Gothic Americana Music

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Dark Entries Magazine – Dark Roots Music Review of “Dust To Dust”

dark roots musicGothic Americana , gothic country , Southern Gothic or dark roots music are terms used to describe the music of Heathen Apostles. The band operates from Los Angeles, California and their first album dates from 2013. So basically it is traditional American country and folk, bluegrass or ‘hillbilly’ music with a black edge and akin to genres such as cowpunk, gothabilly or hellbilly (think of Ghoultown , Gravetown or DAD ) but also alt-country (bands like Whiskeytown , 16 Horsepower or Woven Hand ) or the murder ballads of Nick Cave for example .

Several musicians from Heathen Apostles also have a past in similar bands. One musician is punk rock veteran Chopper Franklin (guitar, banjo, mandolin, keyboards, drums and also responsible for the production) and he has a history in The Cramps , Nick Curran & The Lowlifes and Mau Maus . Singer Mather Louth previously sang with Radio NoirThomas Lorioux (standing bass) was in The Kings Of Nuthin’ and former drummer Stevyn Grey had a history with Christian Death and 45 Grave. The current line-up also includes  violinist Luis Mascaro .

“Dust To Dust” (13 tracks, 53 minutes playing time), the fifth album from Heathen Apostles, appearing again on Ratchet Blade Records , a label specialized in such bands. The three men in the band look like black suited cowboys in nineteenth-century outfits and the singer from the company like a Victorian lady from the same period and also with a black hat just like her male colleagues.

My criticism of the previous release, “Bloodgrass Vol. 1 “ EP, was that it was very good, but that it could be a bit darker and musically more gothic or punk, because it was more pure Americana than a real crossover into the black genre. It seems whether this criticism was completely taken to heart because this is fully true on “Dust To Dust”. Just listen to the magnificent opening song “Burn It To The Ground” with cello, rocking electric guitar and some sort of panting whisper, followed by the uplifting up-tempo folky (sounding like a horse hopping over the prairie) song  “Rise”. “The Bride”, with whisper singing in the stanzas and catchy melancholic wailing violin playing, is also one of the toppers. We are also served dark murder ballads such as “Home Sweet Holmes”, drinking songs such as “Two For The Road” in addition to quite a few more compelling songs.

dark roots musicI can imagine most songs in an interpretation of Inkubus Sukkubus . Inkubus Sukkubus fans who like a more ‘country’ or ‘bluegrass’ version of their beloved goth rock / folk band should definitely check out these Heathen Apostles. The same goes for goths who like Johnny Cash , by the way!

All songs on this album were written by the Louth / Franklin duo with one exception: the traditional “In The Pines”. “In The Pines” is a powerful song that I already knew in a different version and about which I hurt my brain for days, from where I knew this song. The song was often attributed to Leadbelly but is actually older and not composed by Leadbelly himself. The composer disappeared in the darkness of time – as is usually the case with traditionals and that is what traditionals are for. So the song is often attributed to the legendary folk and blues singer Leadbelly (Huddie William Ledbetter , 1880-1949) because he recorded one of the first versions under the name “Black Girl”and I also have this on CD but it was not this version that haunted me. No, that turned out to be Nirvana ‘s. They release this song on the album “MTV Unplugged In New York” (1994) under the title “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” . The song is also attributed to Leadbelly on the Nirvana album, which is in fact incorrect. In any case, the version that Heathen Apostles brings here is enchantingly beautiful, dramatic and sensitive sung and accompanied by banjo and violin with the sound of the wind at the end and certainly not inferior to that of Leadbelly nor that of Kurt Cobain and co. Top album! Rating: 9 of 10 stars

Goth Western Album Review of Dust to Dust By Indy Metal Review

goth westernChris Latta of Indy Metal Review had a great take (and an ‘A’ rating!) on the goth western flavor of the new Heathen Apostles album Dust To Dust (which is actually the band’s fifth album)…

While Heathen Apostles’ third album is their first proper full-length since 2015’s Fire to the Fuse, it fits right in with the EPs that were released in between. The two Bloodgrass volumes set up a foreboding direction for the gothic country group’s already dark sound that Dust to Dust is happy to develop even further. There’s a sense of buildup as tempos are decidedly slower and one can detect tension in the air throughout.

