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Melodic death metal (also referred to as melodeath) is a subgenre of death metal which combines the melody of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) with the intensity of death metal. The genre is also known as Gothenburg metal, a reference to the city in Sweden where it originated. Originally the genre combined the harmony style and groove melodies of heavy metal with the harsh thrashing sound and vocals of death metal. Later the genre evolved due to many different influences, a notable evolution in the genre being the addition of keyboards. Melodic death metal contains more melodic guitar riffs, melodic solos, and acoustic guitar work than traditional death metal.


The creation of melodic death metal has often been credited to the band Carcass, specifically with the release of their album Heartwork in 1993. Finnish band Amorphis have also been credited with a similar title, with their release of Tales from the Thousand Lakes in 1994. The first bands to distinctly establish the genre however were three bands from Gothenburg, Sweden, who at the time, were all associated with one another: In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and At the Gates.

Some thrash metal bands from the Scandinavian region combine the genre with other metal genres such as progressive metal, power metal (e.g. Children of Bodom), gothic metal (e.g. Before the Dawn), symphonic metal (e.g. Eternal Tears of Sorrow), thrash metal (e.g. Arch Enemy), groove metal (e.g. The Haunted), doom metal (e.g. Swallow the Sun) and folk metal (e.g. Falchion).

In the late 1990s, many melodic death metal bands changed their style of playing by adding more melodic elements; more melodic choruses and riffs and making more prominent use of keyboards. Also many melodic death metal bands moved away from the lyrical themes of death, gore, and murder common in other death metal groups.

Gothenburg sound

One notable contribution to melodic death metal is the Gothenburgmarker style, named after the city from which it originated. It is not certain what band originally started the Gothenburg sound, however, it is widely accepted that Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, and In Flames are three major pioneers of the style; however history yields that At the Gates began playing a much more contemplative and "Neoclassical" style of death metal in their early years, very comparable to the Finnish act Demilich. It wasn't until their later albums (Slaughter of the Soul being the most commercially known) when the Gothenburg sound was recaptured. Gothenburg or melodic death metal does however begin with Grotesque, being the precursor band of At the Gates. Grotesque existed for three short years, producing two demos, a rehearsal tape, an EP and one compilation album entitled In the Embrace of Evil. This appeared again in the form of a re-release split with the early At the Gates EP entitled Gardens of Grief. The year 1993 produced a number of Gothenburg acts with debut full length albums: giving respective weight to Dark Tranquility, In Flames, Carcass and other similar bands. Dissection factually remains the direct descendent of Grotesque's style of "Gothenburg" metal (later known as melodic death metal), premiering with their 1990 demo The Grief Prophecy and the 1991 EP entitled Into Infinite Obscurity.

Regional scenes

Most melodic death metal bands are from the Scandinavian and Northern European regions, especially from Swedenmarker and Finlandmarker. Coming out of Finland in the past decade have been few uprising bands in the melodic death metal genre, Children of Bodom, Insomnium, Kalmah, Mors Principium Est and Norther . In recent years, the genre has gained somewhat of a popularity boost, acquiring an increasing following in North America, especially among North American fans of the Scandinavian bands which still pioneer the genre to this day; modern metalcore and later deathcore takes influence of melodic death metal with bands including DevilDriver, The Black Dahlia Murder, Darkest Hour and Himsa. Melodic death metal has also spread to Australia with notable bands from the scene including Switchblade, Daysend, Infernal Method. There are other minor scenes elsewhere including bands: Disarmonia Mundi (Italy) and Blood Stain Child (Japan).

See also



  • Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal. Bazillion Points Books. ISBN 978-0-9796163-1-0

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