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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WINTERHORDE Maestro Album Cover Maestro
WINTERHORDE
4.71 | 11 ratings
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UADA Devoid of Light Album Cover Devoid of Light
UADA
4.54 | 11 ratings
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ROTTING CHRIST The Heretics Album Cover The Heretics
ROTTING CHRIST
4.55 | 7 ratings
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MELECHESH Sphynx Album Cover Sphynx
MELECHESH
4.40 | 16 ratings
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WINDIR 1184 Album Cover 1184
WINDIR
4.44 | 9 ratings
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MELECHESH Enki Album Cover Enki
MELECHESH
4.35 | 17 ratings
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DISSECTION Storm of the Light's Bane Album Cover Storm of the Light's Bane
DISSECTION
4.28 | 50 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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WINTERHORDE Underwatermoon Album Cover Underwatermoon
WINTERHORDE
4.36 | 11 ratings
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KVIST For kunsten maa vi evig vike Album Cover For kunsten maa vi evig vike
KVIST
4.31 | 17 ratings
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UADA Djinn Album Cover Djinn
UADA
4.45 | 6 ratings
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SEAR BLISS Glory and Perdition Album Cover Glory and Perdition
SEAR BLISS
4.38 | 8 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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melodic black metal Music Reviews

DAWN Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)

Album · 1998 · Melodic Black Metal
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SilentScream213
Probably the purest Melodic Black Metal album ever recorded. Every song is nonstop melodic tremolo riffing over unrelentingly blast beats. Despite the incredible quality of this album, it has almost no experimentation, no outside influences, and very little variety. But that makes it such an iconic triumph of the genre. Anyone want to hear the best and purest example of Meloblack, you slap this baby on.

Right from the album art, there is a certain beauty to this. That perfect shot of a dark sunset encapsulates the catchy, poignant lead guitar melodies that dominate the otherwise morose and oppressive atmosphere. One after another, songs lay down memorable riffs, and the whole thing is filled with great lyrics as well. The near-constant blast beating does get to be a bit much at times, but the drumming performance is so great I can’t really complain.

Two songs definitely steal the show a bit, those being the opener and closer. Both have some of the best lead guitar riffs of all time, and a wonderfully somber atmosphere that is dually triumphant and powerful. Perfect way to open and close the album. This one is a shining star.

WINTERHORDE Neptunian

Album · 2023 · Melodic Black Metal
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adg211288
It's a rare album review where I can still remember certain comments I made about it years after the fact, but that's the case for me with the previous album of Israel's Winterhorde, Maestro (2016). I remember the spiel of excitement I formed my review's introduction around, talking about how getting certain albums in my inbox from labels or promoters would lead to that album being given absolute priority to. Maestro was one such album and naturally Neptunian (2023), generated the same excitement. Make no mistake about Winterhorde: these guys are damn good. I also remember how I ended that review though, lamenting how it had been six years since Underwatermoon (2010) and hoping that it wouldn't take another six years before we heard a follow-up. Turns out it's taken seven. I guess some bands just aren't going to be as productive as others and as they have been releasing albums of such a high standard, it was okay.

It was okay...until Neptunian.

As I listened to the album for the first time, I felt my excitement gradually fading, replaced by shock, confusion and horror. What had happened to the band that made those amazing earlier albums? What had made them deliver THIS as their long awaited fourth studio album?

(Sighs deeply, trying to regain composure)

Okay, so Neptunian isn't a bad sounding release per se. But it's an extremely underwhelming one that seems to contain none of the kind of special character I've come to expect from Winterhorde's compositions that made particularly the Underwatermoon and Maestro albums such a joy to listen to. The progressive flair that defined those albums seemed watered down to the point of being swallowed by the ocean's tides, leaving a melodic/symphonic black metal album behind that, while far from terrible, just isn't that exciting to listen to.

If this album were from a new band releasing their debut and I heard it they might pass me by with a few lukewarm comments about potential, but this is a new album from Winterhorde. They're a band which had previously figuratively put my jaw firmly on the floor with their progressive take on melodic black metal. Twice. The expectations for such a band are higher, as is the standard I hold them to, which also makes the disappointment in this case so much worse. Coupled with the waiting time factor of seven years, this makes Neptunian one of those things that does not seem worth it no matter what angle I try to look at it from.

And my word I hate saying that about this band, I really do. I bloody love these guys. I meant what I said in my opener to this review that they are damn good. I own all three of their prior albums and while I don't give as much playtime to their debut Nebula (2006), both Underwatermoon and Maestro get spun regularly. Unfortunately Neptunian just doesn't hold a candle to them, despite repeated spins in hope that it's one of those albums that may not wow at first but improves with familiarity.

Sadly it was not.

DISSECTION Storm of the Light's Bane

Album · 1995 · Melodic Black Metal
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SilentScream213
The legendary Storm of the Light’s Bane is considered perhaps the greatest Meloblack album ever put to record, and for good reason. Every track is chock full of dark and icy riffs, thanks in part to its heavy Melodeath influence. You see that beautiful cover art with the reaper on horseback amongst a nocturnal tundra mountain scape? Yeah, this album just sounds like that. The beauty of cold, night, and death are all emanating from the electrifying songwriting here.

