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.

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melodic death metal top albums

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EDGE OF SANITY Crimson Album Cover Crimson
EDGE OF SANITY
4.38 | 106 ratings
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DARK TRANQUILLITY The Gallery Album Cover The Gallery
DARK TRANQUILLITY
4.47 | 29 ratings
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CARCASS Heartwork Album Cover Heartwork
CARCASS
4.32 | 67 ratings
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AMORPHIS Tales From the Thousand Lakes Album Cover Tales From the Thousand Lakes
AMORPHIS
4.27 | 61 ratings
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INSOMNIUM Winter's Gate Album Cover Winter's Gate
INSOMNIUM
4.43 | 11 ratings
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AMON AMARTH Berserker Album Cover Berserker
AMON AMARTH
4.55 | 7 ratings
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AT THE GATES Slaughter of the Soul Album Cover Slaughter of the Soul
AT THE GATES
4.16 | 31 ratings
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DISILLUSION Back to Times of Splendor Album Cover Back to Times of Splendor
DISILLUSION
4.23 | 16 ratings
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OMNIUM GATHERUM Beyond Album Cover Beyond
OMNIUM GATHERUM
4.35 | 8 ratings
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SOILWORK The Living Infinite Album Cover The Living Infinite
SOILWORK
4.20 | 16 ratings
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SOILWORK Verkligheten Album Cover Verkligheten
SOILWORK
4.29 | 9 ratings
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IN FLAMES Colony Album Cover Colony
IN FLAMES
4.11 | 36 ratings
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melodic death metal Music Reviews

EDGE OF SANITY Crimson

Album · 1996 · Melodic Death Metal
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BitterJalapeno
After years of drifting away from the heavier side of music and spending a lot of time wandering around the misty realms psychedelic, I find myself back with a bang and have been revisiting some metal relics from my teenage iPod days. This, coupled with the Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland has sent me on a rampage of metal music discovery with death/prog/sludge/doom being at the very heart of it.

This album was a first for me in 2020 and I have to say that I already love it dearly like an old friend. It has equal elements of death metal and progressive metal but is also surprisingly easy going and very much likable on first listen which is not always the case for some albums spanning the death/prog sub genres. For example, GORGUTS' OBSCURA took me a good 5 focused listens to even begin to comprehend although I did also eventually love it and is also now a firm favourite.

Crimson flows seamlessly through 8 parts of a prog/death metal epic and is full of incredible deep riffs peppered with highly melodic lead guitar parts, some of which are reminiscent of the music of NWOBHM and which also have clearly been an influence on the likes of MASTODON who took sludge metal to new territories in the early 00s. The more melodic side of this album can also be clearly heard in the more accessible bands of the 00s melodic metalcore scene such us KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.

I would recommend this album highly to lovers of all types of metal music, even those that are put off by the death growls as it exhibits a stunning atmospheric and melodic quality which I feel makes it more easily penetrable than the majority of other albums within the genre. Overall, an outstanding adventure through sound. My only disappointment is that I had not heard it prior to 2020.

4.5/5

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER Verminous

Album · 2020 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Verminous" is the 9th full-length studio album by US death metal act The Black Dahlia Murder. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in April 2020. It´s the successor to "Nightbringers" from 2017 and features the same five-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor. It´s not often there hasn´t been at least one lineup change between two The Black Dahlia Murder albums, but this time they´ve actually managed to not lose any members.

So does the stabile lineup have any effect on the music? Not really...or at least I´m not able to hear it, because stylistically the material on "Verminous" continue the horror themed melodic and energetic death metal style of the predecessors. Maybe the pace is lowered a little more often, compared to the early releases by the band, but that´s been a tendency on the last couple of albums, so no surprise there either. So in many ways this is more of the same, but while a little more variation/development between albums would have been preferable, it´s hard not to praise The Black Dahlia Murder for releasing another high quality melodic death metal album.

