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CuboidLike most genres there are definite fractions within the scope of 'Goth Rock', most notably European (predominantly UK bands) and their US counter parts. The genre's roots are based in the UK and were sown from the late 70's punk movement (hence the pioneers original label of 'Gothic Punk'), Bauhaus undoutably the founding fathers but unlikely candidate Adam Ant warranting a mention with early recordings on the indie Do-It record label (before changing style for more main stream success in the early 80's). Picking up the mantle and developing the sound further fell to Siouxsie and the Banshees and associated act The Cure, who would go on to evolve the sound further with their seminal 1982 LP 'Pornography', arguably the first bonafide Gothic Rock album. Although The Cure would actively dis-associate themselves from the growing Goth movement over the next few years The Sisters of Mercy would quickly establish themselves as the foremost Goth Rock combo of the mid 80's thanks to the truly incredible 'First and Last and Always' LP, and would also be responsible for the trademark image that would be imitated to this day. Interstingly there was also a brief 'Goth Electronica' period, with Depeche Mode (particulaly the 'Black Celebration' LP) and Gary Newman the torch barers, but it was Gothic Rock which was to find new heights with The Cult, The Damned, All About Eve, Ghost Dance, Danielle Dax and The Mission all cementing the sound in the UK charts in the late 80's. One band demands special mention from this era, who although undoubtably Sisters clones to begin with, carved out a unique sound of their own within the genre - the awesome Fields of the Nephilim, still touring under the helm of front man Carl McCoy today and who are responsible for the most important and impressive Goth Rock album in recent years - 'Mourning Sun'. Although the scene has waned somewhat in the UK it has been active in other parts of the world, especially the US, but it's difficult to compare today's Goth Rock bands with the afore mentioned founders - the general feel and over all approach has changed to a more commercially acceptable sound with an emphasis on an attractive lead singer and has thus had most (if not all) of the industrial grit removed. Hence I'm not a huge fan - personally I'd rather stick with the Nephilim or even the now disbanded Curve (with occassional input from Muse) for a modern goth fix.
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