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Dark Entries Magazine – Gothic Roots “Dust To Dust” Album Review

dark roots musicGothic rootsgothic countrySouthern Gothic or dark Americana 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 gothic roots 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 roots murder ballads such as “Home Sweet Holmes”, drinking songs such as “Two For The Road” in addition to quite a few more compelling songs.

gothic 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

Hard Americana Album Review of Dust to Dust By Indy Metal Review

Hard Americana Chris Latta of Indy Metal Review had a great take (and an ‘A’ rating!) on the Gothic, Hard Americana 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.

Hard Americana

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

Dark Country Music – Review of Dust To Dust By Rootsville.com

Dark Country With the Heathen Apostles we entered into the dark side of the music; we are at the dark country music of “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.

Dark Country musicThe 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 Cowboy Goth CD “Dust To Dust” Reviewed on Viola Noir

The Russian Gothic website Viola Noir has posted a review of the new Heathen Apostles album Dust To Dust, it really connects with the Americana and cowboy goth vision of the band. Here is the English translation:

Heathen Apostles cowboy goth CD "Dust To Dust"The new Heathen Apostles album Dust To Dust is a return to where they began. After experimenting with bluegrass, covers and collaborations, while revamping country music, the Heathen Apostles use the doctrine of the darkness, terror and horror with accompaniment of the banjo once again.

Burn It To The Ground begins as smooth dark country, leaving both ritual and dark roots in place. Bluesy symphonic tragedy and western-swiftness appear with the track Rise. Two For The Road mixes the narrative with emotionality, and generally changes the mood. On to One True Belief, where the listener is already warmed up and ready to listen to another scary tale with a bad end. The Bride develops the mystic-theme and brings us to a true tragedy on Paradise Lost. After – Where The Waters Meet as an unusual track for Heathen Apostles – lyrical with hypnotizing elements from old school, post punk music. Home Sweet Holmes – a gothic americana slasher with a dense narrative and an injection of sinister atmosphere. Spooky Southern Gothic, dirge-like reinvention of the classic In The Pines follows- as the soundtrack to sorrow and sadness, a kind of farewell song. Meditative, contemplative Easeful Death gives a short pause before the intense final part of the album. The final you could already hear when EP The Fall came out. Exactly in the same sequence of tracks, so we will not be repeated.

cowboy goth

A successful appeal to their roots, without self-plagiarism, with the development of new themes, with a more fresh sound, where there are still characteristic handwriting and recognizable powerful vocals. Moreover, the Heathen Apostles never disappoint.

The release of the album Dust To Dust will be on June 7 from Ratchet Blade Records. Presale has already started, in addition, they have published dates for a European tour in support of this album. 8/10

tags: cowboy goth, Gothic Americana

Bloodgrass Vol. II Review on Viola Noir

Heathen Apostles Bloodgrass Vol. II ReviewBloodgrass Vol. II Review on Viola Noir:

Heathen Apostles continue the series of thematic EPs Bloodgrass. While previous release was focused on redefining bluegrass, the new one shapes the main features of reinvented genre.

The opening Deadly Nightshade seems to be the darkest variation of Southern Gothic ever known. It’s full of bluesy yearning, dark folk depression and pagan mysticism. Paint the Stars sounds more familiar with what the band makes nowadays. The song is swiftly, brief, but at the same time it contains some elements of intricate dark roots/bloodgrass ornament.

In addition, it is accompanied by stylish and atmospheric video. It was directed by Jorge Jaramillo, whose portfolio consists of macabre and technically complex visual projects with recognizable style. It is not surprising, therefore, that his collaboration with Heathen Apostles turned out to be so efficient.

Ramblin’ Man sounds a little surprising. It has bluesy mood, but not the one we have heard before. It is more contemplative, sensual, halftone. D.O.A is instead melodic and lyrical, it deeply roots in the memory. Shady Grove inherits gothic country and bloodgrass stylistics, while the final chapter Fever Jane is a smooth and calm ballad, adorned with Mather’s voice, which has no borders and limits in singing talent.

In general, the new EP proves to be great comeback of Bloodgrass theme – without any crisis of ideas or clichés.

You can listen to Bloodgrass Vol. II HERE.

Great Review of Heathen Apostles Bloodgrass Vol. I in Ox fanzine

A 9 of 10 stars review of the Heathen Apostles Bloodgrass Vol. I EP will be in the next issue of Germany’s Ox fanzine, there will also be an upcoming feature on the band to coincide with their August 2018 tour of Europe. The English translation is below for those who don’t read German:

HEATHEN APOSTLES
Bloodgrass Vol. I
Ratchet Blade • ratchetbladerecords.com • 21:01 • 9 of 10 stars

Blood, horror and passion in the happy the southern heat of America: HEATHEN APOSTLES call their Dark Alternative Gothic Americana Doom Bluegrass sound simply Bloodgrass. On the new EP of the band from Los Angeles, that features former members of THE CRAMPS and THE KINGS OF NUTHIN ‘, there are two cover songs and three brand new ones Original compositions. The dark-hypnotic Bluegrass version of the Gershwin classic “Summertime” opens up the dance, and the soulful reinterpretation of Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” closes it. In between are three of the Heathen Apostles own Gothic Americana songs: The Nick Cave -inspired “Death Came a Ridin’ “, the jazzy “Dark Days” and the driving bluegrass piece “Lady in Gold”. Reviewed by Karin Hoog

Preview the Bloodgrass Vol. I EP HERE.

