Goth, or Gothic Rock as it is sometimes referred, was the coming together of different eras and genres of music. Most notably, much of the subculture originates from England, in the late 1970s, but the influence has now spread around the globe.
Taking a wide array of influences from various bands like Joy Division, Killing Joke, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, New York Dolls, Gary Glitter, The Damned, and tons more, many of the bands created a new, invigorating brand of rock music, appealing to the dark side with themes of death, love, religion, and the occult. Years later, they became the influences for bands like HIM, My Chemical Romance and Marilyn Manson, though none of those bands can hold a candle to any of the bands on our list. We now present the10 Best Goth bands.
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10. London After Midnight (LAM)
Considered to be part of the new generation of Goth Rockers, this musical project is the concept of mastermind Sean Brennan, songwriter, lyricist and multi instrumentalist. LAM raised in the '90s, in the LA music scene, in particular, the plethora of area Rock and Goth clubs, with a dark, romantic and yet political vibe that no one else had in the Goth scene. Brennan has in past interviews shown his disdain for the term Goth, claiming it furthers limitation and confinement of music to a single genre. LAM is popular all over the globe, with a particularly huge fan base in Europe, and South America. Brennan is also an open liberal, never hiding his support for human rights, animal rights, and environmentalism. LAM have shared the stage with such varied artists as The Cure, Green Day, HIM, Rammstein, and countless others. The band is still active today, though the most recent release was Violent Acts of Beauty (2007).
9. Christian Death
Deathrock visionary Rozz Williams created Christian Death in 1979, in the cities of Pomona and Claremont, just outside of the angst, fury and aggression of the old school LA/OC hardcore punk scene. The band's name, morbid fashion style, and sound made an impact almost immediately. The simple, yet slower punk riffs seemed to fit with Christian Death's obsession with black clothes, skulls and religious iconography. Williams was a performer as well as a vocalist bringing cathartic performance art alive with his dark, gloomy and macabre music. Christian Death's debut album, Only Theater of Pain (1982) pretty much put the American Deathrock scene on the map.
But, the band broke up less after the record came out, and in 1983 Williams revived the Christian Death moniker with LA musician Valor Kand. This version of Christian Death released the albums Catastrophe Ballet (1984) and Ashes (1985), which featured both Rozz Williams and Valor Kand. Some consider these records to be precursors of the American Goth movement. Through years of infighting, drug abuse, line up changes, and disagreements, Williams left the band he created initially, while Kand kept on going. Williams eventually went on to other musical projects, and his own version of Christian Death, but in the mid '90s, he lost the legal rights to the name to Kand in court. Sadly, in 1998 after years of drug addictions, Williams was found dead, by apparent suicide. But Kand's version of Christian Death still defiantly marches on, to this day having released a dozen albums over the past 30 years, which have woven experimental, electronic, black metal and doom metal into the Goth sound and genre. Though today many purists still flock to the music, poetry, art and tragedy of the first and original incarnation Christian Death and its true mastermind, Rozz Williams. Suffice it to say, both versions of the band with the same name and a troubled past, are crucial to the development and legacy of Goth music.
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8. Skeletal Family
When the band came into existence in the early '80s, many other so called Gothic Rock bands had been around for a few years. But, there was something unique about the dark melodies, clean female vocals, and eerie guitar tones of Skeletal Family. The band's name was taken from the 1974 song, “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family” by David Bowie, and originally included singer Anne-Marie Hurst, bassist Roger Nowell guitarist Stan Greenwood, drummer Steve Greenwood and keyboard/saxophone player Ian Taylor. With five albums, many more singles, EPs and splits released over the past three decades, Skeletal Family still lives on, passing on the musical legacy of romantic darkness to younger generations of Goth fans at live performances; the band is still important to the scene, especially in its home base, the UK. Skeletal Family still features Greenwood on guitar and Hurst on vocals, and most recently released the album, Songs of Love, Hope and Despair (2009).
7. Sex Gang Children
This English post-punk Gothic Rock band was formed in the early 1980s, by bandleader and original member Andi Sex Gang; the band's career has spanned three decades. The band had a sound based on fuzzy, wild tempo swings, heavy slow bass lines and an at times high pitched vocals. Although the original line up of the band only released one album, Song and Legend (1983) the band has a total of six full lengths, and many more EPs, singles and rarities released over the years. The name of the band was used, after it was considered, but not chosen by the band Culture Club, featuring Boy George. Even though Sex Gang Children split up in 1984, the band's music has stood the test of time, and in the '90s a new version of the band surfaced, which continues to this day.
