If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it in ten lists: 2014 was STACKED. Especially when it comes to heavy music—my forte—2014 was an absolute juggernaut. It saw the true “birth” of down-tempo deathcore, as well as a strong resurgence of classic deathcore—but that’s not all; even hip-hop and pop-punk had genre-defining offerings. Without further ado, here are some of the most noteworthy releases this year had to offer.
Even if fast-and-pissed hardcore isn’t your thing, there’s something about Expire’s speedy instrumentation and hyper-aggressive vocals that cuts right through the stereotypical malaise that surrounds standard hardcore and hits the listener right where it hurts. Songs like the album’s title track pump the listener up enough to conquer any adversity, while the downer “Gravity” is a manic masterpiece for the ages. There’s nothing Low about Pretty Low’s ranking in the year’s releases.
24. Epiphany from the Abyss – The Emptiness of All Things (Blackened Deathcore)
Borrowing equally from ultra-heavyweights Oceano and technical juggernauts The Black Dahlia Murder, Epiphany from the Abyss are brilliantly talented blackened deathcore musicians that are capable of creating music that is just as catchy as it is crushing. Packed with lacerating riffs, insane solos, stunning amounts of atmosphere and mammoth, spine-cracking breakdowns, The Emptiness of All Things is a veritable cornucopia of creative musicianship that has something for fans of any kind of heavy music.
23. Acrania – Totalitarian Dystopia (Brutal Deathcore/Slamming Deathcore)
If you still haven’t heard of Acrania by now, you must be deaf—and if you weren’t deaf before hearing Totalitarian Dystopia, you might be. Heavy and fast from beginning to end, each track Acrania bring to the table hits the listener like a sledgehammer to the temple—meaty, loud and crunchy. On top of it all, while the entire band works as a well-oiled slaughterhouse, they are led by the almighty Luke Griffin, who may as well be part pig for his insane vocal abilities. Totalitarian Dystopia is a totally crushing and comprehensive display of slamming deathcore that will reign over the listener’s iPod with an iron fist.
22. Illuminator – Letters to No One (Metalcore/Down-Tempo)
Shining proud and strong among the dim, one-in-a-million heavy releases that plagued metalcore since…well, forever stand Illuminator. Letters to No One is a release that is as dissonant and crushing as it is dark and depressive—which, given the album title alone, is pretty impressive. Filled with catchy, ear-bending riffs and bouncy, booming breakdowns and finished off with a handful of simply brilliant guest vocal appearances, Letters to No One is something any fan of heavy music will want to make sure they read up on.
21. Within the Ruins – Phenomena (Technical Metalcore/Deathcore)
Within the Ruins are a legend in the world of heavy music, and for good reason. Since their inception they’ve been constantly pushing the envelope with intense riffs, boundless heaviness and thought-provoking lyrics; however, where Invade was immaculate and Creature just as much so, their third studio effort left the listener wanting—making them wonder what Phenomena would hold. Fortunately, it was a return to form and then some, as it remains the single strongest work the band has done to date. A perfect balance of balls-out breakdowns and brain-blistering technicality, Phenomena is nothing short of…well, a phenomena.
20. Neck Deep – Wishful Thinking (Pop-Punk)
Ageless angst and unbridled, heart-on-your-sleeve fun highlight Neck Deep’s debut full length. Nearly every song on Wishful Thinking has a chorus or a belted one-liner that will get wedged in the listener’s head for days, practically forcing them to sing along. Whether you’re just getting through your first break-up or happily married with kids and a minivan, Wishful Thinking will have you living your teenage years before the first riff is even through.
19. Gideon – Calloused (Metalcore)
I’ve been searching for years for the perfect album to lift weights to. Something driving and fierce enough to keep the blood pumping, but engaging enough to keep you mentally sharp and focused. Lo and behold, Gideon found the perfect formula. Calloused is loaded with raunchy breakdowns and riff-driven ruckus, but plastered with passionate lyrics and intense one-liners that meld brilliantly to create an ideal combination of metallic songwriting and instrumentation with brazen hardcore aggression. Calloused is an album that will make the listener thrash iron so hard that afterwards, calloused is the best way to describe them.
