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Top Gothic Rock Albums

Saturday 13 Mar 2010 14:40

I’m going to kick of my review section with a list off my top Gothic Rock / Metal albums. To qualify for this list the bands have to be current, so the album has to have been released within the last 10 years. If your not a fan of this genre then you've probably being swayed by your perception of older gothic music, and it has come a long way in the last few years. The obvious success being Evanescence, so I’ll leave this one out of the list. I know I've missed out some of the 'so called' big names here, but my intention is to enlighted you as to bands you might not have discovered, and those which I am listening to.

Within Temptation
The Heart Of Everything

I am a big fan of female vocals, and they really don’t come any better than Sharen Den Adel.  Within Temptation are a Dutch band who have released 5 albums since they were founded in 1996. There sound has changed somewhat over the years, from very dark almost doom metal to an almost commercial symphonic rock with gothic overtones. I have seen this band live and believe me they are right up there with the best.

I was first turned on to this band after hearing the tracks ‘Ice Queen’, ‘Angels’ and ‘It’s the Fear’, which I consider to be very representative of this groups work over the years. Ironically none of the tracks appear on my chosen album and I found it tough choosing between this and ‘The Silent Force’ which is probably on par, but ‘The Heart Of Everything‘ has the more commercial feel and will appeal to fans of ‘Evanescence’ and ‘Lacuna Coil’.

The stand out tracks for me are ‘The Cross’, ‘What Have You Done’, ‘Forgiven’ and ‘Frozen’, but there are really no fillers on this album.

Mortal Love
All The Beauty

Mortal Love is a Norwegian metal band, which in traditional gothic style have both male and female vocalists. What makes this band stand out for me is the blend of vocals which are less operatic and more pleasing on the ear than most bands of this genre.

The band has released 3 albums, all of which are exceptional, but it was two tracks from the first album that turned me on to this group, which is why ‘All The Beauty’ got my vote as their best album. The tracks in question were ‘I Want To Die’ and ‘Mortally Beloved’. Now I’m quite a light hearted fun lovin’ sort of a chap, and as you’ve probably guessed these tracks deal with death and the more gloomy side of failed relationships. But somehow Mortal Love strike a chord with me and their music is so beautifully constructed that the subject matter is almost secondary to the mood and energy of the music.

Other standout tracks worth mentioning ‘Empathy’, ‘Reality’  and ‘Sanity’ from their album ‘I Have Lost’, which is probably my second favourite album.

April Rain

Delain are another Dutch based symphonic rock band founded in 2005 by the ex-keyboard player from Within Temptation, What makes this band stand out is the exceptional tonal quality and vocal range of Charlotte Wessels.

Delain have released two albums, both of which are very accomplished but I think the later ‘April Rain’ really defines their sound and established them as one of the best current gothic metal artists.

Stand out tracks here are for me the slower tracks  ‘On The Other Side’ and ‘Start Swimming’, both of which have a tinge of Caren Carpenter in there… yes I’m that old. Also worth a mention are the tracks ‘April Rain’, ‘Virtue and Vice’ and ‘Control The Storm’ which are a little more up tempo numbers.


Beseech are a Swedish based gothic metal band which have sadly disbanded and formed two other bands, ‘The Mary Major’ (which retain the same sound) and ‘Those We Don’t Speak Of’, how ironic!

The group released 5 studio albums, but the sad thing for me is that they split after releasing what I consider to be their best work. ‘Drama’ and ‘Sunless Days’, both great albums, but for me ‘Drama’ just gets the nod.

Beseech like other tradition of gothic metal groups have the trademark deep male vocal, but for me it is the female vocals of Lotta Hoglin which balence the sound and gives it a more contempory feel.

Stand out tracks are ‘Addicted’, ‘Friend Emptiness’ and ‘Voices’ although there are really no fillers on this album.

The Birthday Massacre
Walking With Strangers

This is probably the most commercial and pop laden album on my list, but what they do they do well, with a very unique sound. The Birthday Massacre are a Canadian band which formed in 1999 and have since released 3 studio and 1 live albums.

All three albums are great, but the later ‘Walking With Strangers’ is probably the most accessible and should have mass appeal.  Think of well written guitar driven pop songs with a hard industrial edge and a sweet female vocalist with attitude.

Stand out tracks for me are ‘Science’ ‘Red Stars’ and ‘To Die For’, but I found it very difficult to pick one track over another as the whole album is of a very high standard.

Lacuna Coil
Unleashed Memories

This is a great female fronted Italian rock band which for some unknown reason always seem to get bracketed in the gothic genre and compared to Evanescence. In my opinion they sound nothing like Evanescence and gothic influences are very minimal, although more present on older material.

