Neu-Goth! goth revival? A generation of young bands take a walk on the dark side

There is something really strange happening out there at the moment and it’s happening without anyone’s permission.

There is a Gothic tinge to the air, a modern darkness, a goth revival, a Neu-Goth.

There is a dark and thrilling shadow of an intense and inventive music that is flavoring many modern young bands who will just not obey the rules laid down by the musical establishment.

This clutch of young bands are daring to add a Gothic tinge to their music and openly talking about the original bands and celebrating the form. I saw New Model Army play a festival over the summer and the packed audience were all under twenty, dancing wildly to the band. I hear young bands talk about Southern Death Cult or Killing Joke and when I interviewed Mogwai recently they were telling me about Bauhaus being a key influence on the band – and they were not the only ones to mention them.

This kind of breaking the rules has to be celebrated and it’s almost certainly down to the Internet where hungry young music fans are starting to ask questions about the tried and tested musical lineage and making their own decisions over what music to like and discovering a clutch of brilliant bands who for far too long have been brushed away by the media because they didn’t fit in with their very narrow musical lineage.

The UK has always been rubbish at celebrating its inventiveness and Goth is not the only scene loved internationally to be derided at home but it’s the one that gets the most stick. The strange thing is that there was no such thing as a Goth scene, it was never called Goth, that was a  media invention who then used their word to beat the bands up with.

In media terms Goth is one of the most maligned and written out of history musics has but it has become a fertile source of influence for a new wave of upcoming bands who, whilst not being strictly Goth, certainly have a flavour of its dark influence.

That’s one of the great things about music.

As soon as the experts dictate what musical history is it will re write Itslef. For a few years the post punk period was edited in the media down to a handful of great bands like the Gang Of Four and The Fall whilst bands who were never media pets like Bauhaus, X Mal Deutschland, Southern Death Cult and Killing Joke were pushed to the side and let’s not forget Joy Division- loved by the media but as Goth as any of the aforementioned bands.

It’s never been very clear why this happened as many of these band were as groundbreaking and influential as the more flavoured groups- often even more so. The twisted dub undertones to Bauhaus along with their imaginative guitar playing was quite revolutionary compared to the hipster post punk bands whilst Killing Joke invented a whole new soundscape. the Goth scene grew out of punk and whilst it was never intended to be an actual scene it was a place where musical went hand in hand with a freakier take on the sartorial styles of punk Itslef.

Maybe it’s because the bands dared to dress up and made it without anyone’s permission that has seen them pushed aside for years. It’s certainly true that the less bloke like a band looks the less likely they are considered to be musical genius!

Goth was a huge scene n the UK and whilst most people involved in the scene never consider themselves goth and more of an extension of punk it eventually morphed into a subculture of to own. The cliched Daily Mail idea of goth youth dressed as vampires is far away from the reality of what actually happened of course and its puzzling why most people accept this as the norm.

2012 has seen some great dark music with album of the year, The Seer by Swans creating a whole dark soundscape, add to that Factory Floor, Savages and many other upcoming bands and you have a whole new cross fertilization of sound and that’s not counting all the Emo bands and fringe metal bands who cross their whole thing with a goth darkness- in 2012 it’s bigger than ever. No one is claiming that here is a brand new scene here, we are just noting indie bands taking on a darker and more interesting take on things and the return of art Goth.

In terms of UK indie getting all Neu Goth it’s probably the legendary NME front cover with the Horrors on it. At the time it was derided but we loved it here and even sent the then NME editor a congratulatory email. Like punk decades before it was an unseen spark that took a few months to really catch fire as a whole host of young bands started to explore this decades old world that the Horrors had opened for them. This year the success of Savages has again underlined this new flavour, whilst many in the media claim that the band is pure indie and even name check bands like Jesus And Mary Chain in their sound hoping to bracket them in with safe influences Savages actually sound more like Bauhaus…

One of our readers Jaye Bloomfield has sent in a top ten of Neu Goth bands to back up these claims….

1. The Horrors

2. She Wants Revenge

3. Crossover

4. O.Children

5. Detachments

6. Mt.Sims *

7. Toy

8. Dandy Warhols – This Machine (This album is so GOTH it hurts) *

9. Horrid Red

 

 

10. Night Sins

 

*David J formally of Bauhaus involved with these.

