The Best in Dark Roots Music


Great Review For Dark Roots and Gothic Country Heathen Apostles

Just days before embarking on their upcoming UK tour, the Los Angeles dark roots and Gothic country group Heathen Apostles unveiled their latest highly anticipated seventh album, showcasing their distinctive blend of Bluegrass, Country and Blues.

Dark Roots and Gothic Country Group Heathen Apostles

These are great times to be a fan of the Heathen Apostles. Their new album arrives and any day soon they begin their second, and most extensive, tour of the UK. We have championed them for a few years now and though they are by no means a Celtic-Punk band their music straddles Bluegrass, murderfolk, Gothic and spaghetti western alongside more mundane genres that are mundane no more after being filtered through the Heathen Apostles Southern Gothic Americana. The In Between is the groups seventh studio album and is released on Ratchet Blade Records. The label run by Chopper Franklin, ex- Cramps bassist, that specialises in this kind of music.

Heathen Apostles - Dark Roots and Gothic CountryYou could be forgiven for thinking Heathen Apostles hail from the foothills of the Appalachian mountains rather than LA but their music conveys such great imagery it’s hard to imagine them wandering the streets of LA on foot rather than horse! Superbly produced by Chopper Franklin, The In Between features nine original songs rounded up to ten with a cover of the Mark Lanegan (1964-2022) track ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’ from his 2012 album Blues Funeral.

Singer Mather Louth states,

“The idea of the ‘in between’ is all about learning to sit with- and eventually befriend- the uncomfortable times of not knowing what is coming next, either within one’s own life or within the collective. Uncertainty is a very ungrounding sensation, and the emotions that arise from that discomfort can be challenging to navigate. Exploring this sense of uncertainty proved cathartic for me, and I hope it will offer that same release for listeners.”

Dark Roots and Gothic Country Group Heathen Apostles

Heathen Apostles left to right: Thomas Lorioux – Double Bass * Mather Louth – Vocals * Chopper Franklin – Mandolin / Banjo / Guitar / Drums/ Vocal * Luis Mascaro – Fiddle *

The In Between kicks off with the startling title track and the double bass and mandolin lead into Luis Mascaro’s alluringly dark violin. Blessed with the voice to accompany the Heathen Apostles music the beautiful Mather Louth uses her vocals as an instrument to round out the sound.

“Here I stand | The in between | A pregnant pause | In everything | What falls away | Was meant to be | What lies ahead | Is yet to see”

The music may be dark and somewhat gloomy but it’s not without lighter touches and Mather’s voice is simply a wonder to listen to. Recorded at the beginning of 2024, it truly embodies its title by balancing between darkness and light and the tangible past and the uncertain future. From the opening song you can sense the Country roots here and on ‘Capital T’ like some Goth hoedown as Mather proclaims

“don’t tell me that it’s wine and roses…what rose smells like that”

during the chorus. Bands like Calexico have made a career touching upon western themes and landscapes but compared to what we have hear their music can be described as twee. ‘The Gods Of Men’ takes the Spaghetti Western theme and runs with it with a song whose lightness betrays its subject matter. ‘Coffin For The Nail’ sees Mather and Chopper spitting out the words through a world weary exhausted drawl as you can almost feel the dust blown across your face. ‘Deama’ sees Chopper’s mandolin and Mascaro’s fiddle carrying the song as Mather tells of a scorned woman. ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ sees a more lighthearted approach and sees those Country influences rise to the top. the band shift gears next for ‘In The Blood’, a song more reminiscent of their early days with it’s speedy tempo during the chorus and slowed down verses while Mather’s howls add to the effect. The one cover here, ‘The Gravediggers Song’, sees them stick fairly closely to the stunning Mark Lanegan original. Lanegan’s barely disguised aggression in the song is replaced by Mather’s dazzling vocals and delicate French whispers, emphasising the song’s dark beauty. We are nearing the end sadly and sorrowful violin and banjo carry ‘Love Letter’ while the curtain comes down on The In Between with ‘He Stood Tall’ and the sound of a thunderstorm as the song takes in honky tonk piano and another great song sees the album out.

