#1 SOILWORK – THE LIVING INFINITE

Just when it seemed that Soilwork had run their course, the band blasted back with their best album yet, which happens to be the first melodic death metal double album that has ever been released! ‘The Living Infinite’, although aggressive and ferocious, is an album chock-full of melodic hooks and catchy, big, infectious, memorable choruses! Soilwork with this album took the sound of their early melodic death metal releases and blended it with alternative, metalcore and progressive metal elements! The result is a modern sounding melodic death metal album that is brimming with creativity and moves you emotionally and sonically from beginning to end, all 84 minutes of it! The Living Infinite establishes Soilwork as the most important band of the melodic death metal genre.

While listening to The Living Infinite it is quite clear that Björn Strid (frontman/main songwriter/genius!), David Andersson, Sylvain Coudret and Sven Karlsson make a music composing dream team and Dirk Verbeuren takes his drum performance to another level! David Andersson “the new guy” in the band, re-energized and brought a breath of fresh air and new-found inspiration into Soilwork, just like Matias Kupiainen did for Stratovarius and Todd La Torre for Queensrÿche. The album is comprised of a mesmerizing intro (on the second disc), a beautiful instrumental and 18 jaw-dropping, goosebumps inducing songs. ‘The Living Infinite’ is a perfect album with all killer and no filler. I repeat, 20 songs and none of them is filler, an unprecedented achievement for a double album.

Metalised considers this album to be the “best” in many ways… check this out: it is the best melodic death metal album ever, it is by far the best album of 2013 (full list: http://metalised.net/category/best-metal-albums-of-2013/), the best album of the 2010’s so far and the best METAL double album ever! In the future we will post a ‘Top 100 metal albums of all time’ feature and unequivocally ‘The Living Infinite’ will be very high up the list!

This album is definitely a grower so give it the time it rightfully deserves to fully appreciate what it has to offer. It is one of those albums you never get tired of, just like many of the timeless classic Metal albums. Who would expect that in the year 2013 we could still get a rare masterpiece such as ‘Rust in Peace’, ‘Ride the Lightning’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Toxicity’ or ‘Images and Words’? But it most certainly happened!

Soilwork’s brand new album and Metalised’s most anticipated album of 2015 ‪#‎TheRideMajestic‬, will be released next Friday August 28th, worldwide! You can pre-order it at: http://nblast.de/SOILWORKMajesticNB

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Released in 1995 by Earache Records.
Best Songs: Blinded by Fear, Under a Serpent Sun, Cold
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCtjAmtIGf0

Interesting Facts: At the Gates were formed in 1990 by former members of the death/black metal band Grotesque. They recorded a debut EP, Gardens of Grief, for the Dolores record label, and sold cassettes, vinyl, and XL T-shirts to promote the recording. The EP led seminal metal label Peaceville Records to sign the band. In 1995 they released their fourth and most commercially and critically successful album, Slaughter of the Soul, on Earache Records.

At the Gates started as a pretty standard death metal combo but were slowly becoming a true contender in the scene. By the time they released Slaughter of the Soul, the band’s melodic and melancholic death metal style would inspire the whole Gothenburg region. Slaughter of the Soul lacked the intricate twin-guitar leads of In Flames or the complex song structures of Dark Tranquillity but was more rooted in American thrash and didn’t seem to be consciously trying to break new ground. It was simply a stripped-down, no-frills melodic death album that hit all the basic points of the style. It’s also important to note that in place of the usual guttural death grunts, vocalist Tomas Lindberg here adopts a strangled shriek that keeps the lyrics somewhat intelligible.

Slaughter of the Soul firmly rooted the band as one of the leaders of the Swedish metal scene and was labelled as a benchmark album in the Gothenburg sound by AMG. It played a major role in popularizing the Gothenburg scene, alongside The Jester Raceby In Flames and The Gallery by Dark Tranquillity and it is often credited for the ascension of metalcore. Decibel Magazine hailed it as “the most influential death metal album of the next decade” and At the Gates were nominated for a Grammis for Slaughter of the Soul in 1996. The band received international attention for the album, gaining them a U.S. tour and heavy rotation of the music video for Blinded by Fear on MTV in America, but despite this international success, the Björler brothers departed in 1996. The remaining members decided it would be impossible to continue without them, so the band broke up. In 2014 the band released their reunion album, the masterpiece At War with Reality (also included on this list).

