Connor’s Top Albums and EPs of 2023

Honorable Mentions:
Gridlink – Coronet Juniper (Grindcore)
Harms Way – Common Suffering (Hardcore/Metalcore)
Carnifex – Necromanteum (Deathcore)
Jesus Piece – …So Unknown (Hardcore/Metalcore)
To the Grave – Director’s Cuts (Deathcore/Nu-Deathcore)
Silent Planet – Superbloom (Progressive Metalcore)
25: Currents – The Death We Seek (Metalcore)
24: Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Act Like You Don’t Know (Deathcore/MySpace Revival)
23: Drake – For All the Dogs (Scary Hours Edition) (Hip-Hop/R&B)
22: END – The Sin of Human Frailty (Hardcore/Metalcore)
21: Pain of Truth – Not Through Blood (Hardcore)
20: Veil of Maya – [m]other (Progressive Metalcore)
19: Osiah – Kairos (Technical Deathcore)
18: Sanguisugabogg – Homicidal Ecstasy (Drugged Out Death Metal)
17: Surgeon – Petunia (Progressive Metalcore/Downtempo Deathcore)
16: Mouth for War – Bleed Yourself (Metalcore)
15: Suicide Silence – Remember…You Must Die (Deathcore)
14: Dying Fetus – Make Them Beg for Death (Death Metal/Slamming Death Metal/Deathcore)
13: Signs of the Swarm – Amongst the Low and Empty (Deathcore/Technical Deathcore)
12: Fromjoy – Fromjoy (Mathcore/Metalcore)
11: Gideon – More Power. More Pain. (Metalcore)

10: The Acacia Strain – Step into the Light (Metalcore/Hardcore/Powerviolence)
It should come as no surprise that when the almighty Strain releases two records in one year, at least one of them is going to break into the top ten—and in other years, it would have likely cracked top 5. Here we see an unhinged, primal take on a band who is imbedded into the very DNA of heavy music—incorporating scant grind, d-beat and power violence touches to their sound with great reward.

9: Nithing – Agonal Hymns (Brutal Slamming Death Metal)
Everything about this record—from the album art to the blaring ping of the snare drum—is meant to make the listener viscerally uncomfortable, and it does so to great effect. Here, Nithing generate a masterclass in technically savvy-yet-brutally oppressive death metal, no filler or frills.

8: Vamachara – No Roses on My Grave (Metalcore)
Vamachara were a band I knew very little about going into the release of their seminal work, No Roses on My Grave. What I was met with was a brilliant, beautiful approach to metalcore of the mid-2000s moiety, complete with spine-shrinking breakdowns and moments of raw, unpolished beauty both in equally poignant amounts.
7: Impuritan – Wrath (Deathcore)

I’ll be among the first to admit that modern or “contemporary” styles of deathcore often feel lacking compared to their more traditional counterparts—but Impuritan are an exception to the umpteenth degree. Wrath is a dismal slab of festering aggression that takes the punch and impact of your favorite late-2000s deathcore outfit and gives them an aroma of modernity.
6: Chamber – A Love to Kill For (Mathcore/Metalcore)

Despite a somewhat robust discography, this is Chamber’s first time cracking into any type of top-25 list for me—not sure if I’ve just been sleeping, or if A Love to Kill For is just that good, but either way, they’re here now. This joint is a chaotic, raunchy ass beater…and I’m not sure you need to know much else about it.

5: Invent Animate – Heavener (Progressive Metalcore)
Invent Animate are one of those bands that can (almost objectively) do no wrong—to a point where even though Heavener is my least favorite Invent Animate release to date, it still stands strong at my fifth favorite record of the year. Leaning more into the progressive rock and post-metal haunches of their sound and forsaking some aggression, Heavener is a majestic listen that is as tranquil as it is pummeling and complex.

