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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PARADISE LOST Draconian Times Album Cover Draconian Times
PARADISE LOST
4.40 | 39 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY
4.31 | 23 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol Album Cover Tragic Idol
PARADISE LOST
4.26 | 20 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Icon Album Cover Icon
PARADISE LOST
4.20 | 39 ratings
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MOONSPELL Wolfheart Album Cover Wolfheart
MOONSPELL
4.20 | 23 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE October Rust Album Cover October Rust
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.18 | 28 ratings
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WITHIN TEMPTATION The Dance Album Cover The Dance
WITHIN TEMPTATION
4.25 | 13 ratings
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MOONSPELL Irreligious Album Cover Irreligious
MOONSPELL
4.19 | 21 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
THE GATHERING
4.15 | 35 ratings
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LACRIMOSA Inferno Album Cover Inferno
LACRIMOSA
4.24 | 12 ratings
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CRADLE OF FILTH Cruelty and the Beast Album Cover Cruelty and the Beast
CRADLE OF FILTH
4.11 | 28 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me Album Cover Life Is Killing Me
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.10 | 26 ratings
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gothic metal Music Reviews

PARADISE LOST Icon

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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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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UMUR
"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.

IDLE HANDS Mana

Album · 2019 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Mana" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Oregon based heavy/gothic rock/metal act Idle Hands. The album was released through Eisenwald Records in May 2019. Idle Hands formed in 2017 and released the "Don't Waste Your Time" EP in 2018.

Stylistically the material on "Mana" is a melodic type of heavy rock/metal with nods toward gothic rock. Although the music features a lot of 80s UK pop/rock influences (ranging from catchy pop melodies in the vein of Tears for Fears and the hard rock of The Cult) Idle Hands manage to put a fresh take on tried and true musical elements, to create a pretty original and personal sound. It bodes well for the future of Idle Hands that they already have a relatively unique sound on their debut album.

The 11 tracks on the 40:09 minutes long album are all around 3-4 minutes long vers/chorus structured songs and in that respect "Mana" is not the most adventurous or structurally varied release. It´s an immediate and extremely catchy album though, and you are able to sing along to any track on the album already during the first listen. Lead vocalist/guitarist Gabriel Franco (who also handles the bass on the album) has a powerful voice and a commanding delivery (again highly influenced by British 80s singers), and the tracks feature great driving beats and basslines, and loads of melodic guitar work (both clean electric and distorted electric chords, leads and harmonies). Sometimes it´s hard edged enough to land in the metal camp (there are even a couple of sections on the album featuring double bass drumming), but just as often it would be more correct labelling the music heavy rock.

"Mana" features a detailed and clear sounding production, which suits the material perfectly and upon conclusion it´s quite the impressive debut album. This is beyond promising and a highly recommendable release to those enjoy instantly catchy 80s influenced melodic heavy rock/metal with touches of gothic rock. It´s not often you come across debut releases with such an original sound. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

MOONSPELL Irreligious

Album · 1996 · Gothic Metal
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While many second wave black metal bands jumped on the bandwagon and rode the wave of the template set down by bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone like a surfer in the Hawaiian Islands, some bands that started out that way jumped in and felt more like Jamaican bobsledders so they decided the status quo wasn’t quite for them. Such is the case for the Lisbon, Portugal based MOONSPELL that emerged in 1994 with the debut EP “Under The Moonspell” as a decent but indistinct black metal band but by the time they released the first full-length debut “Wolfheart” a year later, the band started to find its own niche in the quickly exploding scene. While still steeped in black metal, MOONSPELL laced it with a healthy dose of gothic metal inspired by bands like Tiamat, Type O Negative and The Gathering along with some various strains of European folk which together created a rather unique sound in the metal world.

Despite this early development of their own making, MOONSPELL abandoned this metal hybrid as quickly as it had established it and on the sophomore album IRRELIGIOUS, the black metal was totally jettisoned altogether with much of the folk music thrown by the wayside as well. What was left was a more gothic rock infused style that while tamping down the metal in general and replacing it with eerie Gregorian chants and symphonic organ sounds, still had enough metal mojo to qualify it as a metal band but in general, the gothic touches produced a more stylized production job that relied on a tapestry of instrumental sounds to create gloomy atmospheres and romantic visions of Romanian castles with blood thirsty counts on the hunt for another fix. The metal, while still quite abrasive at times had been reserved only for crescendoes and contrasts from the otherwise symphonic dominant melodrama.

The difference between IRRELIGIOUS and “Wolfheart” is stark and immediate as the album begins with a soundtrack sounding intro called “Perverse… Almost Religious” which takes spooky church organs and choral chants to evoke a full moon lit night journey into the graveyard and beyond. As “Opium” begins the nosedive into the world of everything goth, it’s also noticeable that the black metal guitar distortion has been replaced by a slicker guitar fuzz that plays in tandem with a hypnotic bass groove and slowed down percussive drive. Likewise, vocalist Fernando Ribeiro almost abandons any harsh screamed vocals except for the most dramatic moments and opts for romantic spoken poetic prose along with the clean Type O Negative style that sounds like Count Dracula has decided to make a mini-opera about his perverse proclivities.

“Wolfheart” displayed a strong sense of melodic hooks and IRRELIGIOUS continues this trend with eleven strong tracks that create instant gratification but it’s really the compositional flare that makes this such a strong album. The carefully timed developments of the dynamics, tones, timbres and bursts of aggression work out incredibly well and no moments feel like they wear out their welcome nor do they feel rushed. This is just one of those albums that teeters on the balance between too pop and too dark but somehow has enough elements of both sides of the spectrum to please. The tracks are diverse with some ranging on the slower side like “Ruin & Misery” which exudes a slow oozing use of keyboards, crunchy guitar riffage and nonchalant tempo changes. The musicians also show some extended range in their playing abilities. While the drummer simply known as Mike more or less just keeps a beat, on tracks like “For A Taste Of Eternity” he shows a flare for extremely complex polyrhythms and percussive dominance.

Overall the keyboards and samples of Pedro Paixão play the dominant role with the recording of Aleister Crowley reading his own poem “The Poet” on the track “Awake” which exemplifies the occult feel of the album as a whole. IRRELIGIOUS is a nicely paced album that is ultimately an atmospheric gothic rock album with metal touches that take it to heavy heights at key moments. The alternating forces of the symphonic rock and the more sonorous metal sections works quite well as do the stylistic percussion changes and guitar sounds that range from echoey clean to the intemperate unleashed loudness. MOONSPELL was one of those bands that couldn’t quite decide where they wanted to stay for long and despite crafting a cleverly cool and wickedly wild ride with this goth metal classic, the band would change things up again and get more experimental on the following “Sin / Pecado” but for this one at least MOONSPELL proved that they had an incredibly keen sense of what it takes to craft the perfect sensual sensibilities that make a great goth rock / metal album.

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