Death Metal, Melodic


Written by: ylside
Published: 03.08.2005


1-Brief presentation and examples of Melodic Death Metal
2-Difference between The "Gothenburg" sound and Melodic Death metal
3-The difference between extreme power metal and Melodic Death Metal

First of all this is my point of view and it appears that a lot of people don't agree with me. I mainly give examples of bands and songs, for I am not very good with very long theory description. Metal is music before it is words. You'll understand easily if you check the bands I am talking about.
And don't forget that these are just labels, and most of the time they are worth nothing. Because after all, who cares about labels? Metal is a music before it is a huge amount of classifications.


1-Brief presentation and examples of Melodic Death Metal

Let's begin with the word: Melodic Death Metal, it means Death Metal with a more pronounced sense of melody. That's all.
My entire article is based upon this and nothing more.
And the word "Melodic" doesn't always mean cheesy.

From this you can get that: Melodic Death Metal is no more or less than Death Metal with more complex/melodic song structure (rarely even adding keyboards) than the usual Death Metal sound. And I mean the usual sound that bands like Possessed, CC or Vader have. You can clearly notice the "primitive" (but yet good) composing with bands like Vader (Litany). This is just to give a base. It is fast tremolo picking and palm muted power-chords in general, nothing really mind blowing or astonishing in it.


Well, first of all.Europe was more productive than North America when it comes to cunning melodies.Even if it's very roots varies from both continents.
Most of the sources claim that At the Gates began the Melodic Death Metal wave. Actually this is debatable because at the same time other bands were doing practically the same but weren't as acknowledged as At the Gates was.
What I will try to do now is a little listing of it's first pioneers, pretty hard to decide which band beginned this whole mess actually.I've been digging it down to 1990-1991 at the moment.

It's 1990,an album called "Sumerian Cry" had just been released.Death metal, with a slight melodic approache.It is like the beginning of Tiamat's transformation that will lead to their "The Astral Sleep" one year later. Both albums are quite melodic for a normal Death Metal release, but especially the 1991 release.They really kept creating wonderfully melodic riffs without leaving their brutal origins through both those albums. Something very interesting to check.
And then comes 'The Key' by Nocturnus, keyboards use and exaggerated atmosphere have been added to stout and powerful growls and guitars original usual death metal tend to create, mind blowing. Something quite unbelievable for Death Metal in that time, adding keyboards that is. The combo Synth/Guitar build up the whole melodic surroundings. A must.

The masterpiece "The Karelian Isthmus" (1992) by Amorphis is exactly showing this very sublte sound of Death Metal.Sometimes this album can just pass as a normal Death Metal album. And this is the specific part of Melodic Death Metal I want to attract your attention to, that some Melodic Death Metal bands can pass for Death Metal.

Still in 1992, albums like "The red in the sky is ours" by At the Gates got out as well and for most people this is the principal pillar of Melodic Death Metal. More aggressive than "The Karelian Isthmus" but keeps ounces of bright compositions (songs like "Within", "Windows", "Claws Of Laughter Dead" are good example to base on) Very clever use of melody making this album either super-aggressive or sad and slow by moments. At the Gates did obviously play a big role in making Melodic Death Metal quite famous. (or even notorious, due to some confusions with mDM bands later on)

The major thing for me is that bands just compose their material in a wide-ranged view of what melodies are. For they can bring a more odd/strange feeling to songs than the usual fast palm muted power chords as most think, for example by emphasizing harmony, chromatism, or octave changing and various exotic scales or simply by being melodic without exageration.

But Melodic Death Metal is not dead.
Later on, bands like Amon Amarth, Hypocrisy, Garden of Shadow, Carcariass, Necrophobic, Desultory, Unanimated, Edge of Sanity (just listen to their masterpiece Crimson I) and Arghoslent clearly affirmed their position as a Melodic Death Metal bands.
These bands mainly added a lot more aggressive vocals and sharp guitar riffs to their sound, pushing Melodic Death Metal a little bit further.

You may find this outrageous I guess but actually, even Death's "The sound of perseverance" and "Symbolic" can both easily enter in the Melodic death metal field for me: an intelligent use of the usual fast tremolo picking/catchy palm muting riffs as Death Metal classics do added to a clever and very melodic scale soloing as Chuck uses mostly all the time.

