Gothic Metal

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Gothic metal or goth metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music. Gothic metal combines the aggression of heavy metal with the dark melancholy of gothic rock. The genre originated during the early 1990s in Europe as an outgrowth of death/doom, a fusion of death metal and doom metal. The music of gothic metal is diverse with bands known to adopt the gothic approach to different styles of heavy metal music. Lyrics are generally melodramatic and mournful with inspiration from gothic fiction as well as personal experiences.

Pioneers of gothic metal include Paradise Lost, Theater Of Tragedy, The 3rd And The Mortal. Other pioneers from the first half of the 1990s include Type O Negative from the United States, Tiamat from Sweden, and The Gathering from the Netherlands. Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy developed the "beauty and the beast" aesthetic of combining aggressive male vocals with clean female vocals, a contrast that has since been adopted by many gothic metal groups. During the mid-1990s, Moonspell, Theatres des Vampires and Cradle of Filth brought the gothic approach to black metal. By the end of the decade, a symphonic metal variant of gothic metal had been developed by Tristania and Within Temptation.

In the 21st century, gothic metal has moved towards the mainstream in Europe, particularly in Finland where groups such as The 69 Eyes, Entwine, HIM, Lullacry, Poisonblack and Sentenced have released hit singles or chart-topping albums. In the US, however, only a few bands such as Lacuna Coil, Evanescence have found commercial success.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_metal

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with Symphonic Metal):
  • DippoMagoo


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PARADISE LOST Draconian Times Album Cover Draconian Times
PARADISE LOST
4.33 | 38 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY
4.35 | 21 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Icon Album Cover Icon
PARADISE LOST
4.26 | 38 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol Album Cover Tragic Idol
PARADISE LOST
4.26 | 20 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE October Rust Album Cover October Rust
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.19 | 27 ratings
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WITHIN TEMPTATION The Dance Album Cover The Dance
WITHIN TEMPTATION
4.25 | 13 ratings
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LACRIMOSA Inferno Album Cover Inferno
LACRIMOSA
4.28 | 11 ratings
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MOONSPELL Wolfheart Album Cover Wolfheart
MOONSPELL
4.18 | 22 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
THE GATHERING
4.14 | 34 ratings
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MOONSPELL Irreligious Album Cover Irreligious
MOONSPELL
4.17 | 20 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me Album Cover Life Is Killing Me
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.10 | 26 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Cruelty and the Beast Album Cover Cruelty and the Beast
CRADLE OF FILTH
4.10 | 27 ratings
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MOONSPELL Irreligious

Album · 1996 · Gothic Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While many second wave black metal bands jumped on the bandwagon and rode the wave of the template set down by bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone like a surfer in the Hawaiian Islands, some bands that started out that way jumped in and felt more like Jamaican bobsledders so they decided the status quo wasn’t quite for them. Such is the case for the Lisbon, Portugal based MOONSPELL that emerged in 1994 with the debut EP “Under The Moonspell” as a decent but indistinct black metal band but by the time they released the first full-length debut “Wolfheart” a year later, the band started to find its own niche in the quickly exploding scene. While still steeped in black metal, MOONSPELL laced it with a healthy dose of gothic metal inspired by bands like Tiamat, Type O Negative and The Gathering along with some various strains of European folk which together created a rather unique sound in the metal world.

Despite this early development of their own making, MOONSPELL abandoned this metal hybrid as quickly as it had established it and on the sophomore album IRRELIGIOUS, the black metal was totally jettisoned altogether with much of the folk music thrown by the wayside as well. What was left was a more gothic rock infused style that while tamping down the metal in general and replacing it with eerie Gregorian chants and symphonic organ sounds, still had enough metal mojo to qualify it as a metal band but in general, the gothic touches produced a more stylized production job that relied on a tapestry of instrumental sounds to create gloomy atmospheres and romantic visions of Romanian castles with blood thirsty counts on the hunt for another fix. The metal, while still quite abrasive at times had been reserved only for crescendoes and contrasts from the otherwise symphonic dominant melodrama.

The difference between IRRELIGIOUS and “Wolfheart” is stark and immediate as the album begins with a soundtrack sounding intro called “Perverse… Almost Religious” which takes spooky church organs and choral chants to evoke a full moon lit night journey into the graveyard and beyond. As “Opium” begins the nosedive into the world of everything goth, it’s also noticeable that the black metal guitar distortion has been replaced by a slicker guitar fuzz that plays in tandem with a hypnotic bass groove and slowed down percussive drive. Likewise, vocalist Fernando Ribeiro almost abandons any harsh screamed vocals except for the most dramatic moments and opts for romantic spoken poetic prose along with the clean Type O Negative style that sounds like Count Dracula has decided to make a mini-opera about his perverse proclivities.

