Originating in the UK, gothic metal rose to prominence in the 1990s. The best gothic bands seamlessly blend doom metal and gothic rock (or even a fusion of doom and death metal) to create a heavy sound that's one of the darkest brands of metal. Groups that are considered gothic metal bands have lyrics that are dark and introspective and generally draw from progressive gothic fiction as well. As for the music, the best gothic metal bands use heavy, loud guitars and synths to create a sound that is distinctive from other heavy metal subgenres.
So, what are the best gothic metals bands? You can't have a list of gothic metal artists without the names Type O Negative, Nightwish, Paradise Lose, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and After Forever. These bands are the ones that many fans associate as gothic, so they have to be at or near the top of the list. The best gothic metal bands have rabid fanbases, so if you like any of these groups, you should jump in and have your voice heard.
That said, it's up to you to determine which gothic metal groups are the best. This list answers the questions "who are the best gothic metal bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest gothic metal musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the bands' music (albums and songs) instead of just voting for the most popular, famous, or newer gothic metal musicians that you might've heard of.