The "modern" sound :

Arghoslent:
Racism, pronounced sence of narrow mindedness and fake-nationalism is perhaps the counter balance to the powerful and melodic sound Arghoslent have. They succeeded in having a very nice mix without ignoring their Death Metal roots (i.e. agressivity) , thus not falling into cheesiness some other bands failed to escape, very smart.This is what makes them a strong actual Melodic Death Metal band. To follow.

Amon Amarth :
Amon Amarth is perhaps THE example of pure and actual Melodic Death metal WITHOUT any external influence in their musicality, downtuned and strong melodic guitar riffs holds it all. "VS the world" may be an interesting recommendation


2-The difference between The "Gothenburg" sound and Melodic Death Metal

As you might know, Gothenburg is the cradle of a lot of talented Swedish metal bands, most people just put it as Melodic Death Metal but it is breaking the rule I put before "Melodic Death Metal means Death Metal with a more pronounced sense of melody".
Gothenburg metal, or Metal Melting-pot so to speak, is perhaps from metal genres that include lots of other genres in it, especially Heavy Metal (or should I say especially Iron Maiden) and Thrash Metal.

The most obvious case (but yet excellent and very creative) is In Flames: their heavy/thrash riffs (double guitar system) or "harmonised guitar", main song feeling, drums, aka Clayman or Colony mainly , are too obvious and have nothing to do with Death Metal riffs.

Same for Ceremonial Oath and Dimension Zero: the same musicians were at least once in those 3 bands.So it's kinda the same influence, with Ceremonial Oath being more aggressive somehow.

I didn't forget Dark Tranquillity, but their case is hard to describe, for they sometimes really get aggressive (A Moonclad Reflection (1992)) and so can be labelled as Melodic Death Metal, but this was their first EP and they slightly changed paths nowadays. So they remain in the Gothenburg field to me.

3-The difference between extreme power metal and Melodic Death Metal

Okay, to me this is one of the biggest errors I've heard concerning metal classifications.
And this error comes from the vocals. Growling/shrieking doesn't mean directly Death Metal.
And here I am especially talking about Children of Bodom, Norther and Kalmah for they have absolutely nothing to do with Death Metal riffs, nothing. Just try to imagine one Children of Bodom (or Norther or Kalmah) song without vocals: it can be close to what Sonata Arctica do. But only vocals make a lot of people think it is a sub-genre of Death Metal. And this is a big mistake.


This article may be updated many other times, for I am still gathering informations.



 


Comments

Comments: 56   Visited by: 143 users
09.09.2006 - 21:51
ylside
Hmm I would like to update the bands here with a comment, anyway here is a summary of essential Melodic Death Metal albums :

Amon Amarth - Once Sent from the Golden Hall
Afflicted - Prodigal Sun
Amorphis - The Karelian Isthmus
At The Gates - The Red In The Sky Is Ours
Carcariass - Hell On Earth
Crypt Of Kerberos - World of Myths
Ceremonial Oath - The Book Of Truth (only THIS album)
Dismember - Like An Everflowing Stream
Desultory - Into Eternity
Edge Of Sanity - Unorthodox
Garden of Shadows - Oracle Moon
Gorement - The Ending Quest
God Macabre - The Winterlong[/b
Hypocrisy - (Well..most of their stuff !)
Necrophobic - [b]The Nocturnal Silence

Nocturnus - The Key
Septic Flesh - Esoptron
Sentenced - Shadows Of The Past
Tiamat - Sumerian Cry / The Astral Sleep
Therion - Beyond Sanctorum
Unanimated - In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead

Sure, if you have any more suggestions, shoot !
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10.09.2006 - 00:30
Lucas
Mr. Noise
Sweden pwns all when talking Melodic Death Metal.
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SLUDGE. DOOM. DEATH. Wait, what?

"The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." - Barack Obama
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10.09.2006 - 00:38
ylside
Well, the REAL meaning of Melodic DM is kinda forgotten nowadays... sad !
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10.09.2006 - 10:36
Dangerboner
:D
Wouldn't Death's The Sound of Perseverance qualify as Melodic Thrash?
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10.09.2006 - 11:52
ylside
Quite hasty I was in my article...anyway, the bands I'm up to now are in that comment I made

Death's SoP has loads of influences, although this reminds my little point of view over this genre.
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10.09.2006 - 13:10
Lucas
Mr. Noise
Written by ylside on 10.09.2006 at 00:38

Well, the REAL meaning of Melodic DM is kinda forgotten nowadays... sad !



