I love me some melodic death metal. Growing up during the peak of this style's reach and popularity, it holds a special place in my heart. I can remember a time when year after year brought amazing new albums from the likes of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Soilwork, etc. While some of these bands are still kicking around with solid material, many others have either dropped off the map...or we wish they would have. The scene is simply not what it used to be; with the mainstream largely dead and buried. Fortunately, if you know where to look, there are a number of young bands in the underground picking up the slack with exciting new albums. I'd like to share 8 such releases with you today.
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Aerith is a California band featuring Ken Bedene of Aborted on drums, and their 2018 self-titled EP stands very firm on the riffs alone. The hooks are well-written and exectued perfectly, often calling back to classic In Flames. They're the types of progressions that really stick in your head and compel you to move. The drumming is energetic, laying down plenty of raging double bass amidst an epic backdrop of synth atmosphere. Furthermore, Aaron Green's harsh, raspy scream easily goes toe to toe with Anders Fridén and Björn Strid. FULL REVIEW
Old Dirty Dan had much praise to give France's Hybrid Sheep. The band has a fresh take on the Gothenburg sound, blending flashy, at times neoclassical, melodic death riffs with more modern groove sections. Epic solos abound, and the vocals are a blend between Ritual-era The Black Dahlia Murder screeches and Aborted-style growls. FULL REVIEW
I was very dissapointed with last year's follow-up to Demons, but that doesn't take away from the greatness that was Bloodshot Dawn in this particular lineup. The obvious highlight here is that the guitarists are EXTREMELY proficient. This is melodeath on cocaine. From the very beginning of “Smoke and Mirrors,” know that your cervical vertebrae are in danger. The one-two punch of the double bass and guitar is the equivalent of being dragged underneath a train. “The Image Faded” also has an absolutely stunning midsection that at times bordered on the epic soundtrack qualities of Equilibrium’s Sagas. FULL REVIEW
Barring a miracle, New York's The Hudson Horror is unfortunately no more. On the plus side, they left us with a really great blackened melodeath album in line with The Black Dahlia Murder style. I enjoy the range in the vocal performance. The high screeches will shatter your eardrums, and the lows are every bit as brutal as the Corpsegrinder himself. Every musician on this album puts their all into the recording, right down to the impressive bass player. I also dig the slower tracks like “Anathema” and “Heretic," reminded me of Wages of Sin-era Arch Enemy. FULL REVIEW
Disappointed in the latest Arch Enemy album? Check out Spain's extreme metallers Bloodhunter via Xtreem Music. Featuring elements of melodic death metal, thrash, groove metal, and blackened death metal; The End of Faith is an album you don't want to miss. Eat your heart out Angela Gossow, and move over Alissa White-Gluz; there's a new dominating frontwoman entering the ranks, and her name is Diva Satanica. Effortlessly, she commands the deep growls, the raspy snarls, and the blackened shrieks as if she was born into it. Combined with amazing lead guitarist and founder Fenris, this was one of the best albums of 2017 that no on is talking about. FULL REVIEW
This one is arguably a bit of a cheat, since Norway's Aspherium also have quite a bit of prog in their sound. But f#$k it. There's more than enough melodeath to go around here. Fusing Behemoth, Mors Principium Est, Gojira, Enslaved, and much more; this band channels it all into a truly jaw-dropping concept album. These guys are no stranger to time changes, and I would estimate that the first track alone showcased at least 10-12 unique riffs. While there is some room for improvement regarding the vocals and tightening certain compositions, this is a must-listen release, and I am thrilled to hear the follow-up due later this year. FULL REVIEW
After the sleeper hit, Future: The Return, melodic death metal band Silnce Lies Fear out of Azerbaijan, Baku are back with a vengeance on Shadows of the Wasteland. You get the gorgeous backup vocal additions of Carolina Alexandra and blissful layer of lush synth atmosphere, but much like Fallujah this is offset by some highly technical guitarwork. Seriously, Silence Lies Fear must have been listening to some tech death while recording this one. This is that rare sophomore effort that takes everything great about the debut, learns from its mistakes, and delivers the same sound to a completely different level. FULL REVIEW
When I think of Japanese metal, my mind goes to grindcore and experimental BM. In spite of this, Serenity In Murder have defied all expectations to deliver arguably one of the best melodeath albums, period. It literally gave me goosebumps. The riffs are faster and more technical, and that classic Gothenburg solo harmonizing on "The Revelation" proves that this group just gets what melodeath is all about. Meanwhile the screams are strong and full of conviction while the drumming carries a metric ton of energy as it shifts from double bass to d-beat and back for maximum impact. Finally, the work on the keys is truly exemplary. I hear the epicness and occasional folkiness of Equilibrium along with the class and expertise of Fleshgod Apocalypse. Do NOT sleep on this album. FULL REVIEW