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Defining Gothic Metal: The Truth And Lies Of The Scene

Written by: KwonVerge
Published: 23.05.2006

"First and Last and Always", to name a specific metal genre as gothic, which makes the oh-so renowned and overabused gothic metal term, this specific metal genre MUST have references and influences from the gothic rock/dark wave scene from the 80s. Apparently, without any second thought and a shadow of doubt, many bands from this so-called commercial and big scene are not gothic metal because they have not a single reference from the gothic rock/dark wave scene of the 80s. It really is something funny for metalheads that know nothing about this scene to speak about gothic music. But what is even more funny is the fact that part of the metal scene dislikes goths and when you ask them "which people do you refer to as goths?" you get the answer "those people, man, that paint their eyes black and listen to Marilyn Manson endlessly", even from this you can get that a big part of the metal scene really has nothing to do in knowledge and experience about the gothic subculture, its bands and its audience. And thus this over-confusion passes in the gothic metal scene.

You see, the gothic subculcture has all these chicks dressed in black, with the cute faces, the beautiful make up and stuff, yes, I know, they are beautiful, I adore them as well, but, sadly, when a female-fronted metal band starts sounding a bit more symphonic/atmospheric or even a bit melancholic and has a female singer, preferably cute that stands as the front of the band and wears all these beautiful scarlet or velvet or black dresses with flowers and stuff, people start referring to this band as gothic metal, for no reason apparently. A female singer that has a more obscure and "poetic" dress-code won't make a band a gothic one, apparently, it's the music that matters, not the supposed dress-code. And so we come to bands like Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Epica, After Forever and so on, well, these bands have nothing to do, more or less each one of them (or used to have a slight reference but they have nothing to do anymore), with the gothic metal genre, the only common thing they have as bands is that they are female-fronted, does this make them gothic metal? No, for fuck's sake no! Ok, they have their own atmosphere each one of them, they have some strong female vocalists, some good tunes, others more others less, but that's all people; no gothic elements, no gothic metal.

If you want some bands with female vocalists that actually play gothic metal then you should definitely check Tristania of the first era (who can deny that "Widow's Weeds" has gothic rock elements? I'll give the answer, no-one can because these elements are present in the guitar work; and let's not forget the gothic rock guest male vocals on "Angellore" ), Theatre Of Tragedy of the first three releases, yes, they are gothic metal, and not because Liv Kristine used to wear black dresses and have that absolute female gothic look, just check the music, apparently gothic metal, then come Trail Of Tears, their first releases are also strong and gothic metal, really good work and it seems to me at times that the gothic metal scene including female vocals blossomed in Norway, judging from the bands I mentioned above. And of course I shouldn't skip to mention Sirenia, the band Morten Veland formed after he left Tristania, another wonderful gothic metal act, with intense gothic rock elements, even the hat in the vein of The Sisters Of Mercy/The Fields Of The Nephilim is present, hehe (if you don't believe me ask Mr. Veland and check Elusive's debut album, "Destination Zero", to see which are his influences; for the history, Elusive are a rising gothic rock act from Norway and Veland played the guitars on this album) and of course I shouldn't skip to mention Beseech, they have female vocals as well in their compositions, but they are a 50%-50% female-male fronted band now, with balanced male and female vocals. Just check their first two releases, pure romantic gothic/doom metal with The Fields Of The Nephilim references being too intense, both in guitar parts filled with gothic rock riffing and vocal lines in which the first singer of the band sounds like a reincarnation of Carl McCoy. And of course I shouldn't skip to mention As Divine Grace from Finland, they used to be a romantic doom/death metal act but with years they became more gothic metal oriented, with female vocals, a really strong band that sadly disbanded.

