Melodic death metal

Melodic death metal (also referred to as melodeath) is a subgenre of death metal that employs highly melodic guitar riffs, often borrowing from traditional heavy metal. The style originated and developed in Sweden (pioneered by At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames) and the United Kingdom (pioneered by Carcass) around 1993. The Swedish death metal scene did much to popularise the style, soon centering in the "Gothenburg metal" scene.

Musical characteristics

The genre combines aspects of traditional heavy metal ranging as far as the new wave of British heavy metal, in particular fast riffing and harmonic guitar lines, with the heavily distorted guitars, fast double-bass drum patterns and occasional blast beats of death metal.[1][2] The vocal style typically combines harsh screaming and growling with melodic singing, with some artists emphasizing one of these techniques over the rest.[1] Melodic death metal drum patterns are often built around the "skank beat", similar to thrash metal.



Much of the origin and popularity of melodic death metal can be attributed to the bands At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity, whose early 1990s music releases defined the genre and laid the foundation for the Gothenburg metal scene.[1] Writer Gary Sharpe-Young considered the Gothenburg scene the commercial salvation of death metal: "Gothenburg became the new Tampa and the genre received a new lease on life."[4] The titular melodic elements can be traced to traditional Scandinavian musical motifs. Another pioneer was the English band Carcass, which performed grindcore on its first two releases but morphed into death metal and an increasingly melodic style on the Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious (1991) and Heartwork (1993).[3][5][6] Ceremonial Oath and Eucharist also played melodic death metal in the very early 1990s, however never gained much attentioned outside of their own scene.[7]

Late 1990s and expansion

Since the late 1990s, melodic death metal bands have added more melodic choruses and riffs and have used keyboards more prominently than other death metal bands; their lyrics, unlike those of death metal, did not focus on death, violence, gore, horror, or blood, for the most part.[8] However, bands prominent in the genre such as The Black Dahlia Murder have been described as maintaining the intensity of regular death metal, while incorporating elements from other extreme metal bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir.[9] Additionally, other genres would begin using melodic death metal as an influence, including melodic metalcore[10] and melodic black/death.[11][12] Stewart Mason claims that melodic metalcore has become very popular in the United States, using the term "Swedecore" to describe Scandinavian-style metal as played by non-Nordic bands.[13]

Influence on other genres

Many melodic death metal bands began being inspired by black metal and European romanticism. This style has been referred to as blackened melodic death metal,[11] melodic blackened death metal[11] and melodic black-death.[12] However, unlike most other black metal, this take on the genre would incorporate an increased sense of melody and narrative.[11] Some bands who have played this style include Dissection,[11][12][14] Sacramentum,[11][12] Naglfar,[11] Dawn,[11] Unanimated,[11] Thulcandra[12][11] and Cardinal Sin.[12]

Melodic metalcore is a fusion genre, incorporating elements of metalcore and melodic death metal, with a heavy emphasis on melodic instrumentation, blast beats, metalcore-stylized breakdowns and clean singing.[10] These bands often take influence from the guitar riffs and writing styles of Swedish melodic death metal bands, especially At the Gates, In Flames, Arch Enemy and Soilwork.[10] Melodic metalcore bands include Poison the Well,[15] 7 Angels 7 Plagues,[16] Darkest Hour,[17] Killswitch Engage,[18] As I Lay Dying,[19] Bury Tomorrow[20][21][22][23] and I Killed the Prom Queen.[24]

See also


  1. Bowar, Chad. "What Is Melodic Death Metal?". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  2. Purcell, N. Death Metal music: the passion and politics of a subculture, at 9, McFarland, 2003 (retrieved 3 June 2011)
  3. Bowar, Chad. "Carcass". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2011-02-27.
  4. Sharpe-Young, Garry. Metal: The Definitive Guide. Jawbone Press. p. 162. ISBN 9781906002015.
  5. "Can You Feel The Forceps: Carcass, Surgical Steel And Heartwork Revisited". The Quietus. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  6. McIver, Joel. The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists. Jawbone Press. p. 122. ISBN 9781906002206.
  7. Ekeroth, Daniel. Swedish Death Metal.
  8. Metal Hammer February 2008: "Lyrically we were different too ... People were surprised that we were a death metal band that wasn't singing about blood, gore and horror movies" It was during this time (___) broke onto the scene, transforming the style.
  9. Lawson, Dom. "The 10 essential melodeath albums". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  10. Giffin, Brian (2015). Encyclopaedia of Australian Heavy Metal. Australia: DarkStar. ISBN 9780994320612.
  11. ANDREW, J. "Blackened Melodic Death Metal: A History Lesson". Metal Injection. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  12. D, Chris. "Top 5 Dissection Clones". Decibel. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  13. Mason, Stewart. "Glass Casket". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  14. Ekeroth, Daniel. Swedish Death Metal. p. 267.
  15. Delia, Anthony (7 July 2003). "CMJ Magazine" (821). CMJ. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  16. Deneau, Max. "7 Angels 7 Plagues Bucketworks, Milwaukee WI - December 17, 2006".
  17. Zorgdrager, Bradley. "Darkest Hour Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora". Exclaim!. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  18. Hutcherson, Ben; Haenfler, Ross (2010). "Music Genre as a Gendered Process: Authenticity in Extreme Metal". In Norman K. Denzin; Christopher J. Schneider; Robert Owen Gardner; John Bryce Merrill; Dong Han (eds.). Studies in Symbolic Interaction. Emerald Group Publishing. pp. 103–104. ISBN 9780857243614.
  19. "As I Lay Dying: 'Awakened' – CD Review | Review". FEARnet. September 27, 2012. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  20. "Reading / Leeds Festival 2013 Review: Friday - Biffy Clyro, Nine Inch Nails, Fall Out Boy And More!". Rock Sound. (Freeway Press). 23 August 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  21. Phil Freeman (16 March 2010). "Alternative Press | Reviews | Bury Tomorrow - Portraits". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  22. Bird, Ryan (October 2011). "Class Of 2012, Bury Tomorrow". Rock Sound. No. 157. London: Freeway Press. p. 51. ISSN 1465-0185. In terms of melodic metalcore, you'll be pressed to find a band destined for greater things in the year ahead than Hampshire mob Bury Tomorrow.
  23. Candice Haridimou (30 July 2012). "Review: Bury Tomorrow – The Union Of Crowns Album". Alt Sounds. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2012. Tagged as multiple genres including the spot-on ‘melodic metalcore’
  24. Heaney, Gregory. "Beloved". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
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