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.


 




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ylside - 09.09.2006 at 21:51  
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 !
Lucas - 10.09.2006 at 00:30  
Sweden pwns all when talking Melodic Death Metal.
ylside - 10.09.2006 at 00:38  
Well, the REAL meaning of Melodic DM is kinda forgotten nowadays... sad !
Dangerboner - 10.09.2006 at 10:36  
Wouldn't Death's The Sound of Perseverance qualify as Melodic Thrash?
ylside - 10.09.2006 at 11:52  
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.
Lucas - 10.09.2006 at 13:10  
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!!!*
Sunioj - 11.09.2006 at 14:45  
what is be wrong to say that Cob is just melodic metal?
ylside - 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.
Draklar - 11.09.2006 at 17:18  
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.
iMPERiAL_iCE - 23.12.2006 at 08:43  
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...)
ylside - 23.12.2006 at 12:07  
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
Sunioj - 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.
ylside - 26.12.2006 at 19:00  
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.
Syk - 30.12.2006 at 03:17  
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
ylside - 30.12.2006 at 20:41  
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 !
Syk - 01.01.2007 at 05:54  
Are you saying Heartwork is HM with death vox?
ylside - 01.01.2007 at 19:32  
Yes.
Syk - 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.
ylside - 02.01.2007 at 03:03  
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.
Syk - 02.01.2007 at 06:22  
Lol OK, I don't completely get you but I'll drop it now
moonshield - 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
Paganblood - 14.01.2007 at 08:38  
An informative article!
Bitch Boy - 06.03.2007 at 03:21  
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.
Doc Godin - 29.04.2007 at 05:38  
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.
tulkas - 29.04.2007 at 06:03  
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
ylside - 03.05.2007 at 14:25  
Thanks !! There are some few things I would like to change again actually but lazyness caught me..
Warman - 04.05.2007 at 18:02  
Great article, even though I haven't heard most bands you mentioned I still read all the way to the end. Very interesting!
Darkside Momo - 17.08.2007 at 16:11  
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 ?
ylside - 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.
Marcel Hubregtse - 18.08.2007 at 02:30  
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.
ylside - 18.08.2007 at 02:44  
Ah yes Eucharist, heard only a demo and the first album. Nice enough, although I don't see it as a must listen.

Latest death metal album with bits of melody I discovered was Vomiturition - A leftover.
Marcel Hubregtse - 18.08.2007 at 02:46  
Written by ylside on 18.08.2007 at 02:44

Ah yes Eucharist, heard only a demo and the first album. Nice enough, although I don't see it as a must listen.

The strange thing is that many bands say they are influenced by them though. That's why I mentioned them.
ylside - 18.08.2007 at 03:02  
Hmm weird, although it may have one of lots of other bands that influenced them, do you still remember who said it? . Anyways, Eucharist's first album's only problem is that it's VERY weakly produced.
Darkside Momo - 08.09.2007 at 13:06  
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.

DT demos : I know them, but they sound quite thrash to me, especially with this predominant Sabbat influence. I said quite, because it's death too, OK.
About Amorphis, do you speak about Karelian Isthmus ? I don't know it (yet). But I really like Tales From The Thousand Lakes, so...
ylside - 08.09.2007 at 21:55  
Written by Darkside Momo on 08.09.2007 at 13:06

About Amorphis, do you speak about Karelian Isthmus ? I don't know it (yet). But I really like Tales From The Thousand Lakes, so...

Yes, The Karelian Isthmus. Check it !
Darkside Momo - 11.09.2007 at 12:42  
OK, I'll do that !
GT - 13.09.2007 at 13:54  
Nice article...made me understand Death Metal (melodic or not) a little better. I'll try some of the recommendations
Black Winter - 13.09.2007 at 21:52  
very good job,I mainly appreciate the clarification of the difference between Melo Death and Gothenburg
Darkside Momo - 06.10.2007 at 19:36  
Written by ylside on 08.09.2007 at 21:55

Written by Darkside Momo on 08.09.2007 at 13:06

About Amorphis, do you speak about Karelian Isthmus ? I don't know it (yet). But I really like Tales From The Thousand Lakes, so...

