Gothic metal (or 'goth metal') is a sub-genre of heavy metal that combines the heaviness of doom metal with the dark atmospheres of Gothic rock. The music of Gothic metal is diversified as bands adopt the Gothic approach to the different styles of heavy metal music that interest them. The genre originated in Europe during the early 1990s originally as an outgrowth of 'death-doom', a fusion of death metal and doom metal. Lyrics are generally dark and introspective taking inspiration from personal experiences, as well as Gothic fiction.
The genre is considered to have started in the early 1990s. Pioneers of gothic metal (although the bands prefer to not classify themselves under the title of 'Gothic metal') include: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema (all from the north of England), Type O Negative and Saviour Machine from the United States, Tiamat from Sweden, and The Gathering from the Netherlands. Notably, Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy developed the so-called "beauty and the beast" method of combining aggressive male vocals with clean female vocals. During the mid-1990s, Moonspell, Theatres des Vampires and Cradle of Filth brought the Gothic approach to black metal. By the end of that decade, a symphonic metal variant of Gothic metal had been developed by Tristania and Within Temptation.
By the 21st century, gothic metal had moved towards the mainstream in Europe, particularly in Finland where groups such as Entwine, HIM (His Infernal Majesty), Lullacry and Poisonblack released hit singles and albums. In the US, however, only a few bands such as HIM, Lacuna Coil, Evanescence and Cradle of Filth found commercial success.
The music of gothic metal is generally characterized by its dark atmospheres. 'Dark' is a general term that encompasses: deep, romantic, passionate and intense.
Gothic metal is a varied genre with bands pursuing many different directions, from "slow and crushing variations" to "orchestral and bombastic". Today the bands are as diverse as incorporating: doom metal, black metal, symphonic metal, death metal, industrial metal and alternative metal.
There is also a diverse range of vocal styles in Gothic metal. Male singers in the genre range from the guttural growls and black metal shrieks to clean baritone vocals. For the female singers, the different vocal styles include the screams and growls, pop style vocals, and operatic soprano. There are more female singers in Gothic metal than there are in any other heavy metal sub-genres, but female vocals are neither necessary nor synonymous with the genre.
The lyrics of Gothic metal is known to be melodramatic, fantasized, romantic, dark and/or gloomy. Gothic fiction, a literary genre that blends horror, fantasy and romance, has been a source of inspiration for the lyrics of many Gothic metal bands, as are lyrics based on personal experiences.
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