Melodic Black Metal

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Melodic Black Metal is a sub-genre of black metal music. It features a higher focus on melodic guitar playing and sometimes keyboards than the more traditionally styled black metal acts do. They also tend to have more polished production values and a more direct style of songwriting focusing on riffs over atmosphere. Melodic black metal acts are also more likely to include some clean vocals in addition to growls in their music compared to more traditionally styled black metal acts. There is some crossover with symphonic black metal and artists that have produced releases in both styles, such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, are common.

Some of the most well known melodic black metal acts include Dissection, an early pioneer of the genre, along with Sacramentum. Windir, Kvist and Melechesh are also considered key melodic black metal acts.

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melodic black metal top albums

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UADA Devoid of Light Album Cover Devoid of Light
UADA
4.72 | 10 ratings
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WINTERHORDE Maestro Album Cover Maestro
WINTERHORDE
4.72 | 10 ratings
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DISSECTION Storm of the Light's Bane Album Cover Storm of the Light's Bane
DISSECTION
4.38 | 42 ratings
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WINTERHORDE Underwatermoon Album Cover Underwatermoon
WINTERHORDE
4.49 | 10 ratings
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MELECHESH Sphynx Album Cover Sphynx
MELECHESH
4.40 | 16 ratings
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ROTTING CHRIST The Heretics Album Cover The Heretics
ROTTING CHRIST
4.55 | 6 ratings
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WINDIR 1184 Album Cover 1184
WINDIR
4.44 | 9 ratings
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WINDIR Arntor Album Cover Arntor
WINDIR
4.38 | 15 ratings
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MELECHESH Enki Album Cover Enki
MELECHESH
4.35 | 17 ratings
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ASTARTE Quod Superius Sicut Inferius Album Cover Quod Superius Sicut Inferius
ASTARTE
4.54 | 5 ratings
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UADA Cult of a Dying Sun Album Cover Cult of a Dying Sun
UADA
4.38 | 9 ratings
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UADA Djinn Album Cover Djinn
UADA
4.50 | 5 ratings
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Wild North West
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Arkivet
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WORMWOOD
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melodic black metal Music Reviews

WORMWOOD Arkivet

Album · 2021 · Melodic Black Metal
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Time Signature
The loneliness...

Genre: melodic black metal

I think I've said this a couple of times before, but I am not really an expert in black metal. I acknowledge it as a genre of artistic expression, but I am not able to appreciate all its different subgenres as I lack insight into all the little details and conventions that a true aficionado has. However, every now and then, I happen across a black metal band or maybe just a black metal release that clicks with me.

Wormwood's "Arkivet" is one such release.

While it is rich in many of the tropes that make black metal what it is, such as tremolo-picking, harsh and screetchy vocals, and blastbeats galore, the album has another feature that hits it home with me: melody. That is not to say that I don't like the black metal figures that I just mentioned, because I do, and they work really well on this album. They work so well because they are not just juxtaposed with the melodic elements; the harsh intensity and the melody are intertwined in an unholy union of melancholy.

The melodic element consists in guitar melodies, which are often but not always tremolo-picked, along with the chord progressions themselves. Adding a slightly epic feel are atmospheric keyboards, and in a track like "Ensamheten" there is even some traditional Scandinavian folk instrumentation. In addition, there is the occasional breakdown into mellow clean-guitared sections.

"Ensamheten" is Swedish for "the loneliness", and, if there is one emotion that captures the atmosphere on this album, it's gotta be loneliness. There is a pervasive sense of melancholy on this album, and I guess that, with covid and lock-downs and all that, this sense of loneliness and desparation makes this album even more relevant. I'd say that we are not dealing with the typical type of self-pitying attitude that characterizes much melancholic black metal. This is bigger than that. This is about humanity itself. No, seriously, it is; just check out the lyrics. While personal suffering is tragic, the suffering of humanity does raise the stakes just a bit.

I think the songwriting is really good as is the musicianship. We are dealing with a band of musicians who are not afraid of letting melodic sensibilities not just shine through but be the fundament of a black metal release. We are even treated to some pretty good almost rock-like guitar solos every now and then which go well together with the melancholic in-built harmonies that characterize the entire album. The compositions are dynamic with changes and shifts where necessary and lack thereof where necessary. This means that there is a nice blend of black metal hypnoticity and interesting dynamicity.

Not surprisingly, I think this is a great black metal album. It immediately made it into my top ten of black metal albums (for what it's worth, of course, seeing that I'm not a trve kvlt gvy). Fans of melodic, melancholic, folky, and maybe even epic and symphonic black metal should find this a very intriguing listen. It is also likely to appeal tp people who are looking for a gateway into black metal.

