Melodic Death Metal

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Melodic death metal, also referred to as melodeath, combines elements from death metal with elements from thrash metal, more traditional heavy metal and even hard rock. A typical feature of melodic death metal is the use of Iron Maiden-like twin guitar harmonies, melodic guitar leads and inherently melodic upbeat thrash riffage, and the guitars are often downtuned to B; sometimes synths and electronica elements occur in melodic death metal, too. The vocals are typically growled, shrieked or screamed, but some artists combine these harsh vocals with clean singing. Swedish artists in and around the city of Gothenburg have been especially influential in melodic death metal, leading to the establishment of the Gothenburg sound which has also made its way into metalcore and, more recently, power metal and progressive metal. Here on MMA, metalcore artists who make use of the Gothenburg sound, such as Nothing Divine, are included under metalcore, and power metal artists that make us of the Gothenburg sound, such as Raintime and Amaranthe, are included under power metal, while progressive metal artists that make use of the Gothenburg sound, such as James Labrie, are included under progressive metal. Sometimes a division is made between “melodeath” as a genre term referring specifically to melodic death metal based on the Gothenburg sound and “melodic death metal” as a term referring to more traditional death metal which emphasizes melody, as in the case of Terra Tenebrae, Arkan, and late Bolt Thrower. Carcass’ “Heartwork” is considered to be among the first melodic death metal releases, while artists like At the Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and Arch Enemy are among the most influential melodic death metal artists, and other examples are late Illdisposed, Deadlock, Amon Amarth, Omnium Gatherum, and Blood Stain Child.

melodic death metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

EDGE OF SANITY Crimson Album Cover Crimson
EDGE OF SANITY
4.37 | 98 ratings
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AMON AMARTH With Oden on Our Side Album Cover With Oden on Our Side
AMON AMARTH
4.27 | 43 ratings
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AMON AMARTH Surtur Rising Album Cover Surtur Rising
AMON AMARTH
4.29 | 28 ratings
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DARK TRANQUILLITY The Gallery Album Cover The Gallery
DARK TRANQUILLITY
4.29 | 23 ratings
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CARCASS Surgical Steel Album Cover Surgical Steel
CARCASS
4.30 | 21 ratings
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SCAR SYMMETRY Pitch Black Progress Album Cover Pitch Black Progress
SCAR SYMMETRY
4.31 | 15 ratings
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CARCASS Heartwork Album Cover Heartwork
CARCASS
4.15 | 59 ratings
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SCAR SYMMETRY The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity) Album Cover The Singularity (Phase I: Neohumanity)
SCAR SYMMETRY
4.38 | 8 ratings
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AMON AMARTH Deceiver Of The Gods Album Cover Deceiver Of The Gods
AMON AMARTH
4.24 | 13 ratings
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INSOMNIUM Above the Weeping World Album Cover Above the Weeping World
INSOMNIUM
4.31 | 9 ratings
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AT THE GATES Slaughter of the Soul Album Cover Slaughter of the Soul
AT THE GATES
4.13 | 28 ratings
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ARCH ENEMY Rise of the Tyrant Album Cover Rise of the Tyrant
ARCH ENEMY
4.12 | 22 ratings
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melodic death metal Music Reviews

AMON AMARTH Twilight of the Thunder God

Album · 2008 · Melodic Death Metal
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voila_la_scorie
About a year ago or so, a friend showed me some Amon Amarth videos. Man, were they cool. Really big productions like small movies. I was to learn that one video was actually scenes from a movie starring lead vocalist, Johan Hegg. I finally got around to bringing an album home, this first purchase being recommended by my friend who assured me that this was a great album.

What first struck me about the music was how melodic it often was. It was sometimes like a faster version of Iron Maiden but included riffs like Judas Priest and Accept. Labeled melodic death metal, I personally feel that the music here is more traditional metal with the Cookie Monster-style of deeply growled vocals. Tracks like “Free Will Sacrifice” and “No Fear for the Setting Sun” remind me of Judas Priest and “Live for the Kill” makes me think of Accept.

Another observation is the regular use of very strong battle-song melodies. “Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags” and “Live for the Kill” may conjure up images of Vikings standing in their ship and swinging pumped fists as they sing these songs.

This feels like an album done by a very experienced band who are comfortable where they are. They have reached their comfort zone and are producing a string of above avergae albums. Looking as the ratings on MMA, I see other albums are rated higher and this one. Some songs are really good and the main riff for “Guardians of Asgaard” is an awesome one to easily be hooked on.

Probably not their most groundbreaking album, but “Twilight of the Thunder God” is still a solid piece of work in my opinion.

