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


gothic metal top albums

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4.61 | 20 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Icon Album Cover Icon
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MOONSPELL Wolfheart Album Cover Wolfheart
MOONSPELL
4.21 | 26 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
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TYPE O NEGATIVE October Rust Album Cover October Rust
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.12 | 35 ratings
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MOONSPELL Irreligious Album Cover Irreligious
MOONSPELL
4.14 | 23 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us Album Cover Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us
PARADISE LOST
4.10 | 24 ratings
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TRIBULATION The Children of the Night Album Cover The Children of the Night
TRIBULATION
4.16 | 12 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me Album Cover Life Is Killing Me
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.05 | 33 ratings
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How to Shroud Yourself with Night
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LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE
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Neither Moth nor Rust
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HANGING GARDEN
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gothic metal Music Reviews

ATROCITY Die Liebe (feat. Das Ich)

EP · 1995 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Die Liebe (feat. Das Ich)" is an EP release by German metal act Atrocity. The EP was released through Massacre Records in November 1995. Along with the "Calling the Rain" EP from July 1995, it bridges the gap between the band´s 3rd and 4th full-length studio albums "Blut (1994)" and "Willenskraft (1996)". "Die Liebe (feat. Das Ich)" is a collaboration release with German electronic music group Das Ich and is another departure in sound from the band´s early death metal releases.

In only 5 years Atrocity have gone from playing technical deathgrind, to playing goth/groove metal, to the neo-folk excursions on the "Calling the Rain (1995)" EP, and now this...

..."Die Liebe (feat. Das Ich)" sees Atrocity playing an industrial/electronic tinged metal style. About half of the tracks are sung in the band´s native language, and although Atrocity as a band predates Rammstein, this particular release came out only a few months after Rammstein´s debut album "Herzeleid" was released in September 1995, and it´s hard not to make some comparisons. Atrocity are a bit more experimental than their fellow countrymen and not quite as catchy either, but the premise of hard pumped rhythms, industrial sound effects/keyboards, and heavy angular guitar riffs are similar on the two projects.

While some of the material featured on the 9 track, 40:37 (album length) EP are new, Atrocity have also included some altered versions of tracks from "Blut (1994)", including another version of the rap metal styled "Miss Directed", which is retitled "Misdirected" on this release. Atrocity are skilled musicians and adventuruos musical souls too, which their creative songswriting approach bear witness to, but "Die Liebe (feat. Das Ich)" is not their most shining musical hour. I praise the boldness of the idea, but this experiment just doesn´t work. The material is simply not well written or catchy enough. A 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

ATROCITY Calling the Rain (feat. Yasmin)

EP · 1995 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Calling the Rain" is an EP release by German metal act Atrocity. The EP was released through Massacre Records in July 1995. Along with the "Die Liebe (feat. Das Ich)" EP from November 1995, it bridges the gap between the band´s 3rd and 4th full-length studio albums "Blut (1994)" and "Willenskraft (1996)". It was already obvious on "Blut (1994)" that Atrocity had more or less left their death metal past behind, but "Calling the Rain" still came as a bit of a surprise (not the last surprise in their discography)...

...as it features the band playing in a predominantly acoustic neo-folk style with clean male vocals and ethnic middle-eastern influenced female vocals courtesy of lead vocalist Alexander Krull´s sister Yasmin Krull (artists like Dead Can Dance and Comus come to mind). The use of percussion instead of drums and the almost total lack of distorted electric guitars (with a few exceptions) are also quite the difference from their metal oriented releases. The title track and "Land Beyond the Forest" were also featured on "Blut (1994)". The former is featured here in two versions. The video edit version (which is around 1 minute shorter than the original album version from "Blut (1994)"), and in a remix version. The remaining tracks on the 8 track, 37:05 minutes long EP are exclusive to this release.

The material are for the most part well written and quite intriguing dark neo-folk. Tracks like the title track, "Back From Eternity", and "Land Beyond the Forest", work very well and they are quite catchy in their melancholic grace. Unfortunately the redundant remix version of the title track and the 10:17 minutes long atmopsheric EP closer "Ancient Sadness" drag my rating down. I never understood why artists include remix versions, if they aren´t completely different from the originals (and even then remixes are mostly unnecessary material) and in the case of "Ancient Sadness" it is a long pointless exercise in ambience, which gets tedious after a couple of minutes. Disregarding those two tracks there are still around 20 minutes of good quality music on "Calling the Rain", and Atrocity show that they are fully capable of writing and delivering this type of music. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE How to Shroud Yourself with Night