18. The Holy Guile – OG (Technical Deathcore/Party)
In a year full of heavyweight, super-serious technical Deathcore offerings AND a year where party-core celebrities Attila dropped loads of new material, The Holy Guile stands proudly above them all. Smashing together insane instrumentation, glitzy electronic effects and silly-but-suave lyrics preached with some of the best vocals the genre has to offer, OG is truly original. Whether you’re looking to let loose with the homies or smash skulls in the pit, The Holy Guile are your go-to guys for a good time.
17. One Year Later – Life Between the Lies (Post-Hardcore/Metalcore)
When this album came across my desk, I almost wrote it off. I’d never heard of the band, and to be honest, the album name struck me as…generic. However, I decided to give it a chance and I’ve been spinning it ever since. One Year Later take metallic riffs and aggression and smash them against post-hardcore’s penchant for soft, crooning clean vocals and relaxing touches of atmosphere. “Real Ghost” and “Twisted Tongues” are tracks so aggressive it makes the listener wonder how they can be on the same album as “Alone” or “The Weight that Grows.” Life Between the Lies is a unique album in a genre that is rapidly running out of directions to grow.
16. Laws of Inertia – Laws of Inertia (Deathcore/Progressive)
I don’t think even the fine lads in Laws of Inertia knew that their debut album would be a goldmine of glorious Deathcore success. Skull-splitting breakdowns gilded with glorious amounts of ethereal atmosphere and jaw dropping song structure define this breakout release, making it a law which fans of heavy music will be sure to abide by.
15.Triumph Over Shipwreck – Forever. Ending. (Chaotic Hardcore)
Demonically Fast, dissonant, disastrously heavy–that’s Triumph Over Shipwreck in a nutshell. Combining fierce grooves, furious breakdowns and a cornucopia of chaotic blast beats and beat downs, Forever. Ending. Is the enormous offering one would expect from the terrifying Texan heavy music scene. If you want to see just how big and brutal Texas can be, give Forever. Ending. A chance to steamroll you.
14. InVoker – Death is Inevitable (Deathcore)
InVoker combine ruthless heaviness with boatloads of bounce with their debut release, mixing traditional Deathcore raunchiness with fun, catchy flare to provide a marvelous and murderous experience. Death Is Inevitable is a comprehensive and crushing display of remorseless vocals and tight musicianship, making the listener’s head banging and foot-tapping also inevitable.
13. Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together (Metalcore)
I have always been of the opinion that Architects are a band who have always been on the cusp of discovering their true sound. Their past releases saw them struggle with balancing heaviness and ambience–however, with their 2014 release, Lost Forever // Lost Together, that’s all history. 2014’s Architects is one who have reached their perfect balance, creating an album that goes from soothing the listener and cradling their heart to dashing their head against the pavement. Architects thrive where beauty meets brutality, and on Lost Forever // Lost Together, they make it look easy.
12. Ground Tracer – Diseased (Metalcore)
One part catchy, one part technical, one part strung out and three parts heavy, Ground Tracer are a force to be reckoned with. Effortlessly combining haunting atmosphere (a la Endeavors) and cutthroat brutality (a la Gift Giver), these Lansing-based lords of heavy came out swinging at the beginning of 2014. Even if for no other reason than “MaryAnn” and it’s crushing climax and catchy chorus, any fan of heavy music owes it to themselves to get sick with Ground Tracer’s Diseased.
11. Seditionist – Retract/Relapse (Progressive Deathcore)
Don’t be mistaken—just because Retract/Relapse is short enough to feel like an EP doesn’t mean it should be written off like one. Simply put, Retract/Relapse is the most colorful deathcore album of the year, packed with vivid, creative musicianship and energetic vocals to match. Jarring, technical riffs smash head-on into languid atmosphere and airy dissonance to create a heavy—but not dense—listening experience that doesn’t feel like any other deathcore album out there.
10. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 (Hip-Hop/Rap)
Last year I made a mistake—sleeping on Killer Mike and El-P’s collaboration project Run the Jewels and their self-titled first release. However, 2014 arrived—as did Run the Jewels 2—and I wasn’t about to repeat my past wrongdoings. RTJ2 is just as fun as it is vicious, taking on tough current-event topics just as easily as it approaches over-the-top almost-love ballad tracks about practically nothing but oral sex. The point here is simple: stagnant and monotonous as rap can be, Run the Jewels 2 is one album that everyone should experience.
