The Best Gothic Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2019


1.  Idle Hands - Mana 244
2.  Lacrimas Profundere - Bleeding The Stars 168
3.  Helevorn - Aamamata 77
4.  Hanging Garden - Into The Good Night 68
5.  (Dolch) - Feuer 30
6.  Lacuna Coil - Black Anima (write-in vote) 19
7.  Swallow The Sun - When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light (write-in vote) 14
Total votes:
629



Feuer takes cues from neofolk, neoclassical darkwave, lo-fi black metal, and drone doom and melding it into a gothic mix of darkness and more darkness. Thick immersive soundscapes, brooding vocals that keep you going, and enough German singing to turn the tide more towards the eerie and the hypnotic. From fire comes night and death.

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Should you follow Hanging Garden into that good night? If you want a sweet death, the answer is an emphatic yes. The melancholic Finns (truly one of the best subspecies of Finns out there) dazzle us on their sixth outing with a record that is familiar and fresh at the same time. They spend some time riffing on well-known genre tropes long explored by the likes of Katatonia and Ghost Brigade, while still managing to reach new territory. Moonlit walks on a fresh dusting of snow were never this delightfully bittersweet.

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It's easy being broody and downhearted in countries where sunshine hours reach single digits in the winter and where the air hurts your face. A doomy gothic metal band founded in sunny Palma de Mallorca must have some heavy stuff on their minds - and, as we all know, the shores of the Mediterranean are a place of devastating human loss nowadays. Helevorn pay their respects to the victims of the refugee crisis, amongst other tragedies, and the tragic song they craft on the two sides of this record is appropriately glum and austere, but never unpleasant to listen to.

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There's a certain stereotype that, much in the way that all symphonic metal bands are Nightwish clones, all gothic metal bands are Evanescence clones. You need only look around this category to understand how demented a reduction that is, but if there's one band in this category that really takes the genre back to its roots in gothic rock of years past, it's Idle Hands. Gabriel Franco's grimly fiendish baritone conducts melancholy post-punk melodies with delicate yet full-bodied sincerity, largely sidestepping the obvious doomy middlemen that usually separate goth rock from metal. While Mana sometimes dives into harsher territory with lupine snarls and blastbeats, by and large it is a metalized boost of the tender, melodic school of gothic music, a fresh and rich-sounding entry into a field of metal never given enough sunlight spotlight.

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It's hard to believe that Lacrimas Profundere have been sad for 12 whole albums now. Bleeding The Stars debuts a new lineup to plumb more morbid depths of despair, moving from low-key goth rock singalongs to somber Katatonia-like feel-alongs in a 40-minute tour de remorse. Sometimes driving, sometimes a dirge, sometimes crushingly heavy and other times crushingly sad, Bleeding The Stars takes us through many modes of gothic-flavored music without misstep or interruption - all the benefits of being an almost 30-year-old band, with none of the fatigue (aside from the existential kind).

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