By: Gordon Koch
"MetalCore" is now a four letter word, kind of like "Screamo" or "Goth". A few bands got out into the mainstream, butchered the genre with bland music and bizarre fashion trends thus burning the reputation to the ground. Wikipedia's definition reads "Metalcore is a broad fusion genre of extreme metal and hardcore punk. The word is a blend of the names of the two genres." Something like that sounds pretty sweet to me, but in today's day and age people have to refer to themselves as "Metallic Hardcore" to avoid the stigma of a ruined word. Black Flag, SIEGE and Corrosion of Conformity mixing with Slayer, Carcass and Sepultura was the potion that helped create this list of bands that then inspired us to do what we do. Fuck the word, the history speaks for itself.
His Hero is Gone – “Monument to Thieves”
This band is one of our most direct influences since day one, so much that we covered one of their songs (“Headless/Heartless”) on our first album. Incredibly ahead of their time, I find them to be the progenitors of the whole "dark hardcore" genre, but they are considered kings of the crust punk world. Mostly overlooked nowadays, they made a short lived but huge mark and summed up what bands were going to be trying to pull off for the next 16 years. This album is a perfect mix of emotions for an aggressive record, ranging from fear to hope, anger, sorrow then absolute hopelessness. Aided by very primal yet expressive guitar work, thick and heavy tone, the push/pull of blast beats and slow sludge drumming and a raw/warm recording, “Monument to Thieves” is everything I want in a hardcore record. But they aren't, they are something else entirely.
Swarm of the Lotus – “The Sirens of Silence”
Another band that beat everyone to the punch, Swarm of the Lotus fizzled out before most music fans could grab on to the concept, sadly. This album is a little more on the bizarre side when it comes to song structure and riffage, but when it gets heavy, it gets really fucking heavy. The guitar tone on this recording is fantastic, really gnarly, crisp and powerful which allow the songs to change direction in several ways but still come out as bangers. That and this is an early Kurt Ballou recording where he really shined on the production side. Again, ahead of their time. I almost moved to Baltimore because of this band, almost...
Cannibal Corpse – “Gallery of Suicide”
Cannibal Corpse may seem way off of what we "are" but that shit is so ingrained in our blood its gross. They are perfect, they are a mess, they play what is needed, they groove, they grind, they RIFF. Fuck man, those riffs! My standout song on this album is "From Skin to Liquid". You could pull 5 regular songs out of that one, and they would all be hits. They are master craftsmen of death metal and will outlive us all in their influence. Long live Cannibal Corpse.
Tragedy – “Vengeance”
Tragedy is what I consider the proper evolution of punk. That is where it is supposed to go, not the pop punk rot, that shit was an accident and I wish it could go away. Right off the bat this record builds up to a crusty sprint with sick riffs and tasty leads that conjure images of being chased by black helicopters trying to shut down the underground network of freedom fighters. It is really hard for a band to keep almost the same pace and simplistic punk beat but keep you listening from beginning to end, but these guys do it. Goose bumps and all. They should be the biggest punk band in the world, but they aren't and that sucks. Oh and these are the dudes from His Hero Is Gone so... go figure.
Converge – “Jane Doe”
Of course this is on the list. “Jane Doe” is the quintessential Metallic Hardcore album, #1. It broke the mould so hard that people are still replicating it 15 years later and still comparing later Converge releases to it. Shit, Berklee College of Music held a televised interview with Kurt Ballou and Engineer Matthew Ellard on how they made the damn thing. It is THE record, nothing else I can really say about it other than "this is why we are here".
Just listen to it.
You can check out the latest release from Call of the Void below. It’s an absolute beast