The Best Darkwave Bands/Artists

Over 2.3K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Darkwave Bands/Artists

With its origins beginning in the 1970s, darkwave fused post-punk with gothic rock and New Wave while adding dark introspective lyrics, differentiating itself from other genres. Darkwave bands (whose fans were known as wavers and dark wavers) took off in the 1980s. Darkwave music first gained major traction in Europe and got bigger across that decade. This type of music ultimately spawned several other subgenres. However, darkwave bands managed to maintain their brooding brand of music; and even today, darkwave music remains as relevant as ever.

So what are the best Darkwave bands of all time? Any list of darkwave music has to include the likes of Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, She Wants Revenge and Siouxsie and the Banshees. These artists are widely regarded as the most important and influential darkwave bands.

That said, it's up to you to determine who the best darkwave bands are. This list answers the questions "who are the best darkwave bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest darkwave musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music (albums and songs) instead of just voting for the most popular darkwave bands that you might've heard of.

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  • The Cure
    588 votes

    With a career spanning over four decades, The Cure has consistently pushed the boundaries of darkwave music by combining gothic rock, post-punk, and new wave influences. Known for their deeply emotional lyrics and atmospheric soundscapes, their albums like Disintegration and Pornography have become quintessential works within the genre. Frontman Robert Smith's melancholic voice and haunting delivery captivated listeners, creating a sense of longing and despair that resonates with fans even today. The Cure's ability to weave a rich tapestry of darkness, emotion, and complex musical arrangements secures their place among the greatest darkwave artists of all time.

  • Joy Division
    525 votes

    In the late 1970s, Joy Division burst onto the burgeoning post-punk scene with their distinctive sound and strikingly melancholic lyrics. The band's haunting exploration of isolation, despair, and existentialism created the foundation for what would become the darkwave movement. Ian Curtis' raw, emotive vocals and unique baritone voice brought an unsettling beauty to songs like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Atmosphere." Though their career was tragically cut short, Joy Division's influence can still be heard in countless darkwave acts that have followed in their wake.

  • Masters of gloomy atmospherics and driving post-punk rhythms, The Sisters of Mercy are often regarded as pioneers of the gothic rock and darkwave genres. Their impeccable fusion of guitar-driven melodies and drum machine beats creates an immersive sonic experience that can be both mesmerizing and foreboding. Andrew Eldritch's enigmatic presence and baritone vocals infuse their songs with a dystopian aura, resulting in a uniquely compelling sound. With a legacy built on albums such as First and Last and Always and Floodland, The Sisters of Mercy have undeniably earned their place among the titans of darkwave.

  • Trailblazers in the post-punk and gothic rock movements, Siouxsie & the Banshees brought a dark glamour to the music world with their innovative songwriting and captivating live performances. Siouxsie Sioux's powerful and evocative vocals, combined with the band's penchant for moody atmospherics, firmly established them as icons of the darkwave genre. With seminal albums like Juju and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, they forged a sound that was at once ethereal, aggressive, and deeply emotional. Siouxsie & the Banshees' groundbreaking work left an indelible mark on the world of darkwave and influenced countless artists over the years.

  • Bauhaus
    397 votes

    Bauhaus' surrealistic approach to songwriting and penchant for dark, experimental sounds made them a cornerstone of the gothic rock and darkwave movements. Often credited with creating the gothic rock genre, their fusion of punk, glam, and avant-garde elements resulted in a sound both visceral and haunting. Songs like "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and "She's in Parties" showcase Peter Murphy's distinctive baritone voice and the band's knack for constructing eerie, cinematic soundscapes. Bauhaus' influence on the darkwave scene is undeniable, and their legacy continues to inspire musicians worldwide.

  • Clan of Xymox
    478 votes

    Clan of Xymox emerged in the 1980s as key figures in the darkwave and gothic rock scenes. Their synthesis of moody synths, driving beats, and melancholic lyrics drew listeners into an enveloping world of darkness and introspection. Their debut album, Clan of Xymox, remains a beloved classic, showcasing their talent for crafting seductive and gloomy soundscapes. From their early beginnings to their more recent work, Clan of Xymox have proven themselves as stalwarts of the darkwave genre, continually evolving while staying true to their roots.