Thursday, February 26, 2009

We got BOTH kinds of Music..Goth AND Industrial

We got BOTH kinds of music...Country AND Western... so the old joke goes. Although they're not that far apart, Country music evolved out of Appalachian folk, or hillbilly music and Western music evolved out of cowboy songs and Western Swing. Add to the mixed genre Bluegrass and Gospel and you get pretty much most of the elements of Country/Western

If there ever was a genre of music that is the polar opposite of Country/Western it would have to be Goth/Industrial. Like C&W, Goth/Industrial is a mixed genre that evolved over time adding elements of other compatible musical forms. Like C&W, G&I is somewhat removed now from what it was back 25 or so years ago. In fact, 30 years ago neither the Goth nor Industrial music genres technically even existed, although there were groups and artists that preceded both and paved the way for them.

In order to understand the evolution, there needs to be definition of what makes 'Goth' goth and 'Industrial' industrial. Goth music is dark in tone, has elements of horror, morbidity or moroseness and is often melodramatic. Industrial music evolved out of the avant-garde musique concrete but stylistically couples jarring sounds to cadent rhythms. Or at least that's the basic elements of the genres. Owing to its somber nature, Goth music is good for moping. Owing to its rhythmic impetus, Industrial music is good for dancing. There were crossovers however, even before the genres came into their own way back in the 1980's.

Likely the first 'Goth' bands before there was even such a genre were Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. Both were rather dark, tackled maudlin themes (nightmares, suicide, murder, witchcraft, demonism, the occult, insanity, etc.) and were vilified by televangelists. Both owe their concept to horror movies. Alice Cooper was 'glam-goth' where Black Sabbath was more your dressed in black leather sort of goth. And then there was KISS, which was just rock n' roll with a 'makeup goth' veneer. These certainly weren't the only dark bands in the pre-Goth period, but most of the others never achieved any critical or commercial success, so you probably aren't aware of their existence.

In the early 70's, I was in a band called Leviathan (no relation to any known band by that name) that described itself as a Gothic Rock Orchestra. Our original music was a dark form of progressive rock, not dissimilar to the more tenebrous aspects of bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. Some of what we did would be considered 'Goth' by today's standards. Then there was Otto Von Ruggins. He was the first REAL Goth I ever met. In fact, the first time I ever saw him, he was wearing a velvet frock coat. (Now THAT'S a Goth!) Von Ruggins became part of the mid-70's New York 'No-Wave' scene which was the short-lived genre that was partially responsible for spawning Industrial music. Although artists like Lydia Lunch, James Chance and The Contortions, Theoretical Girls, Swans, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and others you may have peripherally heard of are credited with defining the No Wave genre, Von Ruggins and his band
music. and Kongress were the closest thing to Goth-Industrial there was at the time. Kongress often used the trappings of the occult in their shows and to advertise them. They also had (for a period of time) 'mad magician' Geoff (Jeff) Crozier as their lead singer. Their music was a combination of avant-garde industrial rock and minimal synth with gothic theatrics. Very cutting-edge stuff for the time, but of course, you never heard of 'em. Another 2 man minimal-synth group called Suicide (Alan Vega & Martin Rev) was another No-Wave band that had a very Industrial music sound.

The bands most often credited with the spawning of Goth-rock out of the post-punk music scene are Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy and Southern Death Cult. Like any music subculture, the scene has to start someplace, and for Goth it was The Batcave in London, though local (Elder) Goths elsewhere would probably argue that it was THEIR club that really started Goth music. Like any good music genre with a full head of steam, the fashion that defined it changed from the ripped jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets of punkdom to an all-black clothing concept that grew more fetishistic as the genre progressed. Some fashion statements like piercings, tattoos and bizarrely coloured hair

Funny that the founders of Goth now cringe at the label. There were plenty of bands to follow that were more than willing to revel in their gothiness. The Mission (U.K.), Alien Sex Fiend, Sex Gang Children, Christian Death, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Fields of the Nephilim, Inkubus Sukkubus, Kommunity FK, Skeletal Family, Xmal Deutschland and a slew of others jumped on the Goth-rock bandwagon. And of course, these band begot other Goth bands in the 1990's which we'll get to in a bit.

But what of Industrial? The acknowledged founders of Industrial music came from the Industrial Records label (mid-late 70's) founded by Throbbing Gristle. Early composer/performer Monte Cazazza is credited with coining the Industrial music genre name, but like OVR and Kongress, his contributions to the genre are largely forgotten and his defining early recordings nearly impossible to come by. Other early Industrial music artists included Test Dept., Boyd Rice (NON), Clock DVA, SPK, Whitehouse, Einstürzende Neubauten, Esplendor Geométrico, Severed Heads, and Laibach. The music was often defined by noise, harsh dissonant tones, mechanical beats, repetitive tape loops or sound samples and shouted, distorted vocals. It was meant to be a reaction to the de-humanizing of society, which in its most artistic, non-commercial form at least made a statement. Themes were often fatalistic, fascistic and transgressive - painting scenarios of doom and a dystopian society, alienation, the tyranny of technology and shock tactics. While Goth music embraced Stoker's Dracula
remain to this day. vampire, Industrial music embraced Shelley's Frankenstein monster. Just like a Universal horror movie (not to mention The Munsters), it was only natural that the two would eventually come together.

