The popularity of death metal and deathcore has ebbed and flowed throughout each genre's respective histories, but right now they're both experiencing boom times. A whole new generation of death-metal bands like Undeath and Mutilatred is coalescing into a genuine movement, and deathcore's recent resurgence beyond its insular world has already gotten a major boost this year thanks to terrific new records from genre pillars like Enterprise Earth and Shadow of Intent.
There's already so much amazing death-metal and deathcore that's arrived in 2022, but these are the 10 best releases we've heard so far — including bands who operate on the fringes of those genres.
Deathcore has been around long enough now for there to be nostalgia for specific eras, and Vancouver's AngelMaker make music that fans who plugged their ears in 2010 and etched "br00tal" into their notebooks will enjoy — while also standing at the front of the pack in terms of modern effects, dynamics and extremity. Armed with two lead vocalists who frequently play off one another for dazzling effect, their third LP, Sanctum, is gleefully heavy from front to back, foregoing the medieval ambiance of peers like Brand of Sacrifice and Lorna Shore in favor of good ol' brute-force breakdowns and splenetic guitar riffage.
So many contemporary deathcore bands are aiming to make the darkest, ugliest, most face-maulingly heavy breakdown fests imaginable — and that's why Enterprise Earth's latest opus stands out. Chosen has the full-bodied production, glitzy effects and puke-inducing breakdowns to hang with their peers, but the luminous guitar playing is really what makes this such a fulfilling listen. The riffs are actually memorable, and the dazzling shredding recalls the catchy guitar heroics of 2000s bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Dragonforce — but deathcore-ified. More of this, please.
Fit for an Autopsy have long proved themselves as one of the most relentlessly brutal bands in deathcore, so on Oh What the Future Holds they moved on to conquer other heavy-metal nation states. Songs like "Pandora" and "Far From Heaven" are epically melodic in a way that's much more Gojira than Job for a Cowboy — beaming guitar leads, misty clean vocals and songwriting that's more triumphant than it is brutal. There're still plenty of apoplectic breakdowns, but the record's most unpredictable moments are its most gratifying.
Death-doom can be an extremely slow, plodding, brutally repetitive subgenre that's often more of a challenge to the listener than a reward. The best bands in this milieu are able to retain the unrelenting power of death metal despite cutting the tempo in half, and Konvent achieve that hard-to-nail dynamic on Call Down the Sun, the Copenhagen band's second full-length. Channeling the likes of Amenra and Cult of Luna — two bands whose doomiest moments have a post-metal breadth — the songs lock into satisfying trudges that move at a tectonic pace but just fast enough to not get sleepy.
With songs titled "Everyone's Doing Shitty" and "Fuck Everyone," Mutilatred aren't interested in obscuring the pervasive misanthropy that fuels their head-splattering new record. Arriving seven years after their debut LP, Determined to Rot sees the Ohio death-metal band operating at peak performance, barreling through swampy grooves with haggard riffs that sound like they're coated in a thick film of earthy soot, and a feral vocalist who sounds like he's been eating that shit to survive. There're no glimmers of technical wonder or melodic relief on Determined to Rot — just, well, the rot.
Sentenced 2 Die are one of what feels like a gazillion new-ish bands comprised of longtime hardcore fans who're now trying their hands at death metal. Of that whole crop of groups, the material on their 2022 promo is some of the best. Without the vocals, a track like "Manifestations of an Infected Mind" might sound closer to the beefy metallic hardcore of Biohazard and Merauder, but frontman Dave Sikorski's hellish gurgles evoke the old-school Florida sound of Obituary and Cannibal Corpse, making these cuts the perfect hybrid of death metal and hardcore.
Shadow of Intent make the kind of deathcore that could play for a ballroom of slow-dancing skeletons — or the world exploding from a fiery comet. The band's fourth album, Elegy, is a phenomenal smattering of symphonic deathcore outfitted with epic strings, commanding vocals from the beastly Ben Duerr, and some of the tightest instrumentation of any band in their wheelhouse. Songs like "Of Fury" and "From Ruin...We Rise" aren't just great deathcore — they're simply incredible-sounding metal tracks that are creatively composed, exquisitely performed and, yeah, heavy as all fuck.
On their own, Terminal Nation and Kruelty are two of the best bands who're actively blurring the lines between extreme metal and heavy hardcore. Arkansas' Terminal Nation lean closer to sludgy death metal and Japan's Kruelty essentially make noisy doom that kids can hardcore dance to, so together they make for a dynamic pairing on their excellent split, The Ruination of Imperialism. For every bone-headed chug or barked gang vocal, there's a torrential riff or a steam-rolling groove, and the fun comes from guessing what either band will do next.
Nothing Undeath are doing is particularly groundbreaking, but at this point in time, no one's doing their sound better. The Rochester, New York, band operate squarely within the boundaries of old-school death metal, pairing butt-ugly gargles with Florida-style riffage that's brisk but not speedy, catchy but not easy. Most of all, they're having fun with the form, reveling in graveyard camp and goblin-minded songcraft that, in vocalist Alexander Jones' words, "makes you want to inhale 300 beers."
The convergence of symphonic black-metal atmospheres and mosh-pit-ruling deathcore chugs isn't a new formula at this point, but Worm Shepherd's latest opus is such a brilliant execution of that crypt-rattling sound. Vocalist Devin Duarte's fiendish shrieks and shadow-soaked growls are imbued with a cinematic wickedness on songs like "Ov Sword and Nail," while the rest of the band deals in village-leveling rhythmic detonations and churning guitars.