Dark Roots and Gothic Country Group Heathen Apostles


The Heathen Apostles first toured the UK this time last year and they are returning again. Kicking off in Reading on July 17th and London the following day at The Lexington the tour includes a three day residency (August 5th – 7th) at Edinburgh, Scotland’s Fringe Festival. A review of last year’s Lexington show – “As if plucked from a surreal spaghetti western, Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin made quite the spectacle, striding down London’s Pentonville Road in full regalia… The Heathen Apostles had etched themselves into our dark hearts, ensuring their spectral melodies and mystical storytelling would stay with us long after the last note had faded into the night.” Dates not be missed so check the bands social media for up to date announcements.

Heathen Apostles LP Review – Grit-Drenched Vibe

Just six months in from the powerful impact of Chopper Franklin’s “Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1,” an album I’ve listened to heavily all year, I have to admit that I was already pining for more. The grit-drenched vibe was exactly what I had been ready for and in Mather Louth, I had discovered a vocalist who had jumped to the front of the queue of my favorites. The brassy, defiant timbre she brought to that album had me wanting more, and as if on cue, here is the follow up.
This time it’s from the Heathen Apostles mothership from whence the Spaghetti Western Dub project launched. The band is fascinated by probing the very darkest Country music in a time when the genre is content to replicate the horror of The Eagles…with gated drums… and vague nods of a token slide guitar or a nasal-voiced singer as vestigial callbacks to actual Country music [Monk spits in dust]. That dreck is a far cry from what The Heathen Apostles serve up on their “lucky” seventh full length album, “The In Between.”

Heathen Apostles - grit-drenched vibe
Ratchet Blade Records | US | CD | 2024

Double bass and mandolin allowed a spirited violin to flourish in the intro to the title track. Mather Louth showed here that she had what it took to be a classic Country vocalist even as distorted rock guitar from Chopper Franklin edged into the song following the middle eight, but the music bed here was mostly acoustic instruments. Luis Mascaro’s violin [you could call it a fiddle and I wouldn’t flinch] was just getting started in this program as his dexterous playing was adding substantial melodic filigree into the dusky fabric of the song.

As “Capital T” proved beyond the shadow of a doubt with its hoedown intro that had Mascaro leading the song by the nose with his busy violin. Ms. Louth was excoriating a guy who was definitely trouble and cut through his song and dance by claiming “don’t tell me that it’s wine and roses…what rose smells like that” in the vicious chorus. Making sure to bite down on the lyric hard when repeating it twice in the song’s climax as she snarled the lyric like a panther.

There was room for a little more Spaghetti Western goodness with “The Gods Of Men” with its stately march tempo and acoustic guitars. The violin was playing a textural role here, teaming with the banjo and mandolin as Ms. Louth proffered a delicate proclamation of the philosophical lyric.

Following a surprising lowing bass synthesizer, “Coffin For The Nail” featured a mournful duet of banjo and mandolin as Chopper and Mather joined in with their distorted voices. Circling each other like feral cats in a hellish call and response. Mather sounded like she was going for a vintage PJ Harvey meets Steve Albini vibe here with the fatalistic tune enlightened only by the violin snaking out of the dark heart of the song with a solo before the foreboding middle eight.

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Heathen Apostles’ “Black Hawk” Video – Western Goth Influences

Heathen Apostles - Western Goth Influences

Filmed during their inaugural 2023 Summer UK Tour, the Heathen Apostles’ video for “Black Hawk” serves as a closing chapter of sorts for the band’s Bloodgrass Vol. 3&4 release in anticipation of their forthcoming album The In Between. Showing their Gothic Western influences by using the stark solitude of the thirteenth century St. Bartholomew’s Church in Shapwick, the video offers a visual complement to the moodiness of the introspective track with the Heathen men in their signature spectral mourning garb and Mather paying homage to the song’s transformational themes through the use of moth wings.