This tension is especially potent during the album’s first half. “Burn it to the Ground” makes for a scorching call to arms right off the bat, riding an ominous verse complete with a chorus whose vocals manage to alternate between whispers and Disturbed-esque pants without sounding too silly. “One True Belief” and “The Bride” make for additional highlights thanks to their exotic yet sinister rhythms. “Home Sweet Holmes” is easily the most stirring of the lot, an inevitability when you pair up an electrifying twang with a narrative about The Devil in the White City…

Of course, there are plenty of lower key moments to be found as well. “Paradise Lost” features a subtler structure compared to the album’s more in your face moments, but its slow burn is tastefully executed. “Where the Waters Meet” follows it up with more abstract rhythms and “In the Pines” is a gorgeous update of a folk ballad classic. There’s also something to be said for the upbeat simplicity on “Two for the Road” and “The Fall.”

Through it all, the musicianship is exceptional. The alto vocals exhibit a variety of husky croons, esoteric whispers, and sneered spoken word that work to see through the stories they tell. The foundations are carried by a sturdy of guitar, banjo, and mandolin that avoid getting too cluttered and the occasional violin makes for gorgeous texturing. The drums also deserve props for playing the right amount, providing energy during the most intense sequences without getting too overbearing.

Despite a four-year gap between full-lengths, Heathen Apostles’ third album sustains their momentum quite nicely. Dust to Dust doesn’t stray too far from the gothic country sound set up by its predecessors, but a thematic symbiosis of dark barn burners and more subtle ventures results in what may be the band’s most powerful effort to date. This isn’t the most revolutionary album by any means, but fans of more macabre persuasions are encouraged to check it out.

Highlights:
“Burn it to the Ground”
“One True Belief”
“The Bride”
“Paradise Lost”
“Home Sweet Holmes”

Editor Grade A

An Interview With Heathen Apostles – Folk N’ Rock / Americana Goth

Los Angeles based Americana Goth outfit Heathen Apostles recently put out their latest studio album, “Dust to Dust,” and soon followed up with a European tour in support of the release. I spoke with Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin about the album, the tour, and where the band might be headed next.

Now that your European tour has just ended, can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like?

Mather: In a word: a whirlwind! Which is actually quite surprising, being that it was essentially 5 weeks long and our longest European tour to date. But, it was incredibly inspiring, not only because of all of the sights we were able to take in, but also because of all of the connections we were able to make with fans (both new and existing alike.) Our tour took us everywhere- from the hustle and bustle of big cities to some beautifully remote locations- and that in itself provided a beautiful variety of experiences.

As much as playing 32 shows in 32 days was exhausting, it was equally exhilarating thanks to the adrenaline of performing on a daily basis. As a singer, I was pushed to my limits, but the genuine love for performing allowed me to keep hitting the reset button every night. You can never tell what each day will bring when on tour, so you just try your best to enjoy the highs and (as cliched as it sounds) maintain a sense of gratitude to have the opportunity to share your music with people that truly appreciate it.

Americana Goth

What was the writing and recording process like for Dust To Dust?

Chopper: While we were on last year’s European tour we talked about what kind of album we wanted the next one to be. The previous album, Bloodgrass Vol. I & II was dark, but also really rootsy, and we thought this one should have a heavier mood.

As soon as we got home I began writing music that reflected that vibe, and then served the demos up to Mather for lyrics. Since we record in my studio we are able to build on the demos, and Thomas and Luis come in and do their parts. By busting it out this way we were able to have the album out for this year’s tour.

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE.

Heathen Apostles In Nijmegen, NL: Goth Americana and Hellbilly

The bearable lightness of the dark Heathen Apostles: Goth Americana and hellbilly on a sunny Sunday evening.

Goth AmericanaWith a voice that can sink ships, it is a miracle that the nearby Waal is not littered with wrecks after the performance of Heathen Apostles. Fortunately that did not happen, but it could have, because in the music of the American goth Americana and hellbilly band death or the devil comes to the fore in almost every song.

Yes, you read that right. Goth Americana and hellbilly. Broadly summarized as Americana with a dose of folk and country topped with a pitch black edge. The murder ballads of Nick Cave meets Johnny Cash in a reincarnation of Bill Monroe. Frontwoman Mather Louth is dressed as a black widow and has a white face-painted grave face and the rest of the band (violin, guitar / mandolin and bass) also wear moody black clothes. 

