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Essential Goth/post punk/alternative bands
Hello weirdos! A lot of folks seem to be a little lost when first setting foot into the goth subculture and don’t know where to go for band recommendations. Here’s a list of important, influential bands that contributed to the goth subculture - along with several favs - I put together with Dean (angry punk pictured above).
In order to avoid classification issues, they’re categorized by sound rather than specific genre. Keep in mind that this list is personal, and most importantly, ever growing! If you would like to add a band, submit your recommendations to the list here. I would love to have your contributions. So, here we go:
Sounds dead or undead:
Bauhaus (1978-2008) “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a national anthem. Lead singer Peter Murphy has really pointy cheek bones.
Peter Murphy (1983-present) his solo work, not as angular as his facial features.
Love and Rockets (1985-present) Peter Murphy got stuck hanging upside down on stage and the Bauhaus members formed a band without him.
Joy Division (1976-1980) Ian Curtis was an energetic dancer, to say the least. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Transmission” are famous songs.
The Sisters of Mercy (1980-present) Andrew Eldritch is not goth, he swears.
The Cure (1976-present) lead singer Robert Smith is a giant cat with red lipstick. He cries on stage and his tears cure cancer.
Cocteau Twins (1979-1997)
Sex Gang Children (1991-present)
Wire (1976-1980) seriously underrated. Would recommend the album “Pink Flag”.
Lydia Lunch amazing female singer. Try the album “13.13”.
Clan of Xymox (1983-present) are you kidding no one’s voice is this deep.
The Chameleons (1981-2003) has the ability to sound woeful yet jolly.
The Mission (1986-present) “Into the Blue” is a good start.
Depeche Mode (1980-present) dark and gloomy synths. Known for “Personal Jesus”, “Enjoy the Silence”, “Never let Me Down Again” and a billion others.
Fields of the Nephilim (1984-present) vocalist Carl McCoy is a desert cowboy.
The March Violets (1981-present) listen to “The Botanic Verses”.
The Bolshoi (1983-1988) start with the album “Friends”.
The Danse Society (1980-present) try the album “Heaven is Waiting”.
The Southern Death Cult (1981-1983) has a song called “Fatman”. Ian Astbury teamed up with Billy Duffy from Theatre of Hate to create Death Cult which later became The Cult, another band worth checking out.
Play Dead (1981-1985) doesn’t like being called goth. Musicians that don’t like being labeled? Unheard of.
Corpus Delicti (1993-1998) name means “body of crime”. Just saying.
Nosferatu (1988-present) actual vampires making music.
Big Electric Cat
Mephisto Walz (1985-present)
The Wake pretty sure Eldritch’s cousin is in the video “Christine”.
Echo & the Bunnymen (1978-present) known for “The Killing Moon” which you might remember from the movie Donnie Darko.
The Jesus & Mary Chain (1983-present) known for “Just Like Honey”.
Children on Stun (1991-present) would recommend the song “Whiskey a Go-Go”, you’ll be…*lowers sun glasses* stunned.
Dead Can Dance (1981-present)
And Also the Trees (1979-present) the dictionary definition of “dark and brooding”.
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (1981-present)
Magazine (1977-2011) listen to the album “Real Life”.
Concrete Blonde (1986-present)
Gene Loves Jezebel (1980-present)
Tones on Tail (1982-1984) Daniel Ash’s (Bauhaus) illegitimate child side project.
Curve (1990-2005) Toni Haliday’s seductive alto voice against a backdrop of layered guitars and drum loops; fans of Curve generally regard Garbage as having stole their shtick and made it pop-friendly.
Bella Morte (1996-present)
Leæther Strip (1988-present) with forays into industrial/ebm; Highly Recommend “Serenade For The Dead” and “Self-Inflicted”.
Love Like Blood (1989-2011) the Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative’s German child.
The Merry Thoughts (1983-1998) another German band that sounds like the Sisters of Mercy.
A Pale Horse Named Death (2011-present) another Type O Negative offshoot, this band has the original drummer on vocals and their drummer on drums. Very dark and devoid of Type O’s black humor, but still a great listen.
The Cruxshadows (1992-present) an alternative musical start for many. The important thing: spiky hair.
Deathrockers and undead punks:
Christian Death (1979-present) founded by Rozz Williams, but faced several line up issues (a second Christian Death featured Valor Kand rather than Rozz Williams). Known for “Romeo’s Distress”. Start with “Only Theatre of Pain” then “Catastrophe Ballet”.
