6 Underground Metalcore Bands Redefining The Scene Right Now
These days, the genre designation of “metalcore” is synonymous with heartagram tattoos and emo karate. The popularity of bands like Killswitch Engage and Bleeding Through led the genre to be associated with canned angst, simple riffs, and hard rock bravado. But the truth is that metalcore was initially a dark, powerful combination of hardcore’s honest fury and thrash’s cutthroat riffage, and the eventual addition of these punk and emo aspects was more about rebelling against the macho rock star mentality of nu-metal than anything else.
Lately, a new school of underground metalcore has emerged in America, once more combining under-appreciated genres to create monstrous new sounds – the crush of death metal, the seasick rhythms of noise, the darkness of power-violence… and, of all things, the heaviness and instability of nu-metal. Just as the metalcore bands at the turn of the millennium bravely included influences from their guilty-pleasure emo and power metal acts, so these young bands are now bravely incorporating the things that made nu-metal great into their music to make it furious beyond compare.
Here are six bands currently championing this new, heavy-as-fuck style of underground metalcore.
The obvious valedictorian of this unruly new class of metalcore all-stars is Boston’s Vein. The hard-touring band had been building considerable buzz since they formed in 2013, but it was this year’s critically acclaimed Errorzone, a tireless and disturbing album full of grindcore, industrial, and most notably nu-metal influences, that vaulted them into the international spotlight. The band shows no sign of slowing down, and are currently on tour with Every Time I Die, Turnstile, and Jesus Piece; that tour might chew up and spit out a lesser band, but one spin of a track like Broken Glass Complexion lets listeners know these maniacs will do just fine.
When most people think of Savannah, Georgia, they imagine humid evenings and ripe peaches. But local face-shredders Vatican paint a very different picture – their music is a kinetic barrage of groaning riffs and machine gun drums that borrows from death metal, doom, hardcore, and noise, creating a compelling journey into sonic madness. The band’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, as they’ve already booked an upcoming east coast tour with Kaonashi and Cryptodira, followed by a winter tour with The Acacia Strain, Year Of The Knife, and Chamber (who, it should be noted, are also featured on this list). But that’s not all – the band has a big announcement coming later this year, so fans, keep your eyes peeled. These guys are going places, and rightly so.
THIRTY NIGHTS OF VIOLENCE
Imagine Mudvayne attempted to bite out Anaal Nathrakh’s throat but choked on it, and God Forbid was forced to give them the Heimlich maneuver – that’s a little like what Nashville upstarts Thirty Nights Of Violence sound like. While the band’s sound is fiercely aggressive, full of razor-edged riffs and bloody-knuckled breakdowns, it’s their moments of hanging guitars and twisted emotionality that make them especially interesting. Their new EP, To Die In Your Portrait, is a lead-footed journey into the dark depths of the human soul, making this a band that kids sick of screamo and post-hardcore should use to furiously yank at their heartstrings.
Nashville straight-edge metalcore act Orthodox are maybe the most polar band in this list. On the one hand, their chugging riffs and ragged-edge tone of guitarist Taylor Stephenson would sound right at home on a Cannibal Corpse album. On the other, vocalist Adam Easterling’s alternation between panicked screams and stern, brooding recitations is deeply reminiscent of nu-metal vocalists like Corey Taylor and Jonathan Davis. Together, they create an infectious brand of earnest, big-hearted metalcore that will bridge the gap between fans of mainstream and extreme metal, and provides the the perfect soundtrack to total mosh-pit abandon.
On the more frenetic side of the spectrum, Pittsburgh’s 156/Silence are an unhinged force to be reckoned with. The band’s latest, Undercover Scumbag, is gauntlet of swinging riffs, primal drums, and howled lyrics about the dark side of everyday existence. Above all, vocalist Jack Murray’s reckless and pained shrieks add an air of believable angst to their sound, and will remind listeners of artsy hardcore bands like Scarlet and Zao. Though one hears more hardcore than any other genre in the band’s smear of influences, it’s 156/Silence’s ability to experiment with and draw inspiration from genres like noise and thrash that sets them apart from the crowd-killing pack.
Nashville’s Chamber (featuring, it should be noted, two members of Orthodox) are simply vicious. While the drumming on the band’s two 2018 EPs might remind one of nu-metal’s danceable, off-kilter approach, and the guitars have some of the keening panic utilized by bands like Korn and Amen, their straightforward breakdown riffs and guttural screams are pure grindcore and industrial noise. They also might be the youngest band on this list, having only formed this year, but the band’s unhinged approach makes them a worthy inclusion here, and an important band at the forefront of this simmering new movement.
Words: Chris Krovatin
Header image: Jonny Amaya