Album · 2022 · Gothic Metal
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lukretion
Darkness. German quartet Lacrimas Profundere have been dealing in it for nearly three decades now, and with their 13th full-length album How to Shroud Yourself with Night, they have just brought yet another dose of aural despair to their fans. Founded in 1993 by brothers Oliver (guitars) and Christopher Schmid (vocals), the band initially explored the vast expanses of melodic doom/death metal that was gaining traction in those years. Over the next decades, Lacrimas Profundere followed the genre’s evolution, embracing the same gothic influences that bands like Paradise Lost and Anathema were experimenting with at the time, and pushing them to even further extremes, to land eventually in territories not far from The 69 Eyes or HIM. The Germans have recently returned to a heavier sound with their 2019 album Bleeding the Stars, which saw new singer Julian Larre join Oliver Schmid, Dominik Scholz (drums) and Ilker Ersin (bass) in the band. With an unchanged line-up, the new album How to Shroud Yourself with Night continues to explore a heavier brand of gothic metal, mixing together influences from gothic rock, doom, and melodic groove metal/metalcore.

Lacrimas Profundere have never been shy to wear their influences on their sleeves, and the new album is no exception. Tracks like “In a Lengthening Shadow” and “An Invisible Beginning” are almost a tribute to The 69 Eyes and HIM, reproducing in painstaking detail all the tropes of the gothic rock genre, from Julian Larre’s sensual, baritonal crooning to Oliver Schmid’s energetic but melodic guitarwork. Elsewhere, Lacrimas Profundere hark back to the doom metal of their origins, like on “Shroud of Night”, where Larre’s impassioned wails bring to mind Vincent Cavanagh’s (Anathema) performance on albums like The Silent Enigma, or “The Vastness of Infinity” that is graced by a beautiful melodic guitar lead, which again could have been penned by Anathema’s Danny Cavanagh. The groove metal / metalcore influences transpire more vividly in the remaining songs, particularly on “The Curtain of White Silence” and “To Disappear in You”, the latter distinctively bringing to mind modern In Flames.

A paragraph like the one above, full of references to other bands, may give away how I ultimately feel about this album: it is hard not to use the word “derivative” when describing it. However – and this has been true for all the other Lacrimas Profundere’s albums I listened to –, the German band has two enviable, and ultimately redeeming, qualities on their side: tons of class and a knack for writing memorable but never banal melodies. Tunes like “Wall of Gloom”, “A Cloak Woven of Stars”, “Nebula”, or “Shroud of Night” offer irresistible earworms that have drawn me to this album over and over again in the past weeks. Undoubtedly, big credits go to Oliver Schmid’s songwriting. His guitarwork is always entertaining, with plenty of beautiful melodic leads as well as little, snappy riffs that keep the energy running throughout the album’s 10 songs. Julian Larre is also a remarkable talent. He is at ease with a variety of vocal styles, from gothic crooning to harsh growls to higher-register cleans, and he switches repeatedly between these styles in the course of each song. In several occasions, he double-tracks (and sometimes even triple-tracks) his vocal melodies using more than one style, creating a rich and interesting vocal overlay. Most importantly, Larre is one of those singers whose performance is made of more than just notes and rhythm, but also emotions and moods that instantly connect with the listener.

When you have such a talented vocalist in your band, it is hard not to build the songs around them, and this is in fact what happens in How to Shroud Yourself with Night. The song structures are rooted in the standard repetition of verses and choruses, leaving little space for instrumental detours and digressions from the consolidated formula, and putting the spotlight firmly on the singer. Kristian Kohlmannslehner’s production is also instrumental to this, putting Larre’s vocals front and centre in the mix and at a slightly higher volume than the other instruments. The drums are also quite prominent in the mix, in the way they often are in modern metal album productions, contributing to a sound that is slick, full and punchy. Occasionally, however, this comes at the expense of other instruments (the guitars, in particular, are often squished behind the drums-vocals combo). This is a pity because there is quite a lot (perhaps even too much) going on in the background in terms of guitar riffs and leads, as well as keyboard textures, which will get lost on the listener unless one uses headphones to listen to the album (and even then, one really needs to concentrate in order to follow what the various instruments are doing).

