I love the extreme, but there are plenty of subgenres with great albums to be found. Just like any other sect of metal, 'core has a lot of crap, but some real highlights as well. These were my favorite hardcore, deathcore, mathcore, and metalcore albums of 2015. Honorable mention to Odium. Follow the links to the right for more band info, reviews, and streams.
Put everything great about the early days of Every Time I Die, Converge, and Norma Jean in a bowl, melt that sh#t together, and bake at 350 degrees. This is Kennedy out of Montreal. Even if you are not well-versed in the aforementioned bands (for shame), those who enjoyed releases from more recent acts like Great American Ghost or The Armed can certainly get behind The Guilty Poor. It's a ferocious combination of mathcore, hardcore, and post-hardcore that commands your respect with knuckles, knees, and elbows.
I'll admit, at times I almost feel guilty about how much I enjoy this music. The production is almost saccharine in its pristineness and lacks edge, the riffs are super djenty (if that bothers you), and the vocals continue to swing more and more towards metalcore in both singing and screaming. But as far as mainstream deathcore acts go, if you ask me nobody does it better. Songs are catchy, well constructed, and above all, fucking righteous to bang your head to. And despite what you might hear on the surface, this isn't some big dumb brocore either. A deeper listen to the smart melodies, work on the keys, and overall musicianship will reveal the level of technical prowess that eludes most bands in the genre.
All in all, this is the level of quality I have come to expect from the last remaining metalcore band that's worth a damn. There are countless ripping solos, engaging vocals, and as always, thrilling drum and guitar work. And that;s not to mention all of the great spaghetti western experimentation. In a scene now bloated with poppy, watered-down bullshit; August Burns Red are here to remind us what metalcore was, is, and can grow to be.
In a nutshell, The Apex can be thought of as Calculating Infinity-era Dillinger Escape Plan mixed with some Pig Destroyer and Meshuggah vocals. The time signatures...they have to be illegal in most states. It all begins with the drums, which are just plain maniacal. They crush the entire album, but I am particularly fond of their little solos on "Glass Walls." Where did they find this guy?
Welp, time for a party. One that I certainly never intended to attend, for that matter. It's that rare frat party one gets dragged to and finds that these blokes are actually quite alright. "The Fever" might be a good summation of The Hell's sound: corny cinematic intro, 80's hair metal radio-ready vocal hook, insane megadeath boogy bass, and some f@#king thrashy riffs. Self-aware avantgarde pop metal? Is it serious or sarcastic? I have no idea, but f@#k it I'm grabbing a solo cup and funnel.
These riffs are bursts of unyielding alien rage-speak. Between the sliding, bashing, and noodling; this is more guitar-assaulting than guitar-playing. Now sure, all of this mind-distorting, technical riffing is all well and good, but it's for nothing without a strong foundation of songwriting. Fortuitously like Dillinger Escape Plan, iwrestledabearonce temper the madness with more traditional head-bangers. All the while the drums pound the kit into the dirt like an evil mathemagician.
Azgard from the Ulkraine leave the bro-offs and chugging to the amateurs, instead creating satisfying songs that cover a wide range of beauty and brutality. Really, the death and core elements are already above average, but where the album really shines is in the fusion of progressive metal elements. They start to rear their head on "The Evil is Coming," but it's not until "Eastern Winds" that they truly take flight. This gorgeous track is filled with melody and concise vision without ever sacrificing heaviness. "Icon" is another great song that goes full split personality between After the Burial and Whitechapel.
Fancy the hardcore? Once again, producer/musician Kurt Ballou (Converge, etc.) has you covered. All I know about the band is that they are from Detroit, and they rock face. Without a single word, the cover speaks volumes about what you are about to hear. Equal parts gritty, ugly, satirical, aggressive, and humorous; The Armed are a force to be reckoned with. And like Alfred says, “some people just want to watch the world burn.” (FYI, this album is 100% free)
The bass, the groove, the technical nerdgasms. I have said it before and I will say it again, Dan Weller and Pin are two of the most under-respected guitar players in the industry. Does it djent? Sure it does, but it's so much more than that. Between the insanity-inspiring noodling, gorgeous chorus melodies, and everything in between; these guys not only set a higher bar for everyone else...they make it look maddeningly easy. And that's not even to mention the other 4 amazing musicians this group has to offer. A decade later and they've still got it.
Lovely post rock instrumentals give way to frenetic mathcore; with alternating post-hardcore and death metal vocals. The resulting effect conjures loving memories of one of my favorite underground bands: The Number 12 Looks Like You. Like the now-defunct group from New Jersey, Wrvth employ use of genre jumping that is a bit wild, but always catchy. As the album continues on, the bar is repeatedly raised with a series of bliss-inducing guitar solos. But to call the result “happy” would be inaccurate. The clean guitar breaks and rumbly bass lines keep the aesthetic quite melancholy, and even feel a touch ominous. Like a lurking entity just out of view, or some repressed trauma.