Electro-Industrial [AKA Industrial Electro]
A very broad term used to describe much of the industrial music produced in the last 15 years or so. It's a term with no one official definition or origin, but generally used to describe a form of harsh, unforgiving and rhythmic electronic music, with raspy, graveley or distorted vocals and throbbing electronics creating a dark, oppressive tone. Guitars are occasionally used, but very rarely take the role of lead instrument. Many of the concept that form the basis of electro-industrial were pioneered by the legendary Canadian act Skinny Puppy, though this particular band have often defied any attempts at genre classification beyond the broad 'industrial' umbrella. Nevertheless, the influence this band have had on predominantly electronic industrial music is not questioned. Other notable innovators of the industrial electro style include Front Line Assembly (technically a Skinny Puppy offshoot), Denmark's Leætherstrip plus Haujobb and yelworC from Germany and a number of Belgian projects centered around the original line-up of The Klinik. A number of sub-genre definitions have come and gone - yelworC's particular variant of the style has sometimes been defined as dark electro, whilst the more EBM-driven works of Leætherstrip and Plastic Noise Experience have sometimes been referred to as 'hardcore electro'. We could arguably add bands such as Project Pitchfork, In Strict Confidence and Das Ich, forming as they did the industrial arm of the darkwave scene, building themselves substantial gothic following in the process. A later development was the rise of the terror EBM sound, inspired by the likes of Suicide Commando, Funker Vogt and some of the later works of :Wumpscut:. Another notable variation on the electro-industrial sound is power noise, a sound developed from the early, minimalistic works of the The Klinik and Dive, as well as the Spanish project Esplendor Geométrico. With the Ant-Zen, Hands Productions and Hymen labels all earning reputations for releasing quality material, the style can also effectively be regarded as a genre in it's own right.
Definitive Bands: · Aghast View · Dive · Frontline Assembly · Haujobb · In Strict Confidence · The Klinik · LeætherStrip · Lights of Euphoria · Mentallo and the Fixer · Skinny Puppy · Velvet Acid Christ · :Wumpscut: · X Marks The Pedwalk · yelworC
EBM [AKA Electronic Body Music]
The foundations of this genre were laid by the Belgian quartet Front 242 during the early 1980s. The premise was fundamentally simple - a hard, repetitive beat and pulsating rhythm but with an aggressive, often militaristic (or occasionaly sexual) tone, indicating the influence of early industrial acts. Other early innovators included Germany's Die Krupps and D.A.F. (the latter predating any other band here) and the UK's Nitzer Ebb. It was during the early days of Front 242 that the term 'electronic body music' or 'EBM' was coined. The term remains in use to this day, officially referring mainly to the work of the Frontmen, Nitzer Ebb and '2nd Generation' bands that were directly influenced by them, such as BiGod20, Orange Sector, Pouppée Fabrikk, Electro Assassin and even early recordings of Oomph!. This particular incarnation of the style is now termed as old-school EBM, to differentiate itself from the very different animal that style developed into over the years. Whilst the sound has had only a cult following at best throughout it's two-decade lifespan, it has proved to be influential to a number of more commercially successful acts, including Nine Inch Nails, Fear Factory and even The Prodigy (though none of these three have ever actually sounded like EBM bands). It was also influential on the sound of acts such as Project Pitchfork, In Strict Confidence and Das Ich, producing a goth-friendly version of EBM - a sound which proved popular in dark electro and darkwave circles. The EBM tag has also (controversially) been associated with much of the synth-pop/industrial crossover material coming out of Europe during the early years of the 21st century - now known as future pop). Purists certainly the doubt the connection much of this music now has to it's Belgian origins, bearing as it does a significant amount of synth-pop, trance and/or techno influence. The early works of VNV Nation were arguably an EBM variant of sorts, whilst the mid-90s Covenant and Apoptygma recordings bore a resemblance to other EBM records of the era - suffice to say, the connection stuck. Those looking for modern answers to the harder forms of EBM should try listening to Suicide Commando or Hocico, who drew more influence from the likes of Frontline Assembly and Skinny Puppy (as well as some aspects of Dive and The Klinik), who combined EBM with electro-industrial/dark electro elements, often utilising heavily distorted vocals. This stylistic variant has been referred to by some as Terror EBM or 'aggrotech'.
