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 Obsidian Album Cover Obsidian
PARADISE LOST
4.69 | 23 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Draconian Times Album Cover Draconian Times
PARADISE LOST
4.40 | 57 ratings
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THEATRE OF TRAGEDY Velvet Darkness They Fear Album Cover Velvet Darkness They Fear
THEATRE OF TRAGEDY
4.26 | 31 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Icon Album Cover Icon
PARADISE LOST
4.23 | 51 ratings
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PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol Album Cover Tragic Idol
PARADISE LOST
4.23 | 28 ratings
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MOONSPELL Wolfheart Album Cover Wolfheart
MOONSPELL
4.16 | 29 ratings
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THE GATHERING Mandylion Album Cover Mandylion
THE GATHERING
4.11 | 42 ratings
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MOONSPELL Irreligious Album Cover Irreligious
MOONSPELL
4.10 | 27 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 | 25 ratings
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TRIBULATION The Children of the Night Album Cover The Children of the Night
TRIBULATION
4.13 | 14 ratings
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TYPE O NEGATIVE Life Is Killing Me Album Cover Life Is Killing Me
TYPE O NEGATIVE
4.03 | 35 ratings
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PARADISE LOST In Requiem Album Cover In Requiem
PARADISE LOST
4.03 | 27 ratings
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gothic metal Music Reviews

ELIS God's Silence, Devil's Temptation

Album · 2003 · Gothic Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Although emerging from the tiny nation state of Liechtenstein sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland, the gothic symphonic metal band ELIS found popularity all over the German speaking world and is unfortunately most remembers as the band that experienced the sudden collapse and premature death of its lead vocalist Sabine Dünser, an event which almost ended the band’s existence. Originally starting out as Erben der Schöpfung with keyboardist Oliver Falk, guitarist Pete Strait and vocalist Sabine Dünser, the band released its first single called “Elis” in 2001 as well as a couple albums before adding guitarist Jürgen Broger, drummer Frankie Keller and bassist Tom Saxer. It’s at this point the band pulled the ole switcheroo with its namesake and became ELIS.

Enjoying a healthy live circuit career, the band most famously performed at the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig which got its unique take on gothic metal noticed by the German press. The band only existed for an eleven year run and put out four albums starting with this debut GOD’S SILENCE, DEVIL’S TEMPTATION which came out in 2003 on the Napalm Record label. The band’s name is associated with the poem “An den Knaben Elis” by Georg Trakl which was Sabina’s favorite poet. After the recording of this album the band found all over Europe and immediately captivated the audiences with its energetic gothic metal sound that mixed with symphonic backing and bought to life by Dünser’s captivating vocals.

In many ways ELIS sounds like a typical female fronted goth metal band only more in the symphonic realms of Xandria, Nightwish, After Forever or Epica only without any trace of the power metal aspects that symphonic metal usually employs. ELIS delivered a darker sound with strong melodic grooves led by the female vocals and occasional joined in by the beauty and beast effect of growly male vocals. This album is dominated by crunchy guitar riffing joined by a predominance of eerie atmospheric keyboard embellishments. Lyrics are mostly in English but the track “Sie Erfasst Mein Herz” is in German. The band does a good job at keeping its mood setting in the realms of the worth of gothic metal with the symphonic elements adding a certain expansion of the band’s style.

All in all GOD’S SILENCE, DEVIL’S TEMTATION is a decent slice of symphonic goth metal and pretty much a continuation of style that was delivered on the Urban der Schöpfung albums. The tracks are all melodically beautiful as are Dünser’s elegant soft sung vocals. Beautiful piano runs, turbulent atmospheric keyboard runs and twin guitar heft work together to keep the music from becoming too aggressive or too sugary pop sweet. The one downfall of the band is that it lacks a true originality and is clearly following in the footsteps of the aforementioned influences however ELIS pulled it all off fairly well with just enough differences to make this debut not sound like a total clone of bands like Epica. Overall a decent album although not one that exactly makes me want to run out and purchase it at any cost as this style of goth metal has showcased a multitude of similar variations throughout the decades. Nice to know a tiny nation like Liechtenstein has yielded some worthy bands to explore.

THE GATHERING Nighttime Birds

Album · 1997 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Nighttime Birds" is the fourth full-length studio album by Dutch gothic metal (later atmospheric rock) act The Gathering. The album was released through Century Media Records in May 1997. It´s the successor to "Mandylion" from August 1995, which was The Gathering´s big breakthrough album. "Nighttime Birds" marks the first time up until then that The Gathering recorded an album featuring the same lineup (and lead singer) as the album which came before it. They had searched for consistency and a sound they could call their own, and with the addition of lead vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen, they found that sound on "Mandylion".

