Hieroglyphics: The greatest logos in goth rock/industrial

By on 17 May 2012

Last year we at Dominion we got into the World Goth Day spirit by stroking our collective beard while mulling over the now lost phenomenon of Gothic bands on mainstream television (Which can be read HERE and HERE). So this year we thought that we’d take another engrossing subject… Band logos.
One of the most important aspects of modern music is branding. Yes, what you play and how well you play it is the legitimate substance for a band’s existence but without a catchy name or a cool logo, how do you expect people to recognise you in a vast sea of struggling talent? Perhaps the most important of the two is the logo. Names are subject to the language barrier but symbols transcend that problem and identify any person sporting it as a member of the fan base, an implied tribal connection of sorts. For example, we’ve all had that moment when wearing a well-loved and faded band t-shirt when out of the blue someone has struck up a conversation with us purely based on the logo on that shirt. So for World Goth Day this year we at Dominion thought we’d have a look back at some of our favourite logos that adorn the various items of merch in our closets. 
But what makes a truly great logo? Well like all things that is completely subjective, but for the purpose of this this list is we have based the decisions on two criteria: Whether it can be easily doodled on to a pencil case / painted onto a leather jacket / tattooed and longevity.

 

Apoptygma Berzerk

Apoptygma Berzerk have had a few different logos in their time including the simple Chi Roh style symbol and even a parody of the NASA emblem. But it is their crop-circle style symbol from their aptly named 2000 album ‘Welcome To Earth’ which is their most interesting. An abstract but recognisable futuristic glyph reminiscent of the Led Zeppelin ‘Remasters’ album cover, the symbol is both inherently alien and familiar due to it’s association with the UFO phenomenon.

 

Bauhaus

Both the style and sound of Bauhaus have been forever copied by subsequent bands and now even playful parodies of their iconic logo have begun to appear. The angular and stylised Bauhaus face was appropriated from the Bauhaus School of Design which produced an number of ground breaking modernist artists. And it is for their ground breaking and modernist sound that Bauhaus are so remembered.

 

Bella Morte

Bella Morte have been a band that has interestingly evolved from electronic darkwave through to a rawer punk sound over the years. Perhaps most symbolic of this transformation is the punk/deathrock style logo they adopted in the form of a Misfits-esque skull with back-combed/dread-locked hair on the ‘Deathrock’ EP and ‘As The Reasons Die’ album. Easily reproduced on both merch and fan art it is simple and no-nonsense.

 

Caustic

Caustic’s flaming man symbol is simple but works on a number of levels with the obvious violent image of a man alight, but also in the recognisable depiction of a man often found on toilet doors. As such it is apt summing up of Matt Fanale’s self-deprecating yet highly vitriolic style of industrial music.

 

Christian Death

Christian Death’s history has been one of great turbulence, but there is no denying that towards the end of the 1980’s under Valor Kand it reached a blasphemous zenith. With albums like ‘Sex And Drugs And Jesus Christ’ they provoked a reaction out of everyone they encountered. Their chosen logo was again one of simple design but nonetheless provoking. Uniting the Cross of Christian faith with the crossed bones of the symbol for poison/death they left no doubt as to their intentions.

Clan Of Xymox

First appearing on their 1989 album ‘Twist Of Shadows’, the circular Xymox logo is a great example of integrating a name (or part of one) into a logo. Designed by Vocalist Ronny Moorings and 4AD graphic artist Vaughan Oliver, the logo utilises both the symmetry of the circle and the X within it as well as the lettering to create an almost magical looking seal.

 

Combichrist

The Combichrist winking skull has adorned multiple albums and a tonne of the band’s merch making it one of the most recognisable logos in modern industrial. Sometimes depicted with the reflected CC initials upon its forehead, the skull and crossbones design is as classic as any symbol can be while the stylised winking eye gives it a playful modern edge.

 

Covenant

Covenant’s brilliant logo idea comes in the form of a simple pixelated depiction of the band members themselves. Evocative of the computer game age the three figure of the band are reduced to their primitive computer generated equivalents. The idea walks the line between their modern digital sound and old school synthpop style.

 

Death Cult

The band that were Southern Death Cult but were yet to become The Cult created this logo which only saw an official album airing to adorn the cover of their posthumous ‘Ghost Dance’ compilation. The “Mickey Mouse Skull” is a provocative anti-capitalist symbol that is a fitting visual for their early forthrightly punk material. It is another symbol which has been bootlegged for the sake of unofficial merchandise by fans of this early chapter in the band’s history.

 

Deviant UK

Deviant UK’s logo is another timeless example of a simple design that perfectly sums up the band name. The simple shapes that make up the logo are arranged into an abstract depiction of a devilish visage that to more innocent eyes may look like an easy to replicate symbol. But true deviants will instantly recognise its infernal connotations.

 

Dutch Order

A monogram is a very effective way of creating a logo by simply using the initials of a band. In this case Dutch Order’s “OD” logo harks back to the Bauhaus school of logo design with its perfectly symmetrical shape and clean straight line slightly stylised to give it more flair.