Andy LaRocque’s neo-classical guest solo on “Cold” was widely acclaimed as one of the greatest metal solos and guitarist Anders Björler admitted in 2007 that he still couldn’t play it properly. “Blinded by Fear” was covered by The Haunted (composed largely of ex – At The Gates members) and was also covered by Fleshgod Apocalypse. The song also appeared in the game Rock Band 2 as downloadable content, the title track is featured in both Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned and Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground and a few other tracks from the album have made appearances in several other video games.

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Released in 2003 by Spinefarm Records.
Best Songs: Needled 24/7, Angels Don’t Kill, You’re Better Off Dead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJBTFRZRJ04

Interesting Facts: Children of Bodom was formed in 1993 by guitarist Alexi “Wildchild” Laiho under the name of Inearthed. After a few line-up changes and 3 demo recordings, record labels were not impressed and none took interest in the band (Children of Bodom are now one of Finland’s best selling artists of all time with more than 250,000 records sold there alone!). As a last resort, the band decided to record an independent, self-funded album. Considering that none of the musicians had much money to begin with, it was an audacious move. Laiho also recruited new keyboardist Janne Wirman who was the component which was previously missing from Inearthed. His presence allowed the band to assume the style which would later characterize Children of Bodom. With Wirman, the band successfully recorded their debut, Something Wild and changed their name to Children of Bodom. They got inspired for this name by looking in their local phone book! When they stumbled upon Lake Bodom, they realized that it was a name with impact and one which had an interesting story behind it. A long list of possible names involving the word Bodom was then made, and they settled with Children of Bodom. The band’s name is derived from the Lake Bodom murders.

Hate Crew Deathroll is the band’s fourth album and was successful both in Europe and the USA. In Finland it directly hit first place on the album charts, where it remained for 2 weeks and subsequently became the band’s first gold album. After the release of Hate Crew Deathroll, the band experienced a growing interest from several leading mainstream media, such as Metal Hammer (UK) magazine and MTV, where the video for the song “Needled 24/7” aired on Headbanger’s Ball. “Needled 24/7” also featured on the heavy metal documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey.

At the time Hate Crew Deathroll was being produced, the band’s label Spinefarm had been bought by the big company Universal Music Group. This meant that Children of Bodom now had financial backing from one of the world’s largest record companies, UMG. This led to the band for the recording of Hate Crew Deathroll had access to production equipment of the highest quality, and as a result, the album also received praise for its production, having been described as “crystal clear” and “sharp”. With this album, the band’s sound became more condensed and less classical influenced, oriented more towards thrash metal and a harsher sound than previous albums, although keeping the band’s melodic death metal style. The keyboards were toned down as the guitars took hold as the more predominant instrument.

Children of Bodom’s first world tour began in 2003 to support Hate Crew Deathroll. The tour had many sold-out concerts and marked the consolidation of the band in North America, but was also accompanied by an unexpected announcement: longtime guitarist Alexander Kuoppala decided to quit Children of Bodom for personal reasons right in the middle of the world tour. In an interview, when Laiho was asked why Kuoppala left the band, he stated that, “Well, I try to be careful about what I say about him because there is no bad blood between us. He told me that he just got sick of touring and the whole band/rock ‘n roll lifestyle living in hotels and tour buses and stuff. For me it was really weird because he was always the one who was SO into it! He was a die hard rock ‘n roller and suddenly he made a quick 180 turn in his whole life. This whole situation involves a new girlfriend.”

Allmusic has designated Hate Crew Deathroll as Children of Bodom’s best-ever album, describing it as an album that is “particularly worth listening to”. The year Hate Crew Deathroll was released; the band was awarded Finnish Band of the Year by the Finnish Metal Music Awards.

