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Dark Wave

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Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

Dark Wave is to Synth-Pop what Goth Rock is to Punk Rock; This is Your Premise on Goth. Basically, Dark Wave is Goth's brooding angst, but on synthesizers rather than guitars.

Dark Wave is related to, but is not a subgenre of Industrial. Whilst both genres are electronic and target the Goth market, Dark Wave is generally softer. Naturally there is some overlap; some Dark Wave artists will often put an EBM or Futurepop style song on their album to broaden its dance floor appeal. Industrial artists can also be heavily inspired by Dark Wave; creating some utterly harrowing works of pure Angst / Wangst in the process. More folk-influenced acts typically overlap with neofolk, while mixing the genre with classical typically results in neoclassical; depending on the type of folk used, neofolk and neoclassical very well may overlap.

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Generally, however, it is fair to characterize Dark Wave as Gothic New Wave Music or Synth-Pop. Synthesizers will be the predominant instrument, although guitars can be used in moderation.


Examples of Dark Wave acts include:

Tropes Common In Dark Wave:

  • Darker and Edgier: Than Alternative Dance or Synth-Pop, which it is often closely related to.
  • Dream Pop: A lot of overlap between the two genres. The so-called "Ethereal Wave" subgenre (Lycia, Love Spirals Downwards, Love Is Colder Than Death, etc.) can pretty much be called "Gothic Dream Pop," in fact.
  • Echoing Acoustics: Much like in Goth Rock and Dream Pop, this is quite common. Especially when the band in question is Dream Pop-influenced.
  • Genre Mashup: A lot of this happens, since the genre has a varied set of influences and a somewhat vague definition (for example, non-electronic artists such as Rasputina and Voltaire are sometimes even classed as Darkwave due to their lyrical themes and promotional aesthetics!).
  • Goth: Along with Goth Rock and Industrial, this is the main thing they listen to.
  • Goth Rock: A genre it was influenced by and sometimes overlaps with. The genre as a whole can basically be described as Goth Rock plus Synth-Pop.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to a lot of Industrial, Dark Wave can seem friendly and accessible- it's not nearly as noisy or aggressive.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: From about a 4 to a 9. Rarely reaches 10 or 11, though.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Varies a fair amount, but pretty much never goes above a low 6. Since some of it is entirely electronic, it can't all even be placed on the scale.
  • Silly Love Songs: Straight love songs are more common in this genre than in Goth Rock or Industrial, oddly enough. Still nowhere near ubiquitous, though.
  • Synth-Pop: There are a lot of Dark Wave artists that count as both, mixing the atmospherics of dark wave with the catchy song structures of synth pop. A good way to think of this genre is as the gothed up version of synth pop, in fact.

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