You know, a band to be called gothic metal must have references from the gothic rock/dark wave scene as I said above, which means, Christian Death (with Rozz Williams on the vocals of course, hehehe! Or Valor of "Atrocities", it was an awesome album, i have to admit it! And why not "Sex & Drugs & Jesus Christ", their last really strong album with Valor!), The Mission, The Sisters Of Mercy, The Fields Of The Nephilim, Bauhaus, early The Cult, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Clan Of Xymox, Virgin Prunes, early Dead Can Dance etc must be present, with each band sticking to its own references. And what the history has shown to me is that whenever gothic rock acts started turning heavier and more metal-oriented they made far better work from gothic metal acts, because gothic rockers really know what to do, they have the feeling in their blood, it's flowing, they know how to express it correctly and make it sound heavier if they want to enter a heavier sound stage. And of course I will mention some gothic rock/metal acts and first and above all one of the best gothic acts of the 90s that most of you don't know, DREADFUL SHADOWS, listen to them to feel the decadence, the sorrow, the pain, the gothic aesthetic, the gothic feeling from a band that released four great albums and with every album it tended to sound steps further, reaching "The Cycle" where more modern references made their appearance. After Dreadful Shadows sadly disbanded Sven Friedrich and Norman Selbig of Dreadful Shadows formed Zeraphine, another wonderful gothic rock/metal act with a more modern approach of course. Another fabulous gothic rock/metal act have to be Scream Silence, at times tending to sound like Dreadful Shadows, but they tended to perfect their own sound, their first two album are the most metallic ones and the other three are heavy still, but more gothic rock definitely; at times they tend to have a doomy feeling as well. Secret Discovery is a good band as well, moving in pure gothic rock in their early years and from a moment and on they started sounding a lot more metallic. Also, Love Like blood is a gothic rock band ,one of the best if you ask me, they have released some really strong opuses during the first half of the 90s, in the second half of the 90s from a moment and on they started sounding heavy and "Snakekiller" is a good gothic metal/rock album. Take Garden of Delight now, one of the best gothic rock acts of the 90s, they released in 7 years 7 albums with 7 songs each one of them, they disbanded afterwards, after the first circle had ended. They came back in the 00s, stronger, heavier, more powerful, but above all gothic rock. After 4 albums they formed Lutherion and they definitely are gothic metal/rock now, sounding really heavy, gothic rock-oriented and with an electro touch as well! Most and above all I shouldn't forget to mention the metal approach of Carl McCoy, first with The Nefilim in the second half of the 90s and recently with the dynamic come back of the Fields Of The Nephilim. "Zoon" of the Nefilim was a brilliant piece of thrash/death metal blended with strong doses of gothic rock in the renowned McCoy n' Fields vein and "Mourning Sun" of The Fields Of The Nephilim is an album of pure gothic rock/metal, a really strong release to show to the gothic metal scene who can rule the scene in no time. And let's mention NFD, a The Nefilim oriented project, heavy enough and always gothic rock and another project from members of The Nefilim, Saints Of Eden, gothic rock with heavy doses of metal and electronic/industrial elements, sounding really heavy and definitely really strong!

Now concerning some gothic metal acts I should mention Evereve of their first era with Tom Schedotschenko, heart-rending, twisted, mourning gothic metal from the pits of Hell, utterly desolate and melancholic, with the ideal references! After the suicide of the singer a new singer came on board and they released an easier album, gothic metal still, afterwards they started moving in more electronic soundscapes. Darkseed as well, they definitely had gothic-oriented references in albums like "Diving Into Darkness" and "Give Me Light" etc, a good band definitely. Paradise Lost OF COURSE and no matter how much doomsters hit their asses on the wall and point out that "Gothic" is doom/death metal I will always be there to be a pain in the ass and their closed mind to point out that it is one of the first pure gothic metal releases, not because of the name, "Gothic", but because of the music. Listen carefully, the gothic rock references on the guitars are too obvious, where Sisters Of Mercy stepped Paradise Lost found water. The orchestrations have a Celtic Frost sense from the "Into The Pandemonium" era and a dark wave aesthetic as well along with the fragile female vocals that seem to have come out of the 80s dark wave scene. Sure, it has a doom sense, but think about it more. Paradise Lost continued as a gothic metal act after "Shades Of God" (which was doom metal at all costs) releasing many fabulous albums like "Draconian times", "Icon", "One Second", "Paradise Lost" etc, one of the best acts of the gothic metal scene. I shouldn't skip Lacrimosa, one of the most important acts of this very scene; i have heard/read that they are progressive gothic metal, this statement always sounded funny to me from people that really have absolutely nothing to do with the scene. Tilo Wolf is a pure genius, from the gothic-death rock/dark wave oriented first releases of Lacrimosa to the historic moment when Anne Nurmi entered the band and Lacrimosa started becoming metal, gothic metal of course! Because the references remained, the doses of classical music became too obvious and one of the characteristic parts of the sound of the band. Generally they kept the Lacrimosa feeling alive, they just became one of the most quality, recognisable and best acts of the scene. Lacrimas Profundere, from a romantic doom/death metal act they started slowly and steadily incorporating in their sound gothic references reaching nowadays where they are a goth n' roll act, slightly metal, more of a rock band, gothic rock with a poser attitude. And since I mentioned the poser attitude of Lacrimas Profundere I shouldn't skip at all to mention The 69 Eyes, a non-metal band, they are goth n' roll as well, at some times offering more more romantic gothic rock like on "Paris Kills", at others more hard rock/gothic rock having several references from the 80s/early 90s. Where the Sisters Of Mercy left "Vision Thing" and The Cult left their releases Jyrki, Jussi and their companions stole them and found out many useful things for the now-sound of The 69 Eyes and Jyrki where Ian Astbury and the singer of LA Guns stood proud stole a bit of their pride to form his stage presence. So no, The 69 Eyes are not metal, poser gothic rock or goth n' roll yes, definitely. A! Beyond Dawn's "Pity Love" shouldn't be missing from here as well, an album having the decadence of doom, references from the doom metal scene and of course intense The Sisters Of Mercy passages, both in structure and guitar parts, but always tending to present them through their very own and unique avant-garde prism. I shouldn't forget to mention, just for the history, that Beyond Dawn during that period were supporting the Sisters Of Mercy at some of their shows, not a coincidence, is it? I shouldn't skip Tiamat, they had a good course changing their sound from album to album, progressing positively, and as you all noticed they had their gothic rock-driven moments as well. Their latest release to date "Prey" was a metallic gothic rock worship with Edlund's haunting vocals entrancing the atmosphere, "Skeleton Skeletron" had also a gothic rock air, quite modern in sound, good enough but nothing awesome and "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" which was a mixture of psychedelic rock with gothic rock and stuff, good work! And some of you that may know, Johan Edlund has a gothic rock oriented band, Lucyfire, good stuff. Also, The Babylon Whores, not many know them, but they are awesome, a metal-driven Christian Death worship band, they know what they are doing, really good act! Another bright example of a band that injected intense 80s gothic/dark elements have to be Portugal's finest and most known act, Moonspell, with bands like "The Antidote", "Sin/Pexado" (a very underrated album), "Darkness And Hope" and "Irreligious", they have to be one of those bands that interpret gothic metal in a really good and personal manner! Also, a new band around that had quite an impressive course so far with their two releases are definitely The Vision Bleak, travelling through the corridors of nightmares, drama, horror and gothic decadence they offer a new and fresh air to the scene! Also, Yearning from Finland are doing a good job with their esoteric and beautifully adorned by sadness and esoteric emotions gothic/doom metal. Last but not least Kreator's "Endorama" is a thousand times more gothic metal than all those so-called gothic metal bands that are being referred as gothic metal by the silly music press and the audience that knows nothing about what is gothic, doesn't "Endorama" sound so gothic metal to you? Change scene! It's so simple!

