Gothtopia

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

BY CHRIS GRAY AND JEF WITH ONE F

Even at this late stage of the game, "goth" is a loaded word. Years and years of bad emo bands in too much eyeliner and corsets on sale at Hot Topics coast to coast will do that.

Some even doubt the existence of goth as its own genre anymore, which seems strange considering the success of groups like the xx and Passion Pit -- though no doubt neither one would openly describe themselves as goth, they might be protesting a little too much -- and that pop culture is in the middle of an EDM mania that has at least something to do with all those people fiddling with synthesizers and drum machines a generation ago. Take a bow, Doktor Avalanche.

But goth is much more than that, so hard to pin down that, admittedly, sometimes it's been more of a flavoring than its own discrete style of music. But it's always there. So in this season of reaping, we decided to rank the Top 20 goth albums of all time. The order was assembled by Rocks Off's own esteemed Gothic Council, and we saw no reason to object to their choices. CHRIS GRAY

20. Marilyn Manson Antichrist Superstar (Interscope, 1996)

So squalid and deeply unpleasant it's mesmerizing, Antichrist Superstar is such an intricate dissection of how to become a "rock star" it could have come from a biology lab. Then 24 or 25, Manson gets so far under the skin of his idols he might as well be Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Even the blatant Ministry rips ("Little Horn," "1996") and leavings from Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral (Trent Reznor co-produced) are instructional, because the second Manson blasts into "The Beautiful People," Antichrist Superstar becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. "Wormboy" suggests that even at this early stage of the game, he's totally in on the joke, too. CHRIS GRAY

19. VNV Nation Empires (Metropolis, 1999)

Though VNV Nation is more industrial than goth, you'll find plenty of spooky kids at their excellent, high energy concerts. Empires is not Ronan and Mark's best album, that would be Automatic, but it is definitely the primer for their whole amazing philosophic approach to electronica that they utilize. You build from Empires, especially "Kingdom," and it opens your mind to endless possibilities. JEF WITH ONE F

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