Heathen Apostles - Western Goth InfluencesSpeaking upon the song itself, singer Mather Louth states, “Black Hawk is by far one of the most personal songs I have written to date. While I prefer to leave specific interpretation up to the listener, I will say that the lyrics speak to offering yourself grace through the sometimes challenging process of growth and metamorphosis. The song is sort of an incantation and a personal hymn, and so, it seemed appropriate to perform it within the hushed calm of an ancient house of worship.”

Special thanks to Nathan Demsden for assistance with filming, and to Hawkeye Houlihan for location scouting and filming arrangements.


(Mather Louth / Chopper Franklin)

I ran from the loss
I ran from the grief
I ran from the dark
That called from the deep
Leviathan beckoned
I fled from the shore
Spent all those years running
I can’t run no more

I do believe I’ll be taking my time
Already grieved for what’s no longer mine
Granted reprieve from what no longer aligns
Walking the line and trusting the signs for
The timing’s divine

The years I kept struggling
Inside of my head
My feet kept on running
Inside I was dead
I welcomed my shadow
Embraced with a kiss
My sister of midnight
No longer submiss

Peeling back layers
And honoring scars
Shining a light
On the depths of my heart
I tend to the fractures
And fill them with gold
Imperfect perfection
A new leaf unfolds


How many days lost to anger and shame
How many nights holding myself to blame
How many links till I’m breaking the chain
Piece by piece and link by link

How many years did I make myself small
How many tears did I have to watch fall
How many swings til I’m breaking the wall
Brick by brick and swing by swing

Heathen Apostles 2024 Follow Up to Gothic Americana UK Tour

The Heathen Apostles (Mather Louth, Chopper Franklin, Thomas Lorioux and Luis Mascaro) have just announced the final dates for their 2024 UK Tour, it is the follow up to their Gothic Americana UK Tour of 2023. Here is the social media release they have posted today:

Here is the poster announcing the dates for our 2024 UK tour; some venues we played last year, as well as several new ones. We’ve also been fortunate to be invited to some great festivals this year as well: three nights at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival @edfringe, two days at Dorset’s Camp Bestival @campbestival, the Endorset in Dorset Festival @endorsetfestivalofficial and our last show of the tour at a festival that has yet to announce their line up.

Thanks to our booking agent Dana McDonald Oxaal for putting this together, and to Hawkeye Houlihan for assisting us in many ways that only he can. And to all the Heathens who have shown up to the shows, no matter what the weather and conditions; we can’t wait to see you all! Also a shout to Vince Ray for the awesome poster artwork; you can also get this design on a T shirt at our merch booth!”

Heathen Apostles Gothic Americana UK tour


Heathen Apostles 2024 UK Tour Dates

Wed. 17 July Reading, The Face Bar

Thu. 18 July London, The Lexington

Fri. 19 July  Canterbury, The Anchor Inn

Sat. 20 July Norwich, The Reindeer

Sun. 21 July Brighton, The Hope and Ruin

Tue. 23 July Hastings, The Jenny Lind

Wed. 24 July Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms

Thu. 25 July Bournemouth, The Bear Cave

Fri. 26  July Frome, The Tree House

Sat. 27  July Lulworth, Dorset, Camp Bestival

Sun. 28 July Lulworth, Dorset, Camp Bestival

Wed. 31 July Bridgwater, Cobblestones

Thur. 1 Aug. Dorchester, Endorset Festival

Fri. 2 Aug. Birmingham, The Victoria

Sat. 3 Aug. Manchester, Castle Hotel

Mon. 5 Aug. Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms, Fringe Festival

Tue. 6 Aug. Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms, Fringe Festival

Wed. 7 Aug. Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms, Fringe Festival

Thu. 8 Aug. Glasgow, McChuills

Fri. 9 Aug. Newcastle, Cluny 2

Sat. 10 Aug. Festival (Not Yet Announced)

