Thursday, January 5, 2012

Metal's Place in the Subculture

Of all the discussions that take place within the Gothic scene, the one I find most difficult to stay out of is the debate over where metal fits into the subculture. On the one hand, there are the more traditional folks who rightfully insist that Goth culture grew out of the punk and post-punk scenes. Metal, they like to point out, has very different roots and it's hard for me to disagree with that assessment. On the other hand, there are many similarities between the Gothic and metal scenes and crossover between the two subcultures is not at all uncommon. For what it's worth, this is my take on the whole thing: 

Merriam-Webster Online defines the word Gothic this way: "of or relating to a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents"

Since there's no mention of music in the above definition, let's substitute the word fiction with music instead. Would Merriam-Webster's definition not still be correct; a statement of truth? Shouldn't Gothic music then, invoke the darker aspects; the macabre, desolation, despair, melancholy and the more occult aspects of our personalities, psyches and very souls? Doesn't it often do just that; and doesn't some metal accomplish the same thing? If so, then how can it not fall under the definition of Gothic? 

Admittedly, I have a bit of prejudice in this regard. I listen more to metal than any other genre of music; partly because so much of it does invoke the above-mentioned feelings in me. I would go so far as to argue that certain sub genres of metal come across as considerably more Gothic than much of the so-called old-school Goth. In other words, as much as I love Siouxsie Sioux and her music I would have to categorize her style as post punk. Siouxsie herself has actually denied that either she or her music are Gothic.So while I really enjoy the music and bands that started it all and those who carry on in the same vein, it's metal that generally brings me to that special place--to that desolate landscape in which waits the dark goddess of my dreams awaits me. Not all metal brings me there, and not necessarily that which is referred to as Gothic metal either. After all, labels are an inexact tool at best.

That said, there is a lot of Gothic metal that I believe does accomplish the mission--and it does so exceptionally well. And then there's doom metal with its various sub genres, such as Gothic doom, funeral doom and death doom which never fails to take me into that realm where I so often need to go. I would recommend, just to mention a few, the following bands for a truly Gothic experience: 

Draconian, Tales of Dark, Wine From Tears, Nox Aurea, The Sins of Thy Beloved, Tristania, Sirenia and Forest of Shadows. 

Perhaps I don't view Gothic music as traditionally as some because I wasn't there when it all happened. Oh, I'm old enough that I could have and perhaps should have been; but for whatever reason, I remained unaware of Goth culture until about twelve years ago. It's true, I was totally oblivious to it even though I was listening to The Cure--even though I loved Dead Can Dance, Loreena McKennitt and dark ethereal music in general. In any event, I'm a music lover who is more than ready to proclaim some metal genres as a type of Gothic music, even as I readily acknowledge that it sprang from different roots.

As Exhibit A, I offer you the following video. The song, which is performed by Amederia, a Gothic/Doom band from Russia, is entitled Doomed Ground. Enjoy!

Top Photo: The Pianist - Author unknown. 




  1. YES! I've been intending to jump on the "what defines Goth music" bandwagon myself for a while now. My musical tastes cross genres, but if it's the "gothiness" that draws me to it, isn't it all Goth? I see Goth music as a style or a type, but not a genre. It's has too broad a range for that. I'll have to do my little bit of research and get to writing my own post, now that you've lit a fire under me. =D

  2. I couldn't agree with you more, and I'm glad that I inspired you to something. I look forward to reading your views on the topic.