The problem with the gothic metal scene doesn't end here, there are two more problems with the scene except for the female-fronted bands that are mostly being referred by both press and audience as gothic metal and of course i'm referring to part of the Visual Kei scene and the Suomi Metal scene with bands tending to sound romantic, melancholic or suicidal, moving in metal/rock soundscapes with common road on their course being the melancholy factor. Concerning the Visual Kei scene with bands like Moi Dix Mois, Malice Mizer and stuff, they have an intense gothic aesthetic in their appearance, but this is the most gothic part of their existence, their music apart from some keyboard-driven really dark passages has nothing to do with the gothic rock/dark wave scene and the Bauhaus references in those bands that i have read somewhere is definitely non-existent and i know Bauhaus really well to not recognise them in a band. Well, part of the Visual Kei that is being referred as gothic metal could be the Japanese option of gothic metal, somethng different, something "foreign" to the European scene/audience, so I won't be absolute in this case. I have to admit, anytime with the hand on my heart, that those Visual Kei bands are more gothic than all the other female-fronted or Suomi "we're supposed to be gothic" metal bands will ever be, both in reality and dreams. And let's move to the Suomi metal scene, believe me, I used to be a huge fan of this very specifc scene supporting bands like HIM, Entwine, For My Pain, Poisonblack, Charon, Sentenced, Lullacry, To Die For etc, I still support Entwine, HIM and To Die For because all those three are bands that have a lot to offer in my opinion, but really, where did you people find all these gothic elements in their compositions? You can always inform me because I'm craving to know more about gothic music and I would love to find out where all these elements hide and I can't find them. I had read somewhere that Sentenced were gothic metal and on their latest releases they became gothic rock, HA HA! I mean, how funny is that? Only a metalhead that knows nothing about the gothic scene would ever say that, and a metalhead was indeed the person who said that. Ignorance is bad, definitely bad, and in this case ignorance has caused a lot of harm, something that disgusts me seeing it going on more and more day by day.

Well, I got bored writing and I think you'll get bored reading too, so I will stop for now, but I will have to warn all of you i-know-it-all metalheads (to avoid misunderstandings, I'm not referring to every single metalhead, but to a specific part of it) that will give my article a shot, "if the truth hurts, prepare for pain". Kisses!

