Why Deathrock ISN’T (or wasn’t) a Sub-Genre of Goth

Even a lot of
experienced people have made this mistake but I’d like to make the point that
Deathrock is NOT a sub-genre of Goth (or at least it hasn’t always been) and it most certainly is not an interchangeable name of Goth Rock.
Deathrock and many Deathrockers would suggest that they were a completely
separate movement up until a point where a majority of subcultures joined in

As you may already
know though it is debated heavily (remembering that debating Goth Rock is not the
point of this article) Goth rock progressed from Post-Punk which progressed from Punk in the late seventies in the UK. Such Post-Punk bands include Sioxsious and the
Banshees, The Damned and Bauhaus.

Deathrock wasn’t
developed from Goth-Rock or Post-Punk but instead developed parallel to it. It developed from the late seventies Punk movement into such
bands as Kommunity FK, Christian Death and 45 Grave “known for prominent bass lines, eerie guitar, and dissonant vocals(1)” . While Post-Punk progressed majorly in the UK, Deathrock developed in the
US. Primarily in the LA scene.

It was only later (a
major example being The Batcave Club) that the two genres combined in events. That’s for obvious reasons as Goth, Deathrock and to some extent
Post-Punk (which includes a plethora of genres) didn’t hold a broad enough
audience on their own to bring in enough money for said clubs to profit. It’s
only natural that they combine like genre’s for broader audiences. Not to mention that these genre’s eventually started to take inspiration from each other as all musicians do.

 Though there is a very large debate that just seems to go back and forth on whether Deathrock was inspired by Goth-Rock and actually started in the early eighties rather than late seventies. I don’t think it really matters. The point is that at one time they were separate genre’s and all genre’s are inspired by other genre’s which doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a brand from that genre. But don’t take my word for it and read up on the controversy. I always suggest making your own opinion on the matter and would love to hear it.

Best wishes,

-Sary Walrus

Other references:

A Brief History of Deathrock – Part 1
Part 2Part 3.
 And interesting article on the cross over between Horror Punk, Death Rock and Goth Rock (check the comments! Here.
Then there’s the always exciting Wikipedia here
For an example of the annoying arguments on the topic view here. It’s the Wikipedia ‘Talk Page’ archive on the topic where the contributors of the page, well, argue about it.

For the record this was only in discussion of the stylistic music associated with each movement rather than the other contributing factors such as fashion and their interchangeable and/or modern development.



  1. Shannon Rutherford
    September 10, 2012 / 11:21 am

    This is interesting. I didn't know anything about death rock except they had mohawks and wore a lot of ripped clothes :D, so it's nice to know something about its origins and its music. Thanks for this article 🙂

  2. Meagan Kyla
    September 10, 2012 / 2:27 pm

    I think it's more of a spooky punk/post-punk phenomena. "
    The strictest and least forgiving definition of deathrock would be that it was a dark postpunk phenomenon that lasted from 1979 until 1985, and was primarily local to Los Angeles". I think modern deathrock bridges the gap from punk to goth, but then again I'm a creature who loves it all…..

    Most people don't realize that bands like The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus were technically post-punk bands. People call me deathrock and I just jokingly call myself a post punker 😉
    I now need to go check out the links you posted for a giggle 😉

  3. Dayana
    September 12, 2012 / 1:49 pm

    We can't put away the idea that the Death Rock has influence from post punk, the sonority appears very and now too we can't divide the Death Rock of the gothic subculture until because nowadays there are many events where mixture both styles.

  4. jurassicgoth
    September 18, 2012 / 2:26 am

    I think there was always a very blurry line between genres. I came out of the punk scene (as did many of my goth friends) and to be honest we didn't spend that much time defining what we were…we left that to the three people who spent their time deciding if they were gothic punks, gothic new romantics, futurists and a whole host of terms that they tried out on a weekly basis lol. The dress code at the Batcave was always pretty eclectic too but the strong "deathrock" look that came out of there probably had a lot to do with The Specimen being the house band and they were working the 'hawk and ripped fishnet with their black lipstick and eyeliner look back then.

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