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Great Review of The In Between on London Celtic Punks

From London Celtic Punks website: Just days before embarking on their upcoming UK tour, the Los Angeles dark roots and Gothic country group Heathen Apostles unveiled their latest highly anticipated seventh album, showcasing their distinctive blend of Bluegrass, Country and Blues.

Heathen Apostles on London Celtic Punks

 

These are great times to be a fan of the Heathen Apostles. Their new album arrives and any day soon they begin their second, and most extensive, tour of the UK. We have championed them for a few years now and though they are by no means a Celtic-Punk band their music straddles Bluegrass, murderfolk, Gothic and spaghetti western alongside more mundane genres that are mundane no more after being filtered through the Heathen Apostles Southern Gothic Americana. The In Between is the groups seventh studio album and is released on Ratchet Blade Records. The label run by Chopper Franklin, ex- Cramps bassist, that specialises in this kind of music.

Heathen Apostles on London Celtic Punks

 

You could be forgiven for thinking Heathen Apostles hail from the foothills of the Appalachian mountains rather than LA but their music conveys such great imagery it’s hard to imagine them wandering the streets of LA on foot rather than horse! Superbly produced by Chopper Franklin, The In Between features nine original songs rounded up to ten with a cover of the Mark Lanegan (1964-2022) track ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’ from his 2012 album Blues Funeral.

Singer Mather Louth states,

“The idea of the ‘in between’ is all about learning to sit with- and eventually befriend- the uncomfortable times of not knowing what is coming next, either within one’s own life or within the collective. Uncertainty is a very ungrounding sensation, and the emotions that arise from that discomfort can be challenging to navigate. Exploring this sense of uncertainty proved cathartic for me, and I hope it will offer that same release for listeners.”

Heathen Apostles on London Celtic Punks

 

Heathen Apostles left to right: Thomas Lorioux – Double Bass * Mather Louth – Vocals * Chopper Franklin – Mandolin / Banjo / Guitar / Drums/ Vocal * Luis Mascaro – Fiddle *

The In Between kicks off with the startling title track and the double bass and mandolin lead into Luis Mascaro’s alluringly dark violin. Blessed with the voice to accompany the Heathen Apostles music the beautiful Mather Louth uses her vocals as an instrument to round out the sound.

“Here I stand | The in between | A pregnant pause | In everything | What falls away | Was meant to be | What lies ahead | Is yet to see”

The music may be dark and somewhat gloomy but it’s not without lighter touches and Mather’s voice is simply a wonder to listen to. Recorded at the beginning of 2024, it truly embodies its title by balancing between darkness and light and the tangible past and the uncertain future. From the opening song you can sense the Country roots here and on ‘Capital T’ like some Goth hoedown as Mather proclaims

“don’t tell me that it’s wine and roses…what rose smells like that”

during the chorus. Bands like Calexico have made a career touching upon western themes and landscapes but compared to what we have hear their music can be described as twee. ‘The Gods Of Men’ takes the Spaghetti Western theme and runs with it with a song whose lightness betrays its subject matter. ‘Coffin For The Nail’ sees Mather and Chopper spitting out the words through a world weary exhausted drawl as you can almost feel the dust blown across your face. ‘Deama’ sees Chopper’s mandolin and Mascaro’s fiddle carrying the song as Mather tells of a scorned woman. ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ sees a more lighthearted approach and sees those Country influences rise to the top. the band shift gears next for ‘In The Blood’, a song more reminiscent of their early days with it’s speedy tempo during the chorus and slowed down verses while Mather’s howls add to the effect. The one cover here, ‘The Gravediggers Song’, sees them stick fairly closely to the stunning Mark Lanegan original. Lanegan’s barely disguised aggression in the song is replaced by Mather’s dazzling vocals and delicate French whispers, emphasising the song’s dark beauty. We are nearing the end sadly and sorrowful violin and banjo carry ‘Love Letter’ while the curtain comes down on The In Between with ‘He Stood Tall’ and the sound of a thunderstorm as the song takes in honky tonk piano and another great song sees the album out.

