Melodic death metal

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Melodic death metal (also referred to as melodeath) is a subgenre of death metal that employs highly melodic guitar riffs, often borrowing from traditional 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) around 1993. The Swedish death metal scene did much to popularise the style, soon centering in the "Gothenburg metal" scene.

Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted and low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick and blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, and chromatic chord progressions. The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylized violence, religion, occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics, and they may describe extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

At the Gates Swedish band

At the Gates is a Swedish death metal band from Gothenburg, a major progenitor of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal. The band was initially active from 1990 to 1996, reforming in 2007 for a tour between April and September 2008. In 2011, they reformed again and have since continued to perform. They released At War with Reality, their first album in 19 years, in late 2014.

Contents

Musical characteristics

The genre combines aspects of traditional heavy metal ranging as far as the new wave of British heavy metal, in particular fast riffing and harmonic guitar lines, with the heavily distorted guitars, fast double-bass drum patterns and occasional blast beats of death metal. [1] [2] The vocal style typically combines harsh screaming and growling with melodic singing, with some artists emphasizing one of these techniques over the rest. [1] Melodic death metal drum patterns are often built around the "skank beat", similar to thrash metal.

The new wave of British heavy metal was a nationwide musical movement that started in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and achieved international attention by the early 1980s. Journalist Geoff Barton coined the term in a May 1979 issue of the British music newspaper Sounds to describe the emergence of new heavy metal bands in the mid to late 1970s, during the period of punk rock's decline and the dominance of new wave music.

Distortion (music) form of audio signal processing giving "fuzzy" sound

Distortion and overdrive are forms of audio signal processing used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments, usually by increasing their gain, producing a "fuzzy", "growling", or "gritty" tone. Distortion is most commonly used with the electric guitar, but may also be used with other electric instruments such as bass guitar, electric piano, and Hammond organ. Guitarists playing electric blues originally obtained an overdriven sound by turning up their vacuum tube-powered guitar amplifiers to high volumes, which caused the signal to distort. While overdriven tube amps are still used to obtain overdrive in the 2010s, especially in genres like blues and rockabilly, a number of other ways to produce distortion have been developed since the 1960s, such as distortion effect pedals. The growling tone of distorted electric guitar is a key part of many genres, including blues and many rock music genres, notably hard rock, punk rock, hardcore punk, acid rock, and heavy metal music.

Screaming (music) Vocal technique used in music

Screaming is an extended vocal technique that is mostly popular in "aggressive" music genres such as heavy metal, punk rock, and noise music. In heavy metal, the related death growl vocal technique is also popular. Intensity, pitch and other characteristics vary between different genres and different vocalists.

History

Origins

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. Carcass 31.jpg
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 .

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. [1] 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] The titular melodic elements can be traced to traditional Scandinavian musical motifs. Another pioneer was the English 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] Ceremonial Oath and Eucharist also played melodic death metal in the very early 1990s, however never gained much attentioned outside of their own scene. [7]

In Flames Swedish metal band

In Flames are a Swedish heavy metal band, which was formed by guitarist Jesper Strömblad in 1990 in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork and In Flames are the only remaining bands responsible for developing the genres known as Swedish death metal and melodic death metal.

Dark Tranquillity Swedish band

Dark Tranquillity is a Swedish melodic death metal band from Gothenburg. They are considered one of the pioneering acts of the Gothenburg metal scene, which also includes bands such as In Flames and At the Gates. Dark Tranquillity is regarded as the Gothenburg fathers in the film entitled Out of Nothing: A DT Documentary released by Century Media, which was filmed in Gothenburg, Sweden in April 2009.

Gothenburg City in Västergötland and Bohuslän, Sweden

Gothenburg is the second-largest city in Sweden, fifth-largest in the Nordic countries, and capital of the Västra Götaland County. It is situated by Kattegat, on the west coast of Sweden, and has a population of approximately 570,000 in the city center and about 1 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area.

