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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OMNIUM GATHERUM Beyond Album Cover Beyond
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melodic death metal Music Reviews

SOILWORK Figure Number Five

Album · 2003 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Figure Number Five" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish melodic death metal act Soilwork. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in April 2003. It´s the successor to "Natural Born Chaos" from 2002 and features the same six-piece lineup, who recorded the predecessor. "Figure Number Five" would be the last Soilwork to feature drummer Henry Ranta.

While "Figure Number Five" is still overall a melodic death metal album, Soilwork continue the increase of the use of keyboards and melody and they reach a new point of maturity of that sound on this album. Many of the themes and ideas of "Figure Number Five" were already tested on the two preceding studio albums, but the band have streamlined their songwriting and the accessibility of their material to a point where it´s sometimes difficult to know if you are listening to a death metal album or a melodic heavy metal release. Some tracks feature incredibly melodic vocal lines and choir work, while others like the title track are actually pretty hard edged death metal tracks. The start/stop riff style and some of the vocal phrasing points in a "core" direction, but it´s leanings and not dominant stylistic elements.

"Figure Number Five" features a clear, heavy, and detailed sound production, which suits the music well and the musicianship is on a high level too. Björn "Speed" Strid is a skilled vocalist with a varied repetoire of singing styles ranging from death metal growling, to aggressive raw vocals, to powerful and melodic clean vocals. It´s not a surprise that his vocal performance is strong on "Figure Number Five", but he definitely reaches a new level of excellence here, compared to the preceding releases by the band.

Not all tracks are equally remarkable but there are several standout tracks on the album and the remaining tracks aren´t of a bad quality or anything like that. "Figure Number Five" is both a stylistically and quality wise consistent release. The development of sound that was initiated on "A Predator's Portrait (2001)" with more keyboard, clean vocals, and focus on melody and further developed upon on "Natural Born Chaos (2002)", now feels like it has reached it´s natural conclusion. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER Deflorate

Album · 2009 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Deflorate" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Michigan based death metal act The Black Dahlia Murder. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in September 2009. It´s the successor to "Nocturnal" from 2007 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as guitarist John Kempainen has been replaced by Ryan Knight.

Stylistically "Deflorate" pretty much continues the melodic, highly energetic, and predominantly uptempo death metal style of "Nocturnal (2007)". The Black Dahlia Murder are a very consistent act both when it comes to musical style, but more importantly also when it comes to the quality of their output. And the quality is high here. To a point where my jaw drops several times during the playing time. Either because of the brilliance of the songwriting or because of the high level performances. Sure there are a song or two, which sound a bit too much alike, which is a slight issue on most of the band´s releases, but there are some pretty damn brilliant tracks here too and the band deserve a lot of praise for that.

"Deflorate" is not a particularly long album, featuring only 10 tracks and a total playing time of 34:01 minutes, but the relatively short playing time is spend effectively. The album opens with "Black Valor" and "Necropolis" and the stage is immediately set for a fast-paced, melodic, and at times quite brutal assault on the ears (featuring Trevor Strnad´s trademark high-pitched screaming alternating with his brutal growls). Although there are heavier parts on the album, The Black Dahlia Murder are a highly energetic act, and "Deflorate" features very few moments to catch your breath. One of those moments happens to be the highlight of the album though. The closing track "I Will Return" opens fairly heavy and melodic, and although it picks up pace along the way, it ends heavy and melodic again, and fades out with a soaring melodic lead (played by producer Jason Suecof). Absolutely brilliant and one of the most memorable tracks in the band´s career.

"Deflorate" features a powerful, raw, and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly. It´s small details which make it different from the sound on "Nocturnal (2007)", which also featured a strong sound production, but this one is just a notch better sounding. So upon conclusion The Black Dahlia Murder aren´t finished climbing the latter towards perfection and still better themselves from album to album. I´ve mentioned my minor issue with some tracks sounding a bit too much alike, but listened to individually even the least standout tracks on the album are of a high quality. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

BARREN EARTH Curse of the Red River

Album · 2010 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Curse of the Red River" is the debut full-length studio album by Finnish doom/death metal act Barren Earth. The album was released through Peaceville Records in March 2010. It´s the follow-up release to the "Our Twilight" EP from November 2009. Barren Earth was formed in 2007 by bassist by Olli-Pekka Laine (Amorphis). He had composed material which didn´t fit any of the other projects he was involved in and decided to form a band to record his material. Having been a member of Amorphis from 1990-2000, Laine had been an integral part of the Finnish metal scene and had many contacts within the scene, which made it possible for him to recruit seasoned musicians like guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö (Waltari, Kreator), lead vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun), guitarist Janne Perttilä (Põhjast, Rytmihäiriö, Moonsorrow), drummer Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow, October Falls), and keyboard player Kasper Mårtenson (Amorphis) for the project.