Heathen Apostles Gothic Americana UK tour

2024 Heathen Apostles Gothic Western UK Tour

Today the announcements begin for the dates for the 2024 Heathen Apostles Gothic Western UK tour; the band was asked back to many of the venues they played last year, as well as several new ones. We also have a very special festival announcement upcoming, so stay tuned! Here are the postings as they were made, along with the tour poster:

Heathen Apostles Gothic Western UK Tour Our first show of the 2024 Heathen Apostles UK tour is on Wednesday, 17 July at the Facebar in Reading, we played there last year and as you can tell by the moody photos (by Andrew Merrit) it was quite a dark and mysterious night. This is a great night to start the tour, let us know who is going! HERE is the ticket link, (we’ve been told they are moving rather briskly already).

Heathen Apostles Gothic Western UK TourIt is our pleasure to announce we will be returning to London at The Lexington on Thursday, 18 July. Also appearing is @messagefromtheravens, this is going to be quite a night, see you there!
From a review of last year’s Lexington show: “As if plucked from a surreal spaghetti western, Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin made quite the spectacle, striding down London’s Pentonville Road in full regalia… The Heathen Apostles had etched themselves into our dark hearts, ensuring their spectral melodies and mystical storytelling would stay with us long after the last note had faded into the night.”
Ticket link HERE.

Heathen Apostles Gothic Western UK TourOn 21 July we’ll be back in Brighton, but this time around we’ll be appearing at the Hope & Ruin, a grassroots music venue and pub that strives to support the independent live music scene in Brighton. All of their bar products are plant based to compliment the offerings from Beelzebab who provide fast food from a caravan in the corner of the pub.

Heathen Apostles Gothic Western UK TourWe are very happy to announce our return on 24 July to Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth. It is a top notch venue and we were well taken care of last time by Ken Brown and Square Roots Promotions. The event sold out last year so grab your tickets while you can HERE.

#gothicamericana #outlawcountry #bloodgrass #heathenapostles #wedgewoodrooms

“Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1” Review By Post Punk Monk

Chopper Franklin’s “Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1” Was The Album I’d Waited Over 40 Years To Hear – by post punk monk .com

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
Mather Louth + Chopper Franklin © Justin Rosenberg

Let me begin the tale in the following way. It was 1981 when listening to WPRK-FM the college radio station that I kept my ear glued to in the holiest of musical years. Slipped into the playlists was a single by a band new to my ears: Theatre Of Hate. The single was the stentorian fusion of Post-Punk and Spaghetti Western ethos and most importantly, the 12″ version was the song mixed into a massive dub concoction as produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones. I’ve had that 12″ single and the “Westworld” album for over 30 years.

Then a few years passed and at the decade’s midpoint, I was enamored of the 4AD band Colourbox. I bought everything I could get my hands on. In 1986 there was a CD compilation simply called “Colourbox” and it had another tantalizing glimpse of the mesmerizing fusion of Spaghetti Western music and Dub in “Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse/Shootout.” I couldn’t help but think that the two disparate styles of music got on like a house on fire. So when was someone going to really deliver the Spaghetti Western Vs. Dub goods that made all the sense on the world to my ears? As it turned out, I had to wait another 37 years, but ex-Cramps bassist turned Gothic Gunslinger Chopper Franklin has dared to venture in the dusty arroyos of the Spaghetti Western genre and has fused it with Dub to deliver a cinematic musical vibe chock-full of wild hybrid vigor. Ladies and gentlemen; we present “Spaghetti Western Dub Vol. 1.”

Moreover, he’s dared to create mostly vocal songs in the styles we’re talking about. I was astonished because the Spaghetti Western genre was primarily an instrumental groove. I love great guitar instrumental music, so I have a few Spaghetti comps I picked up in the 90s on the heels of the resurgence of surf rock I was enjoying at the time. These songs sported narratives every bit as evocative as the films of the genre itself, with antiheroes riding to their doom in a desperate moral vacuum not unlike the one in Film Noir… only set in the lawless West.

