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Category: deathrock

Is The Goth Subculture Actually Political?

Sex Gang Children’s newest album is very political, which is a good thing.

Lately there has been a lot of talk about how goth music is political, which in turn would mean that the subculture is political as well. When it comes down to it is the subculture actually politically minded?

Everybody reading this knows that the goth subculture was birthed out of the punk subculture. The punk subculture has always been political to varying degrees. There are famous punk musicians such as Jello Biafra and Dick Lucas who have always talked the talk and walked the walk. When they write songs about supporting equal rights or about how evil corporations are they mean it. They aren’t being political to gain ‘scene’ points, they are being political because they think that speaking against injustices is important and something that must be done.

Do goth bands speak up about injustices? Sometimes, but not as often as their punk cousins. Sex Gang Children have recently put out the most politically charged album that I have ever heard come out from under the goth umbrella. It’s called Oligarch and it speaks up against corporations, religious hypocrisy and fascist politicians. I honestly hope that other goth bands listen to it and are inspired to make their own politically charged art. Christian Death is another band that has openly made politically charged music through the years. Both the Rozz and Valor versions of the band have done this. Then there are modern anarcho deathrock bands such as Mystic Priestess and the Creeping Terrors who make music with a political bent. With one foot in the punk subculture they are carrying on the tradition of speaking up against what is wrong in society.

If you spend any amount of time in online goth communities you will see people ask if they can be right wing and goth at the same time. The goth subculture has always leaned left because of the acceptance of those who society sees as the ‘other’. Are there racists within the subculture? There have always been those in the subculture who think that a person has to be white in order to be goth, which is a load of shit of course. Do some people wear white foundation and try to look as pale as possible? Of course but you don’t have to look like a Victorian ghost to enjoy the music. You don’t have to be a certain weight, a certain colour or dress a certain way to take part in the subculture.

All of this could be called political, but do people in the subculture actually stand up for the rights of others when it comes down to it? I would like to argue that there are some that do, but they are heavily outnumbered by those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. The most important thing about being politically minded is standing behind what you say, even if it inconveniences you. A huge example of this are all of the people in the subculture who will be attending the Cruel World festival, even though the person putting it on is a proven homophobe. They will post about how they are for the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ, but they don’t want to be inconvenienced by missing a show. It’s hypocritical to not stand behind what you say.

Back thirty years ago the subculture was largely not political at all. To the point that Nazi skinheads would attend the clubs and nobody would lift a finger to boot them out. Seriously, I witnessed this shit myself. Back then I weighed 100 pounds and I knew that it would be impossible for me to do anything physically about it. However, there were several times back then that I told Nazi skins off because I didn’t like the crap that they were saying. I did all that I could do back then but when it came down to it there were definitely others who just didn’t care. As long as they could dance to their favourite songs everything was hunky dory.

When it comes down to it the goth subculture can be political, but there are many people in it who need to learn to stand up for what they claim to believe in. Supporting the LGBTQ community online is good, but if it is not followed through with some sort of physical action then that support becomes meaningless. Go to marches and events that are against racism and homophobia, and don’t attend events that are put on by racist or homophobic promoters.

Music Review: The Cult Sounds – Death Of A Star

It’s no secret that I love the darker side of deathrock with a passion. With that being said Death Of A Star majorly scratches that itch. I can hear the influences of Samhain, TSOL, Son Of Sam and early Danzig on this record, and yet it has it’s own sound going on. It’s unabashedly heavy, layered with metal infused guitar, heavy bass, sinister keyboards and great lyrics. I love the hell out of this album.

What really stands out to me while listening to this album is the fact that it doesn’t sound like an atypical darker deathrock band trying to outright imitate the music of Glenn Danzig. A whole lot of bands do that and it becomes very tiring. I highly appreciate the fact that The Cult Sounds takes their music further into their own direction, rather than being lazy. It’s proof that it is still possible to make wholly original music within the genre.

Enclose Nacht, the first song really sets up the rest of the album well. It’s sparse landscape and chilling circus sounding keyboards lets you immediately know that you are in for a dark ride through a land of death and isolation. The next song 13 Candles is a banger that pushes you down that road. The journey is then filled with darkly created musical landscapes; the heavy crunchy guitars of Afterlife and the brooding atmosphere of The Avalanche.

While I love all of the songs my favourite has got to be Death Has A Name. Quite honestly it’s one of the better darker deathrock songs that I’ve heard in a very long time. It’s got a bit of that Jon Christ blues infused metal guitar style which gives it a sinister air that takes it to another level. There are heavy synths through the whole song that only add to the foreboding nature of it. There are two lines, in particular that I think are brilliant.

Death has a name and it’s yours,
Use my bones to build your body

That just conjures all sorts of feelings and thoughts in my mind. All of the lyrics on this album are really good, and don’t rely on the typical gimmicks that some deathrock bands use. I really appreciate the effort that the band put into creating this album. I have a feeling that The Death Of A Star is going to be on my ‘best of’ list for this year. If you love deathrock that is darker in nature then you will really enjoy this album.

There is no set release date for this album yet, but I will announce it here on the blog when the time comes.

 

Goth Music Is Undead And Here Is A List Of Newer Bands To Prove It Part 2

I Ya Toyah, a one woman force of nature.

