Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fuck Metalcore - A ZAFP Compilation

I dont know why, but I hate the term "Metalcore". I mean, it's not that offensive in reality, but it seems to send a little twinge of disgust throughout my bones whenever I hear it. This I cant ignore. I also cant ignore the fact that metal colors so much of the music I have been listening to for the last 20 years. So needless to say, this term pops up often.

The funny thing is I am all for abbreviations. I am all for making up new words, hybrid words, nonsense words. I am all for changing the meanings of words at random and for no other reason than they seem funny or fitting at once point or another. So with that, why would I rather hear "Metallic Hardcore" as opposed to "Metalcore"? It seems like a logical abbreviation...

I chalk it up to music journalism and its perversion of most things good. Of course, I am treading the waters of music journalism by writing these pages and I am most certainly a pervert, but I think that leads to something different. What is it about music journalism that tends to make a mockery of things? Well, the crux of music journalism attempts to grab onto something new and fresh that will attract readers and thus you end up with a number of people that are either on the fringe of a scene or music movement and even more people that have no ties whatsoever with whatever thing they are covering, yet they are qualified to comment on such under the right of free speech and the ass-kissing realm of self aggrandizing music journalism which permits them the misnomer of "taste makers". For once I would love to hear someone start off an article by saying, "Well, this isnt really my scene and I know very little of the machinations of said music styles, but as an objective observer I have the right to make my comments and as an employee of this magazine I have the ability to have these comments published". Or something to that effect. Obviously this would never happen as the readership of said journalist depends on his all knowing sense of what is cool, hip or the next big thing; his or her ability to appear ahead of the curve. But wouldnt it be nice if people practiced any amount of honest to goodness truth instead of the constant stream of colored smoke being blown up our asses on a daily basis?

"Metalcore", while inherently not a bad term, has taken on a sour taste to many who have stood by and watched hardcore and metal grow into the current age. I attribute this to the wrong people talking about things without a sense of actually knowing about what they are talking about. Pitchfork Media is the best at this as they disguise their complete lack of knowledge with lengthy aphorisms and who's who lists in obscure 70's garage rock/jazz fusion/avante garde/insert esoteric genre here... I still read it on occasion, but I never really get a good sense of what anything is supposed to sound like as the best they can muster is some comparitive review where X is like Y having sex with B and C is dropping tabs of acid whilst Q is off in the corner masturbating to church photos. In this case X = Current cool new band, Y = Philip Glass or something even more obscure, B=Joy Division, C=the Zombies and Q= David Bowie. Its ridiculous and I highly doubt that any of these people even know what they are talking about. I certainly dont! But I am digressing at a seriously fast rate. Metalcore was made a bad term by the same people who claimed that Nirvana saved punk rock (without actually sounding a shred like any punk band I have ever liked) and that continuously label My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional "Emo", when neither even sound alike and neither sound like anything that ever could have been called emo... Whew!


So I made this compilation. Its all Metal and its all Hardcore. It's ferocious and I hope if it does any single thing, I hope that while listening to it you can transcend all genre terms and see these bands on their own ground, for their own accomplishments, beyond anything that has labels and see it as music, powerfully made and powerfully delivered. The cover is an actual effects pedal for guitar. I think its pretty funny that this exists. I bet I will get crucial crunch if I purchase it. Obviously the pedal doesnt say "Fuck" on it, but thats my fitting addition.

1. Stigmata - Hands of God: This is kind of how this whole comp began. Buske posted the awesome album Heart Grows Harder by Troys hardest, Stigmata. I was immediately taken back to college when I used to think they ruled. It's been a number of years since I broke out anything by them and when I put on Hymns of an Unknown God I was inextricably blown away. These guys are incredible and this is seriously bad ass song.