“Wolfheart” displayed a strong sense of melodic hooks and IRRELIGIOUS continues this trend with eleven strong tracks that create instant gratification but it’s really the compositional flare that makes this such a strong album. The carefully timed developments of the dynamics, tones, timbres and bursts of aggression work out incredibly well and no moments feel like they wear out their welcome nor do they feel rushed. This is just one of those albums that teeters on the balance between too pop and too dark but somehow has enough elements of both sides of the spectrum to please. The tracks are diverse with some ranging on the slower side like “Ruin & Misery” which exudes a slow oozing use of keyboards, crunchy guitar riffage and nonchalant tempo changes. The musicians also show some extended range in their playing abilities. While the drummer simply known as Mike more or less just keeps a beat, on tracks like “For A Taste Of Eternity” he shows a flare for extremely complex polyrhythms and percussive dominance.

Overall the keyboards and samples of Pedro Paixão play the dominant role with the recording of Aleister Crowley reading his own poem “The Poet” on the track “Awake” which exemplifies the occult feel of the album as a whole. IRRELIGIOUS is a nicely paced album that is ultimately an atmospheric gothic rock album with metal touches that take it to heavy heights at key moments. The alternating forces of the symphonic rock and the more sonorous metal sections works quite well as do the stylistic percussion changes and guitar sounds that range from echoey clean to the intemperate unleashed loudness. MOONSPELL was one of those bands that couldn’t quite decide where they wanted to stay for long and despite crafting a cleverly cool and wickedly wild ride with this goth metal classic, the band would change things up again and get more experimental on the following “Sin / Pecado” but for this one at least MOONSPELL proved that they had an incredibly keen sense of what it takes to craft the perfect sensual sensibilities that make a great goth rock / metal album.

VIRGIN BLACK Sombre Romantic

Album · 2001 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Sombre Romantic" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian goth/doom/symphonic metal act Virgin Black. The album was originally self-released in February 2001 but saw a label release through The End Records in 2002. Virgin Black were formed in Adelaide, Australia in 1995 and they released the "Trance" EP in 1998 as their first release.

The music on "Sombre Romantic" is a rather eclectic goth/doom metal style including choirs, strings, piano, and semi-operatic singing. The atmosphere is drenched in melancholy, which can be heard in both the way the vocals are performed and in how the melodies sound. While it´s truly an epic release with several majestic moments, it´s also quite a dynamic release also featuring more stripped down and quiet melancholic sections. Some tracks also feature more extreme type vocals, and it´s safe to say "Sombre Romantic" is a diverse release.

The diversity also makes it slightly inconsistent in style, which can be a strength or a weakness depending on the ears who hear, but personally I could have wished for a more stylistically "clean" release. Not that variation isn´t a good thing, but more because Virgin Black are more convincing playing some styles than others. The album for example opens very strong with "Opera de Romanci: I. Stare" and "Opera de Romanci: II. Embrace", but can´t quite follow up the powerful and epic opening with something equally breathtaking. All material on the 10 track, 44:25 minutes long album is still very well written though, and overall "Sombre Romantic" is quite the intriguing release.

The sound production is professional, clear, and well sounding, and upon conclusion "Sombre Romantic" doesn´t sound like a typical debut album. Other than the flow of the album, which is disturbed slightly by the stylistic diversity of the music, it´s a pretty impressive release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

TRIBULATION Down Below

Album · 2018 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Down Below" is the 4th full-length studio album by Swedish metal act Tribulation. The album was released through Century Media Records in January 2018. It´s the successor to "The Children of the Night" from 2015 and features one lineup change as drummer Jakob Ljungberg has been replaced by Oscar Leander. Since forming in 2001 (originally under the Hazard monicker), Tribulation have been through quite the stylistic development, playing aggressive death/thrash metal act on the "Putrid Rebirth (2006)" EP, changing their sound to a more old school death metal oriented one on their debut full-length studio album "The Horror (2009)", and then morphing into a rather adventurous progressive and psychadelic tinged death metal act on their sophomore studio album "The Formulas of Death (2013)". "The Children of the Night (2015)" saw the band once again change course to a slightly more simple and atmospheric (gothic tinged) heavy metal style with raw vocals...

