By: Nick Villers
Here are the top Hardcore/Metalcore songs that blast-beat their way into my heart in 2023.
Feel free to listen & save my Spotify playlist and read on below.
Knocked Loose - Deep in the Willow / Everything is Quiet Now
Yes, if you read my "2023 Top 10 (Technically 11) Songs of the Year", you'll notice that Knocked Loose took the #1 spot for "Deep in the Willow", "Everything is Quiet Now" for that list too. Might as well keep it going. This train don't stop. So here's why they're #1 again:
Knocked Loose has TWO on this list, but for good reason. KL released what is their heaviest songs to date paired as Upon Loss Singles. They released a concept music video marrying the two singles together. The music video feels like it's out of an A24 horror film, complimenting the eerie overtone the songs create. To top it off, Knocked Loose kicks off the best breakdown of 2023 screaming, "KNOCKED LOOSE MOTHERF*****!" They scream their band name. What a flex. We need to campaign more bands to do this. KL finds a way to get heavier and heavier and I'm here for it.
2. Spiritbox - Cellar Door
It was incredibly hard to pick between "Cellar Door" or "Angel Eyes" off of Spiritbox's latest EP The Fear of Fear. Both songs are ridiculously brutal yet in their own way. "Angel Eyes" is like "Holy Roller" 2.0 and "Cellar Door" embodies the "fear of fear". It makes you realize Spiritbox is HEAVY. They're talented in the fact that they can sing a ballad like "Constance", industrial-dance like "Rotoscope", and wake up to choose violence like "Cellar Door". It's a reminder that Spiritbox is a Metalcore band and they're not afraid to flex those muscles. Courtney LaPlante goes all-in with her dynamic screaming range of highs and lows, while guitarist Mike Stringer and drummer Zev Rose drive instrumental chaos through time-changing riffs. It all comes to a screeching halt when the breakdown hits at 1:02, smashing all expectations of how "heavy" you believe Spiritbox could be. This EP is their best work to date and "Cellar Door" is one of their heaviest yet.
3. END - Gaping Wounds of Earth
Hardcore/Grind supergroup END has been relentless ever since coming out onto the scene in 2017. They comprise of current & former members of Counterparts, Misery Signals, Shai Hulud, Fit For An Autopsy, Reign Supreme, and The Acacia Strain. That right there shows the level of musicianship and consistency this group brings to heavy music. Their 2023 album The Sin of Human Fraility is their heaviest work to date and the lead single "Gaping Wounds of Earth" punishes the listener out of the gate with a noisy, slow-churning breakdown. The song comprises of Will Putney's chaotic riffs, Matt Guglielmo's larger than life blast beats, and Brendan Murphy's deepened growls. To top it off, END adds just hints of industrial and electronic elements to this album, giving another dimension to their sound made of nightmares. This band will continue to dominate their corner of the metalcore scene and there's no END in sight.
4. Darko US - Rampage
Darko US, the Deathcore brainchild of Tom Barber (ex-Chelsea Grin) and Josh Miller (ex-Spite, Emmure) graced us in 2023 with their single "Rampage". In Darko fashion, they find a way to formulate the heaviest and catchiest form of Deathcore. The song is infused with Tom's insane high/low vocal range, Josh's six feet under guitar tuning, and theatrical synthesizers making you feel like you're running for your life in a horror film or video game. Darko proves time and time again that they will and can do whatever they want, carving their own piece of the genre that no one else can duplicate.
5. Bring Me The Horizon - AmEN! (feat. Lil Uzi Vert and Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw)
Bring Me The Horizon released a handful of singles in 2023 that are a culmination of how their sound has evolved over the last 20 years. They encompass everything from rock, pop, emo, hyperpop, and of course Metalcore. Being who BMTH is, "AmEN!" pushes boundaries and finds ways to incorporate all styles of music they've played over the years. The chorus as Oli Skyes bellows out "So tell all your friends / This is the end of everything", sounds like an amplified Sempiternal between the anthemic guitar, drums, and synthezisers. Oli's intertwined Deathcore screams give reminders of Count Your Blessings. The icing on the cake is features by Lil Uzi Vert and Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw. On the surface you can't fathom how a feature like this would pan out but BMTH shows their ability to crossover and seamlessly incorporate musicians from different genres and eras of music into one frantic, melodic masterpiece. Add "AmEN!" to their endless catalog of incredible songwriting. It's a mosh made in heaven live.
