Deathcore is in a particularly great spot right now. It would be unfair to call it a resurgence since the genre never became less active after it popped off in the late aughts, but the proliferation of deathcore covers and reaction videos on TikTok is putting the music in front of new ears, and over the last couple years, many younger bands have proven themselves with innovative, daring and decimatingly heavy new albums.
Fresh influences are coming into the fold, the benefits of modern production are making everything hit harder and the increased reach of social media has made it easier than ever for bands from all over the world to jumpstart careers. The sheer breadth of the scene could never be fully represented in a single article, but we wanted to highlight 10 standout bands who are rising out of the underground and pushing deathcore in brave new directions.
Armed with three guitarists and two vocalists, AngelMaker are like a deathcore militia — and their sound is fucking violent. The Vancouver commandos assembled over a decade ago and dropped a 2012 EP called Decay that earned them minor buzz, but it wasn't until their 2015 LP, Dissentient, that they became a force to be reckoned with. Their dueling frontmen, Casey Tyson-Pearce and Mike Greenwood, continued to develop their chemistry on 2019's self-titled album, but the singles from this year's Sanctum are some of their best material yet — heavy but memorable, technical but tasteful and even more vocally impressive.
Named after an Indonesian "deer pig" with crooked horns protruding from its snout, Babirusa certainly aren't going for cute and cuddly. The Australian unit — sporting two vocalists, one shrieker and one bellower — play songs with tech-deathy drumming and moments of guitar heroics, but also tons of mosh-worthy flavor, never falling victim to masturbatory craftsmanship. "Abomination" has a strange, hip-hoppy breakdown in the middle with a watery sound effect, while a song like "Catatonia" injects flecks of djenty groove and even a proggy clean bridge in between the chunky breakdowns.
If you're a deathcore OG who yearns for the cinematic grandeur of the first two Winds of Plague albums, then Brand of Sacrifice are a must-listen. The anime-inspired Canadian crew's 2021 opus, Lifeblood, was one of the best deathcore albums of the year, catapulting them among the genre's most widely-beloved young acts and landing them an impressive support slot on Dying Fetus' U.S. tour. Harnessing the classy sheen of cutting-edge metal production, they decorate their pummeling songs with medieval choral arrangements and ornate strings that sound like final boss music from a fantasy RPG.
Lorna Shore have technically been kicking around the scene for over a decade, but it wasn't until their internet-breaking 2021 single, "To the Hellfire," that they became undeniable stars. After forming in 2010 with a muscular metalcore sound, they soon transitioned into a concussive deathcore machine who maintained a prolific and increasingly gnarly output despite their carousel of member changes. Last year, YouTube notable Will Ramos was minted as their third vocalist, and his jaw-dropping wolfman snorts during "To the Hellfire"'s monstrous climax marked a new era for Lorna Shore — and possibly even deathcore as a whole.
It's hard to think of a band who's doing blackened deathcore better than Mental Cruelty. Although the German crushers formed in 2014, the only remaining original member is frontman Lucca Schmerler, whose vocals have improved tenfold since the band's first few years as competent Whitechapel imitators. Their rage was promising from the jump, but they truly came into their own on last year's magnificent A Hill to Die Upon, which leveled up the brutality (slam parts aplenty) while also opening their musical pallette to include breathtaking gusts of black-metal and symphonic strings that would make Dani Filth proud.
Similar to how Hatebreed influenced the first wave of deathcore bands, 2010s metallic hardcore groups like Knocked Loose and Kublai Khan are now having a discernible impact on deathcore's new generation. While U.S. peers such as SPITE and Varials are definitely fair comparisons, Switzerland's Paleface take things up a few notches and literally call themselves "slamming beatdown," which is an apt description for a sound that blends the thudding riffs of bands like Merauder and Sworn Enemy with the gurgly vocals and slammy blast-beats of deathcore.
When Shadow of Intent frontman Ben Duerr told us about the 10 albums that made him, his band's eclectic array of heavy stylings started to make a lot of sense. The frontman is influenced by everything from Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth to Cannibal Corpse and Lamb of God, and you can hear a little bit of all those bands on Shadow of Intent's blistering new album, Elegy. Duerr is a particularly strong vocalist who makes full use of his low and high registers, but his bandmates also write kickass riffs and aren't afraid to experiment with varying tempos, as on the mid-pace stomp and glorious leads on "Of Fury."
Australia has long been a hotbed for amazing deathcore (Thy Art is Murder, Make Them Suffer, etc.) and To the Grave are another one of the country's heaviest exports. Making them standout, their lyrics are a lot more insightful than the average platitudes about pain and suffering. With songs titled "Holocaustralia" and "Kill Shelter," the band offer impassioned messages about climate change and animal abuse that are delivered with a uniquely furious rage. Frontman Dane Evans channels the banshee-like highs of Suicide Silence's late, great Mitch Lucker, and the instrumentation finds a happy medium between tech-y and chuggy.
Purely calling Vexed a deathcore band is selling them a bit short, as the U.K. gang draw from a deep well of influences that includes everyone from Emmure to Cardi B. Yes, frontwoman Megan Targett often bursts into soulful clean vocals, but the bulk of their sound consists of elastic, down-tuned djent grooves, athletic guitar sweeps and fearsome uncleans that range from spitfire scream-raps to earth-shaking growls. Their 2021 debut, Culling Culture, is filled with standout moments — the helicopter-rudder riff of "Hideous," Thy Art Is Murder's CJ McMahon popping up on "Elite," and the utterly violent breakdowns of "Fake."
If black metal's increasing impact on deathcore wasn't already obvious, then Worm Shepherd frontman Devin Duarte literally wearing corpse paint in the video for "Accursed" has cemented its grasp on the zeitgeist. In the case of this Massachusets band, who only formed in 2020 and have already released two albums, the symphonic black-metal thumbprint of Dimmu Borgir and Emperor might even be more present in their sound than the deathcore of forefathers like Whitechapel and Despised Icon. Duarte's delightfully muddled brees throw it back to the Myspace days, but his pained highs evoke way more tortured emotion than the average deathcore shrieker can muster.
Below, watch Brand of Sacrifice's Kyle Anderson react to Revolver's list of the 15 most essential deathcore albums — and add a few of his own picks.