Melodic Metalcore

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Melodic metalcore is a subgenre of metalcore, with a heavy emphasis on melodic instrumentation, blast beats, metalcore-stylised breakdowns and clean singing. The genre has seen commercial success for employing a "more accessible and commercial style" than typical metalcore. Many notable melodic metalcore bands have been influenced by melodic death metal.

Where metalcore evolved out of hardcore punk with added metal elements such as double bass drumming and thrash-like guitar and vocals, melodic metalcore often stemmed from metal bands adopting hardcore punk elements.

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melodic metalcore top albums

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TRIVIUM Ascendancy Album Cover Ascendancy
TRIVIUM
4.32 | 24 ratings
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TRIVIUM The Sin And The Sentence Album Cover The Sin And The Sentence
TRIVIUM
4.34 | 12 ratings
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PROTEST THE HERO Kezia Album Cover Kezia
PROTEST THE HERO
4.25 | 19 ratings
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TRIVIUM Shogun Album Cover Shogun
TRIVIUM
4.21 | 27 ratings
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KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Disarm the Descent Album Cover Disarm the Descent
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
4.33 | 8 ratings
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KILLSWITCH ENGAGE The End of Heartache Album Cover The End of Heartache
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
4.06 | 15 ratings
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SHADOWS FALL The Art of Balance Album Cover The Art of Balance
SHADOWS FALL
4.12 | 9 ratings
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SHADOWS FALL Retribution Album Cover Retribution
SHADOWS FALL
3.97 | 12 ratings
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BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE Fever Album Cover Fever
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
4.00 | 8 ratings
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KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Alive or Just Breathing Album Cover Alive or Just Breathing
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
3.92 | 14 ratings
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PROTEST THE HERO Fortress Album Cover Fortress
PROTEST THE HERO
3.84 | 21 ratings
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SHADOWS FALL Fire from the Sky Album Cover Fire from the Sky
SHADOWS FALL
3.88 | 9 ratings
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melodic metalcore Music Reviews

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Alive or Just Breathing

Album · 2002 · Melodic Metalcore
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ssmarcus
What is it about Killswitch Engage and their record Alive or Just Breathing that makes them one of the greatest and most important metalcore and New Wave of American Heavy Metal acts? Put simply, Killswitch is one of, if not the first, metal band to temper metal’s testosterone driven aggression with existential and emotional vulnerability. Their music, like their melodic death metal peers and progenitors in Sweden, is uncompromisingly dark and heavy. And yet, on this record, Killswitch made the bold and, to this day still, controversial choice to add melodious emo/pop-punk sensibilities to their choruses and various other passages in the music.

Metal fans, as a population, are notoriously fond of “gatekeeping” and ensuring that only bands that meet their own subjective standard of authenticity get crowned as proper metal acts. This tension between more purely heavy or classical metal and the emotive metalcore sound was definitely perceived as a major fault line between fans in the mid 2000’s at the height of the New Wave of American and Heavy Metal. And while much of the criticism of metalcore’s emo-like excesses is justified, it is impossible to deny the absolute authenticity of this record. Whether its Jesse Leach’s passionate calls for self reflection or the band’s brutal riffage, this is an album that will hit you as hard as any great metal record from the two decades prior.

Still, I can’t give the album a perfect score. While the first four tracks are metal bliss, the latter half of the record does, at times, merely re-tread material already handled earlier on in the record. Despite this, Alive or Just Breathing is still classic!

TRIVIUM Ascendancy

Album · 2005 · Melodic Metalcore
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adg211288
A Journey Into Metal Part II

The tale of how I first became a metalhead through the most unlikely of sources, Metallica's St. Anger, has now been told. It is advisable that you if haven't read it that you do so now, so that this next chapter of the tale may be taken in context. And if you have read it, possibly read it again as I revised the first part quite considerably before starting this next piece of work, as many memories flooded back to me.

Okay, all caught up?

One can become a metalhead through just the one starting album. But that hardly completes our tale. Much like metal itself was started by Black Sabbath, it later become refined by the likes of Judas Priest and Rainbow with albums like Sad Wings of Destiny and Rising respectively. It was perhaps only by the time of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that we might consider metal to have been fully formed as a genre. Or at least, the first genre of it, heavy metal itself. An individual metalhead can form much the same way. Although many will probably cringe at the comparison, St. Anger was to me what Black Sabbath was to the formation of the genre. Which means the second chapter of the story into metaldum is the refinement stage. The turning point, if you will, before one can consider themselves the person and metalhead they are today.

But first, it's important to get caught up.

