Despite the obvious negative things about 2021, there’s no doubt that this year has been great for the metal world. Not only in metalcore, but across all the countless sub-genres, there have been some incredible releases. Whether it’s from a fresh act that’s come out of nowhere, or a group of veteran musicians reminding us who’s boss, the albums and EP’s being offered to metal lovers have been truly something.
Now is it just us, or does it feel like the heavy bands have gotten, well, heavier? Did lockdowns and COVID piss people off? Absolutely. Did that translate into their music? We would argue so. For many musicians, there has been a lot of time for introspection as well, and sometimes with that, some seriously aggressive themes and sounds are definitely created in the form of blistering riffs and animalized breakdowns.
However, it’s not all anger and negativity. Some seriously charming stuff has been released this year as well, taking listeners away from the real world for a moment and providing moments of calm and wonder, even amusement and light-heartedness. One could term it as ‘metal meditation’, and it’s just as important as letting out frustrations by screaming your throat raw.
This year, the 15 best metalcore albums are a perfect mix of these concepts. Whilst some artists thrust some explosive displays of chaos and wrath into this list, others have undertaken an immense job of transporting listeners elsewhere, to a less brutal soundscape. It goes without saying that this list is purely subjective, as all ‘best’ lists tend to be. Sonic Perspectives is constantly picking apart albums, understanding the artists’ motivations and inspirations, but also listening for musicianship, production quality and originality to form a comprehensive and deeply thought-out assessment.
Metalcore has changed shape over the years, getting broader and broader, and this year it was something seriously spectacular. Here are Sonic Perspectives picks for our 15 best metalcore albums of 2021.
OUR TOP 15 METALCORE ALBUMS OF 2021
15. Ghost Iris – Comatose (
Ghost Iris has brought the heat all the way from Copenhagen with “Comatose”. The album is heavy and dominating, yet undeniably gorgeous in the choruses and hooks. The effective and almost natural mixing of different musical styles has proved to be of massive benefit in showing off the confidence possessed by the band. “Comatose” may have not made as much noise as other albums this year, but it earns a place on this list because the band created something seriously fun and powerful, filled to the brim with engaging guitar and drum work, and the vocal performance is something to behold, all the way from sub-sonic gutturals to astounding clean melodies. Check out our full review of the album here.
14. Venues – Solace (Arising Empire)
“Solace” is a fantastic release from the German heavy hitters. Venues has brought together all of the elements in music that they love, and as a result a rich tapestry of metalcore and post-hardcore has been woven together for the listener. The addition of Lela to the band as the clean vocalist and Valentin on the guitar has provided Venues with a new power to create some seriously catchy tracks. 10 tracks for this album is, quite frankly, not enough! With albums as fun, heavy and catchy as “Solace”, Venues will continue to ascend in the world of metal to the elite echelon where they most certainly belong. Read the full review here.
13. While She Sleeps – SLEEPS SOCIETY (Spinefarm Records)
While She Sleeps have carved out a place for themselves in metal music. This album is an ode to their fans, and shows the listener that the band isn’t just a band, it’s a community. The personalities of the members are injected completely into “SLEEPS SOCIETY” and the evolution of their sound is apparent, while staying close to their roots. Packed with high-energy riffs and some damn catchy choruses, this album was an easy choice for this list. Six full-length albums is something that the majority of bands could only dream of. For While She Sleeps, they show no intention of stopping any time soon. Read our full review of the album here.
12. We Butter The Bread With Butter – Das Album (AFM Records)
You’re damn right this album is on here. We Butter the Bread With Butter has given us one of the most unique and versatile albums of the year, and they did it with a smile. “Das Album” is a barrel of fun, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Each track has been created, produced and released with as much love as there is personality in them. This release is a great contrast to the serious and angry releases that have dominated this year, with the comical nature of the band only rivaled by the sheer ferocity that dominates “Das Album”. The production is pristine, the musicianship is solid, and it’s overall a ridiculously fun listen. Read our review of “Das Album” by heading over here.
11. The Devil Wears Prada – ZII (Solid State Records)
“ZII” is a hugely powerful and focused addition to the zombie opera that The Devil Wears Prada created back in 2010, there remains an unmistakable sense of chaos that ties the two EP’s together nicely. If you look at “ZII” only in relation to “Zombie”, you’re going to be pleased with how they have continued the story. It is a worthy sequel, sharing in the animosity of the apocalyptic theme while still bringing forth it’s own unique personality. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no less brilliant, and proves The Devil Wears Prada are moving forward as a band while still enjoying visiting their roots from time to time. This is technically not an album, of course, but it’s densely packed with some fantastic sequences and disgusting breakdowns. Sometimes quality is better than quantity. Check out our impressions of this EP here.
