The 1980’s saw the merger of two powerful musical genres: Punk and metal. Known as metalcore, this hybrid born of two dynamic musical styles, soon grew in popularity. More and more people became enamored with this new child of rock. Solely an American invention, metalcore soon found itself in underground clubs across the world, creating dangerous, heavy and sometimes threatening soundscapes for fans thirsting for auditory adventures. To say that choosing the most influential metalcore albums of all time is a tough task would be a severe understatement, but choose we did and here are our choices for the top 20 best metalcore albums of all time.
20. The Raven Age – Conspiracy
Unlike some of the other bands on our list, The Raven Age is relatively young up-and-comers in the world of metalcore. So far, they’ve only two albums on their discography, and Conspiracy is one of the two. Conspiracy is a great album for those of you just dipping your toe into the world of metalcore. It’s style is more melodic metalcore than hardcore. According to guitarist George Harris, ““We grew up listening to a lot of bands with that singing and screaming element, but we realized our favorite parts were the melodic hooks…” Listeners will note that while the vocals are clean and the music more melodic, the overall sound is hearty, vigorous and full-bodied.
19. Code Orange – Forever
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Code Orange is a tough, take-no-prisoners metalcore/hardcore punk band. Their 2017 album Forever stands as one of the absolute best metalcore albums to date. In fact, many fans consider Forever to be the album which saw Code Orange explore the metalcore genre. Forever also delves into industrial metal with smatterings of 90’s grunge. They take their music seriously and refuse to entertain any fakery within the genre, and Forever is definite proof of this.
18. Snapcase – Progression Through Unlearning
Snapcase is one of those rock bands that’s able to effortlessly blend various genres, from metalcore to hardcore punk, into a well-crafted album. Initially called Solid State in 1989, Snapcase recorded their first record, Comatose with Robby Takac, who would later join the Goo Goo dolls. When fans heard Progression Through Unlearning and Designs for Automation, they christened it one of the best albums of the genre. Released in April of 1997, this incendiary album unleashed monstrous, rapid riffs upon the listeners ears, awakening the dissident soul to new heights of virtual battle. Considered by many to be the hallmark of metalcore during that era, this innovative album continues to attract new metalcore fans each year.
17. Starkweather – Crossbearer
Starkweather came together in 1989 Philadelphia. They are known as one of the foundation bands of the metalcore genre, even if they might not consider themselves as such. Their album, Crossbearer, was released in 1992 which was known as the early years of metalcore. Crossbearer opens up with a full on frontal assault with the song “Shards”, leaving the listener in an elevated state of annihilation. Indeed, Crossover delivers what it promises: A delicious flogging of the soul, as each song lashes out, trouncing those who dare believe they can handle such glorious sound. For those who can’t, well perhaps you’re not tough enough. For those who can, then you know where you stand, how much you can take.
16. Lazarus Bird – Burst
Burst, by the band Lazarus Bird is a must have for fans of metalcore. This Swedish band was never one to submit to the rules fabricated by others, and this album is definitely proof of that. Here, Lazarus Bird refuses to stay withing the confines of metalcore, as it branches out and experiments with blending various aspects of metalcore with musically progressive sounds. If one word can describe Lazarus Bird, it could very well be “emotive”. This is an emotional album, designed to be read, as well as listened to. For instance, the lyrics of “City Cloaked” one can actually feel the murky darkness, “The city I am”:
My alleys veins, my water nurture
Nobody need stand on ceremony before my doors
I am a home to you
And to them
Of ashes they come
In sackcloth cloaked
The instrumentation heard in “City Cloaked” is a thing of beauty. One can get a hint of jazz influences swimming through an expansive ocean of hardcore power.
15. As I Lay Dying – Shadows Are Security
Shadows Are Security is a guitar driven album by the band, As I Lay Dying. The robust riffs are courtesy of the bands two new guitarists, Phil Sgrosso and Nick Hipa, who appear to work well in tandem. However, fans of guitar solos might be a little wanting in this album, as they are few and far between. An interesting point of fact, is that the artwork for this album was supplied by Converge’s very own Jacob Bannon. Released in 2005, Shadows Are Security peaked at 35 on the US Billboard 200, and number 1 on the US Billboard Indie Albums chart. Tracks to look out for are the potent and robust, “Meaning in Tragedy”, and the melodic, “The Darkest Nights”.
