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"My sister and my mother, my father, my son / Do everything I want them to with persuasion"note 

Primary Stylistic Influences (Old-School Industrial):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (Old-School Industrial):

Primary Stylistic Influences (EBM and Futurepop):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (EBM and Futurepop):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Electro-Industrial):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (Electro-Industrial):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Industrial Hip-Hop):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (Industrial Hip-Hop):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Ambient-Industrial, Post-Industrial and Martial):
  • Old-School Industrial, Ambient, Drone Music, Harsh Noise, Neoclassical Dark Wave, Neofolk, Marches
Secondary Stylistic Influences (Ambient-Industrial, Post-Industrial and Martial):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Power Noise):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (Power Noise):

Primary Stylistic Influences (Power Electronics and Death Industrial):
Secondary Stylistic Influences (Power Electronics and Death Industrial):

In the late seventies, when Punk Rock was the dominant form of rebellious music, several artists who were more underground felt that punk was not as effective a means of expressing true rebellion as many had claimed. These musicians decided to move towards the more weird sounds of Electronic Music instead. Rather than embracing the mainstream electronica of their time, however, they drew inspiration from bands like Suicide and strove to combine Electronic Music with various experimental styles such as Avant-Garde Music, Musique Concrete, and Free Improvisation, with a punk mentality.

The new genre grew to be referred to as "Industrial" partly (and primarily) because the majority of its artists were signed to Industrial Records (which was itself founded by members of the pioneering Industrial group Throbbing Gristle), and partly because of the tendency of artists within the genre to involve unconventional, metallic sounding instruments/sounds in the composition of their work (sounding like a Nightmarish Factory).

The first widely recognized Industrial group was the aforementioned Throbbing Gristle, a highly experimental outfit that incorporated electronic music with elements of avant-garde, Dada, and performance art. Their lyrical themes focused mainly on violence, rebellion, sexuality, and neo-pagan philosophy. Band membership consisted of several English performance/visual artists, musicians, and writers already well-known within Britain's underground art scene. Their material was not strictly composed of recognizable electronic instruments; they would use any sound they deemed necessary.

Arguably, German group Einstürzende Neubauten also fit alongside Throbbing Gristle in terms of being one of Industrial's experimental forebears. Lesser known but equally innovative acts like experimental trio Cabaret Voltaire of Sheffield, Chrome of San Francisco, and extreme performance artists SPK of Australia and NON of California also contributed significantly to the fledgling genre.

As electronic music became more popular during The '80s, the earlier kinds of experimental Industrial music underwent refinement and became increasingly synthesizer based. The genre grew in two major directions, the first approaching almost entirely electronic music in the bizarre and experimental spirit of Throbbing Gristle (this direction being exemplified by Canadian group Skinny Puppy), while the second focused more on producing danceable electronic music that retained the cold and aggressive Darker and Edgier qualities and attitude of the early experimental Industrial artists (this direction, often called Electronic Body Music (or EBM) or Industrial Dance, was exemplified by groups such as Nitzer Ebb and Front 242).

Two other, frequently-intersecting "purist" directions in Industrial music also emerged at the turn of the decade: Power Electronics and Post-Industrial. The former was first pioneered by a group called Whitehouse in the late seventies with the express purpose of fusing deliberately offensive lyrics and Sensory Abuse into one teeming mass of Nightmare Fuel. The latter is a much more nebulous term, applying mostly to the many esoterically-inclined groups formed by members, ex-members and colleagues of Psychic TV and Coil (groups that formed from the ashes of Throbbing Gristle following the band's 1981 breakup) alongside those of Nurse With Wound and Current 93. Coil would evolve into Harsh Noise, then Dark Ambient. Nurse with Wound debuted two years after Throbbing Gristle, incorporating Musique Concrète with numerous surrealist influences over time. Current 93 eventually transitioned from nightmare-inducing drones and chants into a form of lilting acoustic music which would become known as "Apocalyptic Folk". These bands made little direct impact on the future Industrial genre (Coil's early albums being an exception), although there is a certain degree of fan overlap.