...and maybe a bit surprisingly they´ve pretty much stuck to that style on "Down Below". On the other hand a band have to settle at some point, when they feel they´ve found a musical identity, and that´s probably what has happened with Tribulation on "Down Below".

It´s obvious too why they have opted to release a relatively similar sounding album to "The Children of the Night (2015)", because that release gave them something of an underground breakthrough and once you´ve tasted success, it´s not something you give up easily. Tribulation are also very good at writing music in this style and perform their music with great skill and conviction too, so those who enjoyed "The Children of the Night (2015)", will pretty surely find appeal in "Down Below" too.

"Down Below" features a dark and organic toned sound production which suits the material well. Regarding the 9 tracks on the 46:40 minutes long album most are pretty regular vers/chorus structured compositions, typically with a dark and heavy vers and a slighly more melodic/atmospheric and uplifting/epic chorus (not light though). It´s when the band break free of their formula and do something a bit different (like the closing minutes of "Here Be Dragons"), that they are most interesting though, and upon conclusion "Down Below" does have a tendency to sound a little too safe and predictable. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved though.

SIRENIA Arcane Astral Aeons

Album · 2018 · Gothic Metal
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DippoMagoo
It’s no secret, I’ve been a big fan of Sirenia mastermind Morten Veland for a very long time, probably well over a decade, at least. When I was first getting back into metal after a long break in the mid-2000’s, Tristania was one of the first bands to impress me, and they introduced me to the whole gothic metal scene. Obviously, Morten left the band shortly after their breakthrough album, Beyond the Veil, and has since gone on to create Sirenia. His current band has gone through many phases, including some ups and downs, but one thing that has always remained true is that Morten Veland has always been a master of his craft, and when it comes to knowing his genre in and out and being able to create some of the best songs possible, while being willing to push his sound further with each release, Morten has never disappointed. While the band had largely been just a female vocalist and Morten himself doing pretty much everything for a long time, they’ve become more of a full band in recent years, with other members being given a bit more room to work with. Obviously, Morten remains the main songwriter and leader of the band, but their previous release, Dim Days of Dolor, felt more like a team effort, and the same can definitely be said for the band’s ninth full-length release, Arcane Astral Aeons. Where its predecessor felt like a great beginning to a new era, Arcane Astral Aeons feels like a full leap forward, combining the best elements of previous releases, while continuing to push things further, especially when it comes to the epic symphonic elements, to create possibly the band’s absolute best release to date!

I mentioned before that Sirenia has gone through many phases, and while part of that was due to frequent changes in vocalist, a lot of it also has to do with the musical direction itself. The first two releases felt like a direct continuation of Morten’s work with Tristania, while The 13th Floor and The Enigma of Life felt much more accessible, even coming close to pop sensibilities, at times. More recently, he’s done a great job of blending aspects of different releases together, and that’s once again true for Arcane Astral Aeons, except this time it feels like he’s made a strong effort to push things even further, to create his most diverse, most epic and possibly best release yet. The previous two releases had already gone pretty far with incorporating epic symphonic elements, with strong orchestral sounds throughout, and at times this release goes even further with that, with choirs and orchestras being used to even greater effect than ever before, to give the music an epic feel, while still maintaining the dark, gothic atmosphere of the past. Keyboards are obviously still very prominent, used largely for atmosphere and to give the music a suitably dark tone, which is done very effectively, as always. At the same time, I notice the presence of guitars very strongly, perhaps even more so than on Dim Days of Dolor, as some of the solos are very melodic and absolutely terrific, and almost every track has some hard-hitting riffs, to help add to the already very full sound.

In fact, this release is quite perplexing at times, in that the songs initially seem straight-forward and are generally very easy to get into, but there’s actually a lot going on at all times, with many different layers to the music, as well as most songs having a ton of different passages, sometimes tempo changes, and quite a few explosive sections that switch between vocal styles. Basically, it’s Morten Veland working at his absolute best, using vocal and music dynamics to constantly surprise the listener, while still writing consistently engaging tracks with very catchy choruses, great riffs, and some outstanding melodies. The overall songwriting is fantastic, as usual, with many songs having some of the lighter, catchier choruses found on some of the more accessible Sirenia albums, except now they’re accompanied by some much more complex arrangement, more interesting verses, and a ton of extra layers and surprises that add up to make the songs more complex and dynamic, just like on all of Morten’s best albums.

