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13 Best Goth Albums of All Time

13 Best Goth Albums of All Time

bahaus8. Bauhaus – In the Flat Field (1980)

In trying to convey the dark majesty of goth to a novice in 10 minutes or less, a person could do far worse than just putting the debut single from Bauhaus, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” on the stereo and leaning back to let the agitated guitar, prowling rhythm and narcoleptic horror host vocals do the job. When the band released full-length In the Flat Field about a year later, it ratified everything their first track (and the singles in between) promised. Produced by the band themselves since they insisted they were the only ones who truly understood how the album should sound, their debut is a collection of sharp, intensely focused elements that draws on the raw insurgency of punk but tugs it into a miasma of spooky wonders. It’s pressing out against the world, daring it to pass judgment and reveling in an arch, angry subculture that it’s creating, seemingly from scratch. – Dan Seeger

black-tape-remnants17. Black Tape for a Blue Girl – Remnants of a Deeper Purity (1996)

Of all the albums on this list, none are more fragile or beautiful than Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s Remnants of a Deeper Purity. Fronted by Sam Rosenthal, the record is home to a host of long, challenging songs, including 26 minute centerpiece “For You Will Burn Your Wings upon the Sun.” Blending synths with Vicki Richards’ violin and Mera Roberts’ cello, Rosenthal has created something more than rock music. If ethereal had a sound, Remnants would be it. Featuring Oscar Herrera and Lucian Casselman on vocals, these nine songs are goth to the core: they are darkly beautiful, aching and melancholy. By the time album closer “I Have No More Answers” comes to an end, you feel that Rosenthal has taken you on a journey, floating you through a realm of shadowy sadness and an electronic atmosphere that stretches out forever. – David Harris

mortal-coil-remnants16. This Mortal Coil – It’ll End in Tears (1984)

Give credit to 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell for this brilliant idea: construct a supergroup comprised of various members of his label’s roster of talent and give their trademark dark and dreamy sound to a few cover songs and collaborative originals. The project, known as This Mortal Coil, would put out three full-lengths amongst a number of other releases, but the first, It’ll End in Tears, is the standard by which the rest are judged. If songs by Big Star and Tim Buckley don’t exactly strike you as obvious picks for any eyeliner-traced teenager’s mixtape, it only serves to underscore the success of the project. Alex Chilton’s “Kangaroo” and “Holocaust” are given all the respect those emotional heavyweights deserve, but with arrangements that play to the strengths of the label. Meanwhile, the rendition of Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” here played by Robin Guthrie and Liz Fraser (in a rare intelligible vocal performance), threatens to become the standard, much as the younger Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” now eclipses even the original. Elsewhere, the album drifts through a collection of ethereal originals, perfect for ending a night at the Batcave alone in bed. – Peter A. Pompa

som-first-last-always15. The Sisters of Mercy – First and Last and Always (1985)

The Sisters of Mercy’s first album First and Last and Always includes classic goth favorites heard in nightclubs (bat caves?) around the world, such as “Black Planet,” “Marian” and “Walk Away.” It is exemplary of a solid goth rock album. Andrew Eldritch’s deep, baritone vocals are dark and vampiric.

“Black Planet” slowly plods along and features super-dark gothic lyrics “Run around in the radiation/ Run around in the acid rain.” The bass line in “Marian” moves you across the smoke-filled dance floor: the deepest rumble of lyrics creep above this wonderful, driving bass. Acoustic guitars add texture, and in the pre-chorus it seems that a mandolin is used as fairy dust to make the song that much prettier. When the key changes in the chorus, the cape comes off and you’re enveloped in rich, horrific darkness. “Walk Away” employs Arab-scale guitars with grey, wolf-like howling vocals. It drives you through the Carpathians in the back of a horse-drawn carriage. SOM is vampire rock, and it’s goth as all get out. The band employs stacks of instruments to build harmonics and melody. This allows the music to both breathe and be alluring. The lyrics are simple and can generally be sung along to, making SOM that much more club-friendly and anthem-like. Because, what’s better than a song that a Goth can sing and dance to? Not much. – Cedric Justice

clan-of-xymox24. Clan of Xymox – Clan of Xymox (1985)

