Five goth albums from the eighties all rock fans should have in their collection

So far, the eighties were the golden age of goth rock
Robert Smith
Robert Smith / Tim Roney/GettyImages

While gothic, or goth rock was quite the rage back in the eighties, the genre never went away and seems to have gained new momentum in recent times with some ‘classic’ purveyors of the sound like Siouxie and The Banshees returning to the scene and The Cure being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2019.

Yet, quite a number of fans are not fully aware how the genre’s title was actually coined. As explained elsewhere, the term gothic originally referred to an architectural style dating back to the 12th century.

When it got connected to music (and literature) it even got sub-genres, mainly referring to certain elements infused, usually with darker musical and lyrical overtones, and widening into a fully-fledged subculture including fashion and other elements.

Eighties was the decade when Goth Rock took its true shape and form and the five albums here form a sort of a cornerstone of the genre then, but also through the decades to come.

Joy Division - Closer (1980)

While Joy Division’s first album Unknown Pleasures had a perfectly fitting title presenting an already firm and focused sound, Closer added musical elements that gave goth rock its impetus and the ability to move in quite a number of directions.

Still, the key to the album lay in Ian Curtis’ deeply dark lyrics and his incredible baritone voice that many later purveyors of goth rock took up as a reference. After all, it included the all time goth rock classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

Bauhaus - Mask (1981)

Bauhaus were definitely among the initiators of goth rock, and this, their second album, stands as one of the genre’s classic.

With all the doom and gloom associated with goth rock, frontman, and vocalist Peter Murphy started with their now classic goth single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead," this album just might be responsible for introducing electronics and elements of metal to goth rock, making this the band’s most popular release.

Virgin Prunes - If I Die, I die (1982)

For some this debut by Virgin Prunes is considered as an archetypal goth rock album. With all its darkness and minimalism abound, it actually proves that band and its leaders Gavin Friday and Guggi were on something, creating quite a diversified sound, and proving that goth rock was not a one-trick pony.

With its camp element, it just might be one of the albums (along with Siouxsie) that had a strong influence on goth rock fashion that went beyond music itself.

Siouxsie and The Banshees - Tinderbox (1986)

It is a long way from a rabid Sex Pistols fan to one of they key goth rock bands, but it is exactly the route taken by Siouxsie  Sioux and her band, who actually started out as far back as 1978.

It took them a few albums to catch a full stride, culminating in this album that actually had more rhythmic shifts than their previous offerings. At the same time, the songwriting seems to have reached an excellent level here, bringing in even dance elements to goth rock. It also might be one of the albums that brought Siouxsie and The Banshees back to the scene.

The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

By the time Robert Smith and his band released this album they had quite a hefty number of albums behind them (eight, to be precise), and enough time to fully develop their sound.

It was an album that was able to combine something seemingly unimaginable - fitting Smith’s dark visions into a catch pop song format, yet keeping other key elements of goth rock fully intact. Maybe that was the reason this is one of their most revered albums to date.

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