Yes, very true. I wasn't talking about Gothenburg music, but about 'true' Swedish Metal. *ELIIIIIIIIITIST!!!*
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SLUDGE. DOOM. DEATH. Wait, what?

"The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." - Barack Obama
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11.09.2006 - 14:45
Sunioj
what is be wrong to say that Cob is just melodic metal?
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11.09.2006 - 16:21
ylside
It's all wrong since they have absolutly not one second of Melodic DM in them. CoB are basically power metal, to me at least.
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11.09.2006 - 17:18
Draklar
Account deleted
Quote:
Just try to imagine one Children of Bodom (or Norther or Kalmah) song without vocals: it can be close to what Sonata Arctica do.
The easier way is to listen to Norther's remix of "Chasm", since it's a clean vocals song

Anyway, nice article. Finally I know the difference between Melodeath and Gothenburg.
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23.12.2006 - 08:43
iMPERiAL_iCE
Weeping Heart
Does the keyboard have anything to do with bands like CoB, Kalmah, EToS.....etc. dropping out of the Melodeath Genre? (I have totally understood what you have just written in the article but I was just wondering...)
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The older I get.........The faster I was

Smurfilator -- back when Smurf Metal existed :'(
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23.12.2006 - 12:07
ylside
Nocturnus and some other bands used keyboard way before CoB and friends and used them in a very awesome way (NOTHING to do with CoB keyboard wankery!) !
So basically it doesn't drop out anything, it's just what comes with it, there's no keyboard=cheesy theory for me, at least
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26.12.2006 - 18:50
Sunioj
Written by ylside on 11.09.2006 at 16:21

It's all wrong since they have absolutly not one second of Melodic DM in them. CoB are basically power metal, to me at least.


Notice the "just" and the "melodic", but I totally agree with the article, good job.
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26.12.2006 - 19:00
ylside
Written by Sunioj on 26.12.2006 at 18:50

Written by ylside on 11.09.2006 at 16:21

It's all wrong since they have absolutly not one second of Melodic DM in them. CoB are basically power metal, to me at least.


Notice the "just" and the "melodic", but I totally agree with the article, good job.

Thanks!
Oh yeah sorry, my mistake, I read it but i understood melodic DM.
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30.12.2006 - 03:17
Syk
myspace/bonerama
Great article dude, I've been thinking about this a fair bit lately. I totally agree with you. Something I noticed is Bodom etc, like other power bands, use a lot of pedal notes (chords that are held for a while, rather than shifting riffs). For example the song Downfall after 44 seconds. Also there's very obvious cheese in their keyboards/melodic guitars.

Maybe you could mention something about Gothenburg vocals being different to original death vox? Another difference I like to note is the industrial/electronic influences in the music.

The biggest hole I found - you didn't mention Carcass! What up with that? Heartwork (late 93) has tons of melody & Swansong after that, & even parts of Necroticism, 91 or 2.

And offtopic, your Zoldon disc is on its way
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death thrash death/doom/prog Hail Zoldon!

he's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
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30.12.2006 - 20:41
ylside
Yes...Carcass, actually I had many comments about late Carcass before, but the thing is Carbass is too much heavy-metal shall I say ? I would rather focus on some specific albums that are just plain DM with a surplus of melody. it's been a long time since i've listened to Necroticism (thus totally forgot how it sounded like) but you're right in that.

Thanks for Zoldon !
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01.01.2007 - 05:54
Syk
myspace/bonerama
Are you saying Heartwork is HM with death vox?
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death thrash death/doom/prog Hail Zoldon!

he's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
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01.01.2007 - 19:32
ylside
Yes.
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02.01.2007 - 02:46
Syk
myspace/bonerama
But.. but... the really low tuning, the atonal riffs such as Carnal Forge and Arbeit Macht Fleisch, the remnants of gore in the lyrics, and the intensity of the drums throughout... surely it's death.
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death thrash death/doom/prog Hail Zoldon!

he's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
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02.01.2007 - 03:03
ylside
Written by Syk on 02.01.2007 at 02:46

But.. but... the really low tuning, the atonal riffs such as Carnal Forge and Arbeit Macht Fleisch, the remnants of gore in the lyrics, and the intensity of the drums throughout... surely it's death.