Other than a re-recording of "Our Twilight" from the 2009 EP, the remaining 8 tracks on "Curse of the Red River" are new compositions featuring Barren Earth´s take on progresssive doom/death. Imagine what it would sound like if mid-90s Amorphis and early- to mid-00s Opeth met and jammed (add to that a strong gothic metal-era Tiamat influence on the closing track "Deserted Morrows"). It´s heavy and doomy death metal alright, but it´s quite sophisticated and features both growling vocals and clean vocals. The omnipresent use of vintage keyboards like organ, mini-moog, and mellotron provide the material with a distinct touch of 70s progressive rock, but still within the context of the doom/death metal basis of the music. It´s one of the great assets of "Curse of the Red River", that Barren Earth are able to make the different elements of their music sound completely natural together. It´s overall a very melodic album, and the band excel in producing melancholic leads and harmonies. There´s also an occasional ethnic Scandinavian folk touch to some of the parts. It´s a flavor more than a dominant element though.

"Curse of the Red River" is a well produced album, featuring a heavy, detailed, and organic sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. It´s an album featuring high level musical performances, intriguing songwriting, and an audible enthusiasm for the project from all involved. "Our Twilight" (2009) was a great teaser, but the promise made on the EP is fulfilled on "Curse of the Red River". A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

DETHKLOK Dethalbum II

Album · 2009 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Dethalbum II" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US metal act Dethklok. The album was released through Williams Street Records in September 2009. It´s the successor to "The Dethalbum" from 2007 and continues the virtual band concept of the debut album (Dethklok is a band in the animated tv-series "Metalocalypse"). As the case was on the debut album Brendon Small performs all vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, voice-overs, and handles production. The drums on the album are played by prolific drummer Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory...etc.).

The debut album featured a melodic death metal style with strong traditional heavy metal ties, and that style is more or less continued on "Dethalbum II". The concept has been developed even further though, and occasional symphonic elements have been added to make "Dethalbum II" an even more intriguing and varied album than the debut. The material is catchy, powerful, and very well composed and arranged. There are some really impressive harmony work on display here, and the album is generally nicely melodic and occasionally symphonic. Power is not lost on the account of the material being melodic oriented, so it´s polished but not too polished. The same can be said about the sound production which is clear and detailed, but still powerful.

Everything is played with great skill and conviction and the effect laden growling vocals also work well within this context. I´m usually not a fan of growling vocals which are this obviously run through effects, but Dethklok manage to make it work because they are able to make the vocals an extra instrument by using highly rhythmic phrasing. So Small should definitely be mentioned as a brilliant musician and composer, but Hoglan of course as always also needs a special mention, because he is a drummer extraordinaire. His playing here is on a high technical level and while the drum sound is not exactly organic, he is able to put a human touch on something which could otherwise have had the potential to sound like programmed drums.

So upon conclusion "Dethalbum II" is a strong sophomore album by Dethklok and maybe even a little stronger than the high quality debut album. The songwriting is intriguing and Dethklok have a distinct sound, the performances are strong, and the sound production is professional and well sounding. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

SOILWORK Natural Born Chaos

Album · 2002 · Melodic Death Metal
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UMUR
"Natural Born Chaos" is the 4th full-length studio album by Swedish melodic death metal act Soilwork. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in March 2002. It´s the successor to "A Predator's Portrait" from 2001. There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as keyboard player Carlos Del Olmo Holmberg has left and has been replaced by Sven Karlsson. "Natural Born Chaos" was successful upon release, and Soilwork toured both Europe and the United States (their first US tour) in support of the album.

Stylistically the material on the album continue the melodic death metal style from "A Predator's Portrait (2001)", but in a more polished version and featuring some alternative metal nods. Soilwork have brought in Devin Townsend as producer and Fredrik Nordström as co-producer, and Townsend´s touch is unmistakable, as the keyboards have found a more prominent place in the mix, and the soundscape is often multi-layered, featuring Townsend´s trademark massive production approach. The tracks are a bit formulaic vers/chorus structured, and just a couple of structural surprises during the album´s playing time would have been nice, but it´s not a major issue, and the tracks are of course more easily accessible this way. Accessibility/catchiness are obviously features that Soilwork have opted to focus on, and one of the places where that is most audible is the increase in use of clean vocals and less extreme raw vocals.

"Natural Born Chaos" is not a "soft" heavy metal album by any means, but in the context of death metal, it´s certainly in the more melodic, accessible, and polished end of the spectrum. The tracks typically feature raw vocals in the verses and clean vocals in the choruses (often layered with harmonies and choirs), the guitar style is predominantly heavy start/stop type riffing and faster-paced death/thrash riffing, and the drums play heavy and occasionally faster-paced beats. And then there´s the omnipresent keyboards. The music is literally drenced in keyboards. If anyone felt that "A Predator's Portrait (2001)" was a bit too keyboard heavy, it´s nothing compared to how the keyboards are used on "Natural Born Chaos".

The musicianship is strong on all posts, and we´re treated to skillful rhythmic playing, blistering melodic guitar leads, and Björn "Speed" Strid strong voice and vocal delivery. His clean vocal style was introduced on "A Predator's Portrait (2001)", but the clean vocals weren´t present on all tracks, and Strid was still a bit restrained in his use of that vocal style, but on "Natural Born Chaos" he is all in on the use of clean vocals (in addition to his raw vocals) and his performance here is varied and intriguing.

Upon conclusion "Natural Born Chaos" is a strong release by Soilwork and it feels like a natural progression from "A Predator's Portrait (2001)". Personally I miss the more savage approach of the early releases and sometimes it all feels a bit too polished and keyboard heavy, but that´s purely a subjective opinion, and viewing the album a bit more objectively this is a high quality release and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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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