"Gothic" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK doom/death metal act Paradise Lost. The album was released through Peaceville Records in March 1991. The early nineties UK scene was a hot spot for doom/death metal. Acts like My Dying Bride, Cathedral, Anathema and of course Paradise Lost took the ultra heavy beats of 70s and 80s doom metal artists like Black Sabbath and Trouble and combined them with the brutality and rawness of the, at the time, new death metal style. Paradise Lost debut full-length studio album "Lost Paradise (1990)" was generally well received by both fans and critics alike and are widely regarded as one of the earliest examples of the doom/death metal style. Paradise Lost was never content to stagnate though and already mixed in elements from other styles on "Gothic".
Unlike what the title may suggest the music on "Gothic" isn´t as such gothic metal. That term wasn´t even coined at that point. The band play around with dark gothic atmospheres, clean female vocals and some orchestration, but the basis in the music is still doom/death metal. It´s more melodic than the case was on the debut album and quite often the heavy doomy riffs are accompanied by melancholic lead guitar themes. The tracks are epic in nature and there are moments of monumental beauty on display several times during the playing time. The way the tracks are arranged they give you a breathtaking effect when they build to their epic climaxes. There is no better example than when the growling vocals kick in after the intro to the title track. Such powerful emotions on display there. The vocal delivery is absolutely fantastic on the album. The female vocals are alright, but it´s the growling vocals by Nick Holmes that take the prize. Powerful, brutal and intelligible. Probably one of the most commanding growling vocal performances I´ve yet encountered. The choice to put him real high in the mix is brilliant to my ears.
While there are certainly goth tinged and melodic tracks on the album like "Angel Tears" and "Eternal", "Gothic" is not a soft type doom/death metal release and tracks like "Dead Emotion" and "Falling Forever" pull in a more brutal direction albeit still maintaining a melodic edge. However a clear development towards a more melodic sound is heard even in the most brutal tracks compared to the more raw and brutal "Lost Paradise (1990)".
Upon release "Gothic" almost instantly found an audience who understood the groundbreaking nature of the album and in retrospect it´s obvious that not many other albums from that time sounded like this (what happened in the following years is another story). The combination of dark gothic atmospheres, lead guitar melodies, brutal growling and crushingly heavy doomy riffs was quite unique. Personally this was a favorite of mine for years, but while I still enjoy the album and hear great qualities in the music, there are also features on the album that I´ve become more critical about over the years. The bad quality drumming in particular but also the sound production, which might suit the music perfectly, but does feature a couple of technical errors that to my ears are slight issues. So "Gothic" is one of those nostalgic albums that I would have rated with a 5 star (100%) rating when it was released, but now I feel a 4 star (80%) rating is more appropriate. It´s however still a highly recommendable doom/death metal album packed in gothic atmospheres and I still haven´t listened to any other album that sounds quite like it.