Soft Kill is a post-punk band from Portland Oregon. Their new album, Choke, debuted on 4 November on Profound Lore records and hastily became one of my all time favourite albums in post-punk/darkwave history. 

The band’s sleek stormy sound really reflects a landscape comparable to where they call home. Oregon: Lush, overgrown, teaming with life beneath a cloudy gloom that so often overshadows its inherent beauty. The band’s new masterpiece echoes the whispers of some of the best bands from the 80s era of the genre, while still keeping their own unique brand of blossoming melancholia. 

I also cannot dismiss the audible presence of dreamier shoegaze stuff here as well. It flows in-and-out but it is inarguably present in songs like Choke, Feel of the Knife, Wake Up and Whirl (The demo version of which I’ve been spinning at various goth nightclubs for almost a year). The vocals sit so perfectly in the mix on this album, not typical 80s crooner low but just low enough to keep in parallel character to the general mood. 

The guitar work is probably what makes this album such a crowning jewel for me. The chorus-soaked guitar cuts through the mix like colourful little shimmery emerald shards of hope in a grey stormy infinite of doubt and confusion. The drums are a huge reason this record retains its beauty after so many listens. Although fairly minimal; the percussion expands the commonly simple rhythmic requirements of comparable musical styles and adds just enough extra groove, transition, emotion and dynamic energy to make an already great piece of art a true masterpiece. 

Picking a favourite song from the record was damn near impossible for me. The definitive anthems for loss, pain and addiction this album is comprised of really stand-alone by themselves. If I had to pick two at this point, I think I’d have to go with Wake Up and Lost, but I have fully overdone it for myself with this album in the past few weeks. I can’t imagine you won’t do the same.


Strange Fires is an eclectic, visually-oriented music blog. Written and curated by Colorado-based musician, writer and artist Doran Robischon for the past six years, this source draws from a mix of contrasting genres in the name of fluid exploration.