2. Converge - Dead: Of course I couldve put on any number of Converge songs but aside from this one fitting wonderfully after the ending of the last track it also reminds me of that same time in college when this was one of my most favorite things. I love the shitty vocals in the beginning with all the octave chords, I love the bark you can hear as the music ramps up and from there on out its ridiculous breakdown after ridiculous breakdown. These guys do not disappoint.

3. Overcast - For Indifference: There are many good Overcast songs, but this one is chock full of riffs and different tempos. Some of the changes dont even make sense at first until your knee deep in a psychotic mosh part and then you look back and see how it all made sense getting from point A to point Hell. The ending riffs in this song are terrifyingly awesome.

4. V.O.D. - D.T.O: Yet another song that reminds me of college. While Suffer might be their coolest track, and Through My Eyes might be their scariest track, D.T.O. (Drop the Oppressor) is definitely their toughest track. This track takes no shit. You look at it the wrong way and you will get beat down with a thousand tons of brick heavy riffs. You like F-Bomb, you got it! What the fuck, I cant breath"... Awesome elementary lyrics that are perfect for singing along and some really cool drum patterns. Similar to Brian Fair from Overcast, Tim really knows how to hit both sides of the spectrum in the vocal department, and he does this without seeming forced or cheesy. Like I said, this track will kick your ass.

5. Dillinger Escape Plan - Abe The Cop: Even though each release makes me less and less interested in this band, their first 3 song offering, Under The Running Board, is still a favorite in the Zen household. Everything they went on to do was perfectly encapsulated in those three songs. Amazing guitar wankery, jazzy breakdowns and a complete and utter disregard for whatever hardcore and metal claimed to be. It's no wonder they helped spawn a new sub-genre of the hardcore scene as many of these sounds that arent ripped from Converge's repertoire are wholly original ina metal or hardcore format. The section when he screams "White Lights, Mad and Maniacal!" is pretty much one of best mini breakdowns ever.

6. 108 - Killer of the Soul: I used to think Songs of Separation was the best 108 record, but as I get older and the more I listen to them it becomes increasingly evident that Threefold Misery is just incredible in comparison. SoS is still amazing in its own right, but the flow of this record is great. So I was going to put the song Woman on this comp, but decided that Killer of the Soul has the same ideas set forth in a much more metallic way and played with about 100 times more fervor. Vic Dicara can do no wrong on the guitar.

7. Bloodlet - Eucharist: If it isnt obvious in the first few seconds why I picked this song then you have to replay it instantly. Yeah, of course Bloodlet were an amazing metallic hardcore band, invoking terror filled visions of world crazed with religion, but listen to that bass line that starts off the song! I love the way he bends it at the end of the measure and then the guitars come ripping in, not unlike the popular Powell Peralta skateboard graphic. This song also gets extra points for extra thick distortion.

8. One King Down - Defiance: I suppose More Hate Than Fear or Absolve wouldve been obvious choices for many, but Defiance has a few key points that not only make it badass but make it hella more metal than the other tracks. First, the baddass. Derek is one of my favorite drummers of this style. He plays hard as hell and he pulls out some awesome fills. When Rob sings, right before the breakdown, "And their lies, Burn me ALIVE!!!" Derek comes in with THWAP-TH-TH-THWAP-TH-TH-TH-THWAP!!!! hahaha!! Its so fucking awesome I want to stage dive out of the 8th floor window! Now thats all well and good, but check the guitar solo at the end. Its amazing, with twinges of eastern melodies. Michael has stated that he was massively influenced by Mike Maney from Stigmata and it shows in this solo. Awesome ending to an awesome song.

