Mathcore

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Mathcore is a progressive, rhythmically complex and dissonant style of metalcore that emerged in the 1990s. It was pioneered by bands such as Converge, Coalesce, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Candiria.

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mathcore top albums

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CAR BOMB Mordial Album Cover Mordial
CAR BOMB
4.75 | 4 ratings
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THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN One Of Us Is The Killer Album Cover One Of Us Is The Killer
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
4.28 | 16 ratings
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THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Calculating Infinity Album Cover Calculating Infinity
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
4.24 | 17 ratings
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PSYOPUS Ideas Of Reference Album Cover Ideas Of Reference
PSYOPUS
4.42 | 4 ratings
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CAR BOMB w^w^^w^w Album Cover w^w^^w^w
CAR BOMB
4.33 | 3 ratings
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ROLO TOMASSI Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It Album Cover Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
ROLO TOMASSI
4.25 | 4 ratings
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BOTCH We Are The Romans Album Cover We Are The Romans
BOTCH
4.17 | 6 ratings
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CONVERGE Jane Doe Album Cover Jane Doe
CONVERGE
4.01 | 26 ratings
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CAR BOMB Meta Album Cover Meta
CAR BOMB
4.14 | 3 ratings
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THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Irony Is a Dead Scene (with Mike Patton) Album Cover Irony Is a Dead Scene (with Mike Patton)
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
4.00 | 11 ratings
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THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Dissociation Album Cover Dissociation
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
4.00 | 5 ratings
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PSYOPUS Our Puzzling Encounters Considered Album Cover Our Puzzling Encounters Considered
PSYOPUS
4.00 | 3 ratings
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Gender Traitor
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DEATH GOALS
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Mirrors
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PUPIL SLICER
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In Spite Of
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FOR YOUR HEALTH
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I Want To Be Your Friend
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PLASTICBAG FACEMASK
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Code Raptor
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SMILE A VELOCIRAPTOR
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mathcore Music Reviews

CAR BOMB Mordial

Album · 2019 · Mathcore
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ssmarcus
There are certain alignments in nature that, when they occur, demand a bit of humanity’s fickle attention and wonder. And much like a solar eclipse or seeing a flipped coin land on its side, an album whose cover art perfectly aligns with the music on that album is one such alignment. And Car Bomb’s Mordial is one such album.

Like the cover art, the music on Mordial is chaotic. Patterns come into existence only to flutter apart under the force of their own instability. There is a certain beauty to both the art and the music but they’re twisted in such a way that they are basically unsettling more than they are beautiful.

Mordial continues in the technical extreme metal, djent and mathcore footsteps of its predecessor Meta . But by incorporating more melodic, twisted as they are, and experimental passages, Mordial successfully breaks from the monotony I would feel when listening to Meta straight through. In short, Car Bomb have out done themselves yet again. These guys are at the top their game and are, at this juncture, untouchable.

CAR BOMB Meta

Album · 2016 · Mathcore
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ssmarcus
Car Bomb is the living embodiment of everything New York-based music could ever aspire to be. The band simultaneously captures the ferocity of the native working-class hardcore punk scene while also realizing the high-brow art rock aspirations of New York’s saturated indie hipster rock scenes. But unlike your average hardcore or indie rock outfit, Car Bomb is actually compromised of exceptional musicians with the technical and musical chops to actually pull off something genuinely novel and refreshing. And, in the case of Car Bomb, their talents have allowed the band to fashion a unique and highly technical, even by today’s standard, form of extreme metal, djent, and mathcore.

Meta is an absolute head trip from start to finish. The mind-bending rhythms and tone defying riffs are guaranteed to knock any metal head of their feet. Unfortunately, like so much extreme metal, the album can be a chore to listen through straight through. Monotony invariably sets in at some point despite all the genuine novelty in the song writing. This record is best enjoyed piecemeal.

PUPIL SLICER Mirrors

Album · 2021 · Mathcore
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Necrotica
Pupil Slicer. PUPIL SLICER. That’s the kind of band name that can repel prospective listeners in droves. Yet it’s not really a grotesque name per se. It’s not like you’re approaching a band called Spermswamp or Pungent Stench, in which case you already suspect you’re in for something outright disgusting. No, the name Pupil Slicer is a different kind of repellent... one that provokes reactions of genuine unease and discomfort. It’s there to jar you out of contentment and imbue a lingering feeling of anxiety, even when nothing seems to be happening around you. Needless to say, this UK trio could not have picked a better name to represent their music.

The group’s first full-length affair Mirrors sees them combining elements of mathcore, grindcore, and powerviolence as they unleash what could best be described as “controlled brutality”. Much like The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Calculating Infinity, the sections that initially come off as mindlessly chaotic are every bit as deliberate as any of the other moments; it’s all about the big picture. One must not take this album’s “mathcore” tag lightly, as its complexity is really the glue that holds it together. Take the opener “Martyrs” for example; amidst the unhinged vocals and ugly distortion, the dissonant guitar jabs and off-kilter drumming create a constant sense of unpredictability. As visceral as the music often is, it’s not visceral in a sloppy or haphazard way. Case in point: shorter cuts like “Stabbing Spiders” and “Vilified”, in which some of the record’s most abrasive and fast-paced moments are given the same intricacies and quirks as the longer tracks. The former lives up to its name, as each instrument delivers erratic and discordant staccato stabs in perfect unison; meanwhile, the latter is a striking marriage of straightforward hardcore punk passages and strange out-of-left-field tempo shifts. In the case of both songs, you never have an opportunity to breathe or relax until they finish.