A while back I listed some of the newer goth type bands that I found to be interesting. There are so many good bands coming out with excellent music right now that this second list really needed to be made. This time I am also including electronic/industrial bands. They may not be strictly goth but they are definitely goth adjacent. These bands are not in any particular order. All links will take you to the relevant Bandcamp page. Bandcamp Friday is on March the 5th, a day in which 100% of the sale of music and merchandise goes to the bands.

Jay Draper And The Subterraneans This is a hybrid band that contains elements of goth rock, darkwave and post-punk. I love the the soaring vocals, they are very distinctive.

The Last Of Us They play very heavy traditional goth rock, but with a feel of urgency. Keyboards are artfully added for atmosphere. Reminds me of Fields Of The Nephilim crossed with early Danzig because their music has a slightly sinister feel to it.

Corlyx Post-punk meets darkwave. This is a hybrid band that makes some very danceable tunes.

Stoneburner Steven Archer’s solo project that is at once industrial and electronic with other bits tossed together to make for some very interesting sounding music.

Dead Cool They don’t have a lot of music out yet, but what they have put out so far I really enjoy! A post-punk and darkwave hybrid band.

Rosegarden Funeral Party This is a post-punk band with some darkwave thrown in, surrounded by one of the most distinctive female voices out of all of the modern genre bands. The lyrics sound very personal in nature and give the music a deeper meaning.

S Y Z Y G Y X Mainly an electronic and darkwave band. Very driving beats and interesting vocals.

I Ya Toyah This is a one woman band that is fiercely industrial and electronic. Beautiful vocals paired with an urgency and great lyrics.

The Long Losts Very spooky sounding deathrock mixed with some touches of metal. The lyrics are very haunting!

Abu Nein Darkwave and electronic music with a flourish of post punk. Nice vocals and driving beat.

Albums That Shaped Me: Samhain – November Coming Fire (1986)

This record has been in my top ten favourite albums for about thirty years, and it is frequently number one on that list. In my humble opinion this is the best album that Glenn Danzig has ever made, a pinnacle that he will never reach again. It’s the perfect blend of punk and goth music, and I would even venture to say that this is one of the best deathrock albums ever made. I would definitely place it above Specimen’s Batastrophe and Christian Death’s Theater Of Pain. Yes, I went there.

I found out about Samhain in a very strange way. I went to an amusement park a couple of weeks before I graduated high school in 1989 with some metal friends. I was wearing my Sex Pistols Holidays In The Sun shirt. Back then they weren’t as well known as they are now, trust me on that. With all of that being said a girl walked past me at some point while wearing a Samhain November Coming Fire shirt and called me a poser. During that time I was also into The Dead Kennedys and 7 Seconds, so I was in no way a poser. What she said didn’t affect me as much as the appearance of her shirt did. I stored the band name Samhain in the back of my brain for future reference because I thought maybe they would be as good as their shirt looked.

Later in 1989 I very briefly dated a guy who had a Misfits poster in his room even though he didn’t listen to them. I knew who the Misfits were during that time but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to them yet. I know that sounds strange but I was into so many bands at that point that it was difficult to buy all of that music and the albums of bands I wanted to try out at the same time. Back then you actually had to buy the music if you wanted to own it. I mean you could get some tapes off of your friends but it was always a goal to actually legally own the music and support the band at the same time. After I broke up with that guy I went and bought the Misfits album Legacy Of Brutality. My friend Sheri was also really into the Misfits during this time and she is the person that introduced me to the band Danzig.

The man, the myth, the legend.

I remember going to the Rasputin’s music store in San Lorenzo in early 1990 and buying the Danzig and Danzig II: Lucifuge cds. The store had separate sections for goth, punk and just about everything else, which actually made it really easy to find music. I remember looking through the punk section and coming across the name of a band that looked familiar: Samhain. I cold bought November Coming Fire on cd that day and it was quite possibly one of the best music based decisions I have ever made. I’m not overstating that by any means. Back then I cold bought a whole lot of music on the recommendation of other people or by seeing somebody strange wearing a band shirt.

Usually when you hear an album for the first time you will pick out certain songs above others or maybe not even like some of the songs. I liked every single song on this album the very first time I listened to it. The song order has a certain flow to it. For example the song To Walk The Night is slow and quite introspective, perhaps the most traditionally goth rock sounding song on the whole album. While the next song Let The Day Begin is more quick paced and takes you slowly out of the bleakness, all the while singing about darkness and the evil that is coming. The very next song Halloween II is a Misfits cover which is sung completely in Latin and takes you to the place where the last song’s events were leading you to.

I have always liked both goth and punk music but not that many bands have achieved the feat of seamlessly bringing the two genres of music together. The only other band that I can think of immediately is TSOL, whose two albums Dance With Me and Beneath The Shadows are also favourites of mine. However, what Glenn Danzig did with this album is bring it to a higher level by adding into the mix some very dark theming and lyrical content. It’s like the album is in its own dimension of darkness where no light can reach it. November Coming Fire taught me that it was okay to unabashedly embrace my darkness and relish in it. Don’t be a goth who claims that they are totally normal on the inside, because I’m not. Don’t be a punk who always thinks that non violence is always the answer, because it’s not.

If it wasn’t for November Coming Fire I wouldn’t be the very darkly inclined woman that I am today. Never heard of Samhain or November Coming Fire? Give the below a listen, you won’t regret it.

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