Monday, 18 April 2011

Goth's relationship with the metal scene

This is often a tricky subject - many Goths are highly unimpressed that Goth and metal music and culture are often lumped together by both mallgoths and the mainstream, and often react with disdain towards metal music as a whole. But on the other hand, a lot of Goths take a lot of enjoyment in metal music and culture, and will cheerfully (OK, perhaps not 'cheerfully', we are Goths after all ;-) ) attend metal nights and metal festivals as well as specifically 'Goth' events.

That would be the short version.

Source: Tumblr
Like Goth and emo (another subculture frequently thought to be 'the same thing' as Goth...), Goth and metal are two separate music genres which have given rise to separate subcultures with their own events, style of dress, and values. Metal music developed before Goth, in the late 60s and early 70s. Early metal bands included Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath (a personal favourite!) and Deep Purple. As more bands emerged in the genre during the mid-70s, the genre began to gain a following of loyal fans, who became known as 'metalheads' or 'headbangers'.

Of course, nowadays there are dozens (if not more) subgenres of metal, such as Gothic metal, symphonic, thrash, death metal, glam metal, folk metal, nu-metal, metalcore, Industrial metal, rap metal, progressive metal, Viking metal and many more. Many of these are popular amongst Goths as well as metalheads, and will be featured in upcoming 'dark and Goth-friendly' music guides.

Visual imagery has played a large role in the development of metal and is possibly the main reason why it has become so strongly associated with the Goth subculture. Some notable metal acts such as Alice Cooper and Lordi (another two favourites of mine...) are known for their appearance just as much as their music. Album art and music videos frequently display dark or disturbing themes.

The metalhead subculture is described as being predominantly 'young, white and male... but tolerant of those outside its core demographic base who follow its codes of dress, appearance, and behavior.' Of course, this is a huge generalisation - metal has an ever-increasing female following, and you don't have to be under thirty or white to enjoy metal. Or any genre of music, come to that.

Unlike the androgyny commonly associated with Goth, male metalheads often dress in a manner reflecting the masculinity and machismo often seen (or rather, heard) within the metal genre. Key themes in male metalhead fashion include long hair, leather jackets and band patches. For both men and women, metalhead fashion is often similar to Goth fashion, incorporating lots of eyeliner, black clothing, heavy boots, studs, spikes and fishnets. However it tends to be simpler, and more 'hard' than elegant. For metalhead women, the 'femme fatale' Goth fashion is more often seen than, for example, the lace and velvets of romantigoth. I chose the images on this page because the people in them could easily be associated with either the Goth OR metal subculture.
Source: Photobucket
Like Goth and emo, metal has often been on the receiving end of criticism from both press and politicians (I think that almost all 'dark' genres have to suffer this), claiming that it incites violence and glorifies suicide. The metal subculture oozes considerably more machismo than Goth, and this fact coupled with metal 'dancing' styles such as moshing and the infamous 'Wall of Death', have probably led to this stereotype. Yes, you are more likely to find brawling in a mosh pit than at a Goth night; but on the street, I have found that metalheads are usually polite, well-mannered and non-violent.

Metal bands that are popular amongst Goths tend to be those known for gloomier, more atmospheric music; a dark or dramatic stage persona; or those with melancholy (or black-humoured) lyrics. Popular subgenres tend to include Industrial metal, symphonic, operatic or Gothic metal, and black metal. Just off the top of my head: Rob Zombie, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Nightwish, Theatres Des Vampires, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, After Forever, Type O Negative, Paradise Lost, Sepultura, Therion, Slipknot, Children of Bodom and Within Temptation all have a sizeable Goth following.

The two subcultures are indeed closely related; after Industrial, nowadays the metal scene is probably Goth's closest cousin. There are many clubs and events that cater to both groups, many bands (such as those above) with crossover appeal, and many Goths who are also fans of metal music. But listening exclusively to metal music does not a Goth make (a common mistake amongst mallgoths is to assume that metal music is Goth). I have heard of fans of both genres referring to themselves as 'metal Goths', which is as good a description as any.

Some Goths can be very purist and do not appreciate the amount of crossover with the metal scene; I once read on a forum that somebody was bitched at by a fellow Goth for daring to wear a Dragonforce T-shirt into a Goth club. But in today's scene I would guess that a good half of the Goth community has at least a scattering of metal music in their collection.

