The Seven Ages Of Goth

Categories: Gothtopia

64_goth_originals jan20.jpg
This is not meant as a complete history of goth, as that would be a huge book. Instead, we're aiming to give a simple overview of the musicians, songs and albums that have most defined the genre.

Many deserving artists have been left out, and some that we're sure some people feel are not worthy of space have been included. We encourage people to suggest other others they feel to be significant in the comments, and thereby enrich us all.

1. Ancient Goths (Approx. 5 million B.C.- A.D. 1970)

screaming jay hawkins jan19.jpg
In the beginning, there was darkness. It was an all right darkness, not a great darkness. It was, you know, a good first try. Before the coming of real goth music, most of the people who would today be at home with the label were either labeled crazy or just sad bastards. Take Screaming Jay Hawkins, for instance, who was big in the 1950s with "I Put a Spell on You."

Hawkins started wearing capes, carrying smoking skulls, and singing about voodoo after leaping out of a coffin. These are all activities that goths learn in evil preschool. Before him, you have Frederic Chopin, all draped in black playing sad little nocturnes back in the 19th century. He wrote upbeat stuff too, but his haunting nocturnes are what most people know these days.

Hell, Chopin was even once described by his girlfriend as a "beloved little corpse." Call someone that at one of Numbers' Underworld nights and you'll be knocking stompy boots together in the bathroom before you know it!


2. The Nightmare Begins (1971-78)

alice cooper jan19.jpg
The evolution to goth music continued throughout the 1970s, thanks mostly to the work of two men: Alice Cooper and David Bowie. Cooper took Hawkins' ideas and ran with them, beginning with his 1971 tour for the Love It to Death album, which featured Cooper being tortured and ultimately executed by electric chair onstage.

Though Cooper had started out with a more psychedelic sound and a more androgynous glam look, he fully transitioned into a villainous, monstrous character over the course of the next several albums. He would release a string of classic, increasingly dark LPs with his original band, including Killer and Billion Dollar Babies, culminating with his legendary 1975 solo album Welcome to My Nightmare.

One the flip side, where Cooper grew darker, Bowie grew more otherworldly. Like Cooper, Bowie abandoned his psychedelic side for a new persona in the form of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972. Dressed in a striking costume with his flame-colored hair, Bowie set the bar for all future glamorous personas. His influence can be keenly felt in how he inspired the next age.



Tags:

goth
My Voice Nation Help
33 comments
eden21
eden21

Needs Nick Cave/The Birthday Party. And how can you mention NIN and Manson without mentioning their biggest influence in Skinny Puppy?!

Mmlathena
Mmlathena

Emilie Autumn or The Shroud, anyone?

Nenamatahari
Nenamatahari

Goth has fractured and evolved into so many different categories.

Kris_ch20
Kris_ch20

Marilyn Manson and Evanescence never claimed to be goth, nor do most goths consider them to be so. Though they are good to listen to, I wouldn't use them as examples for gothic music.

Rachel Harmeyer
Rachel Harmeyer

What about The Damned? No Christian Death? So important! I am shocked and appalled at the non-mention. I am deeply disturbed that the things I find important are not represented here!

I'm kidding. It's amazing how personally offended people can become over such trifles.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

I love you, Rachel, and that comment is why you're on the Council!

ashes
ashes

This was interesting and I dont think you could have summed it up better without writing much much more.

Im sad that evenassence is consider goth. I know they are, techncily but its still depressing. I think the goth scene has finnaly been killed if thats what were calling goth now.

..and has projeckt released any new darkwave bands besides the dark cabaret and steampunk stuff? I haven't been back to the site in a while. sigh. my subclutres is dead.

Jason Pitzl-Waters
Jason Pitzl-Waters

I think you falsely equate "dark" with "goth". NIN, Manson, and the various Industrial-rock also-rans that scored hits in the 1990s were never perceived as goth, even though some of them got played at ostensibly goth clubs. It may seem academic, but there is a definable difference between "goth bands" and "bands that some goths like". This timeline needlessly muddies the waters of history.

I'd also like to take issue with your last section that boils modern "goth" down to Evanescence, who grew out of symphonic metal, not goth, and The Birthday Massacre. It makes me wonder if you've attended goth clubs in the last decade? The fan base for Evanescence certainly wasn't goth, nor did they work their way up through the goth scene. Is this last section based on album sales alone? Considering the fact that the last few years has seen a veritable renaissance of classic goth sounds within various indie scenes (O Children, Soft Moon, Forest Swords, Blessure Grave, Veil Veil Vanish, Zola Jesus, Esben & The Witch, or even that Crystal Castles song where Robert Smith is singing) I'm puzzled by your assertions regarding the modern era.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

There are interesting things happen in the modern era, don't get me wrong, but a revisiting of classic sounds is not evolution. It's ativism. There is a very easily drawn line from the darkwave/Projekt period into the modern female front goth-flavored acts. I don't think any of the bands you mentioned are going to define the next age of goth... if there even is one. They are all good, though.