4: Snuffed on Sight – Smoke (Slamming Death Metal, Deathcore)
I’m going to start this by shitting on everyone who put this release as an EP—you’re incorrect—but beyond that, Smoke was another step towards underworld dominance for the boys in Snuffed on Sight and their team at Swamp Sound. Smoke is a smothering, gut-busting, brick-flipping, block-spinning, hubcap-nabbing experience that you’re missing out on if you haven’t done did it yet.

3: Soulkeeper – Holy Design (Cybergrind Dusted Mathcore)
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Dark Days era Barrier decided “fuck it, Cybergrind,” studied Big Money Cybergrind’s bible, got a little more chaotic and dropped a hefty album-of-the-year contender? You no longer need to wonder, because that’s ostensibly the best way I can summarize Soulkeeper’s debut full length record.

2: VCTMS – Volume V: The Hurt Collection (Metalcore, Nu-Metalcore)
The same way that the sky is blue, water is wet and fire is hot, you know if VCTMS drops new music it’s going to end up high on my year-end round-up list—not even because I’m a fanboy (I am), but simply because this band cannot even fathom the concept of putting out a bad record. Volume V: The Hurt Collection is their most ambitious record yet, seeing both their heaviest and most dark-pop driven moments, bridged by a spectrum of nu-metalcore that only they could have dreamt up. If it weren’t for one more record, it would have handily taken the year’s top drop.

1: Crown Magnetar – Everything Bleeds (Technical Deathcore)
Crown Magnetar’s 2023 full length record is just about everything you could want out of contemporary deathcore. Lacerating blast beats, scathing leads, an all-encompassing bible of vocal dynamics ranging from raw, ravenous yells to the tastefully scant use of tunnel bellows and gutturals. As a matter of fact, I’d go so far as to argue that people who don’t love this record probably don’t love deathcore—which is maybe an extreme take, but one I’d be willing to stick to. Crown Magnetar have been one of my favorite rising bands for some time now, but with the release of Everything Bleeds, they’ve solidified their spot as one of the few bands out there doing deathcore perfectly. Taking a foundation built on the genre’s origins and adding just about pizzaz to make it relevant and not something that survives solely on nostalgia, Everything Bleeds is everything you need to know about the genre wrapped into one easily-consumable package.

EP of the Year List

25: The Milwaukee Protocol – 6 Out of 41 (Deathcore/Bass Drops/MySpace Revival)
24: Scarab – Seeking Chaos and Revenge After Betrayal (Hardcore)
23: Tactosa – Exit Wounds (Deathcore)
22: Worm Shepherd – The Sleeping Sun (Blackened Deathcore)
21: 10 to the Chest – Split the Fuck Open (Death Metal/Hardcore)
20: Mugshot – Cold Will (Metalcore)
19: Face Yourself – Death Reflections (Deathcore)
18: Graveview – Ruthless Obliteration of Sanity (Death Metal)
17: Texas in July – Without Reason (Metalcore)
16: PeelingFlesh – PF Radio (Slamming Death Metal/Deathcore)
15: Mantikore – Venerate the Disease (Deathcore)
14: Mana Tomb – Where Reality Fades and Forgiveness is Forgotten (Deathcore)
13: Acranius – Amoral (Deathcore)
12: Decayer – Sonoran Death (Deathcore)
11: Gun Devil – No Longer Human (Deathcore)

10: xWeaponx and World of Pleasure – Weapon of Pleasure (Straight Edge Hardcore)
2023 was a big year for Straight Edge, and while this collaboration dropped somewhat early in the year, it remains a powerful listen from start to finish, seeing two of hardcore’s youngest, soberest (?) guns blasting at maximum output.
9: Implosive Disgorgence – War Crimes (Deathcore/Technical Deathcore)
Out of the many “comebacks” we got this year, I did not expect Implosive Disgorgence even a little bit. One of the genre’s most brutalizing OGs came back with a vengeance, peddling an impressive arsenal of blast beats, riffs and breakdowns fit for any fan of aggressive music.