Heathen Apostles Bloodgrass "Heathen

“Scalped” Review in Uber Rock (UK)

Phantom Of The Black Hills – ‘Scalped’ (Ratchet Blade Records/Cockroach Media) 
By Mark Ashby
Phantom Of The Black Hills Scalped

As a sub-genre, “hellbilly” seems to lie somewhere between bluegrass, country, NOLA-style doom and traditional rock ‘n’ roll. Most popularly brought to global attention by artists such as Hank Williams III, it is a musical style which can, at first, be difficult to understand and then digest. Take, for example, the reaction of her good self when she walked into the UR studio and first heard this particular opus blasting from our tower block sized speaker system: “what the fuck is that shit?” she demanded to know as I turned the mixer up another notch…

“That shit”, as herself so eloquently put it, is the fifth album from POTBH, a band who don’t believe in giving much away, from the bandanas across their faces in all their publicity photos to the paucity of information on both the press release which accompanied the CD and on their Facebook page: it doesn’t even say where they’re from – although the reference to “Black Hills” in their name should be a huge pointer… but, you never know and should never take anything for granted. For all we know, they are either a bunch of hicks from Nowhereville in North Dakota, or a bunch of rich college grads from Hollywood playing at being the former – although, I must admit, I sincerely doubt it!

Whatever the case, POTBH have produced an album that veers from out and country to the lunatic fringe industrialism of Ministry: this is probably understandable, as the only piece of information the band proffer about themselves is that their music would be the result of “Glenn Danzig and Al Jourgensen stayed up all night listening to old Porter Wagoner and Hank Sr. records and drinking homemade corn liquor”. Maybe a bit OTT – but, hey, what band doesn’t overhype themselves – but you get the picture…

My problem with ‘Scalped’ is that there are two songs which absolutely kick ass heavier than a size 11 New Rock to your tailbone. The first is opener ‘Wild Witch Of The West’, which pumps and thumps like a moonshine-fuelled culchie; driven by a snarly snare and characterized by a punked-up banjo, and featuring a lascivious guest vocal from Mather Louth, it sets a mood that almost immediately dissipates. Yes, ‘Raised On Fire’ is a suitable slice of fiddle-fuelled arson, ‘Dr Dealer’ is a leather-clad metallic monster, and ‘Torchy’ is cute in its amalgamation of metal and country grooves – but the album then, from the loud but unfulfilling abrasiveness of ‘Blow It Up’ onwards, slowly peters out until the bonus track of ‘The Reckoning’ drags it kicking and screaming back to life, with its Nick Cave-like Gothicism, hard-ass thrashy guitar riff, snarly snare-led percussive drive and spoken vocal.

Read the full review HERE.

Heathen Apostles’ “Albatross” Single Review on Gothic.com

The Heathen Apostles latest single Albatross has been reviewed by Viola Noir on Gothic.com, the English translation is below, click HERE for the original review:

The new single from Heathen Apostles – a tale of treachery, betrayal and, of course, revenge. According to tradition, the single is accompanied by a video. This time, in seascapes, but with indispensable mysticism and blood. In reality, all of the video creativity of  the Heathen Apostles can be brought under a common denominator – “what would happen if the witch is hurt.” It is understandable that it is not good, but Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin illustrate in detail a “not good” with a grotesque and clever sense of humor.
 
As for the track –  it is the absolute spirit of Heathen Apostles. Gothic Americana in all its glory – guitar, violin, upright bass and Mather`s strong voice has a melancholic flair here. How else to talk about betrayal? Only with anguish, and with the ice of December sea. In general, Heathen Apostles are not losing their standing, and it is pleasing. 
Viola Noir

Albatross cover

 

Heathen Apostles “Albatross” Single Review in Chain DLK

The Albatross single and video have been reviewed in alternative magazine Chain DLK, you can read the entire review HERE, and preview and order the single HERE.

The Heathen Apostles take a central core of faithful Americana and murder ballad arrangements and give things a slightly stylish, faintly gothic twist. “Albatross” is a one-track single and while their discography has several remixes and electronica elements in it, this is a straight-up three-minute 3 / 4 song featuring slightly Chrissie Hynde-like vocals over a folksy arrangement of violins and mandolins that would appeal to staunch Levellers fans.

albatross-cover

Review of Heathen Apostles’ “Fire to the Fuse” on Midnight Calling

A new review of the latest Heathen Apostles studio album Fire to the Fuse has been posted, read the teaser below then click on the link to read the entire review.

Following up their excellent debut album Boot Hill Hymnal, Heathen Apostles draw their musical six guns, and stalk once more through haunted graveyards, dangerous streets, and debauchery-filled saloons. Fire to the Fuse continues the epic Western Gothic journey, and demonstrates that Heathen Apostles are musical desperadoes to be reckoned with.

Click HERE to read the review. Click HERE to preview and purchase Fire to the Fuse.

Heathen Apostles Gold Text FTTF 1.indd

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