Gothic rock

Gothic rock

"This article is about the musical style of gothic rock. For the goth scene in general, see goth subculture."Infobox Music genre
name=Gothic rock
stylistic_origins=Punk rockDave Thompson / Kirsten Borchardt · Schattenwelt · Helden und Legenden des Gothic Rock · Page 12 · 2004 · ISBN 3-85445-236-5]
Psychedelic rock
Glam rock
cultural_origins=Late 1970s England
instruments=Guitar - Bass - Drums (or, quite often, Drum Machine) -Synthesizers
popularity=Largely underground, some major visibility since the mid-80s in the UK and Europe
derivatives= Dream pop - Shoegazing - Gothic metal - Darkwave - Ethereal wave
fusiongenres=Dark Cabaret - Deathrock
other_topics=Culture - Fashion

Gothic rock (alternatively called goth rock or simply goth) is a genre of alternative rock that originated during the late 1970s. Originally, bands from the genre had strong ties to the English punk rock and emerging post-punkcite web| title =Goth rock | publisher | url = | accessdate =2008-08-06 ] styles. The genre itself was defined as a separate movement from punk rock during the early 1980s. Gothic rock artists deal with dark themes and intellectual movements such as gothic horror, Romanticism, and nihilism. Notable gothic rock bands include Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, and The Mission. Gothic rock gave rise to a broader goth subculture that includes goth clubs, goth fashions, and goth-oriented magazines.

Musical style

In gothic rock, the guitar tone is usually processed with electronic effects. The genre is also known for its frequent use of synthesizers. As well, gothic rock has a characteristic guitar playing style. Gothic rock guitar playing takes its downstroke playing style from punk, and emphasizes angular melodic lines instead of thick chords. Minor keys and minor mode melodies are prevalent, but major keys are also used. The Phrygian mode, with a flattened second scale degree contributes to the gothic sound with its "haunting" and dissonant mood. Gothic rock songs are typically mixed so that there is a heavy bass sound, which creates a moody and gloomy atmosphere.

Gothic rock often uses repetitive snare drum snap to propel the beat, either a real drum beat or, later on, usually a drum machine beat. The metronomic snare drum sound can be first heard on Iggy Pop's "The Idiot". It continues on in Joy Division's songs, Gary Numan's early music, on early Cure albums (beginning with "Seventeen Seconds") and early Sisters of Mercy recordings. More sophisticated variations of the snare drum snap are used by Kevin Haskins in Bauhaus's music. In the 1990s, some bands in the gothic genre wrote songs with a more hard rock feel, such as the Sisters of Mercy's "Vision Thing" album, and Fields of the Nephilim, Rosetta Stone, London After Midnight, and The Wake.


First generation ("c". 1979–"c". 1985)

The first generation of gothic rock bands were associated with styles such as punk rock, post-punk, and new wave. Some of the late-1970s and 1980s gothic rock bands created their own record labels or released their material through independent record labels (such as Beggars Banquet Records); however, like punk rock, this was not a general rule, as some bands in the movement also appeared on major labels.

Most of the early gothic rock groups were from England, although some bands were from other countries; Christian Death came from Los Angeles, The Virgin Prunes from Ireland, and Xmal Deutschland was from Germany.

United Kingdom

Two early post-punk groups labeled "gothic" were Joy Division [Reynolds, p. 352] and Siouxsie & the Banshees in 1979. Between 1978 and 1979 these bands developed a haunting sound and dark-themed lyrics. Killing Joke and John Lydon's Public Image Ltd also influenced the development of the goth sound. Siouxsie & the Banshees' output from their debut album "The Scream" (1978) to "Nocturne" (1983) were influential on the goth sound. Joy Division was short-lived, due to vocalist Ian Curtis' suicide. Nevertheless their two albums "Unknown Pleasures" (1979) and "Closer" (1980) were influential in the gothic scene.

As the gothic label began to stick to Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees in 1979, Bauhaus (originally called Bauhaus 1919) then came along. They started out wearing plain jeans and t-shirts, but after appearing on the same bill as Gloria Mundi, Bauhaus ended up having a makeover, dressing in all black and wearing makeup. Strongly influenced by English Glam rock such as David Bowie and T. Rex, Bauhaus's debut single "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (released in late 1979) is considered to be the beginning of gothic rock [Reynolds, p. 359] cite web| last =Hansen Orf | first =Chris | title =From punk to metal, goth combines fashion and music | publisher =East Valley Tribune | date =2005-11-3 | url = | accessdate =2003-10-08 ] . Despite their legacy as progenitors of gothic rock, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and The Cure chiefly self-identified as punk acts at the time. [Kilpatrick, Nancy. "The Goth Bible"]

In 1980 and 1981, Danse Society, Theatre of Hate, March Violets, Play Dead, and The Sisters of Mercy were formed. UK Decay, a late-1970s punk band, influenced the emerging gothic movement of the early 1980s. The first written reference to Goth, as a derivation of the punk scene, was by Steve Keaton in an article about UK Decay, entitled 'The face of punk gothique', for UK rock weekly Sounds. Published on February 21, 1981, Keaton writes that the band’s vocalist, Abbo “once told me that they had a fascination with death (it’s OK he was laughing at the time.) Even so, their imagery is striking and the music is thick with Victorian menace – and Banshee/Antz spice. Could this be the coming of Punk Gothique? With Bauhaus flying in on similar wings could it be the next big thing?” Keaton concludes: “Punk Gothique? It’s looking just fine.”

