On our first edition of the Heavy Pod Is Heavy Cast, editors and all round fine gents Noyan and Eden discussed how the metalcore genre had fallen out of the limelight, mentioning that the genre itself was maybe even dead. Now, this is not the first or last time that I will disagree with them and as a huge fan of the genre and all of its spin offs and subgenres, I felt like I needed to throw in my handful of change. 2015 is definitely not 2005, where Killswitch Engage, Unearth, All That Remains and As I Lay Dying reigned supreme; melodic metalcore I know, but we’ll get to that. You just have to look at the Sound Of The Underground tour packages “back in the day” to twig just how different the popular metal scene is today. No matter how hard mainstream metal is trying to piss me off by slapping the metalcore tag onto anything harsher than a Lady Gaga fragrance, I will continue to defend metalcore.
Have a quick look at this Alternative Press “Future of Metalcore” article and you’ll see why I felt so inclined to defend the genre. Beartooth, Motionless In White, Memphis May Fire. When did metalcore ever look and sound this manicured and maintained? No, I refuse to let this lot be the poster children for metalcore. Throw back to Converge, Botch and Poison The Well, twisting and shaping metallic hardcore into what it would eventually become, paving the way for the likes of Killswitch, God Forbid and the rest of the NWOAHM (essentially a who’s who of popular metalcore of the day). Most of these bands I grew up seeing on Headbanger’s Ball (the Jasta version) are now gone, hibernating or now a global brand spitting out solid, if forgettable albums (KsE, I am looking right at you). What’s left of this once vibrant genre then? Well, where should I start?
What I loved most about that golden era wasn’t the solid release after solid release. It was the community spirit and togetherness of all of these bands that you could see when they played shows together, or when they popped up on each others home video releases to talk shit and basically bro the fuck out. I don’t see that kind of community today; the online community is always thriving, but nowhere near as intensely bound as the NWOAHM movement. The parallels between that huge family of bands and the Sumeriancore movement are bountiful however, and even as one of those who aren’t the biggest fans of After The Burial, Born Of Osiris or Veil Of Maya, I can still appreciate the tight knit community that they have created.
The spirit of the early days of metalcore lives on through them. As they find themselves trapped under a genre tag (Sumeriancore is a great tag) they have to keep pushing their boundaries and reinventing their own wheels. Sometimes there’s a missed step, sometimes they trip up completely but that’s okay; they are surrounded by talented bands who are keeping them on their toes, never letting them rest on their laurels. Changing things up and keeping things fresh maintained metalcore’s dominance in the early years of this century, something that this current crop of bands are doing with every release in this current climate.
Admission time: I still love that classic melodic metalcore sound. No surprises there probably, considering I’m writing about why metalcore isn’t dead. I love what I Killed The Prom Queen have been doing just as much as I still have a soft spot for Caliban and Darkest Hour. Owing just as much to the old hands of metalcore as they do At The Gates, these bands keep that momentum going while others have fallen to the way side and, while their popularity may have diminished along with the size of the venues they frequent, the heart is still there. Caliban in particular have been smashing out solid metalcore albums year after year. The Germans obviously have their dedicated European fanbase and they keep pleasing them with slices of hardcore infused metal; the good stuff with big choruses and breakdowns that can shift the earth. Join me in raising a glass to these guys because they don’t get nearly as much attention as they still deserve. Prost!
Now, to pull things back a step, the million selling ‘core albums that we all have tucked away somewhere wouldn’t exist without THEE pioneering sound of the 90’s. Metallic hardcore has a home in my heart that I reserve for best friends, pets and family; you can take my copies of Jane Doe and Tear From The Red out of my cold, dead hands. You can imagine my delight with how much great metallic hardcore is available for consumption today. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a fuck tonne of terrible shit too, but shhh. Converge are still together writing great music and the Entombedcore movement which is so widely associated with the legendary Boston act has birthed a new generation of metallic hardcore bands. The new standard bearers are Cult Leader (review) with their dark, chaotic sound that has to be heard to be believed. Then there’s bands like Bleak (review) who turn the crazy factor up a notch, but still remain rooted in crusty, chaotic metalcore. You’ll notice that I reviewed both of these albums and gave them very favourable scores. Not for any old reason, but because they are innovating in a time of pastiche and homage. Yautja, All Pigs Must Die (Converge associated act, I know) and Grieved all fly the flag for trve metalcore, keeping clear of the tag itself because, let’s be honest, who the fuck wants to be associated with Crown The Empire?
The OG metalcore sound that I love is still being used and abused and the classic melodic metalcore band is still a staple of music today. There are plenty of young acts that should be looking at these bands and thinking, “yeah it might be cool to get signed to Red Bull and put out a softasfuck screamo album under the metalcore tag, but wouldn’t it be fucking sweet to whip out some guitar licks like Unearth, or batter through a set of chaos like Converge still do?” As long as there are fans like you and I that give these bands the time and love they deserve, metalcore will never die. Regardless of which type of act you associate with the tag, the spirit of the genre has carried right on through from it’s earliest days. You can shoot, stab, drug or smother metalcore but there is no way to kill it. It is the Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers of the music world. Loads of sequels and and an ever increasing body count make this the musical movie I will keep enjoying. Over to you, metalcore deniers.