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Goth Music

10 May 2023
Goth Music

Goth music (also called goth rock or gothic rock) is a genre that emerged from the punk and post-punk scenes in the late 1970s and early 1980s in England and is the central element that provoked the creation of goth culture in the early 1980s.

Between 1997 and 1998, gothic rock almost completely died out, with the exception of a few artists. However, it experienced a revival after the turn of the millennium, which is expressed by strong entanglements with American death rock.

Main Characteristics

Goth rock is characterized by its bass and guitar playing and its timbre - usually underlaid with electronic sound effects - numerous gothic rock pieces are psychedelic in character. Typical effects are flanger, delay or reverb, mostly in combination with warm overdrive or clear guitar sounds (so-called "moody slide guitars"). This can be seen with groups like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and the early works of the Cocteau Twins and the Sisters of Mercy. Many of the early Gothic songs are based on the punk style of playing. However, they use clear melody lines and do without the permanent use of whole chords.

Gothic rock is a semitonal musical style, which means it lives primarily through the use of semitones and is usually played in the minor key. But keys in major are also present. The bass guitar is used prominently to give the compositions a deep, dark or heavy mood and thus achieve the desired effect. In contrast to this, high notes are often struck or plucked with an electric guitar (so-called "picking"). A special feature is the use of the bass guitar as a musical instrument equivalent to the electric guitar. In many gothic rock pieces it is also in the foreground as a leading instrument. Another striking feature in this context is the use of the slide guitar technique, such as in Hollow Hills by Bauhaus. Also characteristic is the use of a rhythm box or a drum machine, as used by bands such as The Sisters of Mercy, The March Violets, Clan of Xymox, Garden of Delight or Lady Besery's Garden.

Since the 1990s, attempts have been made to create a broader and fuller sound through multitrack recording and overdubbing techniques. The single-track recordings of a musical instrument are superimposed several times and sometimes pushed into one another in such a way that a wall of sound is created, as is particularly the case with the music of American gothic rock bands such as Mephisto Walz or Trance to the Sun, but also with British bands like Vendemmian (e.g. on their album Transition).

There are different types of singing in gothic rock. While early gothic rock bands were heavily influenced by the brash punk-rock vocals, mid- to late-1980s groups like The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim oscillated between bass and undertone vocals. At the beginning of the 1990s, both vocal variants stood side by side: bands like Moonchild and Corpus Delicti cultivated a style based on the mezzo-soprano or tenor and baritone of the early Gothic, while, for example, Love Like Blood and 13 Candles preferred the deep-voiced vocal type characteristic of late 1980s groups.

The standard line-up of a gothic rock band is usually limited to vocals, guitar, bass and drums or drum machines. A second guitarist, as used in metal, for example, is often dispensed with. This only appears occasionally in groups of the second generation, such as Fields of the Nephilim, which means that the sound can be changed and become more rock-oriented. Many Gothic songs deal with the Gothic Novels (including Edgar Allan Poe), and later horror literature (HP Lovecraft, especially with the Cthulhu myth), but also philosophical, political, social and media-critical topics.

Although several variants of gothic rock emerged as early as the 1980s, there was no strict subdivision into subgenres, as is the case in metal or punk , among other things. Only occasionally is the term Gothic Punk used for those bands that are clearly based on the punk roots of the genre.




Starting in the late 1960s in the United States, various bands simultaneously began creating darker music: the Velvet Underground and the Doors notably departed from hippie culture. In 1969, singer Nico recorded an album with gothic undertones entitled "The Marble Index". In 1973, Lou Reed released the album "Berlin", with its entire second side being a "panicked Golgotha", relying on principles of psychodrama. British critics described a concert in Liverpool as "a black mass in a Gothic cathedral". The album cover for the live recording "Rock 'n' Roll Animal" from this period shows Reed, with his eyes outrageously lined in black, dressed all in black with a studded leather collar. Another pre-gothic artist, David Bowie, with the album "Diamond Dogs" and the song "We Are the Dead", influenced many post-punk musicians in the late 1970s, including Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure. These two groups maintained regular ties with gothic culture, style, and aesthetics, even as their music gradually diverged from it starting in 1982. Siouxsie and The Banshees are associated with this movement to some extent, with their album "Juju" released in 1981. The Cure also made an foray into this style with "Pornography", which features all the musical codes of gothic with tribal rhythms and church organs, as on the track "Cold".

According to critic Bayon, Joy Division is also characterized by a "gothic sound". The Manchester-based group and their bassist, Peter Hook, cited Siouxsie and the Banshees as "one of our big influences...for the unusual way of playing guitar and drums". In 1980, Melody Maker wrote that "Joy Division are the masters of gothic melancholy." This Manchester-based group, particularly influenced by Iggy Pop and the dark atmospheres of the album "The Idiot", had a significant impact on gothic bands like Play Dead that began to emerge after the early 1980s. Led by their sepulchral-voiced frontman Ian Curtis, the members of Joy Division were photographed by Anton Corbijn wearing dark clothing in symbiosis with the deleterious atmospheres of their music and the darkness of their lyrics. This allowed them to attain icon status, but unlike Siouxsie, the singer of the Banshees, and Robert Smith, the leader of The Cure, Curtis and his comrades never sported the current gothic look with backcombed hair and eyes lined in kohl.


In 1967, American psychedelic rock band The Doors released their eponymous debut, which was both thematically and lyrically similar to the music later dubbed Gothic. Artists such as Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Ian Curtis (Joy Division) and Ian Astbury (The Southern Death Cult) count The Doors among their influences. In fact, back in 1967, The Doors were the first band to be dubbed Gothic Rock outside of the post-punk context. However, it was to be over a decade before the term Gothic rock gained importance in the UK.