14. All That Remains – The Fall of Ideals
Produced by Adam Dtiewicz of Killswitch Engage, The Fall of Ideals carries with it the sound of heavy, hardcore metal meshed together with melodic metal. Released in 2006, The Fall of Ideals emerged as a triumph for the band. Powerful in some places, haunting in others, tracks to look out for include “This Calling” and “The Air That I Breathe”. Musically speaking, this band is pretty tight on this album. Everything from the precision drumming of Shannon Lucas, to the vocal range of lead vocalist, Philip Labonte is evidence of a band that had decided to stretch it’s limits, and exercise its right to be more metal than they ever were before.
13. Cave In – Until Your Heart Stops
1998’s Until Your Heart Stops is the studio debut of metalcore band, Cave In. This album provided fans of metalcore exactly what they needed: The transformation of ceaseless turbulence into an engaging soundscape of metalcore bliss. Another factor in the success of this album, is the raw experimentation which went into it, such as importing bits of psychedelia into the piece. For instance, the song “Controlled Mayhem Then Erupts” is 13 minutes of such beauty, offering the listener a mix of visceral metalcore and psychedelic sounds. An interesting fact is that Jacob Bannon and Kurt Ballou of the metalcore band, Converge both had a hand in making this debut album. Bannon contributed vocals, and Ballou not only contributed percussion, vocals and guitar, but also produced the album at his God City Studio.
12. Darkest Hour – Godless Prophets And The Migrant Flora
Heavily influenced by Swedish metalcore bands, the Darkest Hour’s ninth studio album, 2017’s Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora became their highest charting album. Coming in at number 42 on Billboards Hot 200, this album marked a regeneration of sorts for the band. The album’s energy became even more dominant than before. Compelling, dynamic and forceful, it convinces the listener that you haven’t heard the last of Darkest Hour yet. Partly funded by fans to the tune of $67,000, Darkest Hour’s contribution to the genre is certain to inspire young musicians to pick up a guitar.
11. The Devil Wears Prada – With Roots Above and Branches Below
The Devil Wears Prada started out as a Christian metalcore band in Dayton Ohio. However, with their highly successful metalcore album, With roots Above and Branches Below, the band seeked to move away from a totally faith based theme to experiment with something a bit darker in terms of sound. Released on May 5, 2009, With Roots Above and Branches Below scored a sweet 11th spot on the Billboard 200. This album offers its life blood and soul to the listener, as vocalist Mike Hranica reaches down into his throat to pull out some rough and strapping vocals worthy of death metal. Fans of the game Guitar Hero World Tour will recognize one of the songs off the album, “Dez Moines”.
10. Norma Jean – Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child
Named after Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jean is a Christian metalcore band from Atlanta Georgia. Their 2002 metalcore album, Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child, is seen as one of the most influential metalcore albums of all time. Make no mistake, this is one fierce album, daring the listener to take it all in at once without being overwhelmed by this massive anarchy of sound. The album received critical acclaim with sites such as Allmusic, Cross Rhythms, Exclaim and more giving it consistently high ratings. In a 2006 review for Exclaim, Greg Pratt notes, “The band utilizes the familiar Solid State sound of emotionally crushing, jagged, progressive metalcore well.”
9. Botch – We are the Romans
]Botch was a highly influential metalcore band from Tacoma, Washington. Active from 1993 to their break up in 2002, the band spent their time well, creating music and touring with bands such as Dillinger Escape Plan and Jesuit. Their album, We are the Romans, was a compilation of profound metalcore richness. Everything from the jagged, chaotic yet clean riffs of Dave Knudson to Dave Verellen’s ripping vocals signal that We are the Romans will remain forever, a metalcore album to influence all others. Upon release, the album received the critical acclaim that it deserved, with Decibel Magazine inducting it into their Hall of Fame.
8. Poison The Well – The Opposite of December
In May 2002, Poison the Well’s debut album, The Opposite of December, was named as one of Revolver’s list of the “Top 69 Rock albums of All Time”, with the album coming in at number 50, not bad for a debut album. In fact, The Opposite of December is considered a milestone in the time stream of metalcore albums due to its influence. Those of you who are a fan of percussion, will love this album, as songs like “Mid Air Love Message” and “Nerdy” showcase more than enough double kicks for even the most steadfast fan. The vocals of Moreira rage passionately, mounting a relentless assault on the listeners sensibilities. Finally, fans of Converge’s Jacob Bannon will be pleased to know that he handled the artwork for this album.