Goth gossip: Fans of gothic metal, doom metal, black metal, Goth rock, darkwave, emotive hardcore and other generally 'gloomy' music will be pleased to hear that what your parents tell you (even my very open-minded mother has trotted out this line on occasion) is not true: dark, gloomy, 'depressing' or heavy music DOES NOT and WILL NOT cause depression. In fact, if you love it, it will actually be making you happier every single time you listen to it. Check out the proof here.


Duvessa said...

Nice post :)

I'm myself more of a metalhead than a goth even if I like some goth-friendly metal. It's just easier to say people I'm goth (even if I never say but I don't try to correct if people call me that) rather than metalhead since they mostly know what goths look like and metalheads remind most of the young, white and male as you wrote that seem to have too much testosterone in their body and consume too much alcohol :D

Laurence 'The Beard' Williams said...

Metal-goth? If ever there was a better way of describing me, that would be it. Nicely done =D

As a proud Dragonforce fan, I'm rather offended that someone who is also proud of their musical tastes should suffer abuse from their fellow music lovers.It's this kind of elitism that could potentially harm the scene in a terrible way. Besides, when I went to see them at Reading, there were plenty of goths raising their fists to those long-haired rogues, proving that not all of Dragonforce's fans are game-addicted fuckwits.

In any case, thanks for another much needed artcile Amy, one which I think has been needed for quite a while.

Regards, the Beard

SaryWalrus said...

I've seen quite a few documentary's on metal music around the world and have a lot of friends obsessed with the genre and culture and the generalization of "young, white and male..." is in my opinion completely wrong. There's humongous following's in Hawaii, Japan and a lot of non-white countries.

Anonymous said...

Under thirty, huh? Hahaha! My parents raised me on metal! AC/DC's "Back in Black" is a personal favorite, as is Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Coming", Alice Cooper's "School's OUt" or "Hey Stupid"--and the list could go on and on, and on and on! What can I say? I'm adidicted to music in general. Which may be why I don't fit into any one or few stereotypes...

The Green Fairy said...

I began my gothdom in the metal scene, but moved on after realising the over-association metalheads and sweat have. Ergh.

Also following on from Sally, yes yes yes for J-metal! It's my fav metal subgenre :) And the band members are clean and nice and pretty but still crazy hardcore. Love that SHiz.

p.s. Practically every metal band you named are the non-japanese ones that I love :P eheheh

Also, check out mzanthropic.

Maeam said...

Ahhh~ Metal~!! I LOVE metal just as much as I love gothic rock~!! Honestly, maybe more...but still! Music FTW! The gloomier, the better. I find them to be inspiring, actually, not depressing. Even the ones that are depressing (to me) are inspiring.

And I can only clean my room while listening to some hard rock, metal or post-punk!

Emily Lynn G. said...

I lean more on the Industrial fence myself, but I've been known to dabble in Rob Zombie and Powerman 5000.
And I LOVE that music article-SO sharing that :D

Emily Lynn G. said...

Oh, and sorry about that website that's stealing your articles Miss Amy-I'm an artist that posts her work online, so i understand the frustration of people using things without permission. They even stole an article you wrote calling them out on the ordeal...can you believe the nerve?? Anyway we'll get 'em >:)

Qwack said...

The only metal I could get into was Bathory... I like the Viking type stuff.

Anonymous said...

I was a metalhead before I was a goth. Like Jillian Vinters says in her book Gothic Charm School, many of us who grew up in the 80s have a secret metal past. I actually used to play in a local gothic metal band called Exalted. We were terrible, but had a lot of fun. Those who know me know my guilty pleasure is still GNR. Shhh..... The cabal my recind my goth card.

Anonymous said...

As well, there were some goth bands that were influenced by metal bands. Such as Alien Sex Fiend (influenced by Alice Cooper), 45 Grave (also influenced by Alice Cooper), and Rozz Williams of Christian Death (influenced by KISS and Alice Cooper). Even some metal bands have been influenced by goth bands (Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth for example).

These days I know plenty of people in our local scene that are just as goth as they are metalheads. Even so, when KMFDM and Front Line Assembly came into town guess who primarily attended the show? Goths. Not to mention Ministry is a long loved staple in the goth subculture.

Even at Wave Gotik Treffen you have metal bands like Virgin Black and The Foreshadowing playing besides like Cinema Strange or Frank the Baptist. Seeing how Goth as a subculture is primarily built upon assimilating outside sources that have a common aesthetic (deathrock for example) into it's fold I don't find this surprising. There is a lot of crossover between metal and goth these days. I find it exciting. We may just be on the brink of some great new movement happening in the goth scene! :)

Anonymous said...

