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13 Best Goth Albums of All Time

13 Best Goth Albums of All Time

cure-disintegration3. The Cure – Disintegration (1989)

“Commercial suicide” might be a pat description of the Cure’s aesthetic through the years, but that’s actually how Fiction Records, their label at the time, viewed Disintegration. After a series of increasingly pop-oriented (and popular) albums, band leader Robert Smith fell into a deep depression and thus, one of goth rock’s greatest albums was born. Amidst Smith’s early midlife crisis and simmering band conflict, the 12 tracks on Disintegration formed as deep, almost cavernous wells of sound and darkness, with the singer’s bleak state of mind careening from the depths of the title track to the yearning romanticism of “Pictures of You” to the booming shimmer of “Plainsong.” Smith has never sounded so wounded and willing to commit to emotion as he does on Disintegration, and rightfully so: it’s the sound of a man desperate to create a masterpiece while still young and sad. It’s an album epic in scope, a sharp turnaround from the intricate pop creations that the band had recently been producing, one that sounds unafraid to crawl into bleakness and beauty in equal turn. – Nathan Kamal

cure-porno2. The Cure – Pornography (1982)

It doesn’t matter if we all die,” howls Robert Smith in the opening moments of “One Hundred Years,” the first track off the Cure’s 1982 masterpiece of doom and gloom, Pornography. Reciting surreal and terrifying poetry over a drumbeat that sounds like the unsteady heartbeat of a coke addict on a confused comedown, Smith immediately removes any hope of safety or salvation in the hellish world he and bandmates Simon Gallup and Lol Tolhurst created while trying to make “the ultimate fuck off record.” They certainly succeeded. Over the album’s eight tracks, Smith ruminates on drugs (“A Short Term Effect”), sex (“Siamese Twins”), the end of the world (“A Strange Day”) and death (everywhere) with a suicidal intensity that eventually drove what was left of the band into strange new directions during the mid-‘80s. The Cure would survive long enough to find international stardom and acclaim towards the end of the decade with Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration, but never again would they release anything as single-minded as this. Obsessed and obsessive, it’s tunnel vision in a collapsing tunnel, beat-heavy and black as Hell. – Peter A. Pompa

joy-division-closer1. Joy Division – Closer (1980)

Not that Joy Division’s album Closer needed all that much assistance heightening its beautiful, brilliant gloom, but that’s exactly what’s bestowed upon it by its release date approximately two months after lead singer Ian Curtis took the elegantly broadcast misery of his lyrics to the logical, terrible conclusion and committed suicide at the age of 23. The entire album takes on the hue of a shroud dragged through coal dust. The music and lyrics, both marvelously realized, meld perfectly and yet paradoxically often seem at odds, almost stabbing at one another through the course of a song. There’s a spectacular friction to the whole work, which serves to add grandness to the seminal goth rock romanticizing of sorrow. Even without the illuminating backstory of Curtis’ descent, it’s clear throughout that this is more than a semi-random assemblage of songs; it is a portrait of a soul in decay. It is as gorgeous and dangerous as a monstrous, billowing storm cloud, snapping off thunderclaps of warning. – Dan Seeger

        29 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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