Around the same time, the first album of the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground, supported by Andy Warhol, was released, which, like the soloist Nico, proved to be groundbreaking for bands such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and Joy Division. In particular, the band Siouxsie and the Banshees, originally formed for just one performance, referred to Andy Warhol, especially to his idea of ​​15 minutes of fame. Nico himself provided a model that had a lasting influence on various gothic bands with the works The Marble Index and The End, which were perceived as gloomy and self-destructive.

The Rolling Stones and the early Pink Floyd are also cited as sources of inspiration. For example, the gothic rock band Mephisto Walz covered Paint It, Black under the title Painted Black. Steve Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees) stated that he was experimenting with Pink Floyd-like psychedelic elements on the 1980 album Kaleidoscope. Robert Smith credits the 1969 Pink Floyd work Ummagumma as one of the inspirations for The Cure's 1981 album Faith.

Other influences of a thematic and visual nature drew gothic artists like Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees from b-horror movies like the Hammer film productions. At their concerts, Bauhaus would often use floor-mounted spotlights to illuminate themselves, otherwise using reduced light to achieve the same effect used in the horror films of the 1960s.


The early 1970s ushered in the glam rock era, with David Bowie, T. Rex and The Sweet as the main exponents. Gothic bands like Specimen and Bauhaus found inspiration in glam rock for producing their own songs - the latter even used a slowed-down guitar riff by Gary Glitter for their title Bela Lugosi's Dead and then covered two glam rock titles: Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie and Telegram Sam by T. Rex. Some glam rock bands later found their way onto the playlists of London's Batcave club.

In 1976, Doctors of Madness were one of the first bands to release a mixture of punk and glam rock with the album Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms anticipated basic ideas. A brief member of the Doctors of Madness was David Letts alias "Dave Vanian", who also set standards with his punk band The Damned and caused a stir in his vampire outfit in the second half of the 1970s:

Musically, too, The Damned inspired a number of bands, such as The Deep Eynde, Ex-Voto , Nosferatu or Stone 588 , which later gained notoriety in the Gothic environment.

In 1977, Iggy Pop and again David Bowie paved the way for the later music scene with the collaborative works Low (David Bowie) and The Idiot (Iggy Pop). Iggy Pop's The Idiot in particular was described by Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Sisters of Mercy as the musical work that shaped their own career.

The Scene

Bauhaus is considered the pioneering group of the gothic scene with their key song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" released in 1979. This title refers to the horror film actor Bela Lugosi, who embodied the ultimate image of the vampire on screen with his portrayal in the film Dracula. The lyrics of Bauhaus' song evoke young virgin brides and bats coming out of a belfry; this imagery will later be widely used by numerous other groups including Christian Death.

The myth built around the hanging death of Joy Division's singer Ian Curtis marks the history of this culture in the early 1980s, overshadowing the deeply ironic and theatrical side inspired by English glam rock of bands like Virgin Prunes, Christian Death, or Fad Gadget. This nihilistic phase is later abandoned in favor of a more classic macabre hard rock aesthetic reminiscent of Alice Cooper. The most emblematic bands of this style will later be Southern Death Cult, The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, and Fields of the Nephilim. The style of The Sisters of Mercy, which influences most contemporary gothic bands (such as Love Like Blood, Rosetta Stone, A Wedding Anniversary, or The 69 Eyes), is noticeably different with riffs that sometimes resemble hard rock. The musicians of The Cult have also played the guitar in the same way.

Musically, gothic rock takes the guitar and synthesizer sounds of post-punk and uses them to create gloomy, sad, and often epic atmospheres. According to journalist Simon Reynolds, the standard characteristics of the genre often translate to "sharp guitar rhythms, high-pitched bass lines that often break the melody; and drum rhythms that are either heavy or tribal."

Later evolutions

The emergence of American gothic rock was marked by the debut of 45 Grave and Christian Death. The former was renowned for their harder, more punk rock-influenced sound, which eventually came to be recognized as deathrock. Meanwhile, Christian Death adopted an approach that involved provocative tactics, heavily influenced by the punk and heavy metal scene in Los Angeles. Their frontman Rozz Williams committed suicide by hanging himself in 1998, when he was just 34 years old.

Gothic rock evolved in later stages with a change in sound that resulted in commercial success. The Cult, which was formerly known as Southern Death Cult, transformed into a more mainstream hard rock band. Love and Rockets, a group that comprised of former Bauhaus members, re-emerged with a sound that was influenced by psychedelia and achieved both critical and commercial success in the late 1980s and '90s. Following in their footsteps, the Mission, consisting of two ex-members of Sisters of Mercy, Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams, gained commercial success in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. Fields of the Nephilim and All About Eve also achieved commercial success in this era. European bands that were inspired by gothic rock, such as Clan of Xymox, also emerged. Numerous other bands are associated with gothic rock including All Living Fear, And Also the Trees, Balaam and the Angel, Claytown Troupe, Dream Disciples, Feeding Fingers, Inkubus Sukkubus, Libitina, Miranda Sex Garden, Nosferatu, Rosetta Stone, and Suspiria.

In the 1990s, there was a revival of goth subculture which was partly fueled by the industrial, electronic, and metal scenes. This resulted in the goth culture and aesthetic gaining popularity in mainstream consciousness, inspiring thriving goth music scenes in most cities, and becoming notorious throughout popular culture. In the early 1990s, gothic metal emerged, which fused "the bleak, icy atmospherics of goth rock with the loud guitars and aggression of heavy metal." In the 2000s, gothic rock continued to influence bands, with critics often noticing its impact on music of that era. The Horrors, an English band, blended 1960s garage rock with 1980s goth. Zola Jesus, a female singer, was also referred to as announcing the second coming of the genre, as her music was described with this term.

