Goth means a lot of things to a lot of people. I always enjoy music that is nasty, upbeat and aggressive. Those adjectives also mean a lot of things to different people. Exploring genres and subgenres can take way too much time and we’re all fucking busy.
So here are five of my favorite goth albums in five different flavors of sleaze.
- 13 Cats – 13 Cats
The 13 Cats is a supergroup made up of Tim Polecat, Danny B. Harvey, Slim Jim Phantom and Smutty Smith. Sometimes I wish the S&M and queer communities were a little more invested in rockabilly and psychobilly. The 13 Cats full length debut, released in 2003, is a great vision of leather and drag. All of these musicians are from a rockabilly and psychobilly background, but the songs are almost more punk and glam than anything. Think rockabilly musicians aiming for Transformer. The album’s pink and green color scheme is very telling. Bright & nasty, looking for a fight and looking forward to losing. If you’re after one song from the album, go with Flesh For Andy Warhol. Danny B. Harvey is doing his New York Dolls meets Eddie Cochran guitar style, Tim Polecat is in his element and being his perfect self and Slim Jim Phantom and Smutty Smith are tight as hell in the rhythm section.
- Tiamat – Judas Christ
Tiamat is like Marilyn Manson for metalheads. They began in the late 1980’s as an extreme metal band but eventually started developing more of a goth sound. They are still together and have recently started covering Lana Del Rey songs at their shows. Judas Christ is an album from 2002, offering a mixture of Rolling Stones esque, “Strung out and fine with it,” lyrics and a goth interpretation of the Gothenburg metal sound.
Johan Edlund drones & croons out his vocals, singing as much about the occult as his drug habits. The opening track of Judas Christ, The Return of The Son of Nothing, is almost like a doom metal song without any of the fuzz. “Judas went back to Nazareth and the President back in his jet,” sums up this album quite well. A lot of people enjoy Judas Priest & Ghost as their pegging soundtracks and they are both excellent choices. Sometime try adding in, “I Am in Love With Myself,” and, “Cold Last Supper,” from this album along with your pegging standards.
- Light Asylum – In Tension
This recent EP took me by surprise. A friend showed me and I’m still obsessed. In Tension is filled with synths and deep, layered drum parts. Their singer, Shannon Funchess, has a voice to make Cher weep. Every song on the EP is good but my favorite by far is the track, Dark Allies. I’ve been listening to it every day as I shower and do my hair, it’s also perfect for playing in the car when you need to stay focused while you’re driving somewhere for a date.
A lot of the riffs throughout this EP resemble what you hear in films from Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. If you’re a musician, this is a great record to study. The layering is expertly applied. The chords don’t change very often and there is just enough subtle change throughout the tracks to keep things interesting while also repeating a lot of the same motifs.
- Genitorturers – Flesh is the Law
Everything about this album is irresistible. They are originally from Florida, forming in the mid 1980’s. The title track, Flesh is the Law, is extremely straight forward. And straight forwardness sometimes is lacking in queer and alt spaces. Accompanied by some cool synth bass lines and digitally distorted guitar, Gen sings about pussy worship and the imperative need for it. The opening track, Lecher Bitch, sets the perfect tone for the album. Lots of bass distortion and Gen snarling out her melodies. If this record were a D&D character, it would have a 22 strength stat and about a 3 for dexterity. Which for some of us is exactly perfect. Perhaps it undermines how good this record is, to say that it isn’t a finesse based effort. A lot of things require a lot of finesse, but the main point of attraction with this album is its rawness. Rawness requires a lot of work and practice but it’s an aesthetic that is harder to find in both music and partners than one might think.
- Black Moustache – Black Moustache
Electro lo-fi beauty bois, here. If The Moldy Peaches used a drum machine and synths and more digital distortion they would sound a lot like Black Moustache. There are a lot of cool pop and dance undertones to this album and there are a lot of ways to be denim and leather without being metal. Hot Monkey, Hot Ass! is a song to serve many purposes. If there is a Cruising remake this song will be in the soundtrack. It’s also perfect to practice guitar with. All of the bass and drum groove pockets make this album very listenable. Dirty & poppy at the same time, my poor goth heart. If Paul Stanley made his first record in 2008 and had no hope of selling records, he might have made something similar to Black Moustache’s self-titled debut.
ALSO BY THURSDAY SIMPSON
Thursday Simpson is from rural Illinois. She has a BA from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in Diabolique Magazine, Rhino Poetry, The Breakroom Stories, Fishfood Magazine and Far Off Places.