Metal Wiki

Gothic metal is a genre of heavy metal that originated during the mid 1990s in Europe as an outgrowth of doom-death, a fusion genre of doom metal and death metal.

The definition of gothic metal is commonly debated amongst fans and the media. Some fans and musicians have a specific concept of the gothic genre, based on the gothic novel and aesthetic similarities to gothic rock. Other fans reject these criteria and refer to any female fronted metal band as gothic metal.[1][2][3]



Epica's singers Simone Simons and Mark Jansen - "beauty and the beast" vocals.

Gothic metal is commonly characterized lyrically by either one of two distinct characteristics: dual vocalists, growls and female vocals ("Beauty and the Beast"), or a single vocalist with an operatic tone. Instrumentation is heavily based on the use of modern keyboards and distorted guitars with varying tempos and rather complex compositions.

Gothic metal tends to take influence from the doom metal, black metal, and death metal subgenres of heavy metal for its composition and goth rock/darkwave for its atmosphere. The heavily synthesized styles of their melody and rhythm ideas in its guitar riffs often cause the music to be aggressive and fast paced like death metal, while sometimes the sound is slow and heavy like doom metal.

Acoustic guitars are sometimes used in gothic metal. In bands that feature two guitarists, one guitarist may play an acoustic guitar while the other plays an electric guitar, often distorted or reverberated. The acoustic guitar is used in the same way as its electronic counterpart, and is normally found playing melodies of equal technicality. The bass guitar in gothic metal is usually played using lower tones akin to doom metal, often combined with the aggressive playing of black and death metal. The bass guitar is often the main contributor to the atmosphere in songs, though has also been seen as performing a duet with the keyboarding in this regard.

Keyboards in gothic metal play a significant role in the music, 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, though this varies between artists.

Gothic metal makes heavy use of atmospheres in its music, which are 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 - doom-death, its offspring - gothic-doom, or the upbeat nature of closely related genre, symphonic metal. The use of the atmospherics is often to draw the listener into the music, as if to give them a sense of being involved with what is happening in the song.

Lyrical themes[]

Lyrically, gothic metal is centered on several topics: death and bereavement, tragedy, love, despair, emptyness and religion. Gothic bands also writes about romance and fantasy tales that may often end in tragedy for one or more parties involved. The settings depicted by 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 prominently feature this style of lyrics.

Gothic metal bands normally have two vocalists, (also known as "Beauty and the Beast" vocals) but are not limited to this style. 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, choirs, Gregorian chanting and male singing, but this tends to be limited to backing vocals and their thematic use within the song.


Scandinavian gothic metal[]

Style that combines traits from melodic death metal and symphonic black metal with female vocals, dark-romantic atmosphere, gothic rock influences, keyboards, and often violin and choruses. It is centered mainly in Norway and was the father of gothic symphonic metal.

Atmospheric gothic metal[]

A soft and more melodic version of gothic metal. It gets much more influences from gothic rock and darkwave.

  • Theatre of Tragedy's Aegis
  • Mandragora Scream

Fusion Genres[]

Symphonic gothic metal[]

Gothic metal that combines classical music, chorus and female operaic vocal.

Some symphonic metal bands have also started to use more gothic metal elements. This is mainly noticeable by the more downbeat, aggressive and complex structures to songs. Bands such as the Netherlands' Autumn and Moldova's Offertorium are both notable for this.

Gothic doom[]

Main article: Gothic doom

Slow, depressive and heavy form of Gothic metal. The bands within the genre usually combine doom metal with female vocals and keyboard. Examples:

  • Draconian
  • The Sins of Thy Beloved

Extreme Gothic Metal[]

Some of the bands within (melodic/symphonic) death/black metal styles this has included the non-defining use of dual vocalists, melancholic-romantic themes, gothic atmospheres etc as well as writing of concept albums mixed with the traditional sound of the genre. Examples:

Dark Metal[]

A relatively new style, closely related to extreme gothic metal. It's an avant-garde combination of gothic metal, black metal, death metal, symphonic metal and doom metal mixed with electronic elements. Examples:

Related fusions[]

Some Industrial metal bands have been influenced by goth rock/gothic metal bands and thus they use dark image, atmospheres and lyrics.For example: Gothminister, Deathstars and Deadstar Assembly.

Bands such as HIM, Lacrimosa, The 69 Eyes have incorporated elements from goth and metal to create a fusion close to gothic metal but lacking its heaviness and some of the typical characteristics.


Origins (1983–1993)[]

Celtic Frost and King Diamond, although considered by many as an early black metal bands, also played semi-important roles in the development of doom-death, due to their use of "gothic-sounding" atmospherics. Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium in particular is sometimes cited as a seminal gothic metal album, combining elements such as orchestral compositions and female vocals. Though Paradise Lost's Gothic is often considered as the first gothic metal song.

In the 1990s, a group of young bands in Sweden and Northern England borrowed from the early death metal and incorporated it with the slow, down-tuned guitar dirges of Black Sabbath and similar doom metal bands. Doom-death, as it was known, was the first stage of the gothic-metal genre. Bands most notable for this style included Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Tiamat.

Although death metal and black metal were two of the larger genres of metal at this time, especially in the Scandinavian region, many bands who started in either genre had progressed more toward doom-death styles; two of these bands were Moonspell and Theatre of Tragedy.

Gothic rock/Darkwave sound and atmosphere, romantic feeling and image also helped the creation of gothic metal. Bands such as Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim have influenced the early gothic metal acts.