Definitive Bands: · A Split Second · BiGod 20 · Covenant · Die Krupps (initially) · Dive · Flesh Field · Front 242 · Frontline Assembly · Heimatærde · Hocico · The Klinik · LeætherStrip · Nitzer Ebb · Stromkern · Suicide Commando · VNV Nation · Vomito Negro
This genre is one of the most difficult to define precisely. In it's strictest form, it's a sub-set of electro-industrial, a despairing, sinister version of the sound best exemplified by the sound of the German project 'yelworC', who's variant of the sound combined haunting synths with hard electronic rhythms and lyrics inspired by occult matters. The term has also been used in a more general sense, in some cases as an effective synonym of electro-industrial, or at least those forms of the sound that don't tend towards a terror EBM sound. To get at least some utility out of the term, the bands listed here fall within the narrorower definition of the style.
Definitive Bands: · AmGod · LeætherStrip (some works) · Mortal Constraint · Placebo Effect · Seven Trees · Splatter Squall · Trial · yelworC
Terror EBM [AKA Hellektro, Aggrotech]
This is a combination of the forceful rhythms of EBM combined with the hard synthetic assault of electro-industrial. Most terror EBM features distorted vocals, often growled in the 'cookie monster' style and/or put through some kind of distortion effect. A female vocal is occasionally used for contrast purposes (a few acts, such as Unter Null, actually use a distorted lead female vocal). Pounding four-beats, throbbing arpeggios and horror/sci-fi movie samples usually complete the sonic palette. Whilst the likes of Suicide Commando, Funker Vogt and Hocico have been practising the style for several years now, with veterans :Wumpscut: and Velvet Acid Christ also touching upon the style on occasion, the style really peaked in popularity during the early part of the 00s, some would say to due it's effectiveness as a replacement for the increasingly cliché sound of future pop (some bands, however, most notably [:SITD:], do draw clear influence from the style). Others would say the style became cliché even more quickly, although it's ability to fill industrially-driven dancefloors has ensured it retains popularity.
Definitive Bands: · Amduscia · Cenobita · Dulce Liquido (on occasion) · Hocico · Psyclon Nine · Suicide Commando · Tactical Sekt · unter null (most recent work)
Power Noise [AKA Rhythmic Noise, Rhythm ‘n’ Noise]
Whilst the name connects it to the likes of power electronics and noise (and it certainly can be both powerful and noisy), power noise is ultimately related to the harsher forms of industrial dance music. The fundamentals of this style are distorted drum loops and repetitive bursts of electronic discord, very rarely including audible lyrics (although sparse vocal samples are often woven into the mix). The founders of power noise are usually cited as long-established electo-industrial acts Klinik and Dive (both projects involving Dirk Ivens, who'd later assemble his own power noise project Sonar), as well as Spanish hard electronic innovators Esplendor Geométrico (the first act to develop bona-fide power noise music as it is known today). The actual term power noise wasn't coined until the 1990s, however, when the tag was devised by Raoul Rotation of Noise-X (themselves minor legends of the industrial dance scene, and themselves bordering between pure power noise and electro-industrial). Power noise can also have some elements in common with IDM (intelligent dance music), both genres producing relativley esoteric, inaccessible electronic dance music with a strong experimental slant, though power noise is traditionally based round pounding distorted beats rather that anything breakbeat-oriented. This is a blurry definition, however - many artists work with a combination of both beat styles (one may use the term technoid to define this crossover). In terms of labels (as not many record companies are willing to invest in this sort of thing), Ant-Zen (plus its offshoots Hymen) and Hands Productions currently stand as top dogs in the scene. Ant-Zen covers the works of Converter (an offshoot of industrial project Pain Station), Imminent Starvation (now just Imminent), Synapscape and PAL, whilst Hands Productions key act is Winterkälte (the project of the label's manager Udo Wiessmann) as well as more recent arrivals such as S.I.N.A. and Needle Sharing, as well as style innovators The Klinik (Hands having recently reissued a substantial chunk of their backcatalogue).