In contrast, 45 Grave drew more inspiration from heavy metal than Christian Death, and their lineup featured a female vocalist, Dinah Cancer. A number of punk and garage rock bands such as The Cramps, The Gun Club, Lydia Lunch, The Nuns, The Misfits and T.S.O.L. were instrumental in shaping both the sound and aesthetics of the Goth subculture in America, and are often considered pioneers of the "Goth Punk" sub-genre. Other notable American gothic rock bands from the 1980s include Super Heroines, Human Drama, The Wake, and Kommunity FK.

History by country

GB & Ireland

First generation (1979–1986)

Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus are considered to be the initiators of Gothic Rock. Around 1979, together with groups like Joy Division, they developed the prototype for what grew into an independent musical style in the first half of the 1980s.

The Siouxsie and the Banshees albums, which hit the market between 1979 and 1983, had a significant influence on the emergence of the goth rock movement. The 1979 album Join Hands, which Siouxsie Sioux himself describes as "gothic", represents the transition from post-punk to gothic rock. The fourth work Juju in particular has all the significant stylistic elements and is considered the "incontestable archetype" for the Gothic genre. Numerous subsequent Gothic bands, such as the Cocteau Twins (Scotland), Skeletal Family (England), Mephisto Walz (USA), Corpus Delicti (France) or Stone (USA), refer to the music of the Banshees.

After the release of their 1983 live album Nocturne, Siouxsie and the Banshees gradually left their gothic rock phase behind.

The group Bauhaus started out in 1979 with their single Bela Lugosi's Dead - an improvised song recorded live in the studio, which entered the British independent charts on January 26, 1980 and is now one of the classics of the genre. Influenced by glam rock greats like David Bowie and T. Rex, and especially with the 1980 album Mask, Bauhaus advanced to become the "Godfathers of Goth" in the 1980s. They celebrated their last major success in 1983 with the hit She's in Parties. After the band broke up, the remaining part, guitarist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins, tried under the name Tones on Tail tucked out and released the 12" maxi-single Burning Skies that same year, which offered an experimental and psychedelic-infused form of gothic rock and peaked at #11 on the UK independent chart. Tones on Tail broke up in 1984 due to a band-internal differences.

The third band that gave the Gothic movement important style-defining impulses was Joy Division. Even if they are primarily attributed to the post-punk environment and their classification as a gothic band is disputed, the use of the guitar and the distinctive bass playing of their two works Unknown Pleasures (1979) and especially Closer (1980) had a lasting influence on the genre.

For many critics, Joy Division were "the most depressing band the world had ever seen" and whose lyrics were only about "death and destruction". The British music magazine Sounds described the album Unknown Pleasures in an article entitled Death Disco as "the last record you would put on before you commit suicide". On May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis, lead singer and central figure of the band, committed suicide. After his death, the remaining band members formed the group New Order, whose 1981 debut was Movement still moved in the post-punk frame and served as a source of inspiration for bands such as The Danse Society or Clan of Xymox. New Order itself later turned to synthpop.

Between 1980 and 1981 other groups formed, such as the aforementioned The Danse Society ( Clock , 1981), The Sisters of Mercy ( The Damage Done , 1980), Dead or Alive ( Number Eleven , 1981), Play Dead ( Poison Takes a Hold , 1981), The March Violets ( Religious as Hell , 1982) and The Lords of the New Church ( The Lords of the New Church , 1982), a British-American collaborative project started by members of punk bands The Dead Boys , Sham 69 and The Damnedwas formed. At the same time, UK Decay and The Cure , both originally punk and post-punk bands, turned to the growing goth movement. UK Decay's change in style can be traced back to the Bauhaus song Bela Lugosi's Dead , which the band was enthusiastic about. This change occurs with the 1981 released single Unexpected Guest . The Cure changed their style after playing a few gigs with Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1979, with Robert Smith temporarily replacing Banshees guitarist John McKay. This change made itself felt almost a year later on the singleA Forest and the album Seventeen Seconds , culminating in the releases Faith (1981) and Pornography (1982). In 1982, bassist Simon Gallup leftThe Cure and formed the band Fools Dance , which offered a distinctly The Cure-oriented style on their EP of the same name. The Sisters of Mercy celebrated their first real success with the single Alice , which reached number 8 in the British independent charts at the end of 1982 and now also enabledthe band to perform at the London Lyceum.

In 1982 and 1983 groups like Sex Gang Children (Beasts), Cocteau Twins (Garlands), The Southern Death Cult (Fatman/Moya), Skeletal Family (Trees/Just a Friend), Specimen (Returning from a Journey), Gene Loves Jezebel (Promise, 1983), and Alien Sex Fiend (Ignore the Machine, 1983). It was during this period that Gothic was first seen as a music movement in its own right, centered on London and West Yorkshire, specifically the city of Leeds, developed.

In London, the Batcave club opened, which, as a hub for local gothic bands, also attracted international artists such as Nick Cave (The Birthday Party), Virgin Prunes (...If I Die, I Die, 1982) and Christian Death and thus replaced the Clarendon Ballroom, a music club in Hammersmith, London, where many of the early gothic rock bands made their debut Deeside Leisure Center in Queensferry, Wales [52] and the "Christmas on Earth” festival at London's Lyceum on December 26, which “was the goth movement's biggest event to date”.

After Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Lords of the New Church had already performed live on both sides of the Atlantic in 1980/1981, Specimen also gave performances in 1983 at the CBGB Club and the Danceteria in New York their first concerts in the USA and then took over the support for Christian Death in Los Angeles. The Sisters of Mercy followed in the fall of 1983, touring Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In this way, an ever-growing, intercontinental exchange took place, which decisively shaped the development of the American death rock scene in the further course of the 1980s.

However, as early as the mid-1980s, many leading gothic bands broke up, changed styles, or were dropped by their record labels. Only a few groups, such as Red Lorry Yellow Lorry from the circle of the Sisters of Mercy, Balaam and the Angel (World of Light, 1984), The Rose of Avalanche (First Avalanche, 1985) or Nervous Choir (1060 Hold Everything, 1986), tried at the time to continue Gothic Rock and expand it with new elements.

The Southern Death Cult disbanded in 1983. Ian Astbury formed the group Death Cult, later renamed The Cult, that same year and focused on the American market. With the change of name, the music changed. Only the 1984 The Cult debut Dreamtime still has the usual sounds for gothic rock with songs like Go West and A Flower in the Desert. Bands like Gene Loves Jezebel and The Cure did the same and roamed around to be successful in the United States, from their gothic image. Composed of fellow Gene Loves Jezebel (Julianne Regan) and Xmal Germany (Manuela Zwingmann) formed All About Eve, which, after a line-up change and the gothic-oriented pieces End of the Day and D for Desire, took a completely new direction and turned to folk rock. Dead or Alive began a career as a disco band in 1983. Wayne Hussey, a former member of the group, then switched to the Sisters of Mercy, who rose to the "Godfathers of Goth" with their album First and Last and Always, thus succeeding Bauhaus.

In 1985 The Sisters of Mercy split up due to internal disputes within the band. First, Gary Marx left the band and formed the group Ghost Dance with Anne-Marie Hurst (Skeletal Family) , which offered pop-influenced rock music with gothic influences. The other members Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams followed a few months later and formed the band The Sisterhood , which had to be renamed The Mission after a legal dispute with Andrew Eldritch . Eldritch claimed the Sisterhood name and released along with other musicians involved, such as Alan Vega and Patricia Morrison, the album Gift. The Mission countered with the single Serpents Kiss , which reached #1 on the UK indie charts. Around the same time, the Fields of the Nephilim, one of the most influential goth bands of the late 1980s and a serious counterpart to the Sisters of Mercy, started.

Second generation (1987–1997)

A second wave of gothic rock was ushered in by the Fields of the Nephilim's debut album Dawnrazor and a comeback by the Sisters of Mercy. The latter released their most commercially successful work to date, Floodland. Both bands achieved the same status as leaders for the coming Gothic generation that Siouxsie and the Banshees or Bauhaus once had for the first generation.

In the same year, The Mission completed their first appearance on British television and the debut God's Own Medicine made it into the German and US charts.

The success of The Cure 's album Disintegration, released in spring 1989, also played a part in this upsurge and helped the goth movement to flourish again. Despite its pop character, this work represents a return to the mood of the early albums Faith and Pornography.

Neue Bands, wie Altered States, Every New Dead Ghost, Sins of the Flesh, Nosferatu, Rosetta Stone, Dream Disciples, Witching Hour, Suspiria, Children on Stun und Restoration, resulting in: Vendemmian, paved the way for the 1990s.

As a result of new music trends such as grunge, madchester, britpop and techno, which were already pushing the heavy metal movement of the 1980s underground, these bands had a much harder time and could hardly build on the success of their predecessors.
In addition, this second generation of gothic rock had to struggle with its "street credibility" and met with little approval from the media and labels. The style was considered obsolete and largely ignored by the press, despite the massive potential of an audience.

These record labels included Beggars Banquet, WEA Records, PolyGram, and Mercury Records, a Universal Music Group sub-label. Meanwhile, The Mission turned their backs on goth rock with 1990's Carved in Sand. This work is clearly influenced by U2's The Joshua Tree and, with the exception of Deliverance, has no gothic-related pieces to offer. The Fields of the Nephilim disbanded a year later as a result of disagreements. Singer Carl McCoy split from the rest of the band to focus on his distinctly metal-heavy project, The Nefilim. In 1992, the remaining members of the group attempted to follow up on previous Fields works with a new band called Rubicon. The debut What Starts, Ends flopped and was lost in the mass of gothic productions of the time. Another year later, the Sisters of Mercy released their last successful single Under the Gun due to label-related difficulties. Three years earlier they had clearly detached themselves from their gothic style with the album Vision Thing. In this way all spearheads of the gothic rock movement fell away.

Regardless of this, a number of other bands emerged in the mid-1990s, which musically followed in the footsteps of the Fields of the Nephilim and The Mission or tried to bridge the gap between the two Gothic generations: The Laughing (Glamor and Suicide, 1995), The Horatii (Riposte, 1995), 13 Candles (Come Out of the Dark, 1995), This Burning Effigy (To Bestial Gods…, 1996), Manuscript (The Diversity of Life, 1996), Seraphin Twin (The Chapter of Spoils, 1996), Return to Khaf'ji (From Darkest Sky, 1996), Cries of Tammuz (Dumuzi Awakens, 1996), Libitina (A Closer Communion, 1997) and Passion Play (Name No Names EP, 1998) started out as the last representatives of this second generation. The Whitby Gothic Weekend and the annual, two-day Sacrosanct Festival in the Astoria, London offered opportunities to perform.