9. Snapcase - Filter: I always think of Snapcase as the kings of this style. Probably because they were my favorite band for some time. I remember the first time I saw them live in Brewster, NY. It was with Shelter and I had a concussion that I recieved a day or two before (I dont recall how I got that one, but maybe this will help explain why I forgot) So my mom says "be careful" like any good mom would, so I laugh and go to this show that is guaranteed to be a simulated fist fight between friends, complete with full on riot style stage dives. So Snapcase is playing and they play this song (again with the ridiculous drum fills!!!) and people are hanging off the pipes in the ceiling and everyone is going completely nuts and I am freaking out in my own way, hopping up front and screaming "Intent to Survive!! To Sift and Purify!!!" and I get a massive kick to the dome. I can only assume that is was unintentional, but man it was a wollop. It didnt matter, I raged on, dizzy and sweating and absurdly happy, even by my standards. It was amazing. Amazing and Awesome and ridiculous. haha!! I have pictures from this show. I'll have to dig them up.

10. Dissolve - The Ultimate Nullifier: This is a new track, but not so new as it was written in 2000. Dissolve have finally released their promised record, Caveman From the Future and if you like any of the above bands then this song is going to rend you flesh into little pieces for easy consumption. The vocals in this one are deranged and even a little disturbing. The whole song is like one amazing breakdown that will have you ready to take on the NY Giants, one to eleven and you may have a chance of winning.

11. Starkweather - Shards: How could you have a Fuck Metalcore compilation and not have Starkweather on it? I dont even know what to say. Starkweather is another band that seems to get better with age. I didnt appreciate them enough when Crossbearer came out and as I have grown older I feel like every single song is a psychotic journey into one mans personal hell. The song writing and time changes on this song are unbelievable. Its not even so much the time changes as much as everything is just so tight. These guys mustve been a sight live.

12. Unbroken - Blanket: I had a hard time picking one song here and I eventually chose this one based on a number of things. For starters the opening riffs drip of Slayer lust. This is never a bad thing. What makes this even better than Slayer is the fact that these riffs come out at a half time drip that makes the whole seethe with darkened terror. "I see no help, I just see us" leads into another amazing riff before ending the song on a blistering note. These guys were a sight live. Watching an entire room of people flip their shit while these guys played damn near every good song they ever wrote was an experience I will not soon forget. I have a few awesome pictures of this show and I have to find them along with the others.

13. Integrity - Hollow / Psychological Warfare: So, you guys like holy terror, right? I figured a double dose from the kings of holy terror would serve everyone right. I dont think their much I can say about this one other than the bass line that opens Psych Warfare is great and totally reminds me of what made Micha: For Those Who Fear Tomorrow such an awesome track.


I intended to only put 13 tracks on this comp. I kinda weasled out an extra track by combining the last two, but they work perfect with each other. By doing this I left off a ton of great bands that deserve mention, including but not limited to: Earth Crisis, Chokehold, Undertow, Groundwork, Brothers Keeper, Soulstice, Cave-In (early stuff), Corrin, SevenYearsWar, Disembodied, Coalesce and others.

If my business was only to make mixes I would make a part two and include all of the above bands, but for now this comp shall suffice. You can tell me what I missed, but you cant deny the awesomeness of the bands already present.



Anonymous yo soy hxc said...

great list, snapcase is definitely a stand out.

5:47 PM  
Blogger luciferyellow said...

Hold on, I got lost somewhere halfway through. Did you say this was your sample article for application at Pitchfork? I remember something about Pitchfork and David Bowie, so I figured...

Oh, but seriously, if my jokes were only half as good as your write-ups.
I am not a big fan of MetalCore (and not just the term), but based on the effort and the passionate Pro-metallic-hardcore plea that you presented here I'll definitely give those bands that I don't know already a try.

6:23 PM  
Blogger enlinea said...

metalcore FTW. great comp

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Destroyer said...

Nice comp Blend!!! I saw Dillinger Escape Plan last night here in L.A. opening for The Cavalera Conspiracy. The shit went crazy with DEP. Chairs were flying in the pit, people bleeding, paramedics. Nuts!!!
The Cavalera's played more sepultura songs than CC songs, which was fucking awesome. They even played Nailbomb. My ears are buzzing and I am thankful for it. "Under a Pale Grey Sky We Shall Arise"!!!!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

needs more proto metalcore, ala Rorschach, or deadguy, anyways shitty distortion pedal.