Some bands that weren't really considered Gothic at the onset of the genre but were later embraced by Goths included the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, This Mortal Coil (all from the 4A.D. label at the time), Depeche Mode, And Also The Trees, The Cranes, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Gary Numan, The Cramps, Swans (including Jarboe & Gira side-projects), and undoubtedly many others that I've left out. The broader 'Alternative' umbrella included bands that were in the 'Shoegazer', 'Neoclassical', 'Indie', 'Synthpop', 'Death Rock', 'Psychobilly', 'Post Punk' and other sub-genres.

The change in Industrial music came about with the birth of
EBM (Electronic Body Music), a term first coined by German minimal synth band Kraftwerk. A solid 4/4 drum machine beat, and a synthesizer-driven sound made EBM ideally suitable for the dance floor. A few early EBM bands were Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Klinik, X Marks the Pedwalk, Die Form, Die Krupps, and Leæther Strip. Industrial music was becoming more accessible by virtue of its dancability, and the common ground it would share with Gothic music was to be found in the 'Goth clubs'. The Batcave spawned many Goth-Industrial clubs (or at least, Goth-Industrial nights at larger venues where there wasn't enough of a scene to support it all the time) throughout the world. DJs played not only what the scenesters wanted to hear, but also what would get them up on the floor to DANCE. This is where Goth & Industrial became intertwined as a hybrid genre, much like Country/Western. And as they did, fashion became more extreme (leather, latex, PVC, Victorian dress, platform boots, corsets, fishnetstriped stockings, duster coats, bondage pants, hair extensions, etc.) and creative. Record labels like Cleopatra, Projekt, Zoth-Ommog, 21st Circuitry and Metropolis were quick to sign on an ever-growing and evolving stable of Goth-Industrial bands. New sub-genres such as Electro-Industrial with bands including Frontline Assembly, Das Ich, Skinny Puppy, Haujobb, Wumpscut and others; Aggrotech bands like Hocico, Funker Vogt, Suicide Commando; guitar-infused Industrial rock like KMFDM, Ministry, Stabbing Westward, 16 Volt, Pigface, Chemlab, Godflesh and others; and the uncategorizable- Coil, Controlled Bleeding, Legendary Pink Dots, Oneiroid Psychosis, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Shinjuku Thief, Sleep Chamber and many more.

So too was Goth music expanding, or at least the sub-genres of music Goths were listening to. Etherial, Neo-Folk, Neoclassical, Medieval, Gothabilly, Electro-Goth, Gothic Metal, Darkwave, Horror-Goth and more. Some of the bands that came about in this next wave of Gothic groups were Astrovamps, Attrition, The Prophetess, Mephisto Walz, Chandeen, Lycia, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, The Marionettes, Love Is Colder Than Death, Ordo Equitum Solis, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, The Shroud, Love Like Blood, Qntal, Current 93, Sol Invictus, The Wake, Sunshine Blind, Faith & the Muse, Death In June, Lacrimosa, My Dying Bride, Nosferatu, Cradle of Filth, London After Midnight, Miranda Sex Garden, Mors Syphilitica, Type O Negative and many more.

The proliferation of so many new bands made sub-genres became nearly impossible to keep track of. As the demand for this type of music increased, many indie record stores specializing in it also sprang up too. So did print publications like Propaganda, Outburn, Carpe Noctem, Industrial Nation, Music From the Empty Quarter, Side-Line and numerous other
and small "indies" dedicated to the Goth-Industrial music genre, fashion and lifestyle. (More recently, Gothic Beauty in the U.S., Meltdown in the U.K. have carried the torch while others have either gone to an online format, or have just gone out of business. I don't know much about the non-English zines. I've seen them but that's about it.)

The Anne Rice Vampire Chronicle novels also contributed to the popularity of the Gothic subculture and her Vampire Lestat Fan Club in New Orleans held annual Halloween parties that attracted Goths from around the globe. There was also a television series in the 1990's called Forever Knight about an 800 year old vampire police detective had a large cult following. (One of its notable haunt was a Toronto Goth Club called The Raven, which was actually based on a real Toronto Goth club called Sanctuary Vampire Sex Bar. The Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV show also helped keep interest going. But perhaps one of the most widespread de-facto contributors to the Goth subculture was the fantasy roleplaying game, Vampire: The Masquerade.
With the Goth-Industrial genre expanding at such a rapid pace, it was inevitable that some artists associated with the genre would break out big. Nine Inch Nails was the first.
Evanescence was next. Then there was Marilyn Manson. As far as I'm concerned, none of these three are truly Goth-Industrial acts, but somehow they always end up being lumped into the genre. At least NIN's early stuff was worthy of being associated with Industrial (and still gets a lot of play at the Goth clubs). As for the other two, I guess it's a matter of taste, or the lack of it.