Another gothic wave failed to materialize in Great Britain. Only a few groups, such as The Ghost of Lemora (Reach for the Ground, 2004), Voices of Masada (Another Day, 2006), Solemn Novena (As Darkness Falls, 2006) and Corpse Cabaret (Misery and Pain, 2006), which themselves mainly based on the roots of the genre, were newly founded at this time or brought the first sound carriers onto the market. However, since the late 1990s, some of the gothic rock initiators, such as Bauhaus (Gotham, 1998), Siouxsie and the Banshees, Fields of the Nephilim (One More Nightmare / Darkcell AD, 2000), The Mission but also Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Cult, which had since disbanded, and was able to celebrate successful, albeit less Gothic-relevant comebacks.

Unlike in the UK, goth rock was never commercially successful in other parts of the world. He always acted underground.

United States

Gothic rock in the US developed primarily within the death rock movement that spread during the decline of punk in the Los Angeles area. The bands grouped together under the name of death rock, however, differed considerably from one another. While groups like 45 Grave, The Flesh Eaters or TSOL offered music that was very similar to the bands later called horror punk , groups like Christian Death (Only Theater of Pain, 1982), Super Heroines (Cry For Help, 1982), and voodoo Church (Voo-Doo Church, 1982), Theater of Ice (The Haunting, 1982) and Kommunity FK (The Vision and the Voice, 1983), but also Lydia Lunch's short-lived project 13.13, a distinctly Gothic-influenced style. By the mid-1980s at the latest, the boundaries between genres were blurring when leading British bands opened up for the American market and Christian Death toured Europe in 1984. Representative of this overlap were the releases by the formation Carcrash International with members of Sex Gang Children and Christian Death.

At the same time, groups like Gargoyle Sox (As the Master Sleeps, 1985), Mephisto Walz (Mephisto Walz, 1986), Screams for Tina (Strobelight Funeral, 1986) and Requiem in White, which represented both early death rock bands and British Gothic groups were among their influences. A particular influence was hardcore punk, which set many representatives of American Gothic apart from British Gothic rock bands and made the music appear much harder. In 1988 the American label BOMB! under the title American Gothic also a compilation that brings together some of these artists.

One developed around New York with bands like The Naked and the Dead (The Naked and the Dead, 1985), Of a Mesh (Of a Mesh, 1986) and Fahrenheit 451 (Turn It Up!, 1986). similar scene, which acted under European influence from the beginning and fed from the death rock of the west coast. Stylistically, Of a Mesh was just as unusual as the early Sex Gang Children or Sunglasses After Dark: they were one of the few Gothic groups that added a violin to their range of instruments.

Bands wie Red Temple Spirits (Dreaming to Restore an Eclipsed Moon, 1988), Death Ride 69 (Elvis Christ, 1989), Autumn Cathedral (Asleep Within Waves, 1989), Ex-Voto (Don’t Look Back, 1990), The Wake (Harlot, 1990), London After Midnight (Selected Scenes from the End of the World, 1992), The Shroud (Drowning Dreams, 1992), The Prophetess (The Prophetess, 1993) sowie Blade Fetish (Absinthe, 1992), with members of the bands Trance to the Sun and This Ascension, continued along the path they had chosen. Requiem in White spawned the groups Judith (Föhn, 1995) and Mors Syphilitica (Mors Syphilitica, 1996). Former Christian Death vocalist Rozz Williams formed the combo Shadow Project (Shadow Project, 1991) with Eva O of the Super Heroines.

Especially with the sluggish and effect-packed productions of Requiem in White, Mors Syphilitica, This Ascension and Trance to the Sun , "an increasingly ethereal sound with an occasionally stuffy atmosphere" was created, known in the USA as "Ethereal" and in the German-speaking area was referred to as " Ethereal Wave ". The influence of European groups, especially the 4AD label, such as Cocteau Twins , Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil as well as The Cure and All About Eve , is significantly stronger than that of death rock. Tess Records, Faith and the Muse's label, dabbled in this type of music in the 1990s, another label was Projekt Records, which featured similar bands like Lycia and Love Spirals Downwards.

Faith and the Muse (Elyria, 1994), who also came from the circle of Christian Death and Mephisto Walz, meanwhile expanded their output to include ethno and neoclassic elements. The Moors (The Moors, 1998) trod a similar path, fusing gothic rock with Gaelic and Bulgarian folklore.

Other bands that became active in the mid-1990s were Sunshine Blind (Love the Sky to Death, 1995), The Deep Eynde (City Lights, 1995), Stone 588 (Door in the Dragon's Throat, 1995), Black Atmosphere (Redeem, 1995), Praise of Folly (Disillusioned, 1996), Autumn (The Hating Tree, 1996), The Last Dance (Tragedy, 1996), and Ninth Circle (Ninth Circle, 1996). However, the most popular band of that time was London After Midnight, which attracted attention in the early 1990s in the USA and quickly became famous worldwide with their second album Psycho Magnet (1996) and a style partly based on sleaze and hard rock obtained.

In the years 1997 and 1998, however, the gothic rock movement in the USA stagnated and there were hardly any releases on the market. Only with the albums of Cinema Strange (Cinema Strange, 2000), Diva Destruction (Passion's Price, 2001), or less well-known groups like The Drowning Season (Hollow, 2002), did a Gothic style crystallize in the new millennium, especially in the state of California. Revival, which continued through bands like Frank the Baptist (Different Degrees of Empty, 2003), Hatesex (Unwant, 2005), Scarlet's Remains (Scarlet’s Remains, The Palast Grey, 2005&2008), Pins and Needles (Pins and Needles, 2005), or Batzz in the Belfry (Sparks Fly Upward, 2007), was secured.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland

In Germany, the first gothic-style bands started in 1979, almost parallel to the British scene. Especially bands like Geisterfahrer, Xmal Germany, Leningrad Sandwich, Belfegore, Asmodi Bizarr, Marquee Moon, the short-lived Calling Dead Red Roses or Remain in Silence from Hanover, were figureheads of the German underground movement.