 

Einstürzende Neubauten

This appropriated Toltec Cyclops-like symbol has been continually used by German industrialists Einstürzende Neubuaten since 1980. Discovered in a Mexican cave it’s origins are unknown and its abstract humanoid figure is puzzling. The band’s primitive rhythmical and noise-intensive style coupled with Blixa Bargeld’s apocalyptic lyrics come together to create a sonic pairing as powerful and as puzzling as their logo.

 

Eisenfunk

German electro-industrial band Eisenfunk’s logo is iconic for two reasons. Number one: the mix of block colours, curves and straight lines give it a classic almost propaganda edge to it. Number two: it bears a passing resemblance to the old RKO Radio Pictures logo that graced the introductions to classic films such as King Kong (1933) and Citizen Kane (1941). This associative connection gives the logo and instantly recognisable precedent.

 

Faderhead

Faderhead’s logo features the predominant stylised grinning skull-like visage with a Mohawk. Its evil grin likens it to other “Mascot” logos such as Iron Maiden’s Eddie or Megadeth’s Vic Rattlehead, but it’s more basic design lends itself to be more easily reproduced by fans and tattoo artists.

 

Fear Cult

Ankh’s have been a staple of Goth symbolism ever since David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve whipped theirs out in the opening scene of The Hunger (1983). Matt Riser of American death rockers Fear Cult crossed this ancient Egyptian symbol of life with a pair of bat wings, the symbol of night, in order to create a simple but effective band logo.

 

Fields Of The Nephilim

Leader of the Fields Of The Nephilim Carl McCoy has continually utilised occult themes and imagery throughout the bands work. Sumerian mythology, paganism, Lovecraft and a whole host of other subjects a regular inspiration for his art. Therefore it is no surprise that for his band’s logo(s) he has incorporated a number of symbols and sigils within a wider whole. More complex than most but definitely recognizable, much like The Neph’ themselves.

 

Frankenstein

Designed by the band’s Vocalist Dave Grave the raised fist of Frankenstein is a brilliant combination of punk rock rebellion and light-hearted horror pastiche. The raised fist is a recognizable symbol of rebellion having been used by a number of left-wing political and radical social groups throughout the twentieth century. Colouring it bright green and adding the wrist stitches gives it a wholly different connotation that not only sums up the band, but horror punk as a genre.

 

Garden Of Delight / Lutherion

Garden Of Delight are another band whose body of work is steeped in ancient mysticism and the occult. Yet rather than create an intricate and complex logo for themselves the band first used an easy to doodle goetic style sigil before utilising a symbol comprised of a Greek style cross housed within a circle and surrounded by the equilateral triangles. This has remained a constant part of the band as they have continued to evolve as Lutherion and now Merciful Nuns, although a new symbol has now taken over.

 

Icon Of Coil

Founded by Andy LaPlegua in 1997 the original concept behind Icon Of Coil revolved around this futuristic symbol. But soon he and Sebastian Kommor (who latter joined) realised that the music that they were making was in fact pretty damn good. Still, the logo remained an important part of the band’s identity appearing on albums, merchandise and the skin of the fans.

 

KMFDM

Okay, so KMFDM may not have a pictorial logo like most of the bands here, but the initialisation of their original moniker (Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid) has become just as iconic. Always capitalised the initials can be seen in a range of fonts as well as stretched and distressed designs. But no matter how they are depicted, the simplicity makes them instantly recognisable in whatever form you see them in.

 

Laibach

Laibach’s combination of a cross within a cog has served as the inspiration for a multitude of bands since the Slovenian group first used it in the mid 1980s. An aesthetically aware band from their inception, Laibach’s choice of symbol became a necessity when the Yugoslavian government banned the name Laibach (A Germanisation of the capital of Slovenia Ljubljana). Originally found on a manhole cover from the early 20th century by band member Ivan Novak, the logo has continually featured in the band’s artwork to this day.

 

London After Midnight

The Celtic cross used by darkwave band London After Midnight in their early days is a typically gothic emblem. Drawn in the Californian Deathrock style by front man/songwriter Sean Brennan, the image is easy to doodle and reproduce and can exist standalone from the band name.

 

Love And Rockets

Created for the ex-Bauhaus trio’s 1985 single ‘Ball Of Confusion’ Love and Rockets would continue to use this logo and variations thereof until the band’s breakup. The phallic shaped rocket penetrating the heart is a simple but subversive image. With it’s bold colours and uncomplicated arrangement the logo lends itself easily to everything from t-shirts to tattoos.

 

Ministry

Ministry may be at the metal end of the industrial spectrum these days but their heaviest phase also produced their best logo. Based on the infamous symbol for anarchy familiar to most punk rockers, the “M” symbol is easily scrawled and doodled and along with the inverted version of the CND logo acting as a “Y” it is incorporated to the depictions of the band’s name.

 

Merciful Nuns

Carrying on the attention to aesthetics from their Garden Of Delight/Lutherion days, the latest symbol utilised and customised by Artaud Seth and his Merciful Nuns is based on the Seal of Babalon first penned by Aleister Crowly. The centre of the seven pointed star is often filled with alchemical planetary symbols combined into new forms. In this case the centre features Crowley’s Mark of the Beast. A phallic arrangement comprised of overlapping symbols for the sun and moon.