Jason Pitzl-Waters
Jason Pitzl-Waters

So Zola Jesus/Esben/VVV/etc are "atavistic" while Evanescence (or even The Birthday Massacre) is a product of musical "evolution"? Is that what you're saying? I would argue that the majority of the bands I just listed are the ones taking elements from the past and actually growing from them into something new and interesting. As much as I like The Birthday Massacre, they've been treading musical water since their first full-length. Compare that with the trajectory of Zola Jesus who's been evolving from the harsh experimentalism of her early work into something more accessible while integrating unique pop elements.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

A) I'm tired of looking up the spelling, so I'm calling Amy Lee's band EV from now on, okay?

B) I actually agree with you on most of these points. My intention was to chart a linear evolution. This leads to that, and I believe I accomplished that. What is the genesis of Zola Jesus, and more importantly, is what she's doing defining the current era? I don't think it is. Goth has gone mainstream, though that age is dying. BM IS treading water, and EV is pretty much done. The question now is, what is next, and what has it evolved from? To this, I do not have an answer. Evolution is hard to see in the middle of the process. I personally believe that the next age will be very minimalistic, and porbably country-esque in flavor. Poe Larkin kind of stuff, but I'm trapped by my own premise there. What has she evolved from?

In the end, I think the line I traced from Screamin' Jay to Manson and EV has come to a brick wall, and that what is goth in the future will actually have very little connection to the past. Spontaneous mutation with only passing resemblance to previous forms.

Just one man's anthropological take on it.

Emeraldfyre98
Emeraldfyre98

What about Nine Inch Nails? wtf?

Craig
Craig

Biggest frauds ever: Saw their first Houston show at #s opening up for Jesus and Mary Chain.

Freaks lip-synced the entire show and have been on my "I hate them" list ever since.

Lonnie!
Lonnie!

sorry, who opened for JAMC?

leBloodflower
leBloodflower

Goth ? you know sweet F... all, emo niny

Jeremy
Jeremy

Wha? Jef's a lot of things, but emo ain't one of 'em.

tbgmike
tbgmike

The only thing that is "spooky in 2011" is your lack of talent and the ass bags that let you continue to spew ignorance on this web site.

Larry
Larry

All I can say is what? All wrapped up in neat little package like say how some major label A&R type guy would do. Not sure what you had hoped to accomplish here but this is way, way, way off the mark. I mean did you just insinuate Lady Ga Ga is goth? Dude put down the pipe and back away from the computer. I guess from a mainstream point of view this may seem correct (kinda like Hanson is a rock band from that view).I really think anyone who is really into this style of music would have major beef with this....Just saying

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

No. I implied that certain aspects of her were influenced by goth, In fact, I started the sentence by stating that her and Poe were not really goth.

As I said, this was meant to be a guide to the evolution of the genre touching upon albums that defined it. If you have an alternate take, please share. Always willing to learn.

tbgmike
tbgmike

Goth is LAME!

Go back to pumping gas at the diamond shamrock!

mr. castillo
mr. castillo

very surprised that references to my life with the thrill kill kult, nitzer ebb or ministry didn't make the cut as well. especially the evolution of ministry from synthpop to an industrial metal act. one could argue that they alone embody the full range of goth music from the u.s.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

In retrospect, I probably should've spent a bit more time encompassing darkwave, which is where I feel such acts belong. It's such a damn nebulous label, though, and it's associated equally with a completely different sound to boot.

mr. castillo
mr. castillo

actually, if you had began your article from the path of dark, mystic rock from the point of black sabbath, led zeppelin and goblin you would have been a bit closer to the mark. or even a mention of post punk ties such as the birthday party, wire, and alien sex fiend. unfortunately you wrote an article that was from strictly an american point of view. i would have more respect for your point of view if you had included nods toward more of the early american acts that influenced the genre such as anton levy, link wray and the idiot era iggy pop.

eden21
eden21

@Jef With One F  The Birthday Party had a huuuge influence, are you kidding?? Rowland S. Howard's trademark, feedback-laden guitar sound has been imitated soooo many times.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

Strictly American? Bowie, and the entire golden age line-up?

Nick Cave is the more of the unfortunates I cut from the article. Mostly because I feel his greatest influence came more from his solo career instead TBP, and his solo work belongs to none of these ages. He's his own thing, in my opinion, like Rasputina - who I also left out.

As for Sabbath and Zeppelin... The only reason to include them would be if I followed the line of strictly metal influenced goth music.

Craig
Craig

TKK and Ministry are a style all their own: Wax Traxx Legacies

And where do you draw the line between Darkwave, EBM and Agreppo?

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

I couldn't, that's the problem. Darkwave is such a damn nebulous term, and to boot it is associated with two very distinct styles of music that are nothing like each other. Plus, I didn't want to fight all the synth guys in the comments section ;)

Dino Yancey
Dino Yancey

Not one reference to Type O Negative? My hidden inner goth is disappointed.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

Fond as I am of Type O, and believe me I love 'em, they didn't really do much to define the genre or the sub-genres. I think they should've been toe to toe popularity-wise with Zombie, or at least Danzig, but they just weren't. I also purposely left out horrorpunk stuff like The Misfits and pyschobilly, though many would put it under the goth umbrella.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Houston Event Tickets
Loading...