"Lipstick on my cigarette?"

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This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Comments page 3 / 3

Comments: 78   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 211 users
11.06.2006 - 22:08
Lazy Bastard
@Vanwarp... you can't just come and say gothic metal is that, that and that. you can, though, state some influences and big bands in the genre which is exactly what Rozz did. as i said before it's not hearing opinions what gives you the knowledge to define a genre, it's freakin listening to it! you can never understand properly a genre without exploring its soundscapes, right? so if you're searching for a definition in words and terms then you'll never find a conclusive one without having heard some bands at least. as we all know gothic metal must, i mean *must* have gothic music influences, and i'm not saying this because the article sais so, i'm saying this because it's clearly a fact. where can you find these influences in Lacuna Coil's Karmacode, f.e.? i must admit i haven't heard the album as many times as to explore it properly but i have heard it enough to understand it's definitely not gothic metal. i totally agree with @wolfborn on the fact that these bands, Epica, Lacuna Coil, The Gathering (well most of their music at least), and so on are simply atmospheric metal. if Metal Storm likes to name them gothic metal good for them but they're not always right you know. no one is.
12.06.2006 - 10:29

Written by Vanwarp on 11.06.2006 at 15:40

gothic music does originate from two separate and very distinct influences. Makes sense to ME!

About the tree link. Yeah, Tristania and Theatre of Tragedy clearly has gothic influences in their music/concept, Sins of Thy beloved is more like a question mark to me, since the stuff that I have heard sounded more like atmospheric (doom) metal without the goth influence. There're bands who can be placed like this, if you draw a tree. But still the goth influence is the most important factor when it comes to defining these bands as gothic/whatevermetal. So you have to be quite careful, when you choose that in which branch you place the bands. As you can see in this tree The Gathering and Lacuna Coil for example are placed somewhere else than in the gothic sections. So maybe you start to understand the point we're talking about here, now that there's more similar opinions (read: facts )?

About Christian Death there. Christian Death and american death rock movement is something that was born in US at the same time as goth rock in UK (Bauhaus, Joy Division). They're causes of the same influences, and basically symbolized the same thing, so in a way these two different genres walk separately hand in hand.
12.06.2006 - 12:06
Dance, bitch!
I suppose we can all agree on calling it "goth metal" as most of the goth culture I've met or heard about has latched onto these bands. Therefore, goth metal = metal music loved by the goth clique. Or not. I'm just throwing ideas out here.
12.06.2006 - 12:16

Written by wolfborn on 12.06.2006 at 10:29

Written by Vanwarp on 11.06.2006 at 15:40

According to this study (Eric Lestrade's chart of "The History of Metal"), gothic music does originate from two separate and very distinct influences. Makes sense to ME!

...Christian Death and american death rock movement is something that was born in US at the same time as goth rock in UK (Bauhaus, Joy Division). They're causes of the same influences, and basically symbolized the same thing...

I think many here like you Wolfborn have mistaken the reference to christian death to the music genre, when in fact Christian Death is the name of a band and they are considered the founding fathers of American goth rock. Here is a link to a review of their 1982 debut album:

Only Theatre of Pain
"Only sick music makes money today." Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844 - 1900)
12.06.2006 - 14:10

What??? Do you seriously think that I WASN'T talking about a band called Christian Death? and that i wouldn't know who they are? And do you seriously think that someone would say that christian death (metal, a supposed music genre?) would have had anykind of influence on the birth of gothic metal? Gimme a break.

American goth rock in Christian Death's case is death rock. Now, read my previous posting again. and before anyone starts, no death rock has nothing to do with death metal.. I hope I didn't need to say that.
12.06.2006 - 15:54

Written by wolfborn on 12.06.2006 at 14:10

American goth rock in Christian Death's case is death rock.

American Death Rock and Goth Rock...basically symbolize the same thing...these two different genres walk separately hand in hand.

Are you saying that "death rock" and "goth rock" are NOT one and the same? Many consider Christian Death a "goth band" and this is the first time I've ever heard of them being considered "death rock" as if it's NOT goth rock by anybody outside the bands own description of their music? "Death Rock" is NOT a MUSIC GENRE and Wikipedia Encyclopedia does not count! Again, according to one study (Eric Lestrade's chart of "The History of Metal"), gothic music originates from two separate and very distinct influences.

Furthermore, I'm sure many would agree that atmospheric metal and gothic metal share a lot of the same "musical" influences. So having the same bands listed under one or the other genre wouldn't and doesn't make much difference to me. It all boils down to what it is that differentiates one genre from the other to you? If you can identify those distinct influences then perhaps you could end up with a clear definition for both genres! But again, not everybody is going to agree with your definitions. Just like I'm not agreeing with DerRozzengarten's opinion that MODERN gothic metal bands are not gothic at all. He supports this statement with the fact that one must "listen for the influences"???