So it´s only natural that "Nighttime Birds" is more or less a sibling release to "Mandylion". This was not the time to change a winning formula, but merely perfect it...and that The Gathering did. "Mandylion" is a great album in its own right, but when you listen to "Nighttime Birds", it feels like "Mandylion" was just an album where The Gathering were testing their new songwriting approach and then they went on to nail it 100% on this album.

Stylistically the material on "Nighttime Birds" is a melancholic and atmospheric type of gothic/doom metal with van Giersbergen´s strong voice and distinct sounding vocal style leading the show. She is thankfully not an operatic type female vocalist, although she can hit some pretty impressive notes, and she is generally very intense and has a personal singing style. To my ears all three previous album releases weren´t written with vocals being the priority in the songwriting process, although "Mandylion" certainly showed improvement in that department over the first two albums. "Nighttime Birds" is on the other hand obviously an album composed primarily to support the beautiful vocal lines. All instruments are composed to support and compliment the vocals and provide them with the best possible conditions to shine.

The keyboards which had been very much at the forefront of the band´s music up until then are much more tastefully applied here and often just add atmosphere or texture to the songs (as opposed to the lead instrument role they often played before), while the heavy distorted riffs and rhythms add doomy heaviness. There are however many sections without distorted guitars, which aren´t that heavy and add an atmospheric/dreamy rock element to the band´s sound. The simple melancholic melodic guitar leads deserve a mention too and the bass playing by Hugo Prinsen Geerligs is also an important element.

"Nighttime Birds" features a gorgeous sounding production. It´s dynamic, powerful, and perfectly suits the material. All details are heard in the music and the mix favors both mellow dreamy parts and massive epic heavy sections. I wasn´t surprised to learn that the album was recorded at Woodhouse Studio in Hagen, Germany with producer/engineer Siggi Bemm. That´s a name which is a guarantee for high quality sound productions.

So "Nighttime Birds" is everything a fan of "Mandylion" had hoped it would be. More dynamic, even stronger musicianship, superior sound production values, and vocal-centric songwriting which focus on The Gathering´s greatest asset, which in those days was arguably the voice and vocals of van Giersbergen. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

THE GATHERING Almost a Dance

Album · 1993 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Almost a Dance" is the second full-length studio album by Dutch death/doom/gothic metal (later atmospheric rock) act The Gathering. The album was released through the Foundation 2000 label in October 1993. It´s the successor to "Always..." from June 1992. The basic tracks were recorded live in the studio. Everything was recorded and mixed in September, 1993 at "Spitsbergen" Studio.

There have been a few lineup changes since the preceding album as lead vocalist Bart Smits has been replaced by Niels Duffhues and the band have also added Martine van Loon as a permanent female vocalist, making The Gathering a septet on "Almost a Dance". The departure of Smits has great impact on "Almost a Dance" as there are now no longer death metal growling but instead clean male vocals in the band´s music. Duffhues unfortunately has a pretty weak and unremarkable voice (he sounds like a strained Mike Patton with a cold...) and the melody lines he is given to perform aren´t particularly memorable. So the change on the male vocalist post is a definite step down in quality from "Always...". van Loon only performs vocals on four out of nine tracks on the 53:58 minutes long album, so she doesn´t have as much impact on the album as Duffhues does. When she does perform her ethereal atmospheric vocals it´s a welcome change from Duffhues tedious vocal style. The only time my ears are able to partially appreciate his performance is on the alternative acoustic rock ballad track "Nobody Cares" (which by the way interupts the flow of the album).

The instrumental part of the music is keyboard dominated doom metal and it´s generally atmospheric, melancholic, and epic music. The sound production is decent and slightly better balanced than the sound production of the preceding album, but when it comes to evaluating the album it´s impossible not to let the monotone and strained male clean vocals affect the rating. So upon conclusion "Almost a Dance" is an intriguing doom/goth metal album which is almost completely destroyed by the vocals. It´s not often a sophomore studio album is this much weaker than a band´s debut album, but that´s unfortunately the reality of things. Fortunately The Gathering would strike back with great force on their next album. A 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

THE AGONY COLUMN ...Away From Luciferian Claws

EP · 2020 · Gothic Metal
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siLLy puPPy
THE AGONY COLUMN was formed in 2018 in Baranavichy, Belarus in the Brest Region of the nation. The lineup features Ulya Kotozhuk (Vocal), David Kobain (Vocal), Aleksey Chirkun (Guitar), Dmitriy Maliuk (Bass), Anna Zlotnik (Violin) and Roman Stroiev (Drums) and so far the band has released the single “Delirium” in 2018 and in 2020 its first EP release titled AWAY FROM LUCIFERIAN CLAWS.

