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The Waves of Gothic - World Goth Day

World Goth Day Celebration, May 22nd.

It was 2009 when World Goth Day became true and Goths around the world started to celebrate their favourite music and subculture on every May 22nd. 

World Goth Day is based on the idea of radio show producer and club DJ known as DJ Cruel Britania and became quickly known through social media and with the support of several other DJ, contributors, event promoters and of course goth people around the world.

Every year, since then, several events scheduled on the occasion of the World Goth Day, not only on May 22nd, but many days before and after 22nd. There is an official website for this annual anniversary day, where someone can find all the details on World Goth Day, the events scheduled every year and several other information and references. Relative links can be found in the end of this text.

ElektroSpank | FMA is celebrating World Goth Day since Goth Music and Subculture is what represents us the most. We celebrate this day by writing a few things  here. An event is also scheduled on June 1st, at Second Skin Club, Athens (more details will be available soon). Additionally a gothic mix will be uploaded on our Mixcloud page tonight covering great gothic artists and bands chosen from the three main "waves" of gothic music.

Goth is, usually, distinguished by the media and fans in three main periods and eras. These are know as the waves of Goth.

Going back to the roots of Goth, by the term Goth Music someone refers, mainly,  to the genre, related to rock-music and emerged from the post-punk in late 1970's. There are several other references on gothic style, that combine the term gothic many years before, even in the period of The Doors and the voice, lyrics and appearance of Jim Morrison. Gothic music begun to stand out from rock and post-punk when bands and artist brought elements in their music that made it sound even darker and lyrically there were references in equal situation of darkness, similar feeling, dark times and of course horror and gothic poetry.

The First Wave

In late 70's when the real punk started to fail its fans, new, post-punk era, bands appeared and started playing music that the media referred to as "positive punk". These bands were playing a new music that combined several elements from punk rock, disco, funk and dub. However the romanticism and the appearance of most of those artists and bands fitted perfectly the term gothic. Since then gothic was and is still used when someone refers to this genre. Additionally, although gothic is used as a separate music genre, due to the similarities and the same, main influences with genres like dark wave, deathrock, industrial etc, those genres usually referred to as gothic music.

During this period and since those were the first years of goth, many bands were stacked with other labels as well, such us post-punk or even glam rock. Additionally all these bands were influenced by artists that had never been characterized goth before but their music, culture and styles are totally similar to what gothic represented at that time. Such bands and artists were Velvet Underground, David Bowie, The Doors, Brian Eno, Marc Bolan and more. The sound of the bands was filled with tribal drums, strong basslines and most of the times melodic to filth guitars.

The First Wave of Goth has the most famous bands and artists of the genre. Many bands with exceptional releases appeared on this period which last until late 1980's. First Wave includes the bands that influenced the most every artist that composed goth music in the future. These are Joy Division, Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Cure and Bauhaus. These bands and their sound are the origins and the pillars of what we know as goth music nowadays. Several other bands appeared in the First Wave, making goth music even more interesting while new subgenres started.

In addition with those four pillars/bands, other bands that defined the heavier gothic rock sound appeared. Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and Fields of The Nephilim were the main bands defining this new version of gothic rock. That was the time that gothic really started to find its identity and that was the time and those were the bands that inspired the artists that represent the Second Wave of Goth.

The Second Wave

Second Wave is, probably, the most productive for goth genre with new bands and sounds appearing and releasing several club hits. Influenced by Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and Fields of The Nephilim new bands added new elements in goth music giving a new vision and tense to the genre. From melodic compositions to heavy guitars with deep vocals in addition with female backing vocals. More synths were added, basslines were stronger and came in front with heavy drum-machine beats. Many other new elements were presented at that time. Additionally vampire related stories, culture and appearance appealed to goths around the world, and ever since the goths are really concerned for their overall outfit.

The Second Wave was introduced by the albums the three aforementioned bands released during that period. Sisters of Mercy 's "Vision Thing" had a huge impact, along with FOTN's "Elizium". In early 1990's some of the bands that defined this new era of goth appeared and released albums and songs that considered masterpieces and classic pieces for gothic music. It was that time that UK based band Nosferatu started being known and their debut album "Rise" is, until now, one of the best gothic albums ever. Rosetta Stone is another case like Nosferatu. With many differences in their sound, comparing to that of Nosferatu, the British goth act of Porl King, Karl North and "Madame Razor" released their first full-length album "An Eye for The Main Chance" in 1991 adding more electronic parts in every new work and in goth style.

Influence by the pioneers Fields of The Nephilim, Garden of Delight and Love Like Blood were the major bands that followed that path in their music. Garden of Delight were using many elements from gothic poetry and writers, such as Lovecraft combined with mysticism in their music and lyrics. On the other hand Love Like Blood, while vocal-wise were really close to Carl McCoy of the FOTN, presented a really unique goth rock sound with some more metal riffs added.

The list of the bands in the Second Wave could be huge and all with their unique style, influenced by the First wave bands. I will refer to three more bands that in my opinion marked the goth genre and influenced the bands and artists of the third wave of goth.

The first one is The Wake, perhaps one of the best goth bands ever. The Wake were coming from Columbus, Ohio US and their impact compared back then with that of the Sisters of Mercy. Formed in 1986 by vocalist Troy Payne and guitarist Richard Witherspoon and after several singles released, it was 1993 when they release their debut album "Masked", a real masterpiece for gothic rock music. (Recently reissued in a purple vinyl edition).


Next is a German goth legend band, The Merry Thoughts that was really similar to the Sisters of Mercy. Obviously influenced by this legendary band, this affection was clear in their music and in Marvin Arkham's vocals. Often mistaken by goth fans as the Sisters of Mercy. However The Merry Thoughts released some massive goth rock hits that marked that period and are still included in goth dj setlists.

