Born in 1997 by Orgy bassist Paige Haley, Deathpop reigned on late 90’s charts. Blending Synth Rock, Industrial, Goth, Glam and Alternative Rock, bands such as the aforementioned Orgy, Razed in Black, Celldweller, and Deadsy gained a good amount of attention.
In 2001, the beginning of the second wave of Deathpop, the genre’s sound became softer and more Trance driven. No longer were guitars and monotone baritone vocals the focal point. Synths became the lead instruments. Artists also delved into working with choirs and melodic vocals. Remixes were the main contributor to the softer, dancier side of the genre.
These multi-faceted forays into different genres caused Deathpop to lose its identity. Deathpop artists became Trance artists, Industrial artists. It seemed that Deathpop was only to be a short blip on the Rock radar.
In 2003, some artists started tinkering with metal sounds. Over the next few years, this tinkering became the main focus, marking 2005 as the beginning of the third wave of Deathpop.
Deathpop started to become more abrasive again, and was marked with a Nu-Metal sound. Less produced and more raw, the melodic vocals of the previous second wave turned to screams. Synths were faded into the background of the mixes, whereas guitar and drums became the main focal point.
Orgy’s record, “Punk Statik Paranoia”, had songs such as “Beautiful Disgrace” and “Ashamed”, with barely a synth to be heard. Acoustic drums replaced electronic ones. Lead singer Jay Gordon started screaming in his choruses instead of relying on higher registers.
Nu-metal/Industrial act Deadstar Assembly also fell under the new Deathpop Nu-Metal umbrella. When they weren’t brandishing pure metal, 1997 Orgy-like production took over. “Unsaved Pt. 2” showed Deadstar’s metal side, while “Naïve” highlighted the Deathpop of old.
It was during this third wave that this type of rock lost the appeal of mainstream audiences. Indie Rock, Folk, and Synthpop became the dominators of the charts. Deathpop was truly at late 90’s sound, catching the tail end of the punk/grunge/rock rap craze that claimed the top of the charts throughout the decade.
Lately, however, a new movement of Deathpop has started to emerge out of the Midwest. Production is still a focal point, yet the overall sound is softer. EDM musician KPT ( https://kptfrsh.bandcamp.com/ ) brandishes the late 90’s Goth/Industrial/Synth Rock that was at the core of Deathpop, but puts a modern spin on that core. Less synth based and more beat driven/sample heavy, KPT relies more on the Industrial side of Deathpop.
Another band has emerged in this rebirth. Minneapolis based ACTN ( http://www.actn.info ). More Synthpop and less Industrial, ACTN flirts with simple beat production and complicated synth riffs. The dynamic tends to remain at a medium volume, while still retaining dark Gothic undertones.
Together, this new emergence’s sound can be summed as a less Goth Alternative Synth Rock. In the coming years it will be interesting to see where Deathpop goes, and if this new emergence will stick with the Deathpop sound, strengthening it to a narrow demographic/identity (i.e. Orgy’s Goth Synth Rock sound which was utilized by numerous bands in the late 90’s), or let it lose its identity due to having too many sub-genres at play.
Time will tell…