September 27, 2023

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Territory’s Edge – The Best New Metal and Hardcore of April 2023


Recently, hardcore band Knocked Loose made a major impression at Coachella and hit 1 million monthly listeners – both impressive feats for a band of their size and sound.  The band’s setlist at the music festival turned many attendees into new fans of Knocked Loose – and potentially the genre as a whole.  Read on to discover several fantastic new releases under the spectrum of heavy music – all deserving of success and attention.

On a similar note, a number of influential turn-of-the-century alternative metal bands have provided many listeners with a gateway to heavier music – and remain popular today.  System of a Down‘s song “Chop Suey” recently reached one billion Spotify plays, joining two Linkin Park hits as the only nu-metal songs to reach this particular level of streaming popularity.  Rage Against the Machine was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Linkin Park‘s Meteora surged to #8 on the Billboard 200, and previously unreleased single “Lost” surged to #1 on the U.S. and Canadian rock airplay charts.


Brand of Sacrifice – Between Death and Dreams

Brand of Sacrifice are another deathcore name on the rise.  The Toronto-based band – whose name and lyrics take inspiration from the anime Berserk – recently supported Lorna Shore on the second leg of their Pain Remains tour, and in July they’re heading out to the U.K. to play eight shows with Spiritbox and Loathe.  Since its release last December, “Exodus” has become the band’s fastest growing song.  Incorporating aspects of symphonic deathcore, metalcore, and black metal, the track is a memorable hybrid of styles.

The band planned their latest project as an “experimental EP”, wanting to explore possible sonic ideas first before their next full-length album.  All four songs are stylistically distinct.  “Blinded” adds some industrial elements as a prelude to a brutal breakdown, while the closing title track “Between Death and Dreams” includes an unexpected, but very memorable clean chorus (which has even drawn several positive Linkin Park comparisons on the video) from frontman Kyle Anderson.  His vocal style here is quite different from the sound of his prior band The Afterimage, but it works.  Like prior single “Exodus”, the band added melody in a song they felt called for it, not wanting to shoehorn clean vocals in.   In a recent interview, Brand of Sacrifice expressed interest in wanting to be a gateway band to more extreme forms of heavy music, and their recent output is a step towards that goal.


Spotlights – Alchemy for the Dead

This doom metal/shoegaze trio from New York is the project of husband-and-wife duo Sarah and Mario Quintero, who share instrumental and vocal duties, and is rounded out by drummer Chris Enriquez.  Spotlights is currently signed to Ipecac Recordings – Mike Patton’s record label – and caught Deftones’ attention early on.  Shortly after Chino Moreno heard their song “Walls”, he invited Spotlights to open for Deftones on their 2016 tour with Refused in support of Gore.  That same song would appear on their sludgy, post-rock debut, Tidals.  Since then, the band has not looked back and has continued to refine their sound.

In comparison to Spotlights’ previous album Love and Decay from 2019, the vocals are more upfront and prominent in the mix on Alchemy for the Dead.  Early single “Algorithmic” follows a more alternative rock direction (reminiscent of Stabbing Westward or Failure) making good use of a sampled beat, subdued vocal melodies and distorted, sludgy guitars.  The powerful “Ballad In the Mirror” is certainly the most Deftones-sounding track on the album, with thundering guitar riffs and an ethereal yet commanding vocal delivery.  Throughout its runtime, Alchemy for the Dead is defined by tension and release, and the contrast of soft vocal textures amidst a sludgy, stormy backdrop.


VoidCeremony – Threads of Unknowing

Threads of Unknowing is the second full-length album for VoidCeremony, a technical death metal project based out of Ramona, California.  Formed in 2013, the band is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Garrett Johnson, a guitar teacher.  With a strong interest and artistic inspiration from video games (his favorites include Elden Ring, Final Fantasy VII, Dark Souls, and the Resident Evil remake), he’s also working on a side project where he composes a mock video game soundtrack.  Progressive and complex, Threads of Unknowing offers a challenging yet rewarding 36-minute listen.  Five of six tracks are fast and chaotic.

