The music that underpins the gothic subculture which is the very albeit non-existant soul of goth itself, is made to be as depressing as humanly possible and devoid of all emotion with the exception of despair.
It is the ultimate realization of human mortality captured in music and is meant to be taken very, very seriously. Gothic music has very strict requirements to fulfill, and must fit within certain perameters to be considered goth. If any music fails to fit these, then it cannot be deemed gothic despite its packaging. Goths are very particular about the genuineness of a goth band, and if the music contains any traces of talent, excitement, commercial potential or happiness, it must not be authentic and therefore cannot be goth and should be burned ritually.
- 1 What Defines a Goth Band?
- 2 The Real Godfather of Goth.
- 3 The Rise of the Gothic Empire in the late '70s - '80s
- 4 The fall of the Gothic Empire
- 5 Goths Today
What Defines a Goth Band?
- The band members must be dressed in black; although fetish gear, apocalyptic cowboy costumes, leather, victorian and medieval cos-play items are also considered worthy of the tag.
- Music videos should contain images of rain, graveyards, decay, the occult, people dressed as corpses or anything of that nature.
- Be signed under an independant or obscure record label
- The band should typically hate their own music
- They must also hate their manager and the entire music industry
- All gothic music must fit the criteria of a dirge.
- Lyrics must not contain any vague glimmer of hope, must be focussed on decay, pain, death, sadness, suicide and any other theme that might cause the listener to feel utterly miserable.
- It must be played and sung as drearily as possible and in the minor key
- The guitars must be slightly out of tune and the bass must be played slowly. No flash guitar work or skill; it must all be sombre, plain and monotonous.
- Gloomy organs, bagpipes or any other particularly dismal instrument are encoraged
- Drumming can either be plain, gloomy and funeral-like or a drum machine.
- The singer MUST have a baritone voice with the one exception of the tenor Robert Smith (also excepting Siouxsie Sioux); and that singer must not actually be at all talented but simply just be good at moaning in a flat, depressing self depreciating manner.
The Real Godfather of Goth.
There are many arguements as to who really is the original goth. Some say that it was Rozz Williams of Christian Death; while others argue that it was indeed Sisters of Mercy's frontman, Andrew Eldritch. While these guys were around at the beginnings of the gothic subculture, they did not, however, begin it.
Leonard Cohen was the original misery monger, driving people off the edges of cliffs since 1963. A part of Nancy, one of his songs written in 1969 is:
It seems so long ago,
One of the lines from one of his most famous songs, Bird on a Wire, is;
Like a babe stillborn,
Andrew Eldritch, Rozz Williams, Ian Curtis and many other miserable youths grew up listening to Leonard Cohen's dirges and were drawn to hang out in cemetaries and the like; and when they grew up, decided to give dirge a more modern sound, incorporating electric instruments that were lying around following the punk era.
However, dirge is a very ancient and sacred type of music, originating from monastaries in medieval England during the black death, and so naturally the term 'gothic' had to be employed to describe the then embryonic subculture because since European medieval Church architecture is known as 'Gothic' styled, it all fitted together with this new culture rather deeply.
Eldritch called his band the 'Sisters of Mercy' which is ambiguous for both the name of a song by Cohen as well as a group of nuns from the Catholic church; a tribute to the origins of dirge, and soon Eldritch met up with Cohen himself and discussed all the dynamics of creating really depressing monotony.
The Gothic music scene was then born.
The Rise of the Gothic Empire in the late '70s - '80s
Some of the major names in goth from the early days:
Curtis was a miserable bastard with a troubled love life and the occasional epeleptic fit. He was always moody, his unstable love life consisting of two women in two different countries and many different beds added to his worsening epilepsy only made him increasingly depressive; and his doom laden baritone vocals captured the very essence of misery.
His lyrics, "Love, love will tear us apart again" together with the dreary proto madchester jangled guitar entirely sum up his state of mind.
Rozz Williams also committed suicide, but in 1993, almost a decade after he left Christian death. He is known for his miserable monk-like chanting and crossover punk/goth dress code that underlies the fashion sense of the modern mall-goth. His voice was like an effeminate hybrid of Robert Smith (the cure) and Morrissey, moaned out over the top of half-punk, half-goth guitar and filled with misery.
These days, he and Cohen are in a particularly delusional state of denial regarding their status as the actual gods of goth. This is simply because they refuse to hear their own music played or look in a mirror to reveal that indeed they have no reflections; which is a very wise anti-suicide tactic indeed...