6. Dying Wish - Torn From Your Silhouette
I love Dying Wish. They bring me back to the nostalgic Metalcore I listened to in the mid-2000s, as I was discovering metal for the first time. Influenced by bands such as Killswitch Engage and August Burns Red, Dying Wish finds a way to fulfill your earnest for yesteryear but brings their sound to the forefront of the 2020s. They've established their own melodic Metalcore sound vs being a copycat of the predecessors prior. "Torn From Your Silhouette", the lead single off their 2023 album Symptoms of Survival is the perfect blend of mid-2000s Metalcore guitar riffs, breakdowns, and soaring clean choruses. Vocalist Emma Boster is incredibly talented in her ability to switch from high and low screams to singing pure melodies on the turn of a dime. The song's highlight is the climatic crushing breakdown at 2:06 between Emma's lows, chugging guitars, 32nd note double bass, with Emma screaming out, "My weakness is you". It leaves you with chills and simply wanting more. Dying Wish has perfected the mid-2000s metalcore sound into their own and they're just getting started.
7. Incendiary - Bite The Hook
Long Island Hardcore legends Incendiary came back with a vengeance six years since their last album with 2023's Change The Way You Think About Pain. The lead-off song and single "Bite The Hook" is an instant gang-vocal, pile up classic at hardcore fests everywhere. Led by Brendan Garrone's old school east coast hardcore vocals, the song is compounded by heavy riff after heavy riff until it unleashes into a 46 second breakdown with Garrone yelling "Look into the mirror / Meet the one you blame". Incendiary continues to be one of the most consistent hardcore acts in the game and is ready to be stage-dove at a VFW hall near you. Long live LIHC.
8. Guilt Trip - Tearing Your Life Away
I've been on the Guilt Trip bandwagon for a couple years now and it's time that you hop on. Hailing from Manchester, UK, Guilt Trip is a crossover Hardcore/Metalcore band that blends an old school hardcore style with 80s metal guitar riffs, creating their own brand of hardcore. "Tearing Your Life Away" is the lead single off their 2023 album Severance. It's high energy, pulverizing, and hits you in the face with its beat down hardcore riffs and pinch harmonic guitar tones. At 1:30, you feel your hands & fingers uncontrollably raise in the air to summon the hair-metal guitar solo shred as it suddenly drops back down to Earth into a vicious breakdown at 1:48. Guilt Trip has been building slow & steady momentum in the UK and in the US hardcore scenes. They will only continue to make their presence felt because..."This is GUILT TRIP."
9. Graphic Nature - Into The Dark
Graphic Nature may be the most under the radar band on this list clocking in just under 40,000 monthly listeners on Spotify but if they keep up their raw & emotional "nature" they might just see themselves become a breakout band in 2024. Part of the Nu-adjacent Metalcore trend, Graphic Nature is downright angry and nasty with their 2023 album A Mind Waiting To Die and the song "Into The Dark". The song is purely unhinged (in a good way). It's layered with menacing, nu-metal infused guitar riffs, emotional screams, and massively compressed drums, before crashing into two breakdowns, at 1:38 and 2:30, with vocalist Harvey Freeman screaming "F*** you, I'm fine without you" in-between. The breakdown at 2:30 is a freight train that catches you off guard and rolls over everything in its path. You can't help but mosh your head to its undeniably catchy riff as it knocks you to the floor. Graphic Nature is so good, you're ready to get up and do it all over again.
10. Judiciary - Blood
Judiciary's song "Blood" off of their 2023 album Flesh + Blood rounds out this Top 10 and is the perfect outro track to any live hardcore show. The two minute song packs a punch with catchy hardcore riffs out-the-gate and melodic guitar solos within the first 45 seconds. The last 30 seconds is a purely punishing breakdown that would open up the pits of all pits. Sometimes the best heavy songs are the simplest. It's fast. It's brutal. It's 70% breakdown. What more do you need? If you want no frills, 80s metal-inspired guitar solos and straightforward mosh, look no further than Judiciary.