What I meant is that I prefer focusing on bands that didn't went far from normal death metal and added some melodies, you'll feel like i'm repeating myself a lot but, Carcass' sound on those albums is exactly like you said, heavy metal with DM vocals and an aggressive edge, which actually is melodic DM to you and a lot of people, I would never refer to Carcass as HM but more DMish, I'm contradicting myself here but it's just to show you that how they sound is one thing , but the feel the band gives can be another thing (athmosphere, lyrics,past albums,etc...which in itself is a criteria used by people to categorize things). You see, you may be right and I may be wrong but that's how I see it. I don't claim I hold the perfect truth or something !!

I don't know if this answered to your question or no actually.
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02.01.2007 - 06:22
Syk
myspace/bonerama
Lol OK, I don't completely get you but I'll drop it now
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death thrash death/doom/prog Hail Zoldon!

he's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
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13.01.2007 - 00:46
moonshield
Account deleted
Not that i disagree, this article brings light to unbelievers , but i would like to mention some of albums that represents MDM, and that aren't mentioned (read: listen to them when you have some time):
Gardenian - Sindustries
Ebony Tears - Tortura Insomniae, A Handful of Nothing
Dark Tranquillity - Gallery
Arch Enemy - Black Earth, Burning Bridges
First two bands are dead (R.I.P.), and other two are widely known, but I like that albums
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14.01.2007 - 08:38
Paganblood
The Aryaputra
An informative article!
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that which shines without names and forms...
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06.03.2007 - 03:21
Bitch Boy
XD
I liked the article, especially the gothenburg metal part, quite interesting as it's always included in melo-death, sometimes people don't even know about its existence. The extreme power (or speed power with harsh vocals) case is really funny, there're still lots of people that think CoB or Kalmah are melo death.
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29.04.2007 - 05:38
Doc Godin
Obnoxious
glad I know the exact difference between Gothenburg Metal and Melodic Death now....I thought Gothenburg Metal was pretty much any metal that came out of that area.
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"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
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29.04.2007 - 06:03
tulkas
el parcero
Good article, I liked it. Some things I cleared up, specailly beacuse I'm not all that into death metal, so I don't know much about it. Now I know a bit more. Overall I think it's good
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love is like a jar of shit with a strawberry on top
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03.05.2007 - 14:25
ylside
Thanks !! There are some few things I would like to change again actually but lazyness caught me..
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04.05.2007 - 18:02
Warman
Erotic Stains
Great article, even though I haven't heard most bands you mentioned I still read all the way to the end. Very interesting!
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17.08.2007 - 16:11
Darkside Momo
Retired
Written by Guest on 13.01.2007 at 00:46

Not that i disagree, this article brings light to unbelievers , but i would like to mention some of albums that represents MDM, and that aren't mentioned (read: listen to them when you have some time):
Gardenian - Sindustries
Ebony Tears - Tortura Insomniae, A Handful of Nothing
Dark Tranquillity - Gallery
Arch Enemy - Black Earth, Burning Bridges
First two bands are dead (R.I.P.), and other two are widely known, but I like that albums


Well, I don't know about Ebony Tears, but I'd put Gardenian in the gothenburg section.
Ylside, what do you think of The Gallery ? It's not really Gothenburg like later Dark Tranquillity ; it has complex rythm structures like death metal, aggressiveness too, but it also has harminised guitars. I consider it melodeath, what about you ?
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"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'm awake now"
Abney Park (Letter Between A Little Boy & Himself As An Adult)
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18.08.2007 - 02:03
ylside
I thought Ebony Tears was some sort of modern death/thrash. I've heard only Evil as Hell though.

@Momo : The Gallery is not really DM in my books, only their demos (try to download them somewhere) are straight on good death metal. You see even their first album Skydancer (my favorite DT album along with The Gallery) has very melodic tendencies with a slow atmosphere, acoustic parts and female vocals etc.
Did you heard Amorphis' first album ? If you didn't I urge you to! that is really Death Metal with melodic riffs all over it.
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18.08.2007 - 02:30
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by ylside on 18.08.2007 at 02:03

I thought Ebony Tears was some sort of modern death/thrash. I've heard only Evil as Hell though.

@Momo : The Gallery is not really DM in my books, only their demos (try to download them somewhere) are straight on good death metal. You see even their first album Skydancer (my favorite DT album along with The Gallery) has very melodic tendencies with a slow atmosphere, acoustic parts and female vocals etc.
Did you heard Amorphis' first album ? If you didn't I urge you to! that is really Death Metal with melodic riffs all over it.


Btw both Eucharist albums are quite influential as well it seems. Especially their 1992 release.
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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