My argument was that modern gothic metal bands are experimenting, expanding and evolving, trying to be original and using other influences and mixing them all together to create what may perhaps be a unique sound that differentiates them from others in the genre...thus creating what many would consider a new sub-genre of GOTHIC music. What is so difficult to understand about that?

Here are some well-known genres or sub-genres that have been influenced by Gothic music:

"Darkwave" as it is known today is a mix of Gothic, industrial and synthpop music.

"Dark Ambient" is associated with gothic rock and industrial rock with dark ethereal/atmospheric overtones.

"Electrogoth" is a fairly modern genre which combines gothic rock with industrial rock, techno and trance influences.

Lacuna Coil's "Karmacode" may very well have influences that would require that album to be classified under a different genre entirely. But the majority of the bands back catalog is still mostly gothic metal. Every band must be categorized under the one genre that they have been most influenced by. Green Carnation, Opeth, Theatre of Tragedy have all released very different albums with a variety of different influences. Trying to categorize them in the futur may be even more difficult if they continue to evolve...Some bands such as the purely experimental band Mr Bungle defy categorization. Maybe "Experimental Music" should be considered a genre? I don't have all the answers but having a standard definition for all music genres and sub-genres would help "regulate" all the band and music categorizations going on.

"Only sick music makes money today." Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844 - 1900)
13.06.2006 - 01:25

death rock and goth rock reflect the same phenomenom in many ways. Like is said, death rock generated in US, meanwhile goth rock generated in UK. If people call Christian Death as goth rock, that´s fine by me, however in Christian Death´s case I prefer to use death rock. Also with 45 Grave, Death Cult (UK), or even with Samhain. Meanwhile death rock has remained as it´s own and individual genre ´till today. Just check out bands like Babylon Whores, All Dead and Gone, Tragic Black and so on. So indeed, we´re talking about two different genres, which live both in symbiosis and indipendent lives. As a matter of fact, page ain´t that bad at all, when compared to the gothic metal wikipedia page forexample.

Atmospheric metal and gothic metal bands share many similar influences, anyway this doesn´t make them one genre. The thing that separates them is that gothic metal is a crossover music that mixes metal and goth rock. Atmospheric metal is music that brings atmospheric elements to metal and these atmospheric elements could come from anywhere. For example from Pink Floyd, Klaus Schultze or classical music, if there´s no elements coming from gothic (rock) music then why should you call it gothic metal, since there´s been a own classification for atmospheric metal since when it started to show up 15 years ago.

Ofcourse gothic metal bands can evolve and progress, as long as you can hear that the gothic elements are there. The problem is that the "modern gothic metal" bands that you´re talking about have their genre allready since 15 years and that´s atmospheric metal.
13.06.2006 - 17:13



Gothic rock was originally clearly differentiated from industrial and heavy metal by older participants in the alternative scene, but newcomers and media misconceptions blurred the boundaries in the nineties as gothic rock became significantly less popular in the US and UK. Thus while industrial or heavy metal bands such as Marilyn Manson, Jack Off Jill, Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, Lacuna Coil, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, AFI, and Mortiis were often labeled as "goth" by the media, this categorization was strongly resisted by goths and indeed also by fans of the bands. Many elder goths responded by affecting increasing disdain for the popularity of Marilyn Manson and the likes. Even more confusion was added with the rise of gothic metal, with such bands consciously using gothic imagery from the dark ages in their own music and appearance and started even following fashion trends indistinguishable from older goth ones. Arguments about which music is and is not goth became an ever more significant part of how the subculture tried to define itself.

The other significant development of the nineties was the popularity of electronic dance bands like VNV Nation and Covenant in the goth scene. The rise of what has been called cybergoth music and style which has much in common with techno/synthpop, caused bitter divisions between those firmly attached to the analog and/or guitar based sound of gothic rock and newcomers or other goths, whose musical and even fashion tastes changed. Bands with a darkwave sound or those such as Soft Cell, or The Cruxshadows which combine an electronic and gothic rock sound can appeal to both sides to some extent.


Gothic metal is a genre of heavy metal music that originated in the early 1990's in Europe as an outgrowth of doom-death, a subgenre of doom metal. The definition of gothic metal is commonly debated; older fans and musicians have a firm concept of the genre having been around through its growth and evolution, having strict ideas of what bands pertain to the genre and what bands don't. Newer fans reject this categorization as limiting, useless or wrong, often claiming bands are gothic metal that do not meet the criteria of the older fans.

