Metalcore is an incredible genre of music that has gotten a bad rap at times. After nu-metal, it became the target du jour of metal elitists online in the mid-2000s for daring to incorporate sung choruses and breakdowns. Years later, the genre has come a long way, with elitists finally realizing how wrong they were (for the most part).
The history of metalcore is incredible, brimming with amazingly talented bands that have breathed exciting new technicality into the metal landscape.
From those who have brought overwhelming melody, those who deliver more of a crushing hardcore approach, and those who have expanded the subgenre’s creative boundaries, here are the 10 greatest metalcore albums of all time.
The End of Heartache – Killswitch Engage
It is undeniable how remarkable of an experience 2004’s The End of Heartache is. Featuring vocalist Howard Jones, Killswitch Engage not only delivers harder-hitting metalcore but also provides a greater range of mood and technical ferocity throughout this release. What is astounding about this range is that the band provides intense heaviness through beautiful-sounding melodies and serene passages exuding sorrow. The End of Heartache is, without a doubt, one of the most moving metalcore albums of all time.
Jane Doe – Converge
Also as moving is the wildly loved 2001 Converge album, Jane Doe. While the band weaves in plenty of melodies throughout the record, Converge hones in on a math-y and chaotic progression, using that chaos to provide gripping narratives. Jane Doe has had a tremendous impact on the metalcore genre, as well as other subgenres, inspiring bands to experiment with their artistry and utilize abrasive instrumentation to craft experiences oozing with emotion.
Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire – Hatebreed
Hatebreed not only carried the torch of old-school hardcore into metal but also elevated the sound to a new level. Their 1997 debut album makes for a crushing display of thrilling hardcore that rips forth with ferocity. While every record on this list has had some sort of inspirational impact on music, Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire is the sort of record you hear so much of today. Look no further than bands like God’s Hate, Scowl, and Gel.
We Are The Romans – Botch
We Are The Romans is a metalcore classic, period. Featuring a gripping and aggressive presentation from beginning to end, Botch’s 1999 album is an adrenaline-fueled work. Startling, raucous, and mesmerizing, the technicality featured in We Are The Romans has gone on to inspire so many of today’s metalcore and hardcore bands. Botch has cemented itself as one of the greats of metalcore, and it is incredibly awesome to see the band making a comeback in 2023.
Underneath – Code Orange
Underneath represents a fascinating step forward for what metalcore can do. It has never been a rare thing for metalcore bands to experiment with other genres of music, but throughout Underneath, Code Orange weaves in a plethora of styles (from EDM, industrial, and even grunge). Thanks to their talented artistry and tight chemistry as a band, Code Orange takes all these sounds and offers a dazzling display of aggressive and captivating musical variety, showing off how much more metalcore can grow.
Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child – Norma Jean
While never one to be shy and add some melody to their songs, Norma Jean’s performances come across abrasive as all hell. Their debut record, Bless the Martyr and Kiss the Child, immediately cemented them as a greatly intense band. That said, the band has never been too harsh to listen to, for through their performances, they craft songs that beautifully balance grinding, thrashing, and clashing with an air of melodic serenity. It is a bizarre and surreal duality that has only gotten more polished over the course of the band’s career.
Those Who Fear Tomorrow – Integrity
Bringing more of an industrial edge to the metalcore scene, Integrity’s Those Who Fear Tomorrow is a thrashy hardcore experience. While offering an overall thrilling beatdown presentation, what makes this record extra exciting is the variety it provides in terms of tempo and intensity. Whether it’s crushing tunes that move at a slower pace or wickedly fast bangers, Those Who Fear Tomorrow is an impressive display of Integrity’s technical artistry.
Controller – Misery Signals
Misery Signals’ 2008 studio album Controller is a gripping metalcore record through and through. Rather than lean predominately into one specific sound, Misery Signals provide a brilliant blend of metallic shredding and melodic atmosphere, guiding listeners through a captivating sonic adventure.
Sempiternal – Bring Me the Horizon
Whereas Bring Me the Horizon was once a generic deathcore act, 2013’s Sempiternal marks a profound leap forward in quality for the band. Featuring a stunning array of styles and sounds, Sempiternal shows off the band’s desire and willingness to experiment – their refusal to be labeled by simple classification. While the core foundation of the record is a metalcore sound, Bring Me the Horizon’s Sempiternal is yet another album that reveals how much more the genre can provide.
The Opposite of December… A Season of Separation – Poison The Well
Of course, this list has to include Poison The Well’s The Opposite of December… A Season of Separation. As one of the most influential records in the metalcore scene, Poison The Well’s 1999 debut LP features an aggressive metallic hardcore sound that has gone on to be adopted by many bands. Throughout the record, Poison The Well uses that metallic aggression to present an expansive array of emotional depth and heaviness, providing a sonic experience brimming with creative and technical intrigue.