As was mentioned, however, the playing is unbelievably tight and purposeful despite how uncompromising the music is. Frontwoman Kate Davies is definitely the star of the show, with her gut-wrenching screams and unorthodox guitar playing; however, drummer Josh Andrews and bassist/backing vocalist Luke Fabian provide a perfect rhythmic anchor while dishing out their own brand of manic energy. The trio’s chemistry is their strongest asset, and it’s heard in just about every track here. Just listen to how “Wounds Upon My Skin” shifts effortlessly from bludgeoning downtuned riffs to soft creepy ambiance in an instant. Just listen to how Andrews can switch from blastbeats to a menacing crawl at the drop of a hat in “Save the Dream, Kill Your Friends”, and yet the rest of the members don’t miss a beat. Of course the band still manage to add a healthy dose of dark and deranged atmosphere to the record, both in the more ominous passages and bleak lyrics. A few tracks even whip out some black metal influence, such as the tremolo/blastbeat middle section of “Collective Unconscious” or the climactic ending of “Mirrors Are More Fun Than Television”. Getting back to Davies, however, the lyrics she spews out are just as intense and harsh as the music itself. The first stanza of “Martyrs” immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album:

”Acting out your sick dream, experience through agony; you're set free. Tear apart prey you seek, subhuman void of empathy, entangled greed. A slow death now”

The lyrics of Mirrors explore themes of death, violence, (self-) loathing, anger, internal conflict, fear, and - interestingly enough - empowerment. In fact, I’d argue that the main theme of the album is that of empowerment and strength; it's just expressed in darker and less conventional ways than usual. This isn’t the vague and disingenuous “stand up and fight” stuff you hear in a lot of Rise Against anthems, but rather much more aggressive accounts of the cruelty and arrogance our narrator hates in the world. “Vilified” is probably the most specific example of this on the album, as the addressee has nothing better to do than cause “conflict when that feeling in you is starved” with “no regard, needless cruelty”. The lyrics in “Stabbing Spiders” are a twisted and ugly metaphor for staving off one’s false self, with lines such as “stabbing spiders that crawl on my skin, drilling through me within”. Then there’s “Husk,” which ends with an even more poignant message as it addresses the same subject of falsehood in more conclusive terms:

“No more living in fear. Persistent falsehoods - a disguise. You'll end up as nothing - you're faking. Lying to survive”

The only real issue with Mirrors is that it does tend to get pretty homogeneous at times. Despite the complexity of the math-y moments, there’s not much stylistic variation; if you’re not listening intently enough, Davies’ screams and the near-constant aggression can become one big blur after a while. But that also speaks to one of the major strengths of the record: it does demand to be listened to intently. While more variation here and there could have been welcome, the group’s commitment to create such a consistently enveloping, suffocating, and oppressive experience is commendable in its own right. Mirrors is a wonderfully dark and unsettling reflection of Pupil Slicer’s equally discomforting name, and it’ll be exciting to see how they expand on their unique style on future records.

EQUAL MINDS THEORY Equal Minds Theory

Album · 2011 · Mathcore
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siLLy puPPy
There are some pretty bleak places in the world. Places so bleak i can’t even begin to imagine how horrible it must be to grow up there. The city of Norilsk, Russia has to be one such location situated above the Arctic Circle and the center of the largest known nickel / copper / palladium mining scene in the entire world. Combined with incessant frigid cold, darkness and air pollution i would imagine that young Russians growing up there would either turn to drugs and alcohol to cope or to take the different route of escapism through an art form. The quartet of Anton (guitar), Vlad (bass), Vova (drums) and Sasha (vocal) chose the latter path when they formed the sludge punk / mathcore band EQUAL MINDS THEORY in 2005.

Having had enough of the remote frigid lands of the midnight sun, EQUAL MINDS THEORY wisely relocated in the city of Moscow where it has become one of Russia’s leading noisemakers in the vein of other mathcore monsters like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Psyopus, Converge and early Car Bomb. So far this band has released a few EPs but only this eponymously titled 2011 release counts as a bonafide full-length with a running time of 37 minutes exactly. This band is all about pent up energy release with caustic explosive delivers of grindcore, hardcore punk and mathcore bombastically erupting like a failed nuclear bomb factory having a Hiroshima styled meltdown.

The beauty of EQUAL MINDS THEORY though is that despite the unrelenting rage through sound, the band is no one-trick pony delivering a monotonous one-dimensional presentation of angsty youth dressed up in techy nerdiness. This album of eleven tracks features a nice variety of stylistic shifts, varying tempos and dynamics that include glacially slow melodic guitar licks that feature electronic atmospheres and unexpected breaks. The band engages in the tried and true dissonance effect where the guitars are out of tune and a creepy atonality creates a darkened atmospheric presence much like the endless Arctic Russian winters of the band’s origin.