Gothic metal is sometimes considered a loose genre in the way it sounds because the genre is defined by its composition of the music and its aesthetics, leaving individual bands to provide different interpretations. It also makes unique use of dual vocalists, keyboards and acoustic guitars, making it distinctive in comparison to other metal genres.

Gothic metal tends to refer to doom metal, black metal, and death metal for its composition, heavily synthesizing the styles of their melody and rhythm ideas in its guitar work, causing the music to be aggressive and fast paced. Acoustic guitars are sometimes present in gothic metal, and in bands that use two guitars, the second guitarist is often found playing a form of acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar is used in the same way as its electronic counterpart, and is normally found playing melodies that are as equally complex. The bass guitar in gothic metal usually plays lower tones akin to doom metal combined with the aggression of black and death metal, often being the main contributor to the atmosphere in songs.

Keyboards play a major role in gothic metal, often replacing the second guitarist in bands and taking on the role of either lead or rhythm. The keyboards are often used to imitate a variety of instruments, most often string and wind instruments. Keyboards tend to support the bass in setting the atmosphere and mood of songs.

The atmosphere is commonly tailored to fit the song; warm and energetic, empty and enclosing. The atmosphere rarely follows the deep morbidity of doom metal unlike its origin/offspring, doom-death/gothic-doom, or the upbeat nature of its sister genre, symphonic metal.

Lyrically, gothic metal is centered around romances and fantasy tales that end in tragedy for one or more parties involved. The setting for the lyrics are most often in the New Age or the Dark Ages, but can also be in Victorian, Edwardian, Roman, or modern eras. The romantic- and fantasy-themed lyrics often used in gothic metal cover many broad subjects and are intended as being themes and guides to the lyricist, rather than a complete prerequisite of the genre. Gothic Metal bands typically do not write their albums in the form of separate songs; they rather write concept albums in the form of books. This is so that each song acts as a part, or, chapter, inspiring people to listen to the whole album in order to hear the story, instead of just certain songs. Penumbra's Seclusion and Silentium's Sufferion - Hamartia of Prudence are two gothic metal albums that feature this style of lyrics.

Gothic metal bands normally have two vocalists, (also known as "Beauty and the Beast" vocals). One vocalist is typically male and uses vocals akin to black or death metal. The other vocalist is usually female, and often uses soprano vocals, or harmonic singing. Sometimes bands will use other forms of vocals included with the two prior vocalists, including (but not limited to) female death/black vocals, Gregorian chanting and male singing, but this tends to be limited to backing vocals and their use within the song.


Many people assume that gothic metal's name implies that it is the same as goth rock, but with metal based composition, and so misinterpret a wide range of bands as being gothic metal on that basis. This misconception is furthered by the use of the term 'goth metal', which implies the music has to do with goths. The genre actually got its name from the imagery and themes within the lyrics, and the atmospherics it uses, which are quite different to those of the similarly named goth rock. While both use the term "gothic" in reference to the forboding sense of doom popularized by the Gothic novel, gothic rock developed out of punk rock in the late 1970s and, aside from some heavier bands like Christian Death, has no connection to heavy metal.

Obviously, you disagree with most of this statement and conclusions, including the fact that gothic rock developed out of punk rock in the late 1970's?

So why don't you show me your references to support your position? I'd like to understand your point of view on gothic rock and gothic metal.
"Only sick music makes money today." Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844 - 1900)
13.06.2006 - 20:25

Where the hell did you get the idea that I wouldn´t think that gothic rock developped out of punk? I mean, I have been listening to goth and metal about 2 decades. Offcourse I know the history of goth rock, as well as metal.

Gothic Rock scene started to develop in the change of 70ies/80ies with bands like Siouxsie And The Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, and I would also like to mention The Cure. Punk rock played a great role in the background, cause that´s where quite many of these people came from. Other big influences were David Bowie and The Doors.

Here´s a part that I don´t agree with:
"Gothic metal is a genre of heavy metal music that originated in the early 1990's in Europe as an outgrowth of doom-death, a subgenre of doom metal."
- Bands like Stillborn ("Necrospirituals" album´89 and earlier), or Type´o´Negative have nothing to do with doom-death movement, they walked their own paths and created sounds that reflect gothic metal sound in the most perfect way. As a matter of fact allready Celtic Frost did it on "Into the Pandemonium" (´87) album with songs like "Mesmerized" and did allready set some standards for gothic influenced metal. The reason why people think that gothic metal generated from doom-death is early Paradise Lost. Anyway this is a false conclusion. Paradise Lost made it big in early 90´ies and they indeed had an influence on later explosion of gothic metal genre. However what made Paradise Lost gothic on "Gothic" album was the goth rock influences from such bands as Fields of The Nephilim or The Misssion. This influence is the influence that later gothic metal bands like Moonspell also had. Anyway a gothic influence into metal had allready come to metal in mid 80´ies with bands like Celtic Frost, or latest with Stillborn who made first actual and pure gothic metal record (that I know) in 1989. However the main point is that gothic metal did not generate from doom/death. The procession had allready started earlier.