As the genre kept evolving, it began adding elements from other genres and/or recombining with various forms of itself. Bill Leeb, an early member of Skinny Puppy, tamed his former group's bizarre experimentalism by building his songs around an EBM backbone and going all-out Cyberpunk in attitude. Albums from his project Front Line Assembly, particularly Tactical Neural Implant, have often been considered landmarks in the genre.

The EBM faction of the genre kept making itself progressively Darker and Edgier, sometimes increasing the tempo and toughening up the drums whenever possible. The project Leaether Strip (misspelling deliberate) embodies this trend pretty well.

Naturally, the dark, chaotic lyrics and sound of Industrial music caused it to acquire a fanbase within the goth community and it didn't take too long for stylistic blending to occur. Industrial was already pretty Dark and Edgy, but when some very depressed Germans decided to goth it up (influenced by a gothic-inspired form of Synth-Pop known as Dark Wave), it became Nightmare Fuel. The project :wumpscut: took this to potentially Wangsty extremes: their album Embryodead is a Concept Album which argues that it is better to die in the womb than to be born in this cruel and miserable world full of hate and beyond reason. Needless to say, it isn't the most pleasant listen for most audiences.

Of course, this new audience opened up a new marketing opportunity for many Industrial bands, leading to an increasing focus on making successful dance-floor hits for goths. The more mainstream Industrial groups (for a given value of mainstream) progressively incorporated influences from pop-based dance genres. Trance became a significant influence (though admittedly, Electronic Body Music can at times sound like Darker and Edgier Trance, so it wasn't a particularly huge deviation from established norms), something which resulted in the rise of a Sub-Genre called "Futurepop". Bands that pioneered this style include VNV Nation (whose album Empires is the Trope Codifier for Futurepop), Icon of Coil and Apoptygma Berzerk.

A less dance-friendly fringe style known as Noise later appeared as a reaction against Futurepop and an attempt to remove any and all mainstream elements form industrial and focus solely on the abrasiveness. Noise mostly consists of loud electronic samples brickwalled and distorted in order to inflict pain upon the audience. If there are any lyrics then they're usually angry, offensive and violent. Merzbow is the most recognizable name among fans of Noise music.

Members of the subculture that arose from the Industrial scene became known as "rivet-heads", and adopted a militaristic dress code. Unsurprisingly, rivet-heads got on supremely well with goths, due in no small part to their shared love of Industrial and Industrial-related styles. Fans who fall somewhere between rivet-head and goth are often referred to as "cybergoths".

As of the writing of this page, Industrial music has entered a period of stagnation, with two main sub-genres/derivative genres retaining some level of popularity - the remnants of the Futurepop acts that are sliding into synthpop and/or more retro forms of electronic music, and the Darker and Edgier "Hellektro" or “Aggrotech” (essentially really, really hard EBM, sometimes with insanely angry and/or miserable attitudes and sometimes without) acts like Combichrist and Psyclon Nine. This is, of course, a simplification, and many artists can be found that defy this basic characterization, but it certainly applies to the majority of the Industrial that gets played at most goth clubs these days. Several older Industrial Dance songs sometimes get spun in clubs as part of '80s nights, due to their compatibility with the format; it helps that Alternative Dance bands like Depeche Mode incorporated conspicuous industrial elements into their sound as a means of distinguishing themselves from more traditional Synth-Pop (for instance, compare "Shake the Disease" to Ministry's "Every Day is Halloween", or Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine to DM's Music for the Masses; Trent Reznor even cited Depeche Mode's Black Celebration as a major influence on Pretty Hate Machine).

While the Industrial genre itself may be developing a bit of rust on its rivets, modern movements like Dubstep, Harsh Noise, and Glitch owe a debt to the pioneers who discovered the art creating emotionally charged music from controlled chaos and many artists in these genres cite Industrial groups as a major influence.

