I’m a huge fan of melodic death metal. Don’t ask me why, but it’s always appealed to me ever since I first heard In Flames’ Colony back at the tail end of the 90’s. So what better way to celebrate my love of the genre than to compile a list of the ten best melodic death metal songs of all time?
First of all, all the usual caveats to these sorts of lists apply, namely:
– I can only judge those songs that I have heard,
– I get to decide what qualifies as melodic death metal, and
– These are my opinions, nothing more.
I also decided that I would only feature one song per band. If I were to be of the opinion that the top 10 best songs in the genre were all from In Flames or Children of Bodom (which I’m not), the list would be rather boring. Better to feature each artist’s (arguably) best work.
Also, given that I’m only presenting the top ten, there’s some notable bands that got left out of my list, including but not limited to Amon Amarth, At the Gates, and Solution .45.
Now, the list:
#10 – Arch Enemy – Stigmata
I’m not a fan of Arch Enemy. Their music was always a touch heavier and more aggressive than most of the other melodic death metal bands, and Angela Gossow’s voice just grates on me. They’re just not for me. That said, however, the instrumental track “Stigmata” is a classic melodeth tune. Short, sweet, with a primary focus on the trademark melodic death metal wailing guitars.
#9 – Dark Tranquility – The Sun Fired Blanks
Dark Tranquility is one of the three godfathers of melodic death metal and the only band of the three to have released nothing but true melodeth music since their inception. While they are legendary in the genre, I’ve always found that their music just didn’t have quite the same impact as that of other latecomers. Like many other bands on this list, they’ve incorporated progressive elements into their music over the years, but it never really fully worked. Take 1999’s Projector which blends melodeth and goth rock, two very disparate musical genres. The album as a whole is just odd, but it does feature arguably their best song in “The Sun Fired Blanks”.
#8 – Blood Stain Child – Sirius VI
Believe it or not, not all of the best melodic death metal bands come out of Europe, just 90+ percent of them. Blood Stain Child is a Japanese outfit that blends melodic death metal with electronica and J-pop. I guarantee you have never heard anything quite like them. They are awesome, however.
#7 – Raintime – Apeiron
Italian band Raintime fuses melodic death metal with power metal in spectacular fashion. They’re not particularly well-known, but they should be. “Apeiron”, off of their 2007 album Flies & Lies, melds the best elements of both genres and is a fun sonic blast from start to finish.
6 – Disarmonia Mundi – Celestial Furnace
Another Italian Band, Disarmonia Mundi is basically comprised of two dudes, Ettore Rigotti and Claudio Ravinale, one of whom (Rigotti) pretty much plays all the instruments in the entire band. They then got renowned death metal vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid (of Soilwork) to do some singing for them, and the result was a truly masterful album.
5 – Amaranthe – Invincible
A choice that is sure to draw ire. Amaranthe is a strange beast, a mixture of melodic death metal, power metal, and pop. Some people hate them, some people love them. I’m in the latter camp, as evidenced by my inclusion of their song “Invincible” as my number five pick. In my opinion, their most recent album, The Nexus, is among the most entertaining metal releases of all time.
4 – In Flames – Embody the Invisible
I’ve talked about In Flames before. They are without a doubt my favorite melodic death metal band of all time. Virtually any of their songs from their album Colony, or roughly half of the songs from Clayman and Whoracle could have made this list. And so, it’s a little surprising that my favorite song of theirs, “Embody the Invisible”, only came in at number four on my list. I think that just speaks to the quality of choices one through three.
3 – Children of Bodom – Follow the Reaper
Children of Bodom is another band that just seems to produce unbelievably awesome, earth-shattering melodic death metal by the fistful (although they don’t strictly consider themselves to play melodeth music at all). Their 2000 album Follow the Reaper is one of the best in the genre, and the title track from said album leads the charge.
2 – Soilwork – Needlefeast
Ahh, Soilwork. I don’t consider their body of work to be as consistently amazing as some of the other bands on this list, but boy, when they’re on, they are ON. I strongly considered including “The Living Infinite I” and “II” from their most recent double album (titled The Living Infinite – go buy it, now!), but ultimately, Needlefeast won out. I can’t praise this song highly enough. Just strap in and enjoy the ride.
1 – Scar Symmetry – Ghost Prototype I – Measurement of Thought
The number one honor, however, goes to Scar Symmetry, featuring possibly the most versatile vocalist in the genre, Christian Älvestam. This song is pure joy to listen to from start to finish.
Well, hopefully you enjoyed the list. If you want easy access to all the songs in one place, check out the YouTube playlist of these songs that I put together.
As always, feel free to argue my choices in the comments.
Image credit: Featured image by soaronski (CC BY-NC 2.0), via Flickr.