Melodic Death Metal (yes it’s really a thing)

I love sub genre’s, they further explore what umbrella genres are capable of doing and can really push the art to a different level. As a life-long metalhead most of my personal favorite sub genres are underneath the arc of heavy metal music. And the sub genre I would like to talk about in particular is melodic death metal, or melodeath.

Melodic death metal may sound like a glaring oxymoron to most people. How could a style of music obsessed with death, the occult, and other taboo topics be combined with melody? This may be surprising, but the answer is extremely well. Bands that play melodic death metal have found a great way to explore the darker side of life in a way that’s still pleasing to the ears. Groups like Carcass, In Flames, and At The Gates merge the meanest death metal with sing-along guitar lines to create a unique form of expression. The music brings the melodies that the vocals usually lack and that makes for a wonderful balance. Let’s check out a few melodeath bands!

A lot of people credit Carcass with the creation of Melodic Death Metal

One of my personal favorite melodeath bands is Carcass. Hailing from Liverpool, this quartet is about as influential in the metal community as The Beatles are to music as a whole. Starting in the late 1980s and taking artwork and lyrical topics from their singer Jeff Walker’s sister’s medical school texts, Carcass helped to pioneer a style of metal called Grindcore. Grindcore simply put is ugly: the early recordings have awful production value, the vocals are nothing more than yells, and the guitars are so distorted at times its hard to make out the riffs. But Carcass wasn’t content with this style and after a few grindcore years their “Heartwork” album came out in 1993. “Heartwork” is often cited as the first melodic death metal album, or at least the album which defined the sub genre. It’s a fantastic album that I recommend to anyone wanting to try this style of music.

In Flames has been one my favorites for years

Next up on our list is In Flames. In Flames comes from a city in Sweden called Gothenburg where a number of other melodeath bands, including At The Gates, also call home. In fact, there is so much melodeath from Gothenburg that there is a certain “Gothenburg sound” all of these bands embody. In Flames started out in 1990 as a side project of Jesper Stromblad as a way for him to write more melodies that his other band, Ceremonial Oath, wasn’t doing too much of. The band eventually grew and became Jesper’s main project, and thank god it did for this band has put out 10 amazing albums and a few EPs to boot over a fruitful twenty-five year career. Their album “Colony” is my favorite In Flames album and one of my all time favorite records. The main reason I love this band more than any other melodeath counterpart is their ability to write not only great songs, but great choruses as well. Super catchy stuff

The Slayer of melodeath

Finally on our short list of melodeath must hears we come to At The Gates. At The Gates is one of the more ferocious bands in this scene, using melody as a way of adding a melancholic layer to their blistering speed metal. Their sound is very reminiscent of thrash metal at many points, with relentless riffage and drums at a million miles per hour. They blew the hinges off of melodeath with their seminal 1995 masterpiece “Slaughter of the Soul”, a half hour ripper of an album that earned them the nickname “Swedish Slayer”. At The Gates recently staged a reunion and comeback album in 2014 with “At War With Reality”. This album not only honors their 1990s legacy but pushes the band further into the future. Can’t wait for more from these guys.

Thanks for reading about some of my favorites from one of my favorite sub genres. I think I’ll do more posts on sub genres in the future. After all, they keep the musical world turning ’round and ’round..


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