Gothic Rock, usually known as Goth Rock, is a subgenre of music that derived from Alternative Rock and Post Punk. It emerged in the 1970’s, and went on to not only be a genre of music, but a subculture within itself, influencing fashions, media and clubs in the 1980’s.
Lyrically, Gothic Rock discussed much heavier or darker themes than Punk music, which is partially what formed the separation between the genres. Romance was often a theme; a sharp contrast to Punk’s dialogues about politics, and also, introspection was a key aspect of Goth Rock; lyrics would talk about inner emotions and often describe a sense of turmoil due to these feelings. The supernatural, such as ghosts and vampires were also frequently used motifs, alongside religious imagery and ideas of death.
Instruments would generally be that of a typical rock band, though they would be manipulated in a different way to create an alternative sound. Multiple guitars would be used, and a bass guitar, piano or other keys, drums and vocals were a typical line up. Due to the often poetic nature of some bands’ works, they would include instruments such as violins and cellos for a more classical and melancholy sound. Guitar riffs would be a focal point with the lyrics, and the bass line would often be quite high pitched, and as such sound more melodic, bringing it to the forefront of the song. ‘Dirge-like’ drum beats or African rhythms would be preferred, probably because the rhythms were so different to that of popular music, and they created either a sombre tone or an unnerving sound when coupled with the harsh guitar sounds and eerie vocals.
In terms of costume, what Goth Rock bands wore influenced many people, and still do today, as the ‘Goth’ subculture is still quite prominent, especially with teenagers. Bands would wear dark colours, particularly blacks and reds. Velvet was a common material, bringing to mind images of vampires and the supernatural. Lace and satin also became a part of the style. The Gothic style took influence from the Victorian era, often incorporating bodices with laced backs and layered skirts and top hats just to name a few things, into the fashion. Steampunk also rose to prominence within the genre, being a meshing of the Victorian style but with the idea of the industrial revolution; cogs and chains and other things associated with machinery would be added to create an oddly anachronistic Victorian fashion that was certainly eye-catching to audiences.
Overall, I think Gothic Rock is an interesting alternative genre of music because of its many influences and dramatic performance style. Due to the bands drawing inspiration from literature, such as from Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with a Vampire,’ and from poetry such as that by Edgar Allen Poe, very thought-provoking lyrics are used, and when paired with the edgier sound of harsher guitar riffs and melancholy vocals, a very different sound is produced. As such, I think Gothic Rock is well worth listening to, as a lot of hard work is put into the music and it is an interesting style to hear.