In February 1981, Abbo from UK Decay used the term "gothic" to describe the style of bands such as Danse Society and Play Dead. A year later, Ian Astbury of the band Southern Death Cult used the term "gothic goblins" to describe Sex Gang Children's fans. However, the term "goth" did not become a label for a movement or "scene" until 1983 [] . The emerging scene was described as "positive punk" in a February 1983 article in the "NME" magazine. Journalist Richard North described Bauhaus and Theatre of Hate as "the immediate forerunners of today's flood" (which included Southern Death Cult, Sex Gang Children, and Blood & Roses) and declared, "So here it is: the new positive punk, with no empty promises of revolution, either in the rock'n'roll sense or the wider political sphere. Here is only a chance of self awareness, of personal revolution, of colourful perception and galvanisation of the imagination that startles the slumbering mind and body from their sloth." [North, Richard. "Punk Warriors." "NME". 19 February 1983.]

Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Cure have retained the goth imagery in their on-stage appearance and albums throughout most of their careers, but their music has explored other related genres. Bauhaus were more consistently gothic in their on-stage appearance and musical styles until their break-up in 1983. Some members of Bauhaus had a side project called Tones on Tail which continued during the mid 1980s, releasing gothic-styled music influenced by The Beach Boys experimental "Pet Sounds" album and 1970s drug subculture psychedelic music.

By 1982, gothic rock had become a broader sub-culture, with the emergence of bands such as Sex Gang Children, Southern Death Cult, Skeletal Family, Marc and the Mambas, Specimen, and Alien Sex Fiend. Clubs such as the Batcave in London contributed to gothic rock's broader scope by providing a venue for the goth scene. The Batcave aimed at reinventing David Bowie's vision of glam rock, but with a darker, horror-influenced twist. Gothic rock band members, hangers-on, and fans socialized at the Batcave, which became the prototype goth club environment. By 1984, Batcave DJs were playing Siouxsie, The Cramps, Sweet, Specimen, Eddie Cochran, and Death Cult. By 1983, the British press began commenting on the gothic rock scene gaining at the Batcave and similar venues.

Europe and Australia

Goth was as much a continental European phenomenon as it was British or American. At the same time bands like Bauhaus and Christian Death were forming in those countries, bands with dark, gothic musical styles, such as Geisterfahrer (1979), Xmal Deutschland (1980), Leningrad Sandwich (1980), Malaria! (1981), Belfegore (1982), Girls Under Glass (1986) and Pink Turns Blue (1986), were being formed in Germany. Belgium's Siglo XX released a number of albums since 1980. Amsterdam-based Clan of Xymox formed in 1983, and The Essence from Rotterdam followed in 1984. By 1992, Germany developed a large wave and gothic festival, the yearly Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig. In Finland, the first, the most influential and most popular gothic rock band were "Musta Paraati" ("Black Parade" in English), which was active in 1982-84. The first Finnish band to release a gothic rock album in English was Russian Love, founded in 1986.

In Australia and New Zealand, Nick Cave's second band, The Birthday Party (c. 1979 and later moving to London), and other post-punk collectives like Fetus Productions (also called The Features/The Fetals, c.1979) influenced the development of gothic music, fashion, and aesthetics. New Zealand's film archive [ New Zealand Film Archive] site states that Fetus Productions operated " an audio-visual company from 1980-1989,...part of a small global 'industrial' culture network, which included Throbbing Gristle in Britain, and Survival Research Laboratories on the West Coast of America. They released seven albums, designed clothing, wrote manifestos, made films, and challenged the parameters of music and art, blending pop, industrial and philosophical methodologies. Their music attacked advertising's promulgation of perfect images and lithe bodies using images of medical misadventure and mutation." In 2004, Foetus Productions were still exhibiting their controversial depictions of deformed human beings in museums.

econd generation ("c". 1985–"c". 1995)

In the UK, goth bands became more popular and the subculture grew and broadened. Throughout the 1980s, there was much cross-pollination between the European goth subcultures, the Death Rock movement, and the New Romantic (New Wave) movement. The rise in popularity of alternative rock music in the mid-1980s was mirrored by the rise of gothic rock, most notably in the form of the seminal goth rock bands, The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim (1984), a new version of Christian Death (1985), The Mission (1986), and Mephisto Walz (c.1987) founded by former Christian Death composer / guitarist Barry Galvin (alias Bari Bari). Galvin defined the dark, droning style of Christian Death on the album "Atrocities", the songs of which he composed and later transferred to the Mephisto Walz repertoire.