9. The Acacia Strain – Coma Witch (Deathcore)
To speak of bands that are giants in their respective genres is to speak of The Acacia Strain. Half heavy hardcore, half immense death metal, Coma Witch is completely crushing. The Acacia Strain hone in on the best parts of their ginormous discography and meld it all into one mind blowing experience. If you like heavy music and slept on this album, you must have been in a coma.
8. Dysphoria – The Apogee (Regressive Mathcore/Technical Deathcore)
You KNOW it was a hot year for heavy jams when Dysphoria barely break into the top ten. To be blunt, no one can write insane, immense Deathcore like these Ukranian Ultraheavyweights. Whether they’re this decade’s Ion Dissonance or simply Deathcore from the future, their sound is hard to describe and even harder to replicate–however, if you’re game for mind-numbing technicality and bone-crunching heaviness, perhaps you ought to give The Apogee a shot for yourself.
7. Victims – The Sickness: Vol. 1 (Manic Metalcore)
Just barely qualifying as a full length, Victims follow in the trend of other Illinois Metalcore acts with names beginning with “V” in the sense that they are simply incredible. The Sickness: Vol. 1 is a journey inside the mind of madman–immersive from beginning to end–and is something any fan of jarring, dynamic heaviness can get down with.
6. Code Orange – I Am King (Hardcore/Metalcore)
When Code Orange Kids dropped the “kids” part of their moniker, I was concerned. Would something be missing from their new music to match the word missing from their new name? My fear was all for not–as Code Orange simply grew up. Dark, dissonant and dreary, I Am King is one of the heaviest releases of the year in the most off-the-wall ways. From Avante-Garde atmosphere to unstoppable aggression in mere seconds, Code Orange prove it’s pretty good to be king.
5. Aversions Crown – Tyrant (Technical Deathcore)
Nearly three years since their debut full length, Aversions Crown certainly kept their fans waiting, practically starving them for new material. Were it not for the two incredible singles released in 2013, fans might have lost interest–an interest that STILL would have been rekindled with 2014’s Tyrant. Mean, murderous and marvelous, Tyrant is the pinnacle of technical Deathcore–bar none.
4. Nexilva – Eschatologies (Progressive Deathcore)
Nexilva bring Deathcore to the next level on Eschatologies. Progressing miles beyond their debut full length and their sophomore release, these South Englanders are absolutely unstoppable. Mesmerizingly atmospheric and murderously heavy, Eschatologies has it all–making it a release that sounds something like Born of Osiris crossbred with Demoraliser and Boris the Blade.
3. Sever the King – Outbreak (Technical Deathcore)
While their debut demo and break-out full length were little more than glorified breakdown-fests (not that there’s a problem there), Sever the King always felt like a band that were capable of much more. Outbreak sees this talented group of cutthroat musicians cashing in on their promises of potential and wreaking havoc with boundless brutality and precise aggression. Listeners be warned–Outbreak is sure to infect your head and take over your mind.
2. Beacons – Dead Thoughts (Heavy Metalcore) and Barrier – Eventide (Metalcore/Alternative Hardcore)
Beacons are a bizarre band. At their heaviest, they can roll with the likes of Traitors and Obliterate, brilliantly combining brutal Deathcore influences with insane low tuning and downtempo elements. However, just as readily they prove they can inspire the listener with uplifting atmosphere and melodic Metalcore elements–making pidgeonholing them into a genre tough to do. At the end of the day, no one is quite like Beacons–making them a must-listen band.