In 1980 the band Xmal Deutschland was formed in Hamburg, which was particularly successful in the UK and whose hit Incubus Succubus still fills the dance floors today. Alongside the Geisterfahrer band from Hamburg, and the Düsseldorf band Belfegore, they were among the first German gothic bands during the Neue Deutsche Welle period.

The Berlin-based Leningrad Sandwich are best known for their two albums Heat and Steps. The band's bassist was Dimitri Hegemann, who made a name for himself in the techno environment in the 1990s as the owner of the Tresor club.

By the second half of the 1980s, many of these bands had either disappeared or become irrelevant to the genre. Only a few groups, such as Taste of Decay from Harrislee and Mask for from Hamburg - both bands whose style was clearly based on Bauhaus, as well as Voices of Stille from Düsseldorf, Arts & Decay from Kaiserslautern and the Girls Under Glass, which emerged from the Calling Dead Red Roses in 1986 and their debut Humus in 1988 published, were active at the time and known nationally.

In 1989 there were signs of an upswing, which experienced a heyday a few years later: numerous newcomers such as Eyes of the Nightmare Jungle, Love Like Blood, Sweet William, Catastrophe Ballet, The Tors of Dartmoor, Garden of Delight, Still Patient?, Moon Child, Dronning Maud Land, The Merry Thoughts, Swans of Avon, The House of Usher, Head on Fire and The Hall of Souls, dominated the German Gothic underground for the next half decade.

Between the mid and late 1990s there was a decline in gothic rock on an international level, which was occasionally due to market saturation. Germany was not spared either. Only groups like Lady Besery's Garden ( Perceptions , 1996), Morbid Poetry ( Pilgrims , 1996), Fallen Apart ( Resistance, Dependence, Defeat , 1996), Capital Hell ( Stories of Passion & Seriousness , 1997) and Vermillion Fields ( Veiled , 1998) . ), but also bands from Austria, like Kiss the Blade ( Black as Disillusion , 1997) andWhispers in the Shadow ( Laudanum , 1997), and from Switzerland, such as After Darkness ( Murnau , 1995), still released albums. Groups like Cadra Ash, on the other hand, lacked the means to finance the release and distribution of an album. This ended the Gothic era in Germany for the time being.

The new millennium saw an old-style revival: groups like Zadera or Bloody Dead and Sexy refer to the genre's roots in punk and combine early gothic rock with today's production possibilities. In the course of the 1990s, delimiting terms such as Batcave and Gothic Punk became common for this early style of Gothic. Other bands such as Beyond the Wall of Sleep ( First Dust , 2000) and Rock at a Dead Place, 2002), despite their activities in the 1990s, only released their debut in this decade. New gothic bands that were less influenced by gothic punk also became known, mainly after the success of the death rock and gothic punk revival. Thus the remaining members of the group Garden of Delight designed the follow-up project Merciful Nuns ( Lib. 1 , 2010). Other groups such as Salvation AMP ( Hidden Faces , 2013) and Aeon Sable ( Per Aspera Ad Astra , 2010) appeared in the near future.

Western Romance Lands

Western Romance countries include France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. In particular, the most industrialized regions of these countries (in Spain, for example, Madrid and Catalonia) formed the breeding ground for local gothic rock scenes. However, many bands were hardly able to release regular albums due to the financial outlay and were therefore often limited to cassette and single releases, which they distributed at concerts or via smaller labels.
Some of the earliest gothic rock exponents in France included Danse Macabre ( Danse macabre , 1983), Leitmotiv ( Philosophy , 1983), Odessa ( Attente , 1984), Neva ( Hallucination/Frénézie , 1987), Les Enfants de l'Ombre ( La haine rode et nous guette , 1988) and Passions Mortelles ( Artifices , 1990). Since the boundaries to other wave genres were often fluid and the increased use of minimal electronicElements shaped the sound, some of these groups, such as Leitmotiv, were also attributed to the French cold wave movement. Lucie Cries ( Les saisons du doute , 1990), Corpus Delicti ( Twilight , 1993), Dead Souls Rising ( Ars magica , 1995), The Brotherhood of Pagans ( Tales of Vampires , 1995) and Jacquy achieved international fame in the 1990s Bitch ( Volume 1, 1995). Corpus Delicti in particular was able to gain a larger fan base in both Germany and the United States. Other groups have included Land of Passion ( The Arrival , 1996) and Lacrima Necromanzia ( Solam , 1996), while more recent artists include Violet Stigmata ( Décompositions & reliques , 2002), Eat Your Make-Up ( First Dinner , 2005) and Soror Dolorosa ( Blind Scenes , 2011).

Italy also had an active gothic wave scene early on, with groups like Deafear ( Stairs , 1983), Carillon del Dolore ( Trasfigurazione , 1984), The Dead Relatives ( VM quattro , 1985), The Art of Waiting ( La caduta del simbolo , 1986), Limbo ( In limbo / Poisoned Kisses , 1986), Symbiosi ( Uscire , 1987) and Il Giardino Violetto ( Danse macabre , 1989) are considered examples of this. With the Spiritual Bats ( Spiritual Bats , 1993),Lacrime di Cera ( La vanità del sangue , 1994), Ermeneuma ( Presagio , 1994), Holylore ( Sefiroth , 1995) and the Burning Gates ( Risvegli , 1996) Italy also pointed to a lively infrastructure in the decade that followed. From the second half of the 1990s, however, a music-cultural decline was also evident here, which only began a few years later with bands such as Avant-Garde ( Avant-Garde , 1999), Chants of Maldoror ( Thy Hurting Heaven , 2000), Vidi Aquam ( Apocalisse , 2002),Bohémien ( Danze pagane , 2003), Human Disease ( Our Flesh Deception , 2004), Le Vene di Lucretia ( Le vene di Lucretia , 2005) and Echoes of Silence ( Echoes of Silence , 2006) followed a heyday.