“Bad Moon” for example is a slow atmospheric murkiness like a frigid Arctic river trickling through ice floes however “The Flood” showcases the band at its most bombastic with frenetic dissonant guitar attacks at quickened tempos and rhythmically complex time signature brutality. Sasha delivers the usual core metal style of vocals with growly screams at top decibalage while the triumvirate guitar / bass / drum action of the Anton / Vlad / Vova provides a pummeling blitzkrieg attack of mathcore achieving its utmost ferocity. While this would surely become stale if overdone, the band has grasped the need for diversity which is provided in abundance.

Elements of sludge metal ( a nice core hybridizing style of metal) provide the basis for the slower oft doomy processions. The album, like most of the mathcore ilk, provides short but condensed bursts of energetic orotundity but the closing track “The Icebreaker” deviates from the rest of the album by cranking out a sluggish 14 minute behemoth which serves as a creepy atmospheric comedown from the monstrous attacks that precede (although it’s intense in a sludge metal way). All in all, Norilsk should be proud as it spawned a captivating energetic breed of youth determined to chisel its way through the permafrost and into the throes of the modern dark recesses of one of extreme metal’s most exclusive enclaves of extremity. As far as mathcore albums go, this one is excellent in how it juxtaposes many elements together to craft a compelling album’s worth of material.

THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Calculating Infinity

Album · 1999 · Mathcore
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Necrotica
Calculating Infinity is the perfect example of an album that takes the rulebook of its genre(s) and throws it out completely. It’s the flawless melding of brutality and sophistication, of anger and despair, of hardcore euphoria and jazz-driven mathematics. And the members of The Dillinger Escape Plan were certainly aware of what they were doing too. Guitarist and figurehead Ben Weinman was once quoted as saying on The Independent:

"Calculating Infinity was us effectively ripping up the music theory book; if someone said 'don't harmonise with a second, it just sounds out of tune', then every single lead we did, we'd harmonise with a second. It sounded disgusting, but we did it".

This music is controlled rage, but just because it’s controlled doesn’t mean it’s sterile or edgeless. The complex, labyrinthine arrangements are given plenty of vocal ammunition through Dimitri Minakakis’ tortured, chilling screams. And I’ll certainly give the band credit: they don’t mess around when it comes to storming the gate early. “Sugar Coated Sour” is both a phenomenal thesis statement of the album’s sound and practically a war cry for any listener interested in joining the band for this unique event. The dissonant guitar harmonies, impossibly precise drumkit grinding, and furious wailing are incredible markers of what you’ll be hearing throughout this brief experience. About 90% of Calculating Infinity is a mixture of blinding speeds, jaw-dropping technical prowess, and the rare moment of unsettling reflection. Those calmer sections are a great way for the band to show their vast range of influences as well, such as the incredible polyrhythmic prog-oriented bridge of “43% Burnt” or the avant-jazz chord progressions of the slow melodic (?) section of “The Running Board.” Even more curious are the few interludes that mark the record, leaning more on the avant-garde side of its identity. The title track and “*#..” are enjoyable Meshuggah-esque ditties that rely on strange rhythms and little diminished guitar “pops,” while “Weekend Sex Change” combines sampling, depressive guitar melodies, and incredible drum soloing into one fascinating fusion.

The most impressive thing about Calculating Infinity is that both sides of its bipolar personality are so natural and well-represented. Many of us are aware of the various rumors surrounding the album’s recording, most famously the decision to roll dice to determine each time signature. But it’s strange to think that for something so, ahem, “calculated,” that every bit of hardcore aggression and raw emotion can still come out in full force. Just listen to that utterly insane intro to “Jim Fear.” It doesn’t give us a moment’s notice to prepare for the full-on assault of scorching fretwork and deranged screams, but everything manages to be very planned and pre-staged all the same. That whole song really comes together when you reach the next section and hear the complex runs across the fretboard in unison with the rabid drums, and that concept of “controlled anarchy” comes into play. Wanna know why it all works? Because the insane technicality and the angular “prog-meets-punk” riffing ensure that each emotional catharsis is earned. The Dillinger Escape Plan somehow have the ability to turn technical prowess into atmosphere, weaving in and out of disturbing musical passages; Dimitri is simply icing on the cake with the chaos he spews over it all. But each emotional release works because the band members are incredibly skilled at building us up to those moments. Much like Converge’s Jane Doe, there’s a respect and care that’s given to each weird transition and tempo shift despite the hell being unleashed on top of the songwriting.

At the end of the day, Calculating Infinity is simply a mesmerizing paradox; it combines mathcore, hardcore punk, free jazz, avant-garde metal, and progressive metal, and somehow manages to treat them all as equals. If you want sophisticated songwriting and complex instrumentals, this album is essential. And if you just want to fuck everyone up in the moshpit, then it’s still essential.

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