Definitive Bands · Asche · Beefcake · Black Lung · C/A/T · Converter · Esplendor Geométrico · Hypnoskull · Imminent Starvation · Iszoloscope · Klangstabil · Mono No Aware · Needle Sharing · Orphx · P.A.L. · Punch Inc. · S.I.N.A. · Soman · Somatic Responses · Sonar · Synapscape · Tarmvred · Terrorfakt · Winterkälte · Xingu Hill · Xotox
Whilst it's sometimes confused with harsh noise, power electronics truly refers to a more structured form of synthetic dissonance. The champions of the genre are the seminal Whitehouse, with only a few other acts (Con-Dom/Grey Wolves and later works of Brighter Death Now) achieving much attention outside the scene's 'hardcore' (VERY hard and VERY core) to date. Scathing electronics, scathing vocals, sonic anathema to anyone in their right mind, the power electronics sound only survives because so many of us are not in our right minds when we listen to it.
Definitive Bands: · Brighter Death Now (later works) · Cock ESP · Con-Dom · Genocide Organ · Institut · Sutcliffe Jugend · Whitehouse
A highly contentious term, officially used to describe a morbid, funereal electro-industrial/darkambient variant, typical of the Cold Meat Industrylabel, most specifically the earlier works of founder Roger Karmanik's Brighter Death Now. It's a term whose definition has never truly been nailed down - dense layers of low-intensity droning, mechanical noise is about a close a definition as you'll get. Generally, if you're looking for more music in this style, try various darkambient and industrial ambient acts for variety (especially those on Cold Meat Industry), or, if you have to go for the really harsh stuff, power electronics (a sound Roger moved towards on his later releases). However, it's also been used to describe a slowed down grindcore offshoot, a combination of industrial and death metal elements (strange but true) - despite the factual inaccuracy, this is the form of death industrial you're most likely to come across - early Pitchshifter or Godflesh is a pretty good example - think grinding guitars, aggressive sampling and guttural vocals and you're pretty close. 'Real' death industrial, is something else entirely, of course.
Definitive Bands: · Brighter Death Now (early works) · The Grey Wolves · Megaptera · Mz.412 --------------------------------------------------------
Electro-Goth [AKA Industrial Goth]
The term 'electro-goth' (sometimes spelt with the hyphen, sometimes without) has never been clearly defined. It has, for instance, been used to describe the sounds of the darker early 80s new wave bands, and also to define some of the Skinny Puppy-inspired electro-industrial bands such as :Wumpscut:. Some also regard it as a synonym of darkwave - here however, it will be treated as an offshoot or successor to darkwave rather than the same thing. What we are describing here are bands that fall under the broad definition of gothic in terms of mood, feel and concept, but make substantial use of rhythms and musicial technique derived from electro-industrial and EBM. The usage of guitars is common but optional - for example the German project Blutengel (headed by arch-exponent of the style, Chris Pohl) relies on male/female vocals (big on vampire thematics) set to a purely electronic backdrop. Terminal Choice, Pohl's other key project, meanwhile, features industrial rock style guitar riffs in place of the female vocals - an avenue also developed by the likes of Unheilig, Gothminister and ASP. The genres connection to darkwave has never been truly established, though the musical progression of Adrian Hates' project Diary of Dreams best describes the difference between the two in terms of the definitions laid out here. The first two albums offered an epic, desolate form of darkwave, before the incorporation of rhythmic electronics and a more forceful style of guitar and song structure - by the time of 2000's 'One of 18 Angels', the sound of the project could be regarded as electro-goth.
