Melodic death metal

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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) 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]



Carcass, shown here performing at Gods of Metal festival in Bologna, Italy (2008), helped develop the melodic death metal genre with their 1993 album Heartwork.[3]

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 mid 1990s music releases (namely Slaughter of the Soul, The Jester Race, and The Gallery, respectively) 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] Death's 1995 album Symbolic is also considered to be influential in the development of the genre.[7] Ceremonial Oath and Eucharist also played melodic death metal in the very early 1990s; however, they never gained much attention outside of their own scene.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10] Additionally, other genres would begin using melodic death metal as an influence, including melodic metalcore[11] and melodic black/death.[12][13] 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.[14]

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,[12] melodic blackened death metal[12] and melodic black-death.[13] However, unlike most other black metal, this take on the genre would incorporate an increased sense of melody and narrative.[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.[11] 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.[11]

See also[]


  1. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b Bowar, Chad. "Carcass". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  4. ^ Sharpe-Young, Garry (2007). 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 27 October 2015.
  6. ^ McIver, Joel (15 December 2008). The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists. Jawbone Press. p. 122. ISBN 9781906002206.
  7. ^ "10 Best Songs by the Band Death". Loudwire. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2020. 'Symbolic" saw a massive shift towards melody and a bit of a departure from the death metal that most bands were playing at the time. Along with Carcass and At the Gates, Death helped pave the way for infectious melodies and hooks to enter the genre.
  8. ^ Ekeroth, Daniel. Swedish Death Metal.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Lawson, Dom. "The 10 essential melodeath albums". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Giffin, Brian (2015). Encyclopaedia of Australian Heavy Metal. Australia: DarkStar. ISBN 9780994320612.
  12. ^ a b c d ANDREW, J. "Blackened Melodic Death Metal: A History Lesson". Metal Injection. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b D, Chris. "Top 5 Dissection Clones". Decibel. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  14. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Glass Casket". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
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