10. Beartooth – Below (Red Bull Records)
Since 2013, Beartooth has grown in every conceivable way, and the latest release, “Below” is a testament to that. The fourth studio album from these guys is one for the ages. It’s unforgiving in its incessantly energetic attitude. The power comes raw and beastly, but the catchy choruses will take you back to the good old days of post-hardcore in the mid-to-late 2000’s; impossible to get out of your head. Caleb Shomo has improved everything about Beartooth on this record, and consequently the rest of the band will have a tall order to fill when the live shows begin. Our in-depth analysis of “Below” can be found at this location.
9. Bullet For My Valentine – Bullet For My Valentine (Spinefarm Records)
The self-titled full length from Bullet From My Valentine is their best release to date. 7 studio albums is incomprehensible for most people, but for BFMV, it’s a way to set the bar higher each time. This album is full of catchy choruses that are surely going to be yelled back at the band by thousands of fans, and the performances from the members are just as fun as they are astounding. The heaviness in this record is staggering, and that is part of what makes it so engaging and fresh for the band. With this album, the 4-piece has proven that they don’t intend to slow down any time soon. In fact, it sounds like they’re going full speed ahead.. Read our review here.
8. Born of Osiris – Angel or Alien (Sumerian Records)
Artists like Born of Osiris don’t come around often. When they do, it’s hard to stay as energetic and relevant as when they first became well known in the scene. “Angel or Alien” is Born of Osiris‘ performing in their absolute prime. It’s an insanely catchy listen from start to finish, and has something for every fan, new and old. It’s heavy, powerful, technical, beautiful, but most importantly, it’s just so much fun to listen to. It feels like the band put absolutely everything they had inside them into this release, and more. I don’t know how much higher the bar can be set for Born of Osiris, but there’s no doubt that they’ll keep raising it. See how much we enjoyed this release by reading our full review here.
7. Every Time I Die – Radical (Epitaph Records)
Damn this album was good. Nine studio albums in and the band continues to amaze fans. “Radical” is 16 tracks long, and heading towards an hour in length. It’s been 5 years since the band’s previous album, so their audience soaked this up quickly. The tracks are furious and exciting all the way through, shoving chaos into listeners faces and leaving them wondering what on Earth just happened. The band’s trademark, Southern rock-tinged is mixed with hardcore vibes, colossal grooves and abundant doses of anger. “Radical” was a seriously special release, and it was loved and overplayed by pretty much everyone who heard it. Listen to the full album by visiting this location.
6. Employed to Serve – Conquering (Spinefarm Records)
Be sure to have time to be able to listen through this album on repeat, undisturbed. Employed To Serve created something dominating in ‘Conquering’. It’s 50 minutes of powerful and competent songwriting, drawing from a handful of areas of metal. It grabs you at the beginning, and absolutely refuses to let go until the end. Each member has brought the best version of themselves to perform on this record, and the result is a huge step up from their previous release which was, in itself, an absolutely huge success. Employed To Serve have earned their place on this list, as well as a position as one of the giants of the metal scene. Read our review here.
5. Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist (Epitaph Records)
It is hard to argue that Architects wasn’t responsible for the seismic shift in the way metalcore has developed over time. Their sound is undeniably a foundation on which an insurmountable number of bands stand, and that in itself is something that is incredible beyond comprehension. “For Those That Wish To Exist” is a new direction for the band, thematically, and fans absorbed every note, every lyric, every snare hit. It’s complex and multi-faceted, feeling infinite in its soundscapes and atmospheric sequences. All the members performed impeccably, and whilst the band is 9 albums in, they still have something of critical value to offer to every listener that comes across them.
4. Wage War – Manic (Fearless Records)
In 36 minutes, Wage War have shown us how far they have progressed as musicians, and as a tight-knit group. The collective decision by the band to find the perfect balance between the ravenous nature of their early albums, and the experimental intentions of “Pressure”, was perfectly executed. What results is a destructive and captivating curation of tracks that leave you full to the brim of energy, and just as full of memorable melodies that are sure to be a mainstay in your memory. The album feels like it begins and finishes before you know it, but they do say that time flies when you’re having fun. This is Wage War’s strongest release yet, and we’re more than confident that long-time and recent fans are going to be ecstatic about “Manic”. Here’s our full dissection of this album.