One strength of this album that allows it to stand out – amidst the numerous virtuosic tech-death bands out there – is the linear flow and track order.  Threads of Unknowing begins with its shortest song and ends with its longest.  The three-minute opening title track acts as an introduction to the band’s sound, and subtly introduces their jazz influence.  Both regular and fretless bass, played by Damon Good, can be clearly heard within the mix.  Indeed, the labyrinthine compositions throughout Threads of Unknowing are compositionally similar to jazz – just played through the lens of technical death metal.  For contrast, the instrumental “At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave)” builds on one melodic guitar line, while ebbing and flowing throughout to build an alluring atmosphere.  With its slower pace and almost serene tone, this penultimate song provides a respite before the chaos of the monumental 11-minute closer.


Fit For an Autopsy/Thy Art is Murder/Malevolence split – The Aggression Sessions

Back in 2016, deathcore mainstays Thy Art is Murder, Fit For an Autopsy, and The Acacia Strain contributed one new song and one 1990s cover each for a three-way split EP The Depression Sessions.  Thy Art is Murder’s “They Will Know Another” stood out among the bunch, conveying raw emotion in a way that rivals (and predates) “Pain Remains I”.  The Australian band’s more recent contribution “Until There Is No Other” feels like a part two of that track.  Along with Fit for an Autopsy’s “Hellions”, this song was released as a single ahead of the release date for the new split EP.

This sequel project The Aggression Sessions swaps out The Acacia Strain (a band with two albums set to release in May) for relative newcomer Malevolence.  The result is a ferocious and worthy follow-up.   Fit For an Autopsy delivers a quality remake of “Under a Serpent Sun”, originally from At the Gates’ influential 1995 melodic death metal classic Slaughter of the Soul.  Thy Art is Murder revisits Cannibal Corpse’s biggest song “Hammer Smashed Face”, and the outlier of the bunch is Malevolence’s version of Anastacia’s “Left Outside Alone”.


The Burden – Terminal

Originating from British Columbia, post-hardcore band The Burden is perfect for any fan of the genre hoping to experience a little nostalgia.  From the opener “Stardust Oblivion”, Terminal evokes the 2000s and early 2010s era of post-hardcore’s heyday.   (If there was any doubt, one track is titled “I Hope That When the World Comes to An End, I Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief”.)  This album marks the first release for The Burden since 2019’s full-length Sinking Feeling, which is available for as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.

Specifically, the sound of this album is quite reminiscent of They’re Only Chasing Safety-era Underoath, or the short-lived but underrated Tooth & Nail band Sent by Ravens.  Driving guitars and passionate vocals that transition from screams to melodic cleans are front and center.  This band has a knack for writing hooks and delivering one memorable chorus after another.  In fact, nearly every song here could be released as a single, with the exception of the interludes and the somber, personal closing track “Cassiar”.


pulses. – “Different Strokes”

This post-hardcore band originates from a town of about 5000 in northern Virginia and features brothers Kevin and Caleb Taylor.  Since they entered the scene with their 2016 debut EP f(x), the four-piece crew has earned some well-deserved regional success.  Pulses. isn’t shy about wearing their influences on their sleeve, while blending them into a unique sound that’s all their own.  The band originally called themselves Knight to e5 (which is chess notation, as well as a Harry Potter reference) before settling on their current name as a nod to one of their biggest influences, letlive.  One recent single is also titled “Run the Ghouls” as a tribute to the rap duo of El-P and Killer Mike.

Since their first two albums Bouquet and Speak It Into Existence, pulses. has emphasized a technical, diverse style of post-hardcore.  They’ve incorporated elements of rap, emo, funk, technical metalcore, and pop punk – sometimes all within the same album.   Their latest single “Different Strokes” is a strong showing for this talented, eclectic group.


April Release Tracker


Godflesh – “Nero” (Apr 3, industrial)

Left to Suffer – “Disappoint Me” (Apr 4, deathcore)

Unearth – “Into the Abyss” (Apr 4, metalcore)

Dying Wish – “Torn from Your Silhouette” (Apr 5, hardcore)

Holding Absence – “A Crooked Melody” (Apr 6, post-hardcore)

Angelmaker – “Death Mask Divine” (Apr 7, deathcore/death metal)

Sleep Signals – “Fearless” (Apr 7, alternative metal)

Ocean Harvest – “Snake Deceiver” (Apr 7, metalcore)

DevilDriver – “If Blood is Life” (Apr 11, groove metal)

Frozen Soul/Matt Heafy – “Glacial Domination” (Apr 12, death metal)

Incendiary – “Echo of Nothing” (Apr 12, hardcore punk)

