Somewhere between extreme metal and hardcore punk, metalcore is a sub genre that has evolved since about the early 2000s. This is music that combines the best elements of hardcore metal, hardcore punk and even thrash, and melodic death metal to create a hybrid sound that has given birth to an entire new generation of younger bands and even younger fans, when compared to the greats like Metallica, Slayer, or Iron Maiden.
Metalcore (which also gave way to style called deathcore) has become known to be associated with the loud, thumping use of aggressive and slower parts of songs known as breakdowns. Mosh metalcore pits are often filled with karate chops and whirlwind spinning kicks.
The best context for metalcore can be described as the further evolution away from 'nu metal' back to primal groovy yet heavy metal/hardcore from the late '90s, such as Sepultura, Machine Head, Biohazard, Pantera and especially Fear Factory, one of the first bands to mix aggressive metal vocals and clean singing. Metalcore's signature sound aside from the breakdowns would be the use of non-aggressive vocals. The subgenre of metalcore is a world wide phenomena, and has been influenced by both American and European extreme metal bands such as Opeth, Cannibal Corpse, Dismember, At the Gates, In Flames and many others. We now present our list of top ten Metalcore bands.
See also: Top 10 OC Metal Bands of All Time
10. The Amity Affliction
This band came into existence in 2003, and hail from Australia. Expect very catchy choruses with a clean style of vocals, in every song, followed almost immediately before and during harsher hardcore screaming. The band definitely have the musical chemistry to write songs that stick in your head with softer, melodies you can sing along to in harmony with the more aggressive singing. The Amity Affliction is composed of vocalist Joel Birch, guitarists Troy Brady and Dan Brown, drummer Ryan Burt and bassist Ahren Stringer, and with just over a decade of existence already has four full-length albums and a strong, international base of fans and media coverage, as well as several high profile music videos. Skillfully merging a love for more sensitive passages, and blast beats and extreme metal style riffs along with the typical breakdowns associated with metalcore, in the style of Fear Factory and Glassjaw, the Amity Affliction is both menacing and melodic. Be sure to check out all of the band's album's but in particular take a listen to Let the Ocean Take Me, the latest release from 2014, and the single “Pittsburgh.”
9. The Agonist
Though the band could be considered to be more of a melodic death metal band with hints of metalcore's signature sound, The Agonist was brought to life in 2004 by guitarist Danny Marino, bassist Chris Kells and now former singer Alissa White-Gluz. Formed in Montreal Canada, the band flourished in the underground metal scene and built up a following, eventually led the band to find some success, including tours with everyone from Kamelot and Overkill to Danzig and Visions of Atlantis and many more death metal, thrash, power metal and other various bands.
The band also features guitarist Pascal Jobin and drummer Simon McKay, along with new singer Vicky Psarakis, who joined the band, when it was recently announced that White-Gluz became the new singer for Arch Enemy. Aside from the metalcore breakdowns this band is set apart for its dichotomy of haunting beautiful singing, duality of rich textures, hints of thrash and Symphonic black metal, walls of loud bass and blast beats, and extreme metal growling, with a twist of a European influence from such bands as In Flames, Arch Enemy, and The Haunted, Epica and Lacuna Coil.
See also: The Top 10 Power Metal Bands
8. God Forbid
With heavy influences of bands such as Machine Head, Pantera and Sepultura, God Forbid also mixed in a fierce blend of Swedish death metal and American hardcore and metalcore. The band used a lot of melodic vocals, chugging breakdowns and a thrashy grooves to create a perfect backdrop of intense, anguished screaming and much clearer singing. The band rose to prominence in the late '90s, and earned their place among underground metal fans by touring relentlessly, with everyone from Cradle of Filth, Gwar, Nile, Bleeding Through, Kataklysm, and Lamb of God. Formed in 1996 in New Jersey by brothers Dallas and Doc Coyle both on guitar and vocals, the band also included drummer Corey Pierce, singer Byron Davis and basic John Outcalt. Unfortunately, even after some moderate success in album sales, and tours on Ozzfest, Rockstar Mayhem and more, plus six full length albums, the band called it quits for good in 2013, when the band officially disbanded for undisclosed reasons.
7.All That Remains
From the humble beginnings of a band in the hardcore/metal scene in Springfield, Massachusetts, All That Remains began in 2000, and has toured the world several times, sold at least million records, and gained millions of fans across the globe, with a very melodic approach to hardcore and death metal. Of course there are the expected breakdowns, but they are not the center of the band's song structures. A very aggressive attack of heavy bass and drums, and electrifying guitar solos combine with singer Phil Labonte, who was the original singer of fellow Massachusetts metal band Shadows Fall.
Rounded out by guitarists Oli Herbert and Mike Martin, bassist Jeanne Sagan, and drummer Jason Costa, the band has six studio albums and a live release, and puts forth most of its energy into its live shows, constantly producing music that is simultaneously aggressive and sensitive with hints of all kinds of metal, from Dio and Iron Maiden to Agnostic Front and At the Gates. All That Remains is often referred to as being among the new breed of American Heavy Metal, and in various press interviews has stated disdain for the label 'metalcore.'