As always, vocals are a very important part of why Arcane Astral Aeons works so well. After an impressive debut on the previous album, Emmanuelle Zoldan is even better here, sounding fully at home at this point, and she once again does an excellent job of utilizing her different vocal styles, fluidly switching between epic operatic vocals and lower clean vocals on many tracks. She mostly uses a lower register on this album, which works well and especially helps her clean vocals to stand out, as opposed to the mainly higher pitched vocals used by previous singers. A lot of the time, her vocals have a pop sensibility to them, being very smooth and carrying the melodies flawlessly, but she can get fierce at times and does powerful vocals very well. Her operatic vocals are again used in bursts and help bring a classic Sirenia feel to some tracks, along with Morten’s growls, which are again not used as much here as on older albums, but do show up from time to time, mostly in quick bursts, and they’re still just as powerful and intense as ever. I’d say he shows up slightly more than on the previous album, but perhaps still not as much as some would like. There’s also a ton of choir vocals here, as well as a couple of surprises, and everything is done very well while offering a ton of variety.

One area where I can always count on Morten to deliver is the songwriting, and if anything Arcane Astral Aeons is one of his absolute most consistent releases ever, with every song being nothing short of amazing, while still being quite varied, and each having their own amazing moments, as well as quite a few surprising moments. Opening track “In Styx Embrace” is exactly what one would expect from the band at this point, kicking off with some atmospheric keys and huge choral vocals, before the guitars kick in and it turns into a heavy, epic and upbeat track, enhanced by orchestral arrangements and some excellent operatic vocals from Emmanuelle, as well as quick flurries of growls from Morten, especially during an intense part in the middle of the track, which gives way to a beautiful softer passage, followed by an amazing, very melodic guitar solo. Overall, it’s an amazing track and the perfect way to start the album. Even better than that, though, is the stunning second single “Into the Night”, a full-on speedy symphonic power metal track, with some excellent atmospheric keys giving way to some very intense orchestral arrangements, more choirs, and some fun verses, where Emmanuelle sings more normally, but very smoothly. The chorus is the highlight, though, as it’s an excellent mix of choir vocals and Emmanuelle’s lead vocals, and it manages to be equal parts epic, beautiful and extremely catchy. The song honestly feels closer to classic Nightwish than it does to any Sirenia track, but it’s done so well and still manages to fit the album perfectly. It also has an absolutely stunning solo in the second half, that helps take it to an even higher level. My favorite on the album, and one of my personal favorites from the band, for sure.

Next is the lead single “Love Like Cyanide”, a seemingly simple track which manages to pack in a ton of ideas, all of which work surprisingly well together. The track opens with a brief tease at the very radio friendly, somewhat pop-infused chorus, before the guitars kick in and the track settles into a nice groove, with some great work from the rhythm section, while the biggest surprise of the track comes in the form of some aggressive, but non growled male vocals, performed by Beast in Black vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos, which help add an extra dimension to the track. The chorus is super catchy, and there’s an especially dark, intense growled section in the second half, leading to a complex instrumental section, and so the track manages to fulfill every criteria of what fans would expect from the band, while also throwing in a cool surprise, to help it make it another stellar track. Next is the slightly more typical “Desire”, a more classic sounding track, which has some very eerie, but cool keyboard effects leading the way, along with some very smooth, clean lead vocals. For the most part, it’s a fairly calm mid-paced track, with heavy riffs in bursts, but its biggest surprise comes in the second half, as the music suddenly becomes more theatrical, and the vocals change the style to follow suit. Eventually, Morten’s growls kick in, during a very heavy section, and so once again, the track manages to pack a lot in, while initially seeming simple and having a catchy chorus. This trend continues with “Asphysxia”, a track which starts out with an extended atmospheric softer section, before the guitars kick in and it settles into a nice groove, with heavy guitar work accompanying some creepy atmospheric keys, and some powerful lead vocals, which eventually gives way to an upbeat, super catchy chorus. It’s yet another track where the instrumental arrangements are rather complex and very eventful, filled with little tempo changes, but the vocals manage to be engaging and the chorus is super melodic and catchy, making it both challenging and accessible at the same time, in a kinda warped way.