I gradually picked up the rest of the Metallica albums. And my view of Metallica basically went that the first five were excellent. I did not know enough about metal at this point in my life that I even realised that the Black Album was considered a different genre to the first four. I knew all five sounded a lot better than St. Anger though, so I wasn't listening to that album too much. I did not think much of either Load or ReLoad, but I liked the covers album Garage Inc. I thought that was pretty fun. I think I may have listened to S&M once and have not bothered again to this day.

In the wider metal world Dimebag Darrel had been murdered on stage in 2004, which was a rather Earth shattering experience for both my best mate 'C' and myself who'd both got heavily into Pantera in this time. That kind of thing just didn't happen to metal guitar idols in our world. Looking back I believe we took his death quite differently. I seem to recall that 'C' started listening to Pantera more, especially poignant tracks like Cemetery Gates and Hollow. I, on the other hand, found it difficult to listen to Pantera's music with the same enthusiasm for a long time. Every time I put it on I just imagined Dimebag getting gunned down while playing. My young mind could not handle it. And so Pantera never really had the chance to become the stepping stone band that they really could have been for me. They were certainly the most extreme thing I was listening to at the time. They were the spark, at least, but not the true turning point. That was to come soon though.

The year was now 2005, almost two whole years since the release of St. Anger. This was my last year in secondary school. One thing that did happen when that school year came to a close is that a lot of the group mentioned in Part 1 drifted apart. I still see 'C' to this day, but sadly have lost touch with some of the others. I was glad to see the back of 'L' though. 'L' really took things too far in 2005 by taking the piss out of the Dimebag murder. I'd never given a fuck about what 'L' thought of the music I liked but that crossed a line. I like to think that a few others realised what a dick he was by that point, but probably not. 'L' was just one of those people that others gravitated toward and became sycophants to. I have no idea what happened to 'L' after school finished. And I don't much care. Wherever he is I don't expect his taste in music has improved.

Things had changed at home with the arrival of a computer with the Internet the previous year, but I hadn't yet discovered YouTube, which first launched in early 2005. I expect that discovery came in 2006, which I see as the pivotal year as that's when my household first got Sky TV and I found the Scuzz station that led me to many early interests in metal. But in 2005 itself things hadn't improved much. 2006 would also be the year I subscribed to Metal Hammer, so the amount of progress made between St. Anger and then was pitiful. Foo Fighters and Nickelback were still in heavy rotation. The former had released In Your Honour (which I know I'm spelling wrong but sue me I'm English and we invented the language!) and the other had released All the Right Reasons. It had a pretty angry song on it about Dimebag's murder that really resonated. The late guitarist even played on it by virtue of a sampled guitar solo. Both albums were well liked by yours truly at the time, so that's evidence that my taste hadn't really moved on all that much. I look back more fondly on one of those albums today than the other. See if you can guess which one. 2006 would also mark my discovery of Iron Maiden, who at the end of that year became my first proper concert. But for now we're stuck in 2005 and the album that is the ultimate subject of this story was released. Ascendancy by metalcore band Trivium.

Before Metal Hammer, Scuzz and YouTube changed everything, it was actually a guitar magazine, which wasn't supposed to be metal specific but often did seem to focus on it, that provided the much needed resource that my younger self required. 'C' also benefited from this. It is how we found Pantera. We liked the guitar track the magazine had put on the CD for Cemetery Gates so much that I bought Cowboys From Hell without ever hearing Phil Anselmo's vocals. Total Guitar's free CDs though were also notable for sometimes including album tracks and this was how I got my first taste of growling vocals. I don't recall if it was Avenged Sevenfold or Arch Enemy I heard first, but both were among such bands featured. However the first such album I bought was Ascendancy. I do not actually remember when or how I first heard Trivium proper. I suspect they were featured as an album track with Total Guitar, or else maybe I'm misremembering the dates of all this and I didn't discover this album until it had been out a while. It was about fifteen years ago after all. Either way, Total Guitar was certainly how I first became aware of Trivium. There was a lot of Trivium hype going around at the time which carried over into Metal Hammer and online, as those avenues were opened up to me. They got airplay on both Kerrang and Scuzz. An important factor that piqued my interest was their branding as the next Metallica. 'Next Metallica' quickly became apparent as something that people in the media just liked to say. Mastodon got saddled with it as well around the same time.