 

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24 comments on “Neu-Goth! goth revival? A generation of young bands take a walk on the dark side”

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  1. O.children are great, frontman with the deepest voice ever.

    great pic of bauhaus with nico here;

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/c58.0.403.403/p403x403/312813_432451536809836_332561271_n.jpg

  2. Well, exactly. This stuff has been bubbling up from the underground for years. I’ve been writing about lots of it in my webzine since it all began to ooze through the cracks…

    It’s interesting to look back at what I wrote in this 2008 review: http://www.nemesis.to/scumlive.htm

    “The music biz has finally come round to the view that bands with a little something of the night about them are actually rather cool, and can lend an enticing spark of after-dark glamour to an otherwise blandly everyday indie scene. A new crop of bands is coming up, influenced by, and rooted in the post-punk origins of goth. They have no truck with scenester stuff – in fact, they probably don’t even know the goth scene exists.”

    Lots of things have changed since then, some of them rather unexpected – I’m sure if I had told the lead singer of S.C.U.M at that 2008 gig that he’d be in Hello magazine within four years I would’ve got a very short answer!

    But the dark side of rock ‘n ‘n’ roll is still seething with murky energy. Over the last few years bands have risen and fallen, come and gone – I’ve chronicled a fair few of those ups and downs in my webzine. I remember people telling me it wouldn’t last – but it has. I like to think I called it right. And the underground is still bubbling.

    Two of my current hit picks:

    The Partly Faithful – the band Savages would rather nobody knew about.

    Or, at least, I suspect they would rather nobody knows that Savages’ guitarist was previously in The Partly Faithful, and to a great extent developed what later became the distinctive Savages’ guitar sound while she was with them (check out the early Partly Faithful live videos on YouTube for evidence). Savages’ publicity angle is largely based around the notion that the band burst out of nowhere – well, they didn’t. To a certain extent, Savages burst out of the Partly Faithful.

    Here’s a recent Partly Faithful video with their new guitarist, Anouska Haze. Who I actually reckon is a more creative guitarist than her predecessor – very much the band’s John McGeoch to Gemma Thompson’s John McKay, I think.

    http://youtu.be/XGAgFRezgfg

    And theee mighty Ulterior. An unholy cross between Suicide and a gang fight.

    Second album on release any minute, steadily becoming superstars in Germany. This is what would happen if you locked Toy in a darkened room for a week with nothing but rough sulphate to eat.

    http://youtu.be/0IneMZTsdas

    • Hark at what Michael said, although I’d put Ulterior as closer to a Gangwar!

      Firstly I’d like to state that this was an interesting and well put together article – despite this, I have a minor criticism.

      By heralding current media darlings like Savages and TOY as the spear head of this little revival I think, in a small way, you are guilty of what you accused the original journalists of. Savages, wonderful though they may be arrived ready made and vacuum packed as the coolest new dark band around, picking up credibility and an audience hard won by bands like Cold In Berlin and Ulterior, who spent years gigging, releasing and essentially creating this idea of “neu noir” only to be more or less ignored when the media picked it’s “poster boy” bands for the new wave that, now it was being acknowledged, had just arrived (and hadn’t at all been brewing in dive bars and dens in London for several years).

      In essence I feel that you’ve just done the modern equivalent of singing the praises of Joy Division and Echo and The Bunnymen while sidelining Killing Joke and Bauhaus!

  3. Yes, there are some new bands who move into that direction. But the ones you named are quite bad examples!!

  4. Soft Moon, Ulterior, Voyeurist, S.C.U.M.

  5. There’s a Facebook campaign to get BBC4 to make “Goth Britannia” – check it out here:

    http://www.facebook.com/gothbritannia

  6. Kimberley Jong Il

    I just read this article. Makes me think about so many bands I love ignored, written out of history, or reduced to ‘uncool’ by ‘hip’ journalists and critics.

    What is the agenda of journalists anyway? Ultimately the majority of them are smug, self-satisfied parasites feeding off the talent of writers, musicians, artists.

    But in truth it’s always been more insidious than that – talentless hacks trying to con the public into buying into the IMAGE and so-called (shock)value of worthless commodities produced en masse by fake, reactionary, vacuous ‘bands’, writers and artists that a select few of industry trolls have cherry-picked to be lauded and fawned over.