Late 1990s and expansion

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. [8] However, bands prominent in the genre such as The Black Dahlia Murder have been described as maintaining the intensity of regular death metal, while incorporating elements from other extreme metal bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. [9] Additionally, other genres would begin using melodic death metal as an influence, including melodic metalcore [10] and melodic black/death. [11] [12] Stewart Mason claims that melodic metalcore has become very popular in the United States, using the term "Swedecore" to describe Scandinavian-style metal as played by non-Nordic bands. [13]

Horror punk

Horror punk is a music genre that mixes proto-gothic and punk rock sounds with morbid and violent imagery and lyrics, which are often influenced by horror films or science fiction B-movies. The genre is similar to and sometimes overlaps with deathrock, although deathrock leans more towards an atmospheric gothic rock sound while horror punk leans towards a 1950s-influenced doo-wop and rockabilly sound. Horror punk music is typically more aggressive and melodic than deathrock.

Blood specialized bodily fluid in animals

Blood is a body fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells.

The Black Dahlia Murder (band) American death metal band

The Black Dahlia Murder is an American melodic death metal band from Waterford, Michigan, formed in 2001. Their name is derived from the 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, often referred to as Black Dahlia. The band currently comprises lead vocalist Trevor Strnad, rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach, bassist Max Lavelle, drummer Alan Cassidy, and lead guitarist Brandon Ellis. Out of the eight studio albums they have released to date, the last seven have charted on the U.S. Billboard 200, with their fifth album Ritual peaking at No. 31 in 2011, marking them as one of the most popular contemporary American extreme metal bands. Their eighth and latest album Nightbringers was released on October 6, 2017.

Influence on other genres

Many melodic death metal bands began being inspired by black metal and European romanticism. This style has been referred to as blackened melodic death metal, [11] melodic blackened death metal [11] and melodic black-death . [12] However, unlike most other black metal, this take on the genre would incorporate an increased sense of melody and narrative. [11] Some bands who have played this style include Dissection, [11] [12] [14] Sacramentum, [11] [12] Naglfar, [11] Dawn, [11] Unanimated, [11] Thulcandra [12] [11] and Cardinal Sin. [12]

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

Dissection (band) black/death metal and later melodic death metal band

Dissection was a Swedish extreme metal band from Strömstad, formed in 1989 by guitarist, vocalist and main songwriter Jon Nödtveidt and bass guitarist Peter Palmdahl. Despite a number of lineup changes, Dissection released The Somberlain in 1993 and Storm of the Light's Bane in 1995, before splitting up in 1997 due to Nödtveidt's imprisonment for complicity in the murder of Josef Meddour.

Melodic metalcore is a fusion genre, incorporating elements of metalcore and melodic death metal, with a heavy emphasis on melodic instrumentation, blast beats, metalcore-stylized breakdowns and clean singing. [10] These bands often take influence from the guitar riffs and writing styles of Swedish melodic death metal bands, especially At the Gates, In Flames, Arch Enemy and Soilwork. [10] Melodic metalcore bands include Poison the Well, [15] 7 Angels 7 Plagues, [16] Darkest Hour, [17] Killswitch Engage, [18] As I Lay Dying, [19] Bury Tomorrow [20] [21] [22] [23] and I Killed the Prom Queen. [24]

Melodic metalcore is a fusion genre, incorporating elements of metalcore and melodic death metal, with a heavy emphasis on melodic instrumentation, blast beats, metalcore-stylized breakdowns and clean singing. The genre has seen commercial success for employing a "more accessible and commercial style" than typical metalcore. Many notable melodic metalcore bands have been influenced by At the Gates.

Metalcore is a fusion genre combining elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk, that originated in the late 1980s. Among other styles blending metal and hardcore, such as crust punk and grindcore, metalcore is noted for its use of breakdowns, which are slow, intense passages conducive to moshing. Other defining instrumentation includes heavy guitar riffs often utilizing percussive pedal tones and double bass drumming. Vocalists in the genre typically perform screaming, more popular bands often combine this with the use of standard singing, usually during the bridge or chorus of a song. However the death growl is also a popular technique within the genre.

A blast beat is a drum beat that originated in hardcore punk and grindcore, and is often associated with certain styles of extreme metal, namely black metal and death metal, and occasionally in deathcore and metalcore. In Adam MacGregor's definition, "the blast-beat generally comprises a repeated, sixteenth-note figure played at a very fast tempo, and divided uniformly among the bass drum, snare, and ride, crash, or hi-hat cymbal." Blast beats have been described by PopMatters contributor Whitney Strub as, "maniacal percussive explosions, less about rhythm per se than sheer sonic violence".

