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The 15 Greatest Mosh-Calls In Heavy Music

Ranking those uber-gnarly moments in metal and hardcore guaranteed to unleash hell…

When it’s time to throw down, it’s time to throw down. No backing out. No fucking around. In metal and hardcore, the mosh-call has become an art form in its own right: the uncompromising rallying cry at the heart of a song guaranteed to trigger absolute carnage in the pit.

Some land like a gut-punch, some with unintentional hilarity, but either way there’re few moments more satisfying than when your favourite vocalist works their way to that climactic sweet-spot only to drop that iconic one-liner and send things into overdrive. To celebrate their off-the-hook brilliance, we’ve ranked 16 of the absolute best.

Go!

15. Knocked Loose – Billy No Mates

In fairness, recent live showings from Kentucky hardcore kings Knocked Loose have been pretty chaotic from start to end but, when they need to take it to another level, those lads have the weapons in their arsenal to do just that. This modern masterpiece from 2016’s Laugh Tracks LP feels nightmarishly heavy from the outset, but you can feel an eruption building from within when frontman Bryan Garris swerves into borderline-spoken section ‘Point the finger / Reject the blame / I call out for help / But I’ll never call your fucking name’ before that iconic roar: ‘Anguish!’ Cue absolute carnage, every time.

14. Currents – Silence

Another slow-burner, this cut from Connecticut metalcore crew Currents’ 2017 album The Place I Feel Safest starts out in near-ambience before plumbing into a mid-paced exploration of emotional torment, all blunt force riffage, wiry guitars and spat vocals. It’s as Brian Wille boils over with a pointed ultimatum that things go totally nuts: ‘If you can’t keep up, fuck you I’m moving on!’ A narcotic blend of melodrama and madness.

13. Wage War – The River

Rising Floridian metalcore force Wage War are all about the mosh-calls, with Deadweight and Snitch both almost making this list. There’s something disgustingly audacious about Briton Bond’s work on this banger off 2016 debut LP Blueprints, though. Not only does it arrive less than a minute in, but rather than bothering with lyrics they deliver it with a COUGH COUGH COUGH – ‘BLEGH!’ almost as if he’s raged himself out of breath. Needless to say, things don’t get any more restful from there.

12. Crystal Lake – Six Feet Under

Bonkers Japanese metalcore collective Crystal Lake start this crunchy cut from 2016’s True North with the pedal to the metal and somehow get progressively heavier as the song plays on. Marrying a New York Hardcore vibe to moments of death metal savagery, they conclude with a monstrous breakdown and concussive chorus of ‘Dig! Dig! Dig! Dig! Go dig your fucking grave!’ Hockey masks at the ready, because this is murderously good!

11. Stray From The Path – Loudest In The Room

Long Island metalcore heroes Stray From The Path are more than fond of impactful sloganeering and mega-meaty breakdowns. The ‘Nazi punks fuck off!’ moment in Goodnight Alt-Right and ‘Get the fuck out!’ from Plead The Fifth have both left more than their fair share of cuts and bruises, but we’re going for an alternate pick from 2017’s Only Death Is Real as Andrew ‘Drew York’ Dijorio howls provocatively: ‘Join or die, I won’t pick a side. Eugh! Pledge no allegiance!’ Power politics.

10. Thy Art Is Murder – Reign Of Darkness

Few bands are as straightforwardly terrifying as Thy Art Is Murder. The New South Wales deathcore kings’ pits are, infamously, genuine risks to life and limb at the best of times. There’s a rising malevolence in this 2012 track off aptly-titled second album Hate, however, that’s a cut above. By the time CJ McMahon bellows ‘I am hell!’ and his bandmates cut loose into a horrendously violent breakdown, anyone standing in the front-row fray will likely be getting carried out. Medic!

9. The Ghost Inside – Mercy

Sure, the Los Angeles icons’ triumphant return to the stage following their tragic 2015 bus crash is one of the most inspiring stories in recent years, but it was also a reminder of the sheer brutality of The Ghost Inside’s incredible compositions. If Jonathan Vigil’s opening ‘For whom the bell tolls!’ on this 2014 smasher isn’t enough to incite riotous behaviour at their ever-grander live showings, then his ‘Life’s swinging hard, but I’m swinging harder!’ will do the trick nicely.