The EP features 7 tracks and is just shy of 25 minutes playing time. The sound of THE AGONY COLUMN is a doom flavored style of Gothic metal that mixes in various elements such as funeral doom, post-black, shoegaze and atmospheric black metal. The music is melodic and the male and female vocals engage in the classic beauty and beast exchange with Rusian providing the guttural growls and Alice delivering the Goth diva charm.

There are local Belarusian folk flavors to be heard as well as the melodies are primary mined from traditional sources. This is a highly atmospheric release with the neoclassical darkwave providing half of the entertainment value. In this regard they can be compared to classic neo-darkwave bands like Dead Can Dance or more recently Lingua Ignota. The metal aspects consist of a chugging fuzzed out guitar, thumping bass and competent series of drumming prowess.

The Goth aspects are crystal clear with a somber and gloomy atmosphere and a touch of romanticism. The down-tuned riffing style provides the proper accompaniment for the more intricate atmospheric embellishments. The single “Delirium” appears on this release and is one of the strongest with the catchiest hooks and the perfect balance between the sensual and aggressive. The production is also top notch, a trait that the Belarusians have excelled in despite remaining one of the poorer European nation’s since its near obliteration after WW2.

For its short duration the album is surprisingly diverse with nice variations between the tracks but the biggest surprise comes from the closing “Revelation of Death” which features full orchestration so it sounds even richer in its attempt to nurture atmospheric tones and timbres. The digital version features the bonus track “Symphony of Delirium” which totally deviates from the album’s metal sound and solely features an orchestrated neoclassical darkwave sound which is more like the Game of Thrones theme track than metal but still very well executed.

Wow. I wasn’t expecting this to be so good. This sounds like a totally professional band with tons of background experience as classical performers who decided to go Goth metal. The details are all shined to perfection and the mixing of the neoclassical darkwave with the metal is impeccable. The last two tracks (one is a bonus track) show the symphonic side of the band which opens up an entirely new level of appreciation. I actually like this band’s one EP more than i like many classic Goth metal bands like Tiamat, The Gathering or Lacuna Coil.

PARADISE LOST Icon 30

Album · 2023 · Gothic Metal
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UMUR
"Icon 30" is the seventeenth full-length studio album by UK doom/goth metal act Paradise Lost. The album was released through Nuclear Blast in December 2023. "Icon 30" doesn´t feature any new material but is instead a complete re-recording of Paradise Lost´s fourth full-length studio album "Icon" from September 1993. It´s released as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the original album release. Four of the original members who performed on the 1993 album release are still members of Paradise Lost and all perform on "Icon 30". The only member of the original lineup who doesn´t perform on the 2023 version of the album is drummer Matthew Archer who left Paradise Lost in December 1994 after the tour supporting the original album. Quite a few drummers have come and gone since Archer left, but the drums on "Icon 30" were recorded by Italian drummer Guido Zima Montanarini, who also plays with guitarist Greg Mackintosh in Strigoi.

Re-recording "Icon" could have been approached by a number of different ways, but Paradise Lost opted to re-record the album as close to the original as possible. I´m not completely sure why they didn´t take the opportunity to make a few changes here and there or re-arrange a few parts to make "Icon 30" stand out as a different version of the original "Icon" album, but my most qualified guess is that first of all the band are satisfied with the original album as it is and don´t really want to change it, and secondly they probably don´t have the rights to the original recordings, and the only way to make a profit off their own music (and one of their most popular and best-selling releases) is to re-record the album and re-release it. It wouldn´t be the first time something like that has happened. I remember both Flotsam- and Jetsam and Testament having done similar things in the past. I´m sure the band will also say things like they want to introduce the album to younger generations of fans and give other similar reasons, but I´ll go with my original qualified guess.

Meddling with an album release that many consider a "classic" can be a dangerous road to travel, but Paradise Lost have obviously taken great care that the atmosphere, guitar tone, and general sound of "Icon 30" is relatively close to the original album. The drums are a bit different (Archer was not the most accomplished drummer, so it´s not necessarily a bad thing) and lead vocalist Nick Holmes voice has changed a bit over the years, but it´s details and if the goal was to re-create the original album I´ll say that goal is reached pretty well.

I suspect though that for most "old" fans this re-recording is more a novelty release than anything else, as they will always listen to the original album before this one, making "Icon 30" a bit of a redundant release in their collections, but of course there´s always the hardcore fans/completists who want everything Paradise Lost have ever released. Personally I think it´s a lost opportunity to reimagine "Icon". Not that it really needs reimagining as it´s pretty much perfect as it is, but since Paradise Lost wanted a celebration, creating a new and different version of the album would have made more sense and would have given the fans more value for their money. There´s nothing wrong with the content, the performances, or the sound production of "Icon 30" and I´m sure lots of listeners are going to appreciate it but yeah...a lost opportunity it is. Still a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.

gothic metal movie reviews

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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