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 | 20 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
4.14 | 57 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
4.23 | 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 | 27 ratings
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ARCH ENEMY Rise of the Tyrant Album Cover Rise of the Tyrant
ARCH ENEMY
4.14 | 22 ratings
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melodic death metal Music Reviews

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.

EDGE OF SANITY The Spectral Sorrows

Album · 1993 · Melodic Death Metal
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Warthur
"The Spectral Sorrows" could have been subtitled "We Weren't Kidding With The Last Album's Title", because if the previous release from Edge of Sanity was Unorthodox, this album well and truly embodies that idea. Though it continues the band's development of their own style of technically-inclined melodic death metal, it also includes a number of songs where the band members indulge their appreciation of other musical styles. Andreas Axelsson gets to take lead vocals on the thrashy Feedin' the Charlatan, for instance, whilst Dan Swanö indulges his taste for gothic rock (which would see further flowering on his Nightingale side project) on Sacrificed, which may be the best Sisters of Mercy pastiche out there.

The poster boy for the band's willingness to defy metal orthodoxy, however, has to be their decision to cover Manowar's Blood of My Enemies. At a time when the consensus among extreme metal fans was that Manowar were a total embarrassment and the living exemplars of everything cheesy about more traditional metal styles, Edge of Sanity manage to turn out a version of the song which adeptly twists it so that it fits their death metal aesthetic.

Well-produced, diverse, and with the band making a virtue of their divergent musical and artistic ideas rather than allowing those to be a bone of contention, this might be the best Edge of Sanity album aside from Crimson.

BARREN EARTH Curse of the Red River

Album · 2010 · Melodic Death Metal
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Warthur
A supergroup from the more progressive end of extreme metal, drawing deep from the Amorphis well and with Dan Swano behind the mixing desk? Well, it's an idea which looks good on paper, but the results very much depend on how keen you are on Amorphis' latter-day progressive style. Not that this is a clone band, mind - just that with two former members of Amorphis onboard, there's inevitably some crossover in aesthetic taste.

In particular, when it comes to its death metal influences this is very much on the more accessible side of the melodic death metal camp, to the point where there are segments of the album where Mikko Kotamäki's growls are more or less the only discernable death metal component of the mixture.

Where Barren Earth take things in a different direction is the vintage prog influences in their performances, especially in the keyboards, which are a bit more nostalgic and steeped in the 1970s style than Amorphis' more modern-sounding progressive moments. This may be where comparisons to Opeth hail from; either way, it makes the album an interesting listen, though I do question just how much fruit is going to grow in this Barren Earth.

EDGE OF SANITY Crimson II

Album · 2003 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Crimson II" is the 8th full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Edge of Sanity. The album was released through Black Mark Production in August 2003. It´s been 6 years since the release of the preceding album "Cryptic (1997)". An album which didn´t feature regular frontman Dan Swanö. A dispute over the future musical direction of the band made Swanö split and pursue other projects. Edge of Sanity disbanded in 1999, but Swanö revived the band name in 2003 for the release of "Crimson II". He is the sole member of the band here though and plays and sings everything on the album except for a few parts performed by session musicians like Mike Wead (Mercyful Fate, Hexenhaus, King Diamond, The Project Hate MCMXCIX) and Roger "Rogga" Johansson (Paganizer, The Grotesquery, Ribspreader...etc.).

As the title suggests "Crimson II" is the sequel to the band´s arguably most lauded album "Crimson" from 1996. A single track 40 minutes long sci-fi/fantasty concept album performed in a sophisticated and powerful progressive death metal style, that was something new and fresh at the time of release. Neither "Infernal (1997)" nor "Cryptic (1997)" managed to reach the same creative songwriting heights of "Crimson (1996)" and paired with the internal disputes over musical direction, that probably meant the end of the band. Swanö apparently felt the "Crimson (1996)" story wasn´t closed though and "Crimson II" therefore continues the story of the evil queen and the struggles of her people.

Like "Crimson (1996)", "Crimson II" is one 40 minutes long track (actually 43 minutes) divided into subtracks which seque into each other. There are several musical references and use of themes from "Crimson (1996)" featured on the album, which along with the concept story ensure conceptual continuity. The vocals vary from death metal growling, to black metal styled screams, to clean vocals. Overall the music is unmistakably the sound of Edge of Sanity. Swanö has chosen to add a lot of keyboards to the band´s sound though, which provides an even more progressive touch than what was heard on "Crimson (1996)". Unfortunately the songwriting is a bit lacking and the material is generally not that memorable, and I often find myself waiting for one of the themes from "Crimson (1996)" to appear, because at least those moments are catchy and memorable.

The whole thing simply seems a bit messy, and that´s everything from the tracklist flow, to lack of memorable hooks, to the sound production, which may be professional but still sounds a bit wrong. The musicianship is not surprising of high quality and it´s not like "Crimson II" is a terrible album, but when you make a sequel to an album like "Crimson (1996)", you better put out something of great quality, because a sequel will always be compared to the original, and in that regard "Crimson II" doesn´t stand a chance. "Crimson (1996)" is simply in a whole other league. Viewed upon as an individual release it´s not exactly Edge of Sanity´s finest hour either, but a 3 star (60%) rating is still warranted.

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.

Artists with Melodic Death Metal release(s)

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