The Awakening is a dark rock project founded by singer, songwriter and producer Ashton Nyte, who now resides in St. Louis after forming the band in South Africa in 1995. Like an intoxicating candy, The Awakening is a mix of heavy sweetness and lurid seduction that takes listeners into goth’s nether-realms reminiscent of the genre’s gloomy peaks in the ‘80s.
The band’s newest single, “About You,” off of the group’s ninth album, Chasm (which you can buy here), is an atmospheric, eerie lullaby inspired by Nyte’s experiences with tragedy and loss. As the band continues to artfully contribute to the pantheon of gothic rock, Ashton joins us for a Top 10 – which is actually a Top 11 (bonus!) – to list his favourite goth-flavoured songs of all time.
Ashton Nyte: “While this may open up some debate as to what qualifies as a goth song, these tracks have all left their indelible mark on me. Most of the artists on here are genre-defying, which I believe is generally the point of creating something great. I did limit this to one song per artist and squeezed in a few honourable mentions, but I think it is a good starting point. So here we go, in no particular order…”
Here’s Ashton with his trademark baritone pipes on “About You.”
01. The Sisters of Mercy – “Marian”
– One of the quintessential gothic love songs in my humble opinion. Haunting lyrics and a rich, sonorous vocal delivery from Andrew Eldritch, gliding over Wayne Hussey’s lush 12-string arrangement and that distinctive bass line from Craig Adams. Divine alchemy indeed. I still get chills hearing this for the thousandth time. I think “Some Kind of Stranger” may be my favourite Sisters song, but “Marian” has to be on this list. Essential listening, to say the least.
02. Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
– “Strewn with time’s dead flowers, Bereft in deathly bloom” – yeah. Peter Murphy could turn a phrase and rock a pair of black leggings like few others. Again, a masterful delivery from each band member, with Danny Ash evoking dissonant magic, David J driving it home and Kevin Haskins giving us one of the most inventive and instantly identifiable drum grooves ever to grace the dark dance floors. “Lagartija Nick” was my personal favourite Bauhaus track to exorcise my own dance floor demons, but I just couldn’t leave poor “Bela… ” off this list.
03. The Cure – “Pictures of You”
– Robert Smith at his most sublime and beautiful from The Cure’s lush and defining album, Disintegration. The heartbreak is tangible. I have to mention that it was a tough call between this one and the haunting majesty of “Charlotte Sometimes,” which may be more at home in the gothic arena and is certainly another absolute gem.
The Cure just wants to take some “Pictures of You.” So why not let them?
04. Siouxise and the Banshees – “Rhapsody”
– I love the drama of this song. From its moody intro to its thunderous conclusion, it is a dark journey well worth taking. It must be said that my fave Siouxsie track is probably still “Spellbound,” and pretty much the entire Juju album, but I thought my list was becoming a little obvious…
05. The Damned – “Eloise”
– Although better known for their punk origins, The Damned’s experimentation with goth flavours is something very pleasing to my ears. I’ll never forget seeing the TV performance of this song with Dave Vanian pulling off the “goth in white” look better than anyone else before or since. I’m still in love.
06. David Bowie – “Sweet Thing”
– I can’t say enough about David Bowie’s importance and significance as an artist. When thinking in terms of the gothic idiom there is no denying the impact this particular vocal delivery had on the subculture. A truly epic masterpiece by my absolute favourite artist.
07. Kate Bush – “Sat in Your Lap”
– Kate’s otherness and magical brilliance has been an endless source of inspiration for me. Her influence is certainly felt in multiple genres, including the gothic world. This song, its accompanying video and the album, The Dreaming, is a wonderful example of her experimental genius at work.
How does it feel now that Kate Bush has ”Sat in Your Lap”?
08. Joy Division – “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
– Yeah, I know it’s another obvious choice, but what a brilliant song. It still sounds as tragically beautiful today as it did back then.
09. Swans – “Failure”
– My favourite lyrics from the melancholy mind of Michael Gira. As a huge Swans fan it almost hurts picking what many would consider their flagship song, but it is just one of those songs that everybody needs to hear at least once.
10. The Mission – Butterfly on a Wheel
– Yes, I know “Wasteland,” “Deliverance” and “Tower of Strength” are all essentials for fans of The Mission, but this is the song of Wayne’s that I love to sing the most. I have even had the pleasure of singing it with him, so it has to be on here! What else can I say; beautiful melody and beautiful lyrics. Both the album version and acoustic version are absolute treats and continue to warm my dark heart.
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “The Mercy Seat” (Live Seeds Version)
– To me, this remains the finest work from the prolific genius that is Nick Cave. From the unhinged mayhem of The Birthday Party to the minimalist poetry of the more recently released Skeleton Tree, Nick does not disappoint and remains an icon of individualism and manic devotion to art that matters.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds welcome you to sit in “The Mercy Seat.”
European Tour Dates supporting Wayne Hussey (The Mission):
3 SEP – Kulturfabrik – KREFELD, Germany
4 SEP – MTC – COLOGNE, Germany
5 SEP – Muk – GIESSEN, Germany
7 SEP – Sing Sing – PRAGUE, Czech Republic
8 SEP – Old Monastry – WROCLAW, Poland
9 SEP – Poglos – WARSAW, Poland
11 SEP – Binuu – Berlin, Germany
12 SEP – Muz – HANNOVER, Germany
13 SEP – Kultuurkeller – FULDA, Germany
14 SEP – Money’s Music Club – HAMBURG, Germany
15 SEP – Movie – BIELEFELD, Germany
17 SEP – Victorie – ALKMAAR, Netherlands
18 SEP – Paard – DEN HAAG, Netherlands
19 SEP – Limburg Theatre – HEERLEN, Netherlands
20 SEP – JK2470 – RETIE – Belgium
21 SEP – Entrepot – ARLON, Belgium
22 SEP – B53 – EERNEGEM, Belgium
23 SEP – Garage Club – SAARBRUCKEN, Germany
24 SEP – Kohi – KARLSRUHE, Germany
26 SEP – Le Bus Palladium – PARIS, France
27 SEP – Cabaret Vauban – BREST, France
28 SEP – The Joker’s Club – ANGERS, France
29 SEP – Venue TBC – BORDEAUX, France
30 SEP – Secret Place – MONTPELLIER, France
1 OCT – La Nau – BARCELONA, Spain
2 OCT – Tonelados – VALENCIA, Spain
3 OCT – Stagesound – MADRID, Spain
5 OCT – RCA Club – LISBON, Protugal
6 OCT – Hard Club – PORTO, Protugal
8 OCT – Le Rock ‘N Eat – LYON, France
9 OCT – Ligeria – MILANO, Italy
10 OCT – Freakout – BOLOGNA, Italy
11 OCT – Caracol – PISA, Italy
13 OCT – Robot – BUDAPEST, Hungary
15 OCT – Chelsea – VIENNA, Austria
16 OCT – Der Cult – NUREMBERG , Germany
The Awakening’s Chasm album dropped November 2018, via Intervention Arts.