Definitive Bands: · ASP · Blutengel · Cephalgy · Diary of Dreams · Gothminister · L'ame Immortelle (early works) · Tristesse De La Lune · Unheilig
Darkwave is a wide genre that covers virtually any recordings from the gothic music scene that has in some way advanced from the tradtional goth sound of Bauhaus, Sister of Mercy and the like. The term has been used to describe a number of the darker, romantic synth-pop acts, a selection of electronically-influenced gothic rock bands (such as Girls Under Glass, The Eternal Afflict and more recently ASP), the Neue Deutsche Todeskunst as well a number of the more 'goth-friendly' electro-industrial/EBM acts like Project Pitchfork, In Strict Confidence and Das Ich (the long-running Italian band Kirlian Camera have also been associated with the genre despite frequent associations to more elitist genres of industrial and neo-folk). The term has also been used to describe a number of ethereal and dark ambient acts on the Projekt label (the long-running Projekt band 'Attrition' are sometimes cited as one of darkwave's pioneers). The term is often used as a synonym for electro-goth, though here we will keep that term for a specific kind of darkwave music that combined gothic moods industrial or EBM style rhythms (no-one really knows if there IS a difference between the two styles, there's just too many bands falling under the darkwave banner for me NOT to feature at least one splinter style!). Some have gone to the extent of classing the future pop contigent in with darkwave, but since that genre makes only the occasional concession to gothic music, it is best regarded as a genre in its own right.
Definitive Bands: · 18 Summers · ASP · Attrition · Clan of Xymox · Das Ich · Diary of Dreams · Diva Destruction · Garden of Delight · Girls Under Glass · Goethes Erben · Illuminate · In Strict Confidence · Kirlian Camera · L'ame Immortelle · Midnight Configuration · Persophone · Project Pitchfork · Silke Bischoff · Sopor Aeternus and The Ensemble of Shadows · Switchblade Symphony · Unheilig · Wolfsheim
Martial Industrial [AKA Orchestral Industrial]
Militaristic elements have been associated with industrial music since its inception - both, after all, deal with a cold, ruthless and orderly aesthetic. Many EBM and electro-industrial bands have incorporated war-related metaphor into their lyrics, sometimes with a drill sergeant style of vocals delivery, and many make use of militant imagery on their album sleeve and when playing live. However, whilst these acts have occasionally incorporated militant elements into their actual music, the focus of this section is on industrial bands who make martial rhythms (and, if such things exist, martial melodies) their key focus. The most famous martial industrial band is of course Slovenia's Laibach, though many of their more recent works have shown a move towards more of a minimal techno sound. A more esoteric example of martial industrial is the work of Austrian artist Albin Julius, who records as Der Blutharsch, often sampling from ancient recordings of old military marches from the Nazi era. Note that the majority of martial acts are associated with the neo-folk movement, with bands from either genre making regular appearances on each other’s recordings.
Definitive Bands: · Across The Rubicon · Allerseelen · Arditi · Blood Axis · Der Blutharsch · In Slaughter Natives · Karjalan Sissit · Laibach (early works) · Sophia · Von Thronstahl · Wappenbund
Noise remains one of the most exclusive music genres of all. Whilst the power noise and power electronics artists of Europe have come close, 'true' harsh noise generally originates from Japan. The prolific Merzbow is the best known 'Japanoise' artist, with Masonna and Aube following close behind. Such 'music', with little real structure and no conceptual limits, is hard to describe at the best of times, but just take it from me - it ain't easy on the ears, and it's underground nature means your wallet will take a pounding, too (beware of downloads - the MP3 format was never designed for such music and it's believe noise music takes a larger-than-normal hammering when compressed in such a manner). It's something you have to hear once, and whilst you may never get to like it, you should at least respect it.
