The 10 best goth albums of 2023

 Best goth metal 2023.
Best goth metal 2023.
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When the year kicks off with the return of goth prince Ville Valo, you know you're onto a good start for the gothic side of metal. Sure enough, 2023 has offered its fair share of delights: post-punk brilliance from the likes of Grave Pleasures and Host, symphonic grandeur from Blackbriar and all-singing, all-dancing Jim Steinman style vampire rock opera from Creeper.

With that in mind, we've dug into the dark to bring you the very best goth metal records you need to hear in 2023.

Metal Hammer line break
Metal Hammer line break

Blackbriar – A Dark Euphony

Considering symphonic metal's commercial breakthrough in the early 2000s came from bands with a decidedly gothic bent, it's still refreshing to occasionally find a band who can capture that fairytale majesty. With their second album A Dark Euphony, Blackbriar do just that whilst finding a way to infuse their own unique identity onto the style. If you want your gothic music to err on the side of epic, this is where you'll want to start. RICH HOBSON

Creeper – Sanguivore

Creeper have always had a theatrical streak, but with Sanguivore they suddenly found themselves hitting Hollywood levels of bombast and production. A Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf style rock opera about vampires, the band's gothic inclinations were pushed and pulled in thrilling directions as they folded everything from grandstanding 80s guitar solos (Further Than Heaven, Teenage Sacrifice) to stomping soundtrack-worthy rockers (Cry To Heaven), as well as the band's previous stylistic experiments with goth-punk bangers (Sacred Blasphemy) and Danzig-style darkness (Lovers Led Astray), all contributing to a masterpiece that was named Metal Hammer's album of the year in its Critic's Poll. RICH HOBSON

Grave Pleasures – Plagueboys

After four years of silence, Grave Pleasures announced their return with a shimmering spectacle of post-punk perfection, digging deep on their 80s goth influences to evoke the likes of The Cure and The Sisters Of Mercy at their most playful. The result was the most immediately gratifying and rewarding Grave Pleasures record to date, an album which demands repeat listens and begs for big rooms to weave its bewitching spell. RICH HOBSON

Host – IX

Remember Host? That Paradise Lost album that everyone hated in 1999 but is actually awesome when you accept it isn’t metal? Paradise Lost do – and they missed making dark Depeche Mode synth-rock so much that Nick Holmes and Greg Mackintosh dedicated a whole side-project to it. Full-length debut IX perfectly balanced sorrow with infectiousness, and received the goodwill that the band’s namesake album should have also got 24 years ago. MATT MILLS

Maggot Heart – Hunger

"So many hatchets buried/my mind's a cemetery", so starts Scandinavian Hunger, the opening track from Maggot Heart's third record Hunger. The record's vivid imagery and dark, sinister tones are undoubtedly forged from the blackened heart of goth, but the stylistic approach of the German group also folds in the genre's early ties with post-punk, resulting in angular, disorienting through a world that has nothing to offer but insidiousness and darkness. RICH HOBSON

Naut – Hunt

Naut didn’t reinvent the post-punk wheel when they debuted back in February, but they didn’t need to. Instead, Hunt presented a selection of lush songs, their dreamy vocals, cascading chords and mechanised drums combining into something ceaselessly hypnotic. It also helps that the band are marvellous melody-writers on top of it all. Hopefully, after performing at festivals like Arctangent, Naut will properly blow up in the near future. MATT MILLS

October Noir – Letters To Existence

October Noir might hail from the Sunshine State, but there's no shortage of darkness to be found in their fourth record. Dialling up a sense of doomed romanticism and inevitability, this band are as close as anyone has come to inhabiting the throne left vacant by Type O Negative over a decade ago - HIM and Ville Valo notwithstanding - their lurching riffs and vocalist Tom Noir's deep baritone a dead ringer for the much-missed Peter Steele. Magic. RICH HOBSON

Orphans Of Dusk – Spleen

The realm between goth metal and doom has always been a murky thing at best, the likes of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride making careers of tipping the scale one way or another on each new release. Newcomers Orphans Of Dusk continue in that great tradition, trudging forward on glacial riffs and droning baritones but evoking all the terminal opulence of a hollowed-out cathedral. RICH HOBSON

Shores Of Null – The Loss Of Beauty

Shores Of Null recorded this year’s The Loss Of Beauty around the same time as its 2020 predecessor, Beyond The Shores (On Death And Dying). It’s not a shocking fact considering that, when cast side by side, the pair are gloomy sonic complements. Beyond… was a sweeping, one-song statement, while Loss… condenses its downtrodden grandeur into far more episodic forms. The result is sharply written triumphs like Destination Woe and My Darkest Years. MATT MILLS

VV – Neon Noir

Six years since he laid his flagship band to rest, Ville Valo has returned to the source with a shimmering mixture of 80s rock bombast, goth indifference and doom's gallows humour with his solo debut, Neon Noir. In truth, this is the record fans have been clamouring for going all the way back to Venus Doom, Ville at his sex icon best as he romances a sheep and offers sweet nothings to an audience who have never forgotten exactly how he became the crown prince of goth metal. It's great to have him back. RICH HOBSON