After decades of what could best be described as a complicated relationship, in the last few years the DIY punk community seems to have finally embraced their weird, depressive cousins in the goth and death rock scenes. There were always little scenes of outliers who flirted with both aesthetics (RUDIMENTARY PENI and RUBELLA BALLET in 1980s UK, PHANTOM LIMBS and SUBTONIX on the west coast in the late 90s), but for the most part the two styles remained pretty separate and sometimes downright antagonistic.

All this seems to have changed in the past few years, as bands like ANASAZI, SPECTRES, ARCTIC FLOWERS and dozens more have broken down these age-old boundaries and become increasingly high-profile in doing so. STRANGER are a local entry in this canon, and their demo really delivers the goods. It’s five songs of mid-paced, gnarly punk with relatively clean recording quality for a demo. What stands out most is the snarled, pissed-off vocal delivery, which takes the whole thing to a nastier, crustier place and even brings to mind the great Amy Miret of NAUSEA at some points.

It’s hard to say if this most recent harmony in the uneasy alliance between punx and goths will become a permanent thing. The seeds of a backlash are already being sown by some negative nellies on both sides. But in the tumblr age it seems like the idea of trends and styles that come back for a few months or years and then fizzle away again is being replaced by a more atemporal constant existence of a small but committed subset for just about any aesthetic or subculture you could imagine. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m just gonna enjoy all the gloom and darkness while I can.

The STRANGER demo is available for download on bandcamp. The band will play tomorrow night (5/31) at the Democracy Center in Cambridge with SKEMÄTA and RASH TONGUE.

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