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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.


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

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PARADISE LOST Draconian Times Album Cover Draconian Times
4.47 | 35 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Icon Album Cover Icon
4.32 | 37 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
4.37 | 21 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol Album Cover Tragic Idol
4.34 | 19 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE October Rust Album Cover October Rust
4.23 | 25 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
4.19 | 32 ratings
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WITHIN TEMPTATION The Dance Album Cover The Dance
4.25 | 13 ratings
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LACRIMOSA Inferno Album Cover Inferno
4.28 | 11 ratings
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MOONSPELL Wolfheart Album Cover Wolfheart
4.17 | 21 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me Album Cover Life Is Killing Me
4.11 | 25 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Cruelty and the Beast Album Cover Cruelty and the Beast
4.10 | 27 ratings
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TIAMAT Wildhoney Album Cover Wildhoney
4.08 | 31 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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Down Below
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gothic metal Music Reviews

ART IN EXILE Art in Exile

EP · 2006 · Gothic Metal
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‘Art in Exile’ is the self-titled debut release by the Australian gothic rockers of the same name. It’s one of those CD’s that you pick up in the bargain bin (I literally did, in Germany, for 50 cents!), and then have in your collection, forever wondering why you still have it despite not liking it.

It’s kind of gothic metal, kind of progressive at times, kind of death metal, mostly boring. The guitar riffs aren’t very interesting, and the gloomy keyboards don’t really add much. There are one or two moments where the music is alright, especially the intro of opening track ‘Magnetism’, which sounded intriguing for all of 45 seconds, until vocalist Mel Bulian starts screaming away. She sounds a bit like Dani Filth, but I don’t really care about Dani Filth. Her clean vocals are nice, and the band could have had a much better sound if they’d taken that approach, but all her screeching is hard to listen to, and certainly not for me.

Since this band have only released one album (at the time of writing this review, anyway), I’m guessing there’s not much demand for a gothic metal scene in Australia? Who knows? Either way, there’s a reason this was in the bargain bin...


Album · 2012 · Gothic Metal
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After a few more commercial albums, the gothic rock/metal One Second (1997), the completely non-metal Host (1999) and the alternative/industrial influenced Believe in Nothing (2001) and Symbol of Life (2002), Paradise Lost released a self-titled effort in 2005 as their tenth album. It was one of their more shaky records, though still solid gothic metal. After that they began a new incredible run of high quality albums starting with In Requiem (2007), which saw them starting to reintroduce doom metal to their sound, some that only increased on the following Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us (2009). Most recent they've made their work noteworthy by reintroducing their early death growling style on The Plague Within (2015) and a full return to death-doom metal on Medusa (2017).

Stuck in the middle of these five albums is Tragic Idol (2012), Paradise Lost's thirteenth studio album. While not without a reasonable regard from fans, it does seem that out of the five albums released in the 2007-2017 period that it is the one that gets the least mentions, except perhaps for it's distinction as the last Paradise Lost (to date) to not use any death growling from vocalist Nick Holmes.

It's a shame that Tragic Idol seems so overlooked next to the other modern Paradise Lost albums and more so when putting it up against their earlier classic works like Draconian Times (1995), Icon (1993) and Gothic (1991), since for me this album actually represents one of the band's best works. Much like was with the case with fan favourite (and mine) Draconian Times, Tragic Idol comes equipped with an incredibly solid tracklist (here containing ten songs) where every single song is able to stand out and assert its own identity through memorable lyrics delivered with Holmes' varied and powerful vocal performance.

The album is more pure gothic metal in style that it's doomy predecessor and reaffirms why Paradise Lost are the kings of that sub-genre, though does overall have a different vibe to Draconian Times and Icon. This ability for their albums to stand out from each other is another reason why Paradise Lost must be recognised as one of the truly great metal bands to have ever existed. Very rarely does an album from them have exactly the same vibe as the previous one. What really sells Tragic Idol though is its songs. The excellent title track most of all, but also ones like Solitary One, Crucify, Fear of Impending Hell, Theories From Another World and The Glorious End all make this one of the band's most essential albums. The two prior albums were excellent but neither can claim that every song is as instantly memorable the way Tragic Idol can. I'd even rank this one above Icon for that alone.

Paradise Lost's thirteenth album may forever be known to me as the underrated one and that's the only really tragic thing about it. Fans of the band are advised to pay closer attention to this one.