I am a female metalhead,i mostly listen to alot of classic metal bands. i been told i dress EXACTLY like the guys,but like a girl. and i agree with this post 100% . i always admired the goth culture and never had anything against it. i actually like the music too. its very beautiful and diffrent. i can hear Venom and next would be Elegant Machinery. Besides the music, as a metalhead, i am also in love with a guy who happens to be a goth...its not everyday you see a girl metalhead with a Slayer shirt and spikes holding hands and kissing a properly dark dressed goth guy! \m/

Claidheamh said...

Mm, my good (slightly gothic) friend and I are what I like to call Viking goths- we love classic goth music as well as metal. In her case, said metal is more mainstream and she only really likes The Cure when it comes to goth music. I, however, like more Medieval Rock, Folk Metal, Power Metal, and Bauhaus is love. I dress more closely to metal-ish and listen to more metal now than I used to (when I was first getting into alternative styles and happened upon goth), but I would love to mosh at a Blind Guardian concert just as much as I would like to visit Wave Gottik Treffen. So yeah. I like Goth and I like metal equally, so considering myself a Viking Metalhead Goth Type Thing is worth it. Best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

I started out as a devoted metalhead and discovered goth through that. I love Goth and metal equally now. Metallica, ACDC, Within Temptation...all that good stuff. It's good to know that there are plenty of goths out there who still remain faithful to there head banging origins.

Anonymous said...

I was metalhead before I was goth. Actually, metal is what led me to goth. I love Metallica, ACDC, and whatever else my mom ends up introducing to, since she loves metal a lot. My favourite songs are "Hero of the Day," and "Hell's Bells".

Gracie Sawyer said...

To Whom It May Concern,

I hope you are well,

I am emailing you today regarding a charity called 'The Sophie Lancaster Foundation'. This is a very small charity, so you may not have heard of this so I will explain their story briefly.
Sophie Lancaster was a young girl who was attacked because of the alternative way that she was dressed. Sophie was out with her boyfriend and was viciously and unprovokinly attacked, very sadly she later died of her sustained injuries.

'The Sophie Lancaster Foundation' has now been set up in an attempt to educate young people on this matter, to minimise these attacks and give support for young people who are often bullied and victimised due to the way they dress, the music they listen etc...
They have recently suceeded in getting these sorts of attacked to now be dealt with and recognised as hate crimes. if you would like to learn more please visit

Sophie was a good friend of my brother, Tom Sawyer and on her behalf he has decided to do a 365 shirt challenge, basically wearing a completely different shirt every day - no repeats - blogging this and getting sponsors. I am trying to assist him in promoting this and have decided to email your company in the hopes that you can assist in some way.
The two ways that Tom could use your help are;
1. His collection of T-Shirts is currently only at about 180/190 and he is asking for shirt donations, so if this is something you can do this would be great!
2. Any donations that your company or employees of your company could make would be greatly appreciated.

My brother has become slighly disheartened due to a lack of sponsorship, this matter is not of great importance to those who have not been bullied and abused for something so petty as the music they like or the clothes they wear.
Apologies for the briefness of this email, but I understand many will not read this or have the time or inclination to assist.
I also appreciate the busy lives of most.

If you would like to know more, discuss further or hopefully make a contribution please feel free to contact me.
Kindest Regards,

Gracie Sawyer
On behalf of Tom Sawyer
Contact details: 07803568751 /

Please feel free to follow my brothers progress on any or all of the below:
Twitter: @po3try1nmotion
Instagram: entertheinfinite

Please also note that this is an independent fundraser, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation (registered charity 1129689) are not activiely involved in the organisation of this project.

Anonymous said...

Just dare to be yourself, first. If you listen to music outside the 'goth'-music, it means you have a healthy habit of absorbing different types of music, which is, after all, useful. I believe that theres a lot of good things when it comes to both of them. I think a metalhead is more about taste of music, someone who likes a lot of heavy metal, and listen to it a lot. Whereas a goth is someone who follows a certain subculture.

Anonymous said...

Just dare to be yourself, first. If you listen to music outside the 'goth'-music, it means you have a healthy habit of absorbing different types of music, which is, after all, useful. I believe that theres a lot of good things when it comes to both of them. I think a metalhead is more about taste of music, someone who likes a lot of heavy metal, and listen to it a lot. Whereas a goth is someone who follows a certain subculture.So yeah, definately you can listen to metal and still be a goth. If anything, thats about being open to different impulses.

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