Last band that we will bring out of the Second Wave is another German band, Dreadful Shadows. With heavier guitars and new elemts added from heavy metal genre Dreadful Shadows was a "bridge" between goth rock and goth metal music. Orchestral parts where included, heavy guitars, modern electronic synths and elements with amazing deep vocals from Sven Friedrich. Dreadful Shadows formed in In 1993 by Sven Friedrich, Reiko Jeschke, Franc Hofer, Jens Riediger and Ron Thiele. Their debut album, "Estrangement" came out in 1994 and is considered one of the best albums in goth genre. Another important thing for Dreadful Shadows is that, despite their music influences, gave a completely new sound to gothic rock at that time.

Those bands and many other artists and bands gave new life and meaning to gothic rock and goth music until late 1990's.

In late 90's gothic was really accepted as a term not only in music but as an outfit and lifestyle. Industrial elements begun to added more in goth music and new goth bands and artists were using more and more electronic sounds. Internet really helped in making goth known to every corner in the world.

All these and the rise of the internet and new music drove us to early 2000's and the third wave of goth.

The Third Wave

The third wave of goth mostly includes bands that were already formed and active in 90's, however their impact in the years of third wave is huge. With the basic elements of goth remaining the same, as they were already configured by the bands of the second wave, and few additions, mostly taken from industrial genre and several metal subgenres, evolution was not as big as in the previous years. However some really great bands released massive goth hits again and some of the greatest gothic rock albums.

Bands like Elusive, with a unique tone and music, boosts gothic rock to expand its effect on music and fans. Malaise and their "Fifty Two Ways" album are quickly considered a goth rock brand name. Despite the release date of their debut album was in 1996, Malaise as a goth sound added many new elements and the Swedes became the origins for the third wave of goth. Dawn of Oblivion is a similar case to Malaise. With their debut album, "A Fervent Prayer", released in the middle of the second wave era, in 1994 their impact was really big in the third wave.

Some other bands, that really played their role in how gothic rock was evolved are Star Industry, Nephilim's side project, NFD, Reptyle and others.

During third wave goth rock lost a number of fans since no new music and elements were really added and audience moved to other genres, such as industrial or metal.

Recently many goth rock fans have found new interest and dark gothic references in new styles and bands. Most of them are influenced by all these legendary bands.

Although it is not referred often, I believe that we have recently entered the new era of goth, the fourth wave

The Fourth Wave (?)

Not officially written as the fourth wave in goth history, it is obvious recently that a new period for goth has begun. With the main influences remaining the same but with a turn to more traditional, "old school gothic" rock sounds, new artists and bands keep trying to give a new life to gothic rock. And there are absolutely good at it.

Bands like Sonsombre and The Rope from US,  Aeon Sable, Wisborg and Dryland from Germany, Human from France, Angel's Arcana from Greece, Long Night from Norway and even one of our latest discoveries here, Tomb of Love from Brazil (formed few months ago), are giving new outstanding releases and brings new evolution to goth rock. In addition there are several bands labeled as post-gothic, which includes classic gothic rock elements combine with old and new post-punk features. And of course re-releases and reunions of older goth rock bands and their live performances has given the chance to new goth fans in order to see some of the main pillars of goth music.

A huge assistance to all this is the development of some really active independent record labels, the return of vinyl releases and of course social media and digital platforms.

There Is Hope for Goth, After All...

Considering all the above and in conclusion, I would say that goth or gothic has begun as the darkest part of the disappointed fans of the real punk music. It adopted to a separate genre, really fast, combining various elements and the romanticism, lyricism of gothic stories and arts.

It is obvious that those bands included here are just a sample, since the list is huge and we could not put them all in here. Perhaps in future post more details and bands could be added. 

Passing form the second wave to the third, goth found itself, slowly dying, since there were not enough new ideas and elements adopted and some old fans abandoned the goth and very few new fans were added.  US music industry started to promote as gothic, artists like HIM, Marilyn Manson, some more metal bands or even Nine Inch Nails. On the other hand, in Europe and even in South America some loyal fans insisted to support and promote real gothic music and culture, giving the new life we are talking about in the fourth wave.

In the following day an article with the title "There Is Hope for Goth, After All" will be published here in ELektroSpank | FMA where we will talk about the possibility of being in this Fourth Wave of Goth, which is currently very productive and qualitative.

Get Your Goth On - The Waves of Gothic | World Goth Day 2019


The Cure - A Strange Day
Siouxsie & The Banshees - Cities In Dust
Sisters of Mercy - Nine While Nine
Fields Of The Nephilim - For Her Light
Rosetta Stone - An Eye For The Main Chance
Nosferatu - Siren
The Breath of Life - Nasty Cloud
Love Like Blood - In The Shadow of The Light
Dreadful Shadows - Dead Can Wait
Dawn of Oblivion - November
Malaise - Dead I Walk
Sonsombre - Nocturnal
Long Night - It's All Gone
Sounds Like Winter - Impossible Dreams
Human - Window Pain
The Rope - Silence
KILL SHELTER - In Decay ft. Antipole & Delphine Coma
JE T' AIME - Dance

Thank you for reading our post.

Happy World Goth Day.

Support your local goth scene.

ElektroSpank | FMA - Online Music Magazine




Wikipedia pages about gothic rock and gothic rock bands



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About ElektroSpank - FMA - Online Music Magazine

ElektroSpank FMA is an online music magazine about the darkest side of our lives.

We write about Gothic, industrial, dark wave and all of their sub genres. ElektroSpank FMA is not only about music, but for the dark, Gothic lifestyle as well. We try to support the music and scenes we love. For those who have never heard about ElektroSpank before please visit our about page for more info and history.

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