Ascendancy remains one of only a few metalcore records I ever bought. The others mainly either being also by Trivium or were bought in second hand shops for no other reason than they were that cheap, the best result of such pot luck being the discovery of Protest the Hero. I'm sure there's probably stuff of more worth out there than I've heard, I have in fact in more recent years been drawn to a couple of acts like Converge and Erra. There's something very different about those bands though than the kind of metalcore played by Trivium and other more household metalcore names of the time though like Bullet for my Valentine, Caliban and Killswitch Engage. And in general it became a genre I don't hold much love for. Much like with St. Anger and it's sound that most accept as alternative metal, which was the genre a lot of my early metal bands belonged to, discovered both before and after this album. But although I don't much care for these genres these days and don't actively seek them out, they were both very crucial stepping stones for me. Which is why like with St. Anger I still hold a lot of appreciation for Ascendancy.

There's a big difference with this album to that one though. It is actually really fucking good.

My metal peers of the time, by then not generally people I grew up with but people I was encountering online, on the then very new YouTube (which was a much different website much then with much better community features including groups that served as a minimalist forum (my first experience with such a platform)), heavily disagreed with the hype of Trivium. In fact they were so put out by Trivium (like they'd been personally offended by their existence) that they'd start dedicated hate channels for the band on YouTube and take every opportunity to dish dirt on them, about where they'd stolen this or that riff from and so forth. Yeah, the spirit of metal wasn't doing too well in them days. While the 'experienced' metalheads were bashing bands like Trivium for all they were worth, the kids were starting rap verses metal flame wars and shouting about TR00 Trash Metal (accurate spelling of the day). All in all it was a much more toxic community than was really healthy for the developing metalhead.

Much like with the initial disapproval of my folks and peers over starting to listen to metal with St. Anger, this reaction from the supposedly more in the know metal crowd only fuelled me to stand against them. Hey, I was a teenager, we're supposed to rebel against our elders and their beliefs. Trivium was a band that allowed me to do that. It also in hindsight scratched an itch for more extreme music that proved a catharsis over lingering anger over Dimebag's murder that even Metallica's early thrash couldn't scratch.

But I'm in my thirties now and I have say that I think those 'in the know' metalheads of the time were wrong about Trivium, especially over this album. While it's true that Trivium is not a band I return to often, I still think that Ascendancy is a very accomplished album from the then young band, perhaps even a classic of its era. An album that does possibly show adolescence in its song-writing, but honestly it's more forgivable here considering the age of the band at the time. Matt Heafy was only 19 at the time of the album's release and that was only a couple of years older than I was! Old school metalheads of the time probably thought the kids should be looking up to the same bands as them (and maybe now it's our turn we do the same to the next generation and don't even realise it) and so vehemently rejected Heafy and his band Trivium, but to us who were of that sort age he was a figure to look up to.

Tracks like Rain, A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation and Like Light to the Flies still find their way into regular random rotation from my PC media player and other tracks less frequently so. Because the YouTube haters of the day I'm afraid I can't listen to Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr with a straight face any more because of a rather infamous misheard lyrics video which last time I checked could still be found on YouTube.

Unfortunately Trivium probably took the whole 'next Metallica' thing to heart, so their next album was The Crusade and it seemed designed to imitate Metallica as much as possible, which ultimately just gave fodder to their haters. But for me personally Ascendancy was the album that opened me up to extreme metal, broadened my horizons and opened the floodgates for all kinds of exciting new genres of metal that I began getting exposed to the following year during my gap between school and college. Like with St. Anger, I'll always hold a special place in my heart and collection for it. If it wasn't for this particular would I have become interested in other metal genres like death metal and black metal? Well probably eventually, but this album sure seemed to speed up the process. I was certainly starting to check those out on that first computer at home soon after this. It was the album that spurred me onward. I found genre after genre from that point on. Progressive metal through Dream Theater. Folk metal through Cruachan (one guy I met on YouTube was so insistent that I listen to Cruachan that he emailed by every song from Folk-Lore track by track - highly illegal of course, but Cruachan remains my favourite folk metal band and I own every album they've made so I think they'll forgive us). Black metal through Immortal. I could list every genre with a key band and it all branches out from Ascendancy, another album that was often maligned, although not to the extent of St. Anger.

This concludes the second chapter of this tale and I think it also has to be the last. The branching out starts here. I began to become fully formed as a metalhead. I'm still living the third chapter of this trilogy. Some probably thought I'd grow out of metal music and that would bring the story to a close.

I don't think it's going to happen.

TRIVIUM What The Dead Men Say

Album · 2020 · Melodic Metalcore
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Kingcrimsonprog
Florida’s Trivium have been on a bit of a career high recently, with their album-of-the-year worthy previous album The Sin & The Sentence introducing the best drummer of their career and being the best collection of songs since their breakthrough. Momentum was high, as were expectations for their ninth album, 2020’s What The Dead Men Say.

