I haven’t kept up with this blog, but thought I’d dust it off as I prepare to head to my favorite event, Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig Germany.
For anyone who doesn’t know, WGT is one of the largest festivals in the scene, with 20,000 people and 100+ bands across 10+ venues, covering all aspects of dark music for four days.
In the days leading up to WGT I like to listen to as many of the bands as possible, in attempt to optimize my experience when I get there.
How to choose from so many tempting options, often playing at the same time in different locations? I make a ranked list and go down the list to set a schedule per day.
This year I got through 70 bands and made a number of discoveries as always. 70 seems like a large number but is mildly disappointing as it barely covers half the lineup.
So here it is. DJ Fortune’s WGT band list for 2018, ranked from best to least in five categories, and summed up in a sentence or two each.
This is obviously subjective based on my taste cultivated over the years, so take it as you will. You will certainly get an idea of what I appreciate the most.
#1. Chameleons Vox. The Chameleons fill my days with magic and wonder.
2. Grave Pleasures. Glorious Finnish post-punk occult glam rock for the apocalypse.
3. Skeletal Family. My favorite of the Batcave bands. More enjoyable than goth has a right to be.
4. Jesus and Mary Chain. Cranky old Scottish noise pop anti heroes.
5. Second Still. Skeletal postpunk with female vox. Crisp, understated tunes move nimbly. Nice treat here. Genuine quality from new American group.
6. The Last Cry. Old school but lesser known UK dark rock band goes all the way back to the 80’s. Solidly above average traditional gloomy songs.
7. Merciful Nuns. Garden of Delight leader goes back to basics with well worn old school Sisters-esque goth rock.
8. Autobahn. New band from Leeds UK does edgy dark rock like a heavy Joy Division. Pleasingly abrasive sound.
10. A Projection. Swedish band evokes the best of early New Order. Really enjoy this one.
11. Principe Valiente. Romantic Swedish post-punk with a touch of shoegaze. Effective in a comfortable predictable way.
12. Undertheskin. Exceedingly dreary heavy plodding postpunk, awash in tasty noisy guitar textures.
13. Suir. This gloomy rock group stands out with quite dense and richly layed songs. Not unlike Disintegration era Cure.
14. Drifter. Shoegazey indie rock from Sweden. Full sound but a little dry and lacking in beauty. Female vox would help.
15. Crisis. Wakeford resurrects his old scrappy leftist punk group. Not so interesting musically but as a curiosity from the past.
16. Joy/Disaster. French dark rock. Relatively bright and lively with heavy guitar and fast paced songs.
17. Japan Suicide. Dark post-punk rock from Italy. Dense oppressive feeling. Lacking in good songs.
#1. Tiamat. One of the most sublime of dark metal acts, as long as they perform their atmospheric masterpiece Wildhoney.
2. Anneke van Giersbergen. One of my top female vocalists of all time. I don’t know if she’ll do a metal, pop or acoustic set but I’ll be there any way.
3. Vic Anselmo. Female metal vocalist lately in a creative singer-songwriter direction in the spirit of Kate Bush.
4. Kaizer. Germans in fun costumes play catchy and well produced dark pop metal. I’m a sucker for this no matter how silly it may be.
5. Seigmen. Dark alternative metal band was apparently popular in Norway in the 90’s. Melacholic waves of guitars and clean vocals. I dig this. Tasteful precursor to Zeromancer.
6. Zeromancer. Seigmen take a trip to Hot Topic and transform into cyber industrial pop rock.
7. Ingrimm. Medieval themed heavy metal from jolly Germans.
8. Oomph. Oomph were doing Rammstein before Rammstein.
9. Heldmaschine. Heldmaschine are doing Rammstein after Rammstein.
ETHEREAL / MEDIEVAL / NEOFOLK
#1. Qntal. Angelic electronic perfection. One of the top festival performances guaranteed.
2. Ataraxia. Unique Italian balladry with highly distinctive vocal style. Really interested to witness live.
3. Argine. Wonderful Italian ethereal neofolk balladry. Their Luctamina in Rebus is one of my favorite albums.
4. Arcana. Majestic cold angelic beauty of the dark North. Too perfect.
5. Eden House. Very nice ethereal rock project has featured many wonderful female vocalists such as Julianne Regan and Monica Richards.
