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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.


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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
4.57 | 18 ratings
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WITHIN TEMPTATION The Dance Album Cover The Dance
4.42 | 11 ratings
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LACUNA COIL In a Reverie Album Cover In a Reverie
4.29 | 20 ratings
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SAVIOUR MACHINE Legend, Part I Album Cover Legend, Part I
4.49 | 6 ratings
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NOVEMBRE The Blue Album Cover The Blue
4.62 | 4 ratings
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LACRIMOSA Inferno Album Cover Inferno
4.35 | 11 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Cruelty and the Beast Album Cover Cruelty and the Beast
4.24 | 27 ratings
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TRISTANIA Beyond the Veil Album Cover Beyond the Veil
4.35 | 8 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Aégis Album Cover Aégis
4.22 | 13 ratings
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LACUNA COIL Unleashed Memories Album Cover Unleashed Memories
4.11 | 18 ratings
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MACBETH Romantic Tragedy's Crescendo Album Cover Romantic Tragedy's Crescendo
4.33 | 4 ratings
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THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL Painting on Glass Album Cover Painting on Glass
4.15 | 10 ratings
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The Sad Wonder of the Sun
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TRISTANIA Beyond the Veil

Album · 1999 · Gothic Metal
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Tristania are yet another "Beauty and the Beast" band in the gothic metal genre, though for my money I think Beyond the Veil is a pretty decent example of its form. Building on the solid but otherwise unremarkable foundation of their debut album, the band clearly listened to a whole bunch of symphonic black metal in the intervening time, because you have mild influences of that sweeping, melodramatic style coming into play here. When you combine that with a better production job, an increased confidence in the studio, and somewhat more polished compositions, you end up with quite an enticing package, and certainly an album worth going for if you dig this particular niche.

SIRENIA Dim Days of Dolor

Album · 2016 · Gothic Metal
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Sometimes, as a fan of a band who’s gone through many changes in the past, you may eventually reach a point where it seems like things have finally settled and you know roughly what to expect from them each time, only for change to suddenly and unexpectedly strike once again. The latest case of this is Sirenia, the gothic metal band led by former Tristania mastermind Morten Veland. In this case, the change shouldn’t have come off as surprising as it did for me, because for the first four albums with his current band Morten had brought in a new singer each time, but after Spanish vocalist Ailyn had lasted four albums I thought for sure he had finally settled down, and then the two suddenly parted ways, with Ailyn being replaced by French vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan, who had been helping the band with choir vocals for a long time, though she had also sung lead vocals on one track from the Sirenian Shores EP released in 2004. At first I had no idea what to expect from the band going forward, as I loved Ailyn’s vocals and I thought the first three albums with her were some of Morten’s all time best, so I was extremely nervous to hear Dim Days of Dolor, but once again he has surprised me and has proven himself to be one of the best songwriters not only in his genre but in metal period.

Sirenia’s music has changed quite a bit over the years, starting off as somewhat of a simpler continuation of the classic gothic metal sound Morten had perfected on his Tristania swan song Beyond the Veil, with the debut At Sixes and Sevens in particular feeling like an excellent follow up that album, while later albums like The 13th Floor and The Enigma of Life had seen the band switch to a much softer, more accessible sound with an increased emphasis on female vocals and catchy choruses. Then came Perils of the Deep Blue, which felt like somewhat of a bridge between two styles, maintaining the more melodic and catchy style of the latter albums, while bringing back some of the complexity and the growls from the earlier albums.

With Dim Days of Dolor, it feels like Morten has once again set out to make a seamless blend between all phases of the band, with most songs initially seeming straightforward and lighter like The 13th Floor, and some fans may be disappointed to discover the lack of growls on most tracks, but once you start looking beneath the surface and start to pay full attention to the songs, you can notice there’s a ton of stuff going on musically, with all kinds of layers and elements thrown in to keep things interesting even on the simpler songs. As always, synths and orchestras are used for atmosphere and the music gets very dark at times, though not as dark as on Morten’s earlier albums, and I’ve also noticed an increase in the guitar work on this album, at least compared to the past few. Parts of the album remind me a bit of later Epica with how heavy the guitar sound can get, and there’s more speedy guitar driven passages on this album than I was expecting. At the same time, that lighter sound from some of their lesser regarded albums remains present on most tracks, and so if anything this is quite the varied album and there’s quite a bit going on musically throughout.