 

Nine Inch Nails

Designed by Trent Reznor and Gary Talpas for the band in 1989 the NIN logo has become so iconic it has become part of the fabric of modern music. It has been reproduced in many different broken and distressed designs over the years but it’s simple and symmetrical elegance always shines through. This simplicity is ironically at odds with the bands complex and often chaotic sound, which only serves to endear it further.

 

Nitzer Ebb

Nitzer Ebb’s crest takes a small departure from the typical macho military style logos often found employed by industrial bands and instead evokes an air of technical excellence. Looking like it would be just at home on a classic Bentley as one of the band’s albums it stands out head and shoulders in their merchandise designs.

 

NON

Incendiary and uncompromising in both music and imagery NON, also known as Boyd Rice, appropriated the Wolfsangle rune in the same way as Death In June did with the Totenkopf symbol. It’s historical authenticity as a rune is debatable but its drawing power isn’t as it can be found as a heraldic symbol across Germany which not only endeared it to the Nazi party but also more recently Anton LaVey’s Church Of Satan of which Boyd Rice was a member.

 

Shadow Project

The late Rozz Williams was another uncompromising and aesthetically aware artist who moved seamlessly between art, music and poetry and his most successful post-Christian Death effort, Shadow Project, seamlessly blended all three of these talents. The Shadow Project cross seen here is embellished by Catholic symbols such as fire, wings and the crown of thorns. But even in its early scrawled form on the cover of the band’s self-titled album it is an instantly recognisable and brilliantly executed logo.

 

Skinny Puppy

Designed by Jim Cummings and first appearing on the band’s 1990 album ‘Too Dark Park’, the simple monogrammed initials of the band has found itself on a number of subsequent releases and merch items ever since. More recently the band have moved onto a more elegant version of the logo, but the simple gothic font will always be the most instantly recognisable version.

 

Sisters Of Mercy

Perhaps the most recognisable logo in gothic rock, The Sisters Of Mercy’s “Merciful Release” symbol proudly adorned every album released by the band, as well as a few other band’s albums put out under the Merciful Release label. Designed by Andrew Eldritch the logo pairs a pentacle with a stylised illustration from Gray’s Anatomy the result of which is a classic merchandise design. Although efforts were made to re-imagine the design in the late 90’s/early 00’s, it has been this version that has endured.

 

Suicide Commando

Johan Van Roy, AKA, Suicide Commando’s X logo is another great example of an abstract symbol that has become synonymous with an artist. The meaning behind it’s intention is unclear with Van Roy choosing to keep it ambiguous in interviews where he explains it could relate to either the “illuminate theory or even the number 23 leading to 666”. Whatever its true meaning the logo is a brilliant piece of design that stands out in the industrial scene.

 

The Crüxshadows

Originally designed by front man Rogue the symbol is a very literal interpretation of the band name. The central stylised Eastern Orthodox cross is housed within a circle, of which one half is illuminated and the other is in shadow. Literally a “Cross Shadow”. The symbol’s esoteric look has made it popular as a merchandise image as well as a tattoo choice amongst the band’s fans.

 

The March Violets

The March Violets exuded a dark and elegant sound, and their chosen logo also reflected this. Like label mates the Sisters Of Mercy the band incorporated a pentacle into the design, but instead overlaid it with a simple monogram of their initials. Again this symbols’ beauty lies in its minimalistic and easily copied style.

 

The Mission UK

The Mission’s knot logo harks back to the Celtic and Nordic knots of antiquity, but arranged in a cruciform shape it incorporates a sense of balance and symmetry. It has featured as both a standalone symbol and incorporated into the “O” in the band’s name in both simple and stylised forms. This versatility and romanticised appearance has given the logo a longevity and remains popular amongst fans.

 

Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth / Psychic TV

The “Psychick Cross” served as both the symbol for the musical group Psycick TV as well as the wider magickal/art collective to which they belonged, Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth. Designed by former Throbbing Gristle member Genesis P-Orridge, the official T.O.P.Y website emphasises the ambiguousness of the image as having multiple personalities including ” The Cross of Jesus and the inverted Cross of Satan combined. A television aerial. The alchemical symbol “very poisonous”.

 

Throbbing Gristle

Another contribution from the mind of Genesis P-Orridge, this time for avant-garde industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. The logo can be seen as an appropriation of the “Shock” logo accompanying high-voltage electrical wires and substations. The other can be seen as a bastardisation or inversion of popular music as the symbol had previously been used by David Bowie during his infamous Ziggy Stardust period.

 

VNV Nation

Future/Synthpop mainstays VNV Nation’s logo is a subtle and striking blend of neoclassical style in the form of a militaristic emblem. The initials VNV, meaning “Victory Not Vengence” are arranged in a conical form with a flame located at the top to give the appearance of a beacon or torch. Again the design is simple and easily copied and is instantly identifiable.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the great logos in the world of gothic and industrial music and we would love to know what your favourites are over at the Dominion Magazine Facebook page HERE.

 

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

One Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: