Music operates in cycles and waves, with the energy generated from one, feeding directly into another. This is one of the major ways that we see genres and styles achieve growth. One particular genre that we have seen outgrow its roots and reach with newly grown tentacles into ever-evolving styles is hardcore. Just look around at the number of sub-genres that include the affix of “core” to their names. In this piece we look at the bands who evolved hardcore in both subtle and major ways to arrive at what we now know as “metalcore.” First, we take a look at some of the bands who were most directly tied to hardcore in its last iteration before metalcore truly came into being.
One of the sillier things that ever became popular in metal and hardcore are “kung fu kicks” in the middle of mosh pits but part of why that ever even became a thing was because, generally, kids in the crowd were trying to come up with some kind of intense way to show their appreciation for the music while, perhaps, protecting their heads from flying fists and elbows. That said, it’s still dumb, though, that seems widely acknowledged by now and most who participate in do so with an awareness of how it comes across. However, it didn’t stop it from becoming a thing, especially in the metalcore world and beyond.
Djent had an explosive entrance into the world of heavy music, around the start of the decade. It was a truly exciting occurrence, with first-wave acts like Periphery, Animals As Leaders and Cloudkicker filtering the technically-driven progressive sound of acts like Meshuggah, Sikth, and those of the budding “Sumeriancore” movement, into something altogether more accessible, while still retaining much of their forebears’ technical and progressive edge. Yet, like most new sub-genres, djent quickly devolved into pastiche and gave way to over saturation—perhaps a little bit quicker than most. Djent, it seems, has had a propperly ballistic trajectory, and—in 2017—as its momentum trails off, it’s hard to get excited about this once-promising phenomenon.
Another homegrown project we are immensely fond of comes straight from our dear editor-in-chief, the aforementioned Eden Kupermintz, and our good friend Greg Greenberg (Seven Circles), who, with guitarists Doug Van Bevers and Nick Maini and drummer Travis Orbin (ex-Periphery, Darkest Hour) form Instar, a beautiful fusion of post-rock, math-rock, jazz/metal fusion, and spoken word. Those who are at all familiar with Eden know that he is an ardent lover and connoisseur of sci-fi and a writer himself, and he lends his own illustrative prose and mellifluous voice to give the project a distinctly cosmic post-y feeling. The last time we mentioned the band on this site it was to recommend their debut EP, which featured Eden on one track and other guest vocalists on the other two. Eden has since joined the project as a full-fledged member, and if the lead track from their upcoming album Ex Nihilo Cycles “Stepping Stones” is any indication, Instar is prepared to take an enormous leap for their first full-length release.
To simply sum Darkest Hour up to yet another ATG-core band would not only be insulting, but wildly inaccurate as well. The band has been different ever since their inception, as they started much more closely in line with the hardcore-metal crossover of their heyday in the mid-90’s. Eventually this would change, of course. The band began to overlay their blistering metallic-hardcore with melo-death riffs galore, showing that they were not only impassioned Integrity fans, but At The Gates fans as well. The hardcore always lingered though, driving their sound to blistering speeds and intensities that other bands simply could not keep up with. At the time it was remarkable in its own right, the perfect marriage between death metal and hardcore, but soon it led to just as many bands trying to rip them off as closely as many before them had tried to rip off In Flames.
Iron Reagan is made up of the singer and bassist from Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour’s old drummer, and DRI’s Crossover DNA. Then again, if you’re at all familiar with the thrash revival scene then you probably already know that about this band. And you can probably take a healthy guess about what their latest album on Relapse, Crossover Ministry, sounds like. All hints of predictability aside this is a rollicking throwback to the heyday of thrash when bands like Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, and so many others were as likely to be found shredding guitars and skateboards as digging themselves out of the pit.
Though it may seem like we talked ad naseum about how fucking spectacular 2016 was in terms of new music, the fact remains that we saw more fantastic albums drop than we could seemingly keep up with. But just when we thought our palates were satiated, here comes 2017 with an excellent early roster of release announcements, some we’ve expected for a while and others that came out of nowhere. The following is a surely incomplete list of all the albums worth craving as we ring in the new year. Some of these albums have been fully announced with pre-order links and all that jazz, while others are merely probable assumptions based on various updates on social media. Regardless, these are all phenomenal projects worth looking for in the coming year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to comment with some albums you’re anticipating so we can share in your excitement.
For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
36 Crazyfists has always been a band that hasn’t achieved huge popularity, but they have proven time and time again that solid songwriting and musicianship aren’t tied to any particular genre. What makes A Snow Capped Romance so good, aside from its stellar songwriting, is the way the band is able to convey heavy emotions without becoming melodramatic in the process.
The often maligned modern melodic death metal genre is chock full of pretenders to the throne. Numbers have tried to emulate the sound and success of the kings but have fallen to the side of the road, bloody, battered and (somehow) bullishly ready to have another stab. This makes for an abundance of records that can be thrown into the bargain bin instead of stuck up on “albums to listen to before you die” lists. Enter Karybdis, a London five piece sharpening the tools of their trade with their sophomore record Samsara. Do they have the chops and the gall to take on the melodeath monarchy? Not quite, I’m afraid.