Relaxation is fine, but sometimes you’re in the mood for some blistering blast-beats and gutturals at the highest volume you can manage. When that’s the mood you find yourself in, reach for your favorite deathcore tracks.
Being relatively new, not everyone is familiar with deathcore music. What makes deathcore stand out among other styles of music? Here’s a brief history of deathcore and nine great examples of deathcore songs.
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Let’s look at a deathcore music definition before exploring examples. It’s a subgenre of extreme metal that became prevalent in the early to mid-2000s, making it a relatively new genre. Still, it’s been around long enough for a younger generation to have listened to it all their life.
Given its musical roots, it’s no surprise that it’s a high-octane and typically extreme genre of music. It’s a loud, in-your-face, unignorable sort of sound that can pump you up for a workout – or a mosh pit.
One important note is that deathcore as a genre faces criticism from much of the metal community. This criticism arises for various reasons, though most negative comments often revolve around repetitive breakdown usage in songs. The complaint is common enough that some bands that earn a deathcore label often reject the description.
Deathcore bands will rarely fit the label on every last song on an album. Bands like Heaven Shall Burn may feature several different extreme metal subgenres on a single album. This variety found in the albums is one of the reasons that bands reject deathcore labeling.
In metal music, breakdowns slow the pacing of the guitar and instrumentation in general. It may also involve a sort of bass drop, downtuning, and deep, low tones in general. Deathcore and metalcore make what some feel is an overly-frequent use of breakdowns. In fact, having a breakdown is what many people feel makes a song deathcore.
Aside from this, deathcore music often features violence either in lyrical form or in music videos. We can simply see this by looking at the band names like Chelsea Grin, Suicide Silence, or Salt the Wound – all of whom are deathcore bands.
Instrumentally, there are several staples of the deathcore genre. Down-tuned guitars and guitar solos are frequent appearances, as are blast beats. It’s common to hear tremolo picking (double-picking is another term for this). This instrumentation most often comes together for breakdowns in nearly every deathcore band.
Vocally, clean vocals are rarely seen in deathcore songs, though there are examples. Bring Me the Horizon is known for their use of clean vocals, though their deathcore/metalcore music is mostly their earlier albums. In most cases, vocals are typically gutturals, fry screams, or what some classify as pig squeals.
Some people may see deathcore as a narrow, repetitive genre that relies heavily on breakdowns. However, this hardly represents the entire genre.
While this critique may hold for some bands or songs, the genre as a whole is varied and impressive.
In truth, many metal bands have songs that we can classify as deathcore. Here are nine songs that provide a variety of tastes of deathcore music.
As a whole, Heaven Shall Burn is not a deathcore band – they more closely fit the death metal and extreme metal labels. However, much of their work fits the deathcore label, as is the case here.
Combat is a heartbreaking song, especially if one pairs it with the music video as we’ve done here. The lyrics tell the story of a child soldier’s life and their daily struggles. It speaks of the destruction of peace and innocence in the lonely life of an orphan with no choice but to kill.
Living a life without a future and no companion other than their rifle, the child is more a slave than a soldier. It’s a vicious and damning song about the realities of war and its effects on children.
Instrumentally, there are a variety of influences. A bridge turns into an electronic breakdown for a moment, showing as a brief moment of happiness in the music video. Vocally, the lyrics are primarily screams or gutturals.
Whitechapel is one of the most prolific deathcore bands – and with good reason. With tracks like The Saw Is the Law, the band comes in with deep, chugging instrumentation right off the bat. A chunky riff brings in gang-growling vocals that suddenly shift to higher death growls.
Lyrically, there’s more interpretation than one might think. There’s undoubtedly the trademark violence that one expects, speaking of infections and blood-soaked sheets. Many interpret the song as Whitechapel putting themselves as the standard that other bands should strive towards.
Regardless of the meaning, The Saw Is The Law is a blisteringly intense song that you can’t help but bang your head along to. You can listen to the lyric video here to help make the lyrics a bit more clear.
Bring Me The Horizon uses the song title and imagery therein to discuss forcing yourself to appear happy when you’re miserable. For those that may be unaware, a Chelsea Smile is the term for a smile carved into the cheeks on someone’s face, creating a permanent scar of a smile.
A breakdown comes early as the vocals switch from an almost-clean shout to death growls. Focusing on depression eating one from the inside like a cancerous disease, Chelsea Smile discusses substance abuse, depression, and self-mutilation. Thankfully, most are absent in the music video.
