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by Mike McGuirk

March 30, 2011

Swedish Melodic Death Metal: The Gothenburg Scene

by Mike McGuirk  |  March 30, 2011

A major influence on a broad range of extreme-metal styles (though most felt in the metalcore moves of such bands as Between the Buried and Me, Darkest Hour and Bring Me the Horizon), Swedish melodic death metal became synonymous with its hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, in the early '90s, when bands started peeling off major Iron Maiden riffology amid the usual infernal screech/growl vocals. While you'll find discernible chorus hooks and somewhat gentle moments here and there, the word "melodic" is a bit misleading the idea of true melody didn't really arrive until the '00s, when American metalcore kids started selling zillions of records and suddenly ubiquitous "clean" vocalists ruined everything.

As for the Gothenburg sound, At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquility typify the combination of death metal and New Wave of British Heavy Metal elements (lasering twin guitars, expanded song structures) that typify this small but important subgenre. Below, we offer a playlist primer for the curious. For context, Darkane's fitting Maiden cover serves as a prime example of how closely related melodic death metal and the NWOBHM are, while the modern Swedish band Sonic Syndicate close things out with an American-metalcore-via-Gothenburg hybrid. Enjoy.

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