Fredericton — Traditionally, it’s rare to spot a goth in a public place that’s not a graveyard or coffee shop. A decade ago, Fredericton’s Boom! Nightclub would routinely host goth nights that catered to the special needs of the subculture: depressing music, dankness, dim lighting, and a cloud of cigarette smoke surrounding the entrance.
In 2017 the ways of goth are all but dead, but not dead in the subversive, cool way that goths like…dead as in, nothing to do. Socially, goths might be an endangered species, but thanks to the local metal scene, they’ve avoided total extinction.
“I’ve never admitted this to anyone,” said one local goth who would identify only by her 2005 Vampire Freaks username, xXxRazorBloodLove666xXx, “but I hate metal. I mean like, I really hate metal. It doesn’t matter what kind of metal because there’s different kinds of it — apparently — but I hate it all. I can’t tell any bands apart, they all sound and look the same. The so-called vocals are just guttural growling. You can’t make out the lyrics at all.
“Words are important to me, like when they’re about pain and stuff. Metal vocalists sound like they’re in physical discomfort but if I don’t know how much their soul is suffering then what’s the point?”
After interviewing all four local Fredericton metalheads who self-identify as “goth,” The Manatee can confirm that none of them actually like metal. They like “goth music,” which they claim is a vastly diverse soundscape compared to metal. Despite this, none of them ever miss a metal show, even though they routinely decree that they have no interest in “doing things.”
“Look, it’s close enough,” said xXxRazorBloodLove666xXx. “It’s as close as we’re going to get in 2017, in New Brunswick…to something goth. They like shitty music. They dress like slobs. The girls have…eyebrows, and can’t do makeup to save their lives, and the boys are all bearded and gross. But at least they wear all black and like macabre, gory, horror stuff. Like, that’s all right, I guess. Plus they smoke a lot. I mean, vaping is way hipper and more classy but smoking is part of goth heritage; it will never lose its blackened lung magic.”
The Manatee can’t tell the difference between these four self-proclaimed “goths” and the other metalheads, and neither can anyone else.
“They all look the same to me,” said bartender Phil Manning of the Capital Complex. “Black on black. Bad, tacky tattoos, stuff like skeletons and weird pagan shit. Lots of piercings. That’s pretty metal — if they’re not metal then why all the metal in theirs faces?”
“We’re an inclusive community, we don’t judge,” said Shawn Smythe, bassist/guitarist in six (maybe eight) local metal bands, and general hardcore headcrusher-extraordinaire. “They call themselves goths. They call us metalheads. It’s all cool. To us, we’re just family, man, trying to have a good time and get wasted with chill dudes.”
xXxRazorBloodLovexXx did not seem to agree with Smythe’s “hippie-dippie” perspective on the metal scene.
“They all hate us and we know it. They hate everything. Metalheads are so angry all the time. We just want a goth night again. Apparently some dude in Moncton hosts them but that’s like in Moncton, so whatever. If Boom! hosted one, I probably wouldn’t go because, like, going places is so lame and dumb, so ’90s…but it would be better than not going to a metal show, right?”