While early doom-death bands Paradise Lost and Anathema used some female vocals in their music, the Netherland's The Gathering was the first doom-death band with a leading female singer, Marike Groot on the album Always... and then Martine Van Loon on Almost a Dance (both later replaced by another female singer, Anneke van Giersbergen). This set a pattern for gothic metal by adding the first implications of using two vocalists in the bands, such as first done by Theatre of Tragedy, and later became a signature of gothic metal as it was quickly imitated by bands including Tristania and Theatres des Vampires.

Gothic metal (1993–present)[]

Gothic metal originated in the early 1990s when Paradise Lost made their albums Icon and Draconian Times along with new bands such as Tristania and Theatre of Tragedy which took the doom-death sound that had arisen and made romantically-themed music that borrowed from black metal's and death metal's guitar and vocal styles. These bands left behind some of the depressing nature of their origins to add more warm and classical elements into the music.

A softer genre known as symphonic metal had evolved in the mid- to late- 1990s from gothic metal bearing strong similarities to its predecessor, with bands led by female singers including Within Temptation, Nightwish, and Epica. During this time the divide between gothic metal and the new-born symphonic metal became apparent; symphonic metal maintained a lighter approach, with more operatic and classical themes that often showed power metal influence, while gothic metal incorporated more aggressive elements of death metal and black metal directly into the music. Trail of Tears and Penumbra are examples of this last known progression.

The gothic metal scene is very developed in Europe and Scandinavia, most notably in England, Norway and the Netherlands, and is growing rapidly in Germany. Several groups of smaller bands are also emerging in eastern Europe and South America, struggling to gain a foothold where the scene is small.

Common debates[]

Although the style has seen much more controversy than other metal genres - and remarkably, the most instances of debate - some arguments have gone on in regards to bands that have sported a gothic "image" in the eyes of the media versus those with direct musical connections to the gothic metal genre. This has included bands that have shown imagery akin to morbidity, religious themes, gothic fashion, vampirism, and satanism and bands that have played alongside gothic metal bands at concerts. Many debates have gone on as to whether bands rooted in one genre that use gothic metal aspects within their music are themselves gothic metal, or are themselves creating fusion like subgenres such as gothic doom. Because of these debates, sometimes bands such as these are listed amongst gothic metal bands as well as bands in the genre they are rooted from, often causing more debate and more confusion on the issue.

The term 'Gothic' was pushed through the metal scene by Paradise Lost with the release of their eponymous second album. In this album the band started the process of getting more melodic & goth rock inspired sound.[4]Despite that gothic metal isn't goth rock with metal based composition as many people assume, most gothic metal acts are inspired by bands within the gothic rock/darkwave genres. However Gothic metal actually got its name from the imagery, themes within the lyrics and the atmospherics it uses as well as the impact from goth subculture. While both genres use the term "gothic" in reference to the foreboding 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 later Christian Death, has no connection to heavy metal. Anyway such debates may be cleared with the fact that the term Gothic has a conceptual side much larger and darker than the current use in the present times.

Gothic metal in recent times is one of the most popular and fast developing metal subgenre. The headbangers that listen mostly to that style are sometimes called "gothic metalheads". They take inspiration from the goth subculture and like the gothic art, literature, architecture and appreciate gothic ideals. But most goths do not consider gothic metal as part of their music scene or culture and do not listen to it.[5] However in Europe gothic metal is associated both with metalheads and goths.

Gothic metal bands[]


  2. Silver Dragon Records
  3. Metal Storm
  6. Artrosis band page @ BNR metal
  7. Angtoria band page @ BNR metal: "This is top-flight epic gothic metal"
  8. Gothic metal page @ Heavy Metal
  9. Atargatis band page @ Rockdetector
  10. Beseech band page @ Rockdetector
  11. Charon band page @ Rockdetector
  12. Crematory band page @ Rockdetector
  13. Dakrua band page @ Rockdetector
  14. Darkwell band page @ Rockdetector
  15. Darkseed band page @ Rockdetector
  16. Dreadful Shadows band page @ Rockdetector
  17. Elis band page @ Rockdetector
  18. Entwine band page @ Rockdetector
  19. Flowing Tears band page @ Rockdetector
  20. Forever Slave band page @ Rockdetector
  21. For My Pain... band page @ Rockdetector
  22. Lacrimas Profundere band page @ Rockdetector
  23. Leaves' Eyes band page @ Rockdetector
  24. Leaves' Eyes band page @ BNR metal
  25. Macbeth band page @ Rockdetector
  26. Midnattsol band page @ Rockdetector: Gothic Metal, Folk Metal
  27. Moi dix Mois official band page
  28. Mortal Love band page @ Rockdetector
  29. Moonspell band page @ Metal Storm
  30. Nemesea's official band page
  31. Octavia Sperati band page @ Rockdetector
  32. On Thorns I Lay band page @ Rockdetector
  33. Paradise Lost band page @ Rockdetector
  34. Penumbra band page @ Rockdetector
  35. Poisonblack band page @ Rockdetector
  36. Sentenced band page @ BNR metal
  37. Sirenia band page @ Rockdetector
  39. Tiamat band page @ Metal Storm
  40. To/Die/For band page @ Metal from Finland
  41. Trail of Tears band page @ Rockdetector
  42. Tristania band page @ Rockdetector
  43. Within Temptation band page @ Rockdetector


  1. VaniShine
  2. Gothic & Doom Metal in Turkey
  3. Gothic Metal - Goth Metal Turkey
  4. Gothic Metal - Magazine about its music, culture & aesthetic
  5. Goth Metal World
  6. Gothic Metal Web zine
  11. Gothic Metal Zone
  15. rock