Black Metal tends to be a bit one note, and Meloblack is a much more purposeful aversion of that, but even among Meloblack, Dissection give us progressive, complicated, ever changing songwriting with weaves and turns up and down the mountains and through the evergreens. Even some acoustic passages give reprieve from that arctic assault. The vocals are fantastic, quite intelligible and death-touched shrieks. Drumming is lightning quick, but flows like a stream, full of smooth transitions and interesting fills, liberal use of double bass, a perfect mix of interesting and challenging. I need not go on about the guitars; awe-inspiring.

Dissection seem to love sandwiching their masterpiece compositions between useless intros and outros, so unfortunately bookending the album with the weakest and most boring tracks damages its listenability. Other than that, no flaws.

AXAMENTA Codex Barathri

Album · 2001 · Melodic Black Metal
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UMUR
"Codex Barathri" is the debut full-length studio album by Belgian melodic/Symphonic black metal act Axamenta. The album was released through The Last Shivering Planet Company in July 2001. Axamenta formed in 1993 and released a couple of demos in the 90s and the 1999 "Nox Draconis Argenti" EP, before being signed for the release of "Codex Barathri".

Stylistically the material on the album is a melodic and often symphonic type of black metal, featuring both snarling aggressive black metal vocals, the occasional death metal growl, and also some speaking vocals. The riffs are often closer to melodic death metal (and even thrash metal riffing at times) than to black metal riffing, and there is an occasional neo-classical touch to the music. The keyboards provide the symphonic edge.

While the music is relatively well written and performed, the sound production leaves a bit to be desired. It´s on the thin side and lacks bottom. Axamenta have not chosen a particularly innovative approach to their songwriting, and there´s not much here you haven´t heard before (and often better), but upon conclusion it´s a decent quality melodic/symphonic black metal release, and a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

VÉHÉMENCE Ordalies

Album · 2022 · Melodic Black Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Just when you think the world of black metal has spread its ugly tentacles far and wide and impregnated every possible musical genre outside of its evil clutches, a new band will come along and prove you wrong and make like Ghengis Khan to conquer every possible nook and cranny of the free world. Well in the case of the Paris based VÉHÉMENCE it might be better to say Napoleon but whatever the case this blackened folk metal duo of Tulzcha (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums, synthesizer) and B.R. (vocals, lyricist) has come along and haunted the history books with its evil as fuck black metal anguish.

Formed back in 2013 VÉHÉMENCE started as a run of the mill melodic black metal band with medieval themes but after a few years of raiding the annals of time, the band returned in 2019 with “Par Le Sang Versé” which showcased a twisted fusion of medieval folk metal with all the ugliness of the black metal universe. The duo returns in 2022 with its third assault to the ears in the form of ORDALIES which finds Tulzcha dropping his drumming duties and T. Leitner joining the team to use and abuse this percussive play toys like a rabid knight in zombie mode lost in Middle Earth. Add to that a bunch of guest musicians who provide all the neo-folk goodies like a cello, flutes, a nyckelharpa and the wickedly cool sounding hurdy-gurdy.

While the folk metal shtick can be a little cheesy when taken to extremes, VÉHÉMENCE has developed a unique sound that sounds part Ensiferum, part viking metal Bathory, part Immortal and part, well unadulterated neo-medieval folk in all its acoustic majesty. ORDALIES (French for “ordeals”) is a lengthy beast swallowing up nearly an hour’s run of your precious life-force but once you run the gauntlet of ferocious rampaging black metal to the pacifying folk interludes. The folk parts appear as the shorter tracks carefully tucked in between the sprawling monstrous black metal assaults that maintain a perfect balance between the metal fury and melodic folk musical scales. Black metal wise expect the usual blastbeat driven speedfests, tremolo guitar picking with the standard evil as fuck distortion as well as raspy screamed vocals.

As far as the folk side of the equation is concerned, VÉHÉMENCE dishes out beautiful acoustically fueled medieval melodies with clean vocals and choirs as well as an atmospheric presence that makes you feel like Game of Thrones is about ready to begin. While many bands with such musical visions merely tradeoff stylistic approaches without ever really integrating the two, VÉHÉMENCE does a stellar job of not only crafting the authentic purity of each style but also by perfecting the perfect hybrid effect thus making this band one of the best black medieval folk metal bands i’ve yet encountered. Through the course of the band’s eight excellent tracks the style is perfectly integrated and all laid out so well that everything just comes together. When these two styles are unified it sounds like a viking metal tribute to Bathory.

Medieval and epic as fuck, VÉHÉMENCE delivers the goods in abundance on ORDALIES with the ferocity of the most vicious of black metal bands in the vein of Mayhem, Immortal or Taake in perfect wedlock with the melodic exaltedness of centuries old musical forms. Sounds like the perfect time heist and even though this album is an hour’s playing time, it rarely gets stale but there are a few moments where the repetition of riffs carry on a wee too long. VÉHÉMENCE has shown considerable maturation since its rather decent but nothing to blow you away debut and continues to ratchet up its presence in the relevance factor. True that medieval folk music and extreme black metal don’t sound like good bed fellows but one tiny listen to ORDALIES and you’ll surely be hooked. At least i am. Anachronistic futurism in the finest of forms.

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