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 Lists
01.31.18 The Best of Melodic Death Metal 11.20.16 Kamelot Ranked
01.31.16 Megadeth Ranked07.29.15 Symphony X Ranked
06.23.15 Top 40 Progressive Death Metal Albums06.22.15 Top 40 Technical Death Metal Albums
10.25.14 Opeth Ranked10.09.14 Iron Maiden Ranked
10.08.14 Nevermore Ranked01.12.14 Plugging Some Obscure Artists

The Best of Melodic Death Metal

Melodic death metal is a subgenre of death metal that has riffs that focus more on melody than usual. There are quite a few styles in melodic death metal, so there's certainly no shortage of variation to be found here. This the third iteration of this list, with more than double the entries of the last version. I decided to ditch a reverse countdown to avoid the trouble of ranking things in the first place. One album per band.
1A Canorous Quintet
Silence of the World Beyond


And so the list opens up with this very solid release that goes back and forth between standard melodic death and the melancholic style. This album skirts the edges of dipping into black metal with all that tremolo, but it manages to not cross that line.
2A Mind Confused
Anarchos


Unlike the above entry, this one fully embraces black metal elements to make a lovely blend of riffs from both genres.
3Amorphis
Tales From the Thousand Lakes


Progressive melodic death that is very atmospheric and holds the essence of the melancholic style of melodic death metal that would come later. I would have loved to see Amorphis release another album that refined the style seen here, but I digress.
4Anata
The Infernal Depths of Hatred


One of my personal favorites, Anata creates the perfect blend of melody and technicality in their songwriting. Under a Stone with No Inscription and The Conductor's Departure are almost as good as this album. Dreams of Death and Dismay isn't as good as those three, but it's still damn good. They really need those record company troubles fixed so I can cram a new album in my ears and jam it forever. Anata slays.
5Appalling Spawn
Freedom, Hope And Fury


The precursor to Lykathea Aflame has the same heavy, thick guitar tone and brutal riffs, but they lack the progressive parts and focus on technicality and somehow fitting melodic riffs into the mix.
6Arch Enemy
Burning Bridges


I had written off this band from hearing their more recent stuff, so it's good I felt like expanding this list because otherwise I wouldn't have given this a listen. Don't do what I did-- early Arch Enemy has excellent guitarwork and riffs.
7Arghoslent
Incorrigible Bigotry


Arghoslent plays an interesting style of melodic death which is basically a meaner NWOBHM style. Their other two albums are also good, but I like this one the best.
8Arsis
A Celebration of Guilt


This is solid technical death metal with plenty of melody interwoven throughout. I don't know what happened to cause the huge quality dip after A Diamond for Disease, but at least Arsis gave us a good album and EP before deteriorating.
9At the Gates
The Red in the Sky Is Ours


This is excellent old school death metal with constant twisting melodies and howling vocals. It's nothing like the more famous but far worse Slaughter of the Soul. For some absolutely silly reason I forgot about this album and it took until this version of the list for it to show up.
10Autumn Leaves
As Night Conquers Day


I feel that this album has perfected the melodic death metal sound. The riffs are great, the melodies are amazing, everything just flows superbly. Definitely check this album out if you haven't already.
11Be'lakor
Stone's Reach


Be'lakor are one of the masters of the atmospheric and melancholic style of melodic death metal, focusing a bit more on progressive-tinged riffs. You really can't go wrong with any of their albums.
12Carcass
Heartwork


Carcass shifted from grind to melodic death in this album, which was the major kickstarter of the subgenre. Plenty of good riffs are to be found here, but many bands have surpassed this album since.
13Cenotaph (Mex)
Riding Our Black Oceans


This hidden gem is one of the best releases melodic death metal has to offer. It's like a more technical version of At the Gates' The Red in the Sky is Ours, only released a year earlier.
14Dark Tranquillity
The Gallery


Of the big Gothenburg Four (At the Gates, In Flames, Soilwork, and this band), Dark Tranquillity is the one that shines above the rest, being a splendid mixture of melody and riffs. If only this album was more influential than Slaughter of the Soul and The Jester Race for the general sound of the Gothenburg style...
15Dawn of Disease
Worship the Grave


Here Dawn of Disease delivers a pretty decent mixture of Gothenburg and old school melodic death metal riffs, with the guitar tone falling squarely into the latter style.
16Deathevokation
The Chalice Of Ages


DeathevokatioN, silly band name aside, takes the traditional death metal sound and blends it perfectly with both melodic death and doom.
17Demonoid
Riders of the Apocalypse


This album takes a darker Gothenburg tone and mixes it with a thrash to make a very punchy sound. Riffs aplenty to be found here.
18Desultory
Bitterness


If you wanted to hear what Dismember or Entombed would sound like playing melodic death metal, this album answers that question.
19Estuary of Calamity
The Sentencing


A nice mixture of melodic death and melodic black with some great medieval folky interludes and harmonies popping in here and there.
20Eucharist
Mirrorworlds


Of the fathers of the subgenre, poor Eucharist is the neglected one despite being one of the better bands in the early scene. A Velvet Creation is about equal to this album, but its muddy production makes it lose out.
21Excess of Cruelty
Under the Ivy of Ithamar