Specimen (1980-present) features the cofounder of the Batcave. Best known for “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Johnny Slut being awesome.
Cinema Strange (1994-present) listen to the album of the same name. Known for their acts on stage.
The Deadfly Ensemble similar in feel to Cinema Strange with the same “story telling” aspect.
Voodoo Church (1982-present)
Misfits (1977-present) 1950s horror told by crazy guys with guitars and muscles. Personal favorite album: “Static Age”. Singer Glenn Danzig went on to create Danzig. Also make your day better by listening to the “Monster Mash” cover.
The Cramps (1976-2009) originators of “psychobilly”. Highly original and sleazy with class.
Alien Sex Fiend (1982-present) husband and wife that sound like legit extra-terrestrials. Proof that there is no such thing as taking yourself seriously.
The Damned (1976-present) lead singer, Dave Vanian, is a vampire.
Blood and Roses underrated. Listen to “Your Sin is Your Salvation”.
The Birthday Party (1977-1983) pretty jazzy. Nick Cave, vocalist, likes to wear suits and release bats from caves.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (1984-present) this guys is so interesting he is set apart from the Bad Seeds and he has a movie.
Virgin Prunes (1977-1986) known for “Baby Turns Blue”.
The Psychedelic Furs (1977-present) remember the movie “Pretty in Pink”? Well there. Try the album “Psychedelic Furs”!
Anorexic Dread (1983-1985) short lived but worth knowing.
Flesh for Lulu (1982-present)
UK Decay (1978-present)
Lene Lovich “I Think We’re Alone Now”
Skeletal Family (1982-present)
Klaus Nomi (1977-1983) the late artist sounded like he looked: surprised and hauntingly original.
The Morgans (mid 1990s-1996) try “Half Girl Half Jesus”.
Xmal Deutschland (1980-1990)
Angry about something:
Siouxsie and the Banshees (1976-2002) pronounced “Suzy”. I know you know, but I didn’t at first. “Spellbound, “Happy House”, “Cities in Dust”, plenty to listen to. And, Siouxsie Sioux rocks.
Killing Joke (1978-present) where do I begin? Do I begin at all? You know what, it doesn’t matter if you skip this entire list and just listen to this one band. I’ll spare you the essay and recommend the album of the same name, “Laugh? I nearly bought one!”, “Democracy”, “Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions” and “Pandemonium”. More than the sound are the lyrics, the members and the message.
1919 (1980-present) underrated to the extreme. Similar to Killing Joke in sound and vibe.
Nina Hagen (1971-present) she’s wicked cool, in sound and style. And also she’s German.
Type O Negative (1990-2010) American metal band with widely respected singer/bassist, the late Peter Steele.
45 Grave (1979-present)
The Stranglers (1974-present)
New Model Army (1980-present)
Public Image Limited aka PIL (1978-present) John Lydon’s [aka Jonny Rotten of Sex Pistols] post-punk band that created gems like “The Order of Death” and “Rise”.
Life of Agony (1989-present) Alternative metal band from Brooklyn. Had Type O Negative’s original drummer after he left. Slightly thrashy, but sludgy and dark as well.
Witchy, “psycho-delic” or heavily historical:
Switchblade Symphony (1989-1999) would recommend the album “Serpentine Gallery”.
Strawberry Switchblade (1981-1985) listen to earlier works.
Faith and the Muse (1993-present)
Soap & Skin (2008-present)
The Velvet Underground & Nico the album is known for the songs “Venus in Furs” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties”. Check out Nico, another wicked German artist.
Chelsea Wolf (2009-present)
Stevie Nicks (1981-present)
The Legendary Pink Dots (1980-present)
Black Tape for a Blue Girl (1986-present)
Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows (1989-present) taken straight from the Grim Reaper’s playlist.
Inkubus Sukkubus (1989-present) check out “Call Out My Name,” “Vampyra,” and “Belladonna And Aconite.”
Rasputina (1992-present) historical influences with a storytelling twist.
Emilie Autumn somewhat controversial with fans, but excellent violinist.
Discombobulated former construction workers:
Skinny Puppy (1982-present) très important industrial band.
OhGr by Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy. ReCcoMeNd tHe AlbUm “wELt”?
Einsturzende Neubauten (1980-present) post Throbbing Gristle -PS try them out as well- industrial.
Ministry (1981-present) famous for “Every Day is Halloween”. Recommend earlier work and the album “Twitch”. Their newer albums are more metal oriented.