9:51 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

yeah, Deadguy, No Escape, Rorschach, Breather Resist stuff like that. I had Deadguy in there but I didnt like the way it fit. It would fit better on a comp with Groundwork.

I thought that distortion pedal was hilarious. I cant believe such a thing exists.

That show sound awesome Destroyer. I was wondering about the Cavalera Conspiracy. I love Sepultura and almost put a song from Chaos AD on this comp because that album is so hardcore oriented in its breakdowns.

Thanks for the all the comments and thanks for reading my unusual rant. All should still check out the mix even if they have most of the songs. They flow for the most part and create a good listening experience.

10:18 PM  
Blogger proven hollow said...


...just kidding there is some good items on there, i just wanted to be my usual pissy self..ha.

however, bands i felt were given way too much credit than they actually deserved are: vod, okd, and snapcase. but hey, you cant fucking make everybody happy!

if i dont like it i should just start my own blog!


11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the sad thing about that distortion pedal is that......kurt, yes kurt ballou uses it....but he makes it sound totally fucking bad ass, unlike all that shit that hot topic shoves down peoples throats.

12:48 AM  
Blogger .Music For The Working Man. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:40 AM  
Blogger .Music For The Working Man. said...

It's a funny thing that i ran into your post today. I completely feel the same way about this. I am actually planning on writing stuff about "emo" and how the mass media do not understand what it sounds like and its roots. if you have time or desire check out my blog. It is young and i dont have many post yet but i will do amazing things with it... another thought would be botch for a "2nd" comp. my link is

1:45 AM  
Blogger papstar said...

at least I'm not the only one who has imagined David Bowie masturbating to church photos...

2:36 AM  
Blogger MarshallStaxx said...

Great comp Blend. I'd only heard Converge, DEP and Integrity prior to listening to this.

The Starkwater and Stigmata tracks are amazing, would love to hear some more.

Regarding the Boss Metal Core pedal, I had one when was 14, used it to crank out shitty Maiden riffs on my pointy-headstock Ibanez guitar. It gave a really weedy scooped-mid transistor distortion. I had no idea that metalcore was an actual genre at the time.

7:44 AM  
Blogger blend77 said...

@ Phil, yeah, i have to disagree on the Snapcase tip, they were huge and totally relevant, but VOD and OKD are two that I loved greatly and thought would be the left fielders of the comp...

@ brad, Ballou is the King Midas of metal. Everything he touches turns to gold. He could make a shitty Krokus riff sound awesome.

@ working man, thanks for the link, I will check it out. I dont usually rant, or maybe I do, but occasionally I desire to spew forth unformed ideas and misplaced emotions in an attempt to add something else to this site other than the terms Awesome, Amazing, Incredible, Badass and Ridiculous. ^_^

@ Paps, hey! We have so much in common. -_-

@ Marshallstaxx, awesome to hear I could turn you on to some new stuff. Starkweather is incredible, and so is Stigmata. I'll see what I can do to get some up for you. Stigmata is hard to find, but if you felt like purchasing Starkweather, their new album Croatoan is pretty awesome. The song from this comp is from Into The Wire. I dont know if its still for sale. Maybe a future post...

I have an awesome post for tomorrow.

10:48 AM  
Blogger rybunal said...

good mix.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

THANK YOU for that post up there. I've been doing a whole thing this summer on my blog about heavy music entirely because I've gotten tired of online music "critics" who predominantly listen to indie-rock complaining about how there's too many bands that sound like Isis while reviewing bands that don't sound like Isis except for the fact that they're heavy.

I think your metalcore discussion up there hits at the same thing. If you don't actually enjoy a genre, it's okay not to write about it. I don't write about jazz or reggae or fucking polka and that's okay.

So thank you for making my day. Finally, someone who agrees with me.