Not to be confused with Industrial Metal (the genre into which bands like Ministry, Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, and KMFDM fall), which is the result of bands combining elements of industrial music with metal. See that genre's page for more detail.

Industrial acts and creators, categorized by subgenre:

     Traditional or "Old-School" Industrial 
The original form of the genre, originating in the mid-late The '70s and heavily influenced by (and sometimes overlapping with) Post-Punk. Often characterized by harsh or primitive production quality, crude synthesizers and/or drum machines, the use of found sounds (including metallic percussion), incorporation of tape music and musique concrete and often harsh, distorted or electronically processed vocals in combination with traditional rock music instrumentation used in decidedly non-traditional ways. The basis for the later styles, and what the term "Industrial Music" originally referred to.

    Electronic Body Music (EBM) 
A subgenre that first appeared in Europe in the early '80s, characterized by Synth-Pop influenced minimalistic production, a steady, four-on-the-floor beat played by hard-hitting drum machines and/or drum loops (though live drums aren't uncommon), rhythmic synth basslines, extensive use of sampling (televangelists and advertisements were/are popular choices), often minimal synthesized atmospherics and shouted or chanted, "militaristic"-sounding vocals. Most bands use exclusively electronic instrumentation, though some throw in a little bit of guitar. Was fairly popular in clubs back in the 80s, and was the first form of Industrial to gain any kind of commercial success. Spawned the Futurepop subgenre and influenced most later dance-oriented Industrial subgenres.

An offshoot of EBM that appeared in the mid-'90s, Futurepop (also known by a few people as "Bodypop") combines the classic EBM sound with additional doses of Synth-Pop influence, as well as Techno, House Music and Trance elements. The songs typically follow Verse / Chorus structures and the vocals and music are more melodic than other genres of Industrial, making it more accessible to fans of less abrasive Electronic Music genres, and also making it somewhat divisive among a few Rivetheads. However, the genre remains pretty popular both within and outside the Industrial fanbase.

    Electro-Industrial (including Hellektro/Aggrotech and Dark Electro) 
Nowadays, this is the genre people are most likely referring to when they talk about Industrial Music. Invented in the 80s, it combines Old-School Industrial with more danceable forms of Electronic Music, much like EBM, but unlike EBM, it tends to have a somewhat more layered and complex sound, with layered, atmospheric synths, throbbing basslines and more complex drum patterns than those found in EBM. Guitars are used occasionally, but even then, sparingly (and as a textural element, rather than a lead or rhythm instrument), and Harsh Vocals are common (and often pushed back in the mix). Later bands tended to combine this style with the rhythmic drive of EBM (Front Line Assembly pioneered this approach), spawning the faster and more aggressively dance-oriented Hellektro or Aggrotech subgenre (which also had some occasional Trance and Hardcore influences). Another offshoot is Dark Electro, which is slower, darker-sounding and influenced by horror movie soundtracks.

    Industrial Hip-Hop 
As the name implies, this genre consists of artists who combine Hip-Hop with Industrial of any kind (usually EBM or Electro-Industrial). Often has distinct Dub influences as well, most notably the deep bass lines. Many of the artists who play this kind of music fall into the Alternative Rap, Conscious Hip Hop or Trip Hop categories as well, but it is still a distinct genre. In the 2010s, numerous Soundcloud artists began mixing this with elements of trap and horrorcore, along with overt Nu Metal, hardcore, and extreme metal influences to create the "Soundcloud horrorcore" style, which is best exemplified by artists like Ghostemane, Scarlxrd, and Ho99o9.

    Industrial Rock 

    Ambient-Industrial & Post-Industrial 
A pair of related, nebulous categories that first emerged in the 80s, these two categories frequently overlap and are often confused with each other, though they are distinct. Ambient-Industrial first appeared in the early 80s and combined Old-School Industrial with Ambient Music to disquieting effect, hence the more-often used Dark Ambient tag. Hallmarks of the genre are atmospheric synths, creepy loops and samples, very occasional vocals and an emphasis on atmosphere over rhythm or melody (indeed, they may be absent altogether). Post-Industrial, on the other hand, combines Industrial with all sorts of other kinds of music- World Music, Folk / Neo-Folk, Classical Music, Dub, etc. Many acts blur the boundaries of these two categories, hence the single heading.