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Released in 2006 by Metal Blade Records.
Best Songs: Runes to My Memory, Cry of the Black Birds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0aTbmhyRGc

Interesting Facts: Amon Amarth emerged from the previous band Scum, founded in 1988 by Paul Mäkitalo (Dark Funeral) on vocals and originally played grindcore. Scum made no impression upon the burgeoning Stockholm metal scene, but then Johan Hegg replaced Mäkitalo: it was his “imposing stature [and] [Thor]-like growl” that were beginning to shape the image and the sound of the band which now started to incorporate Viking-related themes. They changed their name to Amon Amarth and adopted the melodic death metal style. Amon Amarth takes its name from the Sindarin name of Mount Doom, a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Amon Amarth’s lyrics mostly deal with Vikings, their mythology and their history, leading to the band often being labeled as Viking metal. When asked to comment on the band’s genre, vocalist Johan Hegg remarked: “We play death metal. We write about Vikings so, therefore, some refer us to Viking metal, but I have no idea what that is. I can’t imagine the Vikings were into metal at all except on the swords and stuff. And musically, I guess they only played these strange lip instruments and some bongos or whatever.”

With Oden on Our Side is their sixth full-length studio album and their first album to enter the Billboard charts, the Top Heatseekers and the Independent Albums chart, peaking at number 15 and number 26 respectively. The album takes on a heavier approach compared to their previous album Fate of Norns. According to vocalist Johan Hegg, in an interview with Dutch metal magazine Aardschok, the album would go back to their roots such as their debut, Once Sent from the Golden Hall. When asked about the meaning of the album’s title, Hegg remarked: “Well, it kind of has several meanings to it. Oden is of course the highest god in Scandinavian mythology, and he’s the god of warfare, wisdom, poetry and artistry. The reason we chose the title is that it suited the lyrical concepts of the album and signified the feeling we had during the writing and recording of the album. We literally felt as if we had the Gods on our side.”

The album cover art features the Norse God Odin riding on his fabled octopedal horse Sleipnir in a depiction borrowed from the Tjängvide image stone. With Oden on Our Side was also released on a limited red LP. The songs “Runes to My Memory” and “Cry of the Black Birds” were both made into music videos.

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Released in 2000 by Nuclear Blast Records.
Best Songs: Only For The Weak, Pinball Map
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnLunQEcMn0

Interesting Facts: In Flames, along with Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates, pioneered what is now known as melodic death metal. The founding members of all three bands all lived in Gothenburg, Sweden and they were all friends who shared the same musical interests. Eventually, that group of friends branched off into three bands with the same musical direction, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates.

Jesper Strömblad formed In Flames to write music that combined the melodic guitar style of Iron Maiden with the brutality of death metal, something which Jesper stated he had never heard any band do. In writing songs, Jesper also decided to make use of keyboards, something which was (at the time) uncommon in death metal. Despite their sometimes heavy use of keyboards in their music, they still refuse to recruit a full-time keyboardist.

Clayman is In Flames’ fifth album. Most of the album’s lyrics deal with depression and internal struggles. It marks the end of the first In Flames era where the band employed two harmonized lead guitars playing over a rhythm guitar. Since the band only has two guitar players, they found it hard to reproduce those songs during live performances and ever since sixth album, Reroute to Remain, they have focused on writing songs with the intention of playing them live and started favoring a more mainstream sound. After Clayman’s release, the band toured with Dream Theater, Slipknot, and Testament. The album’s cover art is based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man drawing. The Jester Head appears in the background, both on the cover, and in the album booklet itself. Music videos were made for ‘Pinball Map’ and ‘Only for the Weak’, with Metal Hammer naming the latter its top 10 death metal song.

In Flames has been awarded 4 Grammis awards (the Swedish equivalent of the Grammy Awards) to date. It was the first metal band to ever win that award and the Swedish economy minister at the time was quoted saying “Thanks to In Flames, Sweden now have a metal band in the absolute world elite.” In Flames have also won the “Best international Band” award from the Metalhammer Golden Gods in 2008.