I think I'm going to go ahead and link to this post if you don't mind.

1:26 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Go for it man! Thanks for the comments! I have to go back and fix some of the grammar and spelling, though I usually only do that if something doesnt make sense....

Even the News, why do they have to assume that anything is one way or another. Why do they report on things as they are instead of saying, "we dont really know what the fuck we are talking about but we have this show and if you want to watch the show we have to come up with ways to keep you entertained."

I just feel there is a lack of honesty present in the world today. Everyone "knows" everything when the smartest thing people could would be to admit that they know very little and have a lot to learn. Me included.

2:35 PM  
Blogger luciferyellow said...

But people (humans) seek a sense of security. We don't want uncertainty. If everything is fragmented and there is an "everything-goes" mentality that is difficult to process; and as a general rule we like things easy. Once you know the boundaries of MetalCore you may feel adventurous and venture beyond your Hot Topic bands (wow I got every major concept into this one sentence..), but when things are still new to you, you want things simple. You also need a common ground that connects with your previous experiences. That's why categories and cliches are so successful. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try and look beyond them, but they sure work fine with human nature.

Oh, I could go on and on about this because it opens so many conversation topics (Racism. The myth that the Inuit have dozens of words for snow. Who -and how- will win the upcoming election, i.e. what's the smallest common denominator. Why does everyone assume David Bowie masturbates to church pictures, etc.), but I'll stop here.

3:22 PM  
Blogger MarshallStaxx said...

Did you know that Bowie's hit, "Boys Keep Swinging", was originally called "Boys Keep Fapping (To Ecclesiastical Photography)" before RCA Victor objected and forced Bowie to change the title?

No, me neither.

3:34 PM  
Blogger MarshallStaxx said...

PS: Thanks for the links, Blend.

3:35 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

yeah, i guess its the theory of relativity at work again. it takes all kinds...

There is a definite benefit to simplicity but also a grand oversight, or undersight, as it were, when things become to general. Then again, I consider myself the king of generalization so I guess, selfishly, I want things how I want them according to whatever need or point I am trying to produce. I consider it a balanced diet of synthesis and analysis. ^_^

Tomorrow I could very well make a good argument for why its good that people use these general terms and how it contributes to a sense of exploration to those skeptical few who venture outside of what is presented to them and are rewarded by finding something that less people are aware of.

3:37 PM  
Blogger GBerryPhotography said...

Couldn't agree more with regards to the term metalcore and for that matter the term emo when applied to most of the bands given that term these days, most of which turn my stomach!
I'm currently traveling across America and Canada, then onto NZ and Australia, so being able to access blogs like yours, and download comps and albums that i forgot to bring with me is such a lifesaver!!!
Cheers dude

5:15 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Hey man, thats awesome news! Glad I could help keep the tunes flowing!

5:27 PM  
Blogger Static Electrician said...

In college I tried to drag a drummer friend (jazz/prog-rock/techno guy) to a Strongarm show (or similar, I don't remember) and not being familiar with it, he asked me to describe 'hardcore'...the best I could come up with at the time was "like metal without the melody".

also, trufax: I used to have that same fucking pedal. Walked into Guitar Center and showed the saleshole my two 20$ bills and said "give me the shittiest, cheapest pedal you've got that makes a racket."

Love the comps (I still have best of 2007 on my ipod) 'bout some sludge or "best of Boris that you'll never hear because they're all on a limited edition of 3 tour-only 7" 45RPM records"

11:37 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

i think a sludge comp would be cool. I have been craving a little sludge in my life right now...

9:38 AM  
Blogger swizcore said...

I agree with the Threefold Misery being 108's best release. If a CD had an expiration rotation limit, mine would have reached it long ago.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buske would not have posted Heart Grows Harder if I didn't request it, he said the album sucks. I am still trying to get my hands on another on of Stigmata's albums- Calling of the just. I know it is their worst album but its the only one I do not have. If you have it could you post it?

