SWEDISH EXTREME METAL (1990-present)
Swedish Extreme Metal is a Death Metal music scene developed in Sweden. Many Swedish Death Metal bands are associated with the Melodic Death Metal movement, thus giving Swedish Death Metal a different sound from other variations of Death Metal.
Unlike American Death Metal groups, the first Swedish bands were rooted in Punk Rock. Although Norway is known for its quantity of Black Metal, Gothenburg in Sweden has a large Melodic Death Metal scene, while Stockholm is known for its more raw Death Metal scene.
Precursors – Unlike American groups, the Swedish Death Metal scene’s earliest originators were influenced by Punk Rock, especially the D-beat Hardcore Punk scene. Bathory, which would subsequently become a primary influence for the Black Metal scene, were a pivotal group in Swedish Extreme Metal. In the early 1990s, two Death Metal scenes emerged in Gothenburg and Stockholm.
The first wave of “Swedish Death Metal” consisted of the bands Morbid and Nihilist, which fragmented later into Entombed, Dismember and Unleashed. Many of these bands used the trademark Tomas Skogsberg/Sunlight Studios “buzzsaw” guitar tone. It was created by using heavily detuned electric guitars (usually C# standard or lower), a maxed out Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal, sometimes in combination with a single guitar through a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal. The originator of this guitar sound was Nihilist guitarist Leffe Cuzner, though it was evolved and altered over the years.
Newer bands playing in the “old school” Swedish style include Bloodbath, Paganizer and Repugnant. According to Stewart Mason of AllMusic, the “increasingly melodic” style of Swedish Death Metal combines the Post-Hardcore aggression and guttural vocals of Black Metal with melodic and technically proficient guitar lines.
Gothenburg Scene – Later, Swedish and Finnish bands used Grindcore-based riffs and began adding Progressive Rock influences and the scene moved from Stockholm to Gothenburg. The Gothenburg sound, (also known as Melodic Death Metal, or Melodeath), propelled by both the Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal pedal with cleaner recordings and melded with New Wave of British Heavy Metal guitar lines, was pioneered by bands such as At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames for their respective albums : Slaughter of the Soul (1995), The Gallery (1995) and The Jester Race (1996).
Other groups to have emerged from the Swedish Death Metal scene include Scar Symmetry, Hypocrisy, Tiamat, Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Meshuggah, Amon Amarth, Edge of Sanity, Opeth, Avatar and The Haunted.
The Death Metal scene in Sweden has influenced many bands and genres outside Sweden. The melodic influence of the Gothenburg sound has spread to the United States to more Hardcore Punk and Metalcore groups such as Himsa, Bleeding Through, Trivium and Killswitch Engage. Stewart Mason has noted this popularity in the United States, using the term “Swedecore” to describe Scandinavian-style Metal as played by non-Nordic bands. The Stockholm sound has been known to be very influenced by the first Entombed album and bands such as Autopsy, Death and Repulsion. The Stockholm sound has less reception but is strictly followed by bands like Trap Them and Rotten Sound. Melodic Death Metal, on the other hand, has had a notable influence on the Melodic Metalcore sound of the 2000s.