Published Feb 09, 2011Just as anyone who grew up on '80s metal went apeshit and hit the nearest half-pipe when crossover hardcore first hit (COC, D.R.I., the Accused, etc.), so did the reverse happen when straight-edge hardcore and punk rock led way to noise rock and metalcore. Some called it "post-hardcore," which doesn't do the genre justice at all, as bands like Rorschach, Integrity and Shai Hulud began combining metal riffs and breakdowns with crazy screaming and an angular, unrelenting wall of sound.
Like all good genres, this one got appropriated by the Atreyus and Avenged Sevenfolds of the world, but that didn't stop some metalcore bands from absolutely laying waste the way it should have been done. Sure, you worship your Dillinger Escape Plan, Norma Jean and Shadows Fall records to death, but these five bands truly put the core in the metal, and the metal in the core.
Head to the next page to begin Exclaim!'s Top 5 Underrated Metalcore Bands list: 5. Backstabbers Inc.
On the periphery of metalcore, Backstabbers Inc. are more like hardcore with a metallic edge, but screw the genre slicing and just listen: hear that? That's the sound of this band kicking your wimp ass, laughing at your eyeliner and hairstyles, and putting pictures of your lame record collection online for the world to laugh at. Bullet for My Valentine? Avenged Sevenfold? Escape the Fate? Might as well catch the Bieber fever. Check out some real heavy tunes courtesy of Backstabbers Inc.
Hometown: Portsmouth, NH
Must-have album: Kamikaze Missions
Members went on to: Trap Them
More on the noise-rock tip, Harkonen were often considered the baby brothers of Botch who, quite frankly, are one of the true godfathers of modern metalcore. And baby brothers is a fitting term, as Harkonen quite literally features former Botch singer Dave Verellen's younger brother Ben (both went on to play in alt-country band Roy). All purge and no binge, Harkonen released three albums and a number of EPs and split seven-inches, the final of which was with Seattle's These Arms Are Snakes. But it was the album Shake Harder Boy, released on Hydra Head Records in 2002, that became this band's lasting metalcore/noise rock legacy.
Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
Must-have album: Shake Harder Boy
Members went on to: Helms Alee, Roy, Himsa 3. Keelhaul
Angular, technical and all bad cop all the time, this mysterious trio make any "technical metalcore" band look like mama's boys who sit around emailing cat memes to each other all day. With few true peers -- Knut and, on a slightly heavier tip, the recently defunct Crowpath -- this band have been forced to stay unnoticed, despite having the backing of a hip record label. Check out one of their releases and feel just how powerful metalcore really can be.
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Must-have album: Subject to Change without Notice
Members went on to: Integrity, Ringworm 2. Breach
Trust Sweden to come along and throw metalcore for a loop. When Breach began pounding away on their instruments and complementing their three-minute scream therapy sessions with nine-minute tracks of ambient noise, well, they were kind of onto something. By the time the band released their swan song, Kollapse, in 2001, they had already planted the seed for countrymen like Crowpath and Burst to continue the noise parade. A Breach reunion show in 2007 ended with the band destroying all of their instruments and amplifiers. So much for the afterglow.
Hometown: Lulea, Sweden
Must-have album: Kollapse
Members went on to: Apesex, the Bear Quartet, Randy, Brick and a bunch of other Swedish bands no one's ever heard of 1. Kiss It Goodbye
The opening scream of "Helvetica," off Kiss It Goodbye's one and only (landmark) full-length, She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, is perhaps the most unadulterated moment in all of metalcore. The fact that vocalist Tim Singer spends the next 50 minutes raging, spitting and channelling his inner Rollins only adds to the Travis Bickle-like unhinged madness of this band. Formed from the evil ashes of the East Coast's most intense metalcore demons, New Jersey's Deadguy and Rorschach, the members of this band followed Singer to Seattle, where they promptly imploded under the weight of their own anguish.
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Must-have album: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
Members went on to: Playing Enemy, padded rooms (presumably)