Also, Spanish gothic rock bands first appeared in the early 1980s. The groups were closely connected to the burgeoning punk scene in the Spanish metropolitan areas and took their playing cues from Bauhaus and Joy Division, as well as Dead Kennedys , The Cramps and The Birthday Party. Many of the active groups such as Sangre Cristiana ( Sangre Cristiana , 1985) released primarily self-recorded and distributed cassettes. Few groups like Parálisis Permanente ( El Acto , 1982) and Desechables ( Maqueta) could market entire albums. The early death of the Parálisis Permanente singer Eduardo Benavente had a lasting effect on the Spanish scene and caused it to blossom. A few bands release stray vinyl singles, including Los Seres Vacios ( La Casa De La Imperfección), one of the first Spanish bands to showcase quieter, less punk-heavy Gothic, and El Último Eslabón ( Dame Una Prueba). In 1988 the label Grabaciones Goticas was founded , which was initially dedicated to Gothic Rock and Hard Rock, with an attitude based on the Gothic scene . The rock group gained particular notoriety in the mid-1990s with Gothic Sex ( Divided We Fall), which became popular due to its provocative appearance and Gothic-oriented fashion, but was also criticized by other scene designers for playing simple hard rock and merely maintaining a clichéd Gothic image. Meanwhile, the Grabaciones Goticas label also released three compilations in the early 1990s, which, in addition to new music groups, were also dedicated to bands that were previously only known in tape trading circles . These include Otras Voces , La 5ª Civilizacion and La Casa Usher . The first two issues of the sampler series Spanish Gothic Bands were released on cassettes, while the third and final edition (1994) was released on CD. With the increasing marketing opportunities, independent styles of Spanish Gothic Rock also developed. Some of the groups presented on Spanish Gothic Bands , such as La Guillotina ( Sacrificios Al Volcán , 1996) are more oriented towards the second generation of Gothic Rock and use a particularly deep undertone singing , which comes close to guttural growling . In the mid-1990s, the Spanish scene dried up. Many groups formed anew, broke up entirely or changed their musical direction. New artists like Extremauncion (los conocerás por sus ruinas) appeared only sporadically. Grabaciones Goticas also temporarily suspended its activities during this period. However, the label was reactivated in the late 2000s to market more releases from Los Humillados ( El Canto Agónico De Las Estatuas). With the new possibilities of virtual marketing and the success of the death rock revival emanating from the USA, new Spanish gothic bands such as Belgrado ( Belgrade) and Sect ( Sect) became known from 2011 onwards. As part of the increased attention, Parálisis Permanente reformed in 2013, among others.

Nordic countries

The first gothic bands in Scandinavia included Musta Paraati (Romanssi, 1982), Geisha (Geisha EP, 1983) and Hexenhaus (Ikiyö/Katakombi, 1984) from Finland, as well as Fra Lippo Lippi (In Silence, 1981) and Garden of Delight (Blessed Minutes, 1984) from Norway - not to be confused with the German band of the same name.

From the second half of the 1980s, other Finnish groups such as Dorian Gray, Russian Love, Two Witches, Dancing Golem, Sad Parade, Varjo, The Shadow Dance, followed in the new millennium by The Candles Burning Blue, Suruaika and Dreamtime.

However, it was gothic rock productions from Sweden that gained greater fame: groups such as The Solar Lodge, Funhouse, The Preachers of Neverland, Catherines Cathedral, Medicine Rain, Sons of Neverland and Malaise, some of which achieved international success thanks to various label cooperations (including with the English record company Nightbreed Recordings). Also, third generation bands like The Misled, Imaginary Walls and Dr. Arthur Krause gained international fame.

In Denmark, especially in the Copenhagen area, there was a small gothic rock scene in the mid-1980s, but it was mainly limited to demo recordings and live activities. Regular recordings were only occasionally produced. Some regionally known bands of this era were ADS, Before and Alive with Worms.

Unlike Finland and Sweden, Norway produced few new artists, such as The Morendoes or their follow-up Elusive, and was primarily known for its gothic metal productions.

Australia and New Zealand

Early Australian goth/wave bands were Ducks in Formation (Darkness Falls), Dorian Gray (The Emperor's New Clothes), Gravity Pirates (This Way to the Cargo Cult), Toys Went Berserk (Guns at My Head), Murder Murder Suicide (Christians) and I Spartacus (Crank). However, unlike many European countries, Australia's goth scene had its heyday in the 1990s with acts such as Lemon Avenue (Love and Necromancy, 1991), Ikon (Why, 1992) and Big Electric Cat (Dreams of a Mad King, 1994). Contributions to this development included labels such as Sydney-based Left as in Sinister, run by members of the band Lemon Avenue and helping newcomer bands get their first releases through the Candles and Intrigue sampler series, and Heartland Records in Melbourne. Represented on the latter were groups such as Subterfuge (Darkland Awakening), Meridian (Sundown Empire), Leviathan (Illusions of Life in the Womb), Love Lies Bleeding (The Way of All Flesh, 1997) and the New Zealand combo Disjecta Membra (Achromaticia, 1997).

