Young Gods

Switzerland’s Young Gods are nothing if not ambitious. Grafting rock, classical and electronic influences, the group’s unusual vocals/sampler/drums configuration reconstructs rock from the ground up, producing a fiery collage of roaring guitars, blistering rhythms and Wagnerian orchestras, all presided over by Franz Treichler’s leering, guttural voice. Irreverent, abrasive and years ahead of its time, the…

Killing Joke

Emerging in London at the tail end of ’70s punk, a time when bands like Wire, the Fall, Public Image and Gang of Four were experimenting with the very structure of rock, British nihilists Killing Joke went a step further, adding noisy synthesizers to the overpoweringly brutal attack. Clearly prefiguring industrial rock of the late…

White Zombie

When White Zombie crept into New York’s then-vaunted scum-rock scene, the group was perceived as playing a kitsch in-joke on downtown types by enveloping a standard Birthday Party-via-Blue Cheer sludge onslaught in the gaudiest arena-rock trappings you could buy at the 99-cent store. But despite the art-school background shared by singer Rob Zombie (actually Robert…

Fields of the Nephilim

Although they hail from Stevenage (a town 30 miles north of London), to judge by their appearance and music, these moody post-goths could have stepped right out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, dust flying and spurs clicking. The band’s sound is equal parts Sisters of Mercy and Ennio Morricone; dark, deep, smoky vocals coiled…

Voivod

Evolutionary change has been a watchword with this band of French Canadian eccentrics since their crude mid-’80s beginnings in youthful Motörhead-meets-Mad-Max power thrash. Montréal’s Voivod is a thrilling anomaly, staking out a unique terrain on the postmodern frontier. While often classified as metal, what the group does is better described as dark progressive rock with…

U.K. Decay

Theatrical post-punks with an unfortunately short lifespan, UK Decay provided a crucial bridge between such art-gloom bands as Bauhaus, PiL, Theatre of Hate and Killing Joke and the anarchy-punk camp led by Crass, Rudimentary Peni and Flux of Pink Indians. Quite unlike the politico/nasty-thrash image suggested by their name, UK Decay had a classical bent,…

Kommunity FK

Kommunity FK arose from the LA avant-garde gloom scene with a sound somewhere between Joy Division, Christian Death and Savage Republic. The Vision and the Voice is an excellent album, starting with its Boschian cover art depicting naked figures cavorting and fornicating around a giant red penis. Patrick Mata’s clear, soaring vocals nicely match his…

Tones on Tail

Originally formed in 1981 as a duo of Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash and Bauhaus roadie-turned-bassist Glenn Campling, Tones on Tail was a generally interesting, shortlived experiment in various styles. When the parent group called it a day in 1983, Ash chose to make this modest side project a going concern, and Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins…

Holy Cow

New England’s Holy Cow (not the Holy Cows, another band entirely) are merchants of the macabre, partaking equally of the dark intensity of Bauhaus and the bleak, forceful pound of the Swans. Though mohawked lead vocalist Chris Means occasionally sounds a bit too much like Peter Murphy for comfort, he is able to conjure up…

New Model Army

A trio vigorously lauded by supporters as the new Clash, New Model Army is long on principle and maintains a fervent, unyielding political stance. Taking primary inspiration from early punk roots (though less abrasive and more melodic), NMA breathes life into the genre, providing a most effective medium for singer/guitarist Slade the Leveller (Justin Sullivan)…

Batfish Boys

When singer Simon Denbigh was booted from March Violets, he wasted little time in assembling a more conducive outfit. On The Gods Hate Kansas, the Batfish Boys take the Violets’ dark post-punk and give it a traditional rock setting. Several of the best moments (“The Tumbleweed Thing,” “Mrs. Triffid” and the terrific single, “Swamp Liquor”)…

Bauhaus

Though their career was over in a mere four years, Bauhaus are the acknowledged godfathers of gothic rock, following the art movement for which they were named in seeking to use minimalism as a powerful mood-setting tool. Combining guitars and electronics into a bleak backdrop for Peter Murphy’s angst-driven vocals, Bauhaus ignited what was already…

Christian Death

Just as the theatrically minded LA punk scene was beginning to give rise to such morbidly themed outfits as 45 Grave and the Flesh Eaters, an androgynous teenaged street performer named Rozz Williams (né Roger Painter) founded Christian Death, one of the most prolific, enduring and beloved gothic acts of all time. Few groups have…

Love and Rockets

From near oblivion to solid stardom, Love and Rockets was a group that refused to die. Named after the Hernandez brothers’ underground comic, Love and Rockets reunited three-fourths of Bauhaus after that group ended in 1983. First, drummer Kevin Haskins joined guitarist Daniel Ash’s side-project-turned-serious Tones on Tail, which folded a year later. Then, Haskins’…

Suede

In Britain’s 1992-’93 alternapop playing field, still full of anonymous, asexual shoegazer outfits and imported American grunge, Suede moved quickly to fill a power vacuum with spark, spunk and androgyny in the grand tradition of Bowie and the Smiths. The London quartet generated such hot and heavy hype that Suede had been on the cover…

Red Temple Spirits

Los Angeles quartet Red Temple Spirits skillfully mixes tribal post-punk influences — mid-period Cure, Savage Republic, early (Death) Cult — with a loving dose of lysergic psychedelia (Syd Barrett and Roky Erickson are particular touchstones). Bassist Dino Paredes (formerly of Psi-Com, with Perry Farrell) and guitarist Dallas Taylor coax entrancing drones and pulses from their…

Cranes

Monolithic and minimal, Wings of Joy conjures up the idea that Cocteau Twins and Swans once exchanged their musical DNA. A twilight marble edifice of lonely, ominous piano and stark beats marked by the occasional shocking bursts of industrial-strength guitar fuzz (as on the tremendous “Starblood”), it’s a difficult but ultimately rewarding record. The neo-classical…

Danzig

At the very crest of Misfits cult mania, producer Rick Rubin decided to help ex-‘Fits vocalist Glenn Danzig realize a dream of making his current group, Samhain, more professional and focused. It worked. In Danzig, the diminutive New Jersey hunk moved his dark hard rock into the commercial mainstream while remaining true to fans’ sanguinary…

Bone Orchard

The artwork on this Brighton quintet’s debut LP employs the same scratchy/violent style as Batcave bands like Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend; the music on Jack is similarly gloomy and intense, but generally less clichéd and more engaging. Credit singer Chrissy McGee (an original, intelligent lyricist — check the story-like “Five Days in the Neighborhood”…

Ritual Tension

I Live Here is a challenging debut from a band that was somewhat overlooked in the rush to gush over such New York noise scene contemporaries as Sonic Youth, Live Skull and Swans. The links are there, both stylistic and genealogical (Ritual Tension’s vocalist drummed on Greed and Holy Money), but this quartet writhes to…