The Mission came into being because Wayne Hussey had a fall out with Andrew Eldritch and quit Sisters of Mercy. Unfortunately, he sounds much like Bono. Baritone, yes; goth - the term gets stretched very thin here musically, particularly due to the over-use of the word 'love' without the associations of heartbreak and failure and the really cheesey keyboard. But because he used to play guitar for Sisters, he has celebrity goth status.
Robert Smith is a miserable (and fat) goth with unmistakable Edward Scissorhands hair. In fact, since he pre dates Edward Scissorhands, it is highly likely that he was the model upon which Tim Burton based that character.
The Cure are known for their apathetic songs with romanti-goth nonsenscical lyrics and a dreary, almost spooky sound. As a matter of fact, the Cure's music directly relates to all of the soundtracks to everything gothic that Tim Burton ever created.
Robert Smith is actually a tenor, but he is excused from this owing to his massive contribution to goth. This minor detail can therefore be overlooked...
Gothic David Bowie - high cheekbones and vampiric hammer- horror looks all round...
Aka the cowboys of the apocalypse...
>Please tell me why out of all the mythological pagan deities to base your occult lyrics on - why Cthulu, the squid headed and most comical/fictional deity ever??<
Carl McCoy experiments with growling death metal dirges these days. They did not sell out, however, just simply forgot how good they sounded in the days of 'Celebrate', 'Last Exit for the Lost' and the like.
Ian Astbury is a wailing tenor; therefore fails to meet the criteria for gothic, although he looked like one. Because of his high pitched tenor voice, he also failed to pretend to be the very much deceased crooning baritone Jim Morrisson at a later date...
The cult therefore, despite superficial appearances, falls into the same musical genre as Skid Row...
The fall of the Gothic Empire
Modern kids get confused with what goth really means. It is not just wearing black, drinking and being generally rebellious against your parents.
But in the drug-addled haze of all this chaos rose one particularly miserable and doom-laden band called Type O Negative. Peter Steele indeed fitted every tick box on the goth list; miserable, wearing black, hating everything and soforth; and would have been a damn good goth but for the fact that he had a bass (voice) which automatically classed the band as metal. Nevertheless, it was pretty much the closest new thing to goth at the time.
Selling out and Confusing the Kids
Marilyn Manson is apparently a modern goth, best known for selling out the kingdom of goth in exchange for a few kids to buy his trashy music. He is also known for his exhibitionist transexuality and is a horrible mutant cross between Rocky Horror and a spoiled gothic wannabe kid with rich parents.
Unfortunately, he has covered some classic songs and turned them into some commercial baritone version of the tranny tenor singer lady Gaga which is presented on McDonalds menus every October 31 as the Halloween special cheeseburger.
He is liked by the same naive MTV fans that actually like Cradle of Filth. Cradle of filth, however is not a goth band due to Dani Filth being a tenor and generally failing to meet any of the other gothic criteria; particularly the fundamental being miserable component of it.
It is evident though, from his awful McMusic videos, that he likes what he believes to be gothic imagery, albeit simply just the parent-shocking ability of tacky graveyard scenes, vampires and Mc.Occult garbage that he stole from some dreadfully cheap horror films. As a matter of fact, Dani Filth uses the metal growl to fake baritone in much the same way as baritone metallers fake bass. The only way to describe Cradle of Filth is if you have ever heard female death metal bands with growling women...
As a matter of fact, you might get confused by thinking that Dani Filth indeed plays in quite a number of unheard of female bands worldwide if you can be bothered to google female death metal singers...
But these two goth murdering anti-celebrities, Marilyn Manson and Dani Filth then went on to commit far worse crimes agaist humanity and spawned a monster of a love child between them (born out of Dani's prolapsed asshole): namely the emo sub-culture...
EMO = overly sensitive, emotionally retarded, kitsch 'cool' kids and EMO has since further degenerated to include cheerleaders and pseudo punk haircuts, the very antithesis of goth, and relabelled itself as 'scene'.
Unfortunately goths are in decline.
Sisters of Mercy and other bands from that era whose lead singers did not kill themselves after hearing one too many of their own recordings are now fat, married and aging and only play reunion gigs once every important band anniversary to let their fans know that they haven't died yet.
There are also plenty of lesser known bands that play at obscure gothic festivals and try to stay true to the gothic music code. Some of those bands actually aren't too bad despite the glaringly obvious fact that they are actually fronted by deliberate Andrew Eldritch clones...
Also, clones aside, there will always be an endless supply of miserable people in music, whatever genre they label themselves under, with tuneless dirgy baritone voices; and so long as they still mumble music to kill yourself to, Goth will never truly die...