Goth Rock

Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

Goth Rock is an evolution of Post-Punk.

Unsurprisingly, this is one of the primary genres associated with Goths, along with Industrial, Dark Wave, and Post-Punk.

The basic musical features of the genre are having monotone and gloomy vocals, dark subject matter, melodies carried by the bass guitar, the electric guitar being used often as "just another instrument" rather than the dominant instrument, sparse percussion, and (often) use of synthesizers.

As an evolution of Post-Punk, Goth Rock's essential features were codified by the Post-Punk artists. What differentiates Goth from Post-Punk is a more theatrical style (and arguably more Glam Rock influence) and (most of the time) more elaborate songs with more frequent use of electronics. The theatrical style, with its connotations of artificiality, resulted in a situation where most of the bands closely identified with Goth vehemently denied being Goth bands, notably The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy. Sister genres include Deathrock (which is characterized by a much greater rock influence and a more theatrical presentation that often takes heavy influence from '50s kitsch; there is occasionally some overlap with Psychobilly in later acts) and Gothic Country (which is essentially Alternative Country mixed with Gothic Rock and frequently Gospel and Folk as well; the more experimental acts tend to overlap with Neofolk).

The Trope Namer was the Manager of the band Joy Division, when he described their music as gothic to the music press.

Arguably, the Trope Codifier for the genre is one specific song: "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus. All the primary elements of Goth Rock are there: Sparse drumming, guitars used for texture rather than being the dominant instrument, the bass guitar carrying the melody, dark lyrics, monotone vocals, and lots of reverb on everything.

See also: Dark Wave and Cyber Goth.

Notable Artists:

Pre-Punk Predecessors
  • Marc Bolan: Like Bowie, he was a major vocal, musical, and aesthetic influence.
  • David Bowie - His vocal stylings and darkly theatrical music and aesthetics were a massive influence on virtually all aspects of gothic music and fashion.
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Alice Cooper - Some music journalists have pointed to him as influential on the genre due to his theatrics and dark humor.
  • The Doors - The term "Gothic Rock" was first used to describe their sound. Jim Morrison's vocal style influenced many Gothic Rock singers
  • Nico - The Marble Index proved to be influential due to it's dark sound and Nico's change in her appearance.
  • Van Der Graaf Generator - Known for being Darker and Edgier than other Progressive Rock bands. Peter Hammill's vocal style has been described as a "male Nico".
  • Velvet Underground

Punk Predecessors
  • The Damned - Helped pave the way with a theatrical vampire lead singer and the name of the band itself. Mixed gothic stylings with Hard Rock and then later became a full-on Goth Rock band themselves.
  • The Cramps - Similarly dark and theatrical, but with a distinct '50s kitsch feel.

Post-Punk Predecessors

First Wave Goth Rock
  • Bauhaus (Trope Codifier with "Bela Lugosi's Dead")
  • The Cure - Their first album was something akin to Pop Punk or early New Wave, but the three albums following it grew progressively towards Goth Rock. Seventeen Seconds began the trend as a pure Post-Punk album, Faith followed it with strong Joy Division influences, and the third in the "trilogy" Pornography, was pure Goth Rock. After Pornography, they moved more towards New Wave for many years (and most of the rest of their career), with a few exceptions such as the theatrical second wave goth of Disintegration. They never fully abandoned Goth; each of their post Pornography albums contain a few Goth Rock songs or pop songs with some Goth Rock textures.
  • Depeche Mode - Their first four albums were closer to New Wave (although with a slight Industrial bent). Then Black Celebration and Music for the Masses took them into full on Goth Rock. They are closer to Dark Wave or Alternative Dance in general.
  • Lords of the New Church (had members of The Damned)

Second Wave Goth Rock and Batcave

Third Wave Goth Rock

Contemporary Goth Rock

Deathrock / Horror Punk

Dark Cabaret

Goth Americana / Gothabilly (i.e. Goth Rock mixed with Alternative Country)

Tropes Common in Goth Rock:


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