20 Best Metalcore Albums of 2022
Hey, Andrew Sacher here, and for the second year in a row, I'll be running down the list of the year's 20 best metalcore albums. The genre's in a really great place right now, and 2022 saw several bands level up from "metalcore revival" to pushing the genre in exciting new directions. There are a couple comeback albums from veteran bands on this list, but most of the bands on this list are part of a newer generation that's really been carving out its own space in the genre's lineage. Some of the albums on this list lean towards mathcore or grindcore or sasscore or other chaotic related subgenres, and plenty of them are about as straight-up metalcore as it gets. I also threw in one that's more metallic hardcore because it's too good to worry about a genre distinction as blurry as that one.
That said, there were plenty of other metal-friendly hardcore records and punk-friendly metal records that didn't make sense to include, but shoutout to Soul Glo's Diaspora Problems, Birds In Row's Gris Klein, Fugitive's Maniac, Tribal Gaze's The Nine Choirs, Vomit Forth's Seething Malevolence, Deadbody's The Requiem, Wormrot's Hiss, and Rolo Tomassi's Where Myth Becomes Memory. Check those out if you haven't heard them and like the other albums on this list.
And now, the list...
20. Orthodox – Learning to Dissolve (Century Media, USA)
19. Wounded Touch – Americanxiety (Smartpunk, USA)
18. A Mourning Star – To See Your Beauty Fade (The Coming Strife, Canada)
17. Greyhaven – This Bright and Beautiful World (Equal Vision, USA)
16. END / Cult Leader – Gather & Mourn (Closed Casket Activities/Deathwish, USA)
15. Black Matter Device – Autonomous Weapons (Dark Trail, USA)
14. Escuela Grind – Memory Theater (MNRK Heavy, USA)
13. Inclination - Unaltered Perspective (Pure Noise, USA)
12. The Sawtooth Grin – Good. (self-released, USA)
11. Dr. Acula - Dr. Acula (Silent Pendulum, USA)
One of the year's most unhinged post-hardcore debut albums comes from Savannah, Georgia's The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir. Throughout the ever-changing Slow Murder, the band connects the dots between Slint-style spoken word post-rock, Jesus Lizard-style noise rock, screamo, sasscore, deathcore, and more, all topped off with a misanthropic worldview that -- on one particular song -- imagines a future without the police, the KKK, nazis, confederate flag-wavers, racists, abusers, rapists, misogynists, billionaires, and capitalists. From the album's calmest moments to its most antagonizing, there's seemingly nothing this band can't do. And as if The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir weren't enough of a force of their own, guest vocals from Soul Glo's Pierce Jordan and Gillian Carter's Logan Rivera make for nice cherries on top of all of Slow Murder's chaos.
As far as Y2K-style metalcore goes, there might not be a more promising band right now than Foreign Hands. They've been grinding for a few years (and vocalist Tyler Norris also plays in Wristmeetrazor), but 2022 has been their moment. They kicked the year off with their Bleed The Dream EP on DAZE, and it offers up five songs of raw, heavy, dramatic metalcore that sounds just like you remember it sounding in 2000, with a freshness that makes it sound better today than some of those now-dated records do. Later in the year, they signed to SharpTone and released the two-song Lucid Noise single, which found them embracing clearer production and huge-sounding, clean-sung choruses that make Foreign Hands sound more welcoming and more expansive without losing any of their original attack.
At the end of Candy's 2018, Triple B Records-released debut album Good To Feel, they switched things up from their usual metallic hardcore for a shoegazy noise pop closer called "Bigger Than Yours." It was a send-off that suggested there would be no limits to what Candy would do next, but not even that song could've prepared you for sonic assault of their sophomore album (and Relapse debut) Heaven Is Here. Metallic hardcore is still in Candy's DNA on this album, but Heaven Is Here veers closer to genre-blurring labelmates Full of Hell than to most of the hardcore scene. Their metallic side is heavier and more abrasive; they'll break out into circle-pit-opening D-beat on one song and dish out industrial noisegrind on the next. The record was produced by Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Show Me The Body), who does some of his best work here, giving Heaven Is Here a finishing coat that makes it sound like something from a post-apocalyptic future. "Heaven is here" might by the title of the album, but on the song of the same name, vocalist Zak Quiram cries out, "The hell of myself/I'm burning in hell," and the utter despair in his voice is like a manifestation of the LP at large.
On their debut EP Profound Morality, Heriot invite such comparisons as Knocked Loose meets Chelsea Wolfe, Code Orange meets Godflesh, Converge meets The Haxan Cloak. It's a sick, twisted, futuristic version of metalcore that dabbles in goth, industrial, dark ambient, noise, and more, topped off with the blazing dual vocals of Jake Packer and Debbie Gough, the latter of whom is a master of both piercing screams and haunting cleans. The vibes range from slow-paced sludge to double-time punk to songs that aren't heavy or guitar-based at all, and it all flows together in a way that makes this 20-minute EP sound as towering as other band's full-lengths. I can't wait to see what they do pull off when they finally make a full album; they've only got this EP and a few other singles to their name, and they already sound two steps ahead of so many others in the game right now.