Despite these drawbacks, How to Shroud Yourself with Night is a fun, thoroughly entertaining album to sit through. It may not be the most original album you’ll listen to this year, but it contains a handful of killer tunes that are guaranteed to get stuck into your head thanks to very convincing and memorable melodies. While Lacrimas Profundere draw inspiration from a host of different sources, the bandare probably at their best when they combine these different influences into the same song, especially when they let their doom heritage come through in slightly more expansive compositions (“The Vastness of Infinity”, “Shroud of Night”). Further steps in this direction would be very welcome to this writer, who will continue regardless to keep an eye on the German band’s future endeavours, simply because they are one of the classiest and most consistent acts in the contemporary gothic metal/rock scene.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

TIAMAT Cain

Single · 2003 · Gothic Metal
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lukretion
Released in 2003 to launch Tiamat’s new full-length album Prey, Cain is a single containing three songs. Two are taken from the forthcoming LP (“Cain” and “Love in Chains”). The version of “Cain” included here is actually radio-edited and is about 90 seconds shorter than the version that will appear on the full-length (you can easily spot where it was cut as soon as you hear the horrible fade out that obliterates away Thomas Petersson’s solo at the end of the track). The third song on the disc is a cover of WASP’s “Sleeping (In the Fire)” that you can also find on some reissues of Prey. I have mainly two criteria to evaluate singles: 1) whether the record gets me excited about the full-length album, and 2) whether it contains any interesting non-album material that is not readily available elsewhere. Cain does not disappoint in either dimension, but it also does not get full marks.

Not having yet listened to Prey, the two album tracks got me moderately intrigued about it. Tiamat seem to have taken a darker course on this one. “Cain” is at the intersection between doom and gothic metal. Its verse is built around a particularly foreboding melody, that is only partially resolved in a brighter and catchier chorus. All in all, this is a good song that is catchy without being cheesy, and explores an interesting, dark mood. I cannot say the same about the other track taken from Prey, “Love in Chains”, where Tiamat took a page from the book of The 69 Eyes to write a fairly plain and run-of-the-mill goth rock number that chugs away without leaving any lasting impression on me. I actually like the Finnish band, but it is disappointing to see Tiamat, who have been among the forerunners of the gothic metal scene, lose their unique sound to churn out vanilla goth rock tunes instead.

Coming to the “non-album” track, I am not overly excited about it, either. Don’t get me wrong, I love WASP’s version of this song. It’s an awesome power ballad that Blackie Lawless literally rips apart with his incredibly emotive vocal performance. And that’s where the problem lies for Tiamat’s cover version. Edlund’s sedate voice simply cannot provide the emotional oomph that this simple song would need to leave its mark. He simply sucks the life out of the song, which makes for an interesting, but emotionally sterile listening experience.

Overall, Cain leaves me with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension about the full-length album the single is supposed to advertise. I am not sure that is a good thing. Would I buy Prey, based on these songs alone? Probably, but that’s because I am already a Tiamat fan. If I hadn’t already been into the band, I am less sure that this single would convince me to check them out. And that cannot possibly be a good thing.

NOVEMBRE Wish I Could Dream It Again

Album · 1994 · Gothic Metal
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SilentScream213
A volte-face to anyone who thinks Doom Metal can’t be energetic and exciting, and a great lesson in what makes true Doom a completely different beast from Trad Doom. Wish I Could Dream It Again is one of the earliest true Doom albums, having zero Sabbathian influence, none of the 80’s Doom groove, and a total focus on somber, melancholic atmospheres. And unlike most prior Doom bands, it doesn’t rely on being consistently slow to achieve this. Lethargic, doomy sections still run through the compositions, but a lot of this material is lively, especially the rhythm section. Simple melodies and morose chords permeate the songwriting, but that drumming ensures a complex and ever-changing foundation to the music.

Novembre also have very melancholic lyrical themes, sticking to the introspective and poetic, drawing upon aquatic, summery and warm imagery across the album in another first for Doom Metal. The sentimental mood here was pretty unique at the time, but the general melancholy on display became a staple for the genre. Doom bands had already begun adopting this focus on gloomy atmospheres, which is how true Doom was born in the early 90’s, but Novembre here upped the ante. This was probably the most melancholic metal album at the time of its release.

As debuts can be, it’s a bit rough around the edges in some places; the clean vocals in particular are quite amateur, though they don’t bother me at all because they perfectly encapsulate that morose feeling of Doom. Either way, a landmark release for the genre, and a great learning experience for those who aren’t privy to the great variation that can be found in Doom Metal.

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PARADISE LOST Draconian Times MMXI

Movie · 2011 · Gothic Metal
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Warthur
Released to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the classic gothic doom metal album, Paradise Lost's Draconian Times MMXI simply has them play through the entire album in order, then add on some encores from their wider discography at the end. It's a decent capture of the Paradise Lost live experience, though ultimately they stick close enough to the studio rendition to make this a little redundant in the end. If you're very keen on this specific period of the band's career - after their early pioneering death-doom work, before they steered away from metal entirely to explore other gothic realms prior to their 2000s return to metal - then it's probably worth it, but even then you might find you just prefer to spin the studio album again.

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