Definitive Bands: · Aube · Cock ESP · Government Alpha · Masonna · Merzbow
One might wonder if such a style of music is even possible - after all, how can the scathing, unforgiving nature of industrial music ever be innocuous enough to be classed as 'ambient'? Well, there's some artists out there that seem to think it's possible. Closely related to dark ambient, but with a great emphasis on droning, whirring or other mechanical noises and sound effects collated from any number of sources. It's a style with no firm boundaries, serving as more of a concept that can be approach from a number of angles - some build walls of sound from looped drones or noises, others create uncomfortable downtempo percussion loops with 'found' sounds filling in the gaps. It's therefore a style many bands touch on without dedicating their whole careers to it. Many power noise acts have a go at some point, with P.A.L., Ah-Cama Sotz and recent Converter probably the best of several examples. That said, projects such as Zoviet France, Raison d'Etre and Deutsch Nepal are generally thought of as industrial ambient acts, or words to that effect. Some works of the early industrial acts Coil and NON also fall under the same banner (Coil reliant on low-key percussion and esoteric structures, NON instead working with arhythmic noise loops). If you're looking for a more general starting place, the Swedish label Cold Meat Industry hosts a number of acts playing in this or related styles.
Definitive Bands: · Ah Cama-Sotz · Archon Satani (some works) · Bocksholm (some works) · Coil · Converter (more recently) · CTI · Delerium (early works only) · Deutsch Nepal · Hafler Trio, The · Lull · Lustmord · NON · P.A.L. · Raison d'Etre · Zoviet*France
Dark Ambient [AKA Damnbient]
As the name suggests, this is 'ambient' music with a dark, foreboding, depressing or otherwise negative tone to it. Despite its connections to mainstream 'ambient' music, darkambient (or 'dambient' if you like) is generally regarded as a form of gothic or darkwave music for the purposes of definition. Oppressive synth textures, minor keys, distant vocals, church organs and other quasi-religious elements are all common elements of darkambient compositions. Debates rage as to which acts actually count as genuine dark ambient, though Lycia, Lustmord and Soul Whirling Somewhere are thought to fit the definition fairly closely. In terms of labels, the legendary Projekt label, founded by Sam Rosenthal of 'Black Tape For A Blue Girl' is probably the most highly regarded in terms of both dark ambient and ethereal music. Those wanting something more extreme in terms of negativity and dissonance, however, should check out some of the acts on Sweden's Cold Meat Industry label. It is this label that is primarily responsible for crossover between this style (the gothic answer to ambient, if you like) and the bizarre world of industrial ambient - indeed the term 'dark ambient' is often taken as an umbrella term encompassing industrial ambient, death industrial, black ambient and a variety of other related styles. There is no fixed definition to the style. Looking at some better-known acts, the earlier works of Delerium also veer onto dark ambient territory (though their recent material certainly doesn't), as do some of Future Sound of London's tracks circa 'Dead Cites', though most easily-obtainable ambient music isn't very dark at all. Steve Roach has also produced a number of dark ambient works during his 20-year career (including a spell on the Projekt label), though his career has covered a number of other ambient genres.
Definitive Bands: · Ah Cama-Sotz · Ain Soph · Archon Satani · Black Tape For A Blue Girl · Coph Nia · Delerium (early works only) · Desiderii Marginis · Letum · Lustmord · Lycia · Okk-Ulth · Raison d'Être · Steve Roach · Soul Whirling Somewhere --------------------------------------------------------
Ethereal [AKA Heavenly Voices, Ethereal Wave]
'Ethereal' is one of the looser musical definitions dealt with here, standing more as a descriptor that can be assigned to any music with a heavenly or other-worldly vocal tone (usually, but not always, female-sung) than as a definition of a particular form of musicology, although usage of dream-pop inspired echoed/delayed guitars and influences from ambient and world music usually compliment the vocals. The connection this style of music has with the gothic sound is thus only by association, mainly via genres like darkwave and darkambient and whatever other tags you apply to the sound of the Projekt label, whose output usually falls into one or more of these categories. Nonetheless it's deep emotive content (in both a lyrical and instrumental sense) ensures it gets a mention here.
Definitive Bands: · Arcana · Black Tape For A Blue Girl · Chandeen · Conjure One · Coph Nia · Delerium (in places) · In The Nursery · Love Is Colder Than Death · Love Spirals Downwards · Loveliescrushing · Lycia · Mors Syphilitica · Persophone · Siderartica · This Ascension