The 'original' or traditional blastbeat is a single-stroke roll played between your cymbal and snare, with your kick playing simultaneously with every cymbal hit.

See also

Related Research Articles

Grindcore is an extreme fusion genre of heavy metal and hardcore punk that originated in the mid-1980s, drawing inspiration from abrasive-sounding musical styles, such as: thrashcore, crust punk, hardcore punk, extreme metal, and industrial. Grindcore is characterized by a noise-filled sound that uses heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, grinding overdriven bass, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of growls and high-pitched shrieks. Early groups like Napalm Death are credited with laying the groundwork for the style. It is most prevalent today in North America and Europe, with popular contributors such as Brutal Truth and Nasum. Lyrical themes range from a primary focus on social and political concerns, to gory subject matter and black humor.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Swedish death metal is a death metal music scene developed in Sweden. Many Swedish death metal bands are associated with the melodic death metal movement, thus giving Swedish death metal a different sound from other variations of death metal. Unlike American death metal groups, the first Swedish bands were rooted in hardcore punk. Although Norway is known for its quantity of black metal, Gothenburg in Sweden has a large melodic death metal scene, while Stockholm is known for its more raw death metal scene.

<i>Heartwork</i> 1993 studio album by Carcass

Heartwork is the fourth album by British extreme metal band Carcass, and has been described as the band's "breakthrough" and "mid-period masterpiece" ,as well as a landmark album in the melodic death metal genre. It was released through Earache Records on 18 October 1993. The album was recorded at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool from 18 May – 21 June 1993.

A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. At times heavy metal genres may overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits. They may differ in terms of: instrumentation, tempo, song structure, vocal style, lyrics, guitar playing style, drumming style, and so on.

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

<i>Stigmata</i> (Arch Enemy album) 1998 studio album by Arch Enemy

Stigmata is the second studio album by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy. The album was Arch Enemy's first to see worldwide release, in Europe and North America on Century Media Records, and in Japan again on Toy's Factory records. Stigmata features session drummer Peter Wildoer, who had also appeared in Christopher Amott's solo project Armageddon on the 1997 album Crossing the Rubicon, shortly before the recording of the album. The album was reissued on 25 May 2009, featuring a new layout, packaging, and bonus tracks. Stigmata not only contains a title track, but a track named after their previous album as well. The Sri Lankan metal band Stigmata named themselves after this album.

Blackened death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal that fuses elements of black metal and death metal.

<i>Fuck Me Jesus</i> album by Marduk

Fuck Me Jesus is the first demo by Swedish then-death metal band Marduk. It was recorded and mixed at Gorysound Studios, and released in June 1991.

The new wave of American heavy metal was a heavy metal music movement that originated in the United States during the early to mid-1990s and expanded most in the early to mid-2000s. Some of the bands considered part of the movement had formed as early as the late 1980s, but did not become influential or reach popular standing until the following decade. The term itself borrows from the new wave of British heavy metal dating to 1979. NWOAHM includes a wide variety of styles, including alternative metal, groove metal, industrial metal, nu metal and metalcore.

Death 'n' roll is the subgenre of death metal music that incorporates hard rock-inspired elements to the overall sound. The achieved effect is that of death metal's trademark combination of growled vocals and highly distorted detuned guitar riffing with elements reminiscent of 1970s hard rock and heavy metal. Notable examples include Entombed, Gorefest, Carcass and Six Feet Under.

<i>We Are the Void</i> album by Dark Tranquillity

We Are the Void is the ninth full-length studio album by Swedish, melodeath band, Dark Tranquillity. It is their first and only album with bassist, Daniel Antonsson who joined in 2008 and left in 2013.

<i>Far Away from the Sun</i> 1996 studio album by Sacramentum

Far Away from the Sun is the debut album of the Swedish black/death metal band Sacramentum. It was released through Adipocere Records in May 1996. The album features cover artwork created by Kristian "Necrolord" Wåhlin. The album's style has been compared to contemporaries such as Dissection and Unanimated, and the album is frequently considered an often-overlooked classic in the genre.

References

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