You Only Live Once is actually a motivational song, despite an excruciatingly violent music video featuring death by a firing squad. Coming to popularity around the same time that Drake made YOLO famous, You Only Live Once has a single message to share – go nuts.
Lyrically, the song encourages listeners to live their life to the fullest. Suicide Silence practically demands that fans make every second of their life worth it, as they’re only here once and for a short period.
Past that, the song features the typical deathcore staples. Breakdowns, gutturals and death growls, and chugging instrumentals make this the most motivational mosh pit you’ve ever done a two-step in.
Lost In The Static undoes some of the typical deathcore features. The introduction features a much higher tone of guitar than most deathcore songs. Shortly after the opening, the music returns to the low chugging deathcore sound, though the intro’s tone returns for the chorus.
This song doesn’t entirely give the same motivation that our previous entry does, though. The name refers to being lost in the daily grind of life and that nothing matters so long as you keep the status quo. By the time the breakdown hits, you might be close to one yourself. The music video portrays this by showing the band through static.
Despite this, the song presses a need for solidarity and togetherness. After the Burial encourages listeners to stand together against the madness and desire to conform to the norms.
Don’t mix up this band with the song at #3! Cheyne Stokes provides a violently chugging introduction before going right into gutturals and fry screams.
One of their most popular tracks, Cheyne Stokes, was originally present on their 2008 debut. After switching their recording label from Statik Factory Records to Artery Recordings, they re-recorded the song for their entire debut album.
Lyrically, there’s not as much going on as some of the other tracks here. It features the violence of deathcore, remaining mostly in threats to an unknown target. While it isn’t quite the motivational anthem of the last two entries, it’s certainly got the ultra-violence down pat. You can find the official video here.
Born of Osiris makes music that focuses on one’s soul, and Machine tells that theme loud and clear. Lyrically, the song blatantly asks the listener a single question – are you who you want to be, or who others have made you?
Much of deathcore focuses on breaking away from society’s pressures, as is the case with metal in general. Born of Osiris focuses heavily on this, strongly encouraging listeners to break away from the monotonous, uniform machine.
Lyrically, Machine brings a much more harmonious sound than many other entries on this list. It’s an ominous, augmented sound that’ll leave you wishing you could be in the same crowd seen moshing in the music video.
Through The Eyes Of The Dead is one of the more influential deathcore bands out there. Songs like Two Inches from a Main Artery are a big reason for this. Though the lineup has seen changes and the music video features some members that have since gone to other projects, the band remains a deathcore anthem.
The lyrics are, to put it simply, brutal. They tell the story narratively of kidnapping a love interest and keeping her hostage after mutilating her. The narrator sees beauty in this and seems to taunt that she’s beyond rescue, showing the intense violence that deathcore is often known for.
Instrumentally, the song is a high-octane growl fest. Concussive blast-beats and constantly-switching instrumentation leave listeners with a sort of mesmerizing disorientation.
All Shall Perish’s Wage Slaves starts off with the sound of a cowbell dinging above slowly growing instrumentation. Given the title and theming of the song, the cowbell isn’t just there to satisfy a need. Instead, it seems to be calling forward a herd of societal, capitalistic slaves.
Such is the case with much of the album that Wage Slaves comes from: The Price of Existence. All Shall Perish brings another anti-norm song to match some of the others on this list. It strongly encourages listeners to not be slaves to capitalism and to break out of their shackles.
Encouraging a revolution out of blind obedience, Wage Slaves practically demands that listeners take their lives back from those that run our society. Though there isn’t an official music video, many other All Shall Perish songs have videos that encourage a similar message.
Picking five deathcore bands can be challenging for a simple reason – many of the most influential bands have taken issue with the term. People often see bands like Antagony and Despised Icon as some of the pioneers, but they reject the terminology. The Acacia Strain’s Vincent Bennett has quite literally threatened anyone who refers to the band as deathcore.
That isn’t the case for all bands, of course. Carnifex member Scott Lewis happily embraces the term and states that Carnifex isn’t one of the bands trying to escape the term. Jake Harmond, a former member of Chelsea Grin, says (in less polite words) that he couldn’t care less what genre people refer to their music as.
Regardless of how a band may feel about the terminology, influence is influence. Here are five of the most well-known deathcore bands.
Emmure is a somewhat controversial band, and for a good reason. With merch that seems to justify the Columbine Massacre and a frontman that happily wields racist and homophobic language, Emmure is often seen as a band to stay away from. Even former band members have their reservations, such as former guitarist Ben Lionetti threatening legal action against the band.