Getting back to that big change I mentioned, Emmanuelle fits in great and brings back an element many Tristania fans have been missing, which is the operatic vocals. Unlike the previous few Sirenia singers, Emmanuelle has had extended classical singing training and this immediately shows, as she can fluidly switch from high pitch operatic singing to normal, clear singing in an instant and she does so quite often throughout the album, most notably on the excellent track “Treasure n’ Treason”. She also has an excellent lower register which she uses a few times throughout the album, and this is another element that helps separate her from previous singers. While I don’t find her voice as unique as some singers Morten has worked with in the past, her abilities can not be denied and she certainly does a great job of carrying this album.

Fans of earlier albums will likely be pleased with the opening track “Goddess of the Sea” which starts off with some very dark and ambient keys, before turning to the kind of atmospheric mid-tempo the track the band specializes in. It’s a track very much dominated by Emmanuelle, whose operatic vocals immediately make an impact on the music, and the choir vocals, which are used frequently on this album, more so than on the past few albums, I think. While the track doesn’t have any growls, musically it feels like a nice mix of old and new, and it features some nice guitar work in the second half. On the other side of things, the title track is the kind of much lighter, catchier track found on The 13th Floor and The Enigma of Life, with everything from the sweeping orchestra at the beginning to the chorus all being designed to immediately grab the listener’s attention. Emmanuelle sounds much lighter on this track as well, and it’s certainly a more upbeat sounding track, which makes the sad lyrics seem a little out of place, though that’s not really a criticism as Morten has been known to mix upbeat music and sad lyrics from time to time, so listeners should be used to that by now. More importantly, the chorus is fantastic and all around the track is easily one the catchiest and most fun Sirenia tracks ever, making it the perfect choice for a single. The track also features some nice guest vocals from past collaborator Joakim Næs, who has a very warm voice that fits in well with the track, and he does a great job as always.

The other single “The 12th Hour”, is actually a bit more surprising, as it has some of the heavier, speedier guitar driven passages I mentioned earlier and it also has a particularly heavy section in the second half which really reminds me of Epica, though the soft passage that follows and the vocal section from Emmanuelle immediately bring the song back into familiar territory. Really, the track has a lot going on for a single, with a nice mix of the heavy guitars and synth, as well as great higher vocals from Emmanuelle during the chorus. Also, this track features some of Morten’s growls, and as always, they’re amazing.

While those two tracks are my favorites, there are more gems to be found on the album. As mentioned earlier, the mostly upbeat “Treasure n’ Treason” may be the best showcase for Emmanuelle, as she fluidly switches between operatic vocals and clean vocals throughout, and a softer passage in the second half does an amazing job of showcasing her lower register, while the chorus is very nice as well. More nice clean male vocals can be found on “Veil of Winter”, which very much feels like classic Sirenia, especially with how the guitar tone sounds during the male vocal passages, while “Playing With Fire” is another faster, heavier song in which Morten showcases his growls. One last appearance from the growls happens towards the end of the album on “Fifth Column”, a darker, heavier track that very much reminds me of early Sirenia, and I expect fans to be very pleased with it.

Aside from a few tracks, though, this album mostly feels like a nice showcase for Emmanuelle and the choirs, as lead male vocals aren’t very prominent and softer tracks like the power ballad “Elusive Sun” and piano ballad “Aeon’s Embrace” are especially driven by the female vocals, with the latter, in particular, having some great operatic vocals. Even the slow, crushingly heavy track “Ashes to Ashes” surprisingly doesn’t feature any growls, though in this case they aren’t really needed as the lead vocals are excellent enough, and musically it’s a hard hitting track with some great riffs nice melodic leads at points, so there’s already enough going on that growls aren’t necessary. Perhaps the one odd moment of the album happens on “Cloud Nine”, as, after the expected atmospheric intro, there’s a weird use of dubstep effects, though these quickly fade away and the rest of the song is a melodic mid-paced track with an excellent chorus.

I’ll admit I was initially not looking forward to hearing new Sirenia music as much I should have been, between their last album The Seventh Life Path being a bit of a step back and the change in singers leaving me disappointed, but with Dim Days of Dolor Morten Veland has once again stepped up his game and released an excellent album with a nice of old and new, all while doing an excellent job of showcasing his latest vocalist. Highly recommended for longtime fans as well as fans of symphonic and gothic metal who don’t mind having a lack of growls compared to past albums.

