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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.


gothic metal top albums

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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
4.59 | 15 ratings
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MOONSPELL Under Satanæ Album Cover Under Satanæ
4.54 | 13 ratings
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SAVIOUR MACHINE Legend, Part I Album Cover Legend, Part I
4.49 | 6 ratings
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LACRIMOSA Inferno Album Cover Inferno
4.36 | 9 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me Album Cover Life Is Killing Me
4.25 | 20 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Cruelty and the Beast Album Cover Cruelty and the Beast
4.19 | 26 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Aégis Album Cover Aégis
4.22 | 11 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
4.14 | 27 ratings
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WITHIN TEMPTATION The Dance Album Cover The Dance
4.26 | 8 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Midian Album Cover Midian
4.16 | 17 ratings
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SEIGMEN Total Album Cover Total
4.40 | 4 ratings
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THE SINS OF THY BELOVED Lake of Sorrow Album Cover Lake of Sorrow
4.28 | 6 ratings
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gothic metal Music Reviews

DARKSEED Diving Into Darkness

Album · 2000 · Gothic Metal
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Taking their death-tinged gothic metal style into a somewhat more cybernetic and spacey direction (thanks, in no small part, to Stefan Hertrich's electronic contributions), Darkseed when they recorded this album were reduced to a trimmed-down lineup of Hertrich and two guitarists (with former member Willi Wurm providing drums here solely in a guest capacity), but this first album since the departure of their longterm bassist Rico Galvagno is sufficiently successful that it's no surprise that the group put out a few more albums with this trimmed-down lineup before fleshing their numbers out again in the mid-2000s. Gothic metal fans who like a little sci-fi with their eyeliner may enjoy this one.


Album · 1993 · Gothic Metal
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siLLy puPPy
TYPE O NEGATIVE also known as “The Drab Four” made a name for themselves on their third album BLOODY KISSES by creating a rock opera type sounding album that has become very influential in both the goth and doom world. The songs are pretty much goth pop with a few interesting sound effects thrown in here and there. It is goth in the sense that it is about loneliness, depression, anger and the usual negative estranged feelings associated with the subculture. The flow of the album is strong as one song leads into the other seamlessly.

The beauty of this album is that it isn't one of those gothier-than-thou snobathons but instead it is a parody of gothic subculture stereotypes. The album had a minor hit with the track “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All) of which the video was a hit on MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head. The popularity of this album in the goth-tinged 90s made this the very first platinum record for Roadrunner Records. There are a few surprises on here as well such as the Seals and Crofts song “Summer Breeze” which came out even before Marilyn Manson covered the Eurythmics' “Sweet Dreams.”

Overall I find this to have more of a garage rock sound like The White Stripes or even a grunge or punk sound at times. When I think of other true goth metal bands like Cradle Of Filth, for example, this doesn't come close to the intensity usually associated with true metal bands. I wonder why this is categorized as metal at all as it seems to be only a minor element to the whole sound with more focus on Peter Steele's Dracula-like vocal style making it an eccentric blend of gothic rock, however, there is just enough doom metal to keep me from protesting its inclusion into the genre, although never anything outlandish and energetic. This album could be just a tad shorter for me but fairly uniform in quality throughout.

SENTENCED The Cold White Light

Album · 2002 · Gothic Metal
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Sentenced play a style of fun, accessible gothic metal which draws more from mainstream, commercial metal styles than it does from any particular strand of extreme or underground metal - it's basically gothic rock with metal riffs. The most shocking thing about the album is probably the lyrics, with Excuse Me While I Kill Myself riding a fine line between being a petulant, irritating rant and needlessly trivialising suicide, but otherwise this is fairly middle-of-the-road stuff which is fun to listen to but doesn't exactly take many risks. Gothic metal fans who prefer music with a little more bite might find this boring; personally, I find it fun but a little vacuous.

MOONSPELL Under Satanæ

Album · 2007 · Gothic Metal
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I tend to be rather sceptical of metal bands making rerecordings, but I'd make Under Satanae by Moonspell a major exception to this. Since the original Anno Satanae and Under the Moonspell demos, which these songs had taken from, the sound of the band had radically transformed from a black metal-dominated sound (with influences of folk and gothic metal beginning to emerge on Under the Moonspell) to a much more predominantly gothic sound.

The genius move Moonspell make here is in not trying to recapture their early sound, but instead adapting these old songs to their new sound, slowing them down, teasing out the gothic and folk metal flourishes that had already been there, and adding further layers of gothic menace besides. The end result is a radical reinterpretation of the material in question which retains a little more black metal fury than was typical for Moonspell at this point in their career but at the same time presents a fresh and new look at these songs, so the rerecording does not feel redundant or unnecessary next to the originals. Memo to any other metal band contemplating a rerecording: don't bother unless it's at least a major departure from the original versions as this one is.

DISMAL Giostra di Vapore

Album · 2013 · Gothic Metal
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Kev Rowland
This is the fourth album by the Italians, but their first for some six years, and it has to be that the current line-up is somewhat unusual. It features Rossana Landi on vocals and double-bass, Bradac on piano, synths and orchestrations with Daniel P on 8 string guitar and Valerio M on violin. This is again one of those albums that I really didn’t understand when I was playing it during the day while doing other things, and was quite expecting that I was going to write a fairly scathing review when I sat down at the computer, but here in the dark of the night it takes on a whole new perspective. It mixes together classical and symphonic music in fashion not too disimilar to Karda Estra, but also brings in electronic sounds with a dark atmospheric edge and brooding presence. Having spent many hours watching my daughter at ballroom competitions I was also somewhat surprised to recognise the strains of both waltz and tango in the music, creating yet another dark ambience.

This is one of those albums that will be filed under gothic metal, when in reality they have loads of the former and very little of the latter. If one is expecting crunching guitars then this isn’t the place to look, and if you want something bright and cheery then I would look elsewhere, but if you want something incredibly atmospheric and dark with some very string female vocals and loads of space in the music then this just might be for you. As always, I would prefer ‘real’ drums, but given that there is plenty of instances when there is no need at all for percussion, electronic or otherwise, then I can’t complain too much.

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