KMFDM (1984-present) perverse, angry and awesome.
Front Line Assembly (1986-present)
Thrill Kill Kult (1987-present)
Nitzer Ebb (1982-present) English guy shouts over drum machines.
Front 242 (1981-present) Belgian guy kinda sings over drum machines.
Nine Inch Nails (1988-present) American guy screams over drum machines [early NIN], sings over distorted synths and guitars [later NIN].
Everything off of the Wax Trax! label circa 1990
Presumably angry punks:
Dead Kennedys (1978-1986) featured living people and some unforgettable tunes, notably from the album “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”.
Sex Pistols (1975-2008) So punk, much anarchy.
Bad Brains (1977-present) a mix of punk and reggae, a genre within itself that redefined the scene.
Black Flag (1976-present)
Minor Threat (1980-1983) accidentally slipped and gave birth to straight edgers.
Fugazi (1987-2002) with vocalist Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat.
Adolescents (1980-present) pfff, these guys are totally adults.
The Clash (1976-1985) “London Calling” is trying to reach you.
Joan Jett a fine lady that doesn’t give an inkling of care about her unfavorable reputation.
X-Ray Spex (1976-present) featuring the ever so awesome and PVC’s opposite, Poly Styrene.
Bad Religion (1979-present) - note: skip “Into The Unknown”, everything else is golden
Halloween Town escapees:
Voltaire evil top hat wearer that was featured in an episode of Billy and Mandy’s Grim Adventures.
Creature Feature did you know? Edward Gorey and Danny Elfman had kids.
Nox Arcana creepy soundtrack for your life…or afterlife.
More freaky people:
Tom Waits (1949-present) the essence of a Western.
David Bowie (1964-present) commonly referred to as “God”.
Leonard Cohen (1967-present) he’s Canadian.
John Cale (1965-present)
Culture Club (1982-1986) just, Boy George.
Nico former Velvet Underground member, German ex-model singing songs titled things like “Janitor of Lunacy” off-key.
The Smiths (1982-1987) Morrissey is like the Charlie Brown of British pop music: he’ll never win, and therefore is One Of Us.
POCs in Goth/post punk/alternative bands masterpost
Here’s a list of bands featuring members of color. Most are influential, others new discoveries or future freak gods. Thanks to research and helpful readers, here’s a bit of sick sound suitable for all taste buds:
Goth, dark or industrial:
Creature Feature - Erik X is an evil composer and organ player with a special gift for raising the dead.
Plastique Noir -the Brazilian band that made the song “Empty Streets” that’s just too dark to handle.
O. Children - contrary to popular belief, Tobi O’Kandi is not, in fact, a black reincarnation of Ian Curtis.
Thrill Kill Kult - sick industrial band with several poc members.
Android Lust - Shikhee is Bangladeshi, and she makes some of the best industrial music ever heard.
She Past Away
Malice Mizer and Moi Dix Mois
Corrupted - awesome japanese doom/sludge band that are considered super influential in the scene.
Light Asylum - heavy dark synth primarily. It’s really fun and the front singer HAS A MIGHTY POWER.
Punk, hardcore or post-hardcore:
Bad Brains - why most of the bands on this list even exist.
Death - not to be confused with the metal band of the same way. Not that you could confuse the members in any way.
Rough Francis - founded by the sons of David Hackney of Death.
Pure Hell - afropunk taken literally.
X-Ray Spex - Poly Styrene was the energy and feel of the band. Actually, she was just energy and feel period. Fun fact: she was also bipolar.
Radkey - Rad.
TMGE - Japanese band named “Thee Michelle Gun Elephant” or as they prefer: JAPANESE BAND NAMED “THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT”.
Tamar Kali - powerful musician, especially known for “Boot”.
The Objex - Feloney Melony’s got a wicked hawk and voice.
Stiffed - Santi White now performs solo as Santigold.
Midori - great jazz-punk fusion band.
Le Butcherettes - Mexican garage punk band.
Atari Teenage Riot
Dev Hynes - a British musician who started out in a punk band Test Icicles then went solo as a folk/indie musician as Lightspeed Champion and now is doing an electronic/R&B thing as Blood Orange.
L’Arc-en-Ciel - Okay, so these guys are Japan’s other most famous export. These guys got known outside of japan for doing some major anime theme songs (Fullmetal Alchemist, Gundam 00, NANA live action movie, etc) and were the first Japanese act to headline Madison Square Garden (Japanese rock bands really like New York for some reason). Their bassist tetsuya (formally known as tetsu) gets bonus points for being one of Japan’s only out LGBT celebrities (he’s Bi).