PARADISE LOST Draconian Times

Album · 1995 · Gothic Metal
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With their first four albums representing a clear evolution from their beginnings as a pure death-doom metal act to a gothic metal act, Paradise Lost's fifth full-length album sees them delivering something as close to what could be considered their standard fare. Not that they really have one, as subsequent albums would go on to prove. Titled Draconian Times (1995), the album is probably the UK band's best known and well regarded release as is considered a seminal album of the gothic metal genre.

It's really got hard to hear why. Gothic metal can take a number of different forms and Paradise Lost's style is one that remains closest to its roots in doom and traditional heavy metal. As on Icon (1993), frontman Nick Holmes has now left behind any traces of growling vocals in the band's style and sings cleanly in a style that is actually not that unlike that of Metallica's James Hetfield. I've seen some describe the band as being like a meeting of that band with Black Sabbath. That's kind of accurate but only the bare bones of what they and Draconian Times actually sound like. This album has a quite polished and melodic sound but it's also dark and melancholy. There's still an element of the doom metal roots, but it'll be a long while again before Paradise Lost could be considered an actual doom metal band.

The songs themselves tend toward being catchy, memorable numbers that all easily number among the best that Paradise Lost has ever recorded. There are some clear highlights such as Hallowed Land, which features excellent use of piano and Forever Failure, which includes some spoken word samples from Charles Manson. They've a very good band at making their individual songs stand out as unique entities instead of just being part of a greater whole and Draconian Times is undeniably the best collection they ever put together, each one of them having claims to being a standout in its own right. I think it is maybe fair to say that the songs on the first half of the album have become a bit more well known, but the quality in the second half really isn't that different.

Although I've listened to gothic metal on and off for years and even had a couple of other Paradise Lost albums a bit longer than this one, it was Draconian Times that really sold me on the kind of quality that the genre has to offer when the band is a cut above the rest of the pack. Draconian Times is the kind of album that not only lives up to its hype. But also converted this previously sceptical listener into both a fan of the band and someone who now wants to active investigate other gothic metal bands.


Album · 2018 · Gothic Metal
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With 2015’s Children Of The Night Swedes Tribulation had made the move they’d hinted at on The Formulas Of Death into more accessible territory. From early days where they were a blackened death metal band they had diversified their sound considerably to include gothic, traditional and prog metal. The result was a brilliant album of some of the catchiest metal, without resorting to any form of compromise, that I’d heard that year.

The single Lady Death, released late last year, suggested the band would be following a similar path on Down Below. That has proved to be the case but if anything they’ve streamlined the sound more and gone for a simpler and more direct approach, at least for much of the time, immediately apparent from the simple 4/4 drum pattern laid down by new drummer Oscar Leander which comes in on opener The Lament. The strong melodies that were such an integral part of COTN remain intact – we’re talking musically here as vocalist Johannes Andersson still sings with his black/death rasp which is perhaps the only barrier from Tribulation reaching a mainstream rock audience such is the accessibility of these songs. Once again the lead guitar work of Jonathan Hultén and Adam Zaars is fantastic – as I remember saying in my review of COTH they’re more old school with an emphasis on well-chosen notes taking precedence over a blur of notes. The same can be said for guitar work in general with no shortage strong riffs interspersed with arpeggios and licks, the overall feel often having a melancholic vibe no better demonstrated on the instrumental Purgatorio . If anything the second half of the album gets even better, the songs becoming a bit more expansive with more twists and turns - listen to Lacrimosa and album closer Here Be Dragons, the latter in particular with its slow build which is a brilliant way to close the album. The icing on the cake is the top notch production – organic and powerful with a rock solid drum sound.

In terms of style and feel Down Below can be considered Children Of The Night part 2. I wouldn’t say it’s better but if you loved that album as much as I do then this has got to be essential listening for you. So early in the year we’ve had excellent albums from Watain, Hamferð and Sinistro and Tribulation can join that list. At this rate I’ll have my top 10 of 2018 by March!

PARADISE LOST Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us

Album · 2009 · Gothic Metal
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Encouraged, perhaps, by the general applause received by In Requiem for its reintroduction of doom metal elements into Paradise Lost's sound, Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us finds Paradise Lost several steps further down their return journey. From the opening track, As Horizons End, Nick Holmes gives a more classic doom metal vocal performance rather than the more generic alt-metal/goth stylings that he'd been working as late as In Requiem, and the riffs are even heavier and doomier.

Fans of their gothic metal years aren't entirely left out in the cold - there's quieter, more atmospheric sections aplenty which will keep them well-satisfied. Overall, this is the sort of doomy gothic metal album which, counterintuitively, Paradise Lost might not have been able to make without moving away from metal and coming back again, thus gaining an external perspective which allows them to deploy their goth-doom chops with greater mastery and subtlety than before.

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