VARATHRON Glorification Under The Latin Moon

Live album · 2020 · Melodic Black Metal
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Kev Rowland
Co-founded in 1988 by Stefan Necroabyssious, the band's vocalist and sole original member, Greek black metal band Varathron has been on a steady release schedule since 2004's ‘Crowsreign’, but for some reason have never put out a live album until now. Recorded on August 4th , 2019 in São Paulo during the final show of their "30 Years Of Darkness Tour", the setlist includes songs from throughout their career, including the entirety of the 1993 album ‘His Majesty At The Swamp’, to more recent songs, taken from 2018’s ‘Patriarchs Of Evil’. Alongside Rotting Christ and Necromantia, Varathron are seen as one of the founding fathers of the Hellenic Black Metal scene, and with 30 years already behind them there is no sign whatsoever of them mellowing out just yet.

This is classic black metal, and they utilise backing tracks with vocals and the odd keyboards to provide additional emotion and atmosphere, and if one were to remove that and the vocal style, one would possibly describe the music as being quite different as it is highly complex, technical and (dare I say it) melodic. This shows just how easy it is for genres to become confused as there are plenty of people who will say they do not like black metal who could very easily get into this album which crosses over many different styles from tech into power. They know how to use dynamics, and switch styles throughout so there is a great deal of contrast, which means that all aspects of their music come across with real power. Black metal live albums can somewhat suffer through lack of depth, as it loses some of that intensity, and while that is also the case here that can be somewhat mitigated by just turning it up. Yet another really solid release from the Greeks.

V:28 VioLution

Album · 2007 · Melodic Black Metal
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UMUR
"VioLution" is the 3rd full-lengh studio album by Norwegian black/death metal act V:28. The album was released through Vendlus Records in September 2007. It´s the successor to "SoulSaviour" from 2005 and features the same lineup as the predecessor: Kristoffer Oustad (guitars, programming), Eddie Risdal (rhythm guitars, vocals), and Atle Johansen (bass).

Stylistically the band continues the industrial tinged black/death metal style of the first two albums. They´ve grown as composers though and "VioLution" is generally more varied and more adventurous than the preceding releases. The atmosphere is pitch black and the lyrics laden with post-war/apocalyptic nightmare visions. The tracks are predominantly slow-to mid-paced, but there are faster parts featured on the album too. In addition to guitars and bass, the music features programmed drums and atmospheric synth effects/samples. The vocals are mostly raspy black metal style vocals, but there are clean vocals on "The Absolute", performed by Ulver´s Kristoffer Rygg. The clean vocals add more of a melancholic/depressive atmosphere to the music than a sense of "light at the end of the tunnel" (which clean vocals sometime add to extreme music). So this is overall very bleak music.

The material is well performed and the album is well produced too, and the band succeed in bringing an atmosphere of impending doom to the listener. There is great conviction behind the delivery and the programmed drums work well within the band´s sound. So upon conclusion "VioLution" is a high quality release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

DISSECTION Storm of the Light's Bane

Album · 1995 · Melodic Black Metal
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UMUR
"Storm of the Light's Bane" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Swedish black/death metal act Dissection. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in November 1995. There´s been one lineup change since the release of "The Somberlain (1993)" as guitarist John Zwetsloot has been replaced by Johan Norman. Dissection was formed in 1989 and in their original run existed until 1997, when they had to disband as a consequence of lead vocalist/guitarist Jon Nödtveidt having to serve his prison sentence for being convicted as an accessory to murder.

Stylistically the music on "Storm of the Light's Bane" continues the blackened death metal style of "The Somberlain (1993)", but it leans a bit more on the black metal side of the band´s sound than was the case on the predecessor. It´s still a very melodic type of black/death metal with heavy use of guitar harmonies (and the occasional acoustic section and use of folk melodies). There are a few thrashy riffs featured on the album too, but the dominant style is melodic black metal. The vocals are raspy black metal type vocals.

Dissection masterfully create a cold yet epic atmosphere and paired with their considerable playing skills, it´s not hard to understand why so many people hold "Storm of the Light's Bane" in such high regard. It´s one of those albums where they hit the right balance between rawness and melody, which means they don´t go overboard with any of them but instead the listener is treated to both very melodic and very harsh parts, which combined creates the high quality material featured on the album.

It doesn´t make things worse that the album also features a clear, professional, yet raw sounding production, which does the music a lot of justice and helps make it shine. So upon conclusion "Storm of the Light's Bane" is a high quality release and while "The Somberlain (1993)" was certainly a great debut album, I think this sophomore release is just a notch more focused and the songwriting a bit more memorable. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

UADA Djinn

Album · 2020 · Melodic Black Metal
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TheHeavyMetalCat
Uada's third and at the time of posting most recent album Djinn was released in 2020 and like the previous album Cult of a Dying Sun before it shows the band trying to grow as musicians, resulting in an album that, while still belonging to the melodic black metal genre (with atmospheric elements) fells less like a more of a same record than Cult of a Dying Sun did to their debut album Devoid of Light. The band still clearly likes to write long songs though and across Djinn's six tracks we have received the longest Uada numbers to date with two being closer to the fourteen minute barrier than not. One of these, No Place Here, especially stands out at once as being among Uada's best work and overall it's another excellent release from the US group that for me marks a very slight step up from Cult of a Dying Sun but not enough to top their debut.

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