The 10 best metalcore albums of 2023

Metal core
(Image credit: Press)

30 years after its invention and 20 after the likes of Killswitch Engage polished it for the mainstream, ‘metalcore’ is still a dirty word to the purists. However, that reputation is massively unfair – and rarely more so than in 2023.

This year, metalcore has been a diverse landscape rammed with excellence. While Bury Tomorrow and Code Orange have pushed its melodic tendencies to arena-pleasing proportions, other bands, from Blood Command to Graphic Nature, have kept their genre in touch with its rabid hardcore origins. To write the scene off is to blind yourself to so much talent, as the below list will prove. These are Metal Hammer’s 10 best metalcore albums of 2023.

Metal Hammer line break

Beartooth – The Surface (Red Bull)

Approaching ten years since their debut album, Beartooth's The Surface is a line in the sand that shows just how far frontman Caleb Shomo has come when it comes to addressing his mental health. Taking a leaf out of the Killswitch Engage book, Beartooth's fifth record is an exercise in positive mental attitudes whilst retaining a sense of honesty that makes the album undeniably infectious and inspiring to listen to, Beartooth breaking out some of the most crowd-friendly choruses of their career.  RICH HOBSON

Blood Command – World Domination (Hassle)

World Domination was released only 14 months after Blood Command’s prior album, Praise Armageddonism, but it was by no means a rushed job. If anything, the Norwegian pop/metal/hardcore rabble sharpened their attack, spitting out pure anarchy that belied, deep down, just how brilliantly catchy these songs were. With only five of World Domination’s 20 tracks breaching the three-minute mark, it was a brisk barrage of infectious excellence. MATT MILLS

Bury Tomorrow – The Seventh Sun (Music For Nations)

At a time when UK metalcore bands from Architects to While She Sleeps are gunning for arena audiences, Bury Tomorrow both followed and bucked the trend. The Seventh Sun, on one hand, saw screamer-in-chief Dani Winter-Bates and keyboardist/percussionist Tom Prendergast foray into far heavier sounds than their peers. On the other, Prendergast’s melodic vocals ensured the Southamptoners could still bring out a host of monumental choruses, especially on Heretic and Boltcutter. MATT MILLS

Code Orange – The Above (Blue Grape)

If Underneath was a showcase of Code Orange's status as metalcore scene leaders - spawning countless glitchy imitators of varying degrees in their wake - then The Above is effectively their take on a Black Album style transformation. The heft is still there and vicious as ever, but The Above offers some of the biggest, all-conquering anthems of the band's career, dipping harder into their 90s alt and nu metal influiences to produce a record which threatens to grab new listeners by the neck and thrust them headfirst into a world of brutal beatdowns, glitchy beats and throat-ruining mosh calls. RICH HOBSON

Dying Wish – Symptoms Of Survival (Sharptone)

Where some areas of metalcore have shifted towards a pop focus in recent years, Dying Wish went completely the opposite direction with their second outing, seeing just how vicious and brutal they can go. Between riffs you could benchpress a tank to and bilious snarls that make it feel like vocalist Emma Boster is directly calling the listener out, Dying Wish are marking themselves out as one of the brightest new talents in metalcore in the 2020s. RICH HOBSON

Graphic Nature – A Mind Waiting To Die (Rude)

On their debut album, Graphic Nature united two of the trendiest turn-of-the-millennium genres: metalcore and nu metal. A Mind Waiting To Die could easily have been a hollow nostalgia-grab as a result, but the band instead tapped the styles’ most brutal characteristics to make for a harsh, harrowing listen. The personal lyrics, centred around mental health, only reaffirmed Graphic Nature’s drive to make earnest intensity that will stand the test of time. MATT MILLS

Polaris – Fatalism (Sharptone)

Even though it was written and recorded before guitarist Ryan Siew died at the tragically young age of 26, Polaris’ third album was one tinged with sorrow. Standout anthems like Overflow and With Regards contrasted metalcore’s crowd-pleasing penchant for singalongs and big breakdowns with an overarching melancholy. By itself, Fatalism was masterful; with context, it became immeasurably powerful, making its number one spot on Australian charts more than deserved. MATT MILLS

Pupil Slicer – Blossom (Prosthetic)

Pupil Slicer’s Mirrors was the most lauded metal debut of 2021, so the UK grind/mathcore up-and-comers needed to go big for its followup. Thankfully, they did. Blossom was a concept album that wove its own sci-fi mythos while venturing into new soundscapes from post-rock to pop punk. Whereas the title track could have easily nestled into rock radio, Song At Creation’s End and Dim Morning Light gradually built towards melodic sophistication. MATT MILLS

Svalbard – The Weight Of The Mask (Nuclear Blast)

Hammer may have taken Svalbard singer/guitarist Serena Cherry to Thorpe Park to discuss The Weight Of The Mask, but the album was anything but a joyride. Instead, Cherry’s lyrics narrated her experiences with depression, from forcing a smile (Faking It) to the struggle of motivating yourself for something as simple as the gym (Defiance). The band’s shimmering guitar tone and sullen melodies only made Weight… all the more heartrending. MATT MILLS

Zulu – A New Tomorrow (Flatspot)

"Powerviolence" feels almost too quaint a tag to ascribe to Zulu's brand of ultra-aggro muscular freakouts, the LA band's debut hitting like a freight train and mixing in elements of wider Black art and culture to create something truly visionary. The soul and jazz melodies that slip in between beatdowns only serve to highlight just how brilliantly unpredictable and challenging A New Tomorrow is, embracing hardcore and metalcore's endless thirst for meaty riffs and churning low-end whilst sounding like absolutely nobody else. If this is what they can do with their debut, just think how wild their next releases could be. RICH HOBSON

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.

With contributions from