See also: The Top 10 Folk Metal Bands
With more of an emphasis on melodic death metal than metalcore, Unearth was spawned in Massachusetts in 1998, and is currently made up of vocalist Trevor Phipps, guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi, along with bassist John Maggard and drummer Nick Pierce. Over the past dozen years the band has shared the stage with everyone from Slipknot to In Flames. The breakdowns, again are not the centerpiece of the band's songs, but come naturally and flow with ease, rather than feeling excessively long or forced. The clear influence of classic metal such as Dio and Iron Maiden is heard in the guitar shredding of Susi and McGrath. With five studio albums under its belt, Unearth has also appeared on toured the world, opening for such as Judas Priest, Slayer and Dimmu Borgir.
5.Every Time I Die
Throwing in myriad influences, ETID refuse to confine themselves to the 'metalcore' label, and have fused hardcore punk with hints of Sludgy thrash and an experimental groove to create a hybrid that stands out among others. From years of touring the band's live shows have been known to bring an extra high level of intensity as fans rage with the band during each performance. ETID's line up includes vocalist Keith Buckley, drummer Ran Leger, bassist Stephen Micche, and guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams. The band was formed in the late '90s, out of Buffalo, NY and has earned favor among a variety of punk fans as well, having toured with everyone from The Dillinger Escape Plan to New Found Glory.
See also: The Top 10 Female Metal Singers
4. All Shall Perish
From the SF Bay area, All Shall Perish have come a long way from the early days when the band was formed more than a dozen years ago. With numerous line up changes, the band has risen from the underground to become one of the main purveyors of a subgenre of metalcore known as deathcore, with a strong basis of grind and death metal. The band is heavily influenced by European metal acts such as Opeth and At the Gates, and Carcass but it is clear they also grew up on a diet of Cannibal Corpse, Death, Nile, Dying Fetus and Hatebreed. Think fast, brutal and technical, with tons of evil breakdowns all thrown in among a mix of death grind madness and lyrics about a dystopian future. Currently, All Shall Perish, features bassist Mike Tiner, drummer Adam Pierce, and guitarists Francesco Artusato and Rob Maramonte, but the band needs a vocalist, since last year the band departed ways with singer Hernan “Eddie” Hermida, who joined fellow deathcore giants, Suicide Silence.
OC based heroes Bleeding Through have earned a place in the history of OC music and the international world of heavy metal, with a blending of black metal, hardcore punk and metalcore, and bridged the gap between karate chopping hardcore dancers, punks and longhaired thrashers in the mosh pit. The band's legacy and career is built upon a hardcore DIY ethic and straightedge lifestyle and music that is very loud, confrontational and violent with a sound that has layers of mystique and beauty. This band's fury takes the best of Pantera, Cradle of Filth and Minor Threat in both sounds and aesthetics. Be sure to check out the dark and venomous debut album for Trustkill by the band, 2003's This is Love This Is Murderous.
Sadly, after 15 years of madness, touring with everyone from AFI to Slayer, accidents on the road, seven albums, massive festival appearances around the world, Bleeding Through is calling it quits for good. The OC based band, which features guitarists Scott Danough , Dave Nassie and Brian Leppke, drummer Derek Youngsma, bassist Ryan Wombacher, keyboard player Marta Peterson and singer Brandan Schieppati, is currently touring for a final time, one last time, making a stop in stop in Southern California on July 13, at the Glasshouse in what is sure to be one hell of a RAGING show.
See also: The 10 Best Metal Drummers
2. Suicide Silence
Local deathcore heroes Suicide Silence are based in the OC and IE areas, and formed in 2002. The band gained a huge local fan base from its intense live shows, and quickly gained a regional following by relentless tours across the states. With three albums under their belts and massive success in sales and tours around the world, it seemed that the members of Suicide Silence, including guitarists Chris Garza Mark Heylmun, drummer Alex Lopez, and vocalist Mitch Lucker Kenny were at the top of their game and nothing in the world could stop them.
Then, the band's world was shattered, when on Nov. 1, 2012, Lucker tragically passed away due to a horrific motorcycle accident in his hometown of Huntington Beach, at age 28, leaving his band members, family, and millions of fans world wide heart broken from the senseless loss. No one knew of the band would continue, but now with metal brother in law Hernan “Eddie” Hermida from All Shall Perish, the band flies on the face of loss, adversity, having performed the N. American Debut a the Golden Gods awards ceremony last month in LA, and a spot on this summer's Rockstar Mayhem fest this summer with Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Bodycount, Cannibal Corpse and more.
1. Killswitch Engage
Based out of the Boston area, this band took the ethics and ethos of the original Boston hardcore metal scene and went further with the sound to evolve into a blend that took equal parts Fear Factory, Dio, Machine Head and Deftones mixed with the OG East coast hardcore sound, and created a sound that defines metal core. Clear vocals, thrash metal, and explosive harmonies along with very with a clear style of singing that is soulful, breaks up the anger with some an in your face sense of humanity. The songs are very full of rage and raw beauty, many power metal type ballads with much darker, faster and heavier vocals drums and riffs.
The band's current line up consists of original vocalist Jesse Leach, along with drummer Justin Foley, guitarists Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel and bassist Mike D'Antonio. However, the band achieved much of its success with vocalist Howard Jones, who fronted the band for a decade between 2002 and 2012. Be sure to check out the band's cover of the classic Dio song Holy Diver, as well as the album that was recorded with the original singer but featured Jones on tour, 2002's Alive or Just Breathing.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.