Barrier–a band with an obsessive fan base and a distinct sound; not the best recipe for positive reception when they decided to cash in their breakdown-loaded heavy hardcore sound for something more vivid and filled with color. However, Eventide is just what the band needed–an eye-opening experience unlike any other in modern metalcore. Beware: they’re still heavy, still technical and still meaner than a case of fire ants, but they’re much more experimental, energetic and engaging as well
1. Villains – Freudian Slip (Manic Metalcore) and Martyr Defiled – No Hope. No Morality.
I’m well aware it seems like a cop-out to put two albums in a tie for first place–but the only way I believe it’s justifiable is to examine how different these two releases are. When it comes to sheer emotion and picture-perfect raunchiness, nothing has ever hit me as hard as Villains’ debut full length. By the end of my first play through Freudian Slip, I was shaking and cold. However, Martyr Defiled’s thrashy, intense Deathcore is a force to be reckoned with in a completely opposite fashion. Beautiful, burly riffs boldly lead into bodaciously brutal breakdowns–over and over again. Whenever I would listen to either Freudian Slip or No Hope. No Morality., I was convinced it was better than the other–until I finished the next one. Because of this, both of these albums–while different, dynamic and masterful in their own ways–deserve the top slot for 2014’s best full length.
Honorable Mentions: Dead.Last – Bastard, Heart in Hand – A Beautiful White, Vanna – Void
Out of 207 reviews written by yours truly this year, only 38 of them were for full length releases—which means that picking 25 EPs that sum up the year was no easy task. Read on, and see how my list might compare to all of yours.
25. Enterprise Earth – 23 (Progressive Deathcore)
I can’t speak for the entire music scene, but I was certainly on edge when Dan Watson reared his head once more as the frontman to tech-Deathcore newcomers Enterprise Earth. Equal parts anxious and excited, I waited with baited breath to see what would come of his new project–and I was blown away. A brief but brutal amalgam of incredible aggression and tedious technicality, Enterprise Earth are more than just a brilliant vocalist–they are a creative, crushing force to be admired and afraid of.
24. I, The Reverend – Hands of Mercy (Heavy Hardcore/Beatdown Deathcore)
Found at the crossways where Beatdown, hardcore, death metal and doom intersect lay I, The Reverend. While the trio have unfortunately parted ways, Hands of Mercy remains a magnificent release and a force to be feared. Combining uneasy, eerie atmosphere with crushing, chug-heavy intensity, Hands of Mercy is an EP that strikes fast and hard–and without mercy.
23. Serpent Bearer – Dark Matter (Beatdown Deathcore/Downtempo Deathcore)
Serpent Bearer take the dynamic touched on by I, The Reverend and add a distinctly groovy and evil flare to it. Dark Matter is as mysterious and heavy as its name might imply, miraculously weaving from riff-and-groove driven flow to crunchy, lurid heaviness. Dark Matter is a lengthy, full EP–but the listener never once feels overwhelmed or weighed down by it.
22. Wraiths – Hollow (Beatdown Deathcore)
In a year where countless low, slow Deathcore bands erupted into the global circuit, Wraiths are one who went about things differently. Where the guitars are low and churning, creating canvases of dissonant, dark instrumentation, the vocals are constantly shrill and grating. This unique clash of tones is fresh and revitalizing in a genre that rapidly hit a state of stagnation; a dense EP that is far from Hollow.
21. Black Tongue – Born Hanged (Down-Tempo Deathcore)
Once more, 2014 saw the emergence of heavy music legends Black Tongue. Since their debut EP, not much has changed with Hull City’s most pissed—and that’s definitely a good thing. Vicious and dark, Born Hanged is a much more introspective and intense listen than the somewhat-scattered Falsifier; focusing much more on the band’s black-and-doom metal influences to add copious atmosphere in the form of interludes seen in “Eclipse”—atmosphere that makes the heavy moments hit even harder.
20. Altered Perceptions – Transcend/Revert (Progressive Deathcore/Bounce)
No, I didn’t just put Altered Perceptions’ sophomore release on here because it has transcend in the title, nor did I select it because of the obvious Bottner-implied Barrier influence. Transcend/Revert is a bizarre release in the sense that it confidently gallops along the tightrope dividing progressive metalcore and progressive deathcore. Altered Perceptions write segments with lacerating speed and jarring intensity—a la deathcore, perhaps—but only to drop them into groovy, grimy insanity that would make A Life Once Lost proud. At the end of the day, it’s up to the listener to decide whether there’s more deathcore or more metalcore to be had on Transcend/Revert—no matter what though, it’s 100% fun.