The sound production is high class, the musicianship on a high level on all posts, and the songwriting is strong too. The combination of highly energetic drumming, tempo changes, the many neo-classical inspired guitar solos and harmonies, and Trevor Strnad´s constantly shifting growling and higher pitched screaming vocals work well. There are several jaw-dropping moments on the album, and a couple of eye-opening experiences too. An example of the latter is "Removal of the Oaken Stake", which if you removed the extreme metal vocals, could easily have been a King Diamond song.

So while more variation is still high on my wishlist for the next The Black Dahlia Murder album (like it has been almost from day one on every one of their preceding releases), there are so many other high class elements on "Verminous", that it would be highly unfair not calling it a high quality melodic death metal release and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

JUMPSCARE Don't Close Your Eyes

Album · 2019 · Melodic Death Metal
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il_graz
Jumpscare is an Italian band founded in 2015. They started as an alternative metal but with their first album they abandoned their previous style to be focused only on melodic death with "core" (mostly metalcore and deathcore) and symphonic influences! Unlike traditional death metal, this album features a lot of modern elements. The album consists of razor-sharp guitar tracks, as well as precise drums and heavy bass lines, incorporated well with the singer's vocals.

The album features 8 tracks with a total length of 33 minutes, but make no mistake – though the songs are shorter than we are used to in the melodic death metal genre – they are reaching and touching, the lyrics are exciting and overall the whole album is well managed. Through the music I've lost count of time. I've enjoyed the whole release – such albums make a good reminder why I love extreme music so much – it brings the joy and fun out of me and takes me back to my teenage years when I first discovered death metal.

I give this album a 10/10, because this album makes a perfect masterpiece in my eyes. I was so lucky to own a physical copy so I passed days reading lyrics and figuring out what the band wanted to achieve with this album. Also, the guys from Jumpscare were very kind to answer some of my questions in their Facebook group about the songs, giving me have more material for this review and judging their work better! From beginning to end, this album is one of the best melodic/modern death metal I have ever listened to so far.

I think that Jumpscare really killed it. They made a fantastic album and I bet that they will be part of something new in the near future. They deserve more, so go check them out. An honorable mention to the producer Tommaso from Genus Ordinis Dei for his great work producing this masterpiece.

IMPERA Voice Of Freedom

EP · 2011 · Melodic Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
IMPERA is one of the many metal bands that has popped up in present day Ukraine in the last couple decades. This band emerged from the Western city of Ivano-Frankivsk and started out as Pandemonium from 2006-08 before switching to the name IMPERA. The band has gone through many lineup changes over the years but given that hardly any good info can be found, it’s not really clear which members played on which release.

As IMPERA, the band lasted from 2008-16 but only released a demo and two EPs. The first EP to emerge was this one titled VOICE OF FREEDOM in 2011 and the second one titled “Чорні мрії" quickly followed in 2012 but no full-length release was ever put out. VOICE OF FREEDOM is an interesting collection of five tracks that slinks past the 22 minute mark and for the sake of databases is tagged as melodic death metal.

Melodic it is and it is death metal as well but this is one of those band’s most similar to Finland’s Children of Bodom that mixes classic death metal sounds with heavy doses of keyboards and electronica. While Children of Bodom is more like a mix of death metal and power metal, IMPERA is more like a mix of death metal and industrial metal although the riffing is a lot like groove metal so this band actually has a somewhat unique sound that i haven’t yet heard quite fused together in this particular manner.

For hardcore death metal fans this will come across as too melodic or perhaps too groovy but for those who love the grooves of industrial metal or the stampeding processions of groove metal with wild electronic accompaniments this is actually pretty good music. The vocal style is quite growly and falls firmly into the death metal camp though. I would say that the groove metal aspects are somewhat similar to Lamb of God with some electronic elements that are on the techno end of the spectrum. Add a bit of Prong, a dash of Machine Head and a tinge of Fear Factory and you get the picture. This probably wouldn’t sound like death metal much at all if it weren’t for the vocal style.

Whatever you call this it’s a decent obscure release of melodic extreme metal from the part of the Ukraine where they actually speak Ukrainian although this one is exclusively in English. There are some classical touches too such as on the ending title track that has some Paganini styled violin playing although i’m not sure if it’s a real violin or synthesized. For melodic extreme metal this is actually quite a pleasant listen and i wish this band would’ve released an actual album instead of only two short EPs. The Ukraine has turned out to contain a treasure trove of interesting underground metal acts and although IMPERA was a pleasant surprise, it really shouldn’t have been.

