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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 Obsidian Album Cover Obsidian
4.74 | 8 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Draconian Times Album Cover Draconian Times
4.35 | 41 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
4.30 | 24 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol Album Cover Tragic Idol
4.26 | 20 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Icon Album Cover Icon
4.20 | 40 ratings
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MOONSPELL Wolfheart Album Cover Wolfheart
4.22 | 24 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE October Rust Album Cover October Rust
4.17 | 29 ratings
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WITHIN TEMPTATION The Dance Album Cover The Dance
4.25 | 13 ratings
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MOONSPELL Irreligious Album Cover Irreligious
4.19 | 21 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
4.15 | 36 ratings
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LACRIMOSA Inferno Album Cover Inferno
4.24 | 12 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Cruelty and the Beast Album Cover Cruelty and the Beast
4.12 | 30 ratings
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Album · 2020 · Gothic Metal
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The UK's Paradise Lost is a band that is no stranger to change. One might argue they've made their career on it. They went from humble death-doom metal beginnings to gothic metal superstars across their first five albums. Next they descended into gothic rock and electronic territory for One Second (1997) and Host (1999) respectively. Even when metalling it up again with Believe in Nothing (2001), they were now influenced by genres like alternative metal and industrial metal. Then Paradise Lost started to come full circle, shedding these elements by the time of In Requiem (2007), which saw them back in the frame of doomy gothic metal. Then the doom metal started coming to the fore all the more. Then back came the growling vocals of their early days for the first time in years for The Plague Within (2015) and then finally with Medusa (2017), Paradise Lost released their first death-doom metal album since 1991's Gothic. So what could Obsidian (2020), their sixteenth studio album, possibly be?

The answer is an album that could easily be described as a summary of everything that has made Paradise Lost the special band that they are. The most gothic metal they've been since Tragic Idol (2012), yet Obsidian doesn't again retire Nick Holmes' growling vocals with it, instead leaving us with something that may be what classic albums like Icon (1993) and fan favourite Draconian Times (1995) might have sounded like if Nick had never stopped growling in the first place. That alone makes Obsidian another rather unique entry in the Paradise Lost discography. There are certainly also some nods to their more gothic rock based material.

While it's true that some may be disappointed that the return to death-doom metal has already been largely moved on from – the most Medusa-like track featured here is the closing Ravenghast and fans of that album are recommended to get a version of the album with the bonus tracks for more similar material – I find myself impressed by the ability of Paradise Lost to not make direct copies of their previous album's sound very often. Even when two consecutive albums like Icon and Draconian Times are similar in style, it's always just the two albums before the band is changing things up with their influences again and there's very few artists that's true of. And with Obsidian they prove they can still surprise – a band that thirty years on from their debut, remains just as relevant and never derivative of themselves.

The song selection is also strong, not that this is an area that Paradise Lost usually has any trouble with. They've long proven their knack for making the individual track standout from the rest of the album. And once again, they've managed to make a release I know I'll be listening to many times over and will go down as a favourite for 2020.

PARADISE LOST Draconian Times

Album · 1995 · Gothic Metal
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"Draconian Times" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK doom/goth metal act Paradise Lost. The album was released through Music for Nations in June 1995. Since the release of "Icon (1993)" there´s been one lineup change as drummer Matthew Archer was asked to leave after the tour supporting the album. The band didn´t feel Archer had grown as a musician with the same speed as the rest of the band, and they felt he held them back. New drummer on "Draconian Times" is Lee Morris who came from a stint with British heavy/power metal act Marshall Law.

Stylistically "Draconian Times" is very much a sibling album to "Icon (1993)". Paradise Lost enjoyed great success with "Icon (1993)" and "Draconian Times" feels a bit like the band didn´t want to deviate too much from that successful formula. So it´s basically doom metal with goth rock leanings. Heavy sustained chords with soaring lead themes on top and a heavy- to mid-paced rhythm section backing it up. Piano/keyboards are used a bit more on this album compared to earlier releases. Nick Holmes have obviously become a bit more confident singing instead of just shouting in key, as he predominantly did on "Icon (1993)", so the vocal department of "Draconian Times" is slightly more varied than on the predecessor. The goth rock influence is overall also much stronger on "Draconian Times" than it was on "Icon (1993)". "The Last Time" even fully crosses into goth rock/metal territory.