Darkness is dripping from the songs on the set list tonight: ‘Death’s Head’, ‘Death Came a Ridin’, ‘Dark Was the Night’, ‘Evil Spirits’ and ‘Dark Days’. Not the kind of music that you like to set up to enhance the atmosphere at a birthday party. Or maybe it is, because despite the macabre clothing and lyrics, the music does sound exuberant the majority of the time. Thanks to the vibrant violin, the scorching guitar and mandolin, the barking bass, the powerful vocals and up-tempo songs such as ‘Two For The Road’ and ‘Shady Grove’, the performance is rather cheerful. Sure, the themes remain dark and more than once a murder ballad is played, but the whole thing is played with such a lightness that it remains bearable.

THE MOMENT
Goth AmericanaAnyone who thought Nirvana’s cover of the ‘In the Pines’ (with them under the title ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’) was heartbreakingly beautiful, will undoubtedly revise his opinion after the performance of Heathen Apostles. That American traditional – wrongly attributed to Lead Belly – was seldom brought with such a lump of pure emotion and darkness as Sunday evening in Nijmegen.

By Patrick Struijker Boudier. 3voor12 Gelderland is again reporting extensively on the Four Days Marches this year. Follow the  file  for the latest tips, reviews, photos and other relevant articles.

 

Heathen Apostles Duo Wrap Mid West Tour Dates

The Heathen Apostles Duo (Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin) have wrapped their Mid West shows opening for Shawn James. The dates included shows in Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois. All shows were very well received, and the band will return shortly with the full line up. After a brief rest the band will  begin recording their next release, due out in Fall 2019. Here are some photos from the tour:

Heathen Apostles DuoHeathen Apostles DuoHeathen Apostles Duo

Heathen Apostles DuoHeathen Apostles Duo

 

Americana Noir – Review of Dust To Dust By Rootsville.eu

Americana noirWith the Heathen Apostles we entered into the dark side of the music; we are at the Americana Noir “Bloodgrass” as they have come to call it. The Heathen Apostles consist of Mather Louth, Chopper Franklin, Thomas Lorioux and Luis Mascaro and are from the “City of Angels” aka Los Angeles, California. Punk rock veteran Chopper Franklin has played in groups such as The Cramps and Nick Curran & The Lowlifes, and those are definitely names that stand out. And with femme fatale Mather Louth the mutual admiration for murder ballads, Americana Noir and Memento Mori came into the picture and soon the Heathen Apostles was created.

Dust To Dust is their 5th album and brings them to Europe for the promotion of their new album. On the album we find 13 songs from which almost all songs are a creation of Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin; only the traditional In The Pines is the exception to the rule. The opener on the album is Burn In To The Ground where they immediately showcase the characteristics of their music. A mix of Gothic and Americana is how they come to create their own sound; it’s a sound where the lyrics are usually darker than the melodies.

The common thread throughout the album, in addition to the powerful and clear vocals of Mather Louth, is the penetrating violin playing by Luis Mascaro, and it is all enhanced by multi-instrumentalist Chopper Franklin and double bass player Thomas Lorioux. This mix of two contradictory directions in the contemporary music scene seems to work wonderfully with the Heathen Apostles. From threatening songs like Two For The Road, to morbid-feeling ballads like The Bride, they know how to create an atmosphere that is at one with their way of playing and living. Bringing together an absolute connection of dark and sometimes eerie-looking aesthetics with Gothic music and art, the Heathen Apostles has succeeded without too much trouble, and in a perfect balance.

Jumping out of the box or not at all, the traditional In The Pines is a song that carries a veil of dark mysticism throughout its existence. Also very morbid to the touch is Easeful Death, but then everything seems to clear up again by bringing the catchy  tune The Fall. The closing of Dust To Dust is Out Of The Ground and with that we had a more than appreciated introduction to these Gothic Outlaws.

tracks:

01 Burn In To The Ground 
02 Rise 
03 Two For The Road 
04 One True Belief 
05 The Bride 
06 Paradise Lost 
07 Where The Waters Meet 
08 Home Sweet Holmes 
09 In The Pines 
10 Easeful Death 
11 Through The Forest, Through The Trees 
12 The Fall 
13 Out Of The Ground 

musicians:

Mather Louth: vocals 
Chopper Franklin: guitar, banjo, mandolin, keys, drums 
Thomas Lorioux: upright bass 
Luis Mascaro: violin 

Heathen Apostles Sjockfest Photos and More

Heathen Apostles Sjockfest photos (located in Gierle, Belgium), as well as other photos from their 2019 European tour, have been added to the tour’s gallery. You can click HERE to view them.

Heathen Apostles Sjockfest

Heathen Apostles Sjockfest

Heathen Apostles Sjockfest

Heathen Apostles Sjockfest