A more classic Sirenia track follows next, with “Queen of Lies”, the most old school sounding track on the album. It still has some heavy orchestral work, but it’s a more guitar driven track overall, with some heavy riffs and a ton of atmosphere, as well as being the one track where Morten’s sinister growls lead the way, eventually paving the way for an epic, upbeat chorus where Emmanuelle uses some of her best operatic vocals. It’s a very fun and intense track, overall, and is sure to please fans of Morten’s older works. After that is the softest track on the album, “Nos Heures Sombres”, a more mid-paced, very melodic track, which has some bouncy keyboards and it very much would have fit in on The 13th Floor, is a much more accessible track, where Emmanuelle sings in French, her native language. It’s an excellent vocal showcase while being a fun and catchy track as well, with an excellent instrumental section in the second half. As expected, the band follows the softest track up with one of the heavier tracks, as “The Voyage” is a slow but hard-hitting track, filled with some crushing riffs throughout its verses, along with some very powerful, yet beautiful lead vocals, which give way to an excellent, very melodic chorus. This is one of the tracks where the instrumental work is the highlight for me, though, as the guitar work is amazing throughout, especially during the solo section in the second half, as it manages to be equal parts heavy, intense, technical and very beautiful at different points.

Moving towards the end, “Aerodyne” is another lighter track, which moves at a pretty nice pace, and the verses have a nice rhythm to them, as well as some very light, but fun vocals, while the chorus is upbeat and very catchy. It largely feels like a simpler, more accessible track, but it has some interesting passages in the second half, as first there’s a very nice acoustic section, featuring some low clean vocals from former Tristania vocalist Østen Bergøy, and then there’s a very heavy section, with some intense growls. Overall, it’s an excellent track, which again shows the many different sides of Sirenia, all in one go. Next are another fun and upbeat track in “Twilight Hours”, which has some excellent melodic lead guitar work, along with some very epic orchestral arrangements, and some excellent operatic lead vocals. The verses fly by quickly and are a lot of fun, while the chorus is epic and very catchy, again coming close to power metal territory, and the guitar solo in the second half is amazing, as expected. Closing out the album is “Growing Embers”, a slower paced track, which alternates between soft and heavy passages brilliantly. It starts off with a beautiful acoustic section before the choirs, orchestras, and guitars kick in, and it turns into a heavy, epic and very melodic track, where Emmanuelle especially shines during the chorus, with some of her most beautiful and highly emotional clean vocals on the entire album. There are a few surprises, first with a sudden fast-paced, heavy instrumental section coming towards the middle, and then with another slow, but also very heavy section later on, with some of the best riffs on the album, before the track closes off with another run through its amazing chorus. It’s an excellent track overall, and it closes out the album perfectly. There’s an edited version of “Love Like Cyanide” as a bonus track, which I personally never even listened to once, as I find the original is perfect as is, and I generally only listen to edits if I feel there’s any filler that could be cut from the original version, so I have no clue as to any differences between the two versions.

Overall, Arcane Astral Aeons is yet another excellent album from Morten Veland, and it very well may be the best Sirenia album to date! It’s certainly by far the best symphonic/gothic metal album I’ve heard in years, and it manages to deliver everything I could possibly ask for, with a perfect mix between the heavier, darker sound of older albums, along with the lighter, super catchier sound of some of the middle albums, the more complex arrangement of the previous three albums, and even a few surprises along the way. It’s certainly a very diverse and explosive album, with tons of memorable moments throughout, and it shows the band at their absolute best. Obviously, a must hear for longtime fans of Sirenia, as well as anyone looking to hear the absolute best albums in the genre, as this release certainly deserves to be mentioned alongside some of the all-time greats.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2018/11/04/sirenia-arcane-astral-aeons-review/

PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol

Album · 2012 · Gothic Metal
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Warthur
In the early 2010s Paradise Lost were in the middle of a slow curve back towards the doom and specifically death-doom territory which had been where they started out, after a long mid-career sweep through gothic metal and goth rock territories. Tragic Idol seems like it's capturing a moment of them dithering on the threshold of doom metal, wondering if they're really ready to go through with it and return home; it feels like they're still holding onto some of the gothic trappings which gave them a brush with commercial success, and perhaps clutching to them just a wee bit tighter than they did on Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us.

This along with The Plague Within are probably the shakiest of the run of transitional albums from In Requiem, where they started returning to doom, to Medusa where they finally made a triumphant return to death-doom, but I think it still hits an interesting goth-doom mix which, if you dug the preceding two albums, will likely appeal to you - but I'd suggest going to those wells before you draw from this one.

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