Gogol Bordello - self described as “gypsy punk”. Singer Eugene Hütz is Russian-Ukranian with Romani heritage and born with a ‘stache. Nearly crazier than Little Big and Korpiklaani combined.
The Bots - punk duo made of two brothers.
Bow Wow Wow - IIIIIII Waaaant Caaandy!!!
Love Equals Death
Ritualization - blackened death metal from Orléans, France
Martin Sorrondeguy - spoke out about US based Latino issues in many of his lyrics and was involved in bands Los Crudos, Limp Wrist and Needles.
Metal, funk/rap/reggae metal fusion or core:
Blasphemy - Black metal, the biggest irony on earth as Caller of the Storms remains one of the rare black musicians within the genre.
Babymetal - this Japanese trio is more metal than a viking woman on her period in the middle of a battlefield drinking the blood of her enemies to the sound of Immortal…for some at least.
Wicked Wisdom - Will Smith’s wife get a band?? Yes she Will.
Unlocking the Truth - these 13 year olds played in the streets of NYC before they opened for Living Colour.
Absolace - amazing metal from Dubai.
Living Colour - better than Dead Monochrome.
King’s X - more hard rock, but hey.
Bionic Jive - one of the better hip-hop/metal fusions.
Skindred - check out the album “Roots Rock Riot”.
Ego Fall - a Chinese folk metal band and also Corbac’s fave. Mixing tradition with heavier sounds.
Static X - Japanese guitarist Koichi Fukuda & Mexican-American bassist Tony Campos.
Sepultura - the founding members are all Brazilian, currently their lead singer (Derrick Green) is black. “Arise” is a massive album of pure metal awesomeness.
Straight Line Stitch
Blood Stain Child
Tenger Cavalry - a folk metal band based out of Bejing who describe their style as “Mongolian folk metal”. Like this and you’d probably enjoy Ego Fall.
Cthonic - Taiwanese metal band who’s lead singer is also the president for the Taiwanese branch of Amnesty International.Most of their music deals with their goal of an independent Taiwan and they’re really REALLY great.
Invasion - a stoner/psych-metal band fronted by a valkyrie space wizard out of London.
Vodun - like invasion, marries punk, psychedelic, and doom metal influenced instrumentals with soul influenced vocals to create a unique and original takes on doom metal.
Animals as Leaders - most suggested band on this list and for good reason.
Veil of Maya
Body Count - Ice T’s metal band rules. It would be a little tastier with ice cubes though.
Hirax - pioneering thrash/speed metal band (with hardcore influences). Katon De Pena is one of the most distinctive vocalists of the then-burgeoning California metal scene. Though they never achieved the success of some of their contemporaries like Metallica or Slayer, they have long been an insiders’ favorite and cited as an influence by bands ranging from Napalm Death to Cannibal Corpse to Darkthrone.
Melechesh - an Assyrian black metal band originating from Jerusalem whose lyrical themes include Mesopotamian mythology and occultism.
Iron Man - American doom metal band with PoC members.
Sex Machineguns - Japanese speed metal band.
Hibria - Brazilian power metal band.
Metallica - their first lead guitarist was Lloyd Grant. Here he is in their first recording.
Gevolt - Yiddish band from Israel.
The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza
X Japan - Probably Japan’s most famous metal export. These guys are the reason Visual Kei (basically Japan’s gothic metal scene) exists. All those flashy JRock bands wouldn’t exist without X Japan. They also recently just played a huge show at Madison Square Garden.
Maximum the Hormone - Also known as “the guys that did that weird opening and ending to death note”, MTH do a fantastic combination of metal, punk, and even pop. The best part about MTH is that their lyrics don’t make sense even when translated so you can just have mindless fun listening to them even if you understand Japanese.
Suffocation - one of the most influential death metal acts of all time. Terrance Hobbs’ incredible mastery of the guitar allowed the band to blend complex technicality into the genre without sacrificing raw brutality.
Versailles Philharmonic Quintet
The Crimson Armada
Heaven in Her Arms
Here comes the Kraken
System of a Down
Fear Nuttin Band
Year of the Dragon - founder was a member of Fishbone.
Dir En Grey
Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in Dilapidation (FID) - Formed in Tokyo. Rad ladies playing some super hard grindcore.