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LACUNA COIL In a Reverie

Album · 1999 · Gothic Metal
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Lacuna Coil's debut offers what Lacuna Coil has been offering all along - "beauty and the beast" style gothic metal with excellent clean vocals from Cristina Scabbia and somewhat forgettable growls from Andrea Ferro. This time around the musical backing is pretty decent, which makes all the difference with this sort of deal, and whilst despite the title it doesn't quite put me in a reverie it's still a fun enough example of the style of gothic metal it represents, and a cut above the general standard of this particular subgenre at that. Unless you adamantly despise gothic metal, you'll probably enjoy this.

TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me

Album · 2003 · Gothic Metal
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"Life Is Killing Me" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, New York based doom/goth metal act Type O Negative. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in June 2003. It was their last album released through Roadrunner Records as their long running relationship came to an end. Their next album "Dead Again (2007)" was released through SPV/Steamhammer Records.

While the music on "Life Is Killing Me" is unmistakably the sound of Type O Negative it´s still quite a different sounding release to it´s predecessor "World Coming Down (1999)". "World Coming Down (1999)" is probably the most bleak and heavy album in Type O Negative´s discography, and while "Life Is Killing Me" certainly isn´t a happy album, the trademark sarcastic humour from the early releases is more present on "Life Is Killing Me" than it has been on the last couple of releases. I also sense a tiny light at the end of the tunnel on some tracks.

The most notable difference though is the return of more hardcore sounding tracks. "I Don't Wanna Be Me", "I Like Goils", and especially "Angry Inch" are all, at least to some degree, in hardcore territory. "I Like Goils" actually created quite a stir, with lead vocalist Peter Steele being accused of homophobia. While it´s easy to interpret the lyrics like that, and there certainly is a very strong homophobic element to be found there (I guess lyric lines like "To make it clear that you can't bone me, My tattooed ass reads exit only" and "Now I don't know whose ass you've licked, No shit-tongued boy will ever taste my dick" really can´t be misunderstood), the story behind the track is actually a bit entertaining. Apparently Peter Steele´s decision to pose nude for the August 1995 edition of Playgirl Magazine backfired, as he began to receive more and more sexual offers from men, and rumour has it that some of them were very persistent. So to set the record straight, Peter Steele came up with the lyrics for "I Like Goils".

The music on "Life Is Killing Me" is not only aggressive hardcore though, and we´re predominantly treated to the doomy/gothic Black Sabbath influenced metal with psychadelic Beatlesque leanings, that Type O Negative are mostly known and loved for. Very well constructed vocal melodies (sung with a burning passion by Peter Steele) and choirs, heavy distorted bass and guitars, and atmospheric keyboards. It´s not all material on the album that are equally interesting and "Life Is Killing Me" is to my ears the first Type O Negative to feature filler material. Nothing is of bad quality or anything like that, but there are a couple of unremarkable tracks on the album, that I still to this day, can´t remember how sound, when I pick up the album for a listening session. On any of their previous releases I know exactly how each track sound just by reading the songtitle. At 74:32 minutes the album is also a bit too long for it´s own good, when not all material are equally entertaining. On the other hand there are also very strong tracks on the album like the above mentioned hardcore tinged tracks, "Nettie" (beautiful track that one), "Life Is Killing Me", and the quite odd and different sounding "How Could She?".

Upon conclusion "Life Is Killing Me" isn´t an album that developed the band´s sound much. It´s as if at this point, their unique sound was fully established and they had little desire to explore new ground ("How Could She?" is probably the only track on the album that surprised me), and it more or less sounds like they just picked what they felt were the best elements from their previous releases and combined them here. When you´ve developed a sound as unique as the sound of Type O Negative, it´s not "do or die" though and "Life Is Killing Me" is still a high quality release deserving a 4 star (80%) rating.

THE GATHERING Strange Machines

Single · 1995 · Gothic Metal
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The MANDYLION album, where most of these songs originated, initiates The Gathering's real growth. IMO the band lost a key component when they shed their metal trappings about the time of SOUVENIRS. However, all three of the songs on this EP are strong ones. The general consensus seems to agree with me, and rates the MANDYLION album highly.

I won't discuss the individual songs at length. I only have two criticisms of this Strange Machines EP. The first is that there's nothing to suggest to the listener that the two "live" tracks were actually recorded live. The other one is that an album track and an edited version of the song for radio is unnecessary IMO. Otherwise this is a very enjoyable way to spend 20 minutes.

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