ABSENCE OF LIGHT Vyom Chakra

Album · 2013 · Melodic Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Africa has probably been the continent of the world that has attracted the least amount of interest in metal music given the short list of bands that have emerged from the 54 nations on the world’s second largest continent in both terms of size and population. Despite that fact there have been a number of bands springing up in the new millennium with nations like Botswana having more than its fair share of metal bands. In recent years Kenya has seen a few excellent bands spring up. ABSENCE OF LIGHT comes from Nairobi and although unlike other Kenyan metal bands such as In Oath, Lust Of A Dying Breed and Last Year’s Tragedy, this band consists of three ethnically Indian musicians whose ancestors settled in Africa.

Having formed in 2009 in Kenya’s capital city, ABSENCE OF LIGHT consists of Shiv Mandavia (vocals, bass), Angad Gupta (guitar) and Jay Patel (guitar). The band chooses to enlist the services of session drummers for the percussion. Despite having been around for over ten years now the band hasn’t exactly been prolific and the short canon itself is a little confusing as yo will instantly see that there is an EP from 2013 titled VYOM CHAKRA as well as a full-length album of the same name from 2013. This may have been a marketing no-no but is easily explained by the fact that the 2011 EP has five tracks and the 2013 album has the same five tracks plus five new ones.

While most African metal can be a bit on the generic side, ABSENCE OF LIGHT is an exciting even refreshing exception. Sounding most like a mix of “Demigod” era Behemoth and the atmospheric eeriness of Nile but using ancient Indian atmospheric textures instead of Egyptian scales, ABSENCE OF LIGHT is the real deal with three competent musicians who can play in the big boyz’ club and craft interesting compositions that keep me engaged for the entire run of the album. Graced with a decent production job, VYOM CHAKRA which means “Never Ending Sky” or “Cycle” in the ancient Sanskrit language is a major chug-fest with incessant rampaging guitar riffs in a blackened death metal march along with an explosive bass and blastbeat drumming fury explosiveness. While Mandavia’s vocal growls do sound a bit like Nergal’s especially on the final Behemoth cover track of “Demigod,” he still delivers some unexpected surprises by hitting an even lower growlier register.

The album is roughly divided into vocal tracks and instrumentals. The vocal tracks are the most ferociously brutal death metal with distinct melodies but nothing about this one is sugary or sweet. Think more Behemoth than Amon Amarth and you can’t go wrong however some of the calmer spaced out sections are more in the vein of Nile’s excursions into ethnic wonderlands. While these comparisons are somewhat of a rough guide, the rhythmic execution and time signatures are quite unlike either Behemoth or Nile and ABSENCE OF LIGHT succeeds in sounding very unique. There are many rhythmic layers to the music. There is a basic chord progression but also often frenetic hammer-on guitar frenzies that add extra layers of freneticism however the military fire drumming extremism is right out of the “Demigod” playbook. This is also a band that knows how to implement key moments of silence as well as contrast with differing dueling guitar showmanship.

The first five tracks that appear on the EP version of VYOM CHAKRA are vocal oriented as is the tenth track which covers “Demigod” but the remaining are instrumental with the focus on the guitar antics and atmospheric developments. “Brahmasta” is by far the most brutal of these and “Skanda, I” offers the most contemplative excursions into an ancient raga sounding buildup that offers eerie atmospheric accompaniments. If such a thing as atmospheric death metal existed then that would be the perfect tag for this album because unlike black metal, death metal usually eschews these icy extras unless it goes full on symphonic such as with Fleshgod Apocalypse or Septicflesh. Overall this is an impressive album which is even more interesting simply because it emerged from the African continent, a land from where i love the traditional folk musical styles but haven’t been overly impressed with any of the metal acts so far. ABSENCE OF LIGHT is a clear reminder that excellent metal bands can literally emerge from the least expected places. I do hope there is as followup to this fine album.

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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