For me, The Sin & The Sentence is basically the best album the band have ever released, and not even by a slim margin. It was a highlight of the whole subgenre. This album, while maybe not just as vital, breath-taking and relentless as that was, is definitely a worthy follow-up. Like the previous album, it has an absolutely perfect production job from Josh Wilbur, tasteful minimalist artwork, jaw dropping drums from Alex Bent and a musical direction that combines all the various aspects of all the different things they’ve tried over the years and pushes it in new directions too.

Whatever era of Trivium you like, be it the melodic and classic metal sounding Silence In The Snow style, the commercial Crusade style, the catchy and simplified Vengeance Falls style, the heavy Ascendancy & In Waves style… there’s a bit of everything, with all the good points and none of the bad. Its smooth, flowing, tasteful, and punchy. Its not cheesy, disjointed or boring. Basically, it’s a continuation or the absolute rage and perfection of the Sin & The Sentence style (although maybe a bit more melodic, with a few less blast-beats. I saw someone on social media call it Silence In The Sentence and I think that fits quite nicely).

There are some huge crunchy riffs, some excellent virtuoso solos and brilliant both harsh and clean vocals. Ever since Silence In The Snow, Matt Heafy’s vocals have been a whole other level, he’s as melodic and powerful as a Traditional Metal hero, and emotive without being cheesy or sacharine. There are some damn memorable choruses here. Its also succinct, with no filler, and the songs have complexity without overstaying their welcome.

Highlights include the harsh ‘Amongst The Shadows & The Stones’ the more direct and catchy ‘The Defiant’ and best of all, ‘Sickness Unto You’ which no Trivium fan should be without.

In the past, the band had a lot of detractors for a range of different reasons, suspicious elitists who didn’t like the youthful band wearing Overkill t-shirts and playing Thrash riffs in with their Metalcore, young fans who didn’t understand the band growing and evolving with each album, fans of one era but not another. Its really nice that now the majority of people are stopping having to be defensive about liking Trivium. When the material is of this quality, you just can’t cross your arms and deny them anymore. This album is superb, and if you don’t check it out, you really are missing out.

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Atonement

Album · 2019 · Melodic Metalcore
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Kingcrimsonprog
2019’s Atonement is the 3rd album since Jesse Leach rejoined the iconic metalcore band, Killswitch Engage. I’ll skip to the end right away and say this album is no disappointment. There are a bunch of new songs fit for any future KSE live sets or compilations.

The sound, performance and production are all top notch. More or less similar in quality to the past two albums. Sonically; it is crystal clear and perfectly produced. As classy as you can get without tipping over into overproduced. The band pound away with the same ratio of aggression and contemplation, and nail it perfectly.

Unusually for Killswitch, there is a guest vocal performance from an outisder, from Testament’s Chuck Billy. They add him over one of the thrashier songs (‘The Crownless King’) and he really suits the music. Also; in contrast to the outsider guest spot, and in a nice mirror to Jesse Leach’s guest vocal performance on The End Of Heartache, during the time that Howard Jones was the singer, now that Jesse is the singer, Howard Jones pops up here for a guest vocal performance, on the track ‘The Singal Fire.’

I’m not just saying it due to the above fact, but the best song on the album is definitely ‘The Signal Fire.’ Next time I see Killswitch I really hope they play it live.

Other highlights include the opener ‘Unleashed’ and ‘I Can’t Be The Only One’ (which I imagine will become a single and a live favourite). I am also rather fond of ‘Know You Enemy’ which channels Dimebag at times in the riffs, and the album closer ‘Bite The Hand That Feeds’ which is arguably the fastest and heaviest one on this album. There’s plenty of new songs to get excited about, and very little if any in the way of filler.

Initially I was a bit sceptical about this album before getting it, as they said it was their most diverse album to date, and then the first song they released from it, ‘I Am Broken Too’ wasn’t exactly a big rager like ‘In Due Time’ or ‘Strength Of The Mind’ or ‘This Is Absolution’ …and I feared that they might be loosing their touch. Luckily the album is not all in that style anyway. And furthermore, do you know what? The more I listen to that song, the more I like it. It may be a bit mid paced and overly earnest, but dammit if that chorus doesn’t sound better and better each time I play it. As long as there are ragers there too, it doesn’t hurt to have a calmer moment to break things up.

Overall; this is a very strong album and a welcome addition to the Killswitch catalogue. If you don’t like Killswitch already, it won’t change your mind, for all the media talk of it being their most diverse album, it pretty much sounds like modern Killswitch and nothing else for the majority of its duration, but if you like modern Killswitch you shant be disappointed, as it is an expertly performed, produced and written modern Killwitch album, and that’ll do just fine.