The band formed in 1994 and has since released 6 studio albums. I first heard of Lacuna Coil whilst browsing albums in a local record shop. A heavily studded, tattoo ridden gothic chic had the album on rotation, and after 4-5 tracks I was hooked. The album in question was ‘Unleased Memories’ and in keeping with all my recommendations here it was the soaring female vocals of Cristina Scabbia contrasted with the menacing growling of Andrea Ferro that drew me in.

Stand out tracks are ‘Purity’ and ‘To Live Is To Hide’ and ‘Current Obsession’, but its one of those albums where you have to listen to the album as a whole as none really jump out at you. It’s a grower…

Theatre Of Tragedy

Theatre of Tragedy are a Norwegian gothic rock band originally formed in 1993 and best known for their earlier albums. In contrast I prefer their later albums and in particular ‘Storm’ and their latest offering ‘Forever Is The World’.

My all time favourite TOT album was ‘Assembly’, which as many fans will be aware was a complete departure from the gothic metal genre, and one that caused a lot of controvercy amonst their fans. However since this is a gothic metal top ten I’ve opted for ‘Storm’ and not ‘Assembly’. For those who don’t find this album to your taste I recommend you take a look at ‘Assembly’, especially if you like the mixture of synthesizers and heavy guitar driven pop.

The band was originally fronted by ‘Liv Kristine’ who later left to released a solo album and formed the group ‘Leaves Eyes’, the later of which is also worth checking out.

Leaves Eyes

This is a German-Norwegian symphonic metal band which formed in 2003 by ‘Liv Kristine’, the former singer of ‘Theatre Of Tragedy’. The band has released 3 studio albums, the best of which in my opinion is ‘Lovelorn’.

Their songs conjure up visions of undiscovered lands and hoards of pillaging Vikings, but these strong traditinal influences are served up in a very tasteful and accessible way. Although Liv has the vocal range of an opera singer, her soft tonal qualities prevent it from overpowering the music. In fact this is such an unusual style it might not have universal appeal, but if you want to try something different then this album comes highly recommended.

Standout tracks are ‘Norwegian Lovesong’ and ‘Into Your Light’, although I recommend you also checkout the song ‘Elergy’ from the album ‘We Came With The Northern Winds’. The later is certainly more in keeping with the bands later releases.

The Eden House
Smoke & Mirrors

I discovered this album by accident whilst hunting for information on ‘All About Eve’, a gothic rock group from the late 80’s. It is more of a collaboration than an actual group, with ex-members from ‘The Fields Of Nephilim’ and ‘This Burning Effigy’ along with several guest singers including ‘Julianne Regan’ of ‘All About Eve’ fame.

The album is best described as guitar driven ethereal mood music with goth overtones, swirly synths and haunting vocal lines. The album whilst being on the quiet side will have wide appeal and isn’t without it’s heavier moments.

Stand out tracks are ‘Gods Pride’, ‘To Believe in Something’ and ‘The Beauty of Science’. As far as I am concerned there are no bad tracks on this very enjoyable album.

Turning Season Within

Draconian are a Swedish doom metal band formed in 1994. This is a departure for me as I’m not really a fan of doom metal, but don’t let that put you off. Yes, it’s doom metal, but again tempered with the haunting angelic female vocals of Lisa Johansson.

The band have released 4 studio albums and whilst their latest album ‘Turning Season Within’ is what I consider to be their best, it was a track called ‘Death Comes Near’ from their 2nd album ‘Arcane Rain Fell’ that turned me on to this group. This is a such a beautiful song, despite the subject line. A slow atmospheric 15 minute epic with growling vocals and Lisa’s haunting harmonies which carry you on a sad emotional journey of love and dispare.

Best tracks on this album are ‘Morphine Cloud’, ‘Seasons Apart’ and ‘When I Wake’. This is certainly one of their more accessible album and probably their best work to date. Not for the faint hearted.

Stream Of Passion
Embrace The Storm

Stream of Passion is yet another female fronted progressive metal band (see a pattern here) with gothic and symphonic overtones. This is the first of two studio albums but what makes this so special is that the album was the result of an internet collaboration, with all the band members living thousands of miles apart.

‘Marcela Bovio’ provides lead vocals here, and I can’t help making comparisons with ‘Julianne Regan’ of ‘All About Eve’ fame. They both share similar tonal qualities, in fact ‘Stream Of Passion’ kind of sound like ‘All About Eve’, with a modern day symphonic twist. That said, they do sound fresh and relevant, and definitely have far reaching appeal beyond the genre.

Stand out tracks are ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘Deceiver’ and ‘Wherever You Are’.  

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