3. Spiritbox – Eternal Blue (Pale Chord Records)
Come on, you expected this album would be up here somewhere. Spiritbox released a near-perfect debut album, a curation of distinct and memorable tracks that left markings on your mind long after your listen to them. Courtney LaPlante quickly became a favorite vocalist across the metal scene, and it’s easy to understand why. Her vocals are fierce, raw and enchanting throughout the whole album. The tracks are crushing in their heaviness, yet insanely beautiful in other moments. The production can be described in the exact same way, and it’s hard to believe that this is only the first full-length release from the group
2. Volumes – Happier? (Inside Out Music)
“Happier?” is one of the best metalcore albums released this year, and it’s incredibly hard to do this album justice when writing about it. I really want the listener to put this album on repeat and listen to all the layers, all of the quiet little additions to the sound, and discover just how deep and expansive this album is. Volumes have put forward an LP that is a brilliant display of their musical prowess. The tracks are meticulously crafted to hold moments of beauty and destruction, a perfect yin and yang of breakdowns and soaring choruses. The production is so clear that the focused listener will hear every single thing contained within the music, and the performance from all members from the band is simply superb. This album is a must-listen. That’s as simple as it gets.. Get your full dose of happiness at this location.
1. Imminence – Heaven In Hiding (Arising Empire)
Here it is, our top metalcore album for 2021. As you move through “Heaven in Hiding” by Imminence, you will be hard pressed to really understand and value the thought and dedication that has gone into creating such a huge and overwhelming release. At face value, this album is a stellar performance from all members of the band, each weaving in their own special and authentic personality into the mix. On a deeper level, it’s something that the band has been building towards for over 10 years. “Heaven in Hiding” is immense in its beauty, as well as its formidable heaviness, and is without question their most remarkable release by far. Do yourself a favor and put this record on repeat. It will provide you with new and interesting sounds and layers every time you go back to dig a little deeper. “Heaven in Hiding” is the force that no one was ready for, but everyone wanted. Read our metalcore album of the year full review here.
METALCORE DEBUT ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Mirrors – The Ego’s Weight (Resist Records)
Aussie metalcore newcomers Mirrors dropped an absolutely astounding debut album. It’s a huge and heavy metalcore release that sounds like it came from a band that has been around for much, much longer than Mirrors have. Melodies glisten over some overwhelming sequences and there are some absolutely thumping breakdowns. It’s something truly special when a band sounds this established so early on. “Purple Static”, a single released before the album, was a beautiful and powerful track that turned heads in their direction immediately. Once the rest of the album dropped, attention towards the band skyrocketed, and for good reason. If you haven’t heard it yet, don’t waste time, go and listen to “The Ego’s Weight”.
METALCORE SURPRISE ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Blood Youth – Visions of Another Hell (Rude Records)
Out of nowhere, the English metal heavy hitters Blood Youth released a bloody ripper of an album (Aussie for ‘seriously amazing’), titled “Visions of Another Hell”. In complete honesty, we never truly engaged with their previous releases on a substantial level, but when they released “Iron Lung”, the first single off of the album, we were immediately grabbed. On October 1, the full album was released and it was an instant hit. It only comes under the category of ‘biggest surprise’ because we didn’t truly have a lot invested in the band before the release, but after it was out we were majorly hooked, almost hitting ourselves for even remotely downplaying what the band could offer. Powerful riffy onslaughts and a dark and oppressive atmosphere is exactly what grabbed me by the throat, and refused to let go. Not to mention the almost H.R. Giger-inspired album cover which is a huge ‘plus’ in our books. Whilst it’s not on the top 15 list, it most certainly deserved praise in its own right. We are, and will be for a long time, fans of this band.
NOT REALLY 100% METALCORE, YET STILL WORTH YOUR TIME AND HARD EARNED MONEY
Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb (Spinefarm Records)
This album needed to be included in whatever list we were given to fulfill. Sleep Token have seemingly emerged from a thick fog over the past few years and hypnotized people en masse. The elegant mixture of pop, synth and metal is something this mysterious group does so well. 2019’s “Sundowning” was a near masterpiece in our humble opinion, and we immediately knew it would be difficult to top it. “This Place Will Become Your Tomb” is sitting right up there in the ‘amazing’ category next to it, expanding on the themes of the first album whilst offering up some new and exciting sounds to those who worship (the fans). If you haven’t heard this album yet, we envy you. It’d be a wonderful thing to experience it for the first time, again.
See? 2021 wasn’t such a horrible year after all. Metalcore is going strong, and it’s becoming much more diverse than it has ever been. Nu-metal influences, electro, rap and countless other styles are being incorporated to create some seriously refreshing music, and even though there are only 15 albums here, there has been a great deal of releases this year that have risen the bar of this genre. This list was incredibly hard to curate, and it will no doubt be up for dispute, but we’re sure we can all agree on one thing, metalcore is being done damn well at the moment.
Pingback: A Year In Review: Our 2021 Favorite Metal Albums