The METAL part can come from any metal genre, it´s the gothic influences what makes makes gothic metal GOTHIC metal. Like forexample Paradise Lost mixed doom/death, Stillborn doom metal, Moonspell black, dark & death metal, Type´o´negative doom & hardcore. But what made these bands gothic influenced metal is the influence that came from 80´ies goth bands (Joy Division, Bauhaus, Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy and so on).

I don´t know how exact descriptions you need, I don´t need them, so never thought about them either, but here´s some anyway:
- Vocals: Due the crossover nature of the music gothic metal bands can have aggressive voices (metal side) and melodic vocals (gothic side). The metal elements mosty comes from black, death or dark metal. While the gothic vocals are more often low pitched male vocals in the Bauhaus & Joy Division style.
"Beauty and Beast" style comes more from doom/death and atmospheric metal bands, not from gothic metal, still you can hear mixture of male and female vocals in gothic metal records aswell. Forexample Danse Macabre´s "Eva".

-Guitars: Heavy, metal guitars. Tragic lead melodies ala Fields of the Nephilim "Love under Will" or "For Her Light". Naturally there can be also some acoustic guitars. Basically the guitars mix the heavy and aggressive metal side with eerie, dark and melodic gothic rock influence.

-Bass lines are mostly low pitched metal style bass lines, but there can be also goth rock groove ala Fields of the Nephilim & Sisters of Mercy.

-The drums are mostly in metal style. Typical metal sounds. Basic rock beats, but also more energetic metal playing, and double bass drummings here and there. Lot´s of gothic rock bands use drum machines, but gothic metal bands have usually real drummers.

-Keyboards are there often aswell. They are there to support the dark atmospheres and to bring melody. They´re not an necessary, but very common instrument anyway.

ok, boring.. The main thing is that gothic metal sounds heavy, aggressive and dirty because it´s metal. Then on the other side, gothic metal sounds decadent, atmospheric and dark because it´s gothic rock influenced.

Gothic metal is not gothic rock played with metal sounds. It is metal with gothic rock influences.

"gothic rock developed out of punk rock in the late 1970s and, aside from some heavier bands like Christian Death, has no connection to heavy metal"

--> Very true! However, when it comes to gothic metal, gothic rock influence is relevant. Gothic metal and Gothic rock are not a same genre, but gothic metal wouldn´t exist without the influence of gothic rock.
14.06.2006 - 01:13

too damn long !! but useful as well
14.06.2006 - 23:24


Thank you for giving me a clearer picture of your position. But you do understand that from your very own descriptions of gothic metal, that you effectively described the music of many MODERN gothic metal bands that you DON'T CONSIDER GOTHIC METAL AT ALL. Your descriptions/arguments failed to convince me one way or the other.

On another note, I would certainly applaud any music site that would attempt to build a detailed, all inclusive and comprehensive music categorization chart that could be used as a benchmark for all other sites. Personally, I think it's just a matter of time before someone gets around to it. Until then, we are going to continue to have confusion and disagreements between "what is" and "what is not" gothic metal and many other sub-genres for that matter.
"Only sick music makes money today." Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher (1844 - 1900)
25.08.2006 - 21:50

gothic can't be part of metal and metal can't be part of gothic, they are opossite genres... gothic died long time ago... now is somewhat like a commercial trend...

23.09.2006 - 21:49
Darth Satanious
Post Destroyer
Written by wolfborn on 13.06.2006 at 20:25

Then on the other side, gothic metal sounds decadent, atmospheric and dark because it´s gothic rock influenced.

You are trying to state the difference between Atmospheric Metal and Gothic Metal, right? I find it curious how you try to separate and then point out that Gothic Metal is atmospheric, it does not compute if you were trying to separate them, in my opinion.

I have come to the realization that "Atmospheric" aspect of Metal is more like a characteristic of the music rather than being a genre by itself. Gothic Rock, Gothic Metal, Black Metal, every type of music can be atmospheric; atmospheric in which way: happy, sad, cold, dark, etc.? That is something which depends in the instruments used, how they are played and the ending result of the music.
27.10.2006 - 08:03
Account deleted
Oh well ...