One other act that had crossover popularity with the scene was Enigma. Their use of Gregorian chants and atmospheric world music over a dance beat certainly had Goth club appeal. On a similar track, Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of Frontline Assembly had a side-project called Delirium that incorporated atmospheric elements similar to Enigma. They would eventually eclipse Enigma (artisitcally but not commercially) in their 1994 album, 'Semantic Spaces'. They also had projects under the names of Intermix and
Synaesthesia that explored similar territory. Delirium eventally went on to be wore of a Pop-Worldbeat sort of thing as it shed its Goth-Industrial attributes.

Many other acts that developed during the late 90's and finally came into popularity in the 21st century further blurred the genres and seemed to add new ones as well. With the development and popularity of the Internet as a musical resource, the floodgates were open and host of band and artists came pouring through- Apoptygma Berserk, The Azoic, Battery, Battery Cage, Collide, The Cruxshadows, Stone 588, C-Tec, Claire Voyant,
Cubanate, Crocodile Shop, Covenant, Mindless Faith, Mindless Self Indulgence, Hanzel und Gretyl, VNV Nation, Assemblage 23, In Strict Confidence, Icon of Coil, Velvet Acid Christ, Combichrist, Decoded Feedback, Machine in the Garden, The Last Dance, The Birthday Massacre, The Razor Skyline, Kiss The Blade, Dead Voices On Air, Imperative Reaction, Project Pitchfork, Gridlock, Black Lung, Snog, The Newlydeads, My Chemical Romance, My Ruin, The 69 Eyes, Paralysed Age, Switchblade Symphony, Razed in Black, Hate Dept., Xorcist, Spahn Ranch, Electric Hellfire Club, Download, Killing Miranda, H.I.M., Second Skin, Lights of Euphoria, Mira, L'Ame Imortelle, Beborn Beton, Written In Ashes, Unto Ashes, Rhea's Obsession, The Genitorturers, Women of Sodom and so many many more.

And still, there are projects out there like Anders Manga, James D. Stark, Lamia Cross, Luna in Caelo, Mind Confusion, Ophelia's Garden, Psychophile, Pulcher Femina, Serious Black, Synthetic Dream Foundation, that are either self-produced with no label or on small labels that get little to no promotion in spite of how good they are. Undoubtedly there are many, many others. You may even have your own project in the genre that hasn't gotten its due. (If you do, you might want to contact me.)

The whole point of this post is to say, that over the years, the Goth-Industrial genre at large has grown HUGE. With so many off-shoots and so much variety, and so many artists still active in it it, it is far from dead. Sure, some labels dealing in this type of music have gone out of business. Sure, a lot of bands have broken up and their albums and CDs have gone out of print. That's what a place like Windhamearl's Black Lodge is for- not as some museum of dark faddery, but a place where you can find a lot of the aforementioned artists at a fair and reasonable price. (Hey, nobody's got

Regardless of what your preconceptions may be about the genre, remember this- as weird, macabre and menacing as the music may sound to you, as
deviant, decadent and outlandish some of its devotees dress, you're more likely to find intelligent conversation with those that listen to Goth-Industrial music, and less likely to get your ass kicked at a Goth-Industrial Club than you are at a Country/Western bar. So the next time somebody trots out that old joke, "We got BOTH kinds of music here..." be sure to add quickly "Oh, you mean Goth AND Industrial!"

NOTE: I'm sure there are many worthy bands and artists of note in the genre I've failed to mention here. (Hey, this ain't Wikipedia.) I didn't even touch on Dark Ambient music, but that deserves a post of it's own at some future date. Stay tuned...


  1. Swoon. You had me at the Cramps (A date with Elvis- Best Jerry Lee parody EVAH!), and Throbbing Gristle videos at Record Gallery. And didn't we all want Robert Smith's angst and kohl eyeliner? Now if my kid will give me back my Morissey cd's....
    I made the mistake of letting my kid read you blog. I apologize for the gothy teen fanboy ahead of time....

  2. The powerful and enigmatic Johnny Indovina fronted the critically acclaimed band of the late 80's and 90's, Human Drama. The band made its mark on the Los Angeles music scene, then the national scene...a mark that has barely faded despite the decades that have passed.  In 2006, Indovina debuted his new group, Sound of the Blue Heart, with the album titled ...Beauty?  On July 14 the second release from Sound of the Blue Heart will be released.  It is titled Wind of Change and 2 singles are currently available on iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. It features some of Indovina's best work to date.