The 15 Best Metalcore Albums Of All Time

best metalcore albums

Metal and punk have been cross-pollinating since their inception. Metallica covered songs by New Jersey punk icons Misfits. Former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins cited Black Sabbath as a major influence, saying, “When I was fifteen, and I heard the song ‘Iron Man,’ my life changed.” These two aggressive music styles with underground origins have a lot in common, so the mutual appreciation is only natural.

In the 1980s, metal and hardcore punk began to merge as the subgenre we now call metalcore. Bands like Cro-Mags and Leeway brought thrash metal influences to their hardcore punk styles, having experienced influence from bands like Slayer and Exodus. You might consider these early punk-thrash crossover bands to be proto-metalcore (in the same way that Television and The Stooges were proto-punk). Later, this style was crystallized into waves of true metalcore bands like Earth Crisis, Hatebreed and Snapcase. Today, we’ll bring you the ultimate list of the best metalcore albums.

These are the albums with riffs, speed and breakdowns so vicious, you’re likely to wake up in a heap of shattered glass afterwards, wondering what happened. Call us purists, but you will not see any cheesy ‘mallcore’ bands included on this list. This is the real shit. We hereby present to you our highly subjective – yet definitive and inarguable – list of the best metalcore records of all time.

Best Metalcore Albums #15:

END, From the Unforgiving Arms of God (2017)

best metalcore albums

If rabies were an album, it would be From the Unforgiving Arms of God. New Jersey’s END bring a cacophonous fury to an album that combines hardcore speed with brutal breakdown riffs. END is considered a supergroup and includes members of Counterparts, Fit For An Autopsy, Shai Hulud and more.

Best Metalcore Albums #14:

Earth Crisis, Gomorrah’s Season Ends (1995)

best metalcore albums

This Earth Crisis album improves on the brittle production of its landmark album Destroy The Machines from the previous year. The discordant, chugging guitars and in-your-face shout-alongs (“I AAAAM! STRAIGHT! EDGE!”) epitomize the band’s relentless vision.

Best Metalcore Albums #13:

Integrity, For Those Who Fear Tomorrow (1991)

best metalcore albums

For Those Who Fear Tomorrow is the debut full-length album from Cleveland metallic hardcore godfathers Integrity. Former Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones called For Those Who Fear Tomorrow “the blueprint for heavy underground music.” This record was originally released with a Hieronymus Bosch painting on its cover – an accurate portrayal of the nightmarish hellscape of Integrity’s worldview.

Best Metalcore Albums #12:

Eighteen Visions, Until the Ink Runs Out (2000)

best metalcore albums

Much ink has been spilled about the far-reaching influence of Eighteen Visions and their seminal 2000 LP Until The Ink Runs Out. 18V are often cited as a blueprint for a generation of mainstream metalcore bands like Of Mice & Men, Asking Alexandria, and Bring Me The Horizon. This highly influential Eighteen Visions album was recorded in just four days – and the urgency can be heard on every relentless track. Fun fact: Until the Ink Runs Out includes audio samples from The Elephant ManThe Shining and Back to the Future.

Best Metalcore Albums #11:

Earth Crisis, Destroy the Machines (1995)

best metalcore albums

Earth Crisis are metalcore pioneers. These guys took the militance of straightedge hardcore firebrands like Judge and multiplied it by the strength of a thousand suns. Earth Crisis’s resolute stance on straightedge and veganism formed the cornerstone of the band’s defiant persona – but those qualities also made the band feel exclusionary to some audiences who hadn’t made the same strict lifestyle decisions. Nonetheless, the mosh- guitars and call-to-arms anthems here are unrivaled in nineties metalcore.

Best Metalcore Albums #10:

Unearth, The Oncoming Storm (2004)

best metalcore albums

The Oncoming Storm is the second LP from Boston metalcore band Unearth, and their first release on Metal Blade Records. The album’s pummeling heft is complemented by copious amounts of melodic lead guitars. The Oncoming Storm was produced by Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz.

Best Metalcore Albums #9:

Poison the Well, The Opposite of December (1999)

best metalcore albums

The Opposite of December just might mark a turning point for metalcore: that transitional moment when this scrappy subgenre pivoted from underground crossover movement towards mainstream popularity. The album fuses emotional catharsis with killer, pummeling riffs.

