The goth fascination with death, decay, pain, and suffering all lends itself to the first noble truth: life is suffering. One drawback might be that we would have to find something more morbid than a cemetary to focus our attention on death and decay. Been there, done that.
I loved cemetaries. Still do. The older and more ornate the stones, the better. In fact, I still have a fascination with goth music and literature. That stuff has certainly influenced my poetry. I like Nine Inch Nails and Tool, two bands that owe a debt to gothic music. I loved the first Crow movie, based on one of the most goth graphic book series of all time. I still enjoy good vampire movies, which have inspired a sub-genre of the goth scene.
When goth culture had used up its 15 minutes of fame, I figured it would be relegated to an episode on eighties music on VH1. I was wrong. Goth culture, or at least fashion, is back in England, which means it'll be here soon. This article provides an excellent brief history of goth music for those who weren't there the first time around. They end the story with this:
This video is The Cure's "Pornography," from the album of the same name, performed live in 1984. The song isn't about what the title might lead you to believe -- it's much worse than that. Pornography was one of the darkest albums ever made, and that's saying a lot if you ever listened to Christian Death or Alien Sex Fiend.
In the 90s, goths all but disappeared as dance music became the dominant youth cult. The movement went underground and fractured into cyber goth, Christian goth, industrial goth, medieval goth and the latest sub-genre, zombie goth. Around the world, however, goth hit the mainstream. Goth crossbred with electronica and heavy metal in the form of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. While the music of Nine Inch Nails owed more to the industrial-influenced music of Throbbing Gristle and Ministry, their subect matter (murder and trauma) and style (head-to-toe black leather) were unmistakably goth. Marilyn Manson, meanwhile, fused Alien Sex Fiend's electro-goth with Alice Cooper's theatrics and went to the arena circuit. In Germany, the industrial-techno-metal sextet Rammstein took much from gothic horror, and Hussey says his mother often tells him how much the cult Finnish band HIM sound like the Mission.
And now it's hip again here.
Goth will exist in one form or another as long as young people are alienated and fascinated by death. Mrs Fiend expresses anxiety that goth could turn into an off-the-peg fashion style. However, Severin is darkly optimistic.
"They read French novelists. They've gone into it with a complete passion and I don't blame them," he says of the new goths. "I've always thought there's room in pop for different languages, one of them being an exploration of the blacker side of human nature. There's nothing to be afraid of in the dark."
Five goth classics
Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi's Dead
The 1979 single that invented the genre overnight. In an atmosphere of unease, Peter Murphy eulogises Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula with a cry of "Undead! Undead! Undead!"
Available on Crackle - Best of Bauhaus (4AD)
The Sisters Of Mercy: Amphetamine Logic
This stark, driving track defines the Sisters' oeuvre and sums up Andrew Eldritch's cod-vampiric lifestyle: "Nothing but the knife to live for."
Available on First and Last and Always (Merciful Release)
The Cure - A Strange Day
The Cure were always more of an alternative pop band than 100% goth, but A Strange Day's melancholy sees them fitting into the genre.
Available on Pornography (Fiction)
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - Walking on Your Hands
The Leeds-based Lorries, originally a typical if moody indie band, adopted goth cliches such as flanged guitars for this thrilling 80s nightclub staple.
Available on The Gothic Box (Rhino)
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Night Shift
One of the darkest cuts from the album Juju: a harrowing groove that explores street prostitution.
Available on JuJu (Polydor)
· The Gothic Box 3CD/DVD set of early goth is out now on Rhino. Blue Sunshine by the Glove has been reissued by Universal