Heathen Apostles on London Celtic Punks

 

The Heathen Apostles first toured the UK this time last year and they are returning again. Kicking off in Reading on July 17th and London the following day at The Lexington the tour includes a three day residency (August 5th – 7th) at Edinburgh, Scotland’s Fringe Festival. A review of last year’s Lexington show – “As if plucked from a surreal spaghetti western, Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin made quite the spectacle, striding down London’s Pentonville Road in full regalia… The Heathen Apostles had etched themselves into our dark hearts, ensuring their spectral melodies and mystical storytelling would stay with us long after the last note had faded into the night.” Dates not be missed so check the bands social media for up to date announcements.

Album Review – Darkest Country Music

Just six months in from the powerful impact of Chopper Franklin’s “Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1,” an album I’ve listened to heavily all year, I have to admit that I was already pining for more. The grit-drenched vibe was exactly what I had been ready for and in Mather Louth, I had discovered a vocalist who had jumped to the front of the queue of my favorites. The brassy, defiant timbre she brought to that album had me wanting more, and as if on cue, here is the follow up. This time it’s from the Heathen Apostles mothership from whence the Spaghetti Western Dub project launched. The band is fascinated by probing the very darkest Country music in a time when the genre is content to replicate the horror of The Eagles…with gated drums… and vague nods of a token slide guitar or a nasal-voiced singer as vestigial callbacks to actual Country music [Monk spits in dust]. That dreck is a far cry from what The Heathen Apostles serve up on their “lucky” seventh full length album, “The In Between.”

Heathen Apostles - Darkest Country Music
Ratchet Blade Records | US | CD | 2024

Double bass and mandolin allowed a spirited violin to flourish in the intro to the title track. Mather Louth showed here that she had what it took to be a classic Country vocalist even as distorted rock guitar from Chopper Franklin edged into the song following the middle eight, but the music bed here was mostly acoustic instruments. Luis Mascaro’s violin [you could call it a fiddle and I wouldn’t flinch] was just getting started in this program as his dexterous playing was adding substantial melodic filigree into the dusky fabric of the song.

As “Capital T” proved beyond the shadow of a doubt with its hoedown intro that had Mascaro leading the song by the nose with his busy violin. Ms. Louth was excoriating a guy who was definitely trouble and cut through his song and dance by claiming “don’t tell me that it’s wine and roses…what rose smells like that” in the vicious chorus. Making sure to bite down on the lyric hard when repeating it twice in the song’s climax as she snarled the lyric like a panther.

There was room for a little more Spaghetti Western goodness with “The Gods Of Men” with its stately march tempo and acoustic guitars. The violin was playing a textural role here, teaming with the banjo and mandolin as Ms. Louth proffered a delicate proclamation of the philosophical lyric.

Following a surprising lowing bass synthesizer, “Coffin For The Nail” featured a mournful duet of banjo and mandolin as Chopper and Mather joined in with their distorted voices. Circling each other like feral cats in a hellish call and response. Mather sounded like she was going for a vintage PJ Harvey meets Steve Albini vibe here with the fatalistic tune enlightened only by the violin snaking out of the dark heart of the song with a solo before the foreboding middle eight.

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Southern Gothic Americana Album The In Between

Heathen Apostles - Southern Gothic Americana

The In Between, the highly anticipated seventh studio album from Southern Gothic Americana juggernauts Heathen Apostles, arrives on Friday, July 5th via Ratchet Blade Records. Recorded in a furious creative haze during the early months of 2024, The In Between lives up to its moniker both literally and figuratively; straddling the line in between darkness and light, personal and political, and the concrete past and the unknown future. Check the album out HERE.

Heathen Apostles - Southern Gothic Americana Masterfully produced by Chopper Franklin, the album features nine original songs that spin an enchanting spider web of bluegrass, murderfolk, gothic, and spaghetti western influences (with a ethereal cover of the late Mark Lanegan’s “The Gravedigger’s Song” rounding out the tracks to an even ten.) And yet, despite the album’s diversity, The In Between proves to be one of the band’s most cohesive sonic explorations of what Americana music can (and frankly, should) be, all while continuing to develop the band’s intricate musical arrangements and memorable, introspective lyrics. Coupled with eerie postmortem cover portraits painted by lauded fine artist Sean Cheetham, The In Between is sure to rank among the year’s top releases within the Americana underground.

Speaking to the album’s title and corresponding opening track, singer Mather Louth states, “The idea of the ‘in between’ is all about learning to sit with- and eventually befriend- the uncomfortable times of not knowing what is coming next, either within one’s own life or within the collective. Uncertainty is a very ungrounding sensation, and the emotions that arise from that discomfort can be challenging to navigate. Exploring this sense of uncertainty proved cathartic for me, and I hope it will offer that same release for listeners.”