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6.Alien Sex Fiend
Alien Sex Fiend was born in London, in 1982, and came together by songwriters Nick Fiend and his wife, Mrs. Fiend. With demented, dark imagery, sometimes out of this world shock rock theatrics, and an almost creature-like mythology behind this dark gloomy rock band, Alien Sex Fiend became a staple of the early Goth scene in the UK, but also expanded as well, into other parts of Europe, Asia and North America. The band's peculiar sound though based on post-punk Gothic Rock, also included experimental, classical, electronic and even industrial elements. In 1986, the band even toured as the opening act, for Alice Cooper, further broadening their appeal. Still going today the band's only original members are Nick Fiend and his better half, Mrs. Fiend.
5.Fields of the Nephilim
Led by founding member Carl McCoy, Fields of the Nephilim began in the early 80s, near London. From the start, the band took in many influences, including a darker twist on psychedelic music, hard rock, post-punk, and an orchestrated, industrial sound, and a mysterious, dark cowboy style that saw the band constantly in all black, lather and boots. Fields of the Nephilim has a vibe like no other, with haunting songs, and a sound that was valiant, eerie and beautiful all at once. McCoy was known to throw in many occult, biblical and apocalyptic references throughout the band's 30-year career. The name of the band refers to the biblical name for the offspring of fallen angels and mankind. Although the band has toured the world, and still occasionally play shows, they have remained a cult band.
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4.Sisters of Mercy
England's Sisters of Mercy have been producing a darker type of rock music that is grand in both scale and mystery. Led by founder, front man Andrew Eldritch, the band stopped making new albums in the '90s, as a way to protest the corporate control in the music industry at the hands of record labels. Despite this, the band's fan base has grown over the years, and the music has early on taken in elements of punk, psychedelic rock, industrial and even early metal. Numerous line up changes, disputes over the name of the band, and other disagreements have not stopped Eldritch from keeping the band's dark aura and music alive. Some debate whether the band got its name from a song by Leonard Cohen, or an order of Catholic nuns, but none can't debate the influence this band has had on countless musicians and bands today, from Danzig, HIM, AFI, and tons more.
3. Siouxsie and the Banshees
This band formed in the late 1970s, by a bunch of rabid Sex Pistols fans. Sid Vicious even played drums with the band early on, before joining the Sex Pistols. Vocalist Siouxsie Sioux gave the band its eerie, romantic vibe, and provided the sound that was both upbeat and pop like, and still a tad morose. Early on, Robert Smith of the Cure played a role in the band, among numerous line up changes. The experimental, slow, semi-punk riffs and later artsy dark wave synth pop sound made the band a leader not only in the post-punk and Goth cultures, but also a leading act that foreshadowed the greater Alternative Rock scene of the 90s. Tons of bands cite Siouxsie and the Banshees as an influence, including U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers Morrissey, Radiohead, Massive Attack and Arcade Fire, among so many others.
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Many might argue The Cure are not only one of the best Goth bands, but one of the best rock bands in general. With a sound that was built with walls of sound, soft musical textures, and songs that were dreamy, sad and still had a good beat, The Cure mixed gloomy nuances with beautiful music. Although the band has many recognizable hit songs, early on the band's punk sound evolved to a sadder, slower much more orchestrated version of music, that fans all over the world have come to love. Led by the now iconic Robert Smith, the Cure began in the late '70s, and seemed to be fermented in the emerging sounds in rock music at the time: post punk, Goth, new wave, and eventually what would come to be known as alternative rock.
Regarded by many critics, fans and bands alike as the Godfathers of Goth music, Bauhaus formed in 1978 in Northampton, England. The band featured singer Peter Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, drummer Kevin Haskins and bassist David J. With a very gloomy, almost vampiric sound that took from post-punk and added an extra dose of melancholia and darkness, the band had released four albums before breaking up in 1983. Murphy went onto a solo career (he headlines this Sunday's tattoo festival Ink-N-Iron in Long Beach), with the remaining members eventually forming Love and Rockets. But the lasting impact of the Bauhaus can't be denied. With the hit song, the band's most well known, a gothic anthem was created, with the song, “Bella Lugosi's Dead.” The band reunited in 1998, and again between 2005-08 for successful tours, and the 2008 album Go Away White.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.