6. Rosa Crux. Super interesting French group makes music that sounds like it’s for some kind of ritual sacrifice. An extra epic Dead Can Dance.
7. Die Kammer. Sophisticated German group plays tasteful cabaret neofolk ballads backed by chamber strings. I have seen them perform and it was outstanding.
8. Rome. One of the most prolific and popular neofolk acts. I haven’t been able to get into their records much, but curious to check them out live.
9. Raison d’Etre. An all time master of pure dark ambient atmosphere. Not necessarily an exciting live show.
10. Phil Schoenfelt and Southern Cross. Stark country ballads from veteran post punker bring to mind the Bad Seeds minus the passion.
11. Jo Quail. Soundscapes of solo cello.
12. Svartsinn. Deep evocative drone in the Cold Meat tradition.
13. Sardh. Subtley crafted avant industrial soundscapes.
DARKWAVE / NEW WAVE / SYNTHPOP
#1. Seelennacht. German Darkwave dancepop in the style of bands like Blutengel and l’Ame Immortelle. Very typical yet appealing to me.
2. Ash Code. Italian goth new wave crossover. Understated and classy. Among the better of a crowded field.
3. Zanias. Well produced dark electronic dreampop from female solo artist who previously fronted Keluar.
4. Stahlr. Female electropop artist has a few tracks out so far, showing some degree of musical promise.
5. Confrontational. Italian retro synthpop. Tasty gloomy atmospheres of dated, stripped down keyboard tones.
6. Aeon Rings. New wave pop is presented with an intriguing, mysterious vibe.
7. The KVB. Trendy retro new wave. Slow songs of bleak oppressive keyboards sound like a depressing discovery from 1980.
8. Bootblacks. New York post-punk new wave group. Polished and drab.
9. Crying Vessel. Another new wave style throwback. Predictable but pleasant bright melodic tunes.
10. Silent Runners. Another new wave style group, on the mild easy listening side.
11. Detachments. Upbeat retro new wave on the campy side.
12. Actors. Melodic new wave pop rock from Canada. Too happy and normal.
13. Guerre Froide. This classic French group blends coldwave and post-punk rock. Too dry for my taste.
14. Trisomie 21. Classic French coldwave. Quite slow and dreary.
EBM / INDUSTRIAL
#1. Front Line Assembly. Masters of superbly produced, sonically amazing, slightly cheesy cyberpunk.
2. Faderhead. Faderhead turn industrial music into the best party since My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.
3. Dive. One of the longtime talents of rhythmic industrial. Does more with less.
4. Monolith. Clean minimal and catchy hard pounding EBM. Not my usual thing but this is quite tasteful.
5. Black Line. Latest project of Douglas McCarthy and collaborators. Effective frontman chooses a fairly tedious glitchy musical backing that sounds straight from a Macbook.
6. Sturm Cafe. Basic German synthiepop. Lo fi and mildly aggressive. Most songs sound the same. Reminds of older And One.
7. Akalotz. Retro EBM act echoes back to things like DAF and Klinik. Not interesting but not intolerable.
8. Greyhound. Power EBM from Hands Productions. Abrasive and claustrophobic effect.
9. Imminent & Synapscape. Ant-Zen duo of abrasive powernoise-cum-chilling IDM.
10. 3Teeth. 3Teeth bring back the gritty metal guitar industrial that went extinct for a while. Well executed though I’m not into it anymore.
11. God Module. God Module takes all the worst cliches of the industrial dance genre, and packages them into admittedly catchy tracks.
12. Grendel. Grendel takes all the worst cliches of the industrial dance genre, and packages them in fairly annoying form.
13. Formalin. New German EBM sounds like an attempt at an updated take on bands like Covenant.
14. Vomito Negro. Old school Belgian EBM plods along monotonously for decades without attracting much attention.
15. Centhron. Hard n nasty German EBM. Fun track titles such as Cunt, Pornoqueen and Slutbutt.
16. Fabrik C. Boom crash boom crash boom crash etc.
17. KiEw. Non musical harsh grating EBM.
18. SITD. Lousy generic EBM.
I’ve put together a WGT 2018 Spotify playlist that includes a taste of most of the above.
What’s the best band that I’ve missed? All helpful comments and good natured flames are welcome.
See you at the festival. Prost!