EVOCATION The Shadow Archetype

Album · 2017 · Melodic Death Metal
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Nightfly
Although they formed back in 1991 and had a reputation as a great live band in their native Sweden Evocation split up in 1993 without releasing anything more than a couple of demos. Reforming in the mid 00’s the finally got around to releasing an album in 2007. Tales From The Tomb was a solid if unspectacular record of old school mixed with melodic death metal. Helped by a better production follow up Dead Calm Chaos was a considerable improvement with stronger songs though offered nothing that hadn’t already come out of Sweden years earlier. A further two albums followed, the latter Illusions Of Grandeur sounding a bit too much like Amon Amarth for its own good at times.

Roll on to 2017 and a new guitarist Simon Exner and use of session drummer Per Moller Jensen seems to have done the band no harm. In fact The Shadow Archetype may just be their best album yet. They’ve come back with a thicker heavier sound - the riffs are more crushing as Condemned To The Grave perfectly demonstrates with less emphasis on melody. Modus Operandi quickly lets you know that Evocation still have an ear for melody though, but it still retains the requisite heaviness quota. In fact much of this album is pretty melodic but you do have to dig a bit deeper to find them in comparison to Illusions Of Grandeur. The album is well paced containing moments with plenty of groove like the title track aided by the punchy production. Sure,The Shadow Archetype isn’t the most original album you’ll hear this year but its strength lies in the sheer consistency with most songs hitting the target.

Overall then, an impressive release which at thirty eight minutes doesn’t outstay its welcome. Anyone who enjoyed their previous work and fans of Swedish death metal in general should be more than happy with this.

DREAMING DEAD Funeral Twilight

Album · 2017 · Melodic Death Metal
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Nightfly
This is my first encounter with Dreaming Dead, a melodic death metal band from the USA. They’ve been kicking around since 2006 and Funeral Twilight is their third album.

Funeral Twilight is a competent piece of work, the band can certainly play and vocalist Elizabeth Schall comes across like a female version of Chuck Schuldiner. What you get is eight tracks of melodic death metal with quite a bit of thrash thrown in for good measure. Good it is but there’s little here that makes me want to revisit the album as I’ve forgotten most tracks pretty much as soon as they’re finished. My favourite go to band when I want a death/thrash hybrid is Revocation who perfectly blend their razor sharp thrash riffs with the bludgeon of death metal into their creative and electrifying compositions making for an exhilarating musical ride. Dreaming Dead don’t quite have the riffs to pull it off though they make a good stab at it here and there like on opener Your Grave. Most of the rest of the album though is solid but unremarkable. There’s a couple of instrumentals thrown in where they slow things down considerably which might have made good intro pieces but on an album of only twenty eight minutes they seem more like filler, particularly closer Unseeing which drifts along aimlessly for over two minutes before there’s a hint of a decent riff.

There’s no shortage of competition out there for your hard earned cash so sadly Funeral Twilight is likely to fall by the wayside pretty quickly. Nevertheless Dreaming Dead are not without potential and I’d certainly take a listen to their future offerings as well as checking out their first two albums when I have a moment.

ARCH ENEMY Doomsday Machine

Album · 2005 · Melodic Death Metal
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Unitron
"Watch the skeleton dance."

Many people seem to see melodic death metal as a real hit-or-miss genre, rarely being middle of the road. It either misses like a miscalculated golf swing, or hits hard as steel. I see it no differently. While the genre is home to many albums that just fall flat, there's always a handful of hole-in-ones that makes up for any bad shots that may be prevalent.

One complaint I have for melodic death metal, is that it often loses a lot of that raw and aggressive punch that is so essential to death metal. However, Arch Enemy's underrated Doomsday Machine should be the guidebook for how to make a death metal album that has a melodic sensibility but still kicks your ass. As you enter the machine, you're greeted with some of the most piercing and grooving riffing that has ever been present in death metal. I could name off any song to showcase this, but perhaps one of the best examples is the screeching homing missile attack of a main riff of "Nemesis". "My Apocalypse" may very well be my all time favorite death metal song, and just crushes the listeners skull with it's pummeling groove. That aggression is contrasted perfectly with a quiet atmospheric bridge, which features echoed-tone chords and a sublime guitar solo. The similarly toned chords that open up "Mechanic God Creation" is one of the best moments on the album, and is just as satisfying to hear every time I listen to it.

