|Unloved & Weeded Out, Sputnik Metalcore Edition|
A few of my favorite essential first/second wave metalcore records that don't get the love they deserve here. A history lesson strictly for the sputcore boyz. Hope you find records that you love as much as I do here.
As far as early metalcore goes, this one is about as nasty as it gets. Moshy as all hell with a super thrashy guitar tone but you can still hear the remnants of other NY stuff like early Agnostic Front and The Icemen. The fact this came out in 1992 is fucking ridiculous. If I hadn't heard it you could've told me a hardcore band dropped the remaster in 2023 and I would believe you.
Rest In Peace
While technically just still an early NYHC band, you'd be hard pressed not to hear Rest In Peace from 1991 and not see the parallels of where the genre would go in the coming years and where it would circle back around to now in the present. Thrashy as fuck, full of sick crossover riffs, lots of steady double kick, but still very much with a hardcore punk tinge to it. If you can listen to The Harsh Truth and not want to dropkick someone you aren't human.
Life. Love. Regret.
Far removed from the Mecca that was the early new england metalcore scene, Unbroken from SoCal released LLR in 1993. It's a blisteringly angry record and literally begging you to beat the shit out of strangers to it. Some of the first "open chugging" breakdowns to come to metalcore, I think?
Skipping forward a few years to 1996, Bloodlet dropped the terrifying album that is Entheogen. While bands had played with dissonant sounds in metalcore long before this, no other early metalcore record sounds quite as diabolical as Entheogen. Punishing heavy riffs with unsettling dissonance sprinkled and just one of the most pissed off sounding singers I've ever heard.
The best NYHC band is from France. Whoddathunk it? This record came out in 97 before Bessec went completely bonkers and started letting his weird obsessions with graverobbing and snuff films and other things bordering selfparody bleed into his lyrics. Despite that though, Bessac is a fucking beast on the mic, never heard anyone sound quite like he does. Just a fucking awesome record.
The Process Of
PHILLY. Playing a little more with dissonance than some of the other bands on this list, Turmoil wasn't mathy enough to be considered mathcore but god damn did they bring the chaotic elements that other bands didn't. One of the most underrated albums in the entire genre, in my opinion, an absolute assbeater.
|7||All Out War|
For Those Who Were Crucified
Hey man do you love slayer? Me too. Do you wish there was a band doing exclusively their slower cuts like South of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss but even moshier? 1998's For Those Who Were Crucified is for you m'boy. Don your bandanas and get in the pit.
|8|| ||Vision of Disorder|
Grunge adjacent, hardcore adjacent, thrash adjacent, metal adjacent, this album has everything. 1996's Element brings some of the hardest riffs of 90s metal and hardcore with an absolutely crazy vocal performance from tim williams. Weirdly accessible and adjacent to what was playing on modern rock stations while also having mosh olympics cuts like Divide is crazy.
Give Them Rope, She Said
The unsung hero of mathcore. If they aren't in your mathcore big 4, you're straight up doing that shit wrong. Released in 1997 (the same year as Calculating Infinity) but never quite given the flowers it deserved.
Another album that you could have told me came out in 2023 but dropped in 1995. I actually prefer the Minus demos to this but for ease of access, I just decided to highlight Master Killer. NY is built different for this shit, I swear to you. I don't know if it was just the environment NYC at the time that brewed so many legendary bands but it was a powder keg of awesome metal and hardcore bands.
It's funny that of all places, NC was the most notable place other than New England churning out swedish melodeath influenced metalcore that would come to dominate the second wave. This record dropped in 1997 and features a whirlwind of dope melodic tremolo riffs and a shitload of absolutely crushing breakdowns.
The Whispered Lies of Angels
Another awesome entry from the early NC melodic metalcore scene. Everyone knows Prayer For Cleansing for being a precursor to BTBAM, but Tommy and Paul both spent time in both Catharsis and Undying as well. Undying also features James Chang who would later go on to play in Chris Colohan fronted straight edge hardcore/hm2 band SECT. This LP dropped in 2000.