7. Converge – Jane Doe
2001’s Jane Doe by Converge remains a staple of metalcore, still honored and revered by fans to this day as one of the greatest metalcore albums ever produced. The album follows the theme of a woman who was someone, but now is no one. For many, it was this album that decidedly pushed metalcore to its limits while asking it to go further. An interesting side note involves lead vocalist Jacob Bannon. Not only did he handle much of the writing, but he’s also responsible for the artwork. Track of note would be “Jane Doe”. This is an epic track, honed to perfection via Bannon’s thrashing vocals.
6. Hatebreed, Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire
As a band, Hatebreed has been heralded as being an instrumental and influential element in the development of metalcore. Released in 1997, Satisfaction is the Death of Desire is the bands debut album, and what a debut it was. Upon release, it received much in critical acclaim as one of the best representations of hardcore. In fact, there isn’t one track on this album that wants for anything. Each track is a solid representation of keen musicianship, each track is made to simmer, seethe and rage. One track to look out for, “Empty Promises” stands out as a tense, frenzied and unstoppable piece laden with visceral energy.
5. Earth Crisis – Destroy the Machines
One of the most prominent metalcore bands of the 90’s was Earth Crisis. Earth Crisis tracks involved much more than the standard lyrics of the day. Instead, they represented their name and were heavily involved in political, social and animal rights issues. In 1995, Earth Crisis released their LP, Destroy the Machines. This album struck a note with fans, and became the biggest selling release in the Victory Records catalog, a record they still hold. The riffs are lockdown hard and heavy. Tracks to take note of are “inherit the Wasteland” and “Forced March”. They are also instrumental in bringing the straight edge movement and veganism into the world of metalcore. NME, Kerrang!, and Loudwire are among those who’ve put this album on a pedestal, where it can influence new, young musicians.
4. Trivium – Ascendancy
It’s not uncommon to see fans put 2005’s Ascendancy on the top of their Trivium album list, and for good reason. The album showcases the bands ability to be diverse while remaining a pure metalcore band. For instance, take one of their best tracks, “Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr”. Here, lead vocalist Matt Heafy states, “Pull Harder is a look at a villainous tyrant; one who can simply kill and destroy on will, push his faith upon all, be hated by all other powers around – and still be loved by many that he rules.”. Ascendancy experienced critical acclaim from such esteemed publications as Kerrang! Allmusic and Metal Hammer.
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine
On July 20, 2004, metalcore band, The Dillinger Escape Plan released Miss Machine. This second studio release was pivotal for the band as they began to experiment with various sounds and influences. Intense, savage and strong, Miss Machine kept much of what The Dillinger Escape Plan was originally about. However, they also examined and sampled other genres, taking from whatever influence would best suit the track at hand. While many fans found this an exciting departure for the band, many others did not. Tracks like “We Are the Storm”, for instance, slice through the atmosphere, ripping the listeners sensibilities to shreds. Whatever you think about Miss Machine, it put the band on a pedestal of greatness for most fans with their inclusion of jazz elements and keen use of melody.
2. Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing
When Roadrunner Records heard Killswitch Engage for the first time, they saw a golden opportunity and quickly signed metalcore band to their label. This once local band had now crossed over into the world of well-deserved commercial success. Once signed, they proceeded to record one of the most influential albums in metalcore history: Alive or Just Breathing. Released in 2002, the album hit Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart at number 37. A commanding blend of hearty, fast-paced electric tracks like “Numbered Days”, and heartfelt, acoustic numbers such as “The Element of One”, this album succeeded in securing Killswitch Engage a place in metalcore history.
1. Avenged Sevenfold – Waking the Fallen
Today, Avenged Sevenfold has shown itself to be a creative and versatile band, able to handle musical genres with ease. However, back in the day they were generally a metalcore band, and one of their best albums was the critically acclaimed 2003’s Waking the Fallen. Darkly emotional, dense and powerful, this is the first album to feature guitarist Synyster Gates and bassist Johnny Christ. The richness in the fabric of this album is the bands ability to craft highly technical pieces without the listener realizing it, the blending of the technical and artistic is that good. The album was certified platinum in the U.S., silver in the U.K. and gold in Canada. Recommended songs include “Unholy Confessions” and “Remenissions”.
There you have it, our choices for the best metalcore albums of all time. Will the list please everyone? Probably not, but if nothing else, it will bring interesting discussion to the table regarding everyone else’s all time favorites. If you are new to metalcore, keep in mind that it is an emotive subgenre. As such, it’s also meant to be ‘read’ as well as listened to. This means that one should pay special attention to the lyrics, as in most cases they are purposeful and directly tied into the music. Metalcore artists have the ability to take a chaotic cacophony and transform it into a thing of beauty.