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Gothic: Hard to define specifically but usually referring to gloom and doom as well as dark mystery and even the grotesque.

If you think of the word 'Gothic' then it may conjure up images of horror but mingled with romance.

That will pertain whether that be Gothic art and architecture or classic novels like Dracula and Frankenstein and the world of Edgar Allan Poe.

Today, Gothic music combines all of these virtues but again it's hard to define since there are many variants from soft-Indie style bands to the aggression of heavy metal.

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The High Priest of Goth Rock, or even Shock Goth Rock if you like, is undoubtedly Marilyn Manson.

The ultimate shock rocker in the long and gory tradition of baby impalers like Alice Cooper but put to greater extremes.

For a true taste of the grotesque his merchandise will certainly raise a few eyebrows on the stiffest of features and is guaranteed to disturb the earnest etiquette of polite company.

But he has produced great music too with 'Beautiful People', 'Dope Show' ' Disposable Teens', 'The Fight Song' and also interesting covers like 'Tainted Love' and the Eurythmics' 'Sweet Dreams'. Unsurprisingly his shows are always entertaining for their colourful theatre and shock-value as well as the music

It's still only Rock n' Roll and it's still rebellious as ever whatever the shade.

But Goth music and culture has spawned many different mutations.

It crosses many genres and generations and Bauhaus have their place high in the pantheon.

They are still popular today as a classic cult band of Goth Rock epitomised by songs like 'Bela Lugosi is Dead', 'She's in Parties' and their hit cover of Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust' in 1982.

One of the most enthralling diversions of modern Goth Rock has been the advent of more female singers. What is especially magical is the contrast between the angelic almost operatic female leads with the crunching metal guitar of the predominantly male musicians.

From the USA came Amy Lee of Evanescence, from Holland Sharon den Adel leading Within Temptation and there is also the Italian beauty Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. All three are major exponents of this romantic form of Goth.

But Finland's Nightwish are arguably its most evocative exponents. This type of classy metal with the feminine touch has made Goth Music more accessible and opened it up to a much wider audience.

Trent Reznor's genius is stamped over his personal project that is Nine Inch Nails who have remained a great attraction for many years. With songs like 'Head Like a Hole', 'Closer' and 'Hurt' the last of which was memorably covered by Johnny Cash.

The simple and symmetrical 'NIN' logo is an understated classic on their clothing souvenirs. Dark lyrics and moody Electro-Rock tunes mark them out from the crowd and their cult status endures.

Perhaps even darker are the English band My Dying Bride who, as the name suggests, are truly a melancholic force but steeped in tragic romance. Their compatriots Paradise Lost have more of an upbeat metal edge but can also offer some doom-laden music through the speakers in a shuttered room. They are a well regarded band for their epic sound and powerful music.

A more melodic and popular act from Finland are HIM previously called His Infernal Majesty with frontman Ville Vallo providing a velvet overlay on vocals.

They consequently attract a large female following.

Europe has been a mainstay for decades in the Goth Rock genre and Switzerland's Celtic Frost have been a tremendous influence on extreme-metal bands since their formation in 1984.

Fans and critics alike may quibble about what Goth music actually is and what it's not. Bands like The Cult and The Cure inhabit this grey area but they nevertheless attract a large Goth following.

The former are justly famous for their 1985 signature tune 'She Sells Sanctuary' as well as 'Lil' Devil', 'Fire Woman' and 'Sweet Soul Sister'.

The latter, on the other hand, are always associated by the easily recognisable figure or even silhouette of leading man Robert Smith. They have produced many marvellous tunes such as 'The Lovecats', 'A Forest', 'Boy's Don't Cry', 'Lovesong' and 'Friday I'm in Love'.

Even Punk and New Wave music are caught up in the ever-expanding net that defines the parameters of Goth music.

Bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and Souxsie and the Banshees straddled the gap between Goth and Punk from the late 1970s onwards.

As did Joy Division who, due to the suicide of singer Ian Curtis in 1980, had a brief but remarkable spell of success. The brooding atmosphere of their music combined with the tragic and short life of Curtis has ensured their classic status ever since.

Their famous song 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' has become one of the most famous anthems in the history of alternative rock music.

The music of New Model Army is endowed with poetic lyrics reflecting political and humanitarian themes. Strictly regarded as a group from the Punk and New Wave collection of English scene of the 1980s they however appeal to a Goth following.

Rob Zombie may not strike many as belonging to the Goth community but again like other artists he has a Goth following.

His unique brand of industrial metal is hypnotic and overpowering. He is still popular with the congregation and the image is enhanced by his directorship of blood and gore Horror movies such as 'House of a Thousand Corpses' and his remake of 'Halloween' in 2007.

The same applies to Slipknot who have consumed the younger generation of hoodies and mosh-pit 'maggots' as singer Corey Taylor fiendishly labels them at their incredible concerts. Their outlandish masks and viseceral lyrics have ranked them along Marilyn Manson for enjoying a mainstream shock value.

Overall whatever the different tastes among fans of the genre or the arguments over the music, the Gothic images and beautiful art prevail.

Fans may contest the legitimate claims of why certain band should be included under the category. Even bands might bridle at being given the distinction of being considered as such.

In general however when you find yourself at a Goth Rock show or even a festival you won't go far wrong wearing the enduring symbols and iconic art associated with the music, the bands and the culture.

It's not a place for denims, party dresses or even bright t-shirts. If it's black you're in and the blacker the better.

Visions of death and romance, life and art are easily interwoven into a dark tapestry. Skulls and exotic tattoos, barbed wire with roses, thorns and drops of blood or a beautiful Gothic mistress shedding a small tear.

Medieval images of forbidding landscapes peopled by Knights, warriors or mythical creatures like dragons and ogres. Ancient castles on black mountains with perhaps dense forests where magical events will occur. But not without a great sense of homour on many occasions too as you will see on many t-shirts.

The notion that Goths are all depressive gloom-and-doom merchants is one of those stereotypical misconceptions that still prevail amongst the unenlightened and the trendy pop brigade. But whatever you choose, you certainly won't be short-changed for variety when you seek out that special Goth t-shirt.

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Comments 3 comments

Shinkicker profile image

Shinkicker 5 years ago from Scotland Author

Yes RedxVelvet but the metal and hard rock bands mentioned are enjoyed by Goth fans. I've personally seen many hundreds of Goths at Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Sisters of Mercy and Nine Inch Nails gigs among others. All the best and thanks for commenting :-)


RedxVelvet profile image

RedxVelvet 5 years ago from California, United States

Bauhaus, The Cult, The Cure, Siouxsie, and Joy division are the only goth bands that I see. The rest are metal and hard rock bands, sorry to say.


Woody Marx profile image

Woody Marx 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

If any one wants a Goth Band t-shirt THIS is the Hub to visit!

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