19. Eyes Wired Shut – Demons (Deathcore)
On paper, Eyes Wired Shut are boring; same-old deathcore band name, same-old “scary” EP title. However, even before the first listen through is finished, the listener knows that Demons is a whole different breed of heavy, hard-hitting deathcore. Packed with everything the listener could want: blast-beats, riffs, shred and of course, bone-busting breakdowns, Demons is the kind of EP that will haunt the listener’s dreams with no remorse or yield.
Earthender is the soundtrack to a nightmare. Long stretches of calm, cool placidity separate moments of frightening heaviness. Grooves and gory breakdowns alike make Earthender a young and talented Australian band to be weary of as 2015 kicks off—as with an EP that has enough relentless material to feel like a full length under the band’s belt, it’s nearly impossible to fathom what a full length might sound like from these gentlemen.
17. Verbera – Headless (Deathcore)
Leo said it best—Verbera are simply furious. Headless is the sound of a group of young men who are enraged at their entire surroundings, and fueled by overwhelming misanthropy. Energetic enough to short-circuit the Energizer bunny, and meatier than a baconator, Headless is a cruel and crushing listen that lives up to its name—decapitating the listener without second thought.
16. Face Your Maker – Blood Tides (2014]
When it comes to theories involving the end of the world, there are boundless conspiracies and convoluted guesses as to how, when and why the world will vanish, taking humanity along with it. The more one examines them, the more far-fetched and bizarre they truly seem—as nothing humanity has witnessed thus far truly feels as if it has the veritable capacity to decimate the planet Earth, extinguishing mankind in the process—until now. Face Your Maker, a furious four-piece hailing from Los Angeles bring Blood Tides, their sophomore EP that is packed with enough relentless, bone-breaking and skull-splitting heaviness to convince even the hardest heart that the world’s end is at hand.
15. Ghost Orchid – Bloodbound//I (Nu-Metalcore)
There aren’t truly words to describe the effect Bloodbound//I has on the listener the first time they experience it. It’s almost like listening to an exorcism—every chill-inducing scream, hair-raising harmonic and skin-peeling breakdown is more haunting than the last, lingering in the listener’s head as Ghost Orchid seeps in through the listener’s ears and takes over their body. This is an EP that will keep fans of Sworn In’s moody darkness engaged while appealing to the speed and fury of Barrier and Beacons fans. In brief, this is an EP that takes the best and most dynamic nu-metal influences and bakes them into a fluffy, delicious hardcore crust.
14. Knocked Loose – Pop Culture (Beatdown Hardcore)
If there’s one band that has really taken the hardcore underground by storm in 2014, it’s Knocked Loose—and one listen to Pop Culture and you’ll understand why. Catchy, bouncy and heavy, Pop Culture is an instant pit-starter. With sing-a-long choruses and one-liners that could turn a kindergarten into a crowd-killing nightmare, Pop Culture is a sign of bigger, bolder things to come from an already big-and-bold band.
13. Sustenance – Grey (Manic Metalcore)
The air you breathe, the food you eat and water you drink, these sustain you, when in reality, you only need one thing, and that’s the debut EP from Georgian goliaths, Sustenance. Their debut EP, Grey, is all that is needed to cover even the sharpest tones of gold and silver with black and grey—enough to drain even the brightest rooms of light and joy. Grey is a crushing groovy experience that will sustain itself by feasting on the lives of everyone it touches, leaving nothing but waste—and newly-turned fans of Kennesaw up-and-comers Sustenance—in its wake.
12. Continent – Wasteland (Beatdown Deathcore/Down-Tempo Deathcore)
I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t bummed when Continent’s release didn’t drop mid-summer as originally planned. It was an album I was almost too excited for—and being forced to wait for its release through We Are Triumphant didn’t help my anxiety. However, even after the wait, worry and loathsome loads of hype, I can safely say that this is one EP that completely blew my expectations out of the water. Crushing from beginning to end, speeding up only to transition to even slower, heavier breakdowns, Wasteland is the perfect follow-up to the band’s debut release, giving old fans more to love, and offering more than enough talent and promise to lure new ears to the slaughter.