Clan of Xymox’s self-titled debut pioneered the darkwave movement, setting the tone for a new genre of music. Xymox leverages the organic textures of acoustic guitars, intersperses synthetic and abstract sound effects and textures, foregoes acoustic drums in lieu of a drum machine and uses synthetic orchestral sounds to give this music a solid grounding in the ethereal/classical overtones of goth music. Even those of us who aren’t huge fans of electronic music can appreciate the synthetic orchestra over melodic and wandering bass and the silky-smooth voice of Ronny Moorings. The difference between goth and darkwave, though? Darkwave is easy to dance to. And Goths love to dance!

Of note, this is produced by 4AD co-founder (and This Mortal Coil’s inventor) Ivo Watts-Russell. 4AD is a record label laden with experimental and ethereal goth. The 4AD label produced Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance and even the Pixies.

John Fryer engineered and remixed some songs; Fryer is famous for numerous bands in the genre, including Fields of the Nephilim, Cocteau Twins, Peter Murphy (of Bauhaus), Love and Rockets and This Mortal Coil. His resume is a litany of darker music and much of what Goths would enjoy. – Cedric Justice

        31 Comments on this Post

        1. it’s a nice general list, maybe it should have been larger or just left to albums that aren’t as obvious to those who might never have listened to a certain scene, subgenre, or band? with certain bands left out this could have been a nice list for those who don’t know to learn from, i can think of lots more that bridged the gap to other genres.

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        2. No Play Dead? No Fields? No Red Lorry? Sorry, this is the Rolling Stones “greatest hits” goth list. Essential albums surely, but blisteringly and painfully obvious. Two SOM mentions, really?

          Kudos to the well-written descriptions all the same.

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        3. where are the fields of the nephilim?
          where is the nephilim? :/

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        4. Jeweliette

          …would have been interesting to see who else would have made it to the list if you’d kept to just one album per artist…

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        5. Muldfeld

          No offense to the people who put together the list, but I’m so sick of people thinking Joy Division is better than The Cure. There’s no way “Closer” beats those other two Cure albums. The best of Interpol is better than Joy Division, too!

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          • Too bad you can’t handle the truth. Joy Division’s ‘Closer’ is a monumental work that the Cure never matched. Deal with it. JD created a new sound that was theirs. The Cure never really did that. Nor did they have lyrics like Curtis came up with.

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            • Monkedelic

              So whose sound, exactly, were The Cure copping on Pornography? Or Disintegration? Or on any of their albums for that matter? The Cure actually created SEVERAL sounds that are all distinctly their own. And you’re right, Robert Smith didn’t write lyrics like the ones Ian Curtis wrote- because he’s not Ian Curtis. They both wrote some incredibly dark and introspective lyrics, but Robert Smith survived his tormented youth to move past his nihilistic, hellish outlook that made Pornography one of the darkest albums ever recorded. I get that you like Joy Division better than The Cure- but that’s just like your opinion, man. Nothing more. Or can’t you handle the truth?

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            • agreed Robert Smith will never match what Ian Curtis did in his short span

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        6. Betelgeuse

          Una classifica dei migliori album gothic che non contenga i Fields of the Nephilim non vale nulla.

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        7. this perhaps would be a nice introduction to those who are new to the goth scene, but it’s not comprehensive enough for the rest of us. i think christian death deserved more than an “honorable mention” and there are loads of other bands that should have been included. i very much agree with Jeweliette that it should have been limited to one album per artist.

