The Top 20 Greatest Goth Albums of All Time, Nos. 10-1

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The Top 20 Greatest Goth Albums of All Time, Nos. 20-11

10. Rosetta Stone The Tyranny of Inaction (Cleopatra, 1995)

In 1995, Porl Young used a nice-sized record advance to purchase a multitrack digital recorder that changed Rosetta Stone's sound considerably more towards the industrial. That awesome guitar work is still there, though, and it really brings the pain on tunes like "One Angel." JEF WITH ONE F

9. The Damned Phantasmagoria (MCA/PolyGram, 1985)

The Damned is a band that is easy to forget was just completely freakin' genius. Phantasmagoria focused a lot on heavy, deep vocals that give it a devilish, crooning quality on tracks like "Shadow of Love." It's the comparatively bright "Is It a Dream" that really stands out because it's about as poppy as goth gets. JEF WITH ONE F

8. Bauhaus Mask (Beggar's Banquet, 1981)

Bauhaus answered the question of how they would follow "Bela Lugosi's Dead" with an album that is consistently baffling but nowhere near as funereal as that landmark goth single. Instead Bauhaus' fascination with roleplaying -- and, to a lesser extent, reggae and dub -- comes to the fore in a set of songs that can be catchy ("Kick In the Eye") or spooky ("The Man With the X-Ray Eyes"), but are seldom dull. You're on your own with the title track and the song that takes each member's name as the title, though. CHRIS GRAY

7. Joy Division Closer (Factory, 1980)

Even more than 30 years later, this is one grim listen. One might expect that from a record that starts with a song called "Atrocity Exhibition" that promises "see mass murder on a scale you've never seen." Next comes "Isolation," whose dramatic synth swells make it kinda the cheeriest song on here. In their campaign of unrelenting dread, Joy Division's nearly airless music has a dogged determination that acts as a kind of armor or insulation against the horrors Ian Curtis is describing. This music may last a thousand years. CHRIS GRAY

6. Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral (Interscope, 1994)

By leaving the question of who he hated more -- himself or everybody else -- as a toss-up, Trent Reznor made his masterpiece. Feral and damaged, but shockingly tender at times, The Downward Spiral uses every industrial/electronic weapon in Reznor's arsenal to tackle the themes of dehumanization, objectification and abuse of power. When he was done, even before Johnny Cash's autumnal version of "Hurt" took on a life of its own, he had made one of the most important records both of the '90s and in alternative-rock history. CHRIS GRAY

5. Christian Death Catastrophe Ballet (Cleopatra, 1984)

Only Theatre of Pain was a great album, don't get me wrong, but Catastrophe Ballet is where Rozz Williams stopped trying to be some kind of beat poet and showed that he really could do some awesome singing. He was also doing a lot of mushrooms and getting in Dada when he wrote it, so it's deliciously surreal. Warning, this album is basically a gothic aphrodisiac. Don't put it on if you don't want to knock boots. JEF WITH ONE F

4. Siouxsie & the Banshees Kaleidoscope (Geffen, 1980)

Like Closer, released the same year, the aptly named Kaleidoscope helped set goth apart as something different besides strictly post-punk rock, with the added benefit of being a lot more fun to listen to. Singles "Happy House" and "Christine" showed the Banshees' growing command of popcraft, but with plenty of darker nooks and crannies ("Tenant") and odd instrumental touches -- the clicking camera shutter of "Red Light," wheezing accordion of "Skin" -- to go along with it. Elegant and mysterious. CHRIS GRAY

3. The Cure Disintegration (Elektra, 1989)

Somehow the Cure managed to secrete two of their best pop songs (and biggest hits) into the forest of despondent keyboards and guitars that is Disintegration. But strangely enough, lengthier meditations like "Fascination Street" and "Pictures of You" are just as melodic and captivating as "Lovesong" and "Lullaby." Eventually Disintegration drifts off into, well, "The Same Deep Water as You" and songs that grow to seven, eight and even nine minutes, but before that happens, the Cure has already made a record of stunning beauty and haunting sadness. Stick around to the end and it gets sadder. CHRIS GRAY

2. Alien Sex Fiend Drive My Rocket (Cleopatra, 1994)

So much of Alien Sex Fiend's work came to us in singles that your best bet with them is a compilation album. There's simply no other way you'll get to have massive Numbers hits like "I Walk the Line" and "Now I'm Feeling Zombified" on one record. Drive my Rocket is one of the easier ones to find (In physical form), has the best mix of tunes, and gets its name from one of their greatest songs to boot. Sadly, it's not on iTunes, so if that's your preferred method, go with The Best of Alien Sex Fiend instead. JEF WITH ONE F

1. Sisters of Mercy First and Last and Always (Elektra, 1985)

How could it be anything else? Actually, both authors are partial to 1987 follow-up Floodland -- by which point everyone but Sisters mastermind Andrew Eldritch had split acrimoniously -- but First and Last and Always will not be denied. Eldritch begins with the befouled world of "Black Planet" and drives on from there, down a long and lonesome highway full of abandonment and despair ("Walk Away," "Marian"). Eldritch's foreboding baritone makes him sound like a prophet of doom throughout the album, but the true piece de resistance is closer "Some Kind of Stranger," which stretches past seven minutes of baroque, exquisite anguish that drips off lines like "I'd settle anytime for unknown footsteps in the hall outside." CHRIS GRAY

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