As Mr. Franklin has been helming the Gothic Americana group The Heathen Apostles for years, he wisely enlisted his vocalist in that group, the multifaceted Mather Louth, to sink her teeth into these songs. There were also male vocals courtesy of The Phantom Of The Black Hills, a Gothic Desperado band also on Franklin’s Ratchet Blade Records label [the man is a one man industry unto himself!]. When I pressed the play button I was rewarded with an album that I had high hopes for that easily surpassed my expectations.

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
Ratchet Blade Records | US | CD | 2024 | RBR 752

“Blood, Tears, And Thunder DUB” featured the intro to the song rising in the distance like a cloud of dust as synth drones and reverberating vocal snatches came into focus like a whipcrack as Ms. Louth provided the omniscient narrator role to the tale of desperation and violence over the Dub Reggae rhythms that afforded Franklin a spotlight for his powerful bass work. Power which was absolutely matched by the verve of Ms. Louth who was blissfully, surprisingly, channeling the bold, brassy delivery of Dame Shirley Bassey on these songs! It was not enough to merely mix Spaghetti Western and Dub in this cauldron, but the element X of the vocals came in at a third angle to create an absolutely spellbinding fusion of genres. Gleefully mashing up wildly disparate vibes from the sixties and the seventies. Listen here.

The first song had been a pre-release single. So too was “The Scorpion Says DUB.” The interplay between the dubbed out, skittery rim hits and the rolling bassline was an evocative foundation for which Ms. Louth added the cream of her intoxicating vocals. Damnation has never sounded so luxurious! And while I think of Spaghetti Western, and Dub, for that matter, as instrumental music, the incisive lyrics from Mr. Franklin’s pen slice right to the dark heart of the genre with such poetic examination of the ripe themes we find in the Spaghetti Western genre. “Cowards and maggots” indeed!

Then the fever peaked on “The Day The Men Died.” The dubbed out melodica added a mournful mien as subterranean bass drone painted the bleakest of pictures. The only glimpse of hope in the soundstage was the subtle mandolin that was almost trampled under hoof. Throughout it thus far, Ms. Louth had been the dispassionate narrator, but the stakes got really high on this track and she was spitting out the lyric like Grace Jones in dominatrix mode. Eventually crossing the line into seething instead of singing. Biting down with violence on the lyric. The heartless reverb of the Dub mix only salting our wounds further. And then, in a masterstroke, the second vocalist entered the song.

The Phantom Of The Black Hills sang the point of view of a condemned prisoner of the song’s title. Here he reminded me of Zodiac Mindwarp’s grizzled delivery as he sang the tale of a vicious and unrepentant man of violence as he profanely spat in the eye of propriety to his very last breath. What a song and what performances! The singers here were singing like they meant every word.

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
The Phantom Of The Black Hills and band with Mather Louth © CS Fly

The next track gave the spotlight to The Phantom Of The Black Hills after his, uh, arresting star turn in the previous song. The dark energy of the last song receded somewhat as “Gold In Every Hand” proffered The Phantom singing the verses in a very lazy Lee Hazelwood fashion as a world weary narrator before roaring more defiantly on the song’s chorus. Tar pit bass and vocal samples from actual Spaghetti Westerns pulling us along for the ride.

A dialogue sample of “String him up, muchachos!” opened the instrumental Dub of “You Can’t Drown Your Sorrows In Blood.” Mournful peals of tubular bells added their desolate vibe to the melodica that took the tuneful lead here in the absence of a singer this time. This track was along the lines of what I had been expecting up front by the project, but I hadn’t know what singing we’d be in store for on the album when I first was looking into it.

Chopper Franklin’s  - Spaghetti Western Dub - Post Punk Dub
The edition of 200 CDs comes signed in a screen-printed package

The perfect point between a vocal and instrumental number was reached on the haunting “The Ghost Of A Believer DUB” where film dialogue of a woman was given counterpoint by the mournful refrain by The Phantom Of The Black Hills, barely there in the mix as indeed, a ghostly presence in the song, singing “lay me down, in fields of stone.” Crafting a hook that gets caught in my mind for hours at a time.