Sarcofago - Brazilian band
Acrassicauda - Iraqi heavy metal. There is a film called “Heavy Metal in Baghdad”, about the band. Another documentary called Global Metal, which is by the same director as Heavy Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, is highly recommended.
Sigh - one of the first japanese black mack metal bands led by a fierce lady.
Sabbat - Japanese black/thrash.
Blood Stain Child - rather epic sounding Japanese metal band with contrasting vocals and instrumentals.
Gallhammer - female Japanese extreme metal band of doom. The wickedest chicks, definitely recommend.
Avulsed - Spanish death metal band.
Necramynth - Korean black metal.
Crossfaith - japanese metalcore.
As they Burn - deathcore band from Paris, France.
Wolves and Jackals - blackened thrash/death metal from Atlanta, GA.
Infernal Revulsion - brutal death metal from Tokyo, Japan
Orange Sky - from Trinidad and Tobago.
Monuments - it’s got saxophone and it’s awesome.
Peelander-Z - watch the videos, you’ll be happy you did.
For Today - if you’re into Christian metal.
Dream Theater - John Myung plays in the influential prog metal band with the aid of his majestic hair.
Alternative or too cool to label:
Bat for Lashes - Natasha Khan’s songs are ethereal.
Skunk Anansie - Skin is a fierce woman with a fierce voice. Also, her eyes will pierce through your soul.
Dub War - often likened to Skindred. Not because the singer has dreads or anything. Or because it’s the same guy.
The Slack Republic - fairly new (2005), looking forward to more.
Pierce the Veil - they’re really more “Punk Pop” than anything else. All members are Mexican.
Coheed and Cambria
Alice in Chains
Boris - japanese experimental metal band highly influential in the doom, stoner, noise rock scene.
Bleed the Pigs - great band with a singer who has an awesome colorful fro.
Jimi Hendrix - duh.
Asian Dub Foundation
BIS (Brand-New Idol Society) - considered “alternative Japanese idols”, and have done some amazing things including recruiting a new member who was rumored to be a high school girl and turned out to be Junko Koshino, a famous fashion designer who is 74 yrs old. Their song + video for MURA-MURA is excellent.
Go Betty Go - chicano rock, “pop punk”. Several of their songs are in Spanish.
Melt-Banana - Japanese noise rock band.
Rage Against the Machine
TV on the Radio
Bloc Party - singer is gay and black.
The Go! Team
The English Beat
One Ok Rock
ELLEGARDEN - JAPAN’S BEST 90s/EARLY 2000s POP PUNK ROCK EXPORT I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING. Part of what contributes to this is Takeshi Hosomi (singer/rhythm guitarist) writing ¾ of the band’s discography in perfect english. Unfortunately they went on hiatus in 2006, but that spawned two more fantastic bands: Takeshi does experimental progressive indie in the HIATUS (its the same guy I swear), and guitarist Shinichi Ubukata formedNothing’s Carved In Stone which is basically a Japanese alt. rock supergroup.
Nothing’s Carved in Stone
Shonen Knife - you can’t talk about japanese girl rock without the literal originators of the movement/popularity. Because Kurt Cobain said he listened them, a HUGE surge of all girl bands started popping up over Japan.
The Pillows - alt rock band from Hokkaido.
Set it Off
Shiva En Exil
Guns N’ Roses - Slash.
(Hed) PE - (or Planet Earth) original sound described as “G-Punk”, a fusion of punk rock and gangsta rap.
She Wants Revenge
Skip the Use - with influence from various genres and a black lead.
Elsiane - Formed in Montreal. Fronted by Elsieanne Caplette. Trip-hop/downtempo.
Fall Out Boy’s bassist Pete Wentz English/German and Afro-Jamaican.
Sonic Boom Six
Cibo Matto - real cool duo.
Wormrot - grindcore from Singapour.
Toe - post rock from Japan.
Guitar Wolf - “Jet Rock n’ roll”.
The Coup - Yesssss.
Street Sweeper Social Club
Merchant Ships - post hardcore.
The Skints - reggae/dub/punk fusion.
White Town - bzangy deserves WAY more recognition! You’ve probably already heard “I Could Never be Your Woman.”
The Mars Volta
Drill Queen - Born Depressed is just the greatest song.
Death Grips - experimental rap.
Remember that submissions are closed but you can still submit to Song a Day here (on diningwithdana.net/submit) to have your favorite sounds featured on the blog!