In some twisted alternate reality, Bauhaus’ macabre, psychedelic take on post-punk languished in obscurity, never reaching the legions of disaffected teens that were desperately waiting for something like that to come along. Luckily, in this timeline, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” kickstarted a gothic revolution whose echoes are still resonating today. Enter Seattle deathrock stalwarts Nox Novacula.
Formed in 2017, Nox Novacula deliver a no frills, traditionalist take on deathrock that distills the form’s strongest elements into a potent and timeless formula. Their most recent effort, 2021’s Ascension, could easily be mistaken for a long lost companion piece to Christian Death’s magnum opus, Only Theatre of Pain. Ice cold, reverberating guitars, tastefully theatrical vocals, a precise, energetic rhythm section, and occasional injections of atmospheric synth evoke the best components of goth rock’s most compelling progenitors. From the triumphant apocalypse anthems of Sisters of Mercy to the chorus-drenched post-hardcore goth of Burning Image, Nox Novacula assemble their influences into a recognizable but fresh sound that both pays homage to the genre’s roots and strives to grow beyond them.
Whether you rushed out to buy black lipstick after seeing Return of the Living Dead in 1985 or you’re a relatively new convert ensnared by goth’s recent, long overdue resurgence, Nox Novacula’s masterfully crafted brand of urgent deathrock will satisfy.