The material on the 12 track, 48:55 minutes long album are generally well written, although not all tracks stand out equally much. To my ears highlights include "Hallowed Land", "The Last Time", "Forever Failure" (which features some pretty eerie voice samples of Charles Manson), and "Shadowkings". "Draconian Times" features a melancholic atmosphere, which is one of the great assets of the band´s sound, and Paradise Lost successfully combine the heavy gloomy tracks with slightly more uplifting and hard rocking up-tempo tracks like "The Last Time" and "Once Solemn".

The sound production is powerful, clear, and detailed. A little less heavy than the sound on the predecessor, but still pretty heavy. Upon conclusion "Draconian Times" is a quality release by Paradise Lost, which feels like a natural successor to "Icon (1993)". The band haven´t taken longer steps than they were ready to, but have still developed their sound in a slightly less heavy and more rock oriented direction. I wouldn´t call "Draconian Times" a perfect release as there are simply too many unremarkable tracks featured on the album, but that´s no different from the material featured on "Icon (1993)", so no surprises there. It´s still a good quality release through and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.


Album · 1993 · Gothic Metal
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"Icon" is the 4th full-length studio album by UK doom/goth metal act Paradise Lost. The album was released through Music For Nations in September 1993. It´s the successor to "Shades of God" from 1992, and the last album to feature the original lineup, as drummer Matthew Archer was asked to leave after the tour supporting the album. The band didn´t feel Archer had grown as a musician with the same speed as the rest of the band, and they felt he held them back. "Icon" was Paradise Lost commercial breakthrough and it sold relatively many copies considering the music style, which may be a good deal less harsh than what the three predecessors offered, but still is relatively heavy and hard edged compared to more mainstream oriented metal releases.

Stylistically the music on "Icon" is doom metal with goth metal leanings. It´s predominantly slow- to mid-paced, but there are a couple of faster sections too (relatively faster that is...). Lead vocalist Nick Holmes had already begun changing his deep and commanding growling vocal style to a more shouting raw vocal style on "Shades of God (1992)", but on "Icon" he adds a more melodic twist to it, and generally sings less raw too. I´ve seen him describing his vocal style on "Icon" as "shouting in key" and I guess that´s not the worst way of describing it. He occasionally uses a deeper goth rock type singing style too, which adds some variation to the vocal department of the music. In addition to Nick Holmes vocal contributions, the "Christendom" track also features female vocals by Denise Bernard, but Paradise Lost of course already went down that route on "Gothic (1991)", so it´s really nothing new, but it´s great for the variation of the album. The instrumental part of the music is basically sustained heavy chords with soaring lead themes on top, and a heavy rhythm section to back it up. Some keyboards have been added to the music, but they are generally used as tasteful atmosphere enhancing backing.

The material on the 13 track, 50:32 minutes long album are generally well written although not all tracks are equally memorable. Highlights and standout tracks are "Embers Fire", "Remembrance", "Forging Sympathy", "Colossal Rains", "True Belief", "Christendom", and the closing instrumental "Deus Misereatur". To my ears the album features a couple of tracks too much, and it´s seldom my attention doesn´t wander about half way through the album, because some of the less interesting tracks just don´t stick. It all becomes just a bit too one-dimensional in the end. It´s nothing too serious though, and "Icon" is still a quality release in most departments, but the tracklist definitely could have prospered from a culling of filler material.

The musicianship is generally on a good level, but there is a reason why Archer was fired. His drumming is unimaginative and stiff. He has zero groove and therefore the music also lacks an organic groove, which could probably have lifted it to a higher level. "Icon" features a clear and powerful sound production, which suits the music perfectly, and despite a few issues regarding the songwriting and the drumming, the album is still a good quality release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

A DREAM OF POE Sorrow for the Lost Lenore

EP · 2009 · Gothic Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Edgar Allen Poe has gone down in history for his poems set to musicality, stylized language and supernatural atmospheres which is why his subject matter so perfectly fits into the modern day world in the terms of inspiration for certain metal bands, particular the more macabre and lugubrious subgenera of doom metal and gothic metal. Without any covert references the Portuguese band A DREAM OF POE set about to worship its favorite American poet from their not so dark and mysterious starting point of the Azores located west of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s no wonder that this location was too cheery and the band eventually relocated to the more dismal setting of Scotland.

