I feel a bit of a fraud writing this – I don’t have black hair, I haven’t ever dyed my hair black, I’ve never worn black leather trousers, I’ve never back-combed my hair. But I do like the music so here goes – I should say given my complete lack of appropriate dress sense some of the bands (and they are all bands) do not follow the dress code but to my ears sound goth.

Siouxsie & The Banshees – Playground Twist

And to start with the band which to my mind started the goth movement both musically and as a fashion choice. They may have started out as a ‘punk’ band but very quickly moved on to create their own sound and led the way.

Joy Division – Dead Souls

A band who visually don’t fit but musically – with pronounced bass, picked out guitar notes and a deep male voice coupled with a suitably morose subject matter. Its still hard to believe 40 years later than this was released as a ‘B’ side on an obscure French label with an extremely limited pressing.

Southern Death Cult – Fatman

A very short lived band who only released one single during their existence, but made a stunning TV appearance on The Tube, which was the first time a band described in the weeklies as Goth made it onto the little screen. Of course, the singer Ian Astbury went on to form the (death) Cult .

X Mal Deutschland – Incubus Succubus II

I was surprised how many of my favourite early goth songs were on the 4AD label. This is the first single released by this German band on 4AD- a firm favourite of John Peel at the time and one where the influence of Siouxsie is strong.

The Twilight Sad – Reflection of the Television

I’d never thought of Twilight Sad as Goth, but this stunner ( my fav from Forget the Night Ahead) fits the bill perfectly

Play Dead – The Tenant

Back to classic Goth – I really thought this had been released as a single, but no it was the second track on their first album ‘The First Flower’ , it should have been.

Cocteau Twins – Wax and Wane

Back to 4AD and a great track from their debut album ‘Garlands’ which barely hints at their future lighter musical path .

Danse Society – Heaven is Waiting

The Yorkshire role can not be ignored and was larger than just the Sisters of Mercy band/label- this is a great example from Barnsley. The Zig Zag magazine had by this point become the strongest printed supporter of the Goth movement and the Danse Society (from memory) were regularly featured. Released in 1983 it has a slightly softer tone and more pronounced keyboard than many of its contemporaries and is better for it.

Tanit – Can An Actor Bleed

The joys of the internet- Tanit were a French band who released this as the title track of an EP in 1983- It was probably around 2018 that I first heard it- and its brilliant – very powerful female singer (Elsa Drezner) over a bass led backing.

Killing Joke – The Raven King

Killing Joke were for me just a bit too aggressive to be truly Goth during their first incarnation but had all the required elements, having disbanded and then reformed the album ‘Absolute Dissent’ was released in 2010, this track is a celebration of Paul Raven, a band member who had passed away in 2007 from a heart attack.

Esben and the Witch- Marching Song

Released as a single in 2010 as the lead off track from their first album ‘Violet Cries’– which was described by the NME as “gothic but not goth” which to be honest is a fair description of this haunting track.

Sisters of Mercy – Amphetamine Logic

Obviously no goth selection is complete without the Sisters of Mercy who are set the tone and style for so many who followed- remember its not goth without dry ice



  1. As one non-Goth to another I pondered 2 of your tracks and 4 of the bands. The thing I enjoy about the ICA series is no matter how aligned readers may be to the music or band there are generally different choices put forward. Almost like a perpetual, personalised shuffle.

    I haven’t heard of Esben and the Witch for the longest time.

  2. Hi FFF- I’m guessing JD is one of the bands/tracks but which is the other?

  3. Nice to see The Danse Society included in an ICA Also that late era KJ tune is a monster! Thanks anwe

  4. Nice job, MAM. Thinking Cocteau Twins need their own category. I’ve seen them labeled Goth, shoegaze, dreampop, twee and every other post-punk identifier. The others are easier to pigeonhole.

  5. All interesting and valid selections for this one time Goth. It was a flirtation rather than a full immersion…I am happy to see some seemingly non Goth selections here included to attest to the attitude and “feeling” of Goth that runs through so much music.

  6. Nice work, Middle Aged Man! I was a pretty rubbish Goth, in that I didn’t fully commit and let all manner of non-Goth music into my life, so no complaints about the song selection here. I like the more contemporary ‘touched by the hand of Goth’ choices too and the Tanit song was a great new (for me) discovery.

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