4:48 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Sorry man, I only have Hymns... Heart Grows Harder is an awesome album. I think Mike Scoville did a good job of defending it. The drums dont sound as nice as Hymns, but that isnt the point. If I ever cared about hardcore being presented with great production then I wouldnt be into hardcore

That said, Buske has great taste and I believe he did like the album, just thought it sounded bad, production wise.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Bastard said...

I thought you might find this interesting. It was posted on the Starkweather myspace page a few months back.

"Monday, June 09, 2008

Don’t Blame Us For Metalcore

In the last few years I've seen some album and show reviews that credit us, as well as bands like Overcast, Integrity, and Converge, as the precursors to what these days is called metalcore. Thanks, but no thanks. To be responsible in any way for the rise of metalcore is like being responsible for a dirty diaper. In all of the bastard forms of metal and hardcore that have come out over the years, grind, crust, etc, metalcore is the most base and thoughtless of all forms. We commonly refer to it as lowest common denominator rock, geared more towards fan reaction and record sales than the passion and honesty that comes from sheer volume, chemistry, and the ability to both physically and mentally stun an audience. There were bands, often overlooked, who were able to meld the two forms of music into a sum greater than it's parts. To me the originators were The Amebix, one of the first underground bands to mix both clean and screaming vocals and delicate musical passages with sludge ridden ferocity, as well as bands like Born Without A Face from Michigan, The Black Flag metallic damage of Blast, Corrosion Of Conformity's Sabbath worship, the skronk of Die Kreuzen and early Prong, Sheer Terror or Leeway as well as next generation bands like Deadguy, Absolution, Bloodlet, Coalesce....

Every once in a while I get suckered into buying one of the new metalcore releases, either to check out the production or because of the reputation of a guitar player, and every time I call Rennie in shame and confess what I have done. It seems that these bands go to the recording studio, set the Pro Tools rig to the generic metalcore template of beat detective drums, a solid but unimaginative rhythm guitarist, a technically exceptional yet equally unimaginative lead guitar player, a monotone screamer, and enough chugging low E and breakdowns to make the 'kids' move in the pit. Presto...mediocore. Please, I'm begging you, stop with the Maiden via At The Gates riffs, the breakdowns that the Cro Mags will always do better than you, the tone deaf vocals and tough guy lyrics, and the typewriter accurate quantized drums. Give a listen to a band like The Chariot and The Psyke Project who record live in the studio and show more heart and metal damage than a roster full of metalcore. I long for natural sounding drums, songs that sway and surge like a heartbeat, raw and ragged guitars, and lyrics that speak to me the way Articles Of Faith, The Amebix, and Bad Religion spoke to me.

Sure, the guys in Starkweather are still musical barbarians, knowing nothing of chords, scales, or sometimes even the names of the strings, sure I still don't know the difference between meter and tempo, or what 3/4 or 7/8 timing is, but I do know how to drive 6 fucking hours in Garden State and Jersey Turnpike traffic every Saturday to leech the poison from my fucking head, I know how to celebrate an insane drum fill that Harry goes for and doesn't quite make, a new vocal pattern, Vin mercilessly trying to rip the neck off of his bass, or the rush of crafting a 12 minute long song and getting through it for the first time. Starkweather will never ride in a bus unless it's Greyhound, never sell more than a handful of albums, and never get packs of clean socks or towels on our show rider, but we will always light up the fucking room with fury, passion, and a deep love of who we are and what we do.

Fuck Metalcore."

4:35 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

@ Bastard. Thanks! That is epic and life affirming!! I feel like reposting that! Starkweather gets better with age too...

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

years ago, prolly '87, my friend pete & i were out record shopping. "crossover" was starting to blow-up... pete sez, "this is the end of hardcore." 20 plus years later history has proven him correct.

kids making records now, for whom this is where their history begins... so not good.


8:29 AM  

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