11. Falsifier – Falsifier/Reissued (Down-Tempo Deathcore)
Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones that keep on giving—case in point with Canadian crushers in Falsifier. Kicking off 2014 with a promising-but-poorly-mastered EP and rounding out September with a sinister re-master and super-heavy re-release, Falsifier are a hard working band that just don’t let up. If you managed to miss both the debut release and the re-release of Falsifier’s furious EP, it would be best to rectify your mistake before you’re completely left behind.
10. Drifted – No Front Teeth (Deathcore)
Drifted is likely one of 2014’s most underrated EPs. It snuck up on me out of nowhere, as I hardly expected it to be as crushing and cruel as it was. Hailing from towns neighboring the ever-influential Black Tongue and Napoleon, it’s no wonder how these young gents came up with their unique twist on deep-and-dark deathcore. Spruced with touches of invigorating atmosphere and mellow reprieve, No Front Teeth is a barn-burner of an EP that will kick in your front door—and face—and take over your brain in the process.
9. Hail to the King – Nomicon (Deathcore)
Hail to the King take a slight detour from the sound that got the listener groovin’ away during Dynasties, Nomicon is an EP that is nothing but pure horror. Every aspect of this release drips evil. Whether it’s the shrill screams or ghastly bellows of Kody Hale or the unstoppable brute force of the band’s musicianship, the moons shining over these Ohio-based overlords of heavy are in perfect alignment to truly crown these boys as the bastard kings of heavy music.
8. Animal – Instinct (Manic Metalcore) and Apex – MMXIV (“Chaotic Adult Contemporary”/Mathcore)
To speak of Animal is to speak of insanity—Instinct is the pulse-pounding immersion into the mind of a maniac, painted with convincing brush strokes and incarnadine intensity. Energetic from beginning to end, toggling between a head-rush of speed and a kick to the head of heaviness, Animal are just that: animals.
No matter what definition of Apex you choose to adhere to these Cincinnati Crushers, you’re dead on. If you happen to be referring to Apex as in Apex Predator, then the shoe fits–as MMXIV is a corrosive, insatiable carnivore that devours every other release its peers have put forth. If you’re talking about a peak or pinnacle, then you also couldn’t be closer to the truth, as Apex are just that–the climactic (and climax-inducing) form of technical, chaotic deathcore. To put it simply, Apex’s debut EP MMXIV is what happens when The Acacia Strain van-flips into The Dillenger Escape Plan’s bus, wiping out Whitechapel in the process; sinister, skin-shredding technicality, bone-busting breakdowns and relentless energy all in one brief package.
7. Chamber of Malice – ZeroTwentyEightHate (Brutal Deathcore/Slamming Deathcore)
ZeroTwentyEightHate is nothing but raunchy, lurid heaviness from beginning to end—with slams so beefy that they make Ingested look anorexic, and breakdowns slow enough to make Traitors look like The Flash, Chamber of Malice are the very definition of misanthropic and the overlords of chugged-out, blast-beat ridden slaughter. In a word, they are lethal, and they know it. It is all of your worst fears and nightmares come to life—in the best way possible. What more is there to say that hasn’t been said? Heavy, fun and sinful from beginning to end, ZeroTwentyEightHate is a deathcore album you will absolutely love.
6. Spite – Misery (Manic Metalcore/Depressive Deathcore)
Misery is true to its name—in the best sense of the word. Each song brings the listener to the precipice of self-destruction as gnashing, groovy riffs trade blows with crushing, chug-laden breakdowns to tear the listener’s mind into shreds. Just as it seems too much to bear, the song ends—another empty click in Spite’s game of Russian Roulette, bringing the listener to the next song, to re-enter the band’s brutalizing cycle of sinister self-loathing. As the unique introduction that is “Suffer” gives way to “Burn,” which combusts into “Devil,” the listener’s suffering is renewed with each fresh song—creating an interesting dynamic unlike a great majority of Spite’s peers.
5. Far From Nothing – Reject (Beatdown Deathcore) and God of Nothing – Tormentor (Deathcore)
By the hands of Far From Nothing, society as we know it will end. Reject is an objection to humanity as it exists today—a proposal for global cleansing—that will leave only fans of oppressively heavy, ignorantly brutal music in its wake. If you find yourself aligned with atrociously slow deathcore or anger in any manifestation, it would be a mistake to miss out on what Far From Nothing have cookin’.