The final “The Return of Revenge DUB” gave the bass guitar the last word on the album for an instrumental coda before the album had two bonus tracks added to the mix. It had been a radical tactic for Franklin to offer dub mixes of vocal songs in the first place, but the methodology of the album called for each track to gradually give way to Dub dissipation by the end of the cut as the version energy took over. On the last two tracks, we got to hear what were the “straight” Spaghetti Western versions of the first two tracks in all of their defiant majesty. All strings, horns, and rolling tympani. Does it work? Absolutely! But the world has no shortage of Spaghetti Western compositions already.

The great leap here was not only in making Dub mixes of such material, but then putting strong and charismatic singers in the songs. Giving me three different vectors of pleasure every time I listen to it. Marveling at how my wish for a full album of Spaghetti Western in Dub has finally been granted; magnificently, by Chopper Franklin with Mather Louth and The Phantom of the Black Hills. There are 200 signed and numbered CDs of this one in the band’s Bandcamp store with rich screen-printed artwork just begging to be taken home. And there’s an international version CD that features affordable postage to Europe! They have thought of their audience! If you’ve ever thrilled to a Spaghetti Western soundtrack, or chilled to a Dub version, then brother, have they got the album for you! You know the score. DJ hit that button!

Posted on  by postpunkmonk

Mau Maus Play Punk Rock Riot at the Hong Kong Cafe

Mau Maus punk rock riot

Fear’s Lee Ving and the Mau Mau’s Rick Wilder and the Hong Kong Cafe 12/31/80

On New Year’s Eve of 1980, the Mau Maus played main support to Fear at the last night of the first wave of shows at the Hong Kong Café. Also on the bill were the Circle Jerks and Angry Samoans, and the ensuing punk rock riot was a fitting end to a legendary run of shows at the club. Now, PBS has done an episode of Artbound featuring the Hong Kong Café and its running battle with the competing Madam Wong’s Restaurant. The following is part of the episode’s preview.

Mau Maus Play Punk Rock Riot

The Weirdo’s Dix Denny and Rick Wilder fight outside the Hong Kong Cafe

The shows and audiences could get chaotic, but it was all worth it to draw bigger crowds into Central Plaza. Bigger crowds meant more money spent at the bar and in the restaurant. And although it was mainly a business decision for owner Bill Hong, the Hong Kong Cafe ended up becoming hugely important to the punk scene. The blood-soaked shows were working — kids who had to be turned away at the door were scaling the roof and breaking in through the air conditioning ducts.

One person who was not a fan of the Hong Kong’s chaotic, punk-loving vibe was Esther Wong. In the beginning, Esther was actually quoted in the LA Times welcoming the competition in Chinatown, but that attitude changed very quickly. Tensions grew. On one side of the courtyard was Esther Wong and her skinny-tie-wearing new wave bands, and on the other was the Hong Kong and the punks. The LA press got wind of this tension in Chinatown and stoked the flames of the feud. The local media gave the whole clash a nickname that was probably intended to be snappy, but exposed the underlying racism lurking below the surface: the Wonton Wars.

The Mau Maus’ Nickey Beat, Rick Wilder, Scott “Chopper” Franklin, Michael Livingston

Punk music in Chinatown burned bright, but it burned fast. Within a few years, the genre had evolved and by 1981 bands like the Bags, The Alley Cats, and the Dils who helped define the sound of first wave LA punk had drifted out of the scene. Punk wasn’t dying, but it *was* changing. The music was being overtaken by hardcore bands and audiences. It was faster, harder, more aggressive, and tended to bring in a very different crowd. Madame Wong’s managed to survive punk and the introduction of MTV in the early 80s, but the bottom line is that even if you were successful, there wasn’t a lot of money in running rock clubs. After a while, the hassle just wasn’t worth it anymore.