-First, Evanescence is rock, just ROCK.
-Tristania is doom, DOOM as hell!
-Epica is power, yes POWER!
-Suomi and Gothic go both in parallel lines.
-Paradise Lost, and its song "Gothic", it's tell to be the first Goth Metal song.

Written by Vanwarp on 10.06.2006 at 12:05

Written by wolfborn on 10.06.2006 at 10:20

Van: These bands (Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Epica, After Forever and so on) were always part of the atmospheric metal movement that started with The Gathering in mid 90'ies. These kind of bands were never gothic metal.

Then how do you explain that Metal Storm has them categorized as follows:

After Forever - Symphonic Gothic
Epica - Symphonic Gothic Metal
Lacuna Coil - Gothic
Nightwish - Symphonic Power Gothic
The Gathering - Atmospheric Gothic
Within Temptation - Symphonic Gothic

Are you telling us that the hard working folks at Metal Storm are all wrong?

o_o So this web page can't be wrong?
The people that made it, with hard work and all that are not always right.
That argument destroy you all =S


Is simple, as you all know what Metal is, here comes another "root" of this genre, Gothic.
Many times I prefear not to use this term, beacuase of it's confused definition. Gothic, in general, is a culture that is more ideological, and a way of expression is music. When you talk about Gothic rock or Gothic metal, it's easy! Just take the elements of Gothic with the already named of rock and metal.
This elements can be seen in different views.
Vocals, generally are the same "Beast and Beauty" style, a female voice and growls. Thats relative, any voice can be part of a gothic band, but this elements are almost always part of this bands.
Other important element, is the instruments. They use the most popular, bass, guitar, drums, but they give a huge power others like (violin, piano, saxo, etc), making it more symphonic and melodic.
Gregorian voices, atmospheric effects, are details added to this genre.

A band can be GOTHIC in many aspects, the videos, the music, the lyrics, and thats why a band should't be classify totally, cause it can change a lot, and have more genres included.

FIRST, FIRST than looking for the definition of Gothic Rock/Metal, you have to know what is GOTHIC, and then take both together and compare, to have a clear view of what you are concluding.

Good Luck for now.
27.11.2009 - 03:08

Great article! it cleared mi mind a lot, and I mean A LOT XD
22.02.2010 - 05:56

After Forever and Epica don't make gothic metal, sure, but they don't make power metal either. Their guitar style is totally unlike power metal and resembles more thrash and melodic death metal. Their style can't really be assigned to any of the conventional subgenres, it's too eclectic for that, even taking lots of influences from progressive metal, so symphonic metal is the best description really. However, it does resemble gothic metal (at least the death-metal-like variant) more than the music of almost every other female-fronted metal band, except for the speed of course, so I take less issue with it in their case than with other bands. I can see how someone can listen to Theatre of Tragedy and Tristania and find a resemblance with AF and Epica.

The resemblance to bands like Nightwish, Edenbridge, Visions of Atlantis, Magica or Amberian Dawn, all textbook examples of European power metal (right up to the powerful, high-pitched, over-the-top vocals with wide ranges and big vibrato à la Edguy - or Strato, who have in Kotipelto even a trained singer -, except that the girls reach even higher), on the other hand, is quite superficial. When those are dubbed "gothic metal", I roll my eyes and headdesk because it's so obvious that they are nothing like it, it's not like you need to be a music professor to hear that.

By the way, due to their death metal roots, I put Therion (obviously a big influence on AF and Epica) and Haggard into the same box as AF and Epica, although Therion have lately drifted towards a more power metal influenced style. Guitar-wise, they sound VERY German lately, with influences from Yngwie to Queen.

Whenever I hear someone calling Nightwish et al. "gothic metal", I feel the overwhelming urge to beat them with a very sharp stick. If those are gothic metal, Edguy and Queen are gothic metal, too.

(Do Warlord/Doro, Sinergy, Beautiful Sin or Arch Enemy play gothic metal, too? Oh wait, the singers here have less "clean" and "pretty" voices. But by that logic, Rhapsody, Strato and especially Sonata, whose sound has always been close to Nightwish, should squarely fit into the "gothic" box. Hell, there is even a large overlap in audiences.)

End of rant.
20.07.2013 - 09:06

You are welcome to my music site. And enjoy Gothic Metal music
17.08.2018 - 10:01

I am seeing this blog in 2018😅
I agree with whatever you said about Gothic metal.
Well what are your views regarding My dying bride, Katatonia, Draconian, Anathema. Do they are gothic metal bands
Good has power to create, preserve and destroy but only Devil has a power to possess

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