8. In Hearts Wake – The Passage

Lyrically, Byron Bay quintet In Hearts Wake deal constantly with environmental justice, climate change and conservationism. They want to save the world, not destroy it. Fighting a rising tide of ignorance, however, they often deliver that message with absolute rage. This 2017 hit unfolds like a caustic cautionary tale, as vocalist Jake Taylor delivers the line ‘Close your eyes, brace for the impact!’ with all the weight of a world on fire. Righteous rage.

7. Architects – Hereafter

Holy Hell, the eighth LP from British scene leaders Architects, and the first full release since the passing of their founding lead guitarist Tom Searle, is a record more fixated on the cycle of grief and the inevitabilities of suffering than any puff-chested machismo. On this standout single, however, vocalist Sam Carter bares his soul in an invitation to the many fans still hurting to join in his band’s violent catharsis. ‘I wasn’t braced for the fallout’, he screams, before dropping an almighty ‘bleugh’ for good measure as the track tears itself apart with a lurching breakdown. Proof that music hits harder when it’s drawn from a place of real hurt.

6. Beartooth – I Have A Problem

Overtones of confessional honesty bleed through this 2013 cut from Ohioan maniacs Beartooth as frontman Caleb Shomo processes the pain of his departure from Attack Attack! through the metaphor of alcohol addiction. Many fans have misconstrued the track as being about actual alcoholism, which is understandable enough as the key line ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m admitting now that I have a problem!’ arrives with all the unhinged release of a chair chucked through the window of an AA meeting.

5. Code Orange – I Am King

Code Orange’s music basically is sonic violence. Dragging the listener through strange, insidious atmospherics before bludgeoning them with heavier-than-thou riffage is a trick repeated a few times throughout their catalogue, but never with more of a sense of incitement than on the title-track to their 2014 breakthrough I Am King. Guitarists Reba Meyers and Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose take turns yelling the title ‘I am king’ before drummer Jami Morgan takes us to the darkest depths of the nightmare with an earth cracking breakdown. Frighteningly good.

4. At The Gates – Slaughter Of The Soul

This classic cut from Gothenburg melodic death metallers At The Gates doesn’t quite fit the template of the final third wake up call right before a breakdown used by so many modern mosh-calls, but it needs to be credited for its formative influence on the entire metalcore genre and its ability to still send crowds utterly apeshit today. We’re just about three seconds in, off the back of a trademark razorblade riff when frontman Tomas Lindberg delivers the instruction: ‘Go!’ No crowd has dared stand still since.

3. Parkway Drive – Romance Is Dead

Our fourth and final Australian entry on this list features the band who might love mosh-calls more than any other, Parkway Drive. From Dedicated (‘Unbreakable!’) to Bottom Feeder (‘No mercy, no peace, you can’t escape, now snap your neck to this!’), Winston McCall and the Byron Bay boys absolutely love to set shit off. Our pick of the bunch has to be this early effort from 2005 LP Killing With A Smile, where two minutes in, already in the middle of a breakdown, Winston spits ‘So cry me a fucking river, bitch!’ and all hell inevitably breaks loose. Categorically, not a love song.

2. Machine Head – Imperium

Another more metallic reinterpretation of the mosh-call formula. Machine Head have form for unforgettable one-liners capable of setting off crowds like a bomb (‘Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!’, anybody?) but for the sheer carnage provoked, you can’t beat this absolute masterpiece of an opener from 2003’s From The Ashes Of Empires, which has been a staple towards the start of live sets ever since. After 90 seconds of meticulous build, Robb Flynn’s roar of ‘Hear me now!’ and the avalanche of riffage that follows is sure to have even the meekest of concertgoers chucking themselves headlong into the carnage.

1. A Day To Remember – Mr Highway’s Thinking About The End

When it comes to a ranking of mosh-calls, there really can only ever be one choice to top the list. A Day To Remember have a boatload of killer call outs in their catalogue, but from the hilarious memes, Vines and parody videos doing the rounds online to the very real danger that this moment never fails to stoke up in the live arena, Jeremy McKinnon’s call to ‘Disrespect your surroundings!’ is undoubtedly the mosh-call to rule them all.

Posted on February 3rd 2020, 5:30pm
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