I love World Goth Day, and I love Goth music. They blend perfectly together and gleefully allow us to indulge our dark sides. Here are ten classic spooky tunes to celebrate this Halloween season, but feel free to play them all year long.
The following tunes span the ’80s and ’90s, with one from the early ’00s. Of course, this isn’t simply classic Goth rock.The genre spans many different styles and sounds, which is why some artists who are embraced by the scene do not always label themselves as such. Regardless, it’s all great music. I remember when a lot of these tunes and albums were brand new. But they all have a timeless quality that has allowed them to endure.
If you’re interested in what’s been going on lately, check out my recent Goth and Convergence 25 story for Billboard.
Happy World Goth Day to dark hearts everywhere!
THE SISTERS OF MERCY “Marian” (from First and Last and Always) — Perhaps the quintessential Goth group of the Eighties, these iconic Brits know how to bring the spooky and the groove. How about a new album? It’s been 20 years.
FAITH & THE MUSE “The Trauma Coil” (from Elyria) — Over the course of five studio albums, the dynamic duo of Monica Richards and William Faith produced some of the best dark rock ever. They are still my favorite Goth band, and this squealing tribal rock attack is menacing, aggressive and perfect for the season.
ROSETTA STONE “The Witch” (from Adrenaline) — While Rosetta Stone totally copped the Sisters Of Mercy sound down to the vocals, they improved on it with a metallic infusion and stronger songwriting. “The Witch” is quite appropriate for this time of year.
THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE “Happy Birthday” (from Nothing & Nowhere) — A Canadian crossover band that blurs the lines between Goth, industrial, synth pop and metal, The Birthday Massacre continue to evolve and grow in popularity in part because of their genre-blending and moody tracks like this.
NINE INCH NAILS “Dead Souls” (from The Crow soundtrack) — Trent Reznor’s earlier musical musings were filled with rage, neurosis and identity issues, and this Joy Division cover exemplifies that glorious era. It was a great addition to the tragic movie The Crow, which is prime viewing for October.
NATIONAL RAZOR “No Place Ago” (from Shiver) — This vastly underrated band from the ’90s Goth underground released two wonderfully brooding albums in which bass vocals, metallic guitars and ominous synths all ride an industrial throb. Seek them out.
LYCIA “A Brief Glimpse” (from Ionia) — Another Goth favorite of mine is Lycia, whose core member has always been Mike VanPortfleet (although Tara VanFlower joined him for album number four and beyond). This apocalyptic sounding number comes from an album ripe with sonic claustrophobia.
TRANCE TO THE SUN “Fish And Knife” (from Bloom Flowers, Bloom!) — Forever lead by Ashkelon Sain, this ethereal darkwave group has been compared to the Cocteau Twins. (I guess you could say they’re a psychedelic, sinister sounding extension.) This is a quintessentially trippy sounding TTTS track. It doesn’t matter if you can’t make out what Zoe Alexandra Wakefield is singing; the eerie vibe is what really matters.
SWITCHBLADE SYMPHONY “Gutter Glitter” (from Serpentine Gallery) — One of the great Goth hopes of the mid-’90s, this San Francisco duo’s gritty electro-Goth delivered Victorian gloominess imbued with modern edginess. This deliciously eerie tune epitomizes their early sound, which took a less exciting turn into trip-hop by their sophomore album.
BAUHAUS “Silent Hedges” (from Sky’s Gone Out) — I have never been a huge Bauhaus fan, to be honest, even though I see why they have been influential. The obvious choose for this list would be “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” but that’s so overplayed I thought I’d pick something more refreshing from their repertoire.