My relationship with heavy music was a sudden one spurred on by feeling alienated from the people around me and, naturally, the clusterfuck of emotions that come with being a 14 – 16 year old boy. My first reaction when introduced to some entry level Post-Hardcore by a friend (Alesana by the way) was repulsion, those throat piercing shrieks interspersing themselves in between the awkwardly feminine refrains and some roughly produced instrumentation, who actually enjoys this shit? Yet I came back to it the following day, then the next, and then I was listening to the recommended songs, taking in all their gratuitously angst-ridden melodrama. My interest in Metalcore came a bit later as I moved away from the gender ambiguity of Scene bands into more meaty bands whose testosterone fuelled fury matched the frenzy of my own relentless hormones. As I tried to sift through the legions of bands in the scene, I made use of a tonne of these now horribly dated Youtube videos. While they’re good for a laugh now, I can’t deny that I found a lot of my favourite bands which I love to this day through these types of avenues, so I thought I’d make one myself in case there’s anyone out there curious about the scene.
10. This Calling – All That Remains (2006)
Okay so that opening wail may not be particularly friendly to first time Metalcore listeners, and All That Remains definitely went on to make more accessible tunes, but most of them were shit so hear me out here. While “This Calling” may not be the most forgivable Metalcore song I find it is deceptively accessible thanks to its adherence to a lot of tried and true Hard Rock and Metal tropes. There is a nifty little solo and most of the song builds to the excellent hook that is clean and catchy enough to outweigh the macho savagery that surrounds it.
9. Not the American Average – Asking Alexandria (2009)
Asking Alexandria is never going to popular with Metalcore purists or practically anyone who considers themselves musically elite in any way. To add to this, “Not the American Average” highlights practically everything they are commonly criticised for, childish and needlessly vulgar lyrics, cookie-cutter guitar chugs and pointless clean bridges. Yet it is such a trashy good time, from the earworm cleans on the intro, the overtly sexual lyrics and the hilariously heavy breakdown which caps the track off, it’s clear Asking Alexandria don’t take themselves too seriously here and neither should you.
8. A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White – Underoath (2004)
While Underoath often skirt the line between Post-Hardcore and Metalcore I feel that most of the time they fall into the latter. Not only do they fall into the latter but they may be one of the most passionate Metalcore bands to ever exist and “A Boy Brushed Red…” is truly an oddity in their discography. The fact that it was never released as a single and yet it still managed to become arguably their most popular song says it all really. The chemistry between frontman Spencer Chamberlain and drummer/singer Aaron Gillespie was never stronger as they bounced off each other perfectly. Then there’s the lyrics that are delightfully edgy but still maintain more taste than most of the entries on here.
7. Abigail – Motionless in White (2010)
Speaking of all things good taste, we come to a fairly generic Metalcore song with a bit of a Goth twist. “Abigail” along with pretty much all of Motionless in White’s debut album ‘Creatures’ is a good example of how you don’t need to do anything new as long as you nail the execution. That’s exactly what the band do so well here with those thick guitars chugs that don’t relent and one of the most demonic Metalcore vocal performances the genre has ever seen. This may not sound particularly accessible, but “Abigail’s” forgivingly short length and to the point songwriting might be just what a casual listener needs to get them started.
6. Fame > Demise – Woe, is Me (2011)
Them burly man vocals got you down? Well maybe a dose of Tyler Carter before he became one of the most insufferably one note performers in the scene will do the trick. The hype that followed Woe, is Me for the short time they were a band is a bit laughable but somewhat warranted considering they managed to blend Pop R&B hooks with Rise Record’s favourite brand of synthetic Metalcore rather seamlessly. This might be their best output as well, with songwriting that flows nicely, a perfect blend between the heavy and clean parts of their sound and lyrics that delve into a flawed father/son relationship.
5. Vice Grip – Parkway Drive (2015)
While a lot of long-time fans (myself included) were saddened to see our national heroes Parkway Drive go the way of Arena Metal, there’s no denying that this is the most accessible they’ve ever been. With soaring guitars lines, huge chants and basic as hell “inspirational” lyricism, this is what AC/DC would sound like if they’d decided to become a Metalcore band. It’s pretty accessible stuff with even Winston’s iconically deep roars softening at the edges to make room for the melodic guitar flourishes.
4. Right Side of the Bed – Atreyu (2004)
Unpopular opinion time, Atreyu might be the most laughably awful band I’m including on this list. Their mix of Hardcore breakdowns and screaming with the corny, almost Glam Metal brand of songwriting and guitar wankery always rubbed me the wrong way. Despite this, there’s no denying these influences make them a perfect gateway band, and all their Glam sensibilities are on show with “Right Side of The Bed”. While the cute clap along intro, the Hard Rock chorus and absolutely atrocious lyrics make me roll my eyes hard enough to induce a seizure, for a kid moving away of mum and dad’s KISS collection, this might be as good as it gets.
3. The End of Heartache – Killswitch Engage (2004)
Probably the closest thing Metalcore has in the way of an iconic Power Ballad, I still feel the urge to sing this one at the top of my lungs whenever it comes on. Howard Jones’ booming voice projects magically over the waves guitar chugs gradually upping the intensity until it reaches the huge chorus. It doesn’t slouch on the heaviness either, with plenty of wretched screams and guitar breakdowns to be had. At its core though, “The End of Heartache” is a song driven by its melancholic lyrics which tell a pretty relatable tale about the struggles of moving on from a relationship.
2. Tears Don’t Fall – Bullet for My Valentine (2005)
Bullet for My Valentine is a hilariously contradictory member of the Metalcore scene. How much of their genre classification comes from them conforming to its tropes and how much is the actual Metal community not wanting a bar of them I’ll never know. The reason for their shaky foothold in the Metal scene is clear on “Tears Don’t Fall”. At first glance, it’s a pretty heavy, ‘balls to the wall’, epic Metal tune, but then you delve into the lyrics. Exhibiting more emotional vulnerability than even some Pop artists would dare to show, Matt Tuck’s admittedly juvenile refrains about his infatuation with his lover are enough to make any Big 4 Metal fan squirm. Alongside this extra layer of emotional depth, “Tears Don’t Fall” is a superbly written song with some excellent guitarwork and an unforgettable hook.
1. Shadow Moses – Bring Me the Horizon (2013)
Probably a bit of swerve after the influx of early 2000’s entries, and most old-school Metalcore fans would be sickened by this verdict, but the lead-off single for Bring Me the Horizon’s 2013 album ‘Sempiternal’ is the best bridge between the worlds of Linkin Park-esque Nu Metal and Metalcore I’ve ever heard. Like Parkway Drive, Bring Me the Horizon take on an arena ready sound but unlike Parkway, they don’t soften at the edges (they saved that for later). Frontman Oli Sykes sounds more passionate and ravenous than ever and the guitarwork is thunderous as it crashes into the mix. Everything about the song screams “epic” thanks to the guitars and the immaculate production nuances. The lyrics tackle societal apathy in a suitably general way as they are mostly just there to be screamed back at the band as they fill arenas full of kids, probably seeing their first Metalcore band.