This album rules hard. Riffs aplenty, and one track has a didgeridoo and that's neat.
22Excretion
Voice of Harmony


A solid slab of melodic death metal. While most of the songs are on the longer side, the album never lets up steam and refrains from doomier passages.
23Garden of Shadows
Oracle Moon


This album is one of the crown jewels of the subgenre. It is very atmospheric and melodic, and the music indeed has the feel of a moonlit forest that the album art depicts.
24Gates Of Ishtar
At Dusk And Forever


Gates of Ishtar are one of the riffier titans of melodic death, and this album showcases their finest.
25God Dethroned
Bloody Blasphemy


This album holds an immensely aggressive blackened style of melodic death. Which is to say it's pretty damn good.
26Horrendous
Ecdysis


Horrendous are one of the masters reviving the old school Swedish death metal sound, but they've mixed things up here by injecting a fair share of melody into things. Anareta is also an excellent album, but I consider it progressive death over everything else.
27Hypocrisy
Virus


Hypocrisy are one of the greats of the subgenre, but it took the more aggressive nature of this album to really win me over on them.
28Hypocrite
Into the Halls of the Blind


A criminally underlooked album that perfects the Swedish style of melodic death.
29Inferi
The Path of Apotheosis


Technical melodic death metal that kicks you in the teeth and doesn't let up.
30Insomnium
Above the Weeping World


Insomnium is the other master of the atmospheric, melancholic type of melodic death, focusing on doomier passages and an epic sound. You also can't go wrong with any of their albums.
31Internal Decay
A Forgotten Dream


Somehow this Swedish band was completely buried and forgotten despite not only being one of the pioneers of the doomier melancholic style, but also melodic death metal itself.
32Intestine Baalism
Banquet in the Darkness


Intenstine Baalism blend the Gothenburg sound with brutal death metal to make an interesting and compelling sound.
33Kalmah
They Will Return


Kalmah are the masters of the "angry power metal" style pioneered by Children of Bodom, outplaying them in their own game.
34Merciless
Unbound


Merciless is one of the earliest and finest death thrash bands, and with this album they inject a healthy dose of melodic death into their sound.
35Moonshade
Dream | Oblivion


Moonshade is an obscure newcomer to the genre that doesn't even have an album out yet. But with this EP they showcase a splendid take on the epic melancholic style of melodic death, already making them one of the greats of the sound.
36Night in Gales
Towards the Twilight


This is an excellent German release played in the older Gothenburg style before it became more streamlined.
37Pandemonium
Insomnia


A nice mix of progressive and melodic death metal that features frequent use of synth and piano. Befitting of the album title, most of the songs have a nocturne feel to them.
38Quo Vadis
Day Into Night


There's some technicality to be found here, but Quo Vadis play mostly thrashy melodic death metal. Their other two albums have their flaws, but they're pretty good.
39Rellik (USA-IL)
Heritage of Abomination


An unknown album that employs a curious melodic touch to aggressive blackened death metal riffs.
40Runic
Liar Flags


The only folk metal that got on the list. It's great fun and doesn't overplay the folk stuff, and it manages to stay on the death metal side of things instead of going towards the power metal with harsh vocals route.
41Sacrilege GBG
The Fifth Season


A very solid release that masters the Gothenburg style.
42Sarcasm (Swe)
A Touch of the Burning Red Sunset


There's some very good stuff on here, but, as a compilation album, you can clearly tell that some demos are better than others.
43Scum (FIN)
Purple Dreams and Magic Poems


An unknown and strange doomier Finnish release that starts out weak, but gets better as it goes on.
44Sentenced
North From Here


This fantastic album takes a progressive, somewhat jazzy death metal sound and puts just enough melody to move it over from just death metal to melodic death metal.
45Sins Of Omission
The Creation


It's a sin that this band has been omitted from the greats, because it's an excellent riffier Gothenburg style album.
46The Absence
Riders of the Plague


This American band plays some great Gothenburg style melodic death but with a more modern, darker death metal tone to the sound.
47The Crown
Eternal Death


An excellent release from Crown of Thorns before they were forced to change their name. Thrash elements are mixed throughout the album, and unfortunately after the name change they focused more on the thrash instead of the intense sound they had created here.
48The Moaning
Blood From Stone


I can't hold all of these riffs. This has a very strong Sacramentum and Dissection feel to it, and that's a really good feel for your music to have.
49Threnody
As the Heavens Fall


An obscure Dutch release made around the time the subgenre was being pioneered, Threnody plays a more progressive doomier variant of melodic death with a nice, punchy audible bass.
50Unanimated
Ancient God of Evil


A fantastic album that has a healthy dose of black metal in it. Brings the riffs.
51Vehemence
God Was Created


While most bands would take after the Swedish sound of melodic death metal, Vehemence takes after Carcass. With this album, Vehemence does everything Carcass was trying to do with Heartwork but even better. However, the story of this concept album is a bit "special."
52Without Grief
Deflower


Last, but certainly not least, is this excellent Swedish melodic death metal album that was lost amongst their contemporaries despite being much better.
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