We’ve all had that moment where someone with musical tastes entirely different from our own conflates ours because “it all sounds the same”. Whether you’ve had to painstakingly point out the finer distinctions between black and death metal to a coworker more into Faith Hill, or, as in my case, explain why you wouldn’t play a gabber track just because you’d spun :wumpscut: (“but it’s fast and hard, too!”), we all pride ourselves on knowing the differences between the things we like (which, after all, is the basis for all wanky comparisons and lazy “like Bands X and Y getting it on in the bathroom of Band Z’s penthouse” descriptors). That said, for better or for worse, some bands just sound like other bands. A lot like other bands. Almost in a legally actionable way like other bands. Here’s a quick rundown from our end of the pool of some highlights or lowlights: you be the judge.
Yes, I know it seems a bit unfair to put a band that enjoyed a decent enough career in their own right (and would go on to be a huge influence on Wolfsheim) on this list, but arguments for their similarity to Depeche Mode would forever be strengthened by “The Great Commandment” from their 1988 debut, Voices & Images. Sound alike or not, it remains a great tune (which And One do a cracking cover of).
I have very strong and clear feelings about Spetsnaz. One: they sound a hell of a lot like Nitzer Ebb, even after taking into account just how influential NE has been for almost all EBM bands. Two: I will never complain about that fact so long as they continue to release kick ass music. Here’s “Nothing But Black”, my personal favourite.
The Merry Thoughts
The popular myth about goth rock is that it had grown stale by the late 90s due to the number of Sisters of Mercy clones flooding the land (ugh, sorry). Whether you accept that or not, there can be no question as to who Andrew Eldritch’s most apt pupils were. In an empire of imitation, “Pale Empress” holds dominion (okay, I’ll stop).
Halo In Reverse
Regardless of how you feel about Trent Reznor or which periods of Nine Inch Nails you prefer, you can’t step to the man’s skills as a producer – you could papercut Bob Flanagan to death with all of the NIN reviews which praise Reznor’s flair for “textures” and “atmosphere”. All of this means that you’re going to suffer terribly by comparison if your material apes Reznor’s but lacks his craftsman’s touch…which is definitely the case with tracks like “Sweetest Honey”.
Oh, brother. It takes some unsettling and otherworldly talent to be able to copy The Cure as handily as The Essence have over the years. This Dutch outfit managed to replicate pretty much every phase and sound from The Cure’s career, from the minimal new wave of Seventeen Seconds to the dirges of Pornography to the heavenly sugar-pop of Kiss Me x 3. But they’re not just content to copy albums or moods, oh no. Individual songs and even song titles and lyrics are earmarked for counterfeiting: “How You Make Me Hate” (“Shiver And Shake”), “Like Christ” (“One More Time”), “Thirtysecondsong” (“Seventeen Seconds”), and on and on into an uncanny valley of the ersatz. Here’s their particularly egregious, but perversely enjoyable take on “Inbetween Days”, “Only For You”.