Moodring – “Black_Wave” (Apr 12, shoegaze/alternative metal)

Sevendust – “Fence” (Apr 12, nu metal/alternative metal)

Veil of Maya – “Mother Part 4” (Apr 12, progressive metalcore)

Necrofier – “To the Wolves” (Apr 13, melodic black metal)

Audience of Rain – “Antivenom” (Apr 14, metalcore)

Mental Cruelty – “Forgotten Kings” (Apr 14, black metal/deathcore)

pulses. – “Different Strokes” (Apr 14, post-hardcore)

Vulvodynia – “Eulogy of Ashes” (Apr 14, deathcore)

Better Lovers – “30 Under 13” (Apr 17, mathcore)

The Ocean – “Subatlantic” (Apr 17, progressive metal)

Spiritbox – “The Void” (Apr 19, alternative metal)

The Acacia Strain – “CHAIN” (Apr 20, deathcore/death metal)

The Amity Affliction – “Not Without My Ghosts” (Apr 20, metalcore)

Beartooth – “Sunshine” (Apr 21, metalcore/hard rock)

Bleeding Through – “War Time” (Apr 21, symphonic metalcore)

Fallstar – “The Crooks and the Damned” (Apr 21, metalcore)

Future Palace – “Malphas” (Apr 21, alternative metal/metalcore)

The Devil Wears Prada – “Ignorance” (Apr 21, melodic metalcore)

Terminal Nation – “Concrete Hell” (Apr 24, death metal/hardcore)

Terminal Nation – “A Pound of Flesh or a Gallon of Blood” (Apr 24, death metal/hardcore)

Crown Magnetar – “The Level Beneath” (Apr 25, deathcore)

Kublai Khan – “Theory of Mind” (Apr 25, hardcore)

Illenium/Motionless in White – “Nothing Ever After” (Apr 27, electronic/metalcore)



SaintBreaker – Unrelenting Violence (Apr 1, death/thrash metal)

Earth Caller – Renormalization (Apr 5, metalcore)

Fit for an Autopsy/Thy Art is Murder/Malevolence split – The Aggression Sessions (Apr 7, deathcore)

Headwreck – Reflection Room (Apr 7, alternative metal/metalcore)

Linkin Park – Meteora 20th Anniversary Edition (Apr 7, nu metal)

Lo! – The Gleaners (Apr 7, sludge/black metal)

Black Orchid Empire – Tempus Veritas (Apr 14, alternative rock/djent)

Chat Pile/Nerver split – Brothers in Christ (Apr 14, noise rock/sludge metal)

Deathgrave – It’s Only Midnight (Apr 14, grindcore)

Jesus Piece – So Unknown (Apr 14, hardcore)

Metallica – 72 Seasons (Apr 14, heavy metal)

Overkill – Scorched (Apr 14, thrash)

The Burden – Terminal (Apr 14, post-hardcore)

VoidCeremony – Threads of Unknowing (Apr 14, technical death metal/black metal)

As Everything Unfolds – Ultraviolet (Apr 21, post-hardcore)

Bell Witch – Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate (Apr 21, doom metal)

Brand of Sacrifice – Between Death and Dreams (Apr 21, deathcore)

Lethal Injektion – Leaderz of the Nu School (Apr 21, nu metal/rapcore)

Melancolia – HissThroughRottenTeeth (Apr 21, blackened deathcore)

Portrayal of Guilt – Devil Music (Apr 21, hardcore punk/blackened hardcore)

Predatory Void – Seven Keys to the Discomfort of Being (Apr 21, sludge/doom metal)

The Eating Cave – Miscalculation (Apr 21, technical death metal)

200 Stab Wounds – Masters of Morbidity (Apr 28, death metal)

Disciple – Skeleton Psalms (Apr 28, hard rock/alternative metal)

Existentialist – The Heretic (Apr 28, technical death metal)

Fires in the Distance – Air Not Meant for Us (Apr 28, death doom metal)

fromjoy – fromjoy (Apr 28, mathcore)

King Yosef – An Underlying Hum (Apr 28, industrial)

Lunar Chamber – Shambhallic Vibrations (Apr 28, death metal)

Primal Truth – Seed of Evil (Apr 28, hardcore)

Spotlights – Alchemy for the Dead (Apr 28, shoegaze/doom metal)

Vamachara – No Roses on My Grave (Apr 28, hardcore)

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