Melodic death metal (melodeath) is a genre that branched out in many styles, and many good bands got left behind while others became successful. Underground, unknown or forgotten.. whatever you choose to call these melodeath bands they’re certainly unappreciated and deserve to be checked out.
Most of these bands had a rocky road, disbanding and reforming at times, while still getting quality melodic death metal out there. The only one that’s active at this point is Skyfire, and they recently (July 2017) launched a kickstarter campaign to get their new EP out there.
I’m not big on the At the Gates school of melodeath, but this album is something special. At first glance “My Passion/Your Pain” is a rather synthetic sounding version of “Slaughter of the Soul”, but there is more to it. The melodies have an emotional impact beyond the typical scope of the melodic death metal genre, a main influence that pops up is Death’s “Symbolic” album.
This Dutch band had a successful period in the underground in the early 2000’s, crowned with a performance at Wacken Open Air. Today they seem largely forgotten. I highly recommend checking this album out, especially if you’re an At the Gates fan looking for more melodic death metal in that style. If you happen to be an At the Gates fan and a Death fan at the same time, get their last album now!
Recommended Callenish Circle album: My Passion/Your Pain
Desultory is a fairly well-known band in old school death metal circles, but they still remain an underrated act, considering the quality of their albums. The music is a depressing take on the early 90’s melodeath sound that was quite original at the time. “Bitterness” and “Into Eternity” are quality albums that should appeal to doom metal fans melodeath fans alike.
The band also reformed and released two quality new era albums, before disbanding once more in 2017. “Counting Our Scars”, one of the new albums, are one par with their classis releases, so it’s sad to see them go.
Recommended Desultory album: Bitterness
Skyfire is a fantastic band, and I could easily choose “Mind Revolution” as the album to recommend as well. How their energetic blend of melodic death metal, progressive metal and symphonic metal didn’t get them extremely big early on, I will never know. The songwriting is spectacular, and Skyfire has a musical proficiency that’s crystal clear.
Symphonic keyboards are all over the sound without being cheesy, and the machine gun black metal vocal delivery gives them an aggressive edge that stands out.
Recommended Skyfire album: Spectral
Vehemence had some underground attention going for a while in the early and mid-2000’s, but an album like “God Was Created” deserved more. The bizarre concept, and seemless mix of Cannibal Corpse tendencies and melodicism cultimated in truly sick songs like the ballad “She Never Noticed Me”.
Just like Desultory, the band reformed and released some good material, and then decided to disband again. “Forward without Motion” is a very good melodic death metal album, certainly worth checking out.
Recommended Vehemence album: God Was Created
Since my “gems” are fairly well known in most underground metal circles, I want to put forth something truly unknown from the Stockholm scene. Vituperation put out one EP in the mid-2000’s, and it’s a really solid one.
The sole EP “Nothing is Sacred” combines Gothenburg melodicism with thrash metal and old school death metal. The songs, except “Urge and Need (for the Passion to Bleed)” are simple but very catchy and tightly played.
Essential melodic death metal
- Amorphis (unclear genre tag, but they’re certainly melodic and death metal)
- At the Gates
- Carcass (Heartwork and onwards)
- Dark Tranquillity
- Death (mid-era albums)
- Edge of Sanity
- Mors Principium Est
- The Crown