The band’s debut EP titled SORROW FOR THE LOST LENORE is a reference right out of Poe’s famous narrative poem “The Raven” first published in 1845 which would set the tone for this band’s goth doom march that has so far included a demo, two EPs and four albums. The band has primarily been masterminded by Miguel "Bruno Spell" Santos (multi-instrumentalist) with Paulo Pacheco contributing lyrics. This EP only contains five tracks two of which are covers. “Gentle Whisper” is a cover track of Morbid Death, another band emerging from the Azores and “For My Fallen Angel” is a cover of the project’s most obvious point of reference - My Dying Bride.

There’s not much to say about this except that if you ever wanted to hear a blatant My Dying Bride clone that is inferior in every way then A DREAM OF POE is the nightmare you’ve been looking for. I’m not sure how anyone could accept this as a real project since it sounds like a cover band even on the three original tracks. This is basically slow doom metal with an atmospheric component that replicates the mid-90s My Dying Bride experience in every way except the vocals are substandard and not up to the task of creating a true goth doom vibe and the music is rather lazy as well with boring drum beats not to mention the mix is somewhat weak. The best track on here is the My Dying Bride cover itself but offers nothing to make it distinct from the original. In fact it sounds like a rough draft.

While SORROW FOR THE LOST LENORE isn’t a horrible listening experience in its own right, the derivative display of unoriginality swallowing up a playing time of 40 minutes gets boring really fast. All this really accomplished was for me to want to revisit My Dying Bride’s string of excellent albums that shows the true goth doom metal thing is done in all its splendor. A DREAM OF POE fails to find its own niche in the world and instead resorts to ripping off another more famous band’s style without even adding a single shred of originality. This is not a band i wish to explore further as it seems the albums simply retread the basic template already laid down on this album and no matter how well they have been improved, this is still very much a band that has not found its own way.

KATATONIA Discouraged Ones

Album · 1998 · Gothic Metal
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"Discouraged Ones" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish alternative/doom/progressive metal act Katatonia. The album was released through Avantgarde Music in April 1998. It´s the successor to "Brave Murder Day" from 1996. There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Micke Oretoft has joined the lineup.

Katatonia are known to shift gears and change style between albums, but the change in musical style from "Brave Murder Day (1996)" to "Discouraged Ones" is the most radical stylistic change between releases in the band´s discography. While "Brave Murder Day (1996)" was obviously a move away from the blackened death/doom of "Dance of December Souls (1993)", and featured a track like "Day, which solely featured clean vocals, it´s still predominantly a death/doom metal release. "Discouraged Ones" features nothing even remotely connected to death metal. The music is still dark, melancholic, and at times relatively heavy, but it´s not really doom metal either. Instead a sedated shoegaze influence has sneaked in and also a couple of goth rock elements. Jonas Renkse has now fully taken over the lead vocal duties in addition to his drumming role, and all vocals on the album are clean. So no growling vocals on this one.

Once you´ve listened to the opening track "I Break", you pretty much know what you´re in for on the rest of the album. In that respect "Discouraged Ones" is a slightly formulaic and one-dimensional affair. It´s not a major issue though, as Katatonia do what they do very well, and as a listener you´re immediately sucked into a world of dark depression and deep melancholia that´s quite engaging. Renkse has a heartfelt and honest emotional delivery and paired with the heavy riffs and overall bleak atmosphere of the instrumental part of the music, "Discouraged Ones" comes off as a pretty convincing release.

The musicianship is decent, although Renkse won´t win any prizes for hitting the notes clean and his drumming is also almost painfully simple at times, but the sometimes rough and unpolished delivery is actually what makes "Discouraged Ones" such an interesting release. Renkse´s restrained and almost shy vocal approach makes him sound so sad and alone in the world, that the deep melancholy of the music sounds frightingly authentic. He is wearing his feelings on the outside here, and we as listeners are invited to share his pain. To some that may sound a bit pretentious, and Renkse voice and vocal style is probably an aquired taste, but he is defining for Katatonia´s sound.

"Discouraged Ones" features a heavy and dark sound production, which suits the gloomy music well. So upon conclusion it´s a good quality release by Katatonia. It´s of course a fanbase divider as a consequence of the radical change in style since "Brave Murder Day (1996)", but to my ears it´s a bold move from the band. "Discouraged Ones" is clearly not an album featuring a fully developed sound, and in that respect it´s the definition of a transition album, but sometimes the journey is more interesting than the end destination, and while that analogy isn´t completely true when speaking of Katatonia´s discography (which features several great albums further down the line), it´s still true to the extent that "Discouraged Ones" works well as an album in its own right. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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