Dead Man Walking
Meanwhile in Belgium... Arkangel was releasing the albums that As I Lay Dying and other contemporary At The Gates-core bands wish they could write in 1999. Nothing much more to say about this one other than the fact it slaps and the vocalist is notably really great, (as a vocalist, apparently not as a person). From Heaven We Fall is one of the craziest metalcore openers ever.
Gomorrah's Season Ends
Everyone who knows anything about metal and hardcore knows the name Earth Crisis, simply because the Firestorm EP is such a pivotal flagship release for metalcore. They followed it up with the Destroy the Machines LP, which is a great album in its own right. But this is MY list you fucking nerds, and I say that the best Earth Crisis release is 1996's Gomorrah's Season Ends. That title track speaks for itself, and despite not being straight edge, it still holds an incredible amount of weight.
NY in 1996. On top always. A very different style of vocal on this one but something about the way Tom Sheehan delivers his brilliantly written lyrics is so raw and fucking sweet. Awesome drums on this one and some of my favorite riffs in early metalcore.
Fight Ambition To Kill
Pre Killswitch Engage/Shadows Fall members in a band thats like 9000 times heavier and cooler than either of those bands (even though I do like those bands still). Brian Fair is a beast on the mic even in 1997.
This is a little bit of a cheat but here's some heat for you. A bit of my home state of Virginia's musical history as well as one of the earliest recordings you will hear of one Nate Newton of Converge fame. They were active in the mid to late 90s but the entire discography was given the whole remix/remaster/rerelease treatment by Kurt Ballou in 2011. Absolutely crushing stuff with a really frantic atmosphere. Car Crash Lullaby's breakdown lives rent free in my head forever.
This one's for MarsBro. Released in 2002, this is the post-metal/metalcore/mathcore hybrid BIBLE.
Setting Fire to Sinking Ships
As adjacent to grind as it is to metal or hardcore, as well as elements of sludge. Not many people were doing what Unruh was doing in 1999.
...To Reduce the Choir to One Soloist
Another discog release hack, Acme often gets left out of the earliest and most pivotal metalcore band conversation. They were, however, active as early as 1991 in Germany where they call home. Though this discog LP was released posthumously in 1996, it still holds some absolutely vicious chaotic metalcore for fans of deadguy, kissitgoodbye, coalesce, etc etc
Burn the Idol of the White Messiah
In 1998 when Fall Out Boy was just a fever dream, Andy Hurley was playing drums for a number of badass hardcore and metalcore bands. Racetraitor was the best of all of them. Coming out of Chicago and also featuring an occasional Pete Wentz on bass (when he wasn’t busy with Arma Angelus), Racetraitor played a grimy and grindy heavy as fuck metalcore style with super passionate outspoken hyper political lyrics courtesy of Iranian-American frontman Mani Mostofi. They were maligned early on for tackling such controversial topics as Christian nationalism and institutional racism years and years before it move to the forefront of your heated Thanksgiving day extended family gatherings. They broke up shortly after this album, only to return years later to again start releasing heavy music with extreme political undertones.
Verses Of The Bleeding
Another album from 1997 smack dab in the middle of the metalcore renaissance, Abnegation from PA was a more beatdown metalcore band on their early demos. Verses of the Bleeding is their sole LP, released after some serious lineup shake ups and injecting a very healthy dose of death metal. Easily their most polished release (the early stuff is RAW), you might even call it proto-deathcore.
|23||Sons of Abraham|
Termites In His Smile
You’ve heard of Christcore, but may I interest you in some Jewish Straight Edge Metalcore? Hailing from Long Island, Sons of Abraham released Termites In His Smile in 1997, shortly before disbanding in 1998. The reason for disbanding? For their guitar players to focus on their new band with their friend Daryl, a little group called Glassjaw.