The second wave (from the end of the eighties to around the mid-nineties) was a time of rebirth for goth. Those that grew up listening to The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission began to form their own bands based around their idols’ sounds. But few actually tried to replicate the former sound, and many helped evolved the genre. Some made it more melodic, others heavier, and others more electronic. Their efforts helped define Goth Rock as a genre. The flagship sound of the “second generation” consists of guitar, bass, drum machine, synthesizer (mainly strings) and a male vocalist.
Whether it was the onset of hair metal or feeling his previous albums were forever tainted by the cheese of the eighties or God knows what, The Sisters actually took a step in a more hard rock direction here. There are some very memorable guitar riffs here, thanks to one-time guitarist for hire Andreas Bruhn. Doktor’s sound is polished and Eldritch’s smooth croon doesn’t falter here once, helping to make this a very uh… smooth album. This album isn’t just about America, it is America. Loud, fast and full of attitude, it feels like a mockery of the extravagant, flashy lifestyle, the presidency and the economy and the brain-dead idols.
The old guard moved away from their post-punk roots, towards a more rock-oriented sound. SoM released a pure rock album in the form of Vision Thing As time passed, they strayed even further from their roots, leaving little similarity between them and early goth contemporaries like Bauhaus, many who of them had broken up (Bauhaus, Danse Society) sub genres had become extinct or were on the verge (Coldwave, taditional post-punk, Ethereal Wave, Avangrade-Punk, Synthpop, New Wave, Glam Goth,). Bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees attempted to adapt by changing their sound to fit better into clubs (Superstision, Rapture) but couldn’t keep up with the rapidly changing landscape. Others, like The Cure and The Church found an audience with alternative crowds. The only thing conecting Goth Rock to bands like Joy Divison and Bauhaus was the label “goth” and older fans of the former.
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ friendlier, less challenging album cover for Superstition.
By 1991 backlash against the 80’s wasn’t only reserved for hair metal and New Wave. The choir heavy and drum machine music of early Sisters of Mercy material was viewed as old fashioned and rejected by not only the mainstream (who had already moved to idolize Grunge and Alternative) but by newer goths who were starting to become attracted to a newer, more rebellious sound of what would become Industrial-Metal. The thoughtful and more melodic aspects of Shoegaze/Dream Pop, and some moved away from goth rock altogether and felt that Metal had become what Goth was supposed to represent (Nu-Metal, British Doom Metal, Alternative Metal)
Rossetta Stone, 1992. best example of what Goth Rock had come to represent.
By the end of the eighties, a generation that was raised on The Sisters, The Nephilim and others began to form their own bands, building upon the foundation set by their idols. This was the second generation, which lasted from 1989 to the mid nineties, slowing down significantly when other sounds took center stage.
These four overly artistic dudes from Northampton, England crept up on the post-punk scene in 1979 with Bela Lugosi’s Dead and utterly blew everything away. A sound completely one of a kind at the time. Their unique sound was a blend of influences ranging from post-punk and glam rock to funk and dub music, but there was something disturbing and sinister about it all. Maybe it was Peter Murphy’s baritone vocals and Bela Lugosi inspired looks, maybe it was the waves of e-bow feedback and pick scrapes or maybe it was the creeping, driving rhythms… Whatever the case, something new seemed to be emerging; something huge. They released four studio albums in their heyday, but it was their creepy, dry-ice drenched live performances which made them legendary. The fan favorite album is usually Burning From the Inside, but all of their albums demonstrate versatility and impressive songwriting. …Or you could just go for their greatest hits comp, Crackle, which is fairly good in it’s own right.
Besides being one of, if not the first band to be called “gothic”, they were incredibly influential to the genre. The impact of Ian Curtis’ brooding, melodramatic music can still be heard to this day. Unknown Pleasures and Closer are masterpieces; raw, energetic and passionate. They’re essentials to any goth’s music collection. You could also start with the best of comp, Substance.
Siouxsie and The Banshees
Siouxsie and the Banshees was another band from England that would prove extremely influential to goth, but unlike a lot of people believe, not entirely goth. Originally beginning as a one-off band for a punk festival, the Banshees soon enchanted crowds with their bizarre brand of Avant-Grade Punk music. This band is instantly recognizable from the shrieking, banshee-wail vocals, provided by the striking frontwoman Siouxsie Sioux (it’s pronounced “Susie Sue” btw). She also had quite an impact on the image of goth. For live performances, she often donned fishnets, teased black hair and even bondage gear.
The Birthday Party
The Birthday Part is difficult to pin down. They’re like nothing of this earth. If Hell had a house band that pounded the skulls of fallen souls and slabs of burning metal for percussion, played fresh entrails for bass and used a stark raving mad mass-murderer for vocals… Well, you get the idea. And this unholy monstrosity unleashed Nick Cave upon the world as well.
Feelings are always mixed when it comes to The Cure. On one hand they have always had pop leanings ever since they released their first album in 1979 (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “10:15 On A Saturday Night”) On the other hand, in their early years they created some of the most miserable, hopeless, misanthropic music ever put to tape with Faith and Pornography. Although not as dark and bleak as many bands would later get, it’s still not recomended listening if you’re having a bad day. If you enjoy that kind of thing, they also had a miserable return-to-form with Bloodflowers in the 90’s.
Originally one of the founding fathers of punk, they slowly morphed their sound to include darker themes, more synths, an emphasis on atmosphere and more vampyric leanings with each subsequent album eventually climaxing with Phantasmagoria (from which one of the songs became the inspiration for my current URL :P). Not only an inspiration through music, their front-man Dave Vanian and then-bassist Patricia Morrison are even considered by some to have popularized the “goth look” with slicked back or teased hair, all black wardrobe, foundation, and truckloads of eyeliner, eye shadow (vampire cape not included).
The Danse Society
Considered the first goth band to move exclusively into deep male baritone vocals and electronics. Later on, The Sisters of Mercy would have great success and perfect the sound The Danse Society pioneered. Also, through extensive touring through France and Germany they would inspire musicians who would later form many of the Coldwave bands in the early to mid eighties. Fun Fact: Their Say It Again single would feature a remix by the future members of another Goth band, Dead or Alive, who would dominate the UK charts a year later with You Spin Me Round.
Spend enough time on Tumblr, and you’ll start to believe that goth music is only The Cure, The Banshees and Bauhaus. Variety isn’t a bad thing.