By 1985, the post-punk era was giving way to new musical styles, and many of the first generation gothic groups disbanded or changed their style. The Sisters of Mercy's debut album "First and Last and Always" (1985) cracked the British top ten, which showed the important influence that this 'first generation' goth band was having on the second generation. Vocalist Andrew Eldritch's voice earned him the moniker "the Godfather of Goth", and the bands' use of a drum machine (along with fellow Leeds residents March Violets) was innovative for the goth scene. The Three Johns and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (also Leeds-based bands) used drum machines as well, which became much more common during the second generation (drum machines continued to be common in goth music in the 2000s).

During the second wave of goth, the term and the style became noticed in mainstream British publications like "The Face" and the "NME". Goth fans developed fanzines, and goth clubs began to spring up in imitation of London's Batcave. The 1983 vampire-genre film "The Hunger", starring David Bowie, featured an appearance by Bauhaus, which helped to cement the relationship between glam, horror, goth and mainstream. 4AD recording artists such as Clan of Xymox (who had a mainstream hit with "Imagination"), Dead Can Dance, and the Cocteau Twins got US college radio airplay, and 'first generation' acts such as Siouxsie and the Banshees became the goth scene's de facto spokespeople to the mainstream press.

By 1987, gothic groups started to emerge in Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal, such as Masochistic Religion, which included the singer from Armed and Hammered. Toronto band Exovedate signed with German record label Pandaimonium Records, and their album "Seduced by Illusions" received airplay in Australia, Russia, the US, Brazil, Guam, Germany, and Canada.

By this time, a cross-pollination with the growing global post-industrial scene was developing. The blending of goth and 'industrial' music scenes and subcultures can be heard in the music of industrial bands such as Skinny Puppy. Depeche Mode's blend of goth, industrial, and pop and synthesized sounds influenced many goth musicians. Synthpop acts such as Camouflage, Secession, Celebrate the Nun, and Red Flag followed Depeche Mode's lead, and eventually gothic music found its way into club music, and synthpop began appearing in goth rock.

Third generation ("c." 1995 to the present)

In the 1990s, some of the influential 1980s "first generation" bands were still performing. At the same time, North American bands such as Switchblade Symphony (released by the Cleopatra label) and London After Midnight (released by Metropolis Records label in the USA) began releasing material. New English bands included Children on Stun, Cauda Pavonis, All Living Fear, Vendemmian and Rosetta Stone. Other popular goth acts to emerge in the 1990s included The Crüxshadows, The Last Dance,The New Creatures, Sunshine Blind, The Razor Skyline, and The Shroud.

In Germany, many labels such as Apocalyptic Vision, Apollyon Rekordings, Deathwish Office, Dion Fortune, Glasnost Records, Hyperium Records, Sounds Of Delight, and Talitha Records released Gothic compilations and recordings from bands such as Love Like Blood, Mephisto Walz, The Merry Thoughts, and Two Witches. France produced some new goth bands such as Corpus Delicti and Dead Souls Rising. Thanks to internet communities and broader CD distribution through such a plethora of record companies, fans of these labels and bands were no longer regionally based; the music was becoming more globalized than before.

In the mid and late 1990s, major record labels, particularly in the United States and Germany, began marketing hard rock and metal acts as "gothic" or "industrial" bands. The formerly underground subcultural aesthetic of goth was incorporated into the sound and image of several popular mainstream bands such as HIM, Marilyn Manson, and more recently bands like Evanescence and Within Temptation, although these bands did not produce goth rock. The term "goth" became associated in the public's mind with these mainstream bands, the Hot Topic chain, the "mallgoth" aesthetic, and the Columbine school shooting, which led to the US press' subsequent vilification and scrutiny of the goth culture []

Internally, the gothic subculture during this time had come to be dominated more and more by dance club attendance. Goth rock adapted in turn: contemporary dance club goth followed the footsteps of beat-driven industrial music, using many of the same production techniques and aesthetics, though danceable industrial music tended to be "harder" sounding while goth was "softer" sounding, with less distortion and minimal influence from techno and metal. Much modern goth often has the evolutionary feel of New Wave music or synth pop, though there are also "old school" or "first generation" gothic rock or faux-medieval acts.

Since 2000, some fans have embraced a Death Rock revival, returning to the 1980s music and fashions of the first generation of goth. Bands such as Cinema Strange, Quidam, and Black Ice, along with the website, have contributed to the revitalization of the first generation-style goth, and Nina Hagen even headlined the 2005 [ Drop Dead Festival] in New York City. The Cure and Bauhaus's high-profile performances since 2004 have also helped to promote the earlier goth sound, characterized by "jangly" guitars and less club-oriented arrangement.

Though the goth rock has diminished in popularity and its record sales have fallen off, there are still events, labels, and publications supporting it. Dancing Ferret Discs, Projekt Records, and Metropolis Records are releasing goth music in the American market, new Gothic Music is being produced by European labels like Strobelight Records, while the label Cherry Red has been reissuing early goth rock recordings in Europe.

ee also

*List of gothic rock bands
*Goth subculture
*Gothic fashion


*Collins, Andrew. "Bluffer's Guide to Goth." "NME". November 30, 1991.
*Reynolds, Simon. "Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984". Penguin, 2005.


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