Ithaca's 2019 debut LP The Language of Inquiry helped usher in the metalcore revival, but on their sophomore album They Fear Us, Ithaca aren't reviving anything; they're pushing metalcore to new places. Their perfectly-executed riffage goes beyond mining the depths of Y2K-era metalcore, and the band sounds even tighter and heavier on this LP than they did on their debut. At the same time, vocalist Djamila Yasmin Azzouz leans way harder into balancing out her screams with belted clean vocals, bringing the kind of powerhouse singing that this genre could use a lot more of. Her performances are stunning, and her lyrics are just as impactful. As the album title suggests, this album is often about taking back the power and getting vengeance on those who want to strip you of it, and when Djamila tackles this subject, she sounds absolutely ruthless.
Emerging from the depths of the Very Online cybergrind community, Thotcrime signed to Prosthetic earlier this year and their label debut is one of the most gripping chaotic hardcore records of the year. They shift from brutal grind to chuggy metalcore to face-melting Dillinger Escape Plan riffs to sneering sasscore to ETID-worthy roars to clean-sung choruses to glitchy hyperpop, and more, and they get assists from The Callous Daoboys' Carson Pace, Pupil Slicer's Katie Davies, Dreamwell's Aki McCullough, and diana starshine along the way. It's knowing over-the-top and ridiculous, but it's also super catchy and fun to listen to, and transcends all of the niche microgenres it dabbles in.
Vein have evolved a lot in the four years since their debut LP errorzone solidified them amongst a new crop of bands redefining metalcore for a new generation. On their sophomore LP This World Is Going to Ruin You, they've toned down the twitchy nu metal vibes of their debut, beefed up and modernized their production, and leaned into their bludgeoning heavy side as well as their shoegazy side. World is both heavier than errorzone, and more melodic, thanks not just to Anthony DiDio's increasingly strong clean vocals but also a guest spot from Thursday's Geoff Rickly. It's an immersive listen that you can really lose yourself in, and it sounds as bleak as the title suggests it would.
As the most chaotic, sassiest, over-the-top, and even downright annoying offshoots of 2000s post-hardcore continue to be mined by a new generation, we're ending up with a whole new crop of delightfully ridiculous bands and one of the best ones is Buffalo's p.s.you'redead. Citing influences like The Locust, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and Death From Above 1979, p.s.you'redead have come out with a shapeshifting debut album that runs the gamut from brutal metalcore to danceable hyperpop, and touches on about 30 other things in between, often during the duration of a two-minute song. It's not for everyone, but if you've got an itch for this kind of thing, few bands scratched it better this year.
As mentioned in the intro, one of the albums on this list is really more "metallic hardcore" than metalcore, but too good not to include. This is it:
In 2022, the term "hardcore" has come to incorporate a vast array of bands that range from shoegaze to death metal, but if you're looking for a new album that gives you nothing but no-frills, ass-beating, bark-your-head-off mosh fuel, look no further than New Lords, the sophomore LP from Hudson Valley hardcore kings Mindforce. This record offers up 10 tracks in 17 and a half minutes, and not a second is wasted. Mindforce have built up a reputation as a must-see live band, and what you see live is what you get on New Lords. They're a razor-sharp band, and New Lords captures that, without any bells or whistles to distract from their pure fury. They've got an arsenal of '80s thrash and '90s metallic hardcore-inspired riffs, and each one is used as efficiently as possible -- no long solos, no patient interludes. And Jay Peta tops it off with tough, shouted mantras that are as aggressive as they are catchy. New Lords feels like a gift to the devoted hardcore scene that Mindforce have been part of for years, and I'd just as quickly recommend it to a metalhead or a hardcore-curious Turnstile fan. I don't think Mindforce are trying to appeal beyond their core fanbase, but when the music is this undeniable, it just might happen anyway.
"I'm aiming at pop music, I just happened to take this pretty big left turn," Carson Pace told us earlier this year, referring to the second album by the impossible-to-pigeonhole, seven-piece collective that he co-founded and fronts, The Callous Daoboys. If there's one genre that gets thrown at the Daoboys the most, it's probably mathcore, and they do indeed share traits with a handful of classic bands in that realm (Every Time I Die, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot), but that's a far too limiting descriptor for Celebrity Therapist. The album dances between jazz, blues, showtunes, emo, art rock, and much more, often changing shape multiple times in just a few seconds. It goes from campy and sarcastic to poetic and serious, from personal introspection to socio-political commentary, from abrasive and heavy to clean, melodic, and beautiful. It's closer in spirit to Mr. Bungle or Cardiacs than to most mathcore or metalcore bands have, and like both of those bands have done, The Callous Daoboys are in the process of carving out a lane occupied by them and them alone.