Given the positive response to my blackened hardcore list, and also the recent influx of killer albums in the metallic subgenre, it seemed appropriate to do another highlights roundoup. I tried to stick to the more brutal, death metal-tinged releases as opposed to anything that gets too grindy. Beatdowns, breakdowns, and broken bones is the name of the game. Honorable mention to Leeched.
Only Self is pure punishment; enough so to turn the most cowardly weakling into a chiseled masochist. To quote one of my favorite films, "A guy who came to Fight Club for the first time, his ass was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood." Just replace "came to Fight Club" with "listened to Jesus Piece" and "a few weeks" with "35 minutes." What more can I say? The riffs are crushing, the vocals intense as they come, and the drums absolutely pulverizing. Those breakdowns...
Chamber is a metallic hardcore band out of Nashville, TN that I caught wind of on, where else, Mathcore Index's Mathcast. The band's debut EP, Hatred Softly Spoken, is among the heaviest albums I have heard in the genre. With vicious, distorted vocals that are half Zao, half death metal, this is a band that above all else values the power of the pit. The music is a crushing assault of crunchy chords, industrialized noise, and pummeling drums. I'm particularly fond of the rage-inducing guitar hook on "Vessel." If you dig bands like Code Orange, you're going to want to add this to your collection. Name your own price.
This Bay Area blackened hardcore band ripped out of bondage and through the gates with a vengeance, expecially upon the release of their music video for lead single "Deathless." Where the hell did these guys come from, and why was I not informed? Reportedly influenced by bands such as Converge, Circle... Takes The Square, and The Number Twelve Looks Like You (all groups I am a huge fan of), Wolf King is here to claim the throne for the genre. King in the North! (or West in this case I suppose). Both the debut EP and follow-up LP are wholly worth your time.
New Jersey serves up some delectably vicious new hardcore in the form of River Black via Season of Mist. Featuring members of Burnt By The Sun, Revocation, Municipal Waste and others, it comes as no surprise that River Black is an album that comes across with plenty of confidence in its abilities. Everyone brings something to the table worth scarfing down in a gluttonous rage. The vocals demand your attention with a delivery that reminded me quite a bit of Ion Dissonance's recent Cast The First Stone.
Massachusetts band Vein dropped one of the harshest albums of the year this June with errorzone; and damned if it wasn't almost a home run. Vein are nothing short of obliteration personified. This is the sound of a mass extinction event. Taking cues from the likes of Code Orange and Knocked Loose with both some electronic touches and layrnx-shredding animosity, these guys bring steep competition to the game.
Ever listened to Helmet and said, "hm...this is great, but could it be heavier"? Well wonder no further. West Virginia's Left Behind are a metallic hardcore band that seem to represent an alternative timeline branching from 1990's Strap it On. The band keeps the groove and some other stylistic hallmarks, but really plays up the loudness factor both in instrumentation and vocal delivery. I adore this band, especially their 2016 outing Seeing Hell. These vocals do not f#$k around. Arguably the heaviest, most blunt force trauma band on this list.
Harm's Way are a Chicago-based hardcore act that have been gaining a ton of traction in recent years. From releasing four albums and several EPs under various record labels, to performing in countless live shows since the band's inception about a decade ago, these Illinois titans are making a name for themselves in both the core and powerviolence communities. Posthuman is an album that lives up to its name as well as the hype of its predecessor, Rust.
All 13 songs on Sectioned's new album are worthy of 5 stars, and goddam they are heavy as f%$k. Mostly foregoing any bells and whistles, you can expect a relentless onslaught of noisy guitars, furiously fluctuating beats, and esophageal scouring vocals. Annihilated is sure to go down as one of the heaviest mathcore/hardcore albums of the year. It's fast, deviously destructive, and dangerously addictive. One of two incredible bands out of Scotland on this list. Speaking of which...
Frontierer are back after 4 years, and for those who have been waiting, I don't expect a shred of disappointment. Unloved is a glorious downpour of industrialized hardcore noise and dizzying mathcore song structures. It sounds like someone uploaded Will Haven's Carpe Diem and it got all glitched out in the process. The syncopated vocals and djenty riffs hit like repeated strikes to the face from a lead pipe. And even without the physical concussion, I am sure feeling the same sense of disorientation.
It may seem a little on the nose to include Code Orange, or alternatively you're groaning to see their name on this list at all. I know that Jami Morrison can come off as a bit of an egomaniac in interviews and the band has become a heavily packaged "scene band"; but the fact remains that Forever was an intense, accomplished, and highly versatile album that was lauded by critics and fans alike for a reason. Furthermore, their live show is amongst the best I have ever seen. Like it or lump it, no one else is fusing hardcore, nü-metal, electronic, and grunge the same way.