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 | edit source]

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 combines harsh screaming, sung vocals, and death growls, some artists emphasizing one of these techniques over the rest.[2]

Origins[edit | edit source]

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]

Much of the origin and popularity of melodic death metal can be attributed to the bands At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity, whose early 1990s music releases defined the genre and laid the foundation for the Gothenburg metal scene.[2] Writer Gary Sharpe-Young considered the Gothenburg scene the commercial salvation of death metal: "Gothenburg became the new Tampa and the genre received a new lease on life."[4] Another pioneer was the British band Carcass, which performed grindcore on its first two releases but morphed into death metal and an increasingly melodic style on the Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991) and Heartwork (1993).[3][5][6]

Late 1990s and influence on other genres[edit | edit source]

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.[7] 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.[8]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Purcell, N. Death Metal music: the passion and politics of a subculture, at 9, McFarland, 2003
  2. 2.0 2.1 Marsicano, Dan. What is Melodic Death Metal.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bowar, Chad. Carcass.
  4. Sharpe-Young, Garry. Metal: The Definitive Guide. Jawbone Press. pp. 162. ISBN 9781906002015.
  5. Can You Feel The Forceps: Carcass, Surgical Steel And Heartwork Revisited. Retrieved on October 27, 2015.
  6. McIver, Joel. The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists. Jawbone Press. pp. 122. ISBN 9781906002206.
  7. 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.
  8. Mason, Stewart. Glass Casket. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation.

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