Bands like Ostia (From the Aether, 1997) and Scissor Pretty (Are You Home?, 1999) followed, like US bands, a sound pattern close to the Ethereal in the style of the Cocteau Twins and The Cure, while The Mark of Cain (Battlesick, 1989) and Hard Candy (Tattoo, 1992) fused goth rock with garage punk or contemporary alternative rock. The latter Melange led in the new millennium The Redresser (Afterlife) and This Gentle Flow (This Cage). Two of the few Australian goth rock bands still active are 13 Bats (Dust) and Ascetic (Self Initiation and Everything is Becoming).

The beginnings of gothic rock in New Zealand go back to 1981. By this time, groups like Danse Macabre (Between the Lines) and The Pin Group (Ambivalence) were already releasing Joy Division and The Cure-style titles, followed two years later by Sons in Jeopardy (Ritual), which often compared to Theater of Hate. Especially in the metropolitan areas of Auckland and Wellington, and with the support of labels like Club Bizarre, smaller, regional scenes were able to develop, which in the 1990s saw bands like Burnt Weeping Eyes, Reserved for Emily, Winterland (Ceremony, 1998) and previously mentioned Disjecta Membra.


In Japan, gothic rock bands are grouped under the name J-Goth . As early as 1983, a small scene developed in Tokyo, centered on groups such as Phaidia ( Dancing Death ), Nubile ( Spyral Totem Toler Than East ), Monochrome World ( Monochrome World ), Gara ( Manifest ) , Still ( Real Time ), Mannequin Neurosis ( Mannequin Neurosis II ), Neurotic Doll ( Reveal ), Kokushoku Elegy( Kokushoku Elegy ), The Lautrec ( Rag Doll ) or Bardo Thödol ( Feeble Voice ). Towards the end of the 1980s, this scene gradually ebbed away and was replaced by the visual kei trend, which is optically based on gothic fashion but stylistically has no connection to gothic rock.

Only a few gothic bands have been musically active since the 1990s, including Jelsomena ( The Lord's Will ), Gille'Loves ( Barairo no Kyūketsuki ), their follow-up Fiction ( Lucifer to iu na no Oningyō ), Art Marju Duchain ( Demon est Deus inversus ), and 13th Moon ( Dance to the Death EP ).

South Africa

With South Africa's transition from an emerging country to a Western-style industrial state, music movements such as punk and post-punk were also able to gain a foothold in the big cities at the end of the 1970s. Although post-punk groups such as Dog Detachment (The Last Laugh, ), already used elements of gothic rock and oriented themselves to British models such as Echo & The Bunnymen, the genre itself only experienced its full potential in South Africa in the second half of the 1980s heyday. Leading bands included No Friends of Harry (One Came Running, ) from Johannesburg, The Gathering (Perfect Souls/Wooden Walls, ) from Pretoriaand Cape Town's The Awakening (not to be confused with the Johannesburg-based 1990s dark rock combo of the same name). Other groups from this era included The Attic Muse, The Autumn Ritual, The Death Flowers of Nocypher (later renamed The Lords of Gehenna) and Penguins in Bondage.

Ten years later, latecomers like the Johannesburg groups The Awakening (Risen, ) and The Eternal Chapter (The Eternal Chapter, ) followed, as well as the now London-based Descendants of Cain (Atziluth, ). However, this boost was short-lived. The Eternal Chapter disbanded after two releases. The Awakening, who recorded a traditionally oriented work with Risen, subsequently changed their style and turned to the more heavy metal-inspired dark rock. It wasn't until the 2009 album Tales of Absolution and Obsoletionthey returned to their roots.

Goth Rock Bands

  • Alien Sex Fiend (partial only)
  • Bauhaus
  • The Brotherhood of Pagans
  • Calling Dead Red Roses
  • Catastrophe Ballet (until 1993)
  • Cinema Strange
  • Cocteau Twins (partly until 1984)
  • Clan of Xymox (1984/1986)
  • Body of Crime (twice 1995)
  • The Cure (1982)
  • The Danse Society
  • Dead or Alive (until 1982)
  • Queen Maud Land (until 1994)
  • Faith and the Muse (until 2001)
  • Fields of the Nephilim (until 1990)
  • Garden of Delight (until 1996)
  • Gene Loves Jezebel
  • The Hall of Souls
  • The House of Usher
  • Kiss the Blade
  • Lady Besery’s Garden (until 1998)
  • Love Like Blood (until 1992)
  • Lucie Cries
  • Marquee Moon
  • Mephisto Walz
  • Moonchild (until 1996)
  • Nosferatu
  • Play Dead
  • The Prophetess (until 1996)
  • Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
  • The Rose of Avalanche
  • Rosetta Stone (until 1993)
  • Scarlet’s Remains
  • Screams for Tina
  • Sex Gang Children
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • The Sisters of Mercy (until 1987)
  • Skeletal Family
  • The Southern Death Cult[96]
  • Specimen
  • Still Patient?
  • Swans of Avon (until 1995)
  • Sweet William
  • This Burning Effigy (until 2001)
  • The Tors of Dartmoor (until 1996)
  • Two Witches (until 1995)
  • UK Decay
  • Vendemmian
  • Virgin Prunes
  • Witching Hour
  • Xmal Germany (until 1985)

Goth Rock Labels

  •  4AD (UK)
  • Alice in... (D)
  • Anagram Records (UK)
  • Apollyon Recordings (D)
  • Cleopatra Records (US)
  • Dion Fortune (D)
  • Grave News Limited (UK)
  • Jungle Records (UK)
  • M & A Musicart (SWE)
  • Nightbreed Recordings (UK)
  • Orphanage Records (US)
  • Resurrection Records (UK)
  • Strobelight Records (A)
  • Phonographic Supports (I)
  • Talitha Records (D)
  • Tess Records (US)
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