The Art of Darkness – A Review

Firstly, my thanks to John Robb for kindly supplying me with an advance review copy of The Art of Darkness – A History of Goth, published today via Louder Than War. His enthusiasm for the subject has been infectious, with a great array of discussions throughout the media, which can only benefit this strange old subculture of ours. Robb’s history and experience within the alternative music scene at large should only be an advantage to any review of the history of goth.

This mammoth text is heralded by the bold claim “The Art of Darkness is the first major and only complete comprehensive overview of Goth music and culture and its lasting legacy.” This slightly tortured sentence is accurate in one sense, in that nobody else has committed more than 500 pages to attempting to cover every possible influence and aspect of the sprawling web of goth. 

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Dark Return of the Same Old Story

I was in two minds about responding to The Guardian’s article of 20 February – “Goth’s undead! The dark return of Britain’s spookiest subculture”. For once, I wasn’t being told a B-list celebrity was ‘goth’ for wearing a darker shade of make-up. But the “dark return?” The question, “did it ever go away”? Time to set the record straight!

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The Blogging Goth in conversation with The March Violets

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, well – first of all, thanks for sticking with it. I have a stubborn affection for the hellbird site since I remember it first coming out and being actually quite enjoyable. I’ve not yet been utterly burned by its slow but inevitable collapse… yet.

It’s where I convey the nearest mix of myself and the website, and where I promised to generate more video content this year. I feel it is a medium I absolutely had to have more presence in, and also where I enjoy working – I studied video production in my degree and although I’ve forgotten a fair bit, I can still slice, dice and stitch content together sufficiently enough I feel.

Without further ado, I’ll link you to my first video of 2023, an interview I did with the lovely folk in the March Violets – once labelmates with the legendary Sisters, and an ongoing force in the post-punk world. They kindly agreed to chat with me from their rehearsal/writing studios in Winterville, GA about the difficulties of line-up change, the drive to create new content, the concept of ‘legitimacy’ in goth music and much more.

I hope to bring you more interviews, and indeed more videos overall, in future!

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Farewell 2022

Festive greetings from The Blogging Goth! I sincerely hope the season has been good to you, and 2023 brings you all you could desire.

2022 was the usual array of highs and lows set against the backdrop of a world going increasingly mad, wracked with the ongoing effects of COVID-19 amongst a myriad of other challenges. For example, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter was the burning of Rome, against which the goths of the bird app fiddled furiously, elevating What Is Goth? to ever strident new heights.

Regardless of where you find yourself in that interminable bunfight, the music scene has been prolific from the ground up with new bands exploding in popularity and engagement online. Male Tears, Then Comes Silence, Byronic Sex and Exile, Rosegarden Funeral Party, Vision Video and many more are electrifying a new generation of fans, and connecting with more veterans as well.

Indeed, Vision Video will bridge the gap by supporting the resurgent March Violets on a UK tour next year – which will hopefully be a nexus and herald of goth activity in my home country! I intend to get along to a few dates, namely Newcastle (my home) but hopefully also Glasgow (one of my favourite cities) and Leeds (ancestral home of UK goth and many friends!) I trust I’ll see some of you along the way?

I also intend to get online with the March Violets and talk about their return to form for 2023 – this will be on my YouTube channel as I try and balance that outlet for my creativity next year. I’ve observed but kept quiet as the online discussion of goth ‘legitimacy’ has raged on social media. I intend to use my channel to quietly put forward my own thoughts on the topic, led by the single most important fact that nobody can dispute – that nobody is the official authority on goth!

2022 was full of challenges personally – from huge home renovation projects that kept us off-balance for months, through promotions (welcome) and new challenges at work (unwelcome!) that took up more time that intended, through to the sad loss of our eldest cat Drusilla. All of this took place in a country wracked by political and economic instability that had everyone at their wits end and living on frayed nerves. I have nothing but solidarity with everyone else who faced interminable struggles this year.

Let us look ahead instead to the opportunities of 2023. Bands like Cold Cave and Lebanon Hanover have me piqued for Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival in Whitby. The Cure’s promised next album should appear. Siouxsie Sioux will return to perform live after ten years absence from the stage. The Sisters of Mercy will perform in South America, presumably after reading the hundreds of comments on Facebook asking them to play Brazil. The Sick New World Festival assembles an army of alternative acts to die for!

The goth scene (sorry Andrew) shows no signs of flagging, and indeed mainstream appeal will continue to be bolstered with news on new seasons from goth-friendly series like Wednesday and The Sandman. It falls to all of us to take our seats at a great Dark Banquet in the New Year. Let us finally raise a glass though, to those who will not be joining us in 2023.

Meat Loaf, Taylor Hawkins, Jordan Mooney, Andy Fletcher, Paul Ryder, David Warner, Darryl Hunt, Hilary Mantel, Coolio, Angela Lansbury, Robbie Coltrane, Jerry Lee Lewis, Christine McVie, Keith Levene, Angelo Badalamenti, Jet Black, Martin Duffy, Terry Hall, Maxi Jazz and Vivienne Westwood amongst many others – may you all rest in peace.

Here’s to the New Year!

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Catching up with ‘Britain’s Biggest Goth’

It’s always random chance when the British media decides to cover goth. We were very lucky with The Guardian’s article on ‘long-standing goths’, a sterling set of interviews some true veterans including my friends Mel, Lee, Joel and Cinzia. Even so I must admit to some trepidation when I heard Cinzia would be appearing on the Chris Moyles Show on Radio X – and even speaking to the Daily Mail, that dreaded heavyweight of caricature British extremism!

Of course I shouldn’t worry, because she’s a passionate and erudite exponent of the cause. A frequent on the gig and festival circuit, especially around her home county of Yorkshire, I was delighted to see her appear in a couple of the UK’s leading media outlets. I had to catch up with her afterwards and find out more about her experience.

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