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        8. this staff doesn’t know goth music (sigh)

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        9. Chipmonkadidooda

          Oh dear, how disappointed was I by this list. I know these lists are emotive, but there’s so much missing here it’s unreal…Fields of the Nephilim, Siouxsie & The Banshees – Peepshow, The Damned – Phantasmagoria (The best gothic album ever BTW), The Mission, The Jesus & Mary Chain – Darklands or Psycho Candy. I could go on…Hmm oh dear!

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        10. :Leaving off ‘Only Theater of Pain’ is just ridiculous. It’s better than the likes of at least 60% of this list.

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        11. This list is bullocks. “Floodland”?? And why are the Cure on there twice? Medusa is a clearly superior album over the self titled Clan of Xymox. There is 0 love for Deathrock here as well and although it’s arguably not pure Gothic Rock, neither are the Post-Punk albums on this list. All together this is more of a favorites list than a well groomed best of.

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        12. Type o Negative??? How can no one bring this band up??? Or are we are only talking avant garde sounds and noises that sound like a horror movie. I’ve yet to hear a better goth album than October Rust or World Coming Down.

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        13. I agree that Type o Negative must be included in this list, but I have to say that the album “Paris Kill” from the 69 eyes must be included too. Maybe the 69 eyes are not a goth band but that album, I mean “Paris Kill”, has some elements that we can consider as a gothic sound. Another bands that must be included are: the cult, theatre of tragedy, tristania.

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          • the mission, the frozen autumn and fields of the nephilim are also good goth bands. As you can see, I don’t listen gothic music as much as metal music but I like some bands of that kind of music.

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        14. Monkedelic

          Judging by the comments, the goth crowd is almost unanimously unhappy with your list. Congratulations. Looks like you nailed it!

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        15. No Christian Death or 45 Grave?

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        16. exit.shadows

          What of the March Violets?

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        17. cmon!!!! wheres garlands cocteaw twins? viva … xmal deutchland ?

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        18. The Cure is NOT Goth.

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        19. Daniel

          NIN – Pretty Hate Machine / Downword Spiral
          Suspiria – Dancefloor Tragedy
          Leather Strip – Solitary Confinment
          Tones On Tail – Pop
          Love & Rockets – Earth Sun Moon
          March Violets – Electric Shades
          Skinny Puppy – Back and Forth
          Die Form – Vicious Circle

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        20. Carljules

          Siouxsie and The Banshees, last of the your list: you must be kidding, poor writers without no culture. Siouxsie and the Banshees are cited by PJ Harvey, Tricky, Massive Attack, Jeff Buckley. Poor dilettante, get a culture

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        21. I just want to say The sisters of mercy shouldn´t have been included in this list because they are NOT a goth band. I do hate when people think they make that kind of music. I don’t like goth music because is so boring and it has a dead sound, but some of the bands which I listen are considered as a goth bands…. christian death? type o negative? the sisters of mercy? really?? Clearly, you don’t know about rock music, so you think a rock band which has a cold sound must be goth.

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        22. LOVE that so many people hate this list…. almost the sole reason to make one! Of course, there are going to be albums not listed on any given day, but who cares. You’ve got the platform, go ahead and make lists to your black heart’s content.

          Nice little shout out to John Fryer, though. John and Blackwing Studios were really a part of so many seminal goth / new wave / etc albums back in the day. He even put out a few of his own (the recent moniker DarkDriveClinic being one that comes to mind) that aren’t bad.

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        23. Nobody every mentions the 1st 4 albums of Public Image, Ltd – but they frayed the emotions and grimaced many a face in those days. Monumental work.

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        24. Punkoid

          The Cure above the Sisters of Mercy, yeah right. The most important Goth albums from the first wave (early to mid 80s) were First and Last and Always and the Cults Love, I know they morphed into hard rock/metal with Electric but believe me Love was a bonafide classic goth album when it came out, I was there. This list isn’t complete without one Mission and one Fields of the Nephilim album on it.

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        25. Great list. Thanks. Mine is fairly similar.

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