In Flames, being one of the pioneers of a new music genre, have influenced many bands. They have been especially influential to melodic metalcore, with bands such as As I Lay Dying, Darkest Hour, Parkway Drive and Still Remains naming them as a source of inspiration. They have also influenced a number of subsequent melodic death metal bands, including Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum.

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Released in 1995 by Osmose Records
Best Songs: Punish My Heaven, Edenspring, Lethe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwuDhK_EV5k

Interesting Facts: Dark Tranquillity was formed in 1989 by vocalist and guitarist Mikael Stanne and guitarist Niklas Sundin, who looked at their influences and then decided to form their own band under the name Septic Broiler. Not long after, three additional members,Anders Fridén, Anders Jivarp and Martin Henriksson, joined the line-up.

In 1990, the band recorded a demo cassette tape entitled Enfeebled Earth before they would change their name to Dark Tranquillity and change their musical style. It was followed by multiple demos, and in 1993, Skydancer was released. Soon after, Fridén, Dark Tranquillity’s main vocalist at the time, left the band and later joined In Flames. Stanne then became the lead vocalist, and Fredrik Johansson was recruited to take over rhythm guitar duties.

In 1995 their second album, The Gallery, was released. The album saw a change in the band’s style, but kept the characteristics essential in the band’s melodic death metal sound, such as growled vocals, abstract riffing, acoustic passages, and a female guest vocalist. It is considered a classic album of the Gothenburg style of metal, along with At the Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul and In Flames’ The Jester Race, exhibiting the dual guitar leads, growled vocals and acoustic sections typical of the genre.

John Serba, writing for Allmusic, wrote that the album “is a transcendent work from one of the underdogs of the genre — a bona fide masterpiece that helped further stretch the boundaries of death metal in the ’90s.” This album was inducted into Decibel magazine’s hall of fame in its April 2010 issue. Chris Dick, in the article accompanying the induction, stated that “no recording at the time or since bears resemblance to its power and sophistication.”

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Released in 2001 by Century Media Records
Best Songs: Ravenous, Dead Bury Their Dead, Lament of a Mortal Soul 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcNkmgnQHWM

Interesting Facts: Arch Enemy was originally a supergroup formed in 1996. Its members were in bands such as Carcass, Armageddon, Carnage, Mercyful Fate, Spiritual Beggars, and Eucharist. It was founded by Carcass guitarist Michael Amott. Wages of Sin is their fourth studio album but the first to feature the vocals of German female growler Angela Gossow. It is also the first album they use C tuning, which they still use today.

Wages of Sin was well received by critics, who praised the new singer Angela Gossow. Blistering said that she handles the vocals on the album expertlyand that the album “musically, it is predictably brilliant”. Blabbermouth.net wrote ” Wages of Sin is a powerful barrage of complex riffing that alternates between the blindingly brutal and the stunningly melodic, all the while maintaining a level of intensity that is rarely heard on present-day metal recordings. The musicianship is impeccable, with the Amott brothers proving that they are the masters of their craft.” Metal Storm stated that “with Wages of Sin, Arch Enemy delivers to us one of the best albums of the year 2002 and proves us by the same opportunity that girls are not relegated to only sing in atmospheric and gothic metal.”

Brookman and Eardley of Metal Review were surprised with the Gossow vocals. Brookman commented that when he heard that Arch Enemy would a female singer, his first reaction was “career suicide”, but after to listen to the album, he changed his mind stating that “Gossow delivers a vocal tirade that rivals any male vocalist.” Brookman praised the band, however, he said about the album that there are elements that seem lacking in a few places. Eardley said that this album has “one of the best vocal performances of 2001” and that it “is a true masterpiece.” Chronicles of Chaos wrote that “the album has their best production to date and variety is abundant” and that the band found what they needed in Gossow. Tartarean Desire praised the band writing that it “has capacities beyond the normal” and stated that “Wages of Sin is simply so well done in all ways, that it will be hard for any band to overcome this album in this genre.” Allmusic wrote that Gossow “is just the right touch to add to a band who ranks among metal’s most progressive and unique outfits.”

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