ATREYU In Our Wake

Album · 2018 · Melodic Metalcore
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Kev Rowland
I first really started paying attention to Atreyu with the release of 2004’s ‘The Curse’, but although I grabbed all their albums up to 2009’s ‘Congregation of the Damned’ I hadn’t realised they had got back together after the hiatus following that to release an album in 2015, and here they are now back with the next, the seventh in their career. It is hard to believe that Atreyu have been together for twenty years now, as they still sound as angry as ever, mixing that aggression with melody and metal to create a sound designed to throw a mosh pit wherever they play. I also put them into the same category as Killswitch Engage and Avenged Sevenfold, all bands out there creating their own masterpieces and not worrying about the rest of the scene. There are parts of “The Time Is Now” which one would say belongs far more in the canon of their recent touring partners Slipknot than Atreyu. These guys have been turning it up and cranking it even harder than they used to, and took inspiration from their classic ‘Lead Sails Paper Anchor’ as they experimented and brought all the ideas under the Atreyu banner.

There is a freshness, which has been brought about by the way of working. “Every song with the exception of two was fully written in the studio,” says Brandon Saller (drums, vocals). “We’d split off into groups and crank out two ideas per day. We’d never written a fresh idea from scratch every day. Spontaneity makes things flow so much better though. We also never spread an album out like this either. We laid the foundation with five recordings, sat with them, and finished with a better picture of where we wanted to go.” Atreyu are very much back, and this reminds me so much of why I loved ‘The Curse’ when it was released. Methinks I need to dust that one off and put it on, as this has reminded me of what a poweful band they are. Superb.

melodic metalcore movie reviews

SHADOWS FALL Madness In Manila: Shadows Fall Live In The Philippines 2009

Movie · 2010 · Melodic Metalcore
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Kingcrimsonprog
Madness In Manilla is a live DVD/CD combo released in 2010 by the Massachusetts based American Metalcore band Shadows Fall, which was recorded live at Summerslam Festival in the Philippines back in 2009. The performance features a career spanning sixteen-track setlist that is balanced and which covers all the band’s most well known material as well as a few less expected numbers for variety.

This DVD is a proper full-length concert video of a single concert, as opposed to how either their previous DVD, The Art Of Touring or for example Down’s Diary Of A Mad Band were set out. Luckily for most concert fans, the set isn’t interspersed with home video footage or animations either, just the live performance from beginning to end.

The band play on a large outdoor festival stage along to an incredibly detailed light show, with all sorts of rotating, panning and altering lights, spots and colour changes, as well as lots of dry ice.

The camerawork features lots of movement, with all sorts of cranes and dollys employed along with the usual camera crew, the whole operation is a lot more complex and professional than any of the band’s previously available live videos from bonus discs and such things.

You get a lot of coverage of the instruments being played which is always a plus for viewers who are musicians and a good cover of the band’s famously proficient drummer Jason Bitner. What you also get to see a lot of is singer Brian Fair windmilling his knee-length dreadlocks, which is an interesting sight all things considered.

Whilst there are a lot of positives to be said about the visuals, there are some issues in the shot matching, occasional framing problems and the dry ice can effect the picture quality, it switches from incredibly high resolution shots on cranes and not so great images on handhelds. Furthermore the menus are cheap looking and basic so it isn’t as absolutely perfect as some bigger band’s festival DVDs or equally sized band’s indoor concert DVDs, but is still a strong release overall.

Standout tracks include the furious performance of early classic ‘Crushing Belial,’ which is opened with an enthusiastic yet expletive description of its epic status by Brian, which gives you a good idea of the energy and attitude that then goes into the ensuing performance. Other highlights include the Grammy nominated set closer ‘Redemption’ as well as the newer track ‘War’ which hammers away at a relentless pace.

Additionally; there are bonus features, which include four more live videos for ‘The Light That Blind,’ ‘Redemption,’ ‘Venous’ and ‘Thoughts Without Words,’ from Japan, The Philippines and Korea respectively, although the quality obviously isn’t as high as the main feature.

The sound and mix are great, so judging the product overall; the only real problems with the DVD apart from the previous mentioned visuals are subjective problems with Shadows Fall in general. If for example, you think their material is samey then sixteen tracks in a row may be a bit much for you, and similarly if you are used to their super-polished studio sound, then the live backing vocals or clean sections may well sound odd or strangely out of place.

Otherwise however, Madness In Manilla is a very good release from Shadows Fall that I would definitely recommend to fans. Due to its high sound quality and expansive setlist, it would make a fine introduction to the band for newcomers as well.

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