Speaking of, the Amott brothers' guitar playing is absolutely phenomenal and among the finest in death metal. Unlike the normal constant chugging of many modern technical and brutal death metal bands, these guys have infectious thrashing hooks and virtuoso soloing. I'm sometimes reminded of Rust in Peace-era Marty Friedman and Dave Mustaine's leads with some of the melodies. Sometimes there's even references to neo-classical shredders, such as the main riff in the instrumental "Hybrids of Steel". Angela Gossow's vocals are at their best on this album, and are among the most brutal in metal. Her growls and snarls pierce the skin just as much as the guitar licks. Her vocal performance on the first few songs and "Skeleton Dance" is especially fantastic. The whole album just sounds so damn colossal. The rhythm section is commanding, and the production is loud and almost mechanical sounding. The album really feels like a machine being constructed in a clanking and rattling factory.

Doomsday Machine is not only a unique melodic death metal album, but it's quite a unique album in general. I haven't heard an album that blends melodic guitar leads, death, thrash, and groove this well before. The tones and overall sound of the album as well is something that I've yet to hear replicated. If I had to choose, this is probably my all-time favorite death metal album. It's got raw brutality, groove, and crushing aggression all with a sense of harmony. It's a modern classic that still sounds fresh over a decade later. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!

SCENARIO II A New Dawn

Album · 2017 · Melodic Death Metal
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Nightfly
A New Dawn is the second album from Scenario II, a melodic death metal band from the Netherlands. They’ve been around for some time now having released their debut album; Uniforms Of Death back in 2009 though only guitarist Mark Van Doren appears to remain from that line-up. Now if I was doing my research properly I’d be going back and checking out that debut album out before diving in headlong into this one, but having had A New Dawn blasting in the car the last week or so I’m eager to share what a great album this is.

The cover and title leave no doubt about a post-apocalypse world being the subject matter. The album kicks off with The Darkest Hour, a short intro piece. It’s symphonic nature and semi-operatic female vocals from Myrthe van Beest give the impression that we may be in for some symphonic metal in the Epica vein. While there are elements of that it soon becomes clear that A New Dawn is a much heavier beast more in the melodic death metal tradition. The bands influences include In Flames, Soilwork, At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity amongst others (they even include an In Flames cover, Stand Ablaze to close the album). Pleasingly, whilst these influences can sometimes be heard they inject plenty of their own identity. For example, although Bas de Kruyff growls are never far from the front of the mix, Mythe Van Beest’s more melodic female tones are on an even footing most of the time rather than the token gesture many bands give to them which considering the quality of her voice is a wise decision. While the guitar riffs hit hard, they contain plenty of melody with the symphonic elements adding additional melody and drama. However, whilst the symphonic touches are welcome additions they don’t take over keeping the guitars to the fore where they belong. The music is extremely well played by all with a versatile and solid as a rock rhythm section complementing the dynamic and explosive nature of much of the material. The Promised Wasteland is a nice mid-album touch being a short instrumental adding some light and shade being more subdued than most of the tracks.

Whilst A New Dawn may not be the most original album – and probably has no pretence to be, the strong compositions, overall consistency and enthusiasm the band inject is infectious and any fan of this type of stuff should have no problem enjoying this. Well worth checking out.

melodic death metal movie reviews

AMON AMARTH Wrath of the Norsemen

Movie · 2006 · Melodic Death Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Talk about value for money, from a band like Amon Amarth you wouldn’t expect them to be able to afford such a crazily generous and in depth DVD package when some of the bigger bands can’t afford anything even half this good.

The Set comes in a glorious 3 DVD digipak with detailed artwork, a full booklet and an awesome little viking crown that keeps it closed. Then you get Five full concerts (with 22, 16,13, 11 and 9 tracks respectively) and a documentary.

The main feature; a 22 track concert from Cologne in 2005 is an incredible affair with crystal clear sound, Huge guitar tones, amazingly heavy drums and nice clunky bass. The camera work is of a higher quality than even some of the biggest metal bands’ DVDs and again the sound is immense.

Then theres the performance, the band are absolutely electric delivering furious renditions of material from all eras a their career from the massive ‘Amon Amarth,’ and ‘Fate of Norns,’ to catchy closer ‘Death In Fire,’ and the crowd just lap it up.

Vocalist Johan Hegg absolutely commands the stage, engaging the crowd at every opportunity and singing his heart out while the band hammer through their classics like ‘heavy,’ is going out of style.

On top of all that you have a great light show, huge Amon Amath banners, more pyro than a kiss concert and an interlude with about thirty Viking reenactors sword fighting on stage! That feature is worth the money alone, the show is probably one of the best metal concerts on the market and I can’t stress how good the sound and picture are; then on top of all that you get the rest of the set, featuring virtually ever Amon Amarth song ever written, and performances from ‘Waken Open Air festival,’ ‘Summer Breeze Festival,’ and two more indoor concerts in Europe.

If you like Amon Amarth Buy this right now. If you don’t, you will within thirty seconds of watching this.

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