The 1990s saw the rise of the British genre of music known as gothic metal. The best gothic bands combine elements of doom metal, gothic rock, and sometimes even doom and death metal for a crushing sound that is among the heaviest and most ominous in all of metal. In addition, lyrics by bands classified as gothic metal tend to be brooding and introspective, often drawing inspiration from progressive gothic literature. Music-wise, the best gothic metal bands use heavy, loud guitars and synths to create a distinct sound from other heavy metal subgenres.
That being said, who are the best gothic metal bands? Jump in and see our top 10 list of gothic metal bands of all time.
Members: Anne Nurmi, Tilo Wolff
Active Years: 1990 till date
They started as a Dark Gothic band and are now more like a Gothic Alternative. The members are currently based in Switzerland but hail from Germany. Their current sound combines gothic rock and heavy metal elements with violin, trumpet, and other classical instruments; however, as their music has evolved over the years, so has the range of instruments they use. The lyrics for Lacrimosa’s songs are almost always written in German. Still, ever since their album Inferno in 1995, every album has included at least one song written in English (typically by Anne Nurmi).
2. Lacuna Coil
Members: Andrea Ferro, Cristina Scabbia, Marco Coti Zelati, Richard Meiz, Diego Cavallotti
Active years: 1994 till date
There’s a Milanese metal band called Lacuna Coil. The band originally formed in 1994 as Sleep of Right, but they later changed their name to Ethereal. The lead singer, Cristina, has an incredible voice that blends beautifully with Andreos’s and the band’s other vocalists, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, and drummers. The range of their music is also a strength.
3. The Vision Bleak
Members: Allen B. Konstanz, Ulf Theodor Schwadorf
Active Years: 2000 till date
The band is well-known for its lyrics, which often feature horror themes and make numerous allusions to the works of such horror greats as H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, George A. Romero, and John Carpenter. They call what they play “horror metal,” a genre they say combines elements of gothic metal, doom metal, symphonic metal, and horror punk.
4. Paradise Lost
Members: Nick Holmes, Aaron Aedy, Gregor Mackintosh, Steve Edmondson
Years Active: 1988 till date
Founded in 1988 in Halifax, England, Paradise Lost is widely regarded as an influential forerunner of death/doom and gothic metal. Since their 1991 album Gothic release, they have been credited as the originators of the gothic metal genre.
Members: Morten Veland, Kjetil Ingebrethsen, Vibeke Stene, Svein Terje Solvang, Osten Bergoy, Kjetil Nordhus, Kenneth Olsson, Mariangela Demurtas, Gyri Smordal Losnegaard, Ole Vistnes, Anders Hoyvik Hidle, Tarald Lie Jr., Einar Moen
Years Active: 1996-2022
Originally from Norway, Tristania’s music was characterized by a tendency toward melancholy and gloomy subject matter, such as heartbreak, suicide, lost love, longing, and resentment. The band did not release any new music or hold public performances from 2016 until October 2018. Finally, the band announced an appearance at 70000 Tons of Metal in early 2019 and officially announced that they had disbanded.
Members: Morten Veland, Nils Courbaron, Emmanuelle Zoldan, Michael Brush
Years Active: 2001 till date
Morten Veland formed this Norway-based gothic metal band in 2001. Female vocals, male death vocals, clean male vocals, a choir, and violins complement the band’s use of melodic instrumentals, synthesizers, and distorted guitars. Their songs reflect deep philosophical reflections on the nature of being human and the range of human experience and thought.
7. My Dying Bride
Members: Andrew Craighan, Aaron Stainthorpe, Neil Blanchett, Lena Abé, Jeff Singer, Shaun MacGowan
Years Active: 1990 till date
Doom metal band, My Dying Bride, originated in Bradford, England, in 1990. The band has released thirteen studio albums, including twelve full-lengths, three EPs, a demo, a box set, four compilations, a live album, and a live CD/DVD.
8. Type O Negative
Members: Kenny Hickey, Peter Steele, Josh Silver, Johnny Kelly, Sal Abruscato
Years Active: 1989-2010
Type O Negative was a band from Brooklyn, New York, that played gothic and doom metal. They were dubbed “The Drab Four” because of how much they focused on sad love songs and morbid lyrics.
Steele, the lead vocalist, passed away on April 14, 2010, at the age of 48. His death was attributed to either heart failure caused by an aortic aneurysm or sepsis caused by diverticulitis, depending on which source you consult. In an interview with French music magazine Rock Hard published in November 2010, Hickey and Kelly confirmed that Type O Negative had split up after Steele’s death.
Members: Christian “Chris” Gruber, Pete Streit, Maximilian “Max” Naescher, Tom Saxer
Years Active: 2003-2012
After the dissolution of Erben der Schöpfung in 2002, Sabine Dünser and Pete Streit of Liechtenstein formed Elis in 2003. However, due to the departure of Simone Christinat as lead singer in February 2012, the band went on indefinite hiatus. In any case, a month later, the band started looking for a replacement for Christinat, and they found one. After a “disbanding,” Elis’s Kathrin Schlumpf, a Swiss singer, joined the ranks of a new band called Zirkonium.
Members: Tuomas Holopainen, Troy Donockley, Jukka Koskinen, Emppu Vuorinen, Floor Jansen, Kai Hahto
Years Active: 19966 to date
The band Nightwish hails from Finland and plays symphonic metal.