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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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
4.23 | 99 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 | 24 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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DISILLUSION Back to Times of Splendor Album Cover Back to Times of Splendor
DISILLUSION
4.27 | 14 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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melodic death metal Music Reviews

DIVINE ELEMENT Thaurachs of Borsu

Album · 2017 · Melodic Death Metal
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adg211288
Greek musician Ayloss is of course best known for his atmospheric black metal project Spectral Lore, being particularly well regarded for the double album III (2014). Perhaps less known is the fact that aside from Spectral Lore he was a member of the melodic death metal act Divine Element. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2010 and at some point presumably disbanded. Now reformed with a condensed line-up of Ayloss on instruments and Antonis on vocals, their second album Thaurachs of Borsu (2017) has finally been unleashed. Prolific death metal drummer Hannes Grossmann (ex-Necrophagist, ex-Obscura, Alkaloid et al) has also been brought in as a guest musician for this release.

One thing that will be clear to anyone familiar with Ayloss' work with Spectral Lore is that this isn't one of those cases where a musician operates in multiple acts that are ultimately very similar in style, as there isn't all that much to do with black metal in Divine Element's music. Fans are sure to recognise the tasteful atmospheric guitar work of the Spectral Lore mastermind during some of the lighters parts, but on Thaurachs of Borsu they're mixed in with speedy and direct melodic death metal riffs. The difference in core genre also means that there are much more forceful growls from Antonis than those of Ayloss on Spectral Lore's albums. There's enough here in the music to recognise it as the work of the same musician, but it's also very much a different side to him. And that's great, since we already have one Spectral Lore.

The band's use of melody also provides a very slightly folksy sound to their music, notable in a track like Beyond This Sea. Their overall style is less catchy compared to the work of more mainstream melodic death metal acts like Arch Enemy or Scar Symmetry, but no less epic in its delivery. The production is polished and the riffs are punchy. An early standout is the title track, but there's little letting up beyond that point, Traitor's Last Stand at the other end of the album being another key track. The band do throw in a trio of shorter instrumentals that serve the roles of intro, interlude and outro as well though, meaning that if there's a disappointment to be had with Thaurachs of Borsu it's that there are only actually five fully developed melodic death metal tracks, leaving the total running time shy of the forty minute mark. The band haven't lost any of their creative energy by its conclusion, so another track or two would have been nice to pad it out into a more substantial slab of metal.

For the material that is here though to my ears it's melodic death metal done right. This is a genre that I often find stale and uninteresting, but Divine Element have been able to avoid the usual pitfalls with their creative writing and commanding vocals. While I am currently hoping for a new Spectral Lore album to be released I hope it's not another seven years since we get more Divine Element as well.

DISILLUSION Back to Times of Splendor

Album · 2004 · Melodic Death Metal
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voila_la_scorie
This is the only album I have by Disillusion (they only ever released two) but my opinion of it and the band it really high thanks to this release. This is a band that combines many of the elements I enjoy in heavy metal and progressive rock. We have longer songs with complex and varied song structure, fast technical playing, an excellent rhythm section with a great drummer, awesome riffs and a good variety between high speed playing and slower riffs with melodic riffs as well, and softer parts with piano or strings added in as a welcome mood changer but without sounding superfluous. In the two longer tracks, "Back to Times of Splendor" and "The Sleep of Restless Hours" there are parts that stray from the heavier death metal side and wander determined into more progressive territory. There are no flambouyant instrumental sections of blatant exhibitionism. Instrumental passages can be technical but used with a purpose within the song structure.

As has been mentioned in other reviews, the album does an excellent job of combining the technical side of prog metal with the brutal side of death metal. I listened to the album again for the first time in a year or so and once again found myself impressed with the skill and song writing. In particular, the guitar sound is a winner for me. The production quality is also great and only in two parts where the music intentionally becomes chaotic and noisy does the clarity of the sound disappear.

There is only one thing that doesn't totally impress me and that is the clean vocals of Andy Schmidt (Vurtox). There's nothing wrong with them and they affect a certain theatrical sense that suits the music very well. But they make me think of a hardcore punk singer who has decided to sing cleanly with a hint of an operetic tone. The two-part harmoney vocals reduce this effect and the brutal vocals are just fine as they are. Those clean vocals are the only thing that doesn't sit exactly right with me. A minor detail really.

That being stated, once again I will emphasize what a terrific album this is musically. I'm not sure where Disillusion went after this. I think I listened a bit to their sophomore album when I considered which album to get but at the time was more impressed with this one. An easy four and a half stars!

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.

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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