverly mixed into the set, including ‘Jump’ (Kris Kross), ‘Technologic’ (Daft Punk) and ‘Pump Up The Jam’ (Technotronic) and Emily is jumping up and down with a big white bass that almost dwarfs her!
Most of the songs are taken from the band’s self-titled debut album, but new track ‘Tribes’ also gets an airing and I’m thoroughly enjoying its strong, Industrial beat. Michael throws some electronic vocals into the mix and whips out a midi guitar before the pair close out with a cover of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’, which is quite an audacious move. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band incorporate such a wide-ranging crossover of genres into their music and do it so well. What’s more, when Emily talks to the crowd she comes across as a thoroughly delightful, humble and sweet gal… I’m hoping it’s not too late for us to be friends.
Def Neon are:
Emily Celestine Gresham - Vocals / Bass
Michael Harmina - Guitar / Electronics
Just Do It
Killing In The Name
Industrial Goth/Darkwave duo AUGER comprise Kyle Wilson on lead vocals and keyboards and Kieran Thornton on guitar and backing vocals. Kyle has a traditional Victorian-style Gothic appearance - his waif-like physique is enrobed in a dark military-style frockcoat with tails. Kieran is wearing the matching waistcoat, although his shaggy long hair and beard afford him more of a Metal look, so I’m expecting another cross-genre spectacle.
The set includes melodic Electro-Goth-Industrial-Metal songs from the band’s debut album, The Awakening, which is a story-arc that follows August, an aristocratic owner of a successful mine, and his head miner and long-term friend, Erwin, as they race against time to save August’s wife from a wendigo - a gaunt, emaciated and violent creature, formed within the darkest depths of the mine. Kyle’s delivery is both dynamic and dramatic. He sings with a clear, deep voice, occasionally beating his chest and leaning across whenever the song calls for it, to gracefully take his place at the keyboard.
The hard-hitting set concludes with a slower, heavier track and there are moments when I catch glimpses of Nine Inch Nails and Nick Cave seeping through. The final scene sees Kyle with his arms outstretched and head bowed, bathed in a doomy green light, as if he were about to surrender to the clutches of the fearsome mine-dwelling wendigo…
Kyle Wilson - Lead Vocals / Keyboards / Programming
Kieran Thornton - Guitar / Backing Vocals
End Of Our World
This is a hometown show for local four-piece SINNERGOD, half of which is composed of twin eyeliner-smudged brothers Mark and Chris Hampson. The band, which has toured with the likes of Blaze Bayley, mainly play songs from their self-titled 2016 album, but also give us a taste of their new single ‘Hellelujah’ (not to be confused with the much covered Leonard Cohen track ‘Hallelujah’), taken from their forthcoming new album, Three. Mark’s clean, crisp vocals contrast well with the dirty Industrial sound provided by the music and I’m appreciating the novel presence of a physical drumkit on stage this evening.
Most of the songs include long instrumental passages and the vocal sections are interspersed with Mark’s husky growl. The most notable thing about the frontman’s performance however isn’t his vocals, but the way he plays guitar – he’s playing a left-handed guitar, strung back to front! You can hear people in the crowd who have also spotted this anomaly commenting on it, as it’s certainly not something you see every day.
After the last song there are calls for an encore, or to be more accurate, “Get your arses back on stage!” and the band return to play ‘Last Bullet’, which sees Mark exacting an even greater force and gnarlier roars than before. There is a buzz surrounding this band, who have built up a loyal fanbase since their formation in 2007 and it’s gratifying to see that Goth lives on, although I don’t think I’ll be stocking up on the Black No.1 again anytime soon.
Mark Hampson – Vocals and Guitar
Sam Saint – Guitar
Carl Whittle - Bass
Chris Hampson - Drums
I Never Had A Gun
World In Grey
Waking Up The Neighbours
Last Bullet (encore)
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