    Martial Industrial 
A subgenre (first created by Laibach in the '80s) combining the samples and loops, distortion, synths and other elements of Industrial with Classical and Military music, especially marches. Commonly incorporates marching-band percussion and chanted vocals, and sometimes elements of Neo-Folk manage to find their way in as well. Frequently overlaps with Ambient-Industrial and Post-Industrial.

    Harsh Noise 
An offshoot of the genre characterized by being, well, extremely harsh and noisy. Sufficiently different from the rest of the genre to have its own page.

    Power Noise (also known as Rhythmic Noise, Noize and Distorted Beat Music) 
A subgenre that combines the rhythmic and structural elements of EBM and Electro-Industrial with the extreme distortion and abrasiveness of Harsh Noise. Distorted drum machines (especially the kick drum) are common, and rhythms are usually in the four to the floor vein, much like in EBM. The genre can be thought of as a more abrasive and harsh derivative of Electro-Industrial, and took its present form in the mid-90s, though there are earlier antecedents. Not to be confused with Power Electronics, which is something else entirely.

    Power Electronics & Death Industrial 
Perhaps the most abrasive subgenre aside from Harsh Noise, Power Electronics (not to be confused with Power Noise, above) has its origins in the 80s work of Whitehouse. It is characterized by analog synths producing sub-bass pulses and drones and/or distorted, high pitched squeals, waves of feedback, distorted samples, harsh, screamed vocals and lyrics that frequently cover topics like misogyny, sexual deviancy, and serial killers. It usually lacks conventional melody and rhythm. The related Death Industrial genre is somewhat less abrasive and more atmospheric, with greater emphasis on low drones, though it still has the Harsh Vocals. It is usually heavily influenced by Ambient Music.

This genre contains examples of:

