I love melodic death metal.
And as my love for this subgenre nears the point of nostalgia, I thought it’d be fun and to go back and explore not only why I love it, but if I still do.
In a lot of ways, melodeath is my classic rock. As much as we (as metal fans) are quick to jump on the lazy FM radio dads or Gen X sellouts that made it normal to hear the singles from Ten flood the aisles of your local co-op, the reason why people are drawn to greying sounds is because they associate it with a coming of age period. Metal fans largely build their hobby/fandom into something of an identity, so it’s only natural to succumb to the same trappings.
I’m turning 35 next month. The Gothenburg sound began to pick up steam when I was in my teens, as the Internet era of metal fandom really began to take hold (largely in message board form at the time, pre-file sharing) and nu-metal’s flash was getting dimmer by the minute. The first “real” metal I sunk into was In Flames, Hypocrisy, Arch Enemy…and I basically became an insufferable nerd from that point forward.
But it’s always bugged me that MY era never got the same nostalgic love as previous waves like:
- Bay Area thrash
- New York hardcore
- Florida death metal
- Norwegian black metal
…et cetera. There are legit reasons for this, though.
Chiefly, all of that shit is objectively cooler than melodic death metal.
And unlike those movements, melodeath wasn’t a seismic reaction to an established norm, it was merely a variation on a theme.
But I’ll be damned if it wasn’t unique as hell. And as one of the last real timeframe/geographically-based stylistic eras before the ease of global communication leveled the heavy metal playing field, I think it’s worth exploring as a movement and not just something I put on as a healing salve after I claw my way through a new Krallice record or an 83-minute Bell Witch song (haaaaaaaaaaaa like I’d actually listen to an 83-minute song).
So after some exploration, I realized that while melodeath is most certainly my jam, my knowledge is certainly not comprehensive. Using a loose timeframe of “when In Flames was good” (chosen because they’re oft referred to as the melodeath Metallica, so I included their Load, too), I made a spreadsheet of over 80 relevant releases from 1996-2003. Then I broke the bands down into three tiers based on caliber:
- Veteran touring acts, signed to Metal Blade, Nuclear Blast, Century Media, or whatever
- Bands that put out some badass, essential-ish records but were never considered elite, for varying reasons
- One-offs, side-projects, and clone bands of interest
Some of these albums I’ve heard a billion times. Some of them I haven’t listened to in 10 years. Some I’ve never heard at all. And this is where you come in:
On Fridays, I’ll post a poll on Twitter pitting FOUR ARBITRARILY-SELECTED RELEASES FROM A SPECIFIC TIER against each other; there won’t be any cross-tier competition. (This way, we won’t have Damage Done or Colony kicking the absolute shit out of a fuckin Night In Gales record or something.) I’ll listen to the winner on Saturday with fresh ears and write a super-informal review on Saturday. Then I’ll publish it on Monday and we can talk about it.
Fuck it, let’s roll.