O'Death: Our Hope for a New Goth Sound
A little while back, Rocks Off's editor hauled Gothtopia into his office and demanded that we lay out the 7 Ages of Goth, which we did to universal criticism. Some of that criticism had to do with the murky way we entered the modern era, in which we basically stated that goth as a musical movement had become the victim of entropy.
True, all along the genre lines, be they synth, deathrock, industrial, or whatever, there are many bands practicing an amazing craft. However, few seem interested in creating the giant shifts that spawn new sub-categories like the Sisters of Mercy or NIN did. Take a band like the Birthday Massacre, for instance. Love them? We do. Think they're doing something groundbreaking? Not at all.
That's why at the end of our journey through the seven ages, we mentioned the stealthy growth of the Southern Gothic sound, sometimes called Gothic Americana. Granted, mixing a folkish tone with goth's dark elegance isn't anything new. Nick Cave, Rasputina, and some of the neo-folk acts have been doing it for many years, and there's not a real goth out there who doesn't love Johnny Cash. However, these tend to be isolated practitioners rather than the front a full-on movement shift.
Enter O'Death, and the steadily growing number of bands like them. O'Death hails from upstate New York, and we've already brought them to you in the form of their video for "Bugs." We placed it second on the list of videos we've reviewed that creeped us the hell out. Granted, it was a pretty distant second behind Grinderman's "Heathen Child", but still pretty impressive.
We've been digging as much of O'Death as we can find in the hallowed halls of YouTube, and their mixture of hillbilly instrumentation, slightly eldritch twang, and pagan and death-obsessed imagery is, in our opinion, the kind of thing that will define the goth of the next several years. It's time to dial it back a bit, and it's definitely time to stop the self-parody and get back to the things that birthed the movement in the first place.
That's where O'Death steps up to the plate. Their songs are as bleak as a blighted landscape. Even from a crappy laptop speaker they seem to echo around you, tugging and the empty places in your soul. It's like Wicker Man: the Musical, and its very sparseness says more than any overblown, overproduced spectacle has in years.
In the end, it all comes back to what is shocking, and black leather and eyeliner just isn't shocking anymore. It doesn't unnerve. However, children of the corn singing you a few tunes definitely does. We might be crazy - after all, we keep pegging Taylor Swift as a new goth sensation - but for us, the best new spooky bands we've discovered in the last five years have all had a distinctive country flavor to their sound. We see a few more every year, and O'Death is just one of the bands that we feel will eventually place the subgenre on the same-size pedestal that other iconic goth sounds inhabit.
Rocks Off sat down with guitarist/vocalist Greg Jamie via email to talk to him before they hit town. Check out Page 2 for the interview.