    For decades, this strange dialectic seems to have been directing the hoards of narcissistic journalists out there desperate to remain ‘cool’ and ‘relevant’ whilst creating a self-reflexive image from the so-called appreciation of so-talent.

    You’ll never be able to take down the establishment when you are busy propping it up. The Horrors? Toy? Savages? I mean, FFS.

    REGARD ALL MUSIC CRITICS AS USELESS AS DANGEROUS.

  7. I agree with Dark Night altho Toy,O Children & Night Sins kept my attention.

  8. Yerp defo on the upbounce, like the sound of a band from liverpool called The Temps

  9. Andres Vicente

    My favourite of the smaller, up and coming ones: The KVB

  10. Andres Vicente

    And I’d definitely add The Soft Moon to the long list. Ridiculously good…

  11. Andres Vicente

    By the way, dissing Savages just because they happened to be in the right place at the right time is ridiculous. The fact media have put them on an altar for the way they look and the way they sound doesn’t mean they’re poster girls who got put there like any other artist making the BBC Sound Of list. Savages have been part of the London music scene under different incarnations for ages and we’ve seen them playing bars and basements same as Cold In Berlin, Ulterior and a few others. There’s no way anybody would consider John & Jehn mainstream and that’s not counting one-off performances mixing spoken word and music that they’ve always done like not so long ago at Corsica Studios did Gemma, Jehn and John or next month together with Bo Ningen they’ll do. I’d like to know where these people criticising them for being media darlings were back then…

    And with Toy pretty much the same although I do see them less interesting and a bit too much in the line of The Horrors. Still fantastic live though…

  12. There are bands that have been making “dark” music since the 80’s & 90’s that help fuel the underground. Here is a great example:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/diemazzmusic
    http://www.diemazz.com

  13. I have no idea what world you’re living in…but to me this is an innocent view of what dark music is. All of this stuff sounds like generic emo and neo new wave, otherwise known as the top 40 of the early 80’s. The only mood it inspires in me is a bit of annoyance at the whininess and artistic pretentiousness of it. Everyone’s trying to out hipster eachother anymore and it was over before it got started. The only way to find good music, as it always has been, is too dig deep into the outer fringes of obscurity and discover things no one else knows about. This stuff here is light on the fright and weak on the bleak. Maybe check out Cathedral 13 for a starter kit, then go hunting for some real goth – cause this isn’t it.

    • thanks for the tips mate but the piece was not a search for the darkest goth possible but about the Goth tinged bands coming out of the indie scene etc…will check out Cathedral 13

  14. What a stupid article.

  15. I caught the Dandy Warhols opening for Love and Rockets at the Glasshouse in Pomona California in 1996. They were very good live. A psychedelic Velvets meets Mary Chain thing. Thanks for the album suggestion. Streaming it now on Tidal (lossless audio).
    Digging it so far. Bit of BRMC, Iggy, Alice Cooper, but oddly upbeat. Nice.
    I lead Los Angeles’ Gothic Rock – Post Punk band Wailing Wall. I’m out of the scene now. Enjoying family, faith, light & love. And of course all my old punk, goth, alt & obscure rock, deathrock & synthpop. But Coldplay, Death Cab & Arcade Fire write amazing anthems, their post punk & goth roots pop through now & again.
    Cheers!
    Pete E.
    (*Mental Llama)

  16. Oh yeah,
    Let’s ditch Goth & just rediscover that old diy aesthetic. Indie, as in Independent. Mascara or middle aged laments. Just create.

  17. Thank you for this article. I believe that Alien Sex Fiend, The Damned and The Misfits are branches of Punk (horror punk). Back in the day many of us “Goths” associated ourselves more closely with the New Romantics. Gothic music changed a great deal between “all hell breaks loose” and “Lucretia my Reflection”! From wild Horror Punk to clean and classy Dark Wave. The association with Vampires is very clear with Dave Vanian’s image, Bauhaus hit “Bela Legosi’s Dead” and Anne Rice’s book “Vampire Lestat” which featured a Peter Murphy-esc Vampire as a rock star.

  18. Gothic Farmyard 1980 – 1985. Source of early 80’s Gothic Soundscapes.

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