"Gothic rock" -- the eyeliner-obsessed offshoot of early '80s post-punk -- has been critically maligned even as it's taken root all over the world. Well, on the strength of this three-CD-plus-DVD box set, it may be time to revise the canon with a kinder eye toward the subculture, which boasts a rich musical history and an ongoing line of bands and enthusiasts. Some of the bigger names included here, such as post-punk stalwarts Joy Division, the Cure, and Echo & the Bunnymen, aren't recognized as exclusively "Goth" bands, but stylistically they donned the same garb, and their sound formed the bulwark upon which subsequent bands would build. With gloomy synths and jarring guitars, leather-filled wardrobes, and chilly lyrics obsessing on death, shattered hearts, and Romantic and religious imagery, early Goth bands truly captured a mood -- yet one that was curiously danceable, thanks to the emergence of drum machines and drummers who aped them. A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box collects tracks from some of the most recognizable names of Goth -- Bauhaus (and its many, many offshoots), the Sisters of Mercy, the Birthday Party, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance -- most of whom have previously been reluctant to participate in anthologies like this one, making this box particularly accurate and comprehensive. Surprising to some might be the musical breadth represented here, from the art-rock leanings of Dali's Car (a duo of Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy and Japan bassist Mick Karn) to the '60s pop idolization of the Jesus & Mary Chain and Flesh for Lulu, to the punk-inspired fury of the Misfits and the Damned. Another interesting tangent traced here is the morphing of Ian Astbury's Southern Death Cult (the primitive-sounding "Fatman") to the Death Cult (the comparatively chiming "God's Zoo") to the Cult (the throbbing mid-'80s hit "Rain"). But the standout tracks don't come solely from the known quantities; you'll also hear memorable tracks by groups last heard on vinyl: "Christian Says" from Bauhaus offshoot Tones on Tail; "Walking on Your Hands" by Red Lorry Yellow Lorry; "Heaven Is Waiting" by Danse Society; and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" by Specimen. Capping off the musical offerings is a true-to-the original cover of the Cure's "The Hanging Garden" by contemporary flag-bearers AFI. The set's DVD gathers a dozen essential video clips from the biggest names of the genre -- any fan worth his pancake makeup simply must own the scene anthem "Bela Lugosi's Dead." The accompanying 60-page booklet features essays, testimonials from the artists, extensive track notes, photographs, and -- as if to show the compilers' own Gothic funny bone -- tips on "How to Dance Gothic" and "10 Essentials for Putting on a Proper Goth Night." Marrying Goth touchstone tracks with plenty of surprises (which stand up surprisingly well), A Life Less Lived captures the heart and soul of the genre. Despite its best intentions, Goth lives on.