I avoid the label “metalcore” as much as I can. I feel like you can’t tell someone about a band that plays metalcore without a certain negative connotation or having to justify yourself for actually liking the music. Also, most new releases that you would classify as metalcore are exceeding the genre significantly, so this labels even feels restrictive at this point. Nowadays, “metalcore” as people like to call it has become a wild mix of classic hardcore, heavy metal, progressive metal, djent, melodic metal, electronic music and even hip-hop. Still, you have to label music from time to time.
This site has been a place for any kind of music from the very beginning. You would be surprised to hear what kind of stuff people send me – metalcore-ish music is definitely NOT among the most shocking of it. And now I will stop justifying my taste in music. The following bands are some of the best at the moment, regardless of genre, and they are very much worth giving a shot if you are willing to open up your mind (which, if you are reading this site, I assume you are). Oh, and in case you are wondering: I left out all the founding bands of the genre (As I Lay Dying, Heaven Shall Burn, Killswitch Engage etc.) or any kinds of supergroups (Light The Torch) out, obviously.
Imminence is the perfect example of a band that won’t stick to one single genre. The Swedish band started out as a post-hardcore band (“The Sickness”) and have arrived to playing electronic alternative metal (“Up”) and acoustic music (“A Mark On My Soul”). The great thing about them is that they can pull off both styles seamlessly.
Imminence express what so many modern metal bands fail at: True and genuine emotion. I played Imminence’s latest record “This Is Goodbye” on repeat for over a year because every song was so relatable. Yes, most Imminence songs originate from a place of heartbreak and sound quite modern, but that’s how they manage to create music that is accessible to many people. To like this band, though, you probably need a certain inclination towards romanticism, very passionate vocals and electronic music (which put this way sounds way weirder than it actually is). Imminence also produce their videos themselves, which is quite remarkable.
Listening to Crystal Lake feels like standing at the Baltic Sea during a storm. The wind almost blows you away, it’s freezing cold no matter the time of the year, but the view is devastatingly beautiful. Most of the time, though, the wind just blows in your face and messes up your hair. I hope that this comparison revealed that Crystal Lake from Japan play very heavy and fast music that you can freak out to (and headbang, which will mess up your hair, too).
Even a band like Crystal Lake can find its way to more melody and dynamics. Their latest single “Apollo” proves just that, where melody peaks through the heavy riffing and screaming from time to time. This is definitely a band to look out for in the future, they are very talented. They have managed to build up a following in the west, but are still hugely underrated. For fans of Architects, Breakdown Of Sanity and generally curious people.
The Australian band is probably the most popular one from this list. The remarkable thing about Northlane is their musical evolution. While Northlane have always sounded progressive, their music is reaching maturity as the guys are getting older: Imagine a parallel universe in which the members of Textures are around 10 years younger and decide to play metalcore – that’s what Northlane sound like at the moment. Some people criticize them for becoming more “mainstream”, but those people should look around: which band that started as a classic metalcore band has remained one? This genre can become very repetitive very soon, so it is only understandable that good musicians will want to expand their horizons and incorporate different styles into the music. The riffs and the atmosphere on “Mesmer”, Northlane latest record, resembles the ones on “Dualism” by Textures in the best way possible. Last but not least, vocalist Marcus Bridge (since 2014) has insanely much control over his vocals. While his harsh vocals are more than decent, it’s his singing that is remarkable. He can be as calm and pensive as Michael Lessard (The Contortionist) and sing his heart out in true metalcore style at the same time – “Heartmachine” is a great example of that.
Especially for those of you who are into intricate and progressive music, Northlane is a band you should give a listen.
I got to know this band when I was a reviewer at www.powerofmetal.dk. At that time, I was writing tons and tons of reviews, and most of the bands I got to know during that process didn’t stick with me – this is just the reality as a reviewer. But annisokay is one of the few exceptions. I heard potential back in 2015 and now, the band is truly living up to it, which their latest single “Unware” is very much proof of. Currently, annisokay are one of the most successful heavy acts in Germany, and rightfully so. They are constantly touring and working their asses off to deliver new music. I respect them very much for their work ethic, but I took a shine to this band because of their music. annisokay manage to play unique music in an undoubtedly repetitive and rather uninventive genre. They deliver hit after hit without being labeled as “pop” or “mainstream”. They aren’t progressive, but write music that is addictive and that never gets boring.
When I recommend this band to other people, they usually like what they hear no matter what kind of music they are usually listening to. I would be lying if I said that singing guitarist, producer and video director Christoph Wieczorek’s angelic voice (“Blind Lane”!) wasn’t contributing to that. Try not to fall for him when watching the videos. You have been warned.
Featured image: Northlane