Dark Wave was first used as a descriptive term for the early Goth rock beginnings, but before the term “Goth rock” was ever used outside of the UK. Dark Wave described darker, and gloomier post-punk, of the late 70’s, and New Wave, of the 80’s. For the French, it was Coldwave, and Synthpop, or Electrowave in Germany. It mainly refers to the weird mix of fast-paced, or electronic New Wave, and sinister, dark music. Some of the popular DarkWave artists were Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Fad Gadget, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Anne Clark, and several more. Steadily, Dark Wave began to evolve further, during the mid to late 80’s, as Coldwave, Synthpop, Gothic rock, post industrial, and ambient genres blended together, creating a more solid Dark Wave genre. The bands that resulted in the shotgun wedding of so many different genres, and styles, were artists and groups such as Attrition, Pink Industry, Clan of Xymox, In The Nursery and Die Form.
New Wave, and post punk scenes died out after the 80’s, whereas, the blend of those two genres and more, Dark Wave, survived, and flourished. As Dark Wave grew more popular in the US, Germany developed a similar blend of genres, creating Neue Deutsche Todeskunst, New German Death Art, which spawned such groups as Das Ich, Goethes Erben, Relatives Menschsein and Lacrimosa. The lyrics were more poetic, and melancholy, metaphorical and sometimes sinister. Neoclassical genres and groups emerged in Germany as well, mixing Synthpop sounds into their styles, and creating groups like Silke Bischoff, In My Rosary, Engelsstaub, Annabelle’s Garden and Canticum Funebris. The Neue Deutsche Todeskunst movement mixed several genres, experimentally, and successfully, creating curious results of style and sounds.
Meanwhile, in the US, Dark Wave began to become associated more and more with Projekt Records, instead as “Darkwave,” which was used as the name of their catalog, produced to bring more attention to where the German music scene was going, and to market the products of artists that were emerging. Lycia, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Love Spirals Downwards, Tearwave and Autumn’s Grey Solace are all featured by the Projekt label, and incorporate into the music moody, gloomy female voices, much like the sound produced by the Cocteau Twins in the 80’s; this sub-genre is referred to popularly as Ethereal Darkwave.