Pulsating electronic bass coupled with electro-dance drumbeats is a signature piece that sets the foundation for the kind of vocals where I imagine the singer to be knee-deep in combat boots, standing on a stage of throats. Veronica Campbell has an impressive catalog, but since I’m late to the party, I intend to talk about the 2021 album, Chemical, and the 2022 single, When I Was Dead.
I opted to check out Chemical the day before the new single dropped, and was pleased to find straightforward songs that take me on the kind of dark wave excursion I associate with contemporary gothic music. She’s not trying to go over the top, nor is she aiming to appear overly complicated for the sake of faux depth. No, it seems to me that Chemical is loaded with love songs written by someone who hates you. Lyrics like, “Nothing dies…the way you do,” in Spindeln was the first instance where my eyes narrowed as I looked to the side and thought, “hell yeah, that’s good loathing.” Further down the track listing is There’s Nothing Left, where Veronica states, “I hate everything…that fucking reminds me of…you.” The song builds upon rhythm and atmosphere in an organic fashion that stops just short of the ‘wall of sound.’ There’s an emphasis on minimalism, as there isn’t a moment on the record that feels cluttered. Though uncomfortable, the lyrical content is the sweetest kind of bitter, and I’m left wanting more.
The twelve songs offer a total of fifty-six minutes of music, all of it appropriate to the thematic elements offered up at the start of it. It feels like a cohesive record that sticks to the honest approach of an artist, uncompromised. It’s been on repeat in my car for since the new single dropped.
When I Was Dead came across my radar thanks to guest guitarist, Tim Skold. I’ve been a fan of his solo work for years and he pops up quite a bit in the goth music community. This song has sleeker guitar parts than what was recorded on Chemicals, which was to be expected. But what stood out to me was what made the prior album so special…lyrical bleakness that reflects all I want to hear in a gothic/dark wave song. She croons, “Where were you when I was dead,” which, given the title, isn’t a surprising line, but I’m still taken aback as it’s exquisite when paired with the music.
A new record, Corruption for the Insidious, dropped last week on Bandcamp. From what I’ve heard, it’s more high quality ‘hate you’ anthems. It includes the single When I Was Dead. Go give this artist a listen.