Melodic death metal

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Melodic death metal (also referred to as melodeath or MDM) is a subgenre of heavy metal music that combines death metal with elements of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The style originated and developed in Sweden (pioneered by At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames) and the United Kingdom (pioneered by Carcass) during the early and mid-1990s. The Swedish death metal scene did much to popularize the style, soon centering in the "Gothenburg metal" scene.

Musical characteristics[edit]

Melodic death metal uses components of NWOBHM, in particular the fast riffing and harmonic guitar lines, but also is influenced by the characteristics of death metal like heavily distorted guitars, fast double-bass drum patterns and sometimes blast beats, some even utilizing elements from other genres such as black metal and thrash metal.[1] The vocal style of the genre may be a combination of harsh screaming, clean vocals, and death growls, if not emphasizing one of these styles over the rest.[2] Some bands fuse melodic death metal with other metal subgenres such as gothic metal (Dark Tranquillity), viking metal (Amon Amarth), folk metal (Wintersun), power metal (Children of Bodom), symphonic metal (Eternal Tears of Sorrow), doom metal (Insomnium), thrash metal (Arch Enemy), alternative metal (In Flames), metalcore (Heaven Shall Burn), electronic (Deadlock), hardcore punk (Darkest Hour), and groove metal (DevilDriver).


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]

The origin and popularity of melodic death metal can be attributed to the bands At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity, with their early 1990s music releases that defined the genre and laid the foundation for the Gothenburg metal scene,[2] as well as the British band Carcass, who started out playing grindcore but morphed into a death metal style and helped pioneer the genre with their 1993 album Heartwork.[3]Notable first albums which are able to see as melodic death metal, were the second album of finnish Sentenced, North from here, and Dark Tranquillity´s first album, Skydancer. they were released in 1993.

Late 1990s and influence on other genres[edit]

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.[4] Its influence lead to the diversification of modern metalcore, with melodic metalcore gaining prominence in the 2000s, especially in the United States. Stewart Mason of Allmusic stated that the "increasingly melodic" style of Swedish death metal combines the post-hardcore aggression and guttural vocals of black metal with melodic and technically proficient guitar lines. Stewart Mason claims that the style has become very popular in the United States, using the term "Swedecore" to describe Scandinavian-style metal as played by non-Nordic bands.[5] The American melodic death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder, formed in 2001, is an example of this, gaining considerable prominence with 5 albums charting on the Billboard 200.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Purcell, N. Death Metal music: the passion and politics of a subculture, at 9, McFarland, 2003 (retrieved 3 June 2011)
  2. ^ a b Marsicano, Dan. "What is Melodic Death Metal". Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  3. ^ a b Bowar, Chad. "Carcass". Retrieved 2011-02-27. 
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Glass Casket". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 31 March 2011.