“Denied” - Sonic Syndicate (2007)
Sonic Syndicate are a young band with a big, brash and enthusiastic mix of Swedish-style melodic death metal and metalcore. Their emphasis lies strongly on melody, as you’ll find quickly with “Denied,” from their 2007 album “Only Inhuman,” their first release after beating 1,500 other bands in a contest to win a deal with big Swedish label Nuclear Blast. You can see in “Denied” the basis of the band’s broad appeal: a driving, keyboard-backed, super-catchy melody, anchored by a soaring, cleanly sung chorus. While they don’t push too many boundaries in this album, Sonic Syndicate are nothing but polished, and are another worthy gateway to contemporary metal.
Eluveitie - “Thousandfold” (2010)
Swiss band Eluveitie have been riding high on the growing wave of folk metal emanating from Europe in the last decade. Their new 2010 album, “Everything Remains as it Never Was,” marks a return to some more aggressive stylings after the experimental, placid interlude of their previous acoustic outing. Eluveitie fuse melodic death metal into grand, Celtic-inspired arrangements featuring such classic folk instruments as the hurdy gurdy, violin, bagpipes and tin whistle. The album is currently available online, and worthy of a full listen to experience its diversity of pace and vocal styles.
Scar Symmetry - “The Illusionist” (2005)
Scar Symmetry was my metal “gateway” band; their brand of Swedish melodic death metal was my introduction to the genre at large. “The Illusionist” characterises their remarkably accessible style, with a soaring, clean-sung chorus offsetting its other growled tracts. Amazingly, these were both vocalised by the one man, then frontman Christian Älvestam. When he left the band in 2008, they had to replace him with two singers!