Taking a retrospective look at some of the genre's brightest offerings, we aim to break down some of the albums that have been labelled as the most vital and iconic in the metalcore community, as well as the influence they carried with them into building the genre around it. Have you heard these for yourself? What are your favourite records?
Misery Signals - Of Malice and the Magnum Heart (2004, Ferret Records)
Misery Signals debut is often hailed as one of the best of the genre, serving up hard-hitting melodic hardcore that is also lauded as being one of the most emotionally honest metalcore debuts. 'The Year Summer Ended In June' detailing the car accident that killed two friends of vocalist Jessie Zaraska to this day remains a staple in Misery Signals catalogue, as well as cuts like the anthemic 'Difference Of Vengeance And Wrongs', as well as the riff-soaked 'Five Years'.
Despite his departure (and now, subsequent return), Zaraska's powerful vocals are one of the driving forces behind Of Malice And The Magnum Heart, lending each track a grand sense of emotional output that wasn't entirely present on most records of the genre, and stands tall as one of the brightest in metalcore.
Botch - We Are The Romans (1999, Hydra Head Records)
We Are The Romans is perhaps most iconic by the impact it made on both metalcore and mathcore movements, inspiring the careers of many bands as well as the members themselves branching off into new groups following their subsequent breakup. The opening few licks on 'Transitions From Persona To Object' perfectly capture the band's nod to do things their own way, and while it maybe sounds a little worse for wear this far down the line, there's no denying the influence Botch had on the genre with this release.
Perhaps not as intimately appreciated during release, Botch's second full-length doubled down on their odd-time signatures, eclectic riffs and frontman Dave Verellen's hostile screams. They wanted to find some experimentation within their genre of music and in doing so, inadvertently become one of the forefathers of mathcore.
Converge - Jane Doe (2001, Equal Vision Records)
Boston's Converge has remained at the forefront of the genre for many years, often manning the helm in all areas of hardcore punk, thrash, and grind as they experiment sonically with each new release. Jane Doe is often crowned as the band's opus, fronting haphazard riffs, devastating breakdowns and Jacob Bannon's signature piercing screams. The breakdown on the tail end of 'Concubine' highlights the group's penchant for curbing their momentum just to build it back up again.
Across 45-minutes Jane Doe throws some of Converge's most abrasive material on record, with perhaps only 'Hell To Pay' acting as a slower number for which the listener can catch their breath. The album caps off with the near twelve-minute title track, which is often praised as the band's most iconic song as well as a staple of more progressive sounding metalcore.
Shai Hulud - That Within Blood Ill-Tempered (Revelation Records, 2003)
It's by a hair that you could feasibly pick either this or Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion, Shai Hulud's debut, but many would agree their follow-up leapfrogs it by a slight margin. "Rest assured, this is sincere - this is true" could very well be burnt into every Hulud fan's brain, kicking off the record which could be seen as the inception of their misanthropist lyrical leanings.
Much of Shai Hulud's lyrics champions personal growth and development and scorn those who would not act on their compassion and empathy for a better understanding of their fellow humans. It's this sort of inherent punk attitude that lends the record a unique perspective, painting the common man as the most corruptible being. 'Given Flight By Demon's Wings' adds some mindfulness to the way we interact with one another, wanting to be the best version of yourself even though you feel as if you were made to lash out and be spiteful.
7 Angels 7 Plagues - Jhazmyne’s Lullaby (Uprising Records, 2001)
One of the two bands preceding the life of Misery Signals, 7 Angels 7 Plagues had an exceptionally raw, stripped back sound, leaning on heavy, metallic hardcore riffs and melodic verses. Matthew Mixom's screams champion a grassroots punk sound, influencing many genre vocalists for years to come.
The record's biggest wow moment is in its namesake of a closing track, subverting expectation by ending the record on a beautiful piano piece that could very well be one of the most touching songs put onto something classified as a 'heavy' record. What is perhaps more surprising is how much of 7 Angels 7 Plagues sound is catalogued from classic American jazz, from its piano instrumental pieces right down to its highly stylized 'Blue Note' album cover.