8: Extortionist – Devoid (Metalcore)
Speaking of comebacks, I would be remiss not to include what I consider to be arguably one of the biggest underdogs in modern metalcore. Devoid is a brief—but marvelous—example of just why Extortionist were so missed in the first place. Blending otherworldly intensity with grunge and lo-fi alternative rock, Extortionist are…well, they’re back and as good (if not better) than ever.

7: No Cure – The Commitment to Permanence (Straight Edge Metalcore Die Slow Fuck You)
The entire world is starting to learn about No Cure—and whether that’s because of an insane touring regimen or just insanely good music, it’s hard to tell—but it doesn’t really matter. Blaythe Steuer and his band of misfits are back with their finest release yet, leaning deftly more into the “core” aspects of their sound for a record that is bound to turn even the most reluctant show-goer into a mosh expert in 60 seconds flat.

6: Knives Exchanging Hands – Bitter (Progressive Deathcore)
The last of my “comebacks” for the entire list, Knives Exchanging Hands were a sort of gateway band for me when it came to the more progressive and niche corners of deathcore—and to see them back as though they never left was enough to bring a tear to my eye. Bitter is a stunning release that is likely one of the most slept on EPs 2023 has to offer—so it would be good form to change that.

5: Sentinels – In Limbo (Progressive Metalcore)
Sentinels are another band out there that—in my opinion—just don’t miss. In Limbo is, if nothing else, a reminder of that. Sentinels go out of their way to abuse the listener with complex percussion, polyrhythms, atmosphere admixed with bludgeoning heaviness all while showcasing their new vocalist—something that should not be missed.

4: The Callous Daoboys – God Smiles Upon the Callous Daoboys (Mathcore)
With Celebrity Therapist earning this chaotic septet (if that’s even the right number of people) flowers they’ve deserved for some time now, I think everyone was waiting on baited breath to see what the band would emerge with so shortly after shocking the general public in 2022. The result? Their three finest songs to date (well, maybe leave room for “Title Track,” hard to say). Covering everything from avant-garde takes on alt-rock to spastic scene revival all in more time signatures (and with more instruments) than I care to count, God Smiles Upon the Callous Daoboys is a highlight not only for 2023, but for the band and their sonic support at Swamp Sound.

3: PeelingFlesh – Slamaholics, Vol. 2 (Slamming Death Metal/Deathcore)
There isn’t a lot to say about PeelingFlesh that hasn’t already been said, but in my mind, these blokes pick up as the spiritual successors of bands like KillWhitneyDead when it comes to the masterful infusion of samples into spine-splitting, supremely-sinister heavy music. Slamaholics Vol. 2 is my personal favorite collection of songs by the band yet, and something that has been in near-constant rotation since its release in the third quarter of 2023—and they’re also one of two bands to have made it into one countdown twice in the same year.

2: Psycho-Frame – Remote God Seeker (Spinkick Deathcore)
1: Psycho-Frame – Automatic Death Protocol (Spinkick Deathcore)
Those of you who keep up with my musical ramblings on any social media platform probably are both totally unsurprised and maybe a little surprised (“there’s no way he actually gave Psycho-Frame the top two spots…oh, no, I guess there is.”) I’ve been pretty effusive in my praise for the Frame since the onset of the year, so in an effort to keep this brief, I’ll speak only in broad, sweeping hyperbole: 2023 was the year of Psycho-Frame. I can think of no other band that went from total obscurity to a sweeping command of the heavy music underground with the release of only five songs (well, okay, more by the time the year ended but you get me), and I can also think of no band more deserving. These two releases are the deathcore releases of the year and possibly the strongest examples of zero-fucks-given aggression and brutality we’ve had in several years prior. Ultimately, despite the acclaim and love they’ve rightfully gotten, the Frame feels like one of those bands that are just perfectly catered to my own tastes and preferences—people who have had that experience with a band know that doesn’t come around often, but when it does, it makes everything else simply pale in comparison, which is exactly what Psycho-Frame did in 2023.