  • Alt-itis: Many artists take on different projects to experiment with different styles. Sometimes, these side-projects end up outshining the original while other times, they are quickly forgotten about.
    • Jan Loamfield's most popular project is the power noise project Noisuf-X but his first project, which followed his harsh-EBM project X-Fusion. He has also dabbled in more EDM-like sounds in Stoppenberg.
    • Vasi Vallis is mostly involved in the synthpop/futurepop projects Frozen Plasma and Namnambulu. He is also known for his EBM and industrial dance music project Reaper.
    • Nachmahr's Thomas Rainer was originally better known for his role in the darkwave duo project L'Âme Immortelle.
    • Sebastian Komor has been involved in a variety of projects including Komor Kommando, Icon of Coil, Zombie Girl (Since 2005), Bruderschaft, Monofader.
  • Creator Couple: Present in Chris & Cosey (Chris Carter and Cosey Tutti Fanni) and Coil (Jhonn Balance and Peter Christopherson), among others.
  • Cyberpunk: A frequent mood/aesthetic the genre aims for. Tactical Neural Implant and Hard Wired by Front Line Assembly are classic examples, other examples include Buried Dreams by Clock DVA, Harsh Generation by Grendel and Serenity Is The Devil by Icon Of Coil.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: Frequently used in Cyberpunk media as a soundtrack and Industrial has drawn on the literature and movies significantly.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to New Wave, Industrial is much darker in terms of both lyrical content and sound. The genre itself became darker and edgier over time, with the evolution of subgeneres like Harsh Noise.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Synths, violins, drums, tambourines, bells, guitars, pipes, bones, jackhammers, televisions, and whatever the musicians can play...
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Rhythmic Noise (or Powernoise) movement. Harsh noises set to a beat.
  • Fan Disservice: When an Industrial song features sexual content, expect it to be less Intercourse with You and more violent and disturbing. Throbbing Gristle's "Persuasion", about a reluctant young woman being forced to undress for a rich and powerful pervert, from the pervert's perspective, is a good example.
  • Fanservice: Very frequently plays to the fetishes. Especially in Leaetherstrip's songs like "Strap Me Down".
  • Fetish:
    • Where to begin? Strap Me Down? Catharsis (Heal Me; Control Me)? Andy LaPlegua jumping around in skin tight latex and rubber? The outfits of the Target Audience?
    • On the more extreme end, often bordering on Fan Disservice, Fetish Retardant, or even Nausea Fuel, some of the very earliest Industrial lyrics are only sexual in the most repellent and bizarre ways possible (Cabaret Voltaire's "Bedtime Stories").
    • Thomas Rainer's predilection for women in military uniforms is well known. Artwork for Nachmahr often showcases uniformed women and Mädchen in Uniform is a song basically about why he loves them. Fans usually show up wearing uniforms too.
  • Gorn: Very, very common lyrically. Throbbing Gristle, for instance, gave us such tunes as "Hamburger Lady" (about a woman who has been so horrifically burned that she resembles raw hamburger meat) and "Slug Bait" (which describes a Traumatic C-Section). Many music videos, as well; "Testure" by Skinny Puppy is but one example, with scenes of a man being subjected to bloody laboratory torture, intercut with real footage from a PETA documentary about lab animal abuse.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Most non-solo projects are very... close partnerships.
    • Though averted in the case of Coil, who were actually a couple for a long period of time.
  • I Am the Band: Many solo projects exist in the genre.
  • Improv: A typical compositional technique, especially for the more experimental acts. Live performances of certain Throbbing Gristle songs could go on for much longer than their album length, with one performance of "Discipline" lasting half an hour.
  • Intercourse with You: Many, although much of the subject matter of the lyrics doesn't deal with sex inasmuch fetish.
  • Lighter and Softer: Particularly with the Futurepop subgenre, which is more melodic, follows a more conventional songwriting structure, and is in general more accessible.
  • Loudness War: Intentionally invoked by some artists in the genre's early days, to get a more abrasive, less polished sound. The Hellectro subgenre invokes this too, as one of the ways it set itself apart from EBM.
  • Madness Mantra: Many songs. Nine Inch Nails is particularly fond of this.
  • Mind Rape: What some of the songs in the genre can induce. especially power electronics
  • Misogyny Song: Most of the oeuvre of Power Electronics acts, especially Whitehouse, Sutcliffe Jügend, Snuff, RxAxPxE, and Taint.
  • Music to Invade Poland to: EBM bands especially, but the whole genre has been accused of promoting Nazism at times. Partly because the logo of Industrial Records was the outline of Auschwitz. Subverted in that the logo was an attempt to identify modern life at large with industrialised mass murder.
    • Averted by Die Krupps, who are very vocal in their anti-Nazi views.
    • Played unfortunately straight with Von Thronstahl.