Yes, The Karelian Isthmus. Check it !

Checked !
Quite good actually, sometimes reminiscent of Bolt Thrower. But I still prefer Tales...
Stalker - 07.10.2007 at 19:11  
And where is Technical Death Metal?? Isnt At The Gates technical death metal It is for me....
Bad English - 23.10.2007 at 00:18  
i like first part good example, deep, good knowlage and i like those bands, but I disagrie about EoS best albums iMO 'The Spectral Sorrows' best song'Black Tears' from 'Purgatory Afterglow'

More I live and somehow i think Gethernburg ematl are overated lil bit in nowdays

LAST PART ALL SHOOD READ IT BEFOR POST IN MELODIC FORUMS!!!


PS OLD TIAMAT AND THERION was great
BurbotsRevenge - 27.12.2007 at 10:20  
im a huge fan of melodeath an that was a good article! and im going to havve to check out some of those recommended albums nice work!
Krle_metalherra - 16.12.2008 at 17:49  
Are there some guys who listen catamenia?! its melodic black but...
Marcel Hubregtse - 16.12.2008 at 18:07  
Written by Krle_metalherra on 16.12.2008 at 17:49

Are there some guys who listen catamenia?! its melodic black but...



Yes they are melodic black, but what does have to do with an article on melodic death?
Krle_metalherra - 16.12.2008 at 18:17  
Oh, Melodic Death...Hmmm...
I have just registered here,so I have no posts yet...
well, my fav. melodic death bands are kalmah,Amon amarth,Amorphis, Et. tears of sorrow,Imperanon...
Thryce - 16.12.2008 at 19:04  
Written by Krle_metalherra on 16.12.2008 at 18:17

well, my fav. melodic death bands are kalmah,Amon amarth,Amorphis, Et. tears of sorrow,Imperanon...

Hmm, I suggest you actually read this article thoroughly first before posting such nonsense
Marcel Hubregtse - 16.12.2008 at 20:44  
Written by ylside on 18.08.2007 at 02:03


@Momo : The Gallery is not really DM in my books, only their demos (try to download them somewhere) are straight on good death metal. ..


Why do you say demos (as in plural for demo)? when in fact they only released one demo (Trail of Life Decayed) which is btw melodic death metal and not just straight on dm. As Septic Broiler they only released one demo as well but that was straight up thrash.

As for Eucharist's influence you asked for? Well Eucharist influenced DT, old In Flames and quite a lot of other Swedish mdm bands. Remember Eucharist were already very active in the Göthenburg scene before they even released a demo. And especially the two aforementioned bands name them as a prime influence on their early mdm days.
K†ulu - 04.01.2009 at 20:45  
It's good you mentioned Death with their Symbolic and TSOP because after listening to Symbolic for 5000 times, I started to realize that they don't really fit into the Progressive Death Metal category, and they sound more like something which I would tag with "Melodic." Seriously, listen to it... I start to really doubt that this is Death Metal at all. It has a lot of very melodic riffs/songs with again very melodic solos, and the only thing that speaks "extreme" is the vocals.

And one more thing, comparing their "progressive" album to any other band labeled with the same genre makes it obvious how different they are from the rest, like Cynic or Atheist.

Sorry for sort of off-topicness.
Ag Fox - 11.06.2009 at 05:50  
I know I'm 3 years late, but really, thanks for this article. I typed into Google asking the difference between melodeath and gothenburg. Now I even got the bonus of knowing about extreme power too lol
bloodwrage - 26.07.2009 at 07:34  
Written by Ag Fox on 11.06.2009 at 05:50

I know I'm 3 years late, but really, thanks for this article. I typed into Google asking the difference between melodeath and gothenburg. Now I even got the bonus of knowing about extreme power too lol


Why would you type it into google when you could have just come here in the first place?

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