Their previous 6 albums – Boot Hill Hymnal (2013), Fire to the Fuse (2015), Requiem For a Remix (2016), Bloodgrass Vol. 1 & 2 (2018), Dust To Dust (2019) and Bloodgrass Vol. 3 & 4 (2022) – along with their many EPs and singles (their release The Fall was named Best EP of 2018 by Folk n Rock magazine), capture the essence of the Heathen Apostles modus operandi: Southern Gothic Americana imagery surrounded by haunting, minor-chord melodies, a myriad of musical influences including Gothic Roots, Bluegrass, Blues, and Gypsy Jazz, all deftly bound together by the band’s dark and sometimes brooding sense of a bygone age.

New “Black Hawk” Video Shows Gothic Influences

Gothic influences

Filmed during their inaugural 2023 Summer UK Tour, the Heathen Apostles’ video for “Black Hawk” serves as a closing chapter of sorts for the band’s Bloodgrass Vol. 3&4 release in anticipation of their forthcoming album The In Between. Showing their Gothic influences by using the stark solitude of the thirteenth century St. Bartholomew’s Church in Shapwick, the video offers a visual complement to the moodiness of the introspective track with the Heathen men in their signature spectral mourning garb and Mather paying homage to the song’s transformational themes through the use of moth wings. 

Heathen Apostles Gothic influencesSpeaking upon the song itself, singer Mather Louth states, “Black Hawk is by far one of the most personal songs I have written to date. While I prefer to leave specific interpretation up to the listener, I will say that the lyrics speak to offering yourself grace through the sometimes challenging process of growth and metamorphosis. The song is sort of an incantation and a personal hymn, and so, it seemed appropriate to perform it within the hushed calm of an ancient house of worship.”

Special thanks to Nathan Demsden for assistance with filming, and to Hawkeye Houlihan for location scouting and filming arrangements.

BLACK HAWK

(Mather Louth / Chopper Franklin)

I ran from the loss
I ran from the grief
I ran from the dark
That called from the deep
Leviathan beckoned
I fled from the shore
Spent all those years running
I can’t run no more

CHORUS
I do believe I’ll be taking my time
Already grieved for what’s no longer mine
Granted reprieve from what no longer aligns
Walking the line and trusting the signs for
The timing’s divine

The years I kept struggling
Inside of my head
My feet kept on running
Inside I was dead
I welcomed my shadow
Embraced with a kiss
My sister of midnight
No longer submiss

Peeling back layers
And honoring scars
Shining a light
On the depths of my heart
I tend to the fractures
And fill them with gold
Imperfect perfection
A new leaf unfolds

CHORUS

BRIDGE
How many days lost to anger and shame
How many nights holding myself to blame
How many links till I’m breaking the chain
Piece by piece and link by link

How many years did I make myself small
How many tears did I have to watch fall
How many swings til I’m breaking the wall
Brick by brick and swing by swing

Horror Americana Music Video “Deadly Nightshade”

Horror Americana Music - Heathen ApostlesSurprisingly it’s been 5 years since the debut of the Heathen Apostles’ horror Americana music video “Deadly Nightshade”. The band commemorated the occasion with this post: “This week in 2019 we released “Deadly Nightshade”, the music video we get asked the most about. It was conceived and directed by our good friend Jorge Jaramillo (@lordbinah), here’s what he and Mather Louth had to say about it:
“Inspired by classic horror movies and German expressionism, the main goal was to not romanticize an old style, but rather to bring it to something that could still be dark, creepy and beautiful.” (Jorge)
“I’ve always felt very strongly about “Deadly Nightshade” being incredibly cinematic in nature, and it was always clear to me that Jorge would be the perfect director for the song. His work is thought-provoking, filled with symbolism and horrifically disturbing creatures, and he is a true visionary and original.

Horror Americana Music - Heathen Apostles

The video also served as a fun exploration for me to portray both predator and prey, and I particularly enjoyed finding the physicality and mannerisms of the witch’s character. There is something quite freeing about playing a character that is so wholly repulsive and ugly, especially in today’s overly filtered and appearance-obsessed culture.” (Mather)

#gothicamericana #southerngothic #germanexpressionism #witches #horrormusic #jorgejaramillo #heathenapostles