Still, that doesn’t mean that Emmure isn’t one of the more influential deathcore bands in the genre. The band’s music contains many breakdowns, bringing a more objective criticism against them from many metal fans. Spoken words, growls, and even rapping are often present in the music.
The band remains active despite a high number of changes to the lineup. Their latest album was subject to positive reviews, praising the usual influences while still making it their own sound.
Antagony has had one heck of a ride. Forming in 1998, the band went their separate ways in 2009 before reforming in 2019. Antagony has three albums on three different labels, and fans see them as one of the first dominant deathcore bands.
After breaking up initially, Antagony members would go on to form some of the more prominent names in metal. Two members went on to take their places in the lineup for Oblivion, while others took part in All Shall Perish.
It’s worth saying that Antagony is one of the bands that isn’t a fan of being seen as deathcore. Fans clearly don’t seem to share the sentiment, given that founder and frontman Nick Vasallo is often seen as the “Father of Deathcore” for his work with Antagony.
Suicide Silence is dominantly a deathcore band but plays with a variety of genres. Their third album, The Black Crown, brings in nu-metal influences. Later, their self-titled would wield enough nu-metal influence that fans generally consider it a nu-metal album as a whole.
In 2020, Suicide Silence went back to their previous style for their sixth album. While the band wields a number of influences, they’re still one of the most vital groups in deathcore. One important note is not to mix them up with the Bring Me the Horizon album, Suicide Season. After reverting to their deathcore sound, Suicide Silence began to attract more and more fans as the genre seems to show a bit of a resurgence.
Formed in Tennessee, Whitechapel gets their name from the district of London that the famous serial killer Jack the Ripper was active in. For the most part, they’ve enjoyed something many bands don’t – a steady lineup. Though they’ve tossed quite a few different members behind the drums and changed their third guitarist once, four of the founding members have always been present.
Whitechapel brings in death metal, black metal, Norwegian black metal, and hardcore music from their influences. Many consider their later albums to have more of a groove metal and death metal sound. One recent song, Orphan, has clean vocals throughout the entire song. While their sound is varied, they remain one of the most prolific groups in deathcore.
Our final band on the list, Slaughter to Prevail, comes from Yekaterinburg, Russia. Touring worldwide, the band is now a part of Sumerian Records. They’re relatively new, especially compared to others on this list, having their first EP release in 2015.
Slaughter to Prevail is proof that deathcore is still alive and well. Enjoying world tours through the United States, Europe, and Asia, Slaughter to Prevail’s most recent album came in August 2021.
Though deathcore was present as an influence in the late 1990s, true deathcore didn’t emerge until the early 2000s. Much of the genre’s early prominence came in the mid-2000s with bands like Despised Icon and the Red Chord.
Geographically, the genre was most present in the South and the Southwestern United States. Arizona and Southern California are hotbeds for deathcore, serving as the launching locations for many notable bands and a wide selection of festivals.
In the mid to late 2000s, some of the most prolific deathcore bands would come to bear. All Shall Perish, Through the Eyes of the Dead, Job for a Cowboy, Chelsea Grin, Whitechapel, and several more bands all came from this era.
Deathcore mostly fell out of prominence in the early 2010s, though many bands were still relevant. Whitechapel is arguably one of the most active during this time. During this time, many bands saw an expansion into other genres, which is part of why the deathcore genre slowly began to whittle down.
Around this era, many younger metal fans began to move onto other styles of metal. Metalcore and post-hardcore bands like We Came as Romans could wedge into the era with similar influences. This transition helped knock away some of the less notable bands in deathcore.
Though the massive prominence of deathcore slowly began to fade, the genre still remains highly active and popular, especially among a younger audience. With anti-societal messages and lyrics that often border on horrorcore, deathcore remains notable among extreme metal.
Along with its fade from popularity, much of the criticism of it also fell off. While deathcore is still often seen as “the new nu-metal,” it isn’t as often seen as an insult. The genre has seen a great deal of development and merging from other genres, helping people see it as less of an excuse to wield a breakdown and more of an eclectic, varied genre.
Deathcore music is relatively new as far as metal genres go. It’s an abrasive, society-minded genre that often wields criticisms of society as a whole with violent and extreme lyrics. Featuring heavy instrumentals and death growls, deathcore is the sort of music you simply can’t sit still to.
If you would like to explore the genre further and add a few new songs to your playlist, check out the examples and artists mentioned above.