    • Martial Industrial invokes this trope.
    • A favourite Flame Bait around Nachtmahr is whether Thomas Rainer is a Neo-Nazi or not. The perception is not helped by his extremely militaristic stylings, his somewhat tongue-in-cheek Cult of Personality as the "Supreme Commander" and his very clear love for uniforms.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: Bondage imagery often shows up in songs, but is not always meant to be taken literally. Sometimes, bondage is a metaphor (like "Happiness in Slavery" by Nine Inch Nails, which is actually about the music industry); other times, it seems to be the point of a song, but the lyrics are to abstract to tell, like with Cabaret Voltaire's "Whip Blow".
  • Ominous Music Box Tune:
    • Listen to Stillbirth on Embryodead by :wumpscut:. You will never, ever, ever be able to listen to "London Bridge Is Falling Down" ever again.
    • KMFDM tried their hand at this with "The Death and Burial of C.R.". There is also the opening to "Day of Light".
  • Protest Song: A common theme, as the musicians channel their anger into causes important to them. Skinny Puppy, for instance, made animal rights a major theme of their lyrics in the 1980s, with songs like "Testure" decrying Animal Testing (the song samples dialogue from The Plague Dogs, no less).
  • Sampling: Lots and lots of sampling. Best examples include Skinny Puppy's "Worlock", sampling Charles Manson singing The Beatles' "Helter Skelter", C/A/T's "Enhancer" sampling dialogue from Curb Your Enthusiasm about boobs, and Suicide Commando's "Bind, Torture, Kill" sampling news reports on serial killer Dennis Rader.
    • The Ur-Example of the trope's use in the genre is probably the first disc of Cabaret Voltaire's compilation Methodology, whose material stretches back as far as early 1974.
  • Religion Rant Song: Extremely common. Some bands, like Vigilante, make this their entire schtick, and most bands will have at least one. Nine Inch Nails has "Heresy", for example, the chorus of which loudly proclaims that "Your god is dead, and no one cares!" (It doubles as a Protest Song, as Trent Reznor wrote it out of anger at conservative Christians who said AIDS was divine punishment for homosexuality.)
  • Sensory Abuse: Distortion, feedback, backmasking, Scare Chords, samples from horror films-Industrial artists always find a way to freak out their listeners. Common in both the music and fairly often the live shows as well. In particular, Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Skinny Puppy are all well known for this in concert. Unsurprising, considering that many of the early artists in the genre had roots in performance art.
  • Silly Love Songs: Often subverted. This genre's examples of love songs are things like Love Breeds Suicide by Suicide Commando and Strap Me Down by Leaether Strip (it's romantic! really!). However, sometimes this is played straight, for instance the Futurepop song Beloved by VNV Nation, or on Throbbing Gristle's (ambiguously sarcastic/serious) Synth-Pop anthem "United".
  • Tear Jerker: Yes, even industrial can have Tear Jerker moments, such as Throbbing Gristle's suicide themed "Weeping," but a more modern one would be the song "My Crutch" from rhythmic noise band Caustic. Despite the band's motto (and debut album title) being "Booze up and Riot!" My Crutch is a stripped down, guitar and vox song with the singer describing how his alcoholism ruins his life and how he must quit drinking to save his marriage and his life. Also, Laibach did a mashup of the Israeli and Palestinian national anthems on their album Volk, in an attempt to show that the two warring peoples aren't so different after all. Hell, even Power Electronics has this in the form of Con-Dom's How Welcome Is Death To I Who Have Nothing More To Do But Die, which speaks candidly and frankly of the waking nightmare that is neurodegenerative illness, as well as the feelings that go through the heads of patients' loved ones.
    • The very first AIDS benefit was Coil recording "Tainted Love" as a pitched-down dirge- recognizably the same song, but dreary and wretched instead of upbeat. The result is remarkable.
  • This is Your Premise on Drugs: The first album of Skinny Puppy was essentially 80's Synth-Pop on drugs. Quite literally, given Skuppy's compositional techniques.
  • Trash-Can Band: Certain Old-School Industrial bands like Test Dept. and Einstürzende Neubauten are this in part. More recent Industrial groups usually just use samples of such sounds (when they're desired at all, anyways).
  • True Art Is Angsty: Where to begin?!?! From concept albums about babies that die in the womb to concept albums about serial killers to songs about the Columbine massacre to bands whose entire act is about bashing Christianity to songs about animal vivisection, and these are just the examples I can think of off the top of my head.
  • World of Ham: The bands are populated by large hams and weirdos writing anvilicious, insane, shocking, drug-fueled, scary, and wangsty lyrics, giving theatrical and offensive performances while barraging and bukakke-ing the listener with loud and scary noises, infectuous dance rythyms, and the occasional metal guitar. This genre is a great example of how strange music and art can get.

Examples of Industrial songs:

Alternative Title(s): Industrial Rock