The Best Melodeath / Extreme Power / Gothenburg Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016




Proponent For Sentience is easily the most ambitious project Allegaeon has yet undertaken, spanning well over an hour and replete with the highest levels of instrumental wizardry. This album is a potent brew of jaw-dropping tech death spotted with surprisingly musical variations, but there are also a great deal of subtleties and flourishes that make the album even greater. Proponent For Sentience already has some of the best melodeath songwriting you've ever heard, but when paired with brief interludes of throat singing, orchestral swells, Latin-flavored acoustic shredding, and all kinds of other diversions, the album gains layers that make it magnificent. That last sentence almost seems like a joke, but Allegaeon is absolutely no laughing matter.

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After two decades of unstoppable success, Amon Amarth has become synonymous with both melodeath and Vikings. That's a position of notoriety anyone would love to find themselves in, but Amon Amarth isn't content to stop trying; the band took a risk and introduced Jomsviking, a concept album, and one that incorporates some new stylistic approaches. Follow the titular Jomsviking in his journey into manhood, through bloodshed, through despair, through love, and eventually into death while the mighty Amon Amarth thunders volcanically through song after song. This album may not sound entirely like the others, but "At Dawn's First Light" and "One Thousand Burning Arrows" are instant classics, and the earth-shattering "Back On Northern Shores" might just be the best finisher Amon Amarth has ever had.

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Vessels is an album saturated with profundity - soul-stirring tones, reverberating percussive intensity, richly textured vocals, slick keyboards, and, of course, transcendent songs to weave all those elements together. Even through the most explosive passages, Be'lakor maintains a warm, inviting atmosphere and fusillades of intricate guitar melodies that... of course, by this point, nobody is even reading this anymore. Come on. It's Be'lakor. We know you've already voted for them.

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Easily the best Dark Tranquillity album in recent years, the Swedes proved with utmost ease on Atoma why they are the true masters of melodeath. Heavy riffs, catchy choruses, gripping melodies, synth flourishes, and those emotionally-charged vocals... Each of the twelve songs on Atoma has it all and shows to the world how that Göteborg sound is done. Cherry on the cake, the two bonus tracks are awesome and show another new twist. Already a classic!

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Over four albums, In Mourning have morphed their sound with every new release, always trying to fine-tune it and tap new musical horizons. Afterglow successfully takes them to a new galaxy in that discovery, and while it's still familiar, filled with deep melodies ("The Call To Orion") and sudden impossible-not-to-headbang moments ("Below Rise To The Above"), it's also reaching out for something more transcendent. In Mourning rise above.

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Winter's Gate is one massive, continuous song, an epic voyage that is yet only a snippet of time in the illustrious career of Insomnium. This song/album journeys through all the realms of melodeath, traversing stormy seas of jagged riffing and growling, starlit tundras of solos and keyboard flourishes, and barren plains of quiet, contemplative interludes. There's something about a one-song album that suggests a monolithic statement, a tremendous impact, an unusually clear moment of inspired artistry; certainly there has been more hype surrounding Winter's Gate than is requisite even for an Insomnium album, and if you, fated listener, embark on this journey, you will discover why.
Grey Heavens leans heavily on the "melodic" side of melodic death metal. Even the boldest riffs retain some mediating undercurrent, whether an ethereal guitar lead, a mild and clean chorus, or the wide arrays of warm, entrancing keyboards that flow over so much of Grey Heavens. Omnium Gatherum prizes ingenuity, not force; Grey Heavens can buckle down and grind when it wants to, but more often than not, it chooses to follow whims of melody rather than scrape along the guttural underbelly of melodeath. If you're looking for beautiful, melancholy melodeath, Omnium Gatherum should be your first stop.

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Having only formed in 2013, Sweden's Orbit Culture have had a very productive start to their short career, as Rasen represents the band's third release in as many years, following on from their debut EP & full-length released in 2013 & 2014, respectively. Now while Swedish melodic death metal is an over-saturated genre, Orbit Culture do a great job of standing out from their peers by using their influences as a basis to create something that sounds refined, fresh & modern rather than just emulating the melodeath bands of yesteryear. Full of hard grooves & catchy melodies, Rasen has plenty to offer for fans of the genre.

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A fair number of nominees in this category are most concerned with building atmosphere, but Pave The Path is all about kinetic intensity. With all kinds of ferocious snarling and blazing lead guitar work leaving marks all over these six tracks, Pave The Path is clearly out for blood and ready to prove itself in a scene filled with big names and tough players. Evoking strains of doom and extreme power amidst the onslaught, Order Of The Saviour is a raw, visceral album bristling with the combination of musicality and destructiveness that the best melodeath bands have mastered.

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Whispered composes songs like an extreme power metal band, plays those songs like a death metal band, and then scribbles all over those songs like an enka ensemble. Metsutan - Songs Of The Void mixes that particular type of extreme power that only Finns can play with various synthesized effects set to mimic Japanese folk instrumentation in order to create a very interesting and uniquely epic sound. These Rising Suns of Northern Darkness have twice before crusaded to acclaim, and Metsutan is their most triumphant endeavor to date. If songs like "Victory Grounds Nothing," "Sakura Omen," and "Tsukiakari" don't make you want to slay Titans, drill through the heavens, and do other shōnen-y things, then you probably have some important life lessons you still have to learn.

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Write-in votes

Aborted - Retrogore
An Abstract Illusion - Illuminate The Path
Brymir - Slayer Of Gods
Countless Skies - New Dawn
Dark Lunacy - The Rain After the Snow
Death Grips - Botomless Pit
Fleshgod Apocalypse - King
Heaven Shall Burn - Wanderer
Hyperion - Seraphical Euphony
In flames - Battles
Marionette - Propaganda
Meadows End - Sojourn
Sarcasm - Burial Dimensions
Solution .45 - Nightmares In The Waking State - Part II