Blending raw, throat-rending aggression with cunning instrumental brilliance, God of Nothing break the mold of brutalizing deathcore with their debut EP, Tormentor. Every moment of this release is more violent than the last, shedding blood and shredding flesh with every intense riff and prolapse-inducing breakdown. If there is one take-away message from this release, it is that God of Nothing are not afraid to take the heaviest of the heavy and smash it against the most masterful of the technically proficient, all within a frame of perfect, dynamic songwriting that makes the EP flow like melted butter.
4. Rex – Possession (Down-Tempo Deathcore)
Fans of low and slow heaviness—meet REX, the aptly named kings of the genre. Possession is prolapse-inducing, pure and simple. The drums are beefy and over-the-top, while the grooves go right for the listener’s throat and the vocals do the same. REX are a band determined to take conventional heaviness and make it seem featherweight, as they are constantly crushing, belligerently brutal and bewildering—all in the best ways possible.
3. Failure – Gutterborn (Depressive Deathcore/Down-Tempo Deathcore) and Traitors – Traitors (Down-Tempo Deathcore)
Never has there been a release as evil, emotional, intense or enamoring as Failure’s Gutterborn manages to be. Refusing to sacrifice feeling for fury, nor lurid heaviness for lobotomizing insanity, Failure’s debut EP is simply a release that is too immense to fail.
It swept across the country like a frothing flood of fury—devouring cities, state capitols and small towns alike, encompassing the entire mindset of America’s malevolent youth. It lingers in the mouth like thick, acrid saliva and rolls off of the tongue like flesh-melting venom—The Hate Campaign. And finally, after weeks of isolated safety, it has come for your small, shit-streak, back-woods town. There is no escape. Traitors’ self-titled debut release tells the story of the purest, most bitter and resentful misanthropy known to man, and it does so with the most perfectly lacerating, bone-splintering and disembowlingly heavy onslaught of down-tempo deathcore musicianship the genre has ever seen. Traitors is The Hate Campaign, spreading across America until not even borders and oceans are able to keep them captive—no—they have risen not just to enslave America, but to enslave the world.
2. Beyond the Aftermath – DEAD (Down-Tempo Deathcore)
There are simply no words to describe how insanely heavy DEAD is. Beyond the Aftermath have successfully captured the very SOUND of death—the morose decay of flesh and the surreal escape of the soul. DEAD is low, slow and ready to steamroll any listener brave enough to give it a chance; embedding them face-down in the dirt, dead, but loving it.
- Outlaw – Most Wanted (Beatdown Deathcore)
Well, let’s be real—you saw this coming. Of course, releasing just days before the beginning of the new year, Outlaw are made up of a figurative roll-call of raunchy, heavy music celebrities that demand recognition—and recognition they get. One part Villains’ 10 Code, one part Rooks, one part Demolisher, and ten parts uniquely heavy and insanely provocative, Most Wanted is simply an EP that should be wanted by every fan of heavy music.
Honorable Mentions: Plan to Prosper – Plan to Prosper (Deathcore), I’ll Be An Empire – Thelema (Progressive Deathcore), Vanities – Dead Beats (Metalcore), The New Age – Think Too Much; Feel Too Little (Post-Hardcore/Metalcore)
YEAR END AWARDS:
Outside of the standard “top-25” hierarchy, certain albums deserve recognition for otherwise outstanding feats in the world of heavy music. Below are those albums.
Most Fun: Get JIGGY With It – Skull Smasher (absurdly heavy deathcore/Woll Smoth)
Catchiest: The New Age – Think Too Much; Feel Too Little (Post-Hardcore/Metalcore)
Heaviest: Beyond the Aftermath – DEAD (Down-Tempo Deathcore)
Eeriest: This Is Life This Is Living – Dead Friends (Hardcore)
Biggest Disappointment: La Dispute – Rooms of the House (Post-Hardcore/Emotional Hardcore)
Here’s to a great 2015! We’ve got a lot of big reviews coming from yours truly in the coming weeks: Bodysnatcher, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Ingested, Honest Crooks, Currents and Vilis. Keep an open ear and eyes peeled!