Friday 5: Top Five OG Metalcore Albums of the Early ’00s
Happy Friday, MetalSucks reader! Welcome to MetalSucks Friday 5, our awesome series that appears every Friday (duh) on MetalSucks (duhh) and involves the quantity of five (duhhh).
Here’s how it works: A list of best/worst/weirdest/whatever five somethings is posted by one of your beloved MetalSucks contributors or by one of our buds (like you?). Then you, our cherished reader, checks it out, has a chuckle, then chimes in with a list of the same. No sweat, just whatever springs to mind, k? (Just like that movie about those losers working at a Chicago record store!) After all, it’s Friday — the day dedicated by the gods to mindless, fun time-wasting.
Today we talk about metalcore!
What are the five best OG metalcore albums released in the early ’00s? Before “metalcore” became a four-letter word and shitty scene kids took it over and ruined it.
Vince Neilstein, MetalSucks Co-Head Honcho
1. The End of Heartache
The answer to the question “Which Killswitch Engage album is your favorite?” seems to come down to when you first discovered these Masshole metalcore pioneers. To some extent that’s true for any band — your tastes steered you towards a particular album at a certain time for a reason — but I find it to be especially true of Killswitch: I’ve met as many people who cite Alive or Just Breathing as the pinnacle of their achievement as I have As Daylight Dies, and even the much-maligned self-titled (the second one) for a certain generation. For me it’s unquestionably The End of Heartache: its release coincided with my re-introduction to new metal after a lengthy hiatus, and also with an emotional and transitional period of my life. This fucking album always and forever, IDGAF. Every damn song. And Adam D.’s production style here would come to define metal for a decade.
2. The War Within
Century Media, 2004
Shadows Fall will forever be remembered as the great white hope of metalcore that failed to live up to expectations, and their legacy will always be tainted by their sudden cliff-drop (at least until their inevitable reunion mega-tour). But if you were alive and of metal-listening age in the early ’00s, watching their ascent was fucking EXCITING as hell! Perhaps no album better embodies what metalcore was (before it got ruined) more than The War Within: super-meaty thrash riffs, measured but powerful chugalongs, rambunctious, Skid Row-inspired guitar solos, gruff, screamed vocals with just a hint of melody in all the right places, and unstoppable, infallible, absolutely UNFUCKWITHABLE singalong tunes.
3. Until Your Heart Stops
Hydra Head, 1998
No early ’00s, no care: Cave In were light years head of their time, and Until Your Heart Stops is perhaps the most pristine distillation of what metalcore truly is: a combination of metal and hardcore. Manifested here as the stark combination of Slayer riffs, yelped hardcore vocals and punk aggression, this is the album that started it all.
Confession: I don’t like this album very much. I greatly, greatly, GREATLY prefer 2005’s hard rock-infused Obsession. But looking back at metalcore’s history there can be no argument that this band played a massive role, and this album in particular, in bringing metalcore from the punk underground into the American mallscape. More than any other band, 18V defined the visual aesthetic of what metalcore would become; in contrast to the everyman image of the bands coming out of the Northeast, 18V’s polished Orange County look ground up metalcore into one easily digestible, cohesive concept that was greater than the sum of its metal and hardcore parts.
5. Waking the Fallen
Eighteen Visions did it first, but Avenged Sevenfold reaped all the benefits and rode that ship to stardom. Isn’t that usually how it goes? To their credit, Avenged Sevenfold weren’t aping anyone — they were their own band — and they’re all phenomenal musicians, more skilled than their 18V counterparts across the board, at least outwardly so. But there’s little doubt that without Eighteen Visions paving the path to Chain Reaction and the hearts of Orange County’s youth, Avenged Sevenfold never would’ve gotten to where they are today. More credit where it’s due: while both bands later ended up venturing into hard rock, A7X did it better. They’ve been walking that line for so long now it almost seems quaint to remember them as a metalcore band, but Waking the Fallen was an incredibly important album to a whole lot of people, and its place in the metalcore canon is deserved.
Jam out with your clam out. Have a good weekend, everyone!