Part five of a five part series. Evanescence – Goth? Really? Mumble, mutter, grumble, etc…
Arguably the last big goth album by a new band to make a crossover splash was Evanescence’s Fallen, released in early 2003. That one band led millions of mall-goths in one direction, towards the mainstream, while more traditional goths went almost the exact opposite way.
While no self-respecting goth purist would consider mentioning Amy Lee’s melodramatic band in the same sentence as Siouxsie & the Banshees, no one can deny that Evanescence was obviously inspired by ethereal-wave bands such as Dead Can Dance, and was indeed even formed around the same time that Faith and the Muse got going. They obviously considered themselves goth, whether OGs did or not.
Yet while the outside world continued to think of Evanescence’s kinda-spooky blend of hard rock and power pop as a prime example of goth, that path led nowhere but to emo, douche-rock in black leather, and pop princesses going through smoky-eyeliner phases. But elsewhere, big things were happening as pre-mall goth was firmly ensconcing itself within the modern electronica movement.
The year before Fallen exploded out into the eyeballs of the overworld, blinding it to the true new goth, came a renaissance of near-perfect EBM and futurepop records that in retrospect made 2002 one of goth’s seminal years.
We’re talking albums like VNV Nation’s FuturePerfect and Covenant’s Northern Light, two of the greatest goth dance-party records ever released. Also that year, Imperative Reaction put out Ruined, Apoptygma Berzerk released Harmonizer, and Funker Vogt dropped Survivor. All fantastic, solid works that show goth was more interested in pursuing a beepity-boopity future than returning to the rock path it had already trodden.
Even here in Houston, which was still a place where electronica bands knew they would always find a warm and enthusiastic welcome, we were developing our own sound. Asmodeus X put out their debut Wolf Age, while Provision was also making waves with Evaporate.
The accessibility of the equipment and the ease of home recording helped generate a ton of beatmakers who took the helm and guided goth to what has defined it into the modern day.
Since 2002, goth has been in something of a holding pattern. The mainstream has left goth behind (or alone, thank God), and even Hot Topic is barely even pretending to the label anymore.
There’s been some movement by folk artists like Blitzen Trapper or O’Death towards the same bleak style that defined Nick Cave. Deathrock is growing again, but whether as a throwback or a new movement remains to be seen. What goth is seeking is a change of days, and we’re quietly waiting for the sixth addition to this list.
Keep goth and carry on.