Best Metalcore Albums #8:

Hatebreed, Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire (1997)

metalcore albums

Hatebreed exemplifies the very idea of metalcore due to their fusion of hardcore’s furious speed and metal’s head-banging heft. Frontman Jamey Jasta has grown into a true pillar of heavy music whose superb Jasta Show podcast landed on our best music podcasts list.

Best Metalcore Albums #7:

Killswitch Engage, Alive Or Just Breathing (2002)

metalcore albums

Killswitch Engage reinvented metalcore with Alive Or Just Breathing – an album that helped provide the blueprint for an era of ‘clean versus harsh’ metalcore vocals.

Best Metalcore Albums #6:

Botch, We Are the Romans (1999)

best metalcore bands

Botch was special. We Are the Romans showcases the band’s unparalleled sound: dense with jagged edges, jarring transitions, and moody textures. The band’s demented riffs sound like The Jesus Lizard on steroids and LSD. Botch’s eccentric, playful song titles (‘I Wanna Be a Sex Symbol On My Own Terms’) ran against the grain of heavy music’s seriousness and proved as influential as anything else they did (see every Every Time I Die song title ever). The members of Botch went on to perform in bands including Minus The Bear and Russian Circles.

Best Metalcore Albums #5:

Cave In, Until Your Heart Stops (1998)

best metalcore bands

Until Your Heart Stops was embraced as an instant classic on its release in 1999. Brief forays into melody (see ‘Segue 3’) hinted at the stylistic departure the band would take on 2000’s Jupiter. Like several albums on this best metalcore albums list, Until Your Heart Stops was produced by Kurt Ballou.

Best Metalcore Albums #4:

Norma Jean, Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child (2002)

best metalcore albums

This 2002 masterpiece of aggression combines malevolent guitars with startling technicality and brutal lyricism. Later in its career, Norma Jean changed its course due to lineup changes and a shifting creative vision – which gives Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child the feeling of a band operating at the uncompromising genesis of its inspiration.

Best Metalcore Albums #3:

Code Orange, Forever (2017)

metalcore best albums

In recent years, Pittsburgh firebrands Code Orange have single-handedly breathed new life into the metalcore genre. That simple fact should earn them a high spot on any list of the best metalcore albums – but Forever stands on its own merits. It’s a record that leaps from breakdown to breakdown at a breakneck pace. Its diverse sonic palette includes digital textures and abrasive feedback. Finally, the band takes no prisoners in its crushing live performances. Code Orange’s almost impossibly high standards should provide inspiration to bands in any genre.

code orange live

Code Orange photo by Sam Jameson (see more)

Listen to an interview with Code Orange leader Jami Morgan on the Culture Creature podcast. Jami described the band’s uncompromising vision: “We’re gonna achieve as much as we possibly can, we’re gonna do whatever we wanna do, we’re gonna make music the exact way we wanna make it, it’s gonna be influenced by all kinds of things, and I’m gonna say what I wanna say, and that’s how it’s gonna be.”

Best Metalcore Albums #2:

Converge, Jane Doe (2001)

best metalcore albums ever

Jane Doe is a certified classic. It’s got whiplash brutality, uncompromising heaviness and an all-encompassing conceptual vision. Furthermore, Converge are godfathers in both punk and metal, and guitarist/producer Kurt Ballou has his fingerprints on albums by Kverletak, Code Orange, Black Breath, Orchid, and dozens more.

best metalcore albums

Converge photo by Henry W. Laurisch

Converge frontman Jacob Bannon said, “Writing Jane Doe was about the hope and desperation that I was trying to search for; I thought it would help but it didn’t.” The album is a gripping document of anguish and vulnerability.

Best Metalcore Albums #1:

Snapcase, Progression Through Unlearning (1997)

best metalcore albums

Snapcase had it all on Progression Through Unlearning: furious speed, breakdowns that drop like a ton of bricks, and riffs that are clever and brutal in equal measure. The band’s innovative use of harmonics and lead-and-rhythm interplay make this an album of guitar virtuosity. Progression Through Unlearning benefits from production quality that’s superior to some of its peers of the era; the record’s monstrous sound is complemented by subtle details (like the buzzing amp that begins ‘Priceless’). Victory Records was the home of nineties metalcore, and Progression Through Unlearning is the crown jewel of the era.

Snapcase guitarist Jon Salemi told us that the band’s guiding ethos was, “’When is [the song] gonna break down, and when are the kids gonna go nuts, and how much groove does this verse have?’” Snapcase is currently working on new material.

Listen to the best
podcast in music.

Subscribe to the Culture Creature podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Android | Stitcher | RSS