There is a tag going the web around called Project Goth playlist, created by House of Wyvern. It is meant to generate more discussion about goth music by having participants pick a band and talk a little bit about them based of a few prompts. I can’t pass up an opportunity to talk up bands I like, so I here I am writing this article. The band I have chosen to write on is Vendemmian.
I chose Vendemmian for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that I like their music, but there are a lot of goth bands I love that I could potentially write about. Vendemmian stands out how much. A lot of goth bands tend to be rather short lived only releasing a few albums at best, but Vendemmian has had a fairly long career with quite a bit of releases and multiple sound and line-up changes.
Vendemmian was a goth rock band that was mostly active in the 90s. There were lots of bands doing the Sisters of Mercy style goth rock back then, and just taking a superficial glance, Vendemmian could be considered to be one of them, but they are also quite a bit more than that. On their VampireFreaks page, the band lists a rather interesting mix of influences. They name the Mission U.K. which is fairly typical, but they also name Play Dead, The Danse Society and The Chameleons. The wider range of influences can be heard in their music, which regularly changed sounds over the years, encompassing multiple variations of goth rock. Thus to best describe their music we have to get into their history. I like to think of the band as having 4 different periods, all of which I will cover in addition to what the members did before and after Vendemmian.
I was first introduced to the band through Last.fm back when they had a free streaming service., sometime between 2010-2012. It was what introduced me to a lot of 90s 2nd wave goth rock and 2000s deathrock revival bands. Before that I was mostly familiar with 80s stuff and whatever I could find hidden in the back of the Border’s CD selection or could be procured at HMV when I visited the U.K. It was a big eyes opener to be introduced to all these new bands that took what I loved about the goth music and turned it up another notch.
Vendemmian was one of the many bands I was introduced to during that time. What stood out and really grabbed my attention about them was their song Starter for Ten. The song was more upbeat and catchy than a lot of the other stuff I was hearing. It had a bit of a 80s indie vibe to it. It stood out from the typical goth rock pack in how is pulling more influences than just the trinity of the Sisters of Mercy, the Mission and Fields of the Nephilim. Sadly I got into this stuff right before taking a break from goth, but when I got back in 3 or so years ago, Vendemmian was one of the bands I immediately came back to and since then they have been one of my favorites.
Before Vendemmian was formed two of the band’s members, Bassist Mark Douglas and Guitarist Dave Drum where in a band called Restoration. They were very much a Mission/Sister’s inspired goth rock band. The band put out a few demo tapes and then an EP through Nightbreed records, before Mark and Dave went on to form Vendemmian. The third member of the band, Steve Weeks continued on with the band Restoration II, which sounded a lot like Restoration, which eventually became the band Revolution by Night. If you’re really into digging deep and love the whole 90s demo tape vibe, Restoration and it’s sequel are worth checking out.
The first lineup of Vendemmian had Dominic on vocals. Dominic had somewhat of a Carl McCoy-esque singing style and the music had an almost metal-ish sound to the music,.It was very driven by some distorted guitar leads that were very much still full of all the effects processing of goth rock. While Dominic was singer the band released two demo, Vendemmian and Lords of the Flame, as well as their debut mini album Between Two Worlds, which is a bit hard to track down. Dominic would later join up with one of the members of Restoration II in a new band Prophecy, which continued the more metallic goth sound, releasing a few demos.
The band’s next singer was Matt Wyatt who was also accompanied by the addition of another new member, drummer Russ King. This era of the band had them going back to a more Mission style goth rock, much like Restoration. Their sound was a big darker and more traditionally goth sounding than the Mission, but also not quite as Sister’s sounding as some of their contemporaries. The band put out another 2 releases in this line up, the mini-album Through the Depths of Innocence, the full length album Treacherous. Both are solid releases. I really like Through the Depths of Innocence in particular, it’s only 6 tracks but they are all pretty strong. After these two albums Matt and Russ would leave and from another band Complicity, which largely continued in the same style.
Following the departure of their singer and drummer, Vendemmian became of two piece of just Mark and Dave. Their sound continued to evolve, the goth rock roots where still there but the band’s sound also got a tad dreamier and more ethereal with even more heavily processed sounds than before. They released two more albums under this lineup, Transition and One Eye Open before splitting up in the late 90s. If I had to recommend any era to newcomers this would be it, it’s probably Vendemmian at their most unique sounding.
During the years after their first split-up the members of the band continued to work on other projects. Mark and previous singer Matt teamed up for a release under the name Trash Candy, and Dave went on to be in the female fronted band Excession, Which put out two albums and a single.
In 2008 Vendemmian reformed under the same 2 piece lineup they had before breaking up. They put out two more alums, One More Time and One in a Million as well as the single, Don’t Break this Heart as well as alive CD/DVD called Drunk Stupid and Goth. The band’s sound yet again had changed a bit before, this time around it was a bit more melodic and accessible than their past work, some of it reminds me a bit of the Cure.
While the band has split up a second time, the former members are still making music. Dave and Matt are currently in a new band called Siberia that is putting out more goth music showing some of the more dreamy and melodic elements of Vendemmians later work. Mark has put out some music under the name Archway Towers, which is an interesting mixture of goth rock and synthy dancey music, think Pretentious Moi? only even more upbeat and danceable. In addition to making music Dave has also been running the Sacrosanct festival in the U.K.
As far as track picks go, I have a couple of them:
Starter for Ten is probably my absolute favorite by them. It’s upbeat and really catchy and the music video for it puts a smile on my face.
Solitude is my favorite track from when Matt was singing.
Standing is a really moody piece and one of their more popular tracks for good reason.
All is Lost (All is Gone) is their most popular according to Spotify and Last.FM
Sin is just a personal favorite of mine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YqxGDSpPXI)
They also do a great cover of The Chameleons Don’t Fall
I think the most important thing to take from all this though, is how easy the internet makes it to learn about new music. I probably would have never originally